This Saturday, Nov. 25, Chicago music collective Pivot Gang will be hosting their long-awaited John Walt Day concert at House of Blues.
Pivot dedicates this event in the memory of Walter Long Jr., who was killed earlier this year. Walt, aka DinnerWithJohn, helped co-found Pivot on the West Side of Chicago, growing up with members Saba, Joseph Chilliams, Frsh Waters and MFn Melo.
“That’s BFF right there. We were like two peas in a pod, and we hung out a lot outside of just making music. He was really like a brother,” MFn said.
A few months after Walt’s passing, MFn released his track “Seeing Faces” in which he raps about the impact the loss had on him. He said the process was “therapeutic” and something he “needed to talk about.” MFn also dropped his debut solo project, Melodramatics, this October. The track “Lately” features a verse from Walt alongside Saba.
All proceeds raised from John Walt Day will benefit the John Walt Foundation, which aims to support young artists throughout Chicago. Saba, who is leading the foundation with Walt’s mother, explained the impact he hopes this organization will have.
“The plan is to pick 5 kids each year and sponsor each toward their art. We want to make it open to [artists in] different fields . . . and just put them in places where they can make things happen” Saba said in a press release.
Giving children in Chicago the opportunity to pursue their artistic talents aligns with a vision that Walt stood for. Pivot Gang member Frsh Waters remembers Walt as an ambitious spirit, always putting in work when it came to music and pushing his friends to their best potential.
“He wouldn’t want us sitting around. He worked harder than damn near all of us. So we automatically knew we gotta do this for Walt now. It’s no question,” Frsh explained.
For Frsh, coming to terms with Walt’s unexpected death has taken longer than expected, partly because he was incarcerated when he received the news. Frsh had been locked up for 4-and-a-half years and was released just this summer.
Despite being away, Frsh kept in close contact with his friends by calling them every day. They would fill him in on the progress they were making as Saba’s career started to really take off after he released his Bucket List Project last year. Although he was kept in the loop, it still was hard to not be around physically.
“It was kind of like a double-edged sword. They would come and be so excited to see me and tell me everything that was happening. It didn’t feel like I wasn’t there; it just felt like I wasn’t experiencing it myself,” he said.
Now that he’s out, Frsh has sprung right back into action. He’s constantly logging sessions in the studio and just dropped a new song with Jean Deaux this month. He’s also been busy getting finishing touches together in preparation for John Walt Day.
Months after Saba first announced the concert, John Walt Day now sits just around the corner. On Saturday, Pivot Gang, along with other Chicago artists, will come together to put on a show in honor of a friend whose work ethic played an integral part in getting them to the spot they’re in today and whose life deserves recognition.
“I know the impact he had on people’s lives and to be able to see that is a beautiful thing. It’s his birthday, so we’re just trying to celebrate him,” Frsh said.