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Mavis Staples & Thurston Moore rolling into Union Station

The Staple Singers had a 1972 hit with “I’ll Take You There,” but a steam engine of creative energy pulls into Union Station at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 10 for the “Station To Station” public art project.

An Amtrak train of assorted artists left New York on Sept. 6 with a Sept. 28 destination of Oakland/San Francisco.

Mavis Staples has been added to the “Station to Station” Chicago bill that includes White Mystery, Thurston Moore and John Moloney will play experimental rock and rhythm in their Caught on Tape collaboration and the Chicago-based Theaster Gates Black Monks of Mississippi will deliver Eastern spiritual vibes, blues and gospel. (Staples has also been added as the opener for Bonnie Raitt’s Oct. 20 concert at the Rosemont Theatre.)

Artists will sing with a backdrop of experimental film, creating a motion picture unique to the venue.

The awesome Kansas City Marching Cobras showed up in New York–they used to appear at Kane County Cougar games over by the Chicago & Northwestern tracks in Geneva. Olafur Eliasson created a series of poems as part of his STS collaboration.

Where’s my favorite train geek Merle Haggard?

Tickets are $25 and are available through Eventbrite All proceeds benefit the Station to Station Cultural Fund, which supports non-traditional programming at nine partner institutions across the country including the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Sundance Institute.

Donations are accepted at the Station to Station Cultural Fund.

The railcars are from the 1940’s and 1950’s and are owned by a group of individuals. The cars were grouped by Altiplano Railtours and provided to STS as a package with cars selected for their best use in the train.

Two of the cars come from the Santa Fe Railway, 3 from the Milwaukee Road, two from the US Army and one from the Norfolk & Western.

These cars that were used on the streamliners of the 1950’s. Many went to Amtrak but were sold off in the 1980’s. The railcars have been meticulously restored and made available for charters.

The event is sponsored by the Levi’s brand. Other stops include Minneapolis-St. Paul (Sept. 12 with Patti Smith), Santa Fe, N.M. (Sept. 18 with the Handsome Family, Jewel, Cat Power), Winslow, Az. alongside Route 66 (Sept. 21 with Jackson Browne), Barstow, Ca. (Sept. 24 with Beck and lots of Slow Food trucks) and Los Angeles (Sept. 26 with Beck, the Congos and others).

Just like hobos, artists are jumping on and off the train. General public is not allowed to board the train. Organizer Doug Aitken is creating a short performance work to open and close the Union Station stop.

The Chicago event also includes a procession organized by Meschac Gaba featuring participants wearing assorted African headdresses. Good food will be served by local Slow Food producers, veering away from the usual Union Station crap.

Nomadic Sculptures created by Kenneth Anger, Urs Fisher, Liz Glynn, Carsten Höller, and Ernesto Neto will be installed outside the ticketed area. The artists were asked to envision a yurt (a portable tent-like dwelling traditionally used by nomads in Central Asia). The Nomadic Sculptures range from Höller’s yurt pierced with holes that guests can throw Frisbees through, to Glynn’s creation of the universe that will evolve at each stop.

This is a yurt. It reminds me of Mammy’s Cupboard outside of Natchez, Miss.

Also expect Levi’s brand yurts in an intimate gallery-like setting where local artists will be designing and crafting new products in real time. Artists featured include Folk Fibers, Cobra Boots, Chimayo, and Junkyard Jeans.

Mammy’s Cupboard, Natchez–I ate there this spring.