Monday, September 15, 2014

Portraits Of The Artist As A Talented Man

It’s been 50 years since The Beatles first came to America and we’re still finding things to celebrate about these guys. Word is spreading fast regarding noted producer Ralph Sall’s The Art Of McCartney compilation coming out on November 17th. Reportedly, it’s been a labor love for Sall, who conceived the concept way back in 2003.

It’s not the first time several recording acts have paid tribute to Sir Paul. In 2001, Oglio Records released the fraternal twin CDs Listen To What What The Man Said and Coming Up! for a combined 31 tracks of well-known and virtually unheard of cutting-edge rock artists covering material from McCartney’s solo and Wings albums. The 34 tunes—42 for those who purchase the deluxe version—on The Art Of McCartney cover his Beatles and post-Beatles output, with some of the biggest names in popular music getting involved.

Rolling Stone online gives the complete track listing; which includes Bob Dylan performing “Things We Said Today,” Heart doing “Band On The Run” and “Letting Go,” Chrissie Hynde covering “Let It Be,” Robin Zander and Rick Nielsen from Cheap Trick doing “Jet,” Smokey Robinson doing “So Bad,” Toots (from Toots And The Maytals) with Sly And Robbie covering “Come And Get It,” Roger Daltry belting out “Helter Skelter,” Brian Wilson doing “Wanderlust,” Barry Gibb interpreting “When I’m 64,” and Alice Cooper performing “Eleanor Rigby.”

The eclectic roster also includes The Cure, Willie Nelson, Perry Farrell, Allen Toussaint, Dion, Kiss, Paul Rodgers, Billy Joel, and Jeff Lynne. Ronnie Spector and Darlene Love, two singers who influenced McCartney, are also on hand, as are newer acts like The Airborne Toxic Event, Corinne Bailey Rae, and Owl City. The deluxe set also comes with a DVD documentary, and a hardbound book.


Friday, September 12, 2014


They’ll be at Riot Fest tomorrow afternoon. Photo from The Buzzcocks Facebook page.

Welcome to all those in town for The 10th Annual Riot Fest And Carnival, which opened today in Chicago at Humboldt Park. Running through Sunday, it offers seven stages of cutting edge music, including performances by The Flaming Lips, Metric, Paul Weller, The Dandy Warhols, The Buzzcocks, The Cure, Cheap Trick, Patti Smith, Naked Raygun, Billy Bragg, Archie Powell And The Exports, and Tegan And Sara. Chicago’s alternative weekly The Reader has a guide to Riot Fest in its current issue, and fans can also find tips in today’s editions of Redeye, Chicago Tribune, and Chicago Sun-Times

The Elgin Fringe Fest started yesterday and will offer over 100 music, dance, comedy, and theater performances, plus works of art through this Sunday. The Elgin Art Showcase, Imago Studios, Elgin Public House, Blue Box Cafe, Side Street Studio Arts, and various parts of downtown Elgin will be involved. Tickets range from $5.00 to $10.00, and some events are free.

Over 150 artists will be on hand as the Lakeview East Festival Of The Arts takes place tonight, tomorrow, and Sunday. In addition to all those paintings, photographs and sculptures, there will be 3D Projection Mapping produced by BC Bolt Productions tonight; as well as a full schedule of live bands throughout the weekend. Attendees can also check out cooking demonstrations, food vendors, furniture, jewelry, and there’s a fancy tea party for children under 12. The festival is located on Broadway at Belmont.

Shonen Knife, the Japanese trio comprised of vocalist-guitarist Naoko, bassist-vocalist-vocalist Ritsuko, and drummer-vocalist Emi, will be bringing their Ramones-inspired fun to The Bottom Lounge, at 1375 W. Lake Street, next Thursday, September 18th. Habibi and Blizard Babies are also on the bill.

The Lauren Wolf Band will have a record release party for its Ellis Clark-produced album Rise Up at the Live 27 club in Evanston on September 27th. Clark, who has a solo career in addition to having played with The Handcuffs, Epicycle, and Social Act, will be playing keyboards for this live performance.

The good news Dave Davies has been posting on Facebook recently includes a confirmation that he would be open to a Kinks reunion alongside his brother Ray, and that he (Dave) will soon release a new album called Rippin Up Time. Maybe he’ll play some tunes from it during his November 12th and 13th gigs at City Winery in Chicago. I saw Dave and his band perform at Taste Of Lincoln Avenue a few years back and it was an amazing show.

By the way, November 12th is also the day Chrissie Hynde’s tour in support of Stockholm—her first ever solo release—comes to the Chicago Theatre. With “You Or No One” and “You’re The One,” Hynde proved she hasn’t lost her knack for celebrating the excitement of new-found love, and she can still kick butt on songs like “Dark Sunglasses and “Plan Too Far.”

Expo 72, not to be confused with the local copy band Expo ’76 or EXPO CHGO at Navy Pier next weekend, is actually the place to see the Chicago International Film Festival 50th Anniversary Exhibition. It features posters, photos, memorabilia and continuous video loops from the festival’s winning films. The exhibition runs through October 6th at 72 E. Randolph in downtown Chicago.

Who’s Who, a very busy Who tribute band, will return to Durty Nellie’s next Saturday, September 20th. They’re opening for 97Nine.

The David Bowie tribute band Sons Of The Silent Age will provide live music for the official David Bowie Day at Daley Plaza on September 23rd. WXRT and the Museum of Contemporary Art (where the David Bowie Is exhibition runs through January 4th) are co-sponsoring the Daley Plaza event.

Band Called Catch, a local group that has been impressive in shows at The Blue Whiskey Film Festival and at a preview party for the new Throne Room venue, will perform an outdoor show as part of PINKTOBERFEST in the parking lot outside the Hard Rock Cafe at 63 W. Ontario in Chicago on Sunday October 12th. There is a suggested donation of $5.00, which will help raise money for breast cancer research.

WXRT is once again sponsoring a batch of Holiday Concerts For The Kids, and one of the more interesting ones is by Johnny Marr at The Vic on November 25th. In addition to his stellar guitar playing with The Smiths, Marr has collaborated with groups like Modest Mouse and The Cribs, and his solo debut The Messenger came in at Number One on the Broken Hearted Toy Favorite Releases Of 2013. As with all the Holiday Concerts For The Kids events, attendees are asked to bring an unwrapped toy. Just for fun, tell them it’s brokenhearted.


Thursday, September 11, 2014

Dead Fingers - Big Black Dog

Dead Fingers isn’t a high-profile duo like The Civil Wars or Johnnyswim, but that situation could change if enough people hear their new CD Big Black Dog. It’s a worthy follow-up to the 2012 self-titled debut from husband and wife combo Taylor Hollingsworth and Kate Taylor Hollingsworth. They craft harmony vocals that are a bit off the beaten path, along with easy-going Americana arrangements that bring to mind a train ride or a drive down a scenic country road.

“Twisted” is a peppy number driven by bass guitar (the Hollingsworths play all the instruments except on a couple tracks) that features quick rhymes and imaginative lyrics. It’s also one of the songs where Taylor Hollingsworth’s distinctive vocals are reminiscent of Sammy Llanas of The BoDeans. A galloping beat and twangy guitar playing augment the fun scat singing on “Shoom Doom Babba Labba,” and even though “Holy Water” questions the value of faith, it’s catchy enough to have angels tapping their toes. “The Races” mixes shimmering keyboards with metaphors about enjoying life to its fullest, and Kate Taylor Hollingsworth’s evocative singing conveys the complicated romantic emotions on “Pomp And Circumstance.” 


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

They’ll Be Dancing In The Street (And At Daley Plaza)

First, a quick mention that folk singer/author/model car maker Dean Milano will be performing at Mac’s On Slade in Palatine tomorrow (Thursday) night. Milano has a classic folk voice, and on his CDs he often takes a satirical look at the way things work in this crazy world. Show time is 8:00 PM. In addition to being a bar and performance venue, Mac’s has a full menu.

David Bowie fans can be forgiven for feeling a bit giddy these days. Especially those located in the Chicago area. Not only is the Windy City the only stop in the United States for David Bowie Is, but there will be a David Bowie Day celebration in Daley Plaza on September 23rd, the same day the exhibition opens at the Museum Of Contemporary Art Chicago. The free lunchtime event, which is being presented by the MCA and radio station WXRT, will include a live performance by the impressive Bowie tribute band, Sons Of The Silent Age. Fronted by Chris Connelly from Ministry and Revolting Cocks, Sons Of The Silent Age also includes Matt Walker (Morrissey, Smashing Pumpkins) and Steve Gerlach (The Bad Examples, Tomorrow The Moon). My review of the band’s show at Durty Nellies in Palatine can be found in the BHT Archives, under July 2nd, 2013.

For those who can’t make it to Chicago, there’s a David Bowie Is documentary, which was filmed at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, coming out September 23rd.

As if all that wasn’t enough to have fans of The Thin White Duke exclaiming, “Lets Dance,” the Second Disc website recently brought news of the new Bowie box set Nothing Has Changed, which is being released on November 18th. It will be available as a 2-CD set, a 3-CD set, or as a 2-LP set, and will cover Bowie’s recording career from 1964 through a brand new song titled “Sue (Or In A Season Of Crime). This new tune will also be available as a vinyl single with ‘Tis Pity She’s A Whore on the B-Side as part of this year’s Black Friday Record Store Day event. 


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

It Will Be Tomorrow On Thursday

Photo from Hushdrops Facebook page. 

Hushdrops have a show coming up at The Hideout this Thursday night. The Chicago-based psychedelic/power pop band recently ended a 10-year absence from the recording studio by releasing its full length album Tomorrow. Nora O’Connor and Steve Frisbie, who helped out with backup vocals on the title track, will be joining Hushdrops at this live gig. O’Connor is a singer-guitarist who has worked with acts such as Kelly Hogan, Andrew Bird, and Mavis Staples. Frisbie is a founding member of the acclaimed power pop band Frisbie and has performed as a duo with Liam Davis.

In a review posted earlier here on BHT, I praised Tomorrow as an ambitious double album with elaborate arrangements of prog and psychedelic rock that feature John San Juan on lead vocals and rampaging guitar. Bassist Jim Shapiro and drummer Joe Camarillo also played essential roles on the album. I was also fond of Volume One, the 2003 debut from Hushdrops, especially the hard-hitting “Summer People” and the melodic love song “Emily.” My review in the Illinois Entertainer (and later here on BHT) concluded that, Ultimately, Volume One is about the tight harmonies and spirited musicianship San Juan brings to a variety of songs.

The Hideout is located in Chicago at 1354 W. Wabansia. The show starts at 8:00 PM, tickets are $10.


Monday, September 8, 2014

Paul Collins - Feel The Noise

Singer-guitarist Paul Collins may have wanted the title of his 2010 CD King Of Power Pop to be taken in a humorous vein but there’s no denying he’s among the genre’s royalty. Starting with his work as a member of The Nerves and then as the leader of The Paul Collins Beat, he has influenced several power pop artists. His latest effort, Feel The Noise, finds him once again embracing his impressive heritage.

Collins also enjoys giving an occasional jab to the music industry. On the title track of King Of Power Pop, he looked back at the early days of his career, and on “Feel The Noise,” he scolds the uninformed people who insist rock and roll is dead. “I Need My Rock And Roll,” the first single and video from the new CD, strikes a similar chord, and Collins backs it up with a catchy guitar-driven arrangement.

Otherwise, the songs on Feel The Noise deal with the ups and downs of romantic entanglements. The energetic “Only Girl” celebrates the power of love, but on the Ramones-flavored “Little Suzy,” a guy’s attempts to impress a woman are met with a cold shoulder. “With A Girl Like You” harks back to the original British Invasion, and the Buddy Holly influence is unmistakable on the galloping “Baby I’m In Love With You.” Collins puts his own stamp on “Reach Out I’ll Be There” while maintaining the soul of The Four Tops’ original, and he also taps into Motown on “Don't Know How To Treat A Lady.” “Walk Away” ends the CD on an ironic note, as Collins imitates one of those weepy 1950s ballads while expressing ambivalence toward a girlfriend who’s leaving him.

Feel The Noise will be released tomorrow in CD and digital format, as well as on colored vinyl from Alive Naturalsound Records. Collins kicks off his next tour in Chicago at the Cobra Lounge on September 23rd. Other cities he’ll be visiting include Louisville, New Orleans, San Antonio, St. Louis, Pittsburgh, New York, and Atlanta.  


Friday, September 5, 2014


Charming Axe, the bluegrass/country/folk trio comprised of former Elvis Brothers singer-guitarist Rob Newhouse, singer guitarist Eugenia Elliott, and singer Hannah Hill, will be performing songs from its Gathering Days album at 27 Live in Evanston tonight. Tickets are $10.00. Julia Klee is also on the bill.

The 12th Annual Renegade Craft Fair September Market runs tomorrow and Sunday in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood, on Division between Damen and Paulina. In addition to a wide range of homemade items, there will be food and adult beverage vendors on hand.

Tim Ferguson of the Chicago psyche band The Red Plastic Buddha will be a guest on Richard Milne’s Local Anesthetic program on WXRT this Sunday night. Milne will be playing tracks from the very impressive new Red Plastic Buddha release Songs For Mara.

Baby, you can drive my car. Harper College in Palatine will be the scene of The British Car Festival  this Sunday, September 7th. Over 500 vehicles of UK origin will be on display and there will be food vendors in case anyone starts feeling peckish. Admission to this British Car Union sponsored event is free, but attendees are encouraged to make a donation to Shelter, Inc, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping provide housing for abused and neglected kids.

Reggies on State Street in Chicago will be celebrating its 7th Anniversary with a pair of shows on Monday, September 8th. Ken Mode, The Atlas Moth and three other acts will be performing in Rock Club section; and Mr. Blotto, former BoDeans member Sammy Llanas, Handler, and The Whateverly Bros will be in the Music Joint section. An admission price of $7 covers both shows. 

The Second Disc website recently noted that the Omnivore label has reissued Blaze Of Glory, the 1982 the debut from Game Theory on vinyl and on CD. The CD will include 15 bonus tracks. The Second Disc points out that Omnivore plans to reissue more efforts from this underrated and exquisite Scott Miller-led power pop band.

The 10th annual An Art Affair Around The Square takes place tomorrow and Sunday from 10:00 AM to 5:00PM in the Towne Square in downtown Palatine. Presented by the Palatine Jaycees, this juried art fair will also featured live music performances.

Blue Pearl Studio will host the first annual Charity Wine Walk in Evanston from 5:00 to 8:00 PM on Thursday, September 18th. The event will benefit two nonprofit charities: No Boundaries—Train for Work, Train for Life, a workplace training program, and the Evanston Art Center. The suggested donation is $15.00. 

Chrissie Hynde has announced her USA Tour in support of her impressive new Stockholm CD, it  includes a November 12th date at the Chicago Theatre. Other cities include San Francisco, Boston, New York, Washington, D.C., San Diego, Detroit, and Philadelphia.

Best wishes for a full recovery to Gerry Marsden of Gerry And The Pacemakers. According to a Facebook post from Chad And Jerremy, Marsden has dropped out of the British Invasion Tour due to a serious illness. The tour, which also includes former Moody Blues and Wings member Denny Laine and Mike Pender from The Searchers, will keep to its 10-date U.S. schedule, with Terry Sylvester, formerly of The Hollies and The Swinging Blue Jeans, taking Marseden’s place. Noted producer Peter Asher, who performed with Gordon Waller in Peter And Gordon, will be a special guest on two of the dates. 

Rumours? No, it’s all true. Rocker Magazine recently posted a Facebook link to a Consequence Of Sound report that Jemaine Clement and Brett McKenzie are creating a four-part comedy series for HBO. According to writer Josh Terry, the new project will not be related to their previous and hilarious sitcom Flight Of The Conchords. The duo is also seriously considering doing a musical with director James Bobin.

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