Friday, February 5, 2016

Slumgulllion

Here They Come. The Second Disc website is reporting that The Monkees will release Good Times!, their first album of new material in 20 years, on June 10. The concept behind this effort certainly sounds promising. Some of the songs have been written especially for the band by current artists like Noel Gallagher and Ben Gibbards, while others will be composed by Neil Diamond and Carole King. The title track springs from a 1968 composition by Harry Nilsson, and will feature his voice along with Mickey Dolenz. So far, Mike Nesmith has not been involved in the project. Good Times! is being produced by Adam Schlesinger from Fountains Of Wayne, and arrives in time to help The Monkees celebrate 50 years of performing.

Depending on when you're reading this, there might still be time to catch The Handcuffs tonight at the Township bar on Chicago's north side. They'll be sharing a triple bill with Razorhouse and the self-described power trombone trio Les Vikq.

According to a recent issue of the Chicago newpaper Red Eye, this year's Grammy Awards ceremony will include a celebration of the impact David Bowie had on music, fashion, and culture. Lady Gaga, who has often cited Bowie as a major influence, will be a major part of the tribute.

Two of the biggest names from Chicago's alt rock scene will share the bill on April 14 in the posh setting of The Civic Opera House. The Smashing Pumpkins will perform In Plainsong: An Acoustic-Electro Evening with special guest Liz Phair. Tickets went on sale earlier today.

Tickets are now on sale for The Zombies show on May 29 at The Arcada in St. Charles. Founding members Colin Blunstone and Rod Argent, along with returning members Hugh Grundy and Chris White, will perform classic hits like "Tell Her No," "She's Not There," and "Time Of The Season," along with tracks from the recently released Still Got That Hunger album.

Other upcoming shows at Arcada include The Bodeans next Friday, February 12, Creedence Clearwater Revisited on Febrauary 20, and a Rock Of The 80s triple bill of The Smithereens, The Motels, and The Tubes on April 8.

The Hypocrites theater group will be staging local actor Hans Fleischman's inventive and critically acclaimed take on The Glass Menagerie at The Den Theatre through March 6. Fleischman's version of the Tennessee Williams play was a huge hit for the Mary-Arrchie Theatre a few years back.

BeatleJuice, the nine-piece band that won the Battle Of The Beatles Bands competition at last year's Fest For Beatles Fans - Chicago, will be performing on February 20 at Peggy Kinnane's in Arlington Heights.

Graham Nash's upcoming shows on May 11 and May 12 at City Winery - Chicago went on sale earlier this week. His new solo effort This Path Tonight comes out in April.

Indie rock band Fort Frances will also be at City Winery - Chicago. They've got a record release party for Alio coming up on April 21.

Tickets are also now on sale for New Order's upcoming gig at The Chicago Theatre on March 16.

Metric has a gig next Friday, February 12 at The House Of Blues. The band is touring in support of its latest release, Pagans In Vegas.

Peter Case, a founding member of the essential bands The Plimsouls and The Nerves, will be performing next Saturday, February 13 at the Old Town School of Folk Music.

Chicago Blues: A Living History, a local ensemble of veteran musicians, is seeking to fund its third album Alive And Kicking via a KickStarter campaign. The two-CD set will come with a 36-page booklet, and feature Felton Crews, Billy Flynn, Johnny Iguana, Matthew Skoller, and Kenny "Beedy Eyes" Smith. Chicago Blues: A Living History is also dedicated to uniting older and upcoming musicians in order to honor the genre's history and secure its future.

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Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Buy Stuff From Graham For His Birthday

Graham Nash's birthday is a sort of holiday here on Broken Hearted Toy, and this year it arrives just as he's about to kick off a world tour. This Path Tonight, his first solo effort in 14 years is due out in April. Touching The Flame, an exhibit that covers Nash's entire career dating back to The Hollies, runs through March 20 at The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. So what better way to celebrate the man's birthday than to buy stuff from him?

Tickets for his May 11 and 12 shows at City Winery - Chicago officially go on sale tomorrow, but quite a few have already been snapped up via pre-sale opportunities during the past two days. This Path Tonight, which comes with a DVD, is available to pre-order on Amazon. The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame is selling a Touching The Flame t-shirt, and you can find t-shirts, vinyl, CDs, and other items on the official Graham Nash website.

If you’ve read Graham Nash’s autobiography Wild Tales or Ken Sharp’s interview with him in the limited-edition book Play On! Power Pop Heroes - Vol. 1, you know he enjoys sharing entertaining anecdotes about his life. Occasionally, the way he remembers something isn’t quite the same as the way Stephen Stills, David Crosby, or his fellow band mates in The Hollies, Allan Clarke and Tony Hicks remember it. Who can really say for sure at this point?

I did a telephone interview Nash for the Illinois Entertainer in 2009, and he came across like a guy hanging out with his mates in a pub. We talked about how The Hollies deserved to be in The Rock And Roll Hall of Fame (they hadn't been inducted yet at that time), his political views, and how he finds inspiration for songs. My favorite part was when he described how the idea for "To The Last Whale" came to him while he was sailing with David Crosby.

And yes, I have a ticket for one of his City Winery - Chicago shows.

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Monday, February 1, 2016

Trolley - Caught In The Darkness

The guys in Trolley haven't lost a bit of the craftmanship that made their 2011 album Things That Shine And Glow so enjoyable. (It was a Broken Hearted Toy Top Ten Favorite of the year, and perhaps more importantly, the track "I Woke Up" was tapped as one of Little Steven's Coolest Songs In The World on his Underground Garage radio show.) Caught In The Dark finds the Milwaukee-based band taking the same multi-dimensional approach it did on Things. Guitarist Paul J. Wall, keyboards player-guitarist Mike Perotto, and bassist-guitarist Terry Hackbarth can all sing lead, and the arrangements they create together are consistently inventive.

Most of the 12 tracks hit the ground running, particularly the catchy "Thursday Girl," which features electronically altered guitars and vocals, and the title track. An obvious 1960s influence once again comes into play, but Trolley uses that era as a launchpad rather than getting bogged down in tepid imitations of decades-old material. "All The Way" has a vintage (pre-disco) Bee Gees vibe but there's also a modern-edged instrumental passage.

The triumphant "She Helps Me Celebrate" also breaks loose at midpoint, while the introspective "Losing That Madly In Love With Her Feeling" serves up some of the album's most exquisite harmonies. "She Has It All" throws another curveball the listener's way by adding a bit of 1980s new wave, while "We All Fall Down" and "The Kids All Sing" are straight-up power pop gems. The extended keyboards coda at the end of "Take My Love" is a gamble, but by that time, Trolley has given the song an alluring psychedelic landscape that makes it work. Also, it's a fitting end to an album filled with adventures.

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Friday, January 29, 2016

Slumgullion

The Zombies are coming to The Arcada in St. Charles.

"The grass has grown much taller now, overrunning everything. Oh, what have I done?"

- "Crusader" by The Hollies.

So another week has gone by with hardly a post here on Broken Hearted Toy, due to my having double-duty proofreading assignments. As I've mentioned before, I'm not complaining (especially after some of the slow periods I've hit in recent years) but it does leave me feeling guilty about not meeting the self-imposed deadlines for this blog. And I sincerely apologize to those who've sent me emails regarding their new albums. I could never keep up with all of those releases and some, despite their merit, just don't fit the BHT format. But I'm hoping to at least start downloading a few for reviews in the near future.

The man who wrote the lyric quoted above (and the exquisite melody that went with it) is coming to Chicago for two days in May. An Evening With Graham Nash, the singer-songwriter's upcoming tour in support of his new This Path Tonight album, will stop in Chicago on May 11 and 12 at City Winery. Tickets go on sale next Wednesday, although fans who've signed up to get Nash's emails can order them on Monday. If you become a City Winery Vinofile, you can purchase Nash tickets on Tuesday. Needless to say, I'll be writing more about these shows in the coming months.

Tickets went on sale yesterday for The Zombies show on May 29 at The Arcada in St. Charles. Founding members Colin Blunstone and Rod Argent, along with returning members Hugh Grundy and Chris White, will perform classic hits like "Tell Her No," "She's Not There," and "Time Of The Season," along with tracks from the recently released Still Got That Hunger album.

Cheap Trick fans can already start counting their 2016 blessings now that the band has released a digital copy of the song "No Direction Home" as a preview of its upcoming new album. Bang Zoom Crazy...Hello is being released on April 1, just seven days before Cheap Trick receives a long overdue induction into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. The guitar-driven and defiant "No Direction Home," with its catchy arrangement and Robin Zander's distinctive vocals, can be downloaded for free when you follow the link from the Chicagoist website. A big thank you to Chicago power pop musician and Cheap Trick fan Brent Seatter for posting about this on his Facebook page.

Mary-Arrchie Theatre's final production, a staging of David Mamet's American Buffalo, opened yesterday and will run through March 6. Congratulations to Mary-Arrchie's Artistic Director Rich Cotovsky on having the block outside the theatre officially named for him by the city of Chicago. As noted by the Time Out Chicago website, 46th Ward Alderman James Cappleman was instrumental in securing the honor.

The Sons Of The Silent Age will perform David Bowie's Station To Station album and several of his hits during a special tribute show on March 4 at Metro. The band, which is fronted by Chris Connelly from the Revolting Cocks and Ministry, performed at the Daley Center on the opening day of the David Bowie Is exhibition that ran at The Museum Of Contemporary Art in 2014. Other members include Matt Walker from Smashing Pumpkins and Steve Gerlach from The Bad Examples and Tomorrow The Moon. Longtime Bowie collaborator Ava Cherry will be a special guest at the Metro performance, and part of the proceeds will be donated to the University Of Chicago Medicine Comprehensive Care Center.

The Jefferson Starship concert at The Arcada in St. Charles will take place as scheduled tomorrow night, and will include a tribute to Paul Kantner, who recently passed away due to multiple organ failure. Kantner was a founding member of Jefferson Starship and its predecessor, the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame inducted Jefferson Airplane.

Other upcoming shows at Arcada include The Bodeans on February 12, Creedence Clearwater Revisited on Febrauary 20, and comedian Steven Wright on April 9.

Peter Case, a founding member of the essential bands The Plimsouls and The Nerves, will be performing on February 13 at the Old Town School of Folk Music.

Congratulations to Arlington Heights author Kym Brunner on the upcoming publication of her comic YA novel Flip The Bird. It will be her third book. Brunner is the co-leader (with published author Cherie Colyer) of the bi-monthly writers group that I 've been going to for years.

Metric has a gig on February 12 at The House Of Blues. The band is touring in support of its latest release, Pagans In Vegas.

Scraps Vol. 2, the follow-up to Scraps' recent digital collection of songs originally recorded by Chicago band back the late 1970s and early 1980s, is now available on iTunes, Apple Music, and other streaming services. I posted a review of Scraps Vol. 1 on January 13.

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Monday, January 25, 2016

Slow Buildings - Weapons Against Me

On its latest release Weapons Against Me, New Jersey-based quartet Slow Buildings continues to explore the darker sentiments that ran through its impressive 2014 EP Poison Condition. Singer-guitarist Jason Legacy once again sets biting lyrics to catchy melodies, and combines with guitarist-vocalist Chris Fuchs on inventive internal harmonies. Initially, the band's approach seems pretty basic, but there are a number of twists and turns within the arrangements.

"I'm a million miles from a victory," Legacy sings on "Invisible Kid," a song about feeling alienated in your own town, and on "Dirt On A Dog," there's a bratty element to his vocal delivery. The acoustic-based "I Just Can't Trust You" captures the heartache of ending a relationship due to a manipulative partner, while the energetic "Weapons Against Me (Remix)" concerns a guy who yearns for a woman who's already taken. "Teasing Rae," a melodic tale of a femme fatale, finds Slow Buildings adding new wave style keyboards to the garage rock mix. Like the other tracks on Weapons Against Me, it turns feelings of betrayal into engaging music.

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Friday, January 22, 2016

Slumgullion

They said Ciao! but they're back now. It's been 20 years since Lush released an album, but original members Miki Berenyi, Emma Anderson, and Philip King have reunited for a series of concert dates in America, England, and Europe. Tickets went on sale today for their September 18 show at The Vic in Chicago; other gigs are scheduled for Los Angeles, San Francisco, Philadelphia, and London. Lush released a five-disc box set in December featuring all their album tracks, along with B-sides, radio sessions, and previously unreleased material.

The McCartney Years, a three-hour, 40-song Paul McCartney tribute involving several musicians and vocalists, comes to the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre in Arlington Heights tomorrow night. The concept is to faithfully create a live performance exactly the way Sir Paul would have done it in the mid-1970s. Tickets are $35, $40 for stage tables. The show starts at 7:00 PM.

All Things Must Pass: The Rise And Fall Of Tower Records will be shown this Sunday, January 24 at 3:00 PM and Tuesday, January 26 at 6:00 PM at the Gene Siskel Center in Chicago. It's director Colin Hanks' documentary on the once successful record store chain, as well as the music industry in general.

There's a double bill of Go Time! with Paul Coady and The Edsel Brothers tomorrow night at the Uptown Lounge.

There will be a special tribute to Gary Loizzo and The American Breed when local PBS station WTTW presents the Cornerstones Of Rock: American Garage on May 17 at the North Shore Center in Skokie. Loizzo, who sang lead on "Bend Me, Shape Me" before moving on to a successful career as a producer, passed away earlier this week. Performers at Cornerstones include The Ides Of March featuring Jim Peterik; The Buckinghams featuring Carl Giammerese and Nick Foruna with special guest Dennis Tufano; The Cryan Shames; The New Colony Six featuring Ray Graffia, Jr. and Bruce Mattey with special guest Ronnie Rice; and The Shadows Of Knight featuring Jimy Sohns.Tickets are still available through Onesti Entertainment Arcada.

American Buffalo, Mary-Arrchie's final production, opens next Thursday, January 28 at the its Angel Island home base on Sheridan Road. This is a prime opportunity to experience the critically acclaimed storefront theatre in all its in-your-face glory, with founding member/Artistic Director Rich Cotovsky in a major role. Mary-Arrchie is honoring Cotovsky by offering a limited edition Rich Cotovsky Died For Our Sins t-shirt (it's based on the company's annual Abbie Hoffman Died For Our Sins festival) with all proceeds going to the final season budget.

The Nicholas Tremulis Orchestra with special guest Jay O'Rourke will be performing next Friday, January 29 at SPACE in Evanston.

Los Lobos may not have been inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, but they've created an impressive body of songs like, "Will The Wolf Survive," "Shakin', Shakin', Shakes," and "Set Me Free (Rosa Lee)." They'll be performing with special guests Ballet Folklorico Mexicano on Sunday, February 21 at the McAnnich Arts Center at College of DuPage.

Tony Award nominee Mary Bridget Davies will be in the lead role when A Night With Janis Joplin comes to The Chicago Theatre on March 6. The show is being described as "a musical journey celebrating Janis Joplin and her biggest musical influences."

Tickets go on sale this coming Tuesday for the July 19 Rock And Roll Three For All concert featuring Heart, Joan Jett, and Cheap Trick at First Merit Bank Pavilion on Chicago's lakefront. As the name suggests, all three acts are Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame inductees.

The Hits just keep on coming. I received a message from Pat Deane, the lead vocalist for the late 1970s/early 1980s Chicago band Scraps regarding my review of the Scraps Vol. 1 digital album that's now available on iTunes. The song the band contributed to Loop compilation album was "New Robots," and yes, there will a Vol. 2 will become available in the near future.

A rock music-infused version of Twelfth Night, created in the UK by Filter Theatre in association with the Royal Shakespeare Company, will be at the Chicago Shakespeare on Navy Pier theater from March 1 through March 13.

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Monday, January 18, 2016

Music News

Photo from Kevin Junior's Facebook page.

On a day when rock and roll has lost two more of its esteemed members in Glenn Frey of The Eagles and drummer Dale "Buffin" Griffin of Mott The Hoople, the Chicago music scene has also been hit hard. Kevin Junior, who fronted the lush pop group Chamber Strings, and Gary Loizzo, who started as a member of The American Breed before moving on to a career of producing albums for bands like The Kind and Styx, have passed away. I saw Kevin Junior perform at International Pop Overthrow - Chicago one year, on a night when musicians were sitting in on each other's sets. Junior, who had the look and charisma of a classic rock star, performed with at least two different lineups. A few years ago he was faced with a number of medical bills, and as often happen in these circumstances, Chicago area musicians organized a benefit to help cover the costs. There are numerous posts mourning the loss of Junior and Loizzo on Facebook today, but at least we can take comfort in knowing that through good and bad, there is a great deal of strength and compassion in our music community.

The Posies plan to release their next album Solid States this spring in partnership with the soon to be launched MyMusicEmpire. The company hopes to help musicians form a more long-lasting and interactive bond with fans in the process of creating and promoting music. Posies founding members Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow offer a description of the company's goals on the MyMusicEmpire site.

The McCartney Years, a three-hour, 40-song Paul McCartney tribute involving several musicians and vocalists, comes to the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre in Arlington Heights this Saturday, January 23. The concept is to faithfully create a live performance exactly the way Sir Paul would have done it in the mid-1970s. Tickets are $35, $40 for stage tables. The show starts at 7:00 PM.

Graham Parker and Brinsley Schwarz, two of England's most influential musicians, will be sharing the stage together on April 22 at SPACE in Evanston. Tickets went on sale this past Saturday. Also at SPACE, the veteran Chicago area tribute band Androgynous Mustache will present A Night of Warren Zevon Songs this coming Thursday, January 21st.

It was nice to see a post from WXRT mid-morning air personality Terri Hemmert on her Facebook page this past Saturday saying her recent cancer surgery went well. She noted that she's waiting to hear if she needs further treatment but is keeping a positive attitude. Best wishes to Terri for a full recovery. In the meantime, fans can hear one-hour versions of her weekly Breakfast With The Beatles show that she recorded before her operation. They'll be running over the next few weeks until she feels well enough to go back to the full, two-hour show.

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