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Pulaski Day gets rap treatment

  • Buttons were handed out to all who showed up to honor the Revolutionary War Hero Casimir Pulaski Day in a ceremony held at the Polish Museum of America in Chicago Monday March 7, 2011.
Buttons were handed out to all who showed up to honor the Revolutionary War… (Nancy Stone/ Chicago Tribune )
March 05, 2012|By Mick Swasko, RedEye

When St. Paddy's Day didn't sound quite right, Kip "Kidd" Russell swapped the lyrics with a more obscure holiday--one that would ring true in Chicago.

That's how "Pulaski Day," a song making the rounds on the day honoring the Revolutionary War officer Casimir Pulaski, was born. Originally an ode to St. Patrick's Day a little later in March, Russell said his producer Cisco Adler loved the idea of instead writing a rap that honored something uniquely Chicago.

"It symbolizes that spring and summer are on the way, the best time of year in Chicago," Russell, 30, said. "You don't want to be anywhere else."

He said he hopes the song and its video--which includes shout-outs to Chicago sports figures, an appearance by former WWE wrestler Colt Cabana and  images of Chicago landmarks--becomes a tune that is permanently associated with the day. Ideally, he said, he'd like to hear the track played at halftime at Bulls and Bears games.

"We're hoping all the homesick people around the country; they can turn it on and come home for the day, even for five minutes," Russell said.

Russell, who has a deal with Bananabeat Records, said he saw Chicago's community spirit while filming the video in June and July. Aerial helicopter footage was donated to the project--which was shot on a shoestring budget--as was a boat for scenes filmed on Lake Michigan.

"Everything's got its own charm, but there's definitely a neighborhood feel to Chicago," he said, noting he lived on both coasts before moving back to the Midwest to settle in suburban Highwood. "As big as it is, there's still a small-time feeling. People opened their arms [for the video]."

Casimir Pulaski Day has special meaning for Russell, who said the experience of a day off just before spring invokes nostalgia that only Chicagoans know. This year, he said, he plans on doing what he always does to mark the occasion--going out to party with family and friends. But this time he's celebrating the release of the song, which has gotten play on several local TV and radio stations and is approaching 100,000 views on YouTube.

Russell said he also will perform the song live at a "Day After Pulaski Day" concert Tuesday at Reggies Rock Club (2109 S. State St.). As for future holiday tributes, Russell said he might be game.

"National Kite Flying Day," he joked.

mswasko@tribune.com  |  @mickswasko

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