Friday, August 22, 2014


Photo of keyboards player Dhyana Brummel (left) and vocalist Erica Loftus (right) from The Right Tidys Facebook page. 

The Right Tidys, an oddly named but catchy and fun power pop band led by vocalist Erica Loftus, will be part of the Summer Power Pop Rock Show with The Red Wigglers and 92 tonight at Phyllis’ Musical Inn. I’m not sure if that third act is actually the power pop trio 92 Degrees, which often performs with The Right Tidys. The music starts at 9:45. 

If you’ve been noticing strange creatures in the suburb of Rosemont, it’s probably because Wizard World Chicago Comic Con has returned to the Donald E. Stephens Center. This annual gathering of nerds, geeks  , sci-fi devotees, graphic novels readers, art lovers and off-the-beaten-path types runs through Sunday, with celebrity guests like Matt Smith and Karen Gillan from Doctor Who; William Shatner from Star Trek; and Patrick Stewart from X-Men and Star Trek The Next Generation. I posted a Wizard World Chicago Comic Con preview this past Tuesday, and you can get the full schedule and ticket information at the official Wizard World Chicago Comic Con website.

Veteran singer-songwriter Adam Marsland doesn’t have the TARDIS from Doctor Who but he’ll be flying in from Los Angeles to do a show at FitzGerald’s in Berwyn tonight. He’ll be performing with with Dag Juhlin of The Slugs, Poi Dog Pondering, and EXPO ‘76. Marsland recently re-released his Go West album and is is touring in support of it. 

Psychedelic rockers The Luck Of Eden Hall will perform at The Volcan Gallery Summer Showcase on Montrose Avenue in Chicago tonight, along with Umbra And The Volcan Seige, Feral Ground, Sethington Loggerson, and Tenderfoot.  There is a $5 suggested donation.

The Palatine Street Fest kicks off tonight and runs through Sunday. Admission is free. Singer-guitarist Ralph Covert, who helped usher in a new wave of kids music that doesn’t nauseate parents, will be performing as Ralphs’ World in Palatine tomorrow at 3:00 PM. Singer-guitarist Chris Janson, a rising star on the Country music scene known for his energetic performances, is this year’s main attraction. He’ll be performing tomorrow night at 10:30 PM. Other acts slated for The Street Fest include the young alt rock band Ember Oceans, Sixteen Candles and Bucket Number 6. See The Palatine Street Fest website for the full music schedule and other activities.

The Bon Mots, whose recent CD Best Revenge was favorably reviewed here on BHT, and Spin Doctors will be performing tonight at Skokie’s Backlot Bash. The music starts at 6:45 PM. The Original Wailers play at 8:30 PM tomorrow, and Tributosaurus will become The Doors at 6:45 PM on Sunday.

Jimy Sohns, who led one of Chicago’s best-known garage rock bands The Shadows Of Knight back in the 1960s and continues to perform on a regular basis these days, has a Birthday Bash tomorrow night, August 23rd. It will be held at The Blues Bar in Mt. Prospect , and according to a recent post from him on Facebook, there will be special guests. The festivities begin at 7:00 PM.

Singer-songwriter Garrison Starr, Adrianne Gonzalez, and Maia Sharp have a gig tonight at SPACE in Evanston. 


Thursday, August 21, 2014

I’ve Just Seen A Fest 2014 - Part Three

Live music has always played an important role in The Fest For Beatles Fans - Chicago. So when I went to the Hyatt Regency O’Hare this past Sunday, one of the the things I was most looking forward to was that evening’s concert by Liverpool, which would climax with the Beatles tribute band backing this year’s guests Peter Noone, Mickey, Dolenz, Laurence Juber from Wings, Mark Rivera, and Mike Pender from The Searchers. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to stay late enough to catch all of that part of the show, but it was still a rewarding day of live music.

At 6:00 PM, I dropped by the Grand Ballroom for the B.U.I. (Beatles Under the Influence) Musicians Forum. This conversation/jam session was moderated by comedian/producer Martin Lewis in the past, but he wasn’t involved with The Fest For Beatles Fans - Chicago this year. In his absence, musician/producer and longtime panel member Mark Hudson took the reins. Hudson toned down his exuberant sense of humor, and showed his usual extensive knowledge of music. Mickey Dolenz, who along with Mike Pender, Laurence Juber, and Ringo Starr’s Music Director Mark Rivera, served as a panelist, was more than happy to supply the goofiness. But it was Hudson, Juber, and Rivera who fueled this jam session; performing snippets of songs by The Every Brothers, Buddy Holly, The Beatles, and other influential artists. When all five panelists sang together in harmony, the results were glorious.

Around 9:30 PM, Liverpool, the New York-based Beatles tribute band that has been coming to Fest For Beatles Fans - Chicago for several years now, offered another sterling performance. They had also played The Fest on Friday and Saturday night. This year, keyboards player-rhythm guitarist Drew Hill, bassist-vocalist Glen Burtnik, and guitarist-vocalist John Merjave were joined by drummer Joe Bologna, who was filling in for the band’s regular drummer Chris Camilleri. These guys don’t go in for costumes or English accents; they just nail every Beatles song they get their hands (and voices) on. You know a band is on its game when the audience responds with standing ovations throughout the concert.

After about a 45-minute set that included “Something,” “Another Girl,” “Strawberry Fields,” “Tomorrow Never Knows,” and “Hold Me Tight,” Liverpool invited Mark Rivera to join them on sax for a rousing take on “Lady Madonna.” Laurence Juber then came on board for a version of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” that proved to be a showcase for him as well as Liverpool guitarist Merjave, and triggered one of those standing ovations. This lineup also performed “Money, Money, Money,” a song that featured Ringo Starr on drums when Rivera recorded it for (Rivera’s) recent Common Bond album.

The amazing energy continued to flow on “Got To Get You Into My Life” and Paul McCartney’s “Coming Up.” Unfortunately, my time was up by then, because I had to catch the CTA and Metra to get back home. As I left, Liverpool, Rivera, and Juber were roaring through the “Rockestra Theme” from the Wings album Back To The Egg.

While it was a major disappointment that I couldn’t stay to see Noone, Dolenz, and Pender join in the fun (as they had on the previous night) I still felt The Fest For Beatles Fans - Chicago had given me my money’s worth. And I imagine all the fans who spent the entire weekend at this event felt the same way.


I’ve Just Seen A Fest - Part Two

It may not be the first thing that comes to mind regarding Fest For Beatles Fans - Chicago, but this annual event is a great place to discuss the art of writing. Over the past few years, I’ve had an opportunity to talk to rock star Greg Kihn about his novel Rubber Soul, and to Sean Ward about his graphic novel Tomorrow Never Knows, which traces the entire history of the Beatles. Bruce Spizer, who has put out a number of extensively researched books, such as Beatles For Sale On Parlophone Records and The Beatles Records On Vee-Jay, is always ready to discuss his work, and does entertaining presentations with slide shows.

When I arrived at The Fest For Beatles Fans - Chicago at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare this past Sunday morning, Fest founder Mark Lapidos was introducing author Jude Southerland Kessler to the audience in the Grand Ballroom. Southerland Kessler has been coming to The Fest for a few years now to discuss her series of books on John Lennon’s life and music. Her latest, She Loves You, focuses on the years 1963 and 1964. For her talk/slide show presentation on Sunday, she used a particularly challenging time in The Beatles’ career as a rallying cry for all us to achieve our own creative goals.

Ivor Davis, another author at this year’s Fest For Beatles Fans - Chicago, was an English journalist back in 1964 when he was officially invited to travel with The Beatles on for an important trip to The States. His recently published book The Beatles And Me, On Tour: The 1964 North American Tour gives readers a chance to share in that once-in-a-lifetime experience. Author Dee Elias was also involved with The Beatles’ visit to America, but she was a teenager from Cleveland, and definitely not an official guest. Her new book Confessions Of A Beatlemaniac concerns the true story of how she and her friend Paulette conspired to meet the lads any cost.

Here’s a list of some of the other authors who came to The Fest and the books they’ve written:  David Bedford (The Fab One Hundred And Four); Vivek Tiwary (The Fifth Beatle - The Story Of Brian Epstein); Chuck Gunderson (Some Fun Tonight: The Backstage Story Of How The Beatles Rocked America); Kenneth Womack (The Beatles Encyclopedia: Everything Fab Four); Jim Berkenstadt (The Beatle Who Vanished); Richard Buskin (Beatles 101); Robert Rodriguez (Revolver: How The Beatles Reimagined Rock And Roll); Candy Leonard (Beatlesness: How The Beatles And Their Fans Remade The World); David Schwensen (The Beatles At Shea Stadium); Anthony Robustelli (I Want To Tell You: The Definitive Guide To The Music Of The Beatles, Volume 1: 1962–1963); Judith Kristen (A Date With A Beatle); Lanea Stagg (Recipe Records: A Culinary Tribute To The Beatles); and Richard Courtney (Come Together).

The online shop on The Fest For Beatles Fans website has an entire section on books.


I’ve Just Seen A Fest 2014 - Part One

You could call The Fest For Beatles Fans a celebration with kaleidoscope eyes. The Chicago version, which was held this past weekend at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare in Rosemont, once again offered a colorful variety of ways to look at the most famous rock band in history. The celebrity guests—musicians who performed with and/or were inspired by The Beatles; authors who’ve spent years researching them; and artists and photographers who’ve captured their images—all worked from a different point of view. A screening room showed Beatles-related films, and of course, the fans in attendance all came with their own perspectives.

Upon arrival on Sunday morning, I was a bit disoriented because the layout was different from the way The Fest has been done for several years. The marketplace was now upstairs and divided into smaller rooms rather than the usual downstairs massive area. I could be wrong, but it seemed like there were fewer merchants this year. But there was still a wide variety of t-shirts, buttons, posters, and other memorabilia for sale. 

WXRT air personality Terri Hemmert once again served as MC, and although her mobility was limited due to recent knee surgery, she was at the top of her game during interviews with Peter Noone from Herman’s Hermits, Mike Pender from The Searchers, and Mickey Dolenz from The Monkees. All three gentlemen offered fascinating anecdotes about The Beatles and the music business in general, but Noone and Dolenz in particular, were very funny. Audience members were invited to take part in the interviews, and the questions ranged from insightful to ill-informed. One audience member addressed Noone as “Henry.” Following their interviews, the musicians were available for autographs. 

Hemmert was also in charge of the Battle Of The Beatle Bands, in which amateurs and professional musicians compete for the honor of being named the best cover band. Anyone familiar with this competition over the past few years could have predicted that Ringer’s All Starr Band, fronted by a charismatic and talented Ringo Starr look-alike, would win. Still, Elementary Penguins, The Ralleys, and Pisces Fish all came in close.


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Welcome To My (Wizard) World 2014

Apparently the upcoming Wizard World Chicago Comic Con at the Donald E. Stephens Center in Rosemont has a winning lineup because the 4-day passes (it runs this Thursday through Sunday) have already sold out. This annual convention is a major attraction for self-professed nerds, proudly off-the-beaten-path types, sci-fi devotees, graphic novels readers, art lovers, and anyone who embraces the more adventurous paths of modern culture.

A mix of corporate and independent vendors hawk comic books, t shirts, action figures, and even some products most of us have probably never have seen before. In the huge marketplace dubbed Artists Alley, up-and-coming artists and writers compete for attention. Imagine if you were some high-powered financier from a counter-culture version of Shark Tank and could put up the funds for the worthy projects these salespeople have created. There’s also a fun, masquerade atmosphere as people dress up in superhero or villain costumes, and gladly pose for photos. Where else are you going to see Batman and Princess Leia sipping 32-oz. Cokes together?

Another good reason to check out Wizard World Chicago Comic Con is to meet celebrities, attend panels where they discuss their work, and pose for photos with them. This will be a particularly exciting event for Doctor Who fans since Matt Smith and Karen Gillan, The Doctor and Amy Pond, respectively, are among the guests. The timing is perfect for Gillan, who is not only a Doctor Who alum, but has a role in the current hit movie Guardians Of The Galaxy, and will star in the American sit-com Selfie starting this Fall. Plus, her English rom-com Not Another Happy Ending, is now available from Video On Demand here in the States.

In addition to the Doctor and Amy Pond reunion, John Barrowman, who was a regular on Doctor Who before going on to Torchwood and Arrow, is also on board. Unfortunately, Simon Helberg & Kunal Nayyar from The Big Bang Theory have canceled due to a scheduling conflict. Other guests include William Shatner from Star Trek; Patrick Stewart from X-Men and Star Trek The Next Generation; Nicole Beharie from Sleepy Hollow; James Marsters from Buffy The Vampire Hunter; supermodel Cheryl Tiegs; and comics mastermind Stan Lee.

A lot of the guests will only be at this event during specific times. Be sure to check the Wizard World Chicago Comic Con website for the complete schedule and ticket prices.


Monday, August 18, 2014

Another Try: It’s All Part Of My Rock And Roll Fantasy

Will this be the year someone covers The Hollies for Halloween? 
Photo from The Hollies Facebook page.

Today’s post is a rerun from the beginning of October 2013 when I offered suggestions regarding the tradition of local musicians honoring their favorite big-name artists via tribute performances around Halloween. It’s always more fun when five or six local acts gather together for an evening of short sets, with each one delving into a different band. After posting my recommendations, I learned that most bands start planning their Halloween tribute shows at least a few months in advance.

So this year, I’m putting my suggestions out there much earlier, in the naive hope that they might actually come to fruition. Think of it as a musical version of fantasy football. For the most part, my suggestions for Honorees (H) are ones that are overdue to be covered. I’ve picked an Appropriate Local Act (ALA) for each, and in some cases, suggested a few Appropriate Local Acts.

(H) The dB’s. The legendary and highly influential power pop band has great songs like “Amplifier” and “Love Is For Lovers.”

(ALA): Androgynous Mustache. They were suitably loud and unruly as The Replacements, and they’re veterans of tribute shows.

Or: (ALA) The Webstirs. Their original CDs are filled with catchy pop tunes, and they’re no strangers to tribute shows.

(H) The Hollies. The British Invasion group had Top 40 singles over two decades, from “Look Through Any Window” to “The Air That I Breathe,” along with a wealth of masterful deep album cuts.

(ALA) : Phil Angotti. He draws inspiration from the 1960s for his original songs, and he’s already
done tributes to The Bee Gees, The Zombies, The Byrds, The Monkees, and Paul McCartney.

Or: (ALA) The Abbeys. The gorgeous harmonies of The Everly Brothers were an inspiration for Hollies founding members Graham Nash and Allan Clarke, and they’re also the template Mike Cohen and Jeff Janulis use for the catchy power pop they perform as The Abbeys.

(H) The Bangles. Power pop fans know The Bangles are more than just the video vixens of “In Your Room.” Beside the obvious hits, there are numerous deep cuts like “Hero Takes A Fall,” “Some Dreams Come True,” and “Tear Off Your Own Head.”

(ALA) The Webstirs with guest vocalist Holly Senchak. This combination made ABBA fun, even for those of us who aren’t particularly ABBA fans. Senchak has also been effective channeling Courtney Love and Liz Phair. 

Or: (ALA) The Valley Downs. Lead vocalist Marianne Shimkus sounds a lot like Vicki Peterson at times, and her husband, bassist-backup vocalist Mike Galassini writes catchy pop songs for The Valley Downs and his other band, 92 Degrees.

Or: (ALA) The Handcuffs. The catchy indie rock sound they’ve perfected over three CDs has been used on TV shows, and recently, drummer Brad Elvis performed with The Bangles on a few songs at City Winery - Chicago. Lead vocalist-guitarist Chloe F. Orwell has the range to cover the Bangles hits, and The Handcuffs have female backup singers to help her out.

(H) The Three O’Clock. They were founding members of the Los Angeles Paisley Underground scene, along with the Bangles, back in the early 1980s.

(ALA) Ellis Clark. He helped found Epicycle, one of Chicago’s first punk/power pop bands, and was also a member of Social Act and The Handcuffs. Clark has played Syd Barrett and Paul McCartney shows, and has joined Angotti to cover The Who.

Or (ALA) 92 Degrees. This classic power pop trio was part of the Black Vinyl stable of artists recruited by Shoes back in the early 1990s. 

(H) Hoodoo Gurus. The imaginative garage rock songs by this Australian outfit, especially “Dig It Up” and “Leilani, are custom-made for Halloween celebrations.  

(ALA) Penthouse Sweets. They’ve always mixed humor with cutting edge rock and their take on The Sex Pistols was a riot. 

Or (ALA) Van Go. Lead vocalist-songwriter Davey Sippel’s lyrics give this hard-edged power pop band a satirical edge on tunes like “Three Minutes Are Up” and “Invisible Girlfriends.”

(H) Graham Nash. He published his autobiography Wild Tales, is making personal appearances, and still tours with David Crosby and Stephen Stills.

(ALA) Dolly Varden. This alt rock/Country and Western band is critically acclaimed for the intricate harmonies crafted by Steve Dawson and Diane Christiansen. They covered Fleetwood Mac and would be well-suited to perform Nash’s solo efforts.


Friday, August 15, 2014


Shindig will be performing hit singles from  the 1960s today at noon at Willis Tower in downtown Chicago.

Chicago’s Air And Water Sho, one of the bigger ones in the country, takes place tomorrow and Sunday, just off North Avenue Beach. If you’re in the downtown area this afternoon, it might be a good idea to watch the various planes practicing overhead, because there’s a huge chance of rain for the actual Air Show days.

The Beatle Brothers (Phil Angotti and Jay Goeppner) will be performing tonight at Colletti’s on Chicago’s northwest side from 7:00 to 10:00 PM. Angotti will present An Evening of John Lennon Music at City Winery Chicago on Tuesday, August 19th.

The Mary-Arrchie Theatre is hosting its 26th Annual Abbie Hoffman Died For Our Sins Festival tonight, tomorrow, and Sunday. The freewheeling celebration of comedy, drama, music, performance art, and solo shows has moved back to the Mary-Arrchie’s home at 735 W. Sheridan Road at the corner of Broadway and Sheridan, just south of Irving Park, after celebrating its 25th Anniversary at The Den Theatre on Milwaukee Avenue last year. See yesterday’s BHT post about Abbie Fest for a preview and check out Mary-Arrchie online for the full schedule.

Beatles cover band The Cheetles and power pop band The Abbeys will share a double bill tonight at 27 Live in Evanston. The Abbeys will also perform at The Abbie Fest this Sunday afternoon.

Fest For Beatles Fans - Chicago returns this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at the Hyatt Regency O’ Hare in Rosemont. Special guests this year include Peter Noone of Herman’s Hermits; Mickey Dolenz of The Monkees; and Mike Pender of The Searchers. See yesterday’s BHT post about this event (yes, I did two posts yesterday) for more information. And a big thanks to Fest For Beatles Fans for posting a link to my preview on their Facebook page.

EXPO ’76, the eclectic covers band comprised of veterans of Chicagos alt rock music scene, will be back raising the roof at Macs on Slade in Palatine tomorrow night.

Local H, Jackpot Donnie, Hemmingbirds, Save The Clocktower, White Mystery, and Band Called Catch are among the acts scheduled to perform at the Great American Lobster Fest being held at Navy Pier on August 16th and 17th. The winner of the Throne Room’s Battle Of The Bands Contest will also be on the bill.

Wizard World Chicago Comic Con often falls on the same weekend as Abbie Fest and Fest For Beatles Fans - Chicago, but thankfully it isn’t until next weekend. This year’s guests include Matt Smith and Karen Gillan, The Doctor and Amy Pond from Doctor Who respectively. Other guests include John Barrowman from Doctor WhoTorchwood, and Arrow; William Shatner from Star Trek; Patrick Stewart from X-Men and Star Trek The Next Generation; Nicole Beharie from Sleepy Hollow; James Marsters from Buffy The Vampire Hunter; supermodel Cheryl Tiegs; and comics mastermind Stan Lee.

The hard-edged power pop trio The Viaducts have a gig tomorrow night at NiteCap on Irving Park Road in Chicago Show time is 10:00 PM.

Mitch Easter and Sara Romweber of the legendary power pop trio Let’s Active reunited recently for a Be Loud! benefit, with bassist Suzi Ziegler from Game Theory (another great power pop band) filling in for the late Faye Hunter.  The dB’s Repercussion blog has a post about the show, including some video clips.

John Cleese, who has a memoir coming out called So, Anyway, (wonder if he knows that’s an Ellen DeGeneres catch phrase) will do a show with Eric Idle on November 18th at The Alex Theatre in Glendale, CA. 

Jimy Sohns, who led one of Chicago’s best-known garage rock bands The Shadows Of Knight back in the 1960s and continues to perform on a regular basis these days, has a Birthday Bash coming up. It will be held at The Blues Bar in Mt. Prospect on August 23rd, and according to a recent post from him on Facebook, there will be special guests. The festivities begin at 7:00 PM.

The Australian indie label Zero Hour Records is throwing yet another fascinating compilation our way. This time, it’s Power Pop Unplugged, a collection featuring 22 current artists from around the globe doing acoustic takes on their favorite power pop classics. The acts being honored include The Raspberries, XTC, Big Star, Badfinger, Rockpile, Cheap Trick, and The Romantics.

The Muffs are back with Whoop De Doo, their first release in some time, and can be seen performing the the high-speed and fun track “Weird Boy Next Door” on the Rolling Stone website. 
Regressive Films, the independent film company that put together the You Weren’t There—A History Of Chicago Punk 1977–1984 documentary, are now working on a punk musical. Sacrificial Youth was written and directed by Joe Losurdo, who also composed the soundtrack, which is performed by Tutu And The Pirates, one Chicago’s first punk bands. It has been screened at CIMMFest in Chicago, the CBGB Fest in New York, and Fest de Nouveau in Montreal. Regressive Films is hoping to raise funds for DVD production via an IndiGoGo campaign. 

Just when I was starting to wonder what happened to that new CD from local indie rockers Magatha Trysty, vocalist-guitarist Christopher David posted on Facebook that the band will be performing at The House Of Blues on September 4th.

“Yes, it’ll be mostly songs from the next record,” David told me, in response to a message I sent him. “This new album represents a big leap forward for us as a band. We have new musicians and a new producer who really gets the lush, epic sound were going for this time. I think it’s going to surprise people, in a very good way.”

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