Monday, September 29, 2014

Ground Control To Major Tom: Mission Accomplished


As of tomorrow, the David Bowie Is exhibition will have been at the Museum Of Contemporary Art - Chicago, its only stop in the United States, for a week. Hundreds of people—a fair amount from around the country—have already checked out this multimedia celebration of one of rock’s most distinctive stars. Having gone on this past Saturday, I can join the chorus of those singing the praises of David Bowie Is.

It’s easy to come away from this show feeling that Bowie made good on his goal of being, “an instigator of new ideas.” (I wanted to make more of that particular quote, but a Google search revealed that other writers, including the Chicago Tribunes Steve Johnson, had already beat me to it. David Bowie Is seems likely to have two other effects on those who experience it. One: A hunger to delve into Bowie’s music and films. Local radio station WXRT tapped into that desire by airing a vintage Bowie concert this past Sunday night. Two: An appreciation of one’s own artistic endeavors and a renewed urgency to explore them further. It would probably help to already be creatively inclined to have that second reaction, but who knows? Maybe some absolute beginners will spring from having visited this exhibition.

An introductory message on the audio portion of David Bowie Is, delivered via GPS-equipped headphones, suggests it will take about 90 minutes to complete the show. It could easily take longer for those intent on savoring every item, depending how much of a crowd is present at the time. The collection includes samples of Bowie’s early art work; toys he played with when he was a boy; stage bills from local theatre productions he performed in; and handwritten lyrics (at least one with a stick figure doodle) from the songs he recorded. There was also a promotional poster showing Bowie as a second-tier act for a concert featuring T. Rex and Roy Harper.

All of this is attractively staged and augmented with colorful and imaginative special effects; such as a large neon sign stating, “David Bowie Is Crossing The Border.” The most striking aspect of the exhibition is the pairing of groundbreaking rock videos like “Blue Jean,” “Ashes To Ashes,” “Let’s Dance,” and “Life On Mars” with the actual outfits Bowie wore for the them. Elsewhere, a separate room served as an intimate movie theatre showing clips from the films Absolute Beginners; The Man Who Fell To Earth; Labyrinth; Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence; and Prestige; as well as from the stage production of The Elephant Man.

The rock videos and film/theatre clips offer the most compelling evidence of Bowie’s versatility and charisma as a performer. Every facial expression, vocal inflection, pause, and mannerism seems devoted to embodying the role he has taken on. At this point, there’s no indication Bowie will come to Chicago to visit this exhibition. Reportedly, he’s busy working on songs for another new album. Further proof that Bowie is always creating. 

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Friday, September 26, 2014

Slumgullion


The Handcuffs and Penthouse Sweets, two of Chicago’s better bands, will be joining the Detroit-based Ricky Rat Pack for some rocking at the Cobra Lounge tonight. The Cobra Lounge is located at 236 N. Ashland Avenue. Tickets are $8.00, the music starts at 8:30 PM.

Original member of Big Star Jody Stephens will be joined by an awe-inspiring collection of power pop and alternative musicians tomorrow night when Trunkworthy and Wild Honey present Big Star 3rd And #1 Live at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre in Los Angeles. The scheduled performers include Mitch Easter from Let’s Active; Mike Mills from R.E.M.; Ken Stringfellow and Jon Auer from The Posies; Ira Kaplan from Yo La Tengo; Chris Stamey from The dB’s; The Bangles; Aimee Mann; Jason Falkner; Pete Yorn; Dan Wilson from Semisonic; Dean Wareham from Dean and Britta; and Tommy Keene. Van Dyke Parks will be the guest conductor. All profits from this event will go to the Autism Think Tank.

There will be a match-up of like-minded, longtime players on the Chicago rock scene at 27 Live in Evanston tomorrow night when the Phil Angotti Meets The Abbeys show takes place. The Phil Angotti Band will include a John Lennon tribute in its performance.

Forget the drumstick, I’m grateful for this. The Bangles recently announced on Facebook that they’ll release Ladies And Gentlemen…The Bangles! on Thanksgiving Day. The new digital collection features fully remastered material from the 1980s that includes the band’s debut EP, along with all sorts of rarities, demos, and live recordings. So far, there has been no mention of Ladies And Gentlemen coming out on vinyl or CD, but there were a number or comments on The Bangles Facebook page requesting these formats.

LZP Productions will be performing the Mel Brooks musical comedy Young Frankenstein starting tomorrow night at Cutting Hall in Palatine. There are seven shows scheduled over the next three weeks.

Tomorrow is Cassette Store Day around the world. As Johnny Carson used to say, I did not know that. This event seems more indie-centric than Record Store Day, judging from the list of releases on the official site. Laurie’s Planet Of Sound in Chicago is participating, and they’ll be selling vintage cassettes as well. Check out the picture on their Facebook page, and you’ll see cassettes by Bruce Springsteen, Frank Zappa, Led Zeppelin, Jim Hendrix, The Hollies, The Who, Sparks, and Tom Waits.

As a Kinks reunion involving both Davies brothers continues to be a possibility, The Second Disc  website has other good news for fans of the iconic British Invasion group. The U.K.-based Sanctuary Records label (it will come out on BMG/InGrooves in America) plans to release the 5-CD set Anthology 1964–1971 on November 17th. The collection will include 23 previously unreleased tracks.

There will be a screening of Good Ol’ Freda, the entertaining documentary about Freda Kelly, next Wednesday at City Winery in Chicago. Kelly was still in her teens when she landed the dream job of being secretary of the Official Beatles Fan Club.

On the following night at the same venue, The Fauntleroys, featuring Alejandro Escovedo, Nick Tremulis, Ivan Julian, and Linda Pitmon, will be performing. Show time is 8:00 PM. Other upcoming shows of note at City Winery include Glenn Tilbrook of Squeeze on October 15th; Dave Davies of The Kinks on November 12th and 13th; and Justin Hayward of The Moody Blues with two gigs (the first one sold out) on November 17th. 
  
The Walker Brigade, a punk and new wave cover band comprised of Jeff Charreaux from Ultraviolet Eye and other veteran musicians, will be performing a gig with the Insect Surfers at the TAIX French Restaurant in Los Angeles next Friday, October 3rd.

Psychedelic, eh? Chicago’s mind-bending band Secret Colours is heading up north next month for its very first dates in Canada. The schedule includes rocking The Casbah in Ontario on October 15th.

Getting closer to Chicago: Graham Nash and his daughter Nile will offer Songs And Conversation at BB’s Jazz, Blues and Soups in St. Louis on October 26th. Proceeds from this show will benefit Uzazi Village of Kansas City, The Foundation for the Advancement of Midwifery, and the Social Justice Division of the Midwives Alliance of North America.

Maple Mars frontman Rick Hromadka has his first solo effort, Trippin Dinosaurs, coming out next Tuesday, September 30th.

Participants and followers of the Chicago theatre scene no doubt recognized Hans Fleischmann in last night’s episode of Chicago PD. Fleischmann is a veteran of Mary-Arrchie and was the driving force behind the theatre’s critically acclaimed and very successful production of Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie

Is this where I catch the Magical Mystery Tour bus? Sun-Times columnist Michael Sneed reported yesterday that a bench decorated with colorful Beatles art by kids from the After School Matters organization and signed by Paul McCartney nabbed $30,000 at a recent charity auction at Navy Pier.

Hushdrops, who recently released the impressive Tomorrow, their first CD in ages, have a date at Reckless Records on Broadway October 25th at 3:00 PM.

Lucky us. The Consequence Of Sound website is reporting that Pete Townshend and Roger Daltry have gotten together to record a new song under The Who banner. “Be Lucky” will be the band’s first new effort in eight years. Pat DiNizio of The Smithereens also did a post about this on his Facebook page.

The hypnotic four-woman bad Warpaint will be performing next Sunday, October 5th at The Vic.

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Thursday, September 25, 2014

Vintage Publication Spotlight: Song Talk


There was a recent post on the Graham Nash Facebook page announcing a show called Songs And Conversation that he and his daughter Nile will be doing at the BB’s Jazz, Blues and Soups venue in St. Louis on October 26th. In addition to giving me hope that Nash might be getting closer to making a Chicago area appearance, this news reminded me of a publication I purchased in 1994. Song Talk was based in Hollywood, California and was put out by the National Academy of Songwriters on a quarterly basis.

At the time of this issue (Volume 4, Issue 2), Dan Kirkpatrick was the Publisher; Paul Zollo was the Editor, Brett Perkins was the Managing Editor, and the remarkable Henry Diltz was the Chief Photographer. As a professional proofreader myself, I’m happy to see that Song Talk also listed its proofreader Abigail Bram on the masthead. Diltz took the front cover shot of Nash, and the variety of shots used throughout Zollo’s six-page article/interview reflects the long-term professional relationship Diltz had with Nash dating back to the singer-songwiter’s days with The Hollies. The feature would be continued in the next issue of Song Talk.

Among several other topics, Zollo spoke with Nash about writing “King Midas In Reverse” and his eventual fallout with The Hollies; how Cass Elliott introduced him to David Crosby without mentioning who Nash was; and how his anger about social injustice sparked the inspiration for “Chicago.” I’m not sure about Song Talk in general, but Zollo was a busy guy in this issue; penning articles on Art Garfunkel, Richard Thompson, Laura Nyro, and Bruce Cockburn. Kevin McCarley conducted interviews with Rick Nielsen and Tom Petersson of Cheap Trick about songwriting and the band’s latest album Woke Up With A Monster.

Most of the ads in this issue of Song Talk were related to the art and technology of songwriting, along with some for local clubs and the sorely missed Tower Records. A two-page spread titled Acoustic Underground showcased the Songwriters In The Round series at the Troubadour club in West Hollywood. Among the artists pictured were Wendy Waldman, The Nields, and Dar Williams. Another feature, called New Faces, profiled up-and-coming singer-songwriters, including Lisa Loeb. 

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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

U2 - Songs Of Innocence


I was offered this free download of U2’s latest effort, and having been a fan of the group since its debut in 1980, I accepted it with gratitude and high expectations. The elements that first intrigued listeners on Boy—The Edge’s distinctive guitar playing; Bono’s multi-range vocals; and those dark, enticing arrangements—are still very much in evidence on Songs Of Innocence. Bono once again comes across as an intense observer of modern society, responding to its faults with a mix of spiritual nurturing and raging frustration.

Confronting the stark evidence of urban violence in “Raised By Wolves” seems to spark a crisis of faith for him, and he acknowledges that organized religion is sometimes a breeding ground for intolerance. The slow and soulful “Sleep Like A Baby Tonight” takes aim at people who can rest easy in a world full of pain, and on the funky, Rolling Stones-influenced “This Is Where You Can Reach Me Now,” Bono notes, “We’re taking the path of most resistance/The only way for us to go.” “Song For Someone,” set to a melodic acoustic guitar and keyboards arrangement, is more optimistic, and the shimmering “Iris (Hold Me Close)” is an imaginative love song.

U2 mixes hard-edged tracks like “Cedarwood Road” and “Volcano” with lighter fare like “Every Breaking Wave” on Songs Of Innocence. Initially, “The Miracle Of Joey Ramone” seems like an overly elaborate tribute to an artist who stressed minimalism, but the song grows stronger with each listen, and it seems likely Bono relished celebrating a punk rock singer as a world-changing visionary. Regardless of how people react to its unusual arrival, Songs Of Innocence is another keeper from this veteran Irish band.

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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Brown Bagging With Brehmer And A Bowie Band


Cities often sponsor public celebrations when one of their sports teams wins a championship, so why not throw a party for a cultural coup? You could call David Bowie Day a pep rally for the artsy set, but Chicagoans should be proud that our Museum Of Contemporary Art is the one place in the United States that is getting a visit from David Bowie Is, a multimedia exhibition involving art, music, fashion, and performance. Held from noon to almost 1:00 PM this afternoon at the Daley Center, David Bowie Day was a great opportunity to have lunch outside in perfect Fall weather, flash some civic pride, and hear a live band pay tribute to the Thin White Duke.

I arrived around 11:00 AM, unsure of how much of a crowd would turn out for this event. Daley Plaza was pretty much empty at that time except for a WXRT tent where the station’s friendly minions were giving away David Bowie Is postcards and small black ‘David’ (with a lightning bolt for the ‘i’) buttons. Across the street, just outside the building where the local CBS outlet does its news reports, there was an official promotion for the network’s new NCIS: New Orleans TV show. In Daley Plaza, there was also a Voter Registration Drive taking place. 

Contrary to what some sources had predicted, Mayor Rahm Emanuel did not appear at today’s David Bowie Day event. WXRT’s popular air personality Lin Brehmer, a guy who knows partying like Eric Clapton knows guitar strumming, served as MC and sported an Aladdin Sane lighting bolt across his countenance. He introduced the people from the Museum Of Contemporary Art who were responsible for snagging David Bowie Is and joined them in promoting that event as well as David Bowie Day.

Brehmer also introduced the tribute band Sons Of The Silent Age. Opening with the song “Sons Of The Silent Age” from Bowie’s Heroes album, the group executed a short but highly polished set that included “Changes,” “Fame,” “Ashes To Ashes,” “Life On Mars,” “Under Pressure,” Suffragette City,” and “Heroes.” Lead vocalist Chris Connelly was once again the essence of cool, and various band members joined him on harmonies. For a review of a full Sons Of The Silent Age concert, check out July 2, 2013 in the BHT archives.

Also, be sure to visit Robert Loerzel’s Underground Bee blog for some great pics of the David Bowie Is exhibition.

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Monday, September 22, 2014

Bowie Bash And Other News


Portraits of Sons Of The Silent Age band members by artist Tom McKeon. 

A few other points of interest before moving on David Bowie Day.

Mike Thomas, a well-known reporter for the Chicago Sun-Times, will be signing copies of his new biography You Might Remember Me: The Life And Times Of Phil Hartman at the Barnes And Noble/DePaul University Bookstore at 1 East Jackson tomorrow night at 6:00 PM. Thomas will also be at Anderson’s Bookshop in Downers Grove on Wednesday; The Book Cellar on Lincoln Avenue next Tuesday, September 30th, and next Thursday, October 2nd, at The Book Stall in Winnetka. 

Whitewolfsonicprincess, Carla Hayden and James Moeller’s cutting-edge rock offshoot of their avant garde theater company Black Forest, has an 8:00 PM gig this Wednesday night at the Underground  Wonder Bar. Songs from 10 + 1, the second CD from Whitewolfsonicprincess are now available on iTunes. In my review of 10 + 1, I noted its mystical theme, particularly on “Sad-Eyed Prophet” and “Inner Light,” and praised Hayden’s sultry, almost spoken word delivery. Underground Wonder Bar is located just north of downtown, at 710 N. Clark Street. Admission is $5.00. 

Welcome to all those who have come to Chicago for the David Bowie Is exhibition that opens tomorrow at the Museum Of Contemporary Art. In case you didn’t know, there’s an MCA and WXRT sponsored David Bowie Day celebration taking place tomorrow at the Daley Center. Sons Of The Silent Age, a very accomplished Bowie tribute band, will be performing. For tourists and Chicagoans alike, here’s a brief rundown about tomorrow’s festivities from the group’s Facebook page:

“Sons of the Silent Age [will] play one song at Noon tomorrow at Daley Plaza, then there will be 3 short (?) speeches (including Da Mare), after which we play until were stopped, a little after 1pm. Have a freaky day.”

Here’s a bit of my review of a Sons Of Silent Age show at Durty Nellie’s in Palatine a while back:

Chris Connelly consistently nailed Bowie’s distinctive delivery, from the soulful crooning of “Stay” to the down and dirty “Diamond Dogs.” Saxophone player-vocalist Rich Parenti and vocalist Claire Massey (formerly with The Tami Show) provided expertly timed backup vocals. Connelly doesn’t go in for a lot of makeup or elaborate costumes, but projects the aura of a classy, yet cutting-edge rock star.

The rhythm section of Matt Walker, percussionist Marcus Johnson, and bassist Alan Berliant created a powerful funk groove on “Golden Years” and “Fame,” while Parenti’s sax playing sparked “Modern Love” and “Young Americans.” Carolyn Engelman’s eerie synthesizer on “Ashes To Ashes” was hypnotic, and guitarist Steve Gerlach (from The Bad Examples and Tomorrow The Moon) and electric/acoustic guitarist Robert Byrnes frequently propelled songs into the stratosphere.

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Friday, September 19, 2014

Slumgullion


EXPO CHGO, The International Exposition Of Contemporary And Modern Art opened today on Navy Pier and runs through Sunday. Over 140 galleries from various countries are involved, and in addition to all that art, there will be panel discussions and lectures. Admission is $20.00.

The British Invasion Tour, featuring Chad And Jeremy, Mike Pender from The Searchers, Terry Sylvester from The Hollies, Denny Laine from The Moody Blues and Wings, and Billy J. Kramer, will have additional guests for tonight’s show at the Saban Theatre in Los Angeles. Peter Asher of Peter And Gordon will be joining in, and John Wicks from The Records will be singing “Hearts In Her Eyes” in a duet with Pender.

Relive The End Of The Century. City Winery in Chicago will be screening the music documentary End Of The Century: The Story Of The Ramones at 8:00 PM next Wednesday, September 24th. Tickets are $5.00, the doors open at 6:00 PM

The youthful bluegrass trio Sleepy Man Banjo Boys will donate the proceeds from the digital sales of their original tune “Man In Your Corner” to the Epilepsy Foundation. Group members Tommy, Robbie, and Jonny wrote it in honor of their younger brother Sam, who is coping with epilepsy. The Sleepy Man Banjo Boys will be part of the National Walk For Epilepsy in Washington, D.C. on April 15th, 2015.

Chicago will flaunt the honor of being the only stop in the United States for David Bowie Is by throwing a David Bowie Day celebration in Daley Plaza on September 23rd, the same day the exhibition opens at the Museum Of Contemporary Art - Chicago. The free lunchtime event, which is being presented by the MCA and radio station WXRT, will include a live performance by the impressive Bowie tribute band, Sons Of The Silent Age. 

The six-woman Celtic group Cherish The Ladies will bring its annual and always festive Christmas concert to The Old Town School Of Folk Music on December 4th.

The Old Town School Of Folk Music’s September through December 2014 Concerts brochure arrived in the mail this week, heralding a number of worthwhile events. Some of the highlights for October are folk veterans Bonnie Koloc and Ed Holstein on October 3rd; rock and roll satirist Todd Snider with guest Elizabeth Cook on October 9th; An Evening Of Paul McCartney Featuring Phil Angotti, Steve Dawson, Casey McDonough, Carolyn Engelmann and Tommi Zender on October 11th; and fiercely independent folk/rock star Ani DiFranco and vocalist-violinist Jenny Scheinman in A Benefit For The Old Town School Of Folk Music on October 15th

Dum Dum Girls have posted a short video on Facebook promoting a current tour in support of their latest CD Too True, which they’ll be performing from start to finish. They have a rendezvous with Chicago at Metro on October 24th. Tickets are now on sale.

Chicago indie rock group Fort Frances is heading up to the Great North Sound Society studio in Maine, where they’ll start work on songs like “Building A Wall” and “Wrong Man” for their next record. Sam Kassirer will be producing.

Great God in heaven, you know they’ve been around awhile. The Ides Of March have lined up some special guests for their 50th Anniversary Show next Saturday, September 27th at the College Of Dupage. The event is being hosted by veteran radio/TV personalities Dick Biondi and Bob Sirott, and the vocalists will be Jim Peterik of The Ides Of March, Tom Doody from The Cryan Shames, Carl Giamaresse from The Buckinghams, Jimy Sohns from The Shadows Of Knight, and Ronnie Rice from The New Colony Six.
   
Autographed copies of Louise Harrison’s new book My Kid Brother’s Band AKA The Beatles are available through the Liverpool Legends official website.  Louise Harrison, older sister of George,  manages the Beatles tribute band.

Buy your tickets now before all of good ones are taken. Tickets are on sale for the Ian Hunter And The Rant Band show at Park West on November 14th. Judging from the recently released Live In The UK 2010, which Hunter recorded with The Rant Band and a string quartet, he’ll be doing a mix of solo material like “All Of The Good Ones Are Taken” as well as hits from his Mott The Hoople days. Hunter released the new album himself, and it’s available directly from his official website. 

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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Give Me Love, Give Me Love, Give Me Sweet Relief


Before moving on to George Fest, just a quick note that Chicago-based filmmakers Scott Drucker and Yu Gu are seeking Kickstarter funding for their film Who Is Arthur Chu?  It’s a documentary about the charismatic Jeopardy champion and they have only until 9:27 AM tomorrow to meet their $50,000 goal. It doesn’t seem likely at this point, but maybe a flurry of supporters will come in at the last minute and save the day. Best of luck to Scott and Yu.

At the beginning of yesterday’s post about the upcoming The Art Of McCartney tribute CD, I noted that we’ll always find new ways to celebrate The Beatles. It’s also true that one sure way to inspire people to support a worthwhile cause is to stage a Beatles-related event. Both observations hold true in regard to George Fest, which takes place on September 28th at the Fonda Theatre in Los Angeles.

All proceeds from this multiple-performer concert will go to The Jameson Neighborhood Fund To Benefit Sweet Relief, an organization created to help musicians cope with the costs associated with medical care. Its supporters include several of today’s most popular acts. George Fest is being co-presented by Goldenvoice and The Best Fest.

Among the acts playing their favorite Harrison songs will be George’s son Dhani, who has embarked on a successful career with his own band thenewno2. Brian Wilson from The Beach Boys and Ann Wilson from Heart, two artists who contributed to The Art Of McCartney CD, are involved with this project as well. Other notables in the impressive lineup include Nora Jones, “Weird Al” Yankovic, Cold War Kids, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, and members of Guster, Spoon, The Killers, Flaming Lips, and Weezer. Tickets for George Fest are now for sale at a reasonable price of $35.00.

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Monday, September 15, 2014

Portraits Of The Artist As A Talented Man


It’s been 50 years since The Beatles first came to America and we’re still finding things to celebrate about these guys. Word is spreading fast regarding noted producer Ralph Sall’s The Art Of McCartney compilation coming out on November 17th. Reportedly, it’s been a labor love for Sall, who conceived the concept way back in 2003.

It’s not the first time several recording acts have paid tribute to Sir Paul. In 2001, Oglio Records released the fraternal twin CDs Listen To What What The Man Said and Coming Up! for a combined 31 tracks of well-known and virtually unheard of cutting-edge rock artists covering material from McCartney’s solo and Wings albums. The 34 tunes—42 for those who purchase the deluxe version—on The Art Of McCartney cover his Beatles and post-Beatles output, with some of the biggest names in popular music getting involved.

Rolling Stone online gives the complete track listing; which includes Bob Dylan performing “Things We Said Today,” Heart doing “Band On The Run” and “Letting Go,” Chrissie Hynde covering “Let It Be,” Robin Zander and Rick Nielsen from Cheap Trick doing “Jet,” Smokey Robinson doing “So Bad,” Toots (from Toots And The Maytals) with Sly And Robbie covering “Come And Get It,” Roger Daltry belting out “Helter Skelter,” Brian Wilson doing “Wanderlust,” Barry Gibb interpreting “When I’m 64,” and Alice Cooper performing “Eleanor Rigby.”

The eclectic roster also includes The Cure, Willie Nelson, Perry Farrell, Allen Toussaint, Dion, Kiss, Paul Rodgers, Billy Joel, and Jeff Lynne. Ronnie Spector and Darlene Love, two singers who influenced McCartney, are also on hand, as are newer acts like The Airborne Toxic Event, Corinne Bailey Rae, and Owl City. The deluxe set also comes with a DVD documentary, and a hardbound book.

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Friday, September 12, 2014

Slumgullion


They’ll be at Riot Fest tomorrow afternoon. Photo from The Buzzcocks Facebook page.

Welcome to all those in town for The 10th Annual Riot Fest And Carnival, which opened today in Chicago at Humboldt Park. Running through Sunday, it offers seven stages of cutting edge music, including performances by The Flaming Lips, Metric, Paul Weller, The Dandy Warhols, The Buzzcocks, The Cure, Cheap Trick, Patti Smith, Naked Raygun, Billy Bragg, Archie Powell And The Exports, and Tegan And Sara. Chicago’s alternative weekly The Reader has a guide to Riot Fest in its current issue, and fans can also find tips in today’s editions of Redeye, Chicago Tribune, and Chicago Sun-Times

The Elgin Fringe Fest started yesterday and will offer over 100 music, dance, comedy, and theater performances, plus works of art through this Sunday. The Elgin Art Showcase, Imago Studios, Elgin Public House, Blue Box Cafe, Side Street Studio Arts, and various parts of downtown Elgin will be involved. Tickets range from $5.00 to $10.00, and some events are free.

Over 150 artists will be on hand as the Lakeview East Festival Of The Arts takes place tonight, tomorrow, and Sunday. In addition to all those paintings, photographs and sculptures, there will be 3D Projection Mapping produced by BC Bolt Productions tonight; as well as a full schedule of live bands throughout the weekend. Attendees can also check out cooking demonstrations, food vendors, furniture, jewelry, and there’s a fancy tea party for children under 12. The festival is located on Broadway at Belmont.

Shonen Knife, the Japanese trio comprised of vocalist-guitarist Naoko, bassist-vocalist-vocalist Ritsuko, and drummer-vocalist Emi, will be bringing their Ramones-inspired fun to The Bottom Lounge, at 1375 W. Lake Street, next Thursday, September 18th. Habibi and Blizard Babies are also on the bill.

The Lauren Wolf Band will have a record release party for its Ellis Clark-produced album Rise Up at the Live 27 club in Evanston on September 27th. Clark, who has a solo career in addition to having played with The Handcuffs, Epicycle, and Social Act, will be playing keyboards for this live performance.

The good news Dave Davies has been posting on Facebook recently includes a confirmation that he would be open to a Kinks reunion alongside his brother Ray, and that he (Dave) will soon release a new album called Rippin Up Time. Maybe he’ll play some tunes from it during his November 12th and 13th gigs at City Winery in Chicago. I saw Dave and his band perform at Taste Of Lincoln Avenue a few years back and it was an amazing show.

By the way, November 12th is also the day Chrissie Hynde’s tour in support of Stockholm—her first ever solo release—comes to the Chicago Theatre. With “You Or No One” and “You’re The One,” Hynde proved she hasn’t lost her knack for celebrating the excitement of new-found love, and she can still kick butt on songs like “Dark Sunglasses and “Plan Too Far.”

Expo 72, not to be confused with the local copy band Expo ’76 or EXPO CHGO at Navy Pier next weekend, is actually the place to see the Chicago International Film Festival 50th Anniversary Exhibition. It features posters, photos, memorabilia and continuous video loops from the festival’s winning films. The exhibition runs through October 6th at 72 E. Randolph in downtown Chicago.

Who’s Who, a very busy Who tribute band, will return to Durty Nellie’s next Saturday, September 20th. They’re opening for 97Nine.

The David Bowie tribute band Sons Of The Silent Age will provide live music for the official David Bowie Day at Daley Plaza on September 23rd. WXRT and the Museum of Contemporary Art (where the David Bowie Is exhibition runs through January 4th) are co-sponsoring the Daley Plaza event.

Band Called Catch, a local group that has been impressive in shows at The Blue Whiskey Film Festival and at a preview party for the new Throne Room venue, will perform an outdoor show as part of PINKTOBERFEST in the parking lot outside the Hard Rock Cafe at 63 W. Ontario in Chicago on Sunday October 12th. There is a suggested donation of $5.00, which will help raise money for breast cancer research.

WXRT is once again sponsoring a batch of Holiday Concerts For The Kids, and one of the more interesting ones is by Johnny Marr at The Vic on November 25th. In addition to his stellar guitar playing with The Smiths, Marr has collaborated with groups like Modest Mouse and The Cribs, and his solo debut The Messenger came in at Number One on the Broken Hearted Toy Favorite Releases Of 2013. As with all the Holiday Concerts For The Kids events, attendees are asked to bring an unwrapped toy. Just for fun, tell them it’s brokenhearted.

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Thursday, September 11, 2014

Dead Fingers - Big Black Dog


Dead Fingers isn’t a high-profile duo like The Civil Wars or Johnnyswim, but that situation could change if enough people hear their new CD Big Black Dog. It’s a worthy follow-up to the 2012 self-titled debut from husband and wife combo Taylor Hollingsworth and Kate Taylor Hollingsworth. They craft harmony vocals that are a bit off the beaten path, along with easy-going Americana arrangements that bring to mind a train ride or a drive down a scenic country road.

“Twisted” is a peppy number driven by bass guitar (the Hollingsworths play all the instruments except on a couple tracks) that features quick rhymes and imaginative lyrics. It’s also one of the songs where Taylor Hollingsworth’s distinctive vocals are reminiscent of Sammy Llanas of The BoDeans. A galloping beat and twangy guitar playing augment the fun scat singing on “Shoom Doom Babba Labba,” and even though “Holy Water” questions the value of faith, it’s catchy enough to have angels tapping their toes. “The Races” mixes shimmering keyboards with metaphors about enjoying life to its fullest, and Kate Taylor Hollingsworth’s evocative singing conveys the complicated romantic emotions on “Pomp And Circumstance.” 

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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

They’ll Be Dancing In The Street (And At Daley Plaza)


First, a quick mention that folk singer/author/model car maker Dean Milano will be performing at Mac’s On Slade in Palatine tomorrow (Thursday) night. Milano has a classic folk voice, and on his CDs he often takes a satirical look at the way things work in this crazy world. Show time is 8:00 PM. In addition to being a bar and performance venue, Mac’s has a full menu.

David Bowie fans can be forgiven for feeling a bit giddy these days. Especially those located in the Chicago area. Not only is the Windy City the only stop in the United States for David Bowie Is, but there will be a David Bowie Day celebration in Daley Plaza on September 23rd, the same day the exhibition opens at the Museum Of Contemporary Art Chicago. The free lunchtime event, which is being presented by the MCA and radio station WXRT, will include a live performance by the impressive Bowie tribute band, Sons Of The Silent Age. Fronted by Chris Connelly from Ministry and Revolting Cocks, Sons Of The Silent Age also includes Matt Walker (Morrissey, Smashing Pumpkins) and Steve Gerlach (The Bad Examples, Tomorrow The Moon). My review of the band’s show at Durty Nellies in Palatine can be found in the BHT Archives, under July 2nd, 2013.

For those who can’t make it to Chicago, there’s a David Bowie Is documentary, which was filmed at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, coming out September 23rd.

As if all that wasn’t enough to have fans of The Thin White Duke exclaiming, “Lets Dance,” the Second Disc website recently brought news of the new Bowie box set Nothing Has Changed, which is being released on November 18th. It will be available as a 2-CD set, a 3-CD set, or as a 2-LP set, and will cover Bowie’s recording career from 1964 through a brand new song titled “Sue (Or In A Season Of Crime). This new tune will also be available as a vinyl single with ‘Tis Pity She’s A Whore on the B-Side as part of this year’s Black Friday Record Store Day event. 

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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

It Will Be Tomorrow On Thursday


Photo from Hushdrops Facebook page. 

Hushdrops have a show coming up at The Hideout this Thursday night. The Chicago-based psychedelic/power pop band recently ended a 10-year absence from the recording studio by releasing its full length album Tomorrow. Nora O’Connor and Steve Frisbie, who helped out with backup vocals on the title track, will be joining Hushdrops at this live gig. O’Connor is a singer-guitarist who has worked with acts such as Kelly Hogan, Andrew Bird, and Mavis Staples. Frisbie is a founding member of the acclaimed power pop band Frisbie and has performed as a duo with Liam Davis.

In a review posted earlier here on BHT, I praised Tomorrow as an ambitious double album with elaborate arrangements of prog and psychedelic rock that feature John San Juan on lead vocals and rampaging guitar. Bassist Jim Shapiro and drummer Joe Camarillo also played essential roles on the album. I was also fond of Volume One, the 2003 debut from Hushdrops, especially the hard-hitting “Summer People” and the melodic love song “Emily.” My review in the Illinois Entertainer (and later here on BHT) concluded that, Ultimately, Volume One is about the tight harmonies and spirited musicianship San Juan brings to a variety of songs.

The Hideout is located in Chicago at 1354 W. Wabansia. The show starts at 8:00 PM, tickets are $10.

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Monday, September 8, 2014

Paul Collins - Feel The Noise


Singer-guitarist Paul Collins may have wanted the title of his 2010 CD King Of Power Pop to be taken in a humorous vein but there’s no denying he’s among the genre’s royalty. Starting with his work as a member of The Nerves and then as the leader of The Paul Collins Beat, he has influenced several power pop artists. His latest effort, Feel The Noise, finds him once again embracing his impressive heritage.

Collins also enjoys giving an occasional jab to the music industry. On the title track of King Of Power Pop, he looked back at the early days of his career, and on “Feel The Noise,” he scolds the uninformed people who insist rock and roll is dead. “I Need My Rock And Roll,” the first single and video from the new CD, strikes a similar chord, and Collins backs it up with a catchy guitar-driven arrangement.

Otherwise, the songs on Feel The Noise deal with the ups and downs of romantic entanglements. The energetic “Only Girl” celebrates the power of love, but on the Ramones-flavored “Little Suzy,” a guy’s attempts to impress a woman are met with a cold shoulder. “With A Girl Like You” harks back to the original British Invasion, and the Buddy Holly influence is unmistakable on the galloping “Baby I’m In Love With You.” Collins puts his own stamp on “Reach Out I’ll Be There” while maintaining the soul of The Four Tops’ original, and he also taps into Motown on “Don't Know How To Treat A Lady.” “Walk Away” ends the CD on an ironic note, as Collins imitates one of those weepy 1950s ballads while expressing ambivalence toward a girlfriend who’s leaving him.

Feel The Noise will be released tomorrow in CD and digital format, as well as on colored vinyl from Alive Naturalsound Records. Collins kicks off his next tour in Chicago at the Cobra Lounge on September 23rd. Other cities he’ll be visiting include Louisville, New Orleans, San Antonio, St. Louis, Pittsburgh, New York, and Atlanta.  

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Friday, September 5, 2014

Slumgullion


Charming Axe, the bluegrass/country/folk trio comprised of former Elvis Brothers singer-guitarist Rob Newhouse, singer guitarist Eugenia Elliott, and singer Hannah Hill, will be performing songs from its Gathering Days album at 27 Live in Evanston tonight. Tickets are $10.00. Julia Klee is also on the bill.

The 12th Annual Renegade Craft Fair September Market runs tomorrow and Sunday in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood, on Division between Damen and Paulina. In addition to a wide range of homemade items, there will be food and adult beverage vendors on hand.

Tim Ferguson of the Chicago psyche band The Red Plastic Buddha will be a guest on Richard Milne’s Local Anesthetic program on WXRT this Sunday night. Milne will be playing tracks from the very impressive new Red Plastic Buddha release Songs For Mara.

Baby, you can drive my car. Harper College in Palatine will be the scene of The British Car Festival  this Sunday, September 7th. Over 500 vehicles of UK origin will be on display and there will be food vendors in case anyone starts feeling peckish. Admission to this British Car Union sponsored event is free, but attendees are encouraged to make a donation to Shelter, Inc, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping provide housing for abused and neglected kids.

Reggies on State Street in Chicago will be celebrating its 7th Anniversary with a pair of shows on Monday, September 8th. Ken Mode, The Atlas Moth and three other acts will be performing in Rock Club section; and Mr. Blotto, former BoDeans member Sammy Llanas, Handler, and The Whateverly Bros will be in the Music Joint section. An admission price of $7 covers both shows. 

The Second Disc website recently noted that the Omnivore label has reissued Blaze Of Glory, the 1982 the debut from Game Theory on vinyl and on CD. The CD will include 15 bonus tracks. The Second Disc points out that Omnivore plans to reissue more efforts from this underrated and exquisite Scott Miller-led power pop band.

The 10th annual An Art Affair Around The Square takes place tomorrow and Sunday from 10:00 AM to 5:00PM in the Towne Square in downtown Palatine. Presented by the Palatine Jaycees, this juried art fair will also featured live music performances.

Blue Pearl Studio will host the first annual Charity Wine Walk in Evanston from 5:00 to 8:00 PM on Thursday, September 18th. The event will benefit two nonprofit charities: No Boundaries—Train for Work, Train for Life, a workplace training program, and the Evanston Art Center. The suggested donation is $15.00. 

Chrissie Hynde has announced her USA Tour in support of her impressive new Stockholm CD, it  includes a November 12th date at the Chicago Theatre. Other cities include San Francisco, Boston, New York, Washington, D.C., San Diego, Detroit, and Philadelphia.

Best wishes for a full recovery to Gerry Marsden of Gerry And The Pacemakers. According to a Facebook post from Chad And Jerremy, Marsden has dropped out of the British Invasion Tour due to a serious illness. The tour, which also includes former Moody Blues and Wings member Denny Laine and Mike Pender from The Searchers, will keep to its 10-date U.S. schedule, with Terry Sylvester, formerly of The Hollies and The Swinging Blue Jeans, taking Marseden’s place. Noted producer Peter Asher, who performed with Gordon Waller in Peter And Gordon, will be a special guest on two of the dates. 

Rumours? No, it’s all true. Rocker Magazine recently posted a Facebook link to a Consequence Of Sound report that Jemaine Clement and Brett McKenzie are creating a four-part comedy series for HBO. According to writer Josh Terry, the new project will not be related to their previous and hilarious sitcom Flight Of The Conchords. The duo is also seriously considering doing a musical with director James Bobin.

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