Monday, August 3, 2015

And Another Thing. . .

George Harrison art from the Phil Angotti And Friends
Play The Music Of George Harrison At City Winery Facebook page.

Various items from the rock and roll world.

Lollapalooza was another rousing success this year despite serious weather that caused a brief evacuation Sunday afternoon and an earlier end to the festival than had been planned. Out here in suburban Palatine, we had hail stones that were literally the size of golf balls, but luckily the revelers downtown were spared that experience. In other Lolla news, there were reports that Paul McCartney did an extended sound check Thursday night and his songs could be heard all over the downtown area. I doubt anyone complained.

A special tribute show called The Music of George Harrison is taking place at City Winery - Chicago tomorrow night, August 4th. Singer-guitarist Phil Angotti, who has become quite adept at honoring my favorite rock stars, will be joined by Casey McDonough; Dann Morr; Tommi Zender; Eric Howell; and Dick Schmidt, who will be performing with Rebekah Abel and Wally Rozak. Hannah Grossman will serve as the host and narrator. The music starts at 8:00 PM. Tickets are available for the just the performance, or for the performance with wine pairings.

Those who have seen bassist Derrick Anderson perform with The Bangles on a regular basis or with The Smithereens on occasion might not be aware that he was a member of a power pop band called The Andersons over a decade ago. He’ll be joining that group for a reunion on August 29th at Molly Malone’s in Los Angeles on August 29th. The Piper Downs will also be on the bill that evening. Anderson noted recently on his Facebook page that The Andersons could have more gigs coming up and are considering the release of a greatest hits CD.

Tributosaurus, one of Chicago’s best-known tribute acts, will become Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young this coming Wednesday night at Martyrs’ on Lincoln Avenue. I saw them cover CSN and Y at an outdoor festival a few years back, and they definitely have a passion performing as these guys. And yes, this qualifies as A Hollies Summer In Chicago event because it involves Graham Nash songs. I’m still waiting for Tributosaurus to become The Hollies.

Something new, something blurred. The Church will be showcasing songs from their 25th album—the brand new Further/Deeper—when they kick off their American tour in just a few days. The gigs will consist of two sets; the first being devoted entirely to their 1982 effort The Blurred Crusade while the second will be a mix of brand new and classic material. The Church have a show in Chicago at The Old Town School Of Folk Music on August 29th. They also have dates (none in Chicago) where they’ll be sharing the bill with The Psychedelic Furs. 

Aimee Mann recently had a very touching post on Facebook about working on a song called “No Love” she had written with the late power pop genius Scott Miller of Game Theory and The Loud Family. She noted, “and hearing him sing it in my headphones is possibly the most devastatingly heartbreaking thing I’ve ever experienced.” Hopefully, we’ll get to hear that song at some point in the future.

Ryan Powers And The Secret Weapons, a local power pop band that released a very solid and enjoyable CD in 2013 called The Goodnight Goodbye Hour, will be performing at 4:30 PM this Friday afternoon as part of the Chicago Hot Dog Fest at Clark Street and LaSalle Drive. I haven’t eaten a hot dog in several years, but there are some intriguing things about this event, which runs through Sunday. One of its major sponsors is the nearby Chicago History Museum, and in addition to the bands and food vendors, there will be guest speakers (or comedians, I’m not sure) waxing philosophical about hot dogs. Admission is free.


Friday, July 31, 2015


A hearty Broken Hearted Toy welcome to all those who have traveled to Chicago for Lollapalooza. If you’re not sure which act to choose from the mammoth and eclectic lineup, or have any questions about the festival, rest assured this city’s media has your back. WXRT once again has air personality/adroit interviewer Marty Lennartz doing live reports from Lollapalooza. You can stream the station via its website.

Local free papers The Reader, New City, Red Eye, and Innerview Magazine have special issues devoted to Lollapalooza. You can find Red Eye in its thermometer-top boxes all over downtown; New City and The Reader also have their own boxes; Reckless Records—on Madison, between State and Wabash—carries New City, The Reader, and Innerview. Today’s issues of the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times also offer their choices for the best acts to check out.

If you’re a teenager (and that would be a majority of Lolla attendees), please be respectful toward the older folks who are coming this year to see Paul McCartney. Even though you know they’re using tickets they originally bought for their kids. And a personal suggestion for Sir Paul: Native Foods on south Clark Street has great vegan and vegetarian food. Tell them Broken Hearted Toy sent you.

There’s a five-dollar Lollapalooza Aftershow at Liar’s Club starting at 9:30 tonight with Captain Wails And The Harpoons; The Handcuffs (who did a fine show despite the oppressive heat last Saturday at Taste Of Lincoln Avenue); and Springa Sonic Droogs. Liar’s Club is located at 1665 W. Fullerton. You must be over 21 to attend. 

He blew his mind out in a bar. Tomorrow The Moon is having a record release party for its brand new Blow, Mind, Blow—the full-length follow-up to its impressive EP a full years back—at Martyrs’ on Chicago’s north side tomorrow night. Artist/film director Tom McKeon has created dazzling videos for the high-energy songs “Miles Of Jenny” and “There’s No Place,” which can be viewed on the band’s Facebook page. Psychedelic/garage rock band The Red Plastic Buddha, whose masterful Songs For Mara came in fourth on my favorite releases of 2014 list, and Razorhouse, a quartet that describes its sound as swampy, eclectic, dirty, and clever,  are also on the bill.

The Viaducts will be celebrating the summer season with songs like “Drive-Thru Girl” and “Your Smiling Face (Walkin’ By In Blue Jeans)” at the Red Line Tap tomorrow night. Show time is 10:00 PM.


Wednesday, July 29, 2015

He Came To Chicago . . . And Rocked

The main event in A Hollies Summer In Chicago took place last night.

Actually, the most recent stop on Graham Nash’s summer tour was in St. Charles, but that’s close enough to be considered part of the Chicago area. Delivered in two separate sets at The Arcada, the show was a well-crafted retrospective guaranteed to make the iconic musician’s fans very happy. Nash was accompanied by the impressive guitarist-vocalist Shane Fontayne, who has toured with Crosby, Stills and Nash, as well as with Bruce Springsteen, Sting, Paul Simon, and Rod Stewart. Nash and Fontayne began writing songs together after the 2014 CSN tour ended last October, and they’ve already recorded an album’s worth of material. Their newly formed bond was evident in their harmony vocals and musicianship throughout last night’s performance.

Dressed in a denim shirt and jeans, Nash jokingly compared himself to a vintage car show that was taking place just down the street from the Arcada; saying he was “old and polished.” He exuded a casual, friendly presence, and introduced a number of songs with interesting and funny anecdotes. He explained that “Our House” was written after a shopping trip with Joni Mitchell back when he lived with her, and added the good news that she is currently recuperating after recent health issues. His tale of the Canadian border incident that sparked “Immigration Man” included a good-natured jab at Neil Young; and before performing “Wasted On The Way,” he noted that Crosby, Stills and Nash could have created more music together if they hadn’t indulged so heavily in drugs.

The wide-ranging song selection began with an appealing and acoustic take on The Hollies’ “Bus Stop.” Nash drew an interesting connection between “King Midas In Reverse” from the final album he recorded with the British Invasion band and “I Used To Be A King” from his solo debut Songs For Beginners. He also performed “Just A Song Before I Go,” “Military Madness,” and “Simple Man,” and went with the deep cut “Marguerita” from his Whistling Down The Wire album with David Crosby. The recorded portion of Crosby’s a cappella “Critical Mass” preceded a live performance of “Wind On The Water,” in which Nash played piano and the consistently inventive Fontayne conjured mournful whale sounds via his guitar. 

“Wind On The Water,” with its condemnation of animal abuse (“It’s not that we don’t know/It’s just that we don’t want to care”) is a prime example of Nash’s long-running passion for delving into political and social issues. He was at full power belting out the provocative lyrics of “Fieldworker” and “Cathedral,” as well as the rousing finale “Chicago.” After stating he believes the majority of America’s cops do an amazing job, Nash raged through an energetic, brand new composition co-written with Fontayne that protests the recent deaths of African-Americans who had confrontations with police officers.

Two other Nash-Fontayne compositions, the optimistic “Golden Days” and the soul-searching “Myself At Last,” bode well for the album they’ll be releasing next spring. The duo harmonized perfectly on a breathtaking version of Paul McCartney’s “Blackbird” as their first encore. “You might as well stay standing,” Nash said after the audience had risen to its feet in approval. “We’re going to sing this for all the teachers around the world.” A spirited version of “Teach Your Children,” with the audience taking over on some of the verses, was a fitting end for a performance that showed Graham Nash remains an essential force on the current music scene.


Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Quite An Evening With A Simple Man

According to the Facebook page for The Arcada in St. Charles, the Graham Nash solo show taking place there tonight is almost sold out. And as I’ve mentioned previously here on Broken Hearted Toy, the Graham Nash Facebook page has a number of links to articles about his current tour. These shows offer a rare opportunity to catch one of rock’s most influential artists in an intimate setting, performing songs from his entire career. Which includes The Hollies; Crosby, Stills and Nash, (and sometimes Young) and his solo albums. That’s a wealth of material to enjoy in a live setting.

I’m not sure when Nash last came through Chicago as a solo act, but it might have been as far back as a 1980 show at the Park West. I still have the review of that gig that I wrote for the University of Illinois paper Chicago Illini. Back then, he opened with “Military Madness,” and went on to perform favorites like “Teach Your Children,” “Our House,” “Wind On The Water,” and “Chicago.” He also did a few tracks form his latest LP at that time, Earth & Sky. I noted in my review that Nash mentioned The Hollies but didn’t touch on any of his work with them.

From the articles I’ve read, and a few video clips I’ve seen, that won’t be the case tonight. I think we can count on at least an acoustic take on “King Midas In Reverse,” the ambitious and magnificent single that somehow failed to top the charts, and played a role in Nash’s decision to leave The Hollies. His current rendition of the song showcases its emotional power and proves he was right about its value as a pop song. When a rock and roll veteran does a solo show, those kind of moments make the experience particularly worthwhile. For the performer and the audience.


Monday, July 27, 2015

ZX+ - Don’t Drink The Water

ZX+ is for most part the work of Stephen Evans, a Manchester, England-based indie rock veteran who has previously performed with Twisted Wheel, The Planets, and I Win I Drive. On the extremely eccentric Don’t Drink The Water, (available from Play And Record Records) he’s helped on a few tracks by backup vocalist Mary Joanna Coogan, and throughout the album by drummer Mark Coupe. The frequent tempo changes and genre hopping might come across as pretentious in other hands, but Evans seems to be having so much fun, and has such a knack for fetching melodies, that most listeners will find the trip invigorating.

The energetic and whimsical “Pet Sematary” kicks off with Winston Churchill being run down by a truck, and like the opening track “The Crazies,” proves Evans wasn’t kidding when he named Syd Barrett as a major influence. “Up And Down The Stairs” mixes a marching band rhythm with brash vocals and “The Raven” sounds like it could have sprung from The Who’s rock opera Tommy. Evans isn’t as engaging when he experiments with the waltz on “Just Like That” and “For Him Or Her,” but those slight misfires are easily forgiven considering Don’t Drink The Water also offers the irresistible punk of “Mud And Rubble” and “The Desert.”


Friday, July 24, 2015


Animal Cracker. David Lowrey will be leading Cracker through a performance of hits like “Teen Angst,” “Get Off This,” and “Low,” as well as tunes from the band’s new double album Berkeley To Bakersfield at 7:00 PM at the Brookfield Zoo tonight.

The crown jewel of A Hollies Summer In Chicago arrives this coming Tuesday, July 28th when Graham Nash brings his solo show to The Arcada in St. Charles. According to an interview with Nash that Jedd Beaudoin posted on the KMUW Wichita Public Radio website, Nash will be performing songs from his days with The Hollies; Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young; and from his own efforts. Beaudoin also noted that Nash collaborated on a number of new songs with Shane Fontaine, a guitarist who toured with Crosby, Stills and Nash in 2014, for a new album that will be released later this year or in early 2016. There’s a link to the KMUW post, as well as links to other recent articles about Nash, on his Facebook page. 

Tomorrow is my birthday, and if the weather is okay (a big “if” this summer), I plan to spend the afternoon watching one of Chicago’s best indie rock bands perform at the Taste Of Lincoln Avenue.  The Handcuffs are currently working on their fourth CD, and have opened for Blondie and Katrina from Katrina And The Waves. Other acts scheduled include The Samples, Freddy Jones Band, Catfight, Big Paraid (not to be confused with Ellis Clark And The Big Parade), and Archie Powell And The Exports. I’ll be giving out Broken Hearted Toy buttons to anyone who wants them.
The recently reunited Chicago coed band Veruca Salt will be performing at 8:30 PM this Sunday night as one of the final acts of this yearWicker Park Fest.

The 6th Annual Blue Whiskey Independent Film Festival has two more sessions at Cutting Hall in Palatine tomorrow before wrapping up its 2015 run with the Blue Glass Awards Ceremony and Blue Whiskey Chaser at the Star Cinema Grill in Arlington Heights on Sunday evening. Director Marty Madden’s drama Cotton will be screened at 4:00 PM tomorrow, and Swedish director Rouz Behnoori’s drama The Philosopher King will be shown in a later screening that begins at 7:00 PM. The Philospher King will be preceded by Falling To Pieces, a drama directed by Chris Connelly and Vivian Connelly; and Todd And Anne: Water In The Pot, a dramatic series pilot directed by Jeffery Engelson. Several awards will be given out at the Blue Glass Awards Ceremony on Sunday, and that event will be followed by a screening of director Brian Reisberg’s drama/comedy Big Significant Things. Be sure to check out the Blue Whiskey Facebook page for updates and photos. 

Colin Blunstone and Rod Argent have performed as The Zombies around America in recent years (I saw them at Durty Nellie’s in Palatine when they were headlining a Little Steven’s Underground Garage-sponsored multi-band show) but their upcoming tour will be different for a couple of reasons. Original members Chris White and Hugh Grundy will be joining Blunstone and Argent as The Zombies perform their entire 1968 album Odessey And Oracle for the first time ever in the States. They’ll be at Star Plaza Theatre in Merrillville, Indiana on October 16th. Other dates on the tour include Boston; Washington, DC; Pittsburgh; Milwaukee, and Denver.

A new indie pop label called Out of Map has sprung up in France. It’s a joint venture from the band Nevski and Marie-agnès Hallé, a journalist/manager who also writes the Piggledly Pop blog. The label is still getting its act together but Nevski has a catchy new single called “Alligator” that’s now available for download on its Bandcamp page.

Legendary surf guitarist Dick Dale returns to Durty Nellie’s in Palatine on July 28th.

The new seven-inch single “The End Of The Lane” from Chicago psychedelic band The Luck Of Eden Hall literally has a story behind it. According to a video posted on KickStarter, band member Greg Curvey was inspired to compose the song after reading noted author Neil Gaiman’s book The Ocean at the End of the Lane. He was able to inform Gaiman of his idea via a mutual friend, and the author created original art to be used for the record cover. “The End Of The Lane” is now available for pre-order for $25. 

Sci-fi rock band Tomorrow The Moon, the band Razorhouse, and psychedelic/garage rock band The Red Plastic Buddha will share a triple bill at Martyrs next Saturday, August 1st. It will be a release party for Tomorrow The Moon’s new Blow, Mind, Blow album. Artist/film director Tom McKeon has created a dazzling video for the the band’s new high-energy song “Miles Of Jenny” that can be viewed on the band’s Facebook page. Musician/photographer Thomas Braam (from the band Braam) took the cover photo for Blow, Mind Blow.

I’m not sure if this is an annual event, but The Viaducts are calling their gig next Saturday, August 1st at the Red Line Tap “our famous summer show.” Songs like “Drive-Thru Girl” and “Your Smiling Face (Walkin’ By In Blue Jeans)” from the hard-edged power pop band’s Mission To Destroy CD would be well-suited for such a seasonal occasion. Show time is 10:00 PM.

The Steely Dan concert tomorrow night at Ravinia has sold out but there are still some lawn only tickets left for tonight’s show. On a related note, the Steely Dan tribute band Deacon Blues will be performing at Durty Nellie’s in Palatine tomorrow night.

And remember, hipsters, you have to smirk at him when he does these things. Bono from U2 has joined forces with the Revo eyeglass company to create the “Buy Vision, Give Sight” campaign, which is projected to help prevent blindness and vision issues in around five million people by the year 2020. Bono, who was able to overcome glaucoma, said that he wants to help people who would otherwise not be able to afford the treatment they need.


Thursday, July 23, 2015

Two Shots Of Whiskey On Friday

(All films listed for tomorrow are from the USA unless otherwise noted.)

The Blue Whiskey Independent Film Festival will offer an extra feature film at Cutting Hall in Palatine tomorrow, in the form of the 4:00 PM screening of director Nick Cavalier’s 97-minute documentary Forced Perspective. Critically acclaimed Cleveland-based artist Derek Hess is the subject of this hard-edged study of a gifted man’s struggle against alcoholism and bipolar disorder. Cavalier also explores the positive impact Hess has had on other artists and the art scene. Admission is $8.00.

Later tomorrow, Blue Whiskey will present the Midwest Premiere of Terrible Love, a drama from director Christopher Thomas about an Iraq war veteran determined to keep Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome from destroying his marriage. Terrible Love, which was the Audience Award Winner at the 2014 Austin Film Festival, will be preceded by four short films. Admission is $10,

Fixed is a seven-minute comedy from Australia about a little girl who wants her dog to have puppies; Yikes is an 11-minute comedy about an actor who is suddenly able to see into the immediate future. The 14-minute drama A Game On The Line concerns a former high school football star who needs to prove he’s capable of providing for his family; and Lay In Wait is a 26-minute drama about a married woman who loses her wedding ring during an affair, and desperately wants to find it.

The Blue Whiskey Independent Film Festival continues through the weekend, with afternoon and evening features on Saturday, and the Blue Whiskey Awards Ceremony and Chaser on Sunday.

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