About Us

Music has power. It can change our moods. It can change our days. It can inspire us, raise our spirits, call us to action or calm us down.

Chicago Sound Check is a snapshot of the sounds and sights from the music scene blossoming in and around Chicago. It’s a product of a chance meeting between Brian Shamie, who writes a local music column in the Daily Herald’s Time out! entertainment section, and Neal Zeleznak, a concert photographer who attends and chronicles many local performances in the Chicago area.

A connection formed at a show led to this collaborative look into the world of up-and-coming musicians working hard to express themselves, entertain others and make their mark.

Chicago Sound Check is for music fans looking to discover something new through features and columns, playlists and videos, all ways to get a glimpse at who’s out there or where their favorite band is playing.

It’s for bookers working hard to find local acts to showcase while entertaining their guests, whether on atmospheric dance floors or at outdoor shows, DIY venues or giant amphitheatres.

It’s for kids picking up a guitar for the first time or learning to sing along to a favorite track. And for artists striving to make a living rocking the riffs and writing the rhymes, creating the songs that bring us back to rowdy nights and relaxed road trips, vacations we’ll never forget or evenings alone with our thoughts.

It’s for all of us to share a taste of what makes the Chicago music scene truly great.


Brian Shamie is a multiplatform editor, local music columnist and award-winning page designer for the Daily Herald newspaper in suburban Chicago. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

See more of Brian’s work at bpshamie.com.

“One of the best parts about our scene is that you can go down the street and see one of these ridiculously gifted bands play, talk to them afterward and find out where your favorite song comes from. Or tell them what it means to you.” 

Neal Zeleznak is a freelance photographer who specializes in portraits, events and concert photography and is a contributing writer for Midwest Action. Find him on Facebook or Instagram.

See more of Neal’s photos at nealpatrickphoto.com.

“I’ve been drawn to music my entire life, so when photography became a huge part of my identity it only made sense to combine the two. I like to shoot local and develop relationships with the bands. I find it makes for better pictures and a lot more fun.”

Contributing photographer

Denis J. Cheng developed twin passions of concert and urban photography after moving to Chicago in 2017. In addition to Chicago Sound Check, Denis has contributed photography and writing to Midwest Action, Sofar Chicago and Imprint Entertainment. He can be followed on Facebook and Instagram.