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Don Hedeker/Algebra Suicide

09/10/2009
Back cover of Algebra Suicide's album "Real Numbers," recorded live at Links Hall.

Back cover of Algebra Suicide's album "Real Numbers," recorded live at Links Hall in 1988.

Algebra Suicide was a Chicago poetry-music duo consisting of poet and visual artist Lydia Tomkiw and myself, musician Don Hedeker. We began in 1983 and broke up a decade later in 1993. At our shows, Lydia would recite her poems and project slide images at us (we would dress all in white) and our screen background, while I would play guitar to an accompanied tape that included drums & synthesizers. We called it “avant-garage” and we played several shows at Links Hall in the mid to late 1980s. These performances were always very special to us because we felt it was an honor to play at Links Hall. To us, Links Hall matched very well with our intended spirit of combining poetry, music, visual arts, and fun! Plus, Michael Zerang was such a joy to work with. The atmosphere at Links Hall was always great, and the audiences really listened to what you were doing (even if the El trains that rumbled by sometimes competed for their attention). This was the true friendly confines of Chicago! At one of these shows, we had Ken Rasek record our two sets, and Franz Liebl, our friend from Munich, decided to release this live recording as a CD called “Real Numbers” on his Pursuit of Market Share label (I don’t know if that pursuit was ever fully realized!). We were very excited –- after several releases on vinyl, it was our very first CD release –- a new and exotic medium that was going to make vinyl as dead as 8-tracks! And released in Europe!! A few years later, in 1990 & 1991, we went over to Europe to play some shows, so this Links Hall show in many ways laid the foundation for our overseas adventures. The backside of this CD is above, and one can see the date of this show, April 9, 1988, and the song/poems that we played that night. As I recall, our very first piece that night was “Somewhat Bleecker Street,” but I messed it up and so we did it again at the end of the night as an encore. Luckily, the second time I got it right (or as right as I could get it!).

RIP Lydia Tomkiw (1959-2007).

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