Monday, June 29, 2015

Celebrating The 4th With The 1960s

An upcoming 4th of July concert at Lake Ellyn Park in Glen Ellyn by one of my favorite local copy bands just might qualify as an official event in what I have designated as A Summer Of The Hollies. (See last Wednesday’s post.) I’ve heard The New Invaders play Hollies songs on a few occasions, and having exchanged emails with guitarist-vocalist Jimmy Herter, I’ve learned that he’s definitely a fan of Manchester’s finest. He’s logged more time covering The Beatles and The Monkees in other tribute bands, but the man knows his way around “Bus Stop.”

The New Invaders describe their show as taking audiences from the British Invasion to Woodstock, and since all six members (five guys and one woman) sing, there are a lot of harmonies in their approach. Plus, they’re versatile musicians—Herter also plays harmonica, flute, and sax—which enables them to cover everything from Sonny & Cher to Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young. Their eclectic repertoire includes Sly And The Family Stone, The Who, The Lovin’ Spoonful, The Fifth Dimension, The Beatles, The Mamas & The Papas, The Monkees, Badfinger, Jimi Hendrix, Deep Purple, and The Animals.

The New Invaders also cover acts that didn’t have too many hits, but whose work played an essential role in the 1960s. This might be one of the few bands that honors The Electric Prunes, The Seeds, The Chambers Brothers, and Iron Butterfly. With that wide of a selection at their disposal, there’s no guarantee that a Hollies song will make it into this Saturday’s 1:00 to 2:30 PM show. But it’s unlikely that any fan of 1960s rock will come away feeling disappointed.


Friday, June 26, 2015


As reported on Chicago radio station WXRT’s website and Facebook page this past Wednesday, Chicago blues legend Buddy Guy joined The Rolling Stones for some extended jamming on “Champagne And Reefer” during their concert at SummerFest in Milwaukee. In addition to forging a guitar triumvirate with Ron Wood and Keith Richards, Guy also took a turn on lead vocals. He and Mick Jagger were both impressive belting out the Muddy Waters classic. In other Stones news, the band recently released its From The Vault: The Marquee—Live In 1971 DVD.

Beat Swap Meet, a traveling event that bills itself as “a celebration of vinyl culture” will feature invited record collectors and dealers from across the country at Thalia Hall, 1807 S. Allport Street in Chicago tomorrow from 12:00 to 5:00 PM. Attendees will be able to buy, sell, or trade blues, funk, jazz, hip hop, new wave, psych, punk, rap, reggae, ska, soul, and world LPs and 45s while listening to DJs. Admission is free with a donation of a canned good.

Gerry O’Keefe will perform summer-inspired songs by The Beach Boys, The Go-Go’s, The Monkees, The Drifters, The Kinks, Keith, Katrina And The Waves and others from 6:30 to 8:30 PM tomorrow night at the kid-friendly Buzz Cafe in Oak Park.

Kelsey Skutnick, a Chicago-based artist I first encountered on the CTA Redline when she was giving out mysterious strips of paper with her name and an illustration on them, has created an 18 x 24 Grateful Dead 50 print for all the Deadheads who’ll be gathering to catch the band’s final three shows next weekend at Soldier Field. She plans to sell them on the street (I’m not sure which street) so if you buy one be sure to tell her you read about it on Broken Hearted Toy.

A tip of the bowler to English actor Patrick Macnee, who played dapper and deadly John Steed on the British comedy/adventure series The Avengers for several years. He passed away yesterday at the age of 93.

Chicago Tribune rock critic Greg Kot has interviewed U2 on at least a few occasions over the years, and his latest meeting with them has resulted in an informative and fascinating two-part article. Seeing U2 perform in live in Montreal seems to have given Kot a better appreciation of Songs Of Innocence, an album he wasn’t overly impressed with when it was released. Bono meets him halfway, conceding, “If I’m honest, there is something about the sound of the record that is a little too organized. That’s what happens when you’re too long in the studio.” U2 is currently in the midst of a five-date tour of Chicago.

Aimee Mann, Pink Martini, and The Von Trapps will share a triple bill bext Wednesday, July 1st  at Ravinia. Brian Wilson, a hot topic these days because of the Love And Mercy bio-pic, along with Al Jardine and Blondie Chaplin will visit Ravinia on July 6th. Rodriguez, of Searching For Sugar Man fame, is also on the bill.

The original lineup of The Smoking Popes—including long-absent drummer Mike Felumlee—has sold out its July 30th show at the Elbo Room. One of  Chicago’s more popular cutting edge bands, The Smoking Popes released the teen-centric concept album This Is A Only Test in 2011 to positive reviews. (See Archives, June 6, 2011 for a review.) Their opening act at Elbo Room will be Burnside And Hooker, a theatrical and engaging coed band that recently released its second full-length CD All The Way To The Devil.

The Hollies Official Facebook noted that the band’s optimistic and irresistible single “I’m Alive” reached Number One in the UK charts 50 years ago this week. Just a fun fact to contemplate now that I’ve officially declared this A Hollies Summer in Chicago.

Guitar-driven power pop band The Bishop’s Daredevil Stunt Club has a record release show for their full-length album Rock N Roll Motorcycle Dinosaur at the Bottom Lounge on July 18th. I’ll be reviewing this 12-song effort in the near future.

The Luck Of Eden Hall is heading overseas for a UK tour that will include a gig at the 12-Bar Club with Mark And The Clouds; Emily And Angeline; Mummy; and The Blues Ghosts on July 30th in London. They’ll be back in the States to open for The Psychedelic Furs at the Skokie Backlot Bash on August 29.

The 6th Annual Blue Whiskey Independent Film Festival will run July 19–26, with events scheduled at the Cinema Star Grill in Arlington Heights and Cutting Hall in Palatine.

Also in Palatine, the 2015 Hometown Fest over the 4th of July weekend will include performances by Serendipity, a band comprised of five young women who play originals and an eclectic selection of covers, at 5:00 PM on Friday, and the Rolling Stones tribute band Hot Rocks on Sunday at 5:30 PM.

I was disappointed to receive the manuscript for my rock and roll novel back in the mail today with a rejection slip from a local publisher. After venting on Facebook, I received a number of consoling messages from assorted friends. Thanks to everyone who reached out. I’ll be approaching new publishers and agents soon.


Thursday, June 25, 2015

For Those About To Pay Tribute To The Beatles: We Salute You

Today is Global Beatles Day, an annual online event organized by Faith Cohen that gives people around the world a chance to wax philosophical or just say something pleasant about the most important band in rock and roll history. Musicians have been honoring The Beatles with tribute albums for a long time now. Here’s a look at a few noteworthy efforts.

MOJO Magazine: Beatlemania/Volume 1. The super hip UK magazine always has a free CD stuck to its front cover, although the quality of these collections varies. This one from the September 2004 issue succeeds quite nicely by gathering a variety of American artists to interpret The Beatles in their native genres. Thus you have The Dillards and Charles River Valley Boys bringing toe-tapping Country and Western arrangements to “Yesterday” and “I’ve Just Seen A Face,” respectively; Detroit Emeralds elevating “And I Love Her” with gospel singing, and Billy Preston offering a funky instrumental take on “Eight Days A Week.” As a power pop/1960s aficionado, I’m drawn to The Posies’ “I’m Looking Through You,” The Cyrkle’s “I’m Happy Just To Dance With You,” and The Cryan Shames’ “If I Needed Someone.”

He Was Fab - A Loving Tribute To George Harrison. The artists on this 2002 Jealousy Records CD tend toward power pop, and they all hit the mark with their tributes to the quiet Beatle. The Drowners’ “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” gets things off to the a rocking start, and there’s fine work from Chris Richards, Phil Angotti and The Idea, Sparkle *Jets UK, The Lolas, Lisa Mychols, Jamie Hoover, and 13 other artists.

Listen To What The Man Said. Released on OGLIO Records in conjunction with Coming Up! in 2001, this tribute has popular artists like Semisonic, Robin Hitchcock, The Minus 5, Matthew Sweet, They Might Be Giants, Sloan, The Finn Brothers, World Party, and Judybats covering songs from Paul McCartney’s solo career. Tracks include “Band On The Run,” “My Brave Face,” “Maybe I’m Amazed,” and “Too Many People,” but surprisingly, “Listen To What The Man Said” is not included.

Coming Up! The bookend to Listen To What The Man Said, this OGLIO Records effort has independent artists like The Jelly Bricks, The Shazam, Starbelly, and The Masticators recording McCartney tunes. It has “Mull Of Kintyre,” “Helen Wheels,” and “Another Day.” “Coming Up,” by the way, is on the Listen To What The Man Said collection. 

Fruits de Mer Records - Various Compilations. This UK vinyl-only indie label excels at bringing in current psyche and prog rock bands to cover classics from the 1960s. That includes mind-bending versions of Beatles songs like “Tomorrow Never Knows” by Rob Gould, “Within You, Without You” by Jack Ellister, and If I Needed Someone” by Stay.

Thanks to Faith Cohen for organizing this event; to the bands and record labels that given us the tribute albums; and all the musicians around the world who include Beatles songs in their live performances.

Have A Happy Global Beatles Day.


Wednesday, June 24, 2015

It’s Officially A Hollies Summer In Chicago

The best souvenirs come from someone special.
My wife Pam painted this Hollies portrait for me when we first started dating.

At the risk of seeming clueless, I’m officially designating the next few months as A Hollies Summer In Chicago. I know. The Rolling Stones just played SummerFest in Milwaukee, which is a pretty quick drive from here. U2 is in town for a series of five concerts at the United Center, starting tonight. The Grateful Dead will play their last three concerts ever at Soldier Field over the 4th of July weekend. Paul McCartney is coming to Lollapalooza in August. Tomorrow is Global Beatles Day. Which is why I’m saying A Hollies Summer, so that it doesn’t prevent June, July, and August from being some other artist or event’s Summer as well. Still, The Hollies?

Two members of that Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame-inducted band are coming to the Chicago area for separate performances in July and August. I can’t remember the last time something like this has happened. Graham Nash will be doing a solo gig at The Arcada in St. Charles on July 28, which is close enough to July 25 to be considered part of my birthday celebration. Terry Sylvester will once again be a guest at Fest For Beatles Fans, when it returns to the Hyatt Regency in Rosemont on the weekend of August 14–16. In a way, the fact that Sylvester’s arrival here follows Nash’s recreates a major point in Hollies history; when Sylvester replaced Nash as the band’s rhythm guitarist-vocalist.

Although Nash seemed to shun his work with The Hollies when he first joined David Crosby and Stephen Stills, later years have seen him embrace his Manchester roots. His sense of pride in the work he did with The Hollies clearly comes across in Nash’s autobiography Wild Tales: A Rock And Roll Life.  When I did a telephone interview with him for the Illinois Entertainer in 2009, (see Broken Hearted Toy archives, December 17, 2009) he was adamant that The Hollies belonged in The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. A year later, he would get his wish. So there’s reason to believe a Nash solo show will find him performing some Hollies material.

The last time Terry Sylvester was a guest at Fest For Beatles Fans - Chicago, he was interviewed by The Fest’s MC Terri Hemmert in the Main Ballroom, signed autographs, and performed a few Hollies songs with the tribute band Liverpool. More recently, Sylvester was part of The British Invasion Tour that also included Chad And Jeremy, Peter Asher, Denny Laine, Mike Pender, and Billy J. Kramer. (See Broken Hearted Toy archives, March 9, 2015.) He exudes a one-of-the-guys-at-the-pub friendliness, and seemed happy to accept the Broken Hearted Toy button I gave him at City Winery - Chicago.

Another appropriate way to celebrate A Hollies Summer In Chicago would be to play their songs at home and on your assorted devices. If you don’t own a Hollies album, there are several hundred greatest hits packages available. Nash released a boxed set called Reflections that covers his entire career. The Look Through Any Window 1963 –1975 DVD has TV footage, live performances, interviews, and amazing footage of The Hollies in the Abbey Road recording studio.

Local bands like The Abbeys and The Webstirs that specialize in catchy songs with harmonies could include a Hollies cover in their live sets. Singer-guitarist Phil Angotti could get together with Casey McDonough, Tommi Zender, and the boys and do a Hollies tribute show. (They’ve covered The Bee Gees, The Zombies, and The Kinks very well so far.) The Hollies Appreciation Facebook Area Page is a great place to see rare photos and videos, but you need permission to join. The Hollies official website has tour books, t-shirts, a mouse pad (I’m using mine now) and other merchandise for sale. You can find an amazing variety of vintage Hollies videos on YouTube. So, there are lots of ways to celebrate A Hollies Summer. Let the fun begin.


Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Power Pop Movie Progress Report

Justin Fielding in one of his many selfies. This time, he’s with Derrick Anderson (left), who has performed with The Bangles and The Smithereens, and Jim Laspesa (right), who can be seen in the Brian Wilson biopic Love And Mercy.

First, a quick reminder that this Thursday, June 25, is Global Beatles Day. The annual online event is hosted by Faith Cohen and she wants people to express their love and admiration all together now for the four lads from Liverpool. Without them, the following post would not have been possible.

Although Boston-based filmmaker Justin Fielding doesn’t plan to release his documentary The Power Pop Movie until some time in 2016, those of us who have been following his posts on Facebook already know a few essential things about it. Fielding plans to explore how a genre that places a premium on irresistible melodies and draws its main influence from classic hits of the 1960s has never been embraced by a majority of rock music fans. He has a keen knowledge of power pop’s history; the artists who helped create it and the ones who perform it now. And he’s willing to travel back and forth across the country to meet with those people. 

A photo on Fielding’s Facebook page today shows him conducting an interview with respected rock critic Ken Sharp, who recently released Vol. No. 2 of his Play On! Power Pop Heroes trilogy in conjunction with Pop Geek Heaven. I’ve referred to Vol. No. 1 several times here on Broken Hearted Toy, and I’m anxiously awaiting the arrival of Vol. No. 2 in the mail. Fielding has also interviewed International Pop Overthrow founder David Bash;  journalists Ira Robbins, Cary Baker, Moira McCormick, and John Borack; and radio personalities Chris Carter and Michael McCartney.

As for the musicians who have participated in The Power Pop Movie, they include Todd Rundgren; Clem Burke from Blondie; Debbi and Vicki Petersson from The Bangles;  Mitch Easter from Let’s Active; John Wicks from The Records; Chris Collingwood and Adam Schlesinger from Fountains Of Wayne;  Lannie Flowers; Derrick Anderson; Jim Laspesa; Jody Stephens from Big Star; Ken Stringfellow from The Posies and Big Star; Dave Gregory from XTC; Ron Flynt from 20/20; Jeremy Morris; and several others. Chicago is well-represented, with Gary Klebe, Jeff Murphy, and John Murphy from Shoes; Bun E. Carlos from Cheap Trick; Brad Elvis from Screams, The Elvis Brothers, Big Hello, The Handcuffs, and The Romantics; Mimi Betinis from Pezband; Cliff Johnson from Pezband and Off Broadway; and Ted Ansani and Mike Zelenko from Material Issue.

Fielding has created a short video preview for The Power Pop Movie, and it’s likely he’ll be filming more teasers in the coming months. I proudly wore my The Power Pop Movie t-shirt to the Gold Coast Art Fair in Chicago this past Saturday. From now through July 1st, the full price of any of The Power Pop Movie t-shirts purchased from the official website will be donated to a fund established by The Wild Honey Foundation to help musician John Wicks in his recovery from pancreatic cancer. 


Monday, June 22, 2015

All Lit Up - Part Two

After a considerable delay due to a number of freelance proofreading assignments (not that I’m complaining), here’s the second half of my look at the Printers Row Lit Fest that was held in Chicago on June 6th and 7th.

It wasn’t always easy to identify what roles the various participants at The Printers Row Lit Fest played in the whole scheme of creating or enjoying books. After an oral synopsis of my rock and roll novel appeared to make a favorable impression on a representative at one of the booths, I asked if they were currently accepting submissions. She explained that they were a book club, not a publishing house. Luckily, I did find a few local publishers who were interested in receiving some sample chapters. If anything develops from those leads, Broken Hearted Toy will be the first media source to break the news. Meanwhile, talking to published authors about their efforts proved to be informative and entertaining.

Artist-writer Verzell James creates graphic novels featuring African-American heroes, with a goal to educate as well as entertain. Earlier this year, he was selling his merchandise and comic books like Reaper and Tough City at C2E2. Author J. Eric Booker told me about his Elysian Dynasty fantasy trilogy of The Swords Of The Sultan, The Reign Of The Sultan, and The War Of All Wars, which center on the adventures of a young thief named Baltor Elysian. C.A. Newsome pursues a canine angle in novels like A Shot In the Bark and Sneak Thief from her Lia Anderson Dog Park Mysteries, and Blake Hausladen’s The Vesteal Series offers tales steeped in magic and set within dark forests.

YA author Kym Brunner, who is the co-leader (with YA paranormal author Cherie Colyer) of the writers group I belong to, was on hand selling copies of her suspenseful Wanted: Dead Or In Love, in which two teenagers are possessed by the spirits of Bonnie and Clyde, and her comedic effort One Smart Cookie. In addition to authors, The Printers Row Lit Fest also featured panel discussions with famous writers, MiSC, which describes itself as a pop culture wonderland for Chicago; writers groups like Sisters In Crime; and vendors selling vintage newspapers, posters, and books. All in all, a great place to dive headfirst into a sea of creativity and imagination.


Friday, June 19, 2015


Next Thursday, June 25, is Global Beatles Day, an annual online event hosted by Faith Cohen, in which people are encouraged to reflect on the significance and all-around fabness of John, Paul, George, and Ringo. 

Art for blog’s sake. People who have gone to The Gold Coast Art Fair in recent years have likely seen the eye-popping work of pointillist painter Tim McWilliams. He creates huge, colorful portraits of Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, The Beatles and other celebrities. I mentioned my blog to McWilliams a few weeks back when he was one of the few brave souls who was displaying his work in the teeth of inclement weather at The Millennium Art Fair. He generously offered to give a $5.00 discount to anyone who mentions Broken Hearted Toy when they come to his booth this weekend. The Gold Coast Art Fair runs tomorrow and Sunday in Grant Park.

Go Bohemian on Randolph Street. The Dandy Warhols, whose catchy and guitar-fueled “Bohemian Like You” still reigns as the best satiric song about the indie lifestyle, will be performing at the Taste Of Randolph Street festival tomorrow night at 9:00 PM. Cult favorites Dinosaur Jr. (tonight) and the dreamy pop duo Best Coast (Sunday night) are the other headliners, and there are several indie rock acts scheduled from this evening through Sunday. Food vendors include bellyQ, City Winery, La Sardine, and Wishbone. Admission is $10. 

Tickets are still available for the Squeeze November 27 and 28 acoustic shows at Park West. So you can spend part of the Thanksgiving weekend being grateful for the opportunity to see Glenn Tilbrook and Chris Difford—one of pop music’s all-time best songwriting-performing duos—in an intimate setting.

If you go to the Custer Street Fair in Evanston this Saturday and Sunday, keep an eye out for Frank Carr from the Famous In The Future comedy group. He’s always loved this event, and was even inspired by it to write a skit about an unusual vendor selling a Twilight Zone sort of figure. In addition to providing comic inspiration, the 43rd Annual Custer Street Fair will have an Eco-Village featuring solar and wind energy technology; organic/Fair Trade food; several vendors; crafts, and live entertainment. Admission is free.   

The hard-edged power band Go Time! will be performing at Phyllis’ Musical Inn tomorrow night on Division in Chicago.

The Secret History Of Chicago Music casts a spotlight on the critically acclaimed power pop band Green this week. Created by the artist/journalist/performer known as Plastic Crimewave, The Secret History Of Chicago Music exists in comic form in the Chicago Reader, and there’s a radio version that can be heard on WGN each Saturday morning as part of Mike Stephen’s Outside The Loop program. Mr. Crimewave concentrates on “pivotal Chicago musicians that somehow have not gotten their just dues.” I have three different Hollies portraits done by Plastic Crimewave from the times he made in-store appearances at the Reckless Records store on Milwaukee Avenue as part of the annual Record Store Day celebration. (For $5, he would draw any band you wanted.)  

At the risk of sticking “Chelsea Dagger” in your head (as if it wasn’t already there these past few days if you live Chicago) I’ll pass along the news that The Fratellis have a gig coming up on September 24 at The Vic. Chances are, fans of the 2015 NHL Champion Chicago Blackhawks will still be in the mood to hear “Chelsea Dagger,” which has been the team’s unofficial theme song for years now. 

U2 arrives in Chicago next Wednesday, June 24 for the first of five gigs (also June 25, 28, 29 and July 2) at the United Center, as part of its iNNOCENCE + eXPERIENCE tour. The shows will no doubt prove U2 is still one of rock’s most potent and emotionally relevant acts. And yes, Songs Of Innocence was a good album, no matter what you may have seen on social media.

With all the major events going on around Chicago this weekend, you might still want to find some time to hang out with a time traveler. As reported in this past Wednesday’s edition of Redeye, The Right Brain Project theatre ensemble has created a follow-up its 2013 Doctor Who-inspired show The Timey-Wimey Fantastic Brilliant Extravaganza (Geronimo!). The new production Who Too runs Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at The Right Brain Project, 4001 N. Ravenswood .

I can’t say that I’m a regular Lucky Brand customer, but as I passed by their location on the ground floor of the Shops At North Bridge mall on Michigan Avenue, I spotted several Rolling Stones t-shirts  that would be perfect for fans going to see The Stones next Tuesday, June 23, at this year’s SummerFest in Milwaukee.

Other acts scheduled for SummerFest include Stevie Wonder, Neil Young And The Promise Of The Real, Grace Potter, Jane’s Addiction, The Kooks, Pat Benatar And Neil Giraldo, The New Pornographers, The Romantics, Sloan, and The Wind.

Finally, my wife Pam is one of the finalists to be the first woman featured on a $20 bill. Even if she doesn’t nab that honor, be sure to remember that this Sunday is officially Pam Appreciation Day.

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