Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Jangle Band - Edge Of A Dream

Australian musician Joe Algeri continues his prolific recording output with this full-length debut from The Jangle Band. Unlike his previous efforts as The JAC, this isn’t a solo album where he plays most of the instruments and does all the vocals. Ian Freeman is the lead vocalist for this group, and in addition to Algeri, guitarist Jeff Baker, bassist Dave Wallace, and drummer Mark “Sid” Eaton all sing. Their combined voices often give Edge Of A Dream those Byrds-like harmonies Algeri has always favored.

That said, the album opens with “282,” a song that evokes The Kinks with its droll lyrics and music hall arrangement. The slower and more ornate “Let Me Breathe” also taps into the earliest days of the British Invasion, and like the autobiographical “Perth,” it’s built on an appealing mix of acoustic and electric instruments. The jangling guitars this band takes its name from are front and center on “This Soul Is Not For Sale,” which was previously released as a two-song single with “Kill The Lovers.” “Another Light,” “Love You Too,” and the title track should also sound like a dream come true for fans of The Byrds and 1960s style pop.


Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Kevin Lee And Cliff Johnson Double Bill/The 1975 At Durty Nellie’s

There will be a mix of the familiar and the new when longtime Chicago music scene favorites Kevin Lee and Cliff Johnson share a double bill on June 2 at Fitz’s Spare Keys in Elmhurst. And the cover charge is only $5.00. Lee recently recruited bassist-backing vocalist Patti Prendergast and guitarist-backing vocalist Michael Kurtz, and each of them has plenty of expertise as musicians. I’m not sure how long drummer Erik Strommer has been with Lee, but this looks to be a potent lineup.

Johnson has been doing gigs with The Raine, a melodic power pop band that recently reunited after being away for awhile. The Cliff Johnson/Raine show I saw at Durty Nellie’s, which might have been their first time performing together, featured an energetic selection of Off Broadway classics. Between Kevin Lee and Cliff Johnson, there’s sure to be a lot of guitar-driven, melodic rock on this night.

Durty Nellie’s had a history of offering live rock and roll in the northwest suburb of Palatine even before it moved to a posh new home directly across the street from the Metra station. The stage, lights, and sound system are first rate, and the ambience is reminiscent of The House Of Blues in downtown Chicago. It would seem logical that such a venue would pursue an ambitious and adventurous booking policy similar to FitzGerald’s in Berwyn or SPACE in Evanston, but over the years Durty Nellie’s has leaned heavily on local cover bands instead. So it’s very encouraging to find the alt rock band The 1975 on the club’s marquee.

Presented as a 101WKQX No Dough Show with some added sponsorship from Coors, The 1975’s performance this Thursday night is free—on a first come, first allowed entry basis. The band hails from Manchester, England and recently released its latest album I Like It When You Sleep Because You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It. The doors open at 6:00 PM on Thursday. A number of years ago, Durty Nellie’s played host to a Little Steven’s Underground Garage Showcase that included The Zombies, The Woggles, Gore Gore Girls, and three other national acts. Here’s hoping the club will schedule high profile events on a more regular basis.


Friday, May 20, 2016


Photo from The Zombies Facebook page.

May has been designated as British Invasion Month here on Broken Hearted Toy due to a pair of significant events in the Chicago area. The first was Graham Nash’s two-night stand at City Winery on May 11 and 12, and the second comes next Sunday, May 29. That’s when The Zombies, led by original members vocalist Colin Blunstone and keyboards player-vocalist Rod Argent, will be performing at The Arcada in St. Charles. In addition to hits like “Time Of The Season,” “Tell Her No,” and “She’s Not There,” it’s likely The Zombies will play songs from their latest effort Still Got That Hunger.
Thrift Store Halo, a Chicago power pop band that opened for The Zombies at a Chicago area gig a few years back, has reunited and will be performing on August 4 at Ballydoyle Irish Pub in Downers Grove.

Congratulations to Tellin’ Tales Theatre on its 20th Anniversary. The non-profit organization’s mission has been to “shatter barriers between the disabled and non-disabled worlds though the transformative power of personal story.” They’re celebrating with a gala hosted by Chicago White Sox announcer Jason Benetti tomorrow night at Roosevelt University’s Fainman Lounge. The festivities include a live retrospective performed by the Tellin’ Tales; a music/comedy revue by Amy Armstrong and Freddy Allen, food, cocktails, and a silent auction.

Moby will be at City Winery Chicago next Tuesday to read from his new book Porcelain A Memoir, sign copies, and talk with host of The Interview Show Mark Bazer. Also coming up at City Winery, Mary Fahl, former vocalist with the ethereal October Project, has a gig on September 11.

I hadn’t heard anything about Terminal White in quite some time before I picked up a post card at Reckless Records advertising a May 28 show with The Gruesomes at Reggies. Apparently the band has been playing its distinctive brand of industrial, hard rock, and dance music across Europe. Terminal White released its Blind Pig album last year. When I reviewed Terminal White’s Worker EP for the Illinois Entertainer in 1998, I was particularly impressed with the title track and “Hamtramck.”

Tap House Grill, at 56 W. Wilson Street in Palatine, usually doesn’t book live bands but it will have one for its Summer Kick-Off Party on May 29. The Messengers take the stage at 9:00 PM and there will be specially priced drinks, wings, and fries. It would be great to see Tap House Grill book live bands on a regular, or at least a semi-regular basis.

The Romantics released a two-song single on iTunes today with their versions of The Monkees’ “Daydream Believer” and The Animals’ “We Gotta Get Out Of This Place.” I remember their rollicking take on The Animals song when they played an 80s Night show at The Arcada in St. Charles in 2012, so it’s good to be able to buy it. “Daydream Beleiver” is also done in the distinctive, fun Romantics style. A post on the band’s Facebook page promises an entire album of originals and covers is on the way.

Lady Gaga and Elton John’s Love Bravery Collection, a new line of apparel designed to combat prejudice, had its official launch yesterday at Macy’s in downtown Chicago. It was a glitzy event staffed by impossibly leggy Gagaesque models and featured techno music spun by DJ Avi Sic. The Love Bravery Foundation will also benefit Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation and Elton John’s AIDS Foundation.

Tickets are now on sale for the June 30 concert with James Taylor and Band with Jackson Browne at Wrigley Field.

It’s 2016. Do you know what your former Illinois Entertainer editors are up to? Michael Harris, who served as the music paper’s editor for several years, has a book out now titled What Is The Declaration Of Independence? It’s part of the Penguin/Grosset and Dunlop series What Was. . .? and is aimed 3rd to 5th graders. Also, Althea Legaspi, who served as IE editor a few years after Harris, continues to review popular music for the Chicago Tribune.

Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame drummer Bun E. Carlos from Cheap Trick will be performing songs from his new release Greetings From Bunezuela at SPACE in Evanston on July 9. He’ll be joined with Nicholas Tremulis, Rick Rizzo, and other guests.

Back when I was a young teenager, I loved reading Archie comic books, drinking RC Cola, and listening to Top 40 rock on WLS. Starting this fall, I’ll be able to relive at least part of that fun when the series Riverdale debuts on the CW network. According to the Chicago Tribune, Riverdale will be based on the Archie comic books.


Friday, May 13, 2016


The Bangles have announced a series of August concert dates on the east coast. Stops include Philadelphia and New York. It would be great to catch them at an outdoor event in the Chicago area. The CD version of the band’s very fun vintage rarities collection Ladies And Gentlemen . . .The Bangles comes out in June.

Ramsey Lewis and Graham Elliott are among the special guests at the second annual Lake FX Summit And Expo taking place today, tomorrow, and Sunday at the Chicago Cultural Center, Gene Siskel Film Center, and Hard Rock Hotel. The event bills itself as “The Midwest’s largest free convening of artists and creative entrepreneurs,” and features panel discussions, workshops, pop-up performances, and film screenings.

Mudcrutch 2, the second album from Tom Petty’s reunited early band Mudcrutch, comes out May 20.  Eight days later, the band will be in Chicago for a concert at the Riviera Theatre, with The Shelters.

May 20 is also the release date for Eric Clapton’s I Still Do and Bob Dylan’s Fallen Angels.

X-Communicate, the debut album from Dum Dum Girls leader Dee Dee’s side project Kristin Kontrol, drops on May 27.

The Book Con, organized by ReedPOP, the company that runs Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo, New York Comic Con, and other cultural events, comes to Chicago tomorrow, May 14 at McCormick Place. Actor Chris O’Dowd, who has been very funny in TV shows and movies, is one of the guests, along with Veronica Roth (Divergent series), Victoria Aveyard (Red Queen series), James Dashner (The Maze Runner series), Sarah J. Maas (Throne Of Glass) and several other authors. Admission is $40 for adults, and $5 for kids from 6 to 12.

May is British Invasion Month here at Broken Hearted Toy, and you can help celebrate by checking out The Beatle Bros. at FitzGerald’s in Berwyn tomorrow night. It’s a 30th Anniversary Show for the band, and all of the original members (Jay Goeppner, Phil Angotti, Casey McDonough, Dick Schmidt, Rich Geist, and George Krajl) will be on hand. Goeppner and Angotti will open with an acoustic set.

The Handmade Chicago Arts And Crafts Festival is being held tomorrow and Sunday outside Plumbers Hall in the west loop. Admission is free.

Gary Numan has three shows coming on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday at Metro. He’ll perform a different album in its entirety each night; Replicas on Sunday, The Pleasure Principle on Monday, and Telekon on Tuesday. I Speak Machine will be the opening act on all three nights.

Roxy Swain’s new album Beneath Full Moonlight is available now in digital format, and the Chicago indie rock band has a vinyl release party coming up on June at the The Elbo Room on Lincoln Avenue.

Tickets went on sale this week for Belly’s July 7 gig at Bottom Lounge, and The Pet Shop Boys’ November 5 concert at Civic Opera House.

Steve Dawson, a founding member of the critically acclaimed Chicago band Dolly Varden, and an accomplished solo artist, has just released a collaboration with Baltimore-based singer-songwriter Ellen Cherry. They’ve posted an artistic video of the engaging title track from their EP The Thread on YouTube. 

Singer-guitarist Kevin Lee’s song “Tonight” will be featured in the upcoming movie Spaceman, due out in August. Lee and the newest lineup of his band The Kings will be performing on June 11 at The Chicago Loop Sports Bar and Grill in Streamwood.

A Fragile Tomorrow, the South Carolina band that made a strong impression when it stopped by The Red Line Tap as part of International Pop Overthrow - Chicago a few years back, recently released its Make Me Over CD. The hard-hitting title track is a cover of a Slade song, and the quartet gets some help from Joan Baez and The Indigo Girls on its version of folk singer Richard Farina’s “One Way Ticket.”


Thursday, May 12, 2016

This Path Comes To Chicago

Photo of Graham Nash and Shane Fontayne by Amy Grantham from the Graham Nash Facebook page.

“You know this one, right?” Graham Nash asked, before launching into “Chicago” as his first encore at City Winery last night. He had ended a well-received show by getting the audience to vigorously sing along to “Our House.” For those of us who had seen Nash’s July 2015 concert at The Arcada in St. Charles, last night offered more evidence that his current musical alliance with guitarist-vocalist Shane Fontayne is paying off nicely. Fontaine co-wrote, produced, and performed on This Path Tonight, the first solo effort from Nash in quite some time. He’s a veteran of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young tours, and has also worked with Sting and Bruce Springsteen.

It was a pleasant surprise last July when Nash introduced a couple new songs as being from an upcoming solo album, and last night’s performance found him and Fontayne tapping into the recently released This Path Tonight more extensively. The stripped-down live arrangements of “Back Home” (dedicated to Levon Helm), “Golden Days,” “Myself At Last,” “Another Broken Heart,” and the title track underscored the craftsmanship and true emotions Nash and Fontayne put into writing them. And as they harmonized perfectly on song after song, it was obvious Fontayne is a worthy successor to Nash’s highly regarded singing partners David Crosby and Hollies lead vocalist Allan Clarke.

Nash once again exuded a casual, friendly presence, and introduced several songs with funny anecdotes. The wide-ranging selection began with an appealing and acoustic take on The Hollies’ “Bus Stop,” and Nash connected “King Midas In Reverse” from the final album he recorded with the British Invasion band with “I Used To Be A King” from his solo debut Songs For Beginners. He brought the audience to its feet with “Just A Song Before I Go,” “Wind On The Water,” and “Wasted On The Way.” Nash left the audience with a spirited version of “Teach Your Children.”

Graham Nash returns to City Winery Chicago tonight, and he has just announced a batch of new concert dates in America and Europe.


Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Further Down The Path With Graham

Photo from the Graham Nash Facebook page.

In the review of Graham Nash’s This Path Tonight posted here yesterday, I mentioned that he was more confrontational on the three bonus tracks that come with the digital download. It was hard to work them into the flow of my review, so I decided to cover them in a separate post.

In the stark arrangement of “Mississippi Burning,” Nash takes on the role of a recently murdered civil rights worker speaking from an unmarked grave. Two of his fellow marchers are buried on the same hill. “Lynch the truth, it will not die,” he sings. “It just comes back to haunt us.” Having other vocalists come in on the chorus gives this powerful protest a hint of gospel music. While “Mississippi Burning” seems set in the 1960s, “Watch Out For The Wind,” with its energetic acoustic guitar strumming, describes the turmoil erupting on American streets today. Nash sees this struggle in economic terms; condemning the money-grabbers and noting, “profits will not save their souls.”

The delicate and melancholy “The Last Fall” centers on a strained relationship between two friends or lovers. It taps into a theme that runs through This Path Tonight of finding hope even in the most difficult times.


Monday, May 9, 2016

Graham Nash - This Path Tonight

Graham Nash’s first solo album in several years finds him in classic singer-songwriter mode; crafting engaging melodies while striking a familiar balance between exploring romantic relationships and exposing society’s ills. Writing with veteran musician Shane Fontayne, he delves into symbolism more than he has in the past. Nash is still willing to raise his voice in protest, but that’s more evident on the three bonus tracks that come with the digital download. There’s also a theme of reflecting on the past and determining your future running through This Path Tonight.

When Nash describes the youthful excitement of playing in a rock band in “Golden Days,” he could mean The Hollies or his work with David Crosby and Stephen Stills. It’s similar to the autobiographical title track Hollies drummer Bobby Elliott wrote for that band’s 2009 album “Then, Now, Always.” The layered vocals and nautical theme of “Beneath The Waves” would have worked well on a CSN album, while “Target” offers the homespun beauty of early Nash efforts like “Simple Man” and “Sleep Song.”

This Path Tonight closes with “Encore,” a poetic and haunting ballad with references to “the last song,” “the last show,” and “the lights are all fading.” It may sound like Nash is considering his own farewell to music, but elsewhere—particularly through the rugged imagery of “Fire Down Below” and the title track—he’s eager to keep fighting. And on “Another Broken Heart,” he urges a woman who’s given up on being loved to, “find a future that you want to see.” In some ways, Nash is still giving us songs for beginners.

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