Friday, August 31, 2012

Slumgullion


Electrifying performance. Photo from The Melismatics Facebook page.

Ravenswood Remix, which bills itself as Chicago’s Recycled Art Fair, takes place this Saturday and Sunday on Ravenswood and Belle Plaine Avenue, a few blocks north of Irving Park. The music lineup includes neo psychedelic rockers Secret Colours; quirky and fun indie rockers Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin; hard-hitting brother and sister duo White Mystery; and power pop band Archie Powell & The Exports, whose Great Ideas In Action is one of the best CDs of the year so far. There will also be workshops on art and recycling, food vendors, and artwork. Ravenswood Remix benefits local school art programs. 

Tickets are now on sale for the October 19th Tributosaurus Becomes The Beatles Vol. 5 show at the Copernicus Center on Chicago’s north side. The critically acclaimed tribute band will be performing the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and Magical Mystery Tour albums in their entirety. Five dollars from every ticket will go the Betty Hemmert Music Scholarship Fund At Rock For Kids

Season Seven of Doctor Who kicks off tomorrow night on BBC America. Apparently, there are only five episodes left with Amy and Rory Pond as The Doctor’s companions. Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill have worked well with lead actor Matt Smith on camera, and it’s been fun seeing them hang out together at live promotional events. Check out the Nerdist site for a clip featuring the cast in a celebrity bowling match.

Serendipity, a local band comprised of five teenage girls, impressed the crowd at last Sunday’s rainy Palatine Downtown Street Fest with cover tunes that ranged from vintage Motown to Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Later.” Serendipity also does its own songs and has a new CD out, called Too Young To Drive. The eight radio-ready tracks feature some catchy arrangements and inventive vocal interplay. The band members wrote some of the tracks themselves and had help from their producer on others, but it’s impressive this young group is already working on original material. That’s a bridge that too many bands on the outdoor festival circuit are afraid to cross. Serendipity plays the Schaumburg SeptemberFest on September 3rd at 5:30 PM.

Susanna Hoffs has announced tour dates in support of her new CD, Someday, and they include a stop at City Winery in Chicago on November 6th.

My nephew, Joe Flamm, was on Iron Chef  last Sunday as part of Stephanie Izard's (of Girl and The Goat restaurant fame) team as they challenged the show's virtually unbeatable Michael Symon. My wife Pam and I went to a get-together of family and friends at the Fado bar and restaurant downtown. We all watched the big screen TV and cheered every time Joe appeared. Unfortunately, Izard's team lost, but it was still a lot of fun. And I'm very proud of Joe. A short article about the show can be found on the Eater website. 

The Slide Rules, a band comprised of musicians Andy Stone, Dave Sebastian, Joe Betram, and Jeff Graham have a gig at FitzGerald’s in Berwyn on September 13th.

The new Illinois Entertainer is out, with my interview with Shoes about their first CD in 18 years, Ignition. I also have CD reviews of The Hollies’ Radio Fun and Metric’s Synthetica.

The Melismatics will be bringing their catchy synth rock music to the Double Door in Chicago on October 17th. Chicago based psychedelic/prog rockers Tomorrow The Moon, are also on the bill, along with Rococode and Kids And Explosions. 

I’ve been noticing some cryptic posts on the Pezband Facebook page. I’m hoping it means these power pop masters are recording new material.

The hard-edged power pop band Go Time! will be performing at Sylvie’s Lounge next Saturday, September 8th.

The Exotics, an instrumental band that includes guitarist Paul Wall from the power pop band Trolley, has a record release party for its new 45, “The Enchanted Interrogation Room” at Kochanski’s Concertina Beer Hall in Milwaukee next Friday.

Happy Birthday to Glenn Tilbrook of Squeeze.

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Thursday, August 30, 2012

CD Review: Shoes - Propeller


The new Shoes CD, Ignition, is their first effort in 18 years. Here’s a look back at the band’s previous release, Propeller. This review ran in the Illinois Entertainer in 1994.

Propeller, Shoes’ first album since 1990’s Stolen Wishes, strongly suggests group members Gary Klebe, Jeff Murphy, and John Murphy, may never run out of variations on the power pop love song. The new release offers 12 examples of their ability to draw inspiration from the 1960s while crafting precise vocal harmonies and indelible melodies.

“Treading Water,” a catchy tribute to surviving hard times, evokes Revolver era Beatles, complete with some backward vocals on the chorus. The cello playing on the more sedate “In My Mind” helps convey the heartache of a man unable to cope with a broken relationship, while “If All I Had Was You” is set to a more playful arrangement. A pair of ballads, “The Last Of You” and “Slipping Through Your Fingers,” work well but seem a little mainstream for Shoes.

The harder-edged material works best, particularly “Tore A Hole” and “Never Ending.” The sensual “Animal Attraction” kicks off the CD with an energetic look at love at first sight. Propeller also benefits from the solid support of guest drummers Ric Menck of Velvet Crush and Mike Zelenko of Material Issue.    

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CD Review: Shoes - Propeller


The new Shoes CD, Ignition, is their first effort in 18 years. Here’s a look back at the band’s previous release, Propeller. This review ran in the Illinois Entertainer in 1994.

Propeller, Shoes’ first album since 1990’s Stolen Wishes, strongly suggests group members Gary Klebe, Jeff Murphy, and John Murphy, may never run out of variations on the power pop love song. The new release offers 12 examples of their ability to draw inspiration from the 1960s while crafting precise vocal harmonies and indelible melodies.

“Treading Water,” a catchy tribute to surviving hard times, evokes Revolver era Beatles, complete with some backward vocals on the chorus. The cello playing on the more sedate “In My Mind” helps convey the heartache of a man unable to cope with a broken relationship, while “If All I Had Was You” is set to a more playful arrangement. A pair of ballads, “The Last Of You” and “Slipping Through Your Fingers,” work well but seem a little mainstream for Shoes.

The harder-edged material works best, particularly “Tore A Hole” and “Never Ending.” The sensual “Animal Attraction” kicks off the CD with an energetic look at love at first sight. Propeller also benefits from the solid support of guest drummers Ric Menck of Velvet Crush and Mike Zelenko of Material Issue.    

Read more...

CD Review: Shoes - Propeller


The new Shoes CD, Ignition, is their first effort in 18 years. Here’s a look back at the band’s previous release, Propeller. This review ran in the Illinois Entertainer in 1994.

Propeller, Shoes’ first album since 1990’s Stolen Wishes, strongly suggests group members Gary Klebe, Jeff Murphy, and John Murphy, may never run out of variations on the power pop love song. The new release offers 12 examples of their ability to draw inspiration from the 1960s while crafting precise vocal harmonies and indelible melodies.

“Treading Water,” a catchy tribute to surviving hard times, evokes Revolver era Beatles, complete with some backward vocals on the chorus. The cello playing on the more sedate “In My Mind” helps convey the heartache of a man unable to cope with a broken relationship, while “If All I Had Was You” is set to a more playful arrangement. A pair of ballads, “The Last Of You” and “Slipping Through Your Fingers,” work well but seem a little mainstream for Shoes.

The harder-edged material works best, particularly “Tore A Hole” and “Never Ending.” The sensual “Animal Attraction” kicks off the CD with an energetic look at love at first sight. Propeller also benefits from the solid support of guest drummers Ric Menck of Velvet Crush and Mike Zelenko of Material Issue.    

Read more...

CD Review: Shoes - Propeller


The new Shoes CD, Ignition, is their first effort in 18 years. Here’s a look back at the band’s previous release, Propeller. This review ran in the Illinois Entertainer in 1994.

Propeller, Shoes’ first album since 1990’s Stolen Wishes, strongly suggests group members Gary Klebe, Jeff Murphy, and John Murphy, may never run out of variations on the power pop love song. The new release offers 12 examples of their ability to draw inspiration from the 1960s while crafting precise vocal harmonies and indelible melodies.

“Treading Water,” a catchy tribute to surviving hard times, evokes Revolver era Beatles, complete with some backward vocals on the chorus. The cello playing on the more sedate “In My Mind” helps convey the heartache of a man unable to cope with a broken relationship, while “If All I Had Was You” is set to a more playful arrangement. A pair of ballads, “The Last Of You” and “Slipping Through Your Fingers,” work well but seem a little mainstream for Shoes.

The harder-edged material works best, particularly “Tore A Hole” and “Never Ending.” The sensual “Animal Attraction” kicks off the CD with an energetic look at love at first sight. Propeller also benefits from the solid support of guest drummers Ric Menck of Velvet Crush and Mike Zelenko of Material Issue.    

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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Time For A Refill


That’s me on the left in the Underground Garage cap. Willy Deal is center, and Jeff Kelley is on the right.

First a bit of business regarding the series of short videos called Pond Life that have been created to promote the upcoming season of Doctor Who. I mentioned these clips featuring the Amy and Rory Pond characters at home in last Friday’s Slumgullion but wasn’t sure where people could find them. Not too surprisingly I discovered they can be viewed on Nerdist, which is always a cool site for sci-fi fans to visit.

I spent a few hours last Saturday morning in a nearby forest preserve filming comedy bits that will be shown on Sunday Morning Coffee With Jeff. The weekly Internet show has been on hiatus for a few months, but will return at the beginning of September. Host Jeff Kelley came up with an idea about me, him and Willy Deal stumbling into one mishap after another while lost in the woods. He had the basic scripts, but we improvised some things, and Willy and I each came up with a short skit on out own. It was a lot of fun, and I’m eager to see how they turned out. Our misadventures will appear on Sunday Morning Coffee With Jeff over a number a weeks. 

In the meantime, I trying to come up with a new concept of my own for Jeff’s show. Over the past few years, I’ve done 21 episodes of Manchester Gallery, in which I portrayed the curator of a pop culture museum; played an inept roving reporter who always seemed to annoy Jeff; covered the arts on What’s With Terry?;  created a spoof of Breakfast With The Beatles called Hanging With The Hollies; and portrayed a cranky senior citizen on Old Days. Hopefully, the sketch comedy muse will visit me soon.

I’m also really interested in doing some short interviews with bands and musicians that would maybe include a live performance. The challenge would be finding the right time and place to do them. Jeff is always opened to new ideas for his show, so if you have something in mind, feel free to contact him at coffeewithjeff.gmail.com

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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

CD Review: Ruby Free - Introducing Ruby Free


Ruby Free is a side project for Maple Mars singer-guitarist Rick Hromadka, on which he and his wife, vocalist Lisa Cavaliere, reflect on the simple life they lead on their California farm. The music on Introducing Ruby Free is dialed down a bit from the high-powered blend of power pop and progressive rock of Hromadka’s regular band, but it’s consistently melodic and steers clear of bucolic cliches. Plus, Hromadka, who wrote all 10 songs, covers a variety of subject matter.

The immediate comparison is to Paul and Linda McCartney’s 1971 album, Ram (minus the rampant silliness), especially on the easygoing “Deep In The Valley” and “Good Company.” There’s also a touch of vintage Graham Nash in these pleasant depictions of home life and relationships. Elsewhere, “Bongos And Beards” pays tribute to Beat Generation writers with an impossibly catchy chorus of “William, Al and crazy Jack/Launched a social heart attack.” The deceptively pretty and acoustic “Sonny And Cher” describes an exciting but short-lived romance. Cavaliere sings lead on the peppy and optimistic “Tiny Stars,” while the similarly energetic “Three Cheers For The Sun God” pokes fun at California culture. The hard-hitting “Wound Up Too Tight” offers a change of pace while evoking John Lennon’s post Beatles period.

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Yippie! - Abbie Hoffman Festival Still Flaunts Its Unflagging Spirit


Photo of Rich Cotovsky from his Facebook page.

The Mary-Arrchie Theatre on Chicago’s north side has been commemorating the original Woodstock festival for almost 25 years. The first Abbie Hoffman Died For Our Sins emerged in 1989, when Artistic Director Rich Cotovsky conjured the (then) recently deceased revolutionary in order to host a nonstop weekend of drama, comedy, and performance art. He’s brought Hoffman back every year since then and it’s still a convincing portrayal. Hoffman’s confrontational approach to political activism dovetails with the Mary-Arrchie Theatre’s critically acclaimed in-your-face performance style.

Abbie Hoffman Died For Our Sins XXIV, staged a few weeks ago, was another whirlwind of entertainment; some serious partying (particularly in the wee hours of the morning); and a good dose of the communal vibes Cotovsky had envisioned when he first came up with the concept for this gathering of Chicago theatre types. Time and travel constraints kept me from seeing a lot of the groups who participated this year, but here’s a look at a few of the performances.

As usual, things kicked off on opening night with Cotovsky being unearthed as Hoffman. Later, Rush Pearson offered his take on Nikolai Gogol’s Diary of a Madman, which by now is a familiar Abbie Fest treat. In recent years this comic/tragic one-man play about a Russian civil servant’s descent into mental illness has involved Pearson scampering through the audience, and designating one member in particular as a surrogate for a despicable character in the play.

Two lighthearted and well-performed shows preceded Madman on Friday. Ludamus served up Violent Dissonance, a look at the ups and downs of a relationship from writer Gregory Peters; and Curious Theatre Branch explored various ways to deal with a scam artist in Matt Rieger’s 12 Jackets.

On Saturday, Abbie Fest veterans Citizens’ Relief tackled Otherwise Harmless by R.J. Tsarov. The relentlessly sick humor of Tsarov’s one-man play detailing the life and various love affairs of an irresponsible lout could grow tedious without a deft effort from the actor, and Citizens’ Relief was able to pull it off. Black Forest’s original piece, The Dogster Raves On! was an engaging blend of uniquely tailored spiritualism, interpretive dance, social commentary and compelling live music. Black Forest founding members Carla Hayden and James Moeller exude a bohemian charm as actors and musicians.

Once again, in discussing Famous In The Future, some full disclosure is in order. I was a member of  this comedy group for 20 years, and still enjoy seeing their shows. This year’s revue, Impending Desperation, featured clever skits and songs, plus imaginative costumes. Pat Über-Critic McDonald, who has worked with Black Forest, joined the FIF cast this year, and fit right in with longtime members Frank Carr, Desiree Burcum, Michael Hora, and Tina Teske.

Revolution Theater Company presented three short plays within an hour on Sunday afternoon, with each taking a different approach. The diversity allowed cast members to show off their acting chops, ranging from broad political satire to a poignant look at corporate downsizing, and an offbeat romance set on a deserted island. Allison Bodnar Jaros’s play, Honor, centers on a gay young man’s brief and disastrous enlistment in the Army, as well as his decision to come out to his family. Those raw emotions were convincingly delivered by The Disrespectful Ensemble, with the actress playing the cold-as-stone mother being particularly impressive. Murphy’s Law, written by Jim Lynch and performed by Magpie, was a tense scene between a hard-boiled cop and the widow of one of his fellow officers. It seemed to be part of a murder mystery play.

There were also random improvised bits that sprang up at various times throughout the weekend, involving Cotovsky, blues musician/performer L’il Howlin Wolf, and Mary-Arrchie cast members. Most were silly, but added a freewheeling ambience. Abbie Hoffman Died For Our Sins XXIV was also a time for reconnecting with old friends and sharing info on upcoming creative projects. When I did a Facebook post about how much I enjoyed this year’s Abbie Fest, I received a comment from performance artist and self-proclaimed ‘dramatic fool’ Drew Richardson, who had been a regular at the Abbie Fest before moving from Chicago. Richardson said he hoped to be able to make it to Abbie Hoffman Died For Our Sins XXV. Having some of the original participants come back would certainly add to the fun.
     

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Friday, August 24, 2012

Slumgullion


Photo from Aimee Mann Facebook page.

Tributosaurus, the Chicago-based band known for its ambitiously authentic recreations of popular musical acts. will be channeling Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers at the Backlot Bash in downtown Skokie tonight at 8:30 PM. Tomorrow’s lineup has Certain Stars, The Handcuffs, and The Fixx. Tristen, The Steepwater Band, Rivals Of The Peacemaker, and Local H are scheduled for Sunday.

The Downtown Palatine Street Fest also kicks off tonight, with 80s cover band Sixteen Candles as the headline act. Ralph’s World is scheduled for tomorrow at 3:00 PM, and Serendipity, five teenage girls who’ve been making a name for themselves with live appearances in the northwest suburbs while recording a CD of original material, will play Sunday at noon. American English headlines later that night, at 6:00 PM. Other acts include Dennis Florine, ARRA, Wedding Banned, and Rock Candy. See the Palatine Street Fest website for the full schedule. 

Tickets go on sale tomorrow for The Psychedelic Furs show at The Vic in Chicago on October 13th. The Lemonheads, featuring Juliana Hatfield, are sharing the bill.  

The Yardbirds are among several other bands who’ll be playing at the 60th Anniversary of the Sausalito Art Festival  this year on September 1st through the 3rd. Other bands include America, The Fixx, Herman’s Hermits, Smash Mouth and The Grass Roots. The Yardbirds also have a Chicago gig at City Winery on September 5th. 

Heard Aimee Mann’s new single, “Charmer” on the radio yesterday, and it sounds like a winner. It’s taken from the CD of the same name, which is set for release on September 18th. She’ll be touring in support of her latest release, with a Chicago date at Park West on November 14th and 15th. In the meantime, fans will be seeing double on the video for “Charmer.” 

WXRTs’ Sunday Night Concert this week features an Elvis Costello performance recorded at The Riviera Theatre in Chicago back in 1977. I covered that show, which featured Tom Petty as the headliner, for a paper called Metro Calendar. I hate to admit it, but I didn’t fully appreciate Costello at the time. Of course,  I was only ten years old. Out of towners can stream the concert on the radio station’s website.

Condolences to WXRT air personality Terri Hemmert on the passing of her mother, Betty. Terri, a gifted dj who has always connected with listeners on a personal level, occasionally mentioned her mother on the air, particularly their shared loved of The Beatles. Donations can be made to The Betty Hemmert Scholarship Fund at Rock For Kids – WXRT

Season 7 of Doctor Who will be preceded by a lighthearted look at his two companions, Amy and Rory Pond. Titled Pond Life, it’s a series of short vignettes about what the couple gets up to when they’re not zipping around time and space with The Doctor. There’s an introductory video about it on the Doctor Who Facebook page, although I’m still not sure if Pond Life will be appearing on the BBC or showing up on YouTube. Either way, it looks like fun.

Signal Ensemble Theatre continues its 10th Anniversary season with the dark comedy of Princes Of Waco by Robert Askins. It runs through September 22nd.

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Thursday, August 23, 2012

I’ve Just Seen A Fest - 2012


The 36th Annual Fest For Beatles Fans - Chicago was held at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare in Rosemont on August 10th through 12th. Organizers Mark and Carol Lapidos offered their usual mix of live entertainment, celebrity guests, interviews, art and photography exhibits, and a huge marketplace. The format may be familiar but it’s still fun; a testament to the staying power of The Beatles, as well as those who celebrate them.

WXRT radio personality Terri Hemmert, who has long served as The Fest’s Master Of Ceremonies in Chicago, was not around when I went on Saturday. Sadly, her mother Betty passed away on August 12th, so it’s possible Terri was called away to be with her a day or so earlier. Whatever the case, I extend my deepest sympathy to Terri, and I’m sure the Beatles community in Chicago and beyond do as well. Writer/producer Martin Lewis, who usually shares hosting duties with Terri, had much more to do this year, and he handled it well. I’ve always enjoyed Lewis’s style of interviewing. He’s insightful and can get laughs without cutting off his guests or making jokes at their expense.

Singer-guitarist Spencer Davis was also a last minute cancellation, due to illness, and was replaced with former Wings guitarist Laurence Juber. Other guests included sax player, Tom Scott, who played on three George Harrison albums and one Ringo Starr album, in addition to his solo career and acclaimed work with Joni Mitchell. Musician-producer Mark Hudson was back again, to discuss his experiences with numerous famous musicians, including Starr. Later on Saturday night, Juber, Scott, and Hudson were impressive playing with the Beatles tribute band, Liverpool. Also veterans of The Fest, Liverpool are easily one of the best Beatles tribute bands around.

Freda Kelly, the official secretary of the worldwide Beatles fan club for 10 years, and the subject of a new documentary, Good Ol’ Freda made her debut appearance at Fest For Beatles Fans - Chicago. She seemed a bit quiet in her interview with Lewis, but was more outgoing while meeting fans and signing autographs. David Bedford, author of Liddypool, a combination history and guide book, proved to be a friendly and informative source for all things related to The Beatles' home town. I also enjoyed meeting Dublin, Ireland artist Georgina Flood, whose amazing portraits of The Beatles can be purchased as portraits or on t-shirts. I’ve known her through Facebook, and she came across just as charming in person. Eric Cash, another extremely talented artist who specializes in The Beatles, was back once again this year.

Comic artist-writer Sean Ward’s Tomorrow Never Knows book immediately caught my eye, and Ward was happy to sign the copy I purchased. He covers The Beatles’ entire career with 62 pages of clever drawings and dialogue.

Scattered throughout small rooms on the first floor and lower level, there were exhibits like Bob Bonis's The Lost Beatles Photographs; a collection of photographs taken by Ringo Starr’s personal photographer Rob Shanahan; and photos taken by Roger Farrington of John Lennon and Yoko Ono during their Double Fantasy recording sessions. A gallery of fan art that would be judged in a contest on the following day. The group of amateur musicians who perform Beatles songs under the stairway to the lower level have gained a loyal following over the years, and they had a lot of people singing along with them on Saturday.

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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Step Right Up: Artists Hawk Intriguing Creations At Comic Con


The Matte Black character from the Zaid Comics preview issue of The Silhouette.

I thoroughly enjoyed the Wizard World Chicago Comic Con a few weeks back even though I didn’t get a chance to hobnob with any of the movie or television stars. The imaginative costumes crafted by attendees are always a kick but at times it’s obvious not everyone succeeds at dressing seductively. Still, superhero or villain, sexy or comic, these people are always willing to pose for photos, and give the event a fun Halloween party ambience. There are also hundreds of vendors selling comic books, posters, action figures, books, and articles of clothing.

Some of the more interesting items on display included guitars comprised of Lego blocks, t-shirts with slogans that lit up, and fetching life-size cardboard cutouts of Doctor Who companions Amy Pond and Sarah Jane Smith. I ran across Steve Unger, a vendor who sells t-shirts of rock bands and English TV shows like The Avengers (Steed & Mrs. Peel) and Monty Python. Unger not only has cool stuff, he never complains when I ask if he’ll ever get a Hollies t-shirt. I’ve run into him at Comic Con and Fest For Beatles Fans, but this year he would have had to clone himself to be at both since they were held on the same weekend. Over at the Doctor Who booth, I bought a Jon Pertwee action figure to go with my David Tennant, Matt Smith, and Tom Baker figures of The Doctor.

Artists Alley is a bustling marketplace where vendors strive to interest people passing by in their various creations. The more unusual things catch my eye, like Spiro’s Greek Myths which sells comic books and figures based on ancient mythology. Brian Derfferding has an interesting comic called School: A Ghost Story, in which a 12-year old girl named Lindsay wakes up to find that she’s a bloody spirit haunting a grade school. Listening to Defferding describe the concept reminded me of my writers group, where we share chapters from our novels twice a month. Zaid Comics, which publishes The Silhouette, uses an unusual method that involves photographing scenes with actual actors and then color tinting the shots for each issue. I talked to writer/editor Phillip Diaz and actress Joy Baron, who were very enthusiastic about the project. 

Drifting through Artists Alley, I wished I was one of those financiers on the Shark Tank TV show who back entrepreneurs they find worthy. After meeting many of these creative types, I’d throw a wad of bills on the table and say, “Sounds cool to me. Go for it!”


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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Vinyl Review: Spooner – Wildest Dreams


Note: This review originally appeared as a From The Vault feature in the Illinois Entertainer.

Long before Butch Vig emerged as a high-profile producer and member of the caustic rock band, Garbage, he was performing catchy pop songs with the Madison Wisconsin quintet, Spooner. Back in 1985, Vig, along with Garbage guitarist Duke (then Doug) Erikson, crafted a power pop masterpiece that unfortunately has gone undiscovered for over a decade. Spooner’s ambitious sophomore effort, Wildest Dreams, eclipsed their promising debut, Every Corner Dance, with more depth and engaging melodies.

Lead vocalist-guitarist Erikson was the mastermind behind the album, writing all 10 songs, but Vig co-produced and provided a steady backbeat on the drums. Spooner brought a distinct Midwest flavor to Wildest Dreams, particularly on the intense romance of “The Rainy Days” and deceptively perky “This Town’s On Fire.” The heart-breaking “Woman Out Of Time,” which opened with Erikson asking, “Whatever happened to summer?” was another highlight. All the tracks were woven into a tapestry that foreshadowed the Americana movement that would arrive in the mid-1990s.

Vig and Erikson later made their mark producing and performing with other bands, but in a way, their Wildest Dreams went unfulfilled.   

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Sunday, August 19, 2012

Abbie Fest: 2012: Day III


Poster art from the Mary-Arrchie Facebook page.

The Abbie Hoffman Died For Our Sins XXIV festival finishes up at the Mary-Arrchie Theatre with a full day of drama, comedy, and performance art. Here’s a look at the schedule.

9:00 AM 80 Liters by John Irish-John Irish

10:00 AM Tai Chi Master Daniel Guidara Guidara is a patient and knowledgeable instructor. An interesting way to kick off Day 3 of The Abbie Fest.

11:00 AM The Dress by Daniel Vuillaume  - Nothing Special Productions.

11:30 AM Wild Dogs by Matt Borczon-Mary - Arrchie Theatre Co. This comedy/drama is a showcase for Rich Cotovsky’s in-your-face acting style. A deranged loner and an uptight businessman who was recently thrown out by his wife become uneasy allies after a bout of heavy drinking and fighting.

12:00 PM Readings from Steal This Urine Test by Abbie Hoffman

12:30 PM ======= Talk - A Red Orchid Theatre

1:15 PM L’il Howlin’ Wolf Another quick shot of blues.

1:30 PM Militia Slumber Party or Embracing the New World Order by Crystal Jackson All Fired Up by John Bohane and Once Upon an “F”ing Island by Jay C. Rehak - Revolution Theater Co.

2:25 PM A Rocketship In A Hurry by Allyson M. Gonzalez and Marissa Chastain - Stand On Your Hands and Clap

2:45 PM All The Smart Choices by Jeff Newman - Rum And Coke

3:30 PM The Opening and Reading Habits of the Drowned Novelist by Bilal Dardai - Paperback Theatre Project

4:30 PM Honor by Allison Bodnar Jaros - The Disrespectful Ensemble

5:30 PM Murphy’s Law by Jim Lynch - Magpie

5:50 PM Murphy’s American Wake by Jim Lynch - Magpie 

6:10 PM To A God Unknown by Mike Cherry - Mike Cherry

6;45 PM Dead People’s Things by Nick Patrie - Trained Monkey Productions

7:05 PM The O’Brothers Present….The O’Brothers! - The O’Brothers

8:05 PM El Chautaugqua by Existential Crisis - Existential Crises

8:35 PM It’s My Penis and I’ll Cry If I Want To by Jamie Black - Jamie Black

9:15 PM An Awful Night Of Crap by Travis Barnhart, Kristi Barnhart, Spenser Davis, Ben Hertel, Dan Krall and Josh Zagoren - Hobo Junction Productions

10:05 PM Good Times Shakespeare! by Emmet Rensin - First Floor Theater

10:40 PM Murder Ballads by Rough House - Rough House

11:30 PM. Gas Mask 101 by Arlene Cook - Mary-Arrchie Theatre Co. Cook’s comedic look at SUI students back in the Viet Nam era is traditionally the last play of each year’s Abbie Fest.

12:20 AM  Closing Ceremonies featuring Richard Cotovsky as Abbie Hoffman In character as Hoffman, Cotovsky bids farewell to the audience for another year. The solemn but funny ritual often involves cast members from Mary-Arrchie and other groups as Hoffman is entombed to the strains of The Doors’ “The End.” Festival regulars view attending this finale as a badge of honor.

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Friday, August 17, 2012

Steal This Schedule


Poster created by Pat Über-Critic McDonald for Famous In The Future.

The 2012 Abbie Hoffman Died For Our Sins XXIV festival moves into its second day tomorrow, at the Mary-Arrchie Theatre. The Air and Water Show is also going on this weekend, making it possible to mix cutting edge performances with the roar of jets zipping by directly overhead. The Mary Arrchie Theatre is at the corner of Sheridan Road and Broadway. There are restaurants nearby, and a liquor store just below the theatre.
  
Here’s the schedule for Saturday, August 18:

9:00 AM The Opening and Reading Habits of the Drowned Novelist by Bilal Dardai - Paperback Theatre Project

10:00 AM Tai Chi Master Daniel Guidara Guidara is a patient and knowledgeable instructor. An interesting and relaxing way to kick off Day 2 of The Abbie Fest.

11:00 AM Handwriting by Tim Venable - Nighthawks At The Diner

11:40 AM Broad Shoulders

12:30 AM A Family Affair

1:20 PM Honor by Allison Bodnar Jaros - The Disrespectful Ensemble

2:15 PM Violent Dissonance by Gregory Peters - Ludamus

2:30 PM Three Scary Tales by David Storms Denman - Clock Productions

3:00 PM Flesh Of God by John Lisbon Wood - Artistic Partners

4:00 PM Dear Abbie or Don’t Steal This Script directed by Barbara Beach and Conceived  by Michael Wexler - Michael Wexler

4:30 PM L’il Howlin’ Wolf  Another short burst of ribald blues songs from the veteran performer.

5:00 PM War Rocks! by Brooke Johnson and Dana Marvette - Dandelion Arts

5:25 PM Otherwise Harmless by R.J. Tsarov - Citizens’ Relief Veterans of the Abbie Fest, this duo always exudes wit and imagination, whether it’s an original production or an adaptation. They can be a bit disturbing at times, but have a funny, deadpan approach.

6:25 PM  Joshua Hanson

6:40 PM Series Finale by Abraham Werewolf - Abraham Werewolf

6:55 PM The Dogster Raves On! By James Moeller and Carla Hayden - Black Forest Hayden and Moeller are longtime participants in The Abbie Fest and their avant garde, amiable productions are thought-provoking and fun. Live music often plays a role, as Hayden and Moeller are also members of the WhiteWolfSonicPrincess alt rock band.

7:35 PM Impending Desperation - Famous in the Future My former comedy group is back for its 24th year at The Abbie Fest, although at this point Frank Carr is the only original member left. Other cast members, Desiree Burcum, Michael Hora, and Tina Teske are also Abbie veterans. Journalist-performer Pat Über-Critic McDonald, who has worked with Black Forest and performs with James Moeller in The Telepaths, will be joining the cast this year. Carr and Burcum wrote this year’s batch of original skits and songs. 

8:30 PM  Lola Bolatro - Lola Bolatro Three bad-ass looking musicians set funny lyrics to acoustic guitar arrangements. At least that’s what they were doing in 2009 when I reviewed their self-titled CD for the Illinois Entertainer. Back then I wrote, “Occasionally the humor aims too low, but for the most part, Lola Balatro serves up a good time."

9:30 PM A Family United by Sam Quinn - The Smell Of Fame

10:30 PM The Best of Democracy Burlesque - Democracy Burlesque Politically-charged skits and song parodies from a group that has been playing at Abbie Fests since forming in 2006.

11:00 PM Culture Shock by Hannah Ii - Epstein-Nothing Without a Company

11:45 PM The Mystery of Pink Floyd by Mike Beyer - Factory Theater Emeritus

12:25 AM The Inconvenience Presents - The Inconvenience

12:55 AM AMERICAN STAG SESSIONS_HISTORY OF WORLD DRAMA PART 1,001: Secret Agent Space Reptile Genocide; Inmongst The Hight Cathanctum Of The Monstabulary Of The Coremost Of The Underground Hive-Warren Of The Dutifaithful Of The Churchligion Of The Omnigulent Zarog; and Pathetic! No More: A Closer Look At The Work of O. Glennard Shiffley by The Plagiarists - The Plagiarists Always a popular group at the Abbie Fest, The Plagiarists couch outrageous comedy and rapid fire word play within a sophisticated setting similar to a PBS special. The results are hilarious and definitely worth staying late to see.

1:40 AM Anonymously Yours by the Anonymous users of the internet edited by Jennifer Olson-Jennifer Olson

2:40 AM Unnamed by Will, Fred, and Evan - Will, Fred, and Evan

3:00 AM. The Dress by Daniel Vuillaume - Nothing Special Productions

3:20 AM Bitch With Rich - Mary-Arrchie Theatre Co. Rich Cotovsky’s Skid Marks character engages the audience (and there usually is one even at this hour) in discussions of current topics. On the times I’ve seen this in the past, the show involved TV monitors, other effects, and Marks playing guitar.

4:20 AM All The Smart Choices by Jeff Newman - Rum And Coke

5:05 AM.

6:00 AM Dead People’s Things by Nick Patrie - Trained Monkey Productions

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