Friday, May 30, 2014

Slumgullion


The Handcuffs are playing at Martyrs’ tonight, along with Grand Rapids pop/punk band Star Darts, and Ignition Control, a new band comprised of veterans of the Chicago music scene. Admission is $10, the music starts at 9:00 PM. If you miss this show, The Handcuffs will be performing at the Roscoe Village Burger Fest on July 12th; and the Halsted Market Street Days on August 10th.

The Millennium Art Festival runs this weekend on Lake Street, just east of Michigan Avenue. 

The Safes will be in good company at their record release party for Record Heat tomorrow night, May 31st, at Martyrs’ Pub. Penthouse Sweets, The Phenoms, and Red Plastic Buddha are also on the bill.

Tickets go on sale tomorrow at 10:00 AM for the Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers with special guest Steve Winwood show at United Center on August 23rd.

Charming Axe, featuring Rob Newhouse from The Elvis Brothers, has a CD Release party for Gathering Days at Old Town School Of Folk Music this Sunday at 4:00 PM. Their opening act is the duo Sweet Hello, comprised of Laura Doherty and Cat Tager. Admission is $12.

Mooner and The Warm Ones, two bands that have racked up favorable CD reviews here on BHT, will be joining The Sleepwalkers at The Hideout next Thursday, June 5th.

The Hideout recently announced the lineup for its annual Block Party And Onion A.V. Fest. Death Cab For Cutie, The War On Drugs, The Dismemberment Plan, funky Meters, Mac DeMarco, The Handsome Family, Sylvan Esso, Valerie June, Bad Luck Jonathan, and Plastic Crimewave Vision Guitarkestra will be performing there on the weekend of September 5th and 6th.

Also at The Hideout, Lawrence Peters will present the 7th Annual Day In The Country Festival, on Sunday June 22nd. Acts performing on the Front Porch and Backroom Stages include Dogtown Ramblers, Nora O’Connor, The Lawrence Peters Outfit, The Harrow, and The Lantern Kickers.

Meteorites, the new CD from Echo and the Bunnymen, is now available for pre-order on iTunes. The band has a Chicago gig coming up on August 10th at Metro.

Rats to the rescue. Bob Geldof has reunited with The Boomtown Rats and will be performing at the third annual Rock Against Cancer concert in the English village All Cannings tomorrow, May 31st. Steve Harvey and Cockney Rebel; The Troggs; Paul Young’s Pacaminos; and The Straits, a spinoff of Dire Straits, are also on the bill. Organizers Andy Scott from The Sweet, pub owner Richard Baulu, and sound engineer Jon Grubby Callis are aiming to raise money to help the charities MacMillan Cancer Support and Above And Beyond. Other well-known musicians, including Paul McCartney and Brian May from Queen, have shown their support by modeling Rock Against Cancer t-shirts. 

Wonderfully Weird Wonders, a six-person exhibition opens next Friday, June 6th at the Curly Tale Fine Art gallery on Erie in Chicago. 

It will be the end of the world as we know it twice next week. Critically acclaimed covers band Tributosaurus will become R.E.M. next Wednesday night at Martyrs’ in Chicago, and at Wire in Berwyn next Friday.

The Palette And Chisel Academy Of Fine Arts is hosting Summer Suite 2014, a group show featuring art by Mary Klug, Ralph Paquet, Peggy Sanders, Michelle Soncini, Bodo Stolczenberger, and Rob Waters from June 6th through the 15th. There’s an opening night reception next Friday, June 6th, from 6:00 to 10:00 PM. 

Hard-edged power pop trio The Viaducts are throwing a Drink/Rock Party at Live Wire in Chicago next Friday at 10:00 PM.

At a time when all the suburbs are playing it safe by booking cover bands for their summer concerts, The Chicago Department Of Cultural Affairs and Special Events is making its Downtown Sound Mondays truly daring and unique. Robbie Fulks kicks off the free admission series on June 2nd, along with Funeral Bonsai Wedding, a new outfit featuring Steve Dawson from Dolly Varden. Other upcoming concerts include Richard Thompson and his Electric Trio on June 16th, Bob Mould and Split Single on June 23rd, Joe Pug and Hurray For The Riff Raff on July 7th, and The Both (Aimee Mann and Ted Leo) with Pillars And Tongues on July 21st. Downtown Sound Mondays finish off with Russian Circles and Colin Stetson on August 11th. 

Never mind giving Dad another tie this year. Let him expand his mind when The Hushdrops hold a Father’s Day Record Release Concert and Barbeque for Tomorrow, their first CD in 10 years, at Liar’s Club on Sunday June 15th.

Earlier on BHT, I mentioned Chicago-based filmmaker Michael Smith’s upcoming feature-length flick, Cool Apocalypse. Smith recently announced that the bios for his newly chosen cast of Chelsea David, Nina Ganet, Adam Overberg, Kevin Wehby, France Jean-Baptiste, Natalee Cooney, and Jeffrey Rubin, can be viewed on the official Cool Apocalypse website. Smith noted that the first day of shooting comes in less than a month, and that he was recently reviewed by his wife Jillian for her Exploring Feminism blog. Cool Apocalypse has raised $4,526.52 of its $5,000 goal with 24 days until its deadline. Donations can be made at the film’s website. 

Singer-guitarist/author/model car maker Dean Milano and various musicians will perform in an informal setting next Wednesday, June 4th at The Bagel restaurant in the Old Orchard Mall in Skokie.

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Thursday, May 29, 2014

Colin Blunstone Q & A


I’ve had a request or two for a link to my interview with Colin Blunstone in the May issue of the Illinois Entertainer. The publication offers a digital version on its official website, but my prehistoric computer has trouble navigating it. For those who might have similar technical difficulties, or just want to save some time, here is a BHT post of that interview.

But first, a few reminders:

Phil Angotti’s Younger Than Yesterday Band performs a Byrds Tribute tonight at Reggie’s Music Joint. Phil will surely be in good spirits since his beloved Blackhawks won Game Five of the NHL Western Conference Finals last night. Eric Chial, whose band The Bon Mots recently released a new album titled Best Revenge, will be among Angotti’s feathered friends, along with Brian Stout and Jason Styx. By the way, Byrds fans might want to check the Facebook page, Henry Diltz Photography for some cool photos of the group.

Also, Soundtrack Serenade is performing songs from This Is Spinal Tap tonight at Martyrs’ as a benefit for the Box Of Stars charity. 

And now, here’s the Colin Blunstone interview.

Hello: My Name Is Colin

-  Terrence Flamm

You have a solo gig coming up at City Winery in Chicago on  May 15th. How will it be different from your shows with The Zombies?  I’ve tried to make it as different as possible. I’ll only be playing two songs by The Zombies. There will be 22 songs in the show, so there will be a lot of my material. That’s different from performing with The Zombies where we do a lot of Rod Argent and Chris White songs. In New York, I’m going to be performing with a string quintet. I wish I could have a string quintet for the whole tour, but it’s just budget restraints, really. 

Who are the musicians you’ll be using for your solo show? Guitarist Tom Toomey has been performing with me for about 15 years. He’s now also a member of The Zombies, and he came to them through me. Pete Billington has been playing keyboards with me for years. We’re using drummer Steve Rodford from The Zombies because my regular drummer’s wife just had a baby. This band has been together for 5 years but we’ve never played in the States. It’s a big thrill for British musicians to play in America. 

Are you familiar with your opening act, Edward Rogers? Edward Rogers will be the opening act for my entire tour. He’s a very good singer-songwriter. I’ve known him as a friend for 15 years. I’ve seen his shows before and he’s seen mine, but I’ve never actually performed with him. It’s going to be fun.

You’ve released nine solo albums over the years. That sounds about right. I usually don’t keep a count, but someone else brought it up recently, so that’s how I know. The songs I’m doing from my solo LPs still feel as fresh and relevant as when I first recorded them.

Will your show draw mostly from your most recent solo release, On The Air Tonight, or will it touch on all of them? It’s a cross section, definitely. This may sound corny, but you could think of it as a musical journey, right up from 1964. I take songs from every part of my career. I’ll also be doing songs I’ve done with other groups, like “Old And Wise” from The Alan Parsons Project’s Eye In The Sky album. And I’m constantly reassessing the songs I play.

How do you think American audiences will respond to your solo material? It’s going to be interesting. I don’t know how much of my material American audiences will be familiar with. Sometimes, people surprise me at shows by saying they have my solo albums. I’ve never had a hit in America, so I’m going to have to keep explaining that I had six or seven hits in the UK. I had a huge hit in the UK with the Denny Laine song “Say you Don’t Mind” from my first solo album. It was just me and the strings with no rhythm section. We’ll be playing that in my solo show.

Critics have said The Zombies were ahead of your time, considering the way you incorporated blues and jazz. I think we did draw influences from a variety of sources, like jazz and blues. It was one of our strengths because it made us sound different from other bands. It was also a bit of a weakness because people didn’t know how to categorize us. A lot of radio stations were hesitant to play our songs. Since we’ve been back, there are more people trying to influence our repertoire decisions, but that’s not how we’ve ever worked. Some acts today are forced to make a record they didn't want to make, and if it’s a hit, they have to go out for at least the next 18 months performing something that didn't really mean anything to them in the first place. I’ve been making records for 50 years, and I can tell you no one knows what’s going to be a hit record. And that’s what makes the music business so much fun. “Time Of The Season” was Number One on Billboard and Number 2 on Cashbox, but I can assure you it was never a hit in the UK.

City Winery often pairs a concert with a special wine that’s named after the performer. Will that be happening at your show? It is. I’d forgotten about that until you reminded me. It’s going to be a fine red wine. I’ll have to sample some. I’d like to have some bottles packed up and sent to me. I wouldn’t want to put one in my suitcase because it might break.

You mentioned before that it’s a thrill for British musicians to perform in America. Does Chicago has a special significance, in terms of its role in the development of the blues? Of course. The history of the blues in Chicago is important to us. And not only that, I remember playing Chicago when I was with the original lineup of The Zombies. And when we reformed, Chicago was one of the first places we played. We didn’t know what to expect, but the place was packed. It was sort of like stepping into the unknown. In a way, this [solo tour] is the same thing again.

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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

CD Review: Band Called Catch - The Story


A few weeks back when Band Called Catch performed at a preview party for The Throne Room, a new club on Chicago’s north side, it was difficult to pin a label on this seven-piece group. On The Story, a 2013 release that was engineered and produced by Dan Stock, Band Called Catch created Americana/indie rock music, featuring the tandem vocals of singer-guitarist Tim Frank and singer Jess Lyons. An imaginative use of horns and percussion also gives these nine tracks a distinctive edge.

On songs like “The Story” and “Black And White Socks,” Frank sings lead, with Lyons coming in on backup vocals. Lyons takes center stage on a seductive cover of “Shelly,” a song originally done by The Shams Band, and on the tuneful, easy-going “New Age Lullaby,” she joins Frank in a duet. Band Called Catch throws everything it’s got into the two-minute instrumental intro for the high energy “Green Light Revival,” while the catchy and acoustic-based “Here I Come” sounds like it should have been a hit single. The opening track, “When In Rome,” was named Best Love Song in the 2013 Independent Music Awards

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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Hey, Hey, They’re On Midwest Beat


Photo of Peter Tork from THE Real Peter Tork Facebook page.

It’s open to debate as to who has been a Chicago area-based rock critic longer—Tom Lounges or myself. We both started out in the mid-1970s; Lounges at Night Rock News and me at Metro Entertainment Calendar. Neither publication would ever have been confused with Rolling Stone. Lounges has founded a few newspapers over the years, while I was never the boss of anything until I started this blogsite. And my staff is minimal, to say the least. Interestingly enough, after all this time, we’ve never crossed paths.

Tom Lounges also hosts a radio show called Midwest Beat on 89.1FM, Lakeshore Public Media. His special guests tonight are Peter Tork and Mickey Dolenz of The Monkees. They, along with Michael Nesmith will be performing this Saturday night at the Star Plaza Theatre in Merrillville, IN. My wife Pam and I saw The Monkees at the Chicago Theatre a few years back and it was a very enjoyable show. Their interview with Tom Lounges tonight can be streamed live at The Lakeshore at 6:30 CST.

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Monday, May 26, 2014

Sacrificing Drummers For A Good Cause


Soundtrack Serenade, a rotating group of local musicians that revels in performing rock songs from famous flicks, will crank up the volume to 11 as it takes on Rob Reiner’s faux documentary This Is Spinal Tap at Martyrs’ Pub this Thursday, May 29th. Past Soundtrack Serenade shows have covered Fast Times At Ridgemont High, Dazed And Confused, and Empire Records. The musicians involved this time out are guitarist-vocalist Neal Alger, bassist-vocalist Charlie Short, guitarist-vocalist Ethan Semone, and keboards player-vocalist Dan Ingenthron.

Several brave souls will be required to man the drum kit, due to the Spinal Tap curse of drummers suffering spontaneous combustion. They are Ted Sirota, Dan Leali, Makaya McCraven, Tom Hipskind, Kevin O’Donnell, Gerald Dowd, Larry Beers, John Maloney, Timothy Remis, Steve Chesney, Barry Bennett, and John Aselin. In addition to Soundtrack Serenade playing songs like “Rock And Roll Creation” and “Cups And Cakes,” there will Spinal Tap trivia and a raffle for prizes. The event s a benefit for Box Of Stars, a non-profit organization that utilizes music to promote mental health awareness. The fun begins at 8:30 PM, admission is $10.

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Friday, May 23, 2014

Slumgullion


As mentioned earlier here on BHT, EXPO ‘76  will be performing a wide range of cover songs tonight at The Blues Bar in Mount Prospect. Members include singer-guitarist Dag Juhlin, who has performed with The Slugs and Poi Dog Pondering; and Kenn Goodman, who is the founder of Pravda Records and was a member of the band The Service.

There’s a Dwight Twilley tribute CD called Twilley Won’t Mind coming out in June on the Australian Zero Hour Records label, and it has a Chicago connection. Bassist-vocalist Herb Eimerman from the international power pop trio The Britannicas (which also includes Aussie Joe Algeri) played bass on a song by The Slapbacks, which includes Bobby Sutliff, Keith Klingensmith, and John Borack. Other artists involved include Lannie Flowers, Chris Silagyi from 20/20; Esa Lina; and The Bottle Kids. Zero Hour has posted a three-song sampler of Twilley Won’t Mind on YouTube. The CD is now available for pre-order on the Zero Hour website.

The Handcuffs have announced a series of dates for the upcoming warmer months. They’ll be at Martyrs’ on May 30th along with Steepwater and Star Darts; at the Roscoe Village Burger Fest on July 12th; and they’ll return to the Halsted Market Street Days again this year, on August 10th.

Also at Burger Fest on the same day, but on a different stage at a different time, the recently reunited Catfight will be performing. Other acts scheduled to appear include Treaty Of Paris; Better Than Ezra; American English; Fort Frances; and This Must Be The Band.

The Muffs, fronted by singer-guitarist Kim Shattuck, have Whoop Dee Doo, their first release in some time, coming out on July 29th. Shattuck also toured as a member of The Pixies not so long ago.

There’s a tribute to The Who coming up at Mayne Stage on June 7th called CAUDog Records Presents Ellis Clark and Phil Angotti’s Pinball Wizard Orchestra (A Special Mod Tribute To The Music Of The Who). Clark and Angotti will be joined by Carla Prather from Poi Dog Pondering; as well as Jordy Kozer and Charlie Short from The Webstirs. The Mayne Stage website lists this show as starting at 8:00 PM; tickets are $12.

Other interesting shows coming up in June at Mayne Stage include The Amazing Heeby Jeebies, a self-described “garagabilly” band led by vocalist Ary Paloma Lupine on the 6th (this is actually at the Act One Pub part of Mayne Stage); Chicago’s punk pioneers Tutu And The Pirates, along with The Lucky Three and JD’s Revenge also on the 6th; local ska favorites Heavy Manners, along with Skapone and Guns And Ammunition on on the 27th; and a power pop double bill of Tommy Keene and Pezband  on the 27th.

Help Keep Zombies In Elgin. Over the past few years, Jeff Kelley of the Sunday Morning Coffee With Jeff internet show has collaborated with graphic designer David Metzger on a series of comedic film clips that were used as part of the city of Elgin’s Halloween festivities. I’ve been in a few of their bits; playing a noted author on the living dead; a reporter at a mayor’s press conference; and a hot-headed politician bent on all-out zombie destruction. Kelley’s internet show is on summer vacation, and he’s now doing a podcast which can be heard on iTunes. On a recent episode, he announced that he’s looking to put together a film crew to assist with this year’s zombie magic. Anyone interested in helping out can contact Kelley at coffeewithjeff@gmail.com

The latest WXRT VIP email brings news of some interesting shows coming up in the next few months. Such as Shawn Colvin and Steve Earle at the newly revived Thalia Hall on June 6th; Guster and G. Love and Special Sauce at The World’s Largest Block Party on June 27th; and Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers with Steve Windwood at The United Center on August 23rd.

Someone invite Little Steven. Dick Dale, the guitarist whose instrumental surf rock emerged in the 1950s and still resonates with fans of underground music today, is coming to Durty Nellie’s in Palatine on July 16th.

Mary-Arrchie Theatre recently posted on Facebook that one of its members, director/actor Carlo Lorenzo Garcia is writing and producing a new TV show called Cowl Girl. So far, the cast includes actors who performed in recent Mary-Arrchie productions, including Preston Tate, Jr. from Superior Donuts; Monte LaMonte, from Bartleby The Scrivener; and Bill Daniel from Horse Dreamer. It has also been strongly suggested that Mary-Archie Artistic Director and Superior Donuts actor Richard Cotovsky will also be involved. Cow Girl is seeking financial backing through a fundraising campaign

A Method to his Mattness? Singer-songwriter Matthew Sweet has recorded three volumes in the Under The Covers series of tribute CDs with Susanna Hoffs, and he did some producing on their 2011 release, Sweetheart Of The Sun. I just noticed he’s booked to play City Winery in Chicago on July 25th, which is just two days before The Bangles arrive for shows on the 27th and 28th. I would be interesting to see some cross pollination between the Sweet and Bangles shows. 

If you were among the many people who ran out and bought the new Kaiser Chiefs’ CD Education, Education, Education And War based on my glowing review in this month’s Illinois Entertainer, you might be interested to know The Kaiser Chiefs are performing at Taste Of Randolph Street this year.

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Thursday, May 22, 2014

Dolenz, Noone, And Pender Set To Make Fest For Beatles Fans - Chicago Debut


“Ticket To Ride” 45 Sleeve From The Fest For Beatles Fans Facebook page.

Last Sunday, on her Breakfast With The Beatles show on WXRT, Terri Hemmert announced the guests for this year’s Fest For Beatles Fans - Chicago. The information can also be found on the Fest’s official website. There are definitely some new faces this year, along with the regular participants. Hemmert will once again serve as Master Of Ceremonies as Fest For Beatles Fans takes place at the Hyatt Regency O’Hara in suburban Rosemont on August 15th through 17th.

Sadly, the Chicago version won’t be nearly as ambitious as New York’s was this past February, when several events were staged to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of The Beatles coming to the city to perform on The Ed Sullivan Show. Maybe next year, Fest For Beatles Fans - Chicago will create a Comiskey Park replica inside the Hyatt Recency O’Hare to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of The Beatles performing at the White Sox ball park. Also, it looks like Chicago won’t have a version of Liverpool’s famed Cavern Club, the way the Big Apple did.

But as always, the three-day Chicago celebration will present musicians, authors, artists, photographers, and music biz people who have some connection to The Beatles. Most are accessible to fans in both the general sense of watching them being interviewed in a large meeting room, and on a face-to-face basis at the autograph tables. A huge marketplace with loads of music-related memorabilia is also a major draw.

Mickey Dolenz of The Monkees; Peter Noone, lead singer for Herman’s Hermits; and singer-guitarist Mike Pender from The Searchers will be making their Fest For Beatles Fans - Chicago debuts. All three acts are scheduled to perform with Liverpool, a New York-based band that expertly covers The Beatles without trying to impersonate them. Some of the returning favorites include trivia master Wally Podrazik; Laurence Juber, former guitarist for Wings; producer-musician Mark Hudson, who has worked with Ringo Starr; Beatles artist Eric Cash; Rob Shanahan, who served as Ringo Starr’s photographer; and authors Bruce Spizer; Jude Southerland Kessler. The Fest For Beatles Fans website promises that additional guests will be announced soon.

Check out the website to see the new activities being added to this year’s Fest For Beatles Fans - Chicago. I’m planning on doing a more extensive preview closer to the event. Tickets are $39.00 for Friday; $59.00 for Saturday or Sunday; and $148.00 for the entire weekend.

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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Going 80s For The Peadpod Project/Subarbanizing With EXPO ‘76


Cropped photo from the EXPO ‘76 Facebool page.

The Peadpod Project, a charitable organization founded to provide resources for parents coping with the serious illness of a child, is holding its First Annual Like That’s So 80s Costume Party Contest tomorrow (May 21st) at Joe’s Bar on Weed Street in Chicago. The $60 admission includes two hours of food and an open bar, plus renditions of those irresistible 1980s hits provided by a live band. Cash prizes will awarded to best male and female costumes. The event kicks off at 5:30 PM. 
* * * *
Having already established a Chicago home base at Simon’s Tavern, EXPO ‘76 continues to colonize the surrounding area. Or, as vocalist-guitarist Dag Juhlin dubbed it in a recent Facebook post, “Suburbanizing!” The eclectic covers band, comprised of veteran musicians, has had regular gigs at FitzGerald’s in Berwyn and Mac’s On Slade in Palatine. This Friday, May 23rd, EXPO '76, along with the Total Pro Horns, will venture into Mount Prospect for a show at The Blues Bar.

Juhlin promises he and his mates will be rocking (and joking around) until 1:00 AM, which might leave some time for people to catch Theatre Nebula’s production of Monty Python’s Spamalot at 8:00 PM at Cutting Hall in nearby Palatine. For my review of Spamalot, scroll down to the May 12th, 2014 post. For a look back at an EXPO ‘76 show at Macs On Slade, find July 17th, 2013 the BHT archives.

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Monday, May 19, 2014

Elegantly Into The Unknown


Susan Enterline photo from the Colin Blunstone Facebook page.

About a month ago, I asked Colin Blunstone during a telephone conversation (the interview is in the May issue of the Illinois Entertainer) how he thought people in the U.S. would react to his predominantly non-Zombies solo performances. The long-time lead vocalist for the British Invasion band conceded, “It’s going to be interesting. I don’t know how much of my material American audiences will be familiar with.” His nine solo releases have spawned hits in Europe, but none here in the States. He compared his current solo tour to the first dates The Zombies played after reuniting in 2004, saying it was like stepping into the unknown.

Still, when Blunstone informed the audience at City Winery in Chicago last Thursday night that he would be steering away from The Zombies during the show, there were no murmurs of discontent. That could have been because he has the classy air of an English gentleman, or because everyone knew they were about to entertained by one of the premier voices of the rock era. There was a sense of Blunstone being a curator; leading the crowd through a gallery of his works.

Melodic songs like “Caroline Goodbye,” Tim Hardin’s “Misty Roses;” the Denny Laine-penned “Say You Don’t Mind;” and “Old And Wise,” a song Blunstone recorded with The Alan Parsons Project for the Eye In The Sky LP, were immediately accessible even to those who had never heard them before. Then there were his covers of Jimmy Ruffin’s “What Becomes Of The Brokenhearted” and Smokey Robinson And The Miracles’ “Tracks Of My Tears.” Blunstone had hits with the two soul classics in England, but not over here. He pleasantly surprised the audience by immediately following the stark beauty of another one of his Euro hits, “Though You Are Far Away” with The Zombies’ biggest American hit, “Time Of The Season.”

Blunstone closed the show with two more Zombies tunes—“She’s Not There” and “Just Out Of Reach,” a song from the 1960s cult film Bunny Lake Is Missing soundtrack. Throughout the evening, he shared funny anecdotes about the music business, particularly the time he flew to America to record a TV commercial. All in all, the perfect host.

Singer-songwriter Edward Rogers proved to be an engaging opening act, performing a short set of clever tunes from his latest release, Porcelain. Rogers’ voice is reminiscent of David Bowie, and backed by two guitarists, he created music that often had the feel of Celtic rock.

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Friday, May 16, 2014

Slumgullion


Cropped photo from the Hampstead Theatre website.

Theatre Nebula’s production of Monty Python’s Spamalot continues its run at Cutting Hall this weekend, with shows tonight and tomorrow at 8:00 PM and on Sunday at 3:00 PM. I posted a review of the musical here on BHT last Monday.

The hard-edged power pop band Van Go also has a gig tomorrow night. The band, lead by lead vocalist Davey Sippel, will at one of its favorite clubs, Phyllis’ Musical Inn. The 7th Year and The Deadly Bungalows are also on the bill. The show starts at 10:00PM.

Let me tell you ‘bout The Byrds and The Beatles. The Cheetles, a band of seasoned musicians that covers The Beatles straight up, without theatrics, will be performing at 27 Live in Evanston tomorrow night at 10PM. The opening act will be Phil Angotti’s Younger Than Yesterday Band, which includes  Eric Chial, Brian Stout, and Jason Styx. The Younger Than Yesterday Band will be doing a tribute to The Byrds.

Here in the States, we’re used to seeing actress Karen Gillan contending with hostile alien beings on Doctor Who; trying to get an evil mirror to fess up to its crimes in Occulus, and in the upcoming film Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, she’ll be a bald and blue villain called Nebula. We missed her romantic comedy Not Another Happy Ending, because it wasn’t released over here. But now we Yanks will get to witness Gillan’s comedic side because her new sitcom Selfie, has been picked up by ABC for next fall. The Nerdist website has an exlusive interview with her. 

Handler, a Chicago-based group that includes musicians from I Fight Dragons and The Chicago Afrobeat Project, will be performing at Martyrs’ next Wednesday, May 21. Derby Soul and Eddie Dixon are also on the bill. The music starts at 8:00 PM, admission is $7.


Kinks fans have always relished the ability of Ray Davies to set compelling tales and biting satire to well-crafted melodies. Now he’s behind a new musical titled Sunny Afternoon that kronicles the Kinks’ career. It runs through May 24th at the Hampstead Theatre in London and includes the songs “A Well Respected Man” and “Lola.”

Critic Alex Bellotti gives Sunny Afternoon four stars, but notes, “Ray’s version of the legendary story behind the conception of “You Really Got Me” is sure to infuriate not just [his brother] Dave, but diehard Kinks fans.” Dave Davies recently posted a thumbs down on Facebook, stating, “The present script is full of inaccuracies. I do not endorse this play in any way.”

Still, the show has sold out its run, and I can’t help hoping it will make its way to America, and Chicago in particular. Maybe with some edits that will be to the liking of Dave Davies.


The Bad Examples will bring their motherlode of infectious power pop songs to FitzGerald’s in Berwyn next Friday night, May 23rd.

Speaking of FitzGerald’s, the club will hold its 33rd Annual American Music Festival on July 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th.  Some of the acts include the Marcia Ball Band; Joe Pug; Tributosaurus becomes The Band; Alejandro Escovedo; The Bottle Rockets; Shemekia Copeland; Joe Ely with Reckless Eric; and Terrance Simien and the Sensitive Boys. The full schedule is on the FitzGerald’s website. 

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45 RPM Memories: broken English - “Don’t You Touch That Radio Dial”


Yesterday’s post today. I had this in the queue to post last night, but I didn’t get home until after midnight due to being at the Colin Blunstone concert at City Winery. 

“Don’t You Touch That Radio Dial” by broken English was released in 1982, amidst one of Chicago’s numerous fertile eras of local bands. Back then, it was always worth browsing through the 45s section of record stores like Wax Trax on Lincoln Avenue, or those islands of hip culture on the city’s southwest side, Kroozin Music. I can’t say for sure if I ever saw this group perform live on the club scene, but I have a pretty strong feeling I did. I liked the 45 enough to record the A and B Sides for my mixed tape collection. 

Although there are only three guys pictured on the sleeve (with their rockabilly hair styled by Razzel Do’s, according to the credits) seven musicians are credited with having worked on this record. Johhny Huff sang lead on “Don’t You Touch That Radio Dial,” a catchy song that opened with the sound of static before moving on to a warning about losing the beat if you switch the station. Backup vocals from Richie Barker and Glenn Barker (G.B. The Kid) add to the fun, and there’s a spirited instrumental break featuring Richie on guitar. This song was good enough to be a hit on the radio, but sadly, it never was.

Richie Barker takes over as lead vocalist on the B Side “It’s True,” leading the way through an alluring power pop tune about a guy trying to win back his girlfriend. With its ringing guitars and elaborate harmonies, “Its True” is actually the better of the two songs on this record. Listening to those tracks now, I’d say they both have stood the test of time. 

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Wednesday, May 14, 2014

It’s The Time Of The Season For One Zombie


Photo from Colin Blunstone’s Facebook page.

Having just wrapped up a tour with The Zombies, lead vocalist Colin Blunstone is now setting out on his own. The solo tour brings him to City Winery tomorrow night, along with a backup band he’s worked with for five years. I had the honor of doing a telephone interview with Mr. Blunstone a while back, and it’s in the May issue of the Illinois Entertainer. For those not within our state, the entire issue can be viewed on the paper’s Facebook page. 

The May issue of I.E. also has Tom Lanham’s cover story on Haim, and a feature on Ghost Of A Saber Tooth Tiger, a duo comprised of Sean Lennon and Charlotte Muhl. The File section has a report on a Veruca Salt reunion that includes all four original members. Plus, there are a number of CD reviews, including Archie Powell And The Exports’ Back In Black by Contributing Editor Curt Baran; Black Lips’ Underneath The Rainbow by Arsenio Orteza; the various artists Beatles Reimagined tribute album by Bruce Pilato; and my take on the Kaiser Chiefs’ Education, Education, Education And War

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Monday, May 12, 2014

Ambitious Spam


Photo from Cutting Hall’s Facebook page.

Theatre Nebula brings some Anglo-flavored silliness to Cutting Hall in Palatine with its performance of Monty Python’s Spamalot. The musical, with a book and lyrics by Python member Eric Idle and music by John De Prez and Idle, won three Tony Awards on Broadway, and had successful runs in Chicago and other cities. It’s quite a challenge for a local theatre company, but the Chicago-based Theatre Nebula, backed by an eight-piece orchestra, succeeds with an energetic and professional production. Monty Python’s Spamalot opened at Cutting Hall this past Saturday night, and runs through Sunday, June 15th.

There are 17 cast members involved with director Kevin Wiczer’s bustling rendition, and just about everyone takes on multiple roles. That’s not really noticeable, thanks to Lisa Hale’s clever costumes and the performers’ inventiveness. Tim Koll, for example, skillfully plays the nerdy Historian; the preening Dennis Galahad; the eternally combative Black Knight; and Prince Herbert’s huge-tracks-of-land seeking father. Adam Kasprowicz hilariously tackles the roles of Lancelot; the French Taunter; the chief Knight Of Ni; and Tim The Enchanter.

This production has a powerfully voiced Lady Of The Lake in Denise Tamburrino, which is essential since the role would lose its satiric bite without a diva who can be simultaneously impressive and ridiculously over the top. As the perpetually disrespected King Arthur, Chuck Sisson adroitly mixes a royal air with seething frustration, and despite the constant presence of Krist Neumann’s engaging Patsy—loneliness. Anthony Mele as Sir Robin is funny throughout, and sails effortlessly though one of the most elaborate and best numbers, “You Won’t Succeed On Broadway.”

Amanda Diamond, Erin O’Leary, Kerry McGee, Dayna Palya, Laura Williams, and JZ Zaeske are not only appealing in choreographer Kara Williams’ sexy song and dance numbers, they get laughs with small roles such as the Knights of Ni, the French Guards, and Tim’s minions. Kudos also go to Tyler Callahan who kicks off the show’s musical madness with a lively “I’m Not Dead Yet,” and plays a variety of parts, including the romantically starved Prince Herbert.

Finally, a round of applause to Eric Idle, who took a decades-old film he had made with his fellow Pythons and gave it an whole new existence. My wife Pam and I saw Monty Pythons Spamalot when it first came to Chicago years ago with its all-star cast of Tim Curry, David Hyde Pierce, Hank Azaria, and others. Theatre Nebula can’t match the firepower of that production, but fans of this zany musical should find a lot to like at Cutting Hall.

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Saturday, May 10, 2014

Slumgullion


Who’s Who On First? There’s no mention of it on the Durty Nellie’s website, but the Who tribute band Who’s Who will be opening for Hairbanger’s Ball tonight at the downtown Palatine rock club. This according to the Who’s Who Facebook page.

The Alan Parsons Project is performing shows at 7:00 and 9:00 PM tonight at the Arcada Theatre in St. Charles. Herman’s Hermits, starring Peter Noone, with special guests Jay And The Americans, will be there next Saturday night.

Ralph Covert, lead vocalist-guitarist for The Bad Examples, as well as a successful entertainer of young people, is joining forces with guitarist Steve Gerlach, who has worked with The Bad Examples and Tomorrow The Moon, and keyboards player Mike Hartigan at the Filament Theatre on Milwaukee Avenue tomorrow May 11th. Tickets for the Ralph Covert Trio House Concert are $15. The show is at 7:00 PM.

Slumgullion is late this week due to my hanging out at a media/industry event at the new Chicago venue The Throne Room last night. It’s a classy looking rock club with brick walls and wood floors, located above Renaldi’s Pizza and Renaldi’s After Dark at 2827–2831 N. Broadway. The event drew a mix of owner Mark Bruscianelli’s friends and family, along with media types like me and press agent August Forte, for an open bar, food, and a performance by Band Called Catch. Bruscianelli and his wife Kamila Brodowinska Bruscianelli proved to be gracious hosts, working their way through the crowd, and making sure everyone felt welcome.

The Throne Room is in a high-traffic location, within striking distance of Wrigley Field, Lincoln Avenue, Boystown, and the hip shops and restaurants along Clark and Halsted Streets. It remains to be seen what kind of acts will be booked, but having Band Called Catch perform at the preview sounded a promising note. The group, which was also impressive performing on opening night at the 2012 Blue Whiskey Film Festival in Palatine, is led by vocalist-guitarist Tim Frank and vocalist Jess Lyons. Their first set was a mix of well-crafted originals like “When In Rome” and covers like Head And The Heart’s “Lost In My Mind.” They also did a version of Mungo Jerry’s “In The Summertime” that served as a perfect party song. The Throne Room’s official opening in on May 30th.

Local rock covers band The Lennys will be participating in the American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life  on the weekend of June 13-14.

Judging from the resumes of its four members, The Empty Hearts should be one of the more interesting bands set to debut this summer. Wally Palmar from The Romantics is the lead vocalist-guitarist; Clem Burke from Blondie plays drums; Elliot Easton from The Cars plays lead guitar; and Andy Babiuk from The Chesterfield Kings plays bass. Plus, Ian McLagan from the Faces will be a special guest on keyboards. The Empty Hearts will release their first effort in August 5th.

Singer-guitarist Phil Angotti will be performing original material (as opposed to one of his many tribute concerts) at his gig at FitzGerald’s in Berwyn next Friday (May 16th) night. The Possum Hollow Boys are also on the bill.

The Cheetles, a band of seasoned musicians that covers The Beatles straight up, without theatrics, will be performing at 27 Live in Evanston next Friday night.

The hard-edged power pop band Van Go! has a gig next Saturday night at one of its favorite clubs, Phyllis’ Musical Inn. The 7th Year and The Deadly Bungalows are also on the bill. The show starts at 10:00PM.

Drizzle, drazzle, druzzle drome, time for Replacements fans to go to St. Paul, Minnesota. Tickets are now on sale for a concert by the legendary band at Midwest Stadium in St. Paul, Minnesota on September 13th. As-yet-to-be-named special guests will also be on the bill.

Michael Smith, a Chicago-based filmmaker I had the pleasure to interview for the online magazine Chicago DIY Film, is in the midst of an ambitious new project. Smith was promoting his award-winning short The Catastrophe when we talked a few years ago, and now he’s planning on shooting a feature film called Cool Apocalypse.

“It is a simple story about modern-day relationships in Chicago,” Smith explained in a recent email blast. “It will unquestionably be the biggest and best thing I've ever done.”

He’s using crowd-sourced funding that, “will go towards making the film look and sound as good as possible.” A $25 donation will get you a “Thank You” in the movie’s closing titles, as well as the good feeling of supporting a local filmmaker. 

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