Friday, November 28, 2014

Slumgullion


Good news, bad news, good news for Syd Barrett fans. The UK indie label Fruits de Mer has put together a two-CD tribute to The Madcap called A Momentary Lapse Of Vinyl that features a number of current prog and psychedelic rock bands. But it’s only being made available to Fruits de Mer club members and if you aren’t one already, I’m pretty sure you’re out of luck. Visitors to the official website can hear tracks from the exclusive album, including covers of “Let There Be More Light,” “Dominoes,” “Bike,” “Terrapin,” and “Apples And Oranges.”

I spent an hour standing outside the Reckless Records in downtown Chicago today, waiting to partake in some Black Friday Record Store Day shopping. By the time I got to the counter, they had already sold out of the Beatles’ “Long Tall Sally” EP, but I was able to get Chrissie Hynde’s Stockholm Live At The 229 Club, London, England, which was also high on my list. (I won’t be reviewing it any time soon because it’s going to be a Christmas present from my wife.) There wasn’t as much of a crowd outside Reckless today as for the April version of Record Store Day, but it was more than I remember there being last year. By the way, I dropped off some of my new Broken Hearted Toy buttons at the front of the store, so they’re probably already going for a fortune on eBay.

The TesserAct Theatre Ensemble wraps up its run of The Christmas Schooner at Cutting Hall with shows tonight, tomorrow, and Sunday afternoon.

Put on your pork pie hat and dance off those Thanksgiving pounds. Chicago’s renowned ska band Heavy Manners has a show tomorrow night, November 29th at Mayne Stage on Chicago’s far north side. The band will be selling and autographing copies of its heavier than now CD, which includes vintage hits like “Flamin’ First,” “Hometown SKA,” “Taking The Queen To Tea,” and “Blue Beat.” Run and Punch and NEO DJs Suzanne Shelton and Glenn Russell are also on the bill.

Damn right, I got the drumstick. SOPRO Music will present its 32nd Annual Thanksgiving Chicago All Star Blues Revue tomorrow night, November 29th at Sullivan’s Irish Pub And Eatery in Midlothian. As usual, several musicians are involved, including The Chicago Horns, vocalist-guitarist Joey Drada; singer-harmonica player Doug Lee; and vocalists Peaches Staten, France Marie, and Deb Seitz. Plus there will prize giveaways. The event starts at 9:00 PM.

Ralph Covert, of Ralph’s World and The Bad Examples fame, has a CD release party coming up at at Schubas on December 6th for his new 13-track The Accidental Soundtrack Covert recorded it with Bad Examples mate Steve Gerlach and Michael Hartigan. He’ll be opening that night at Schubas for Verve Pipe.

The 11th Annual Waco Weekend, featuring The Waco Brothers will also be taking place at Schubas. Hushdrops will be the opening act on December 27th.

Get It On is presenting PowerPop Fest! next Friday, December 5th at the Debonair Social Club on Milwaukee Avenue. Three bands, The Typical, Peasantry, and The Viaducts, are on the bill. The music starts at 8:00 PM, admission is $10.

Chicago-based band Mutts will have an LP release party for its latest effort Fuel Yer Delusion vol. 4 next Saturday, December 6th at Metro. Archie Powell And The Exports, The Kickback, and the Cincinnati band Pop Goes The Evil will also be on hand.

A Who’s Who Of Hoodoo Gurus. There will be a Hoodoo Gurus reunion down under this Sunday night when all the past and present members of the Australian power pop/garage band come together for Be My Guru - The Evolution Revolution at the Scarborough Beach Amphitheatre. Special guests will be Ratcat, Jebediah, and British India. According to a recent Facebook post, Hoodoo Gurus also recently shared a double bill with Mental As Anything of “If You Leave Me Can I Come Too?” fame. “We had a great time and the Mentals sounded fantastic too,” the post read. “It’s way too long since we played together (I think it’s been 17 years - bloddy hell!).”

Coffee Planet in Rolling Meadows has begun a new series of Acoustic Night Jam sessions on the first Friday of each month. The first takes place on December 5th. Local singer-guitarist Ian Frees will be one of the participants. Coffee Planet has also hosted poetry nights and displays the work of local artists.

EXPO ‘76 and The Total Pro Horns have a Holiday Dance Party scheduled for December 19th at Mayne Stage on Chicago’s north side. This eclectic cover band has so much material in its repertoire, I’m sure it will be able to break out a few holiday tunes.

A friend let me know about Graham Nash making a special guest appearance on Howard Stern’s Howard 101 radio program on SIRIUSXM. I wasn’t able to hear it because I’m not a subscriber, but there are two clips of Nash performing solo versions of his classic “Teach Your Children” and the new “Back Home” on acoustic guitar. The latter song is a touching tribute to the late Levon Helm.

Rich Cotovsky, known for almost 30 years of cutting-edge work as the Artistic Director for Mary-Arrchie Theatre on Chicago’s north side, is moonlighting again as the lead character in the critically acclaimed play Hellcab. It runs through January 4th at Profiles Theatre.

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Thursday, November 27, 2014

The Fourth Annual Holiday Shopping Guide



Happy Thanksgiving!

One of America’s Thanksgiving traditions, along with family dinners, football, and expressing gratitude, is the arrival of sandbag-sized editions of the daily newspapers, filled with retail flyers. Of course, now it’s possible to do all your Black Friday shopping online, but some old-school bargain hunters use these colorful flyers to prepare for hand-to-hand combat in overcrowded shopping malls. Whatever form of holiday shopping you prefer, here are a few gift suggestions courtesy of Broken Hearted Toy.

Excuse me while I draw to this inside straight. Know anyone who loves “Purple Haze” and poker? The Music Room in Palatine has Jimi Hendrix playing cards for sale. I only saw one deck when I was there, so it might be a good idea to call ahead to make sure they’re still in stock.

At any given Bangles concert, the audience can be divided into those who only came to hear “Eternal Flame,” and those who are the group’s true fans. The digital-only album Ladies And Gentlemen . . . The Bangles, which became available today on iTunes and other online sites, is definitely for the latter. It includes all five tracks from the band’s 1982 self-titled debut, along with previously unreleased demos and live performances. 

Avid vinyl collectors know the drill when it comes to the annual Record Store Day in April, but the new Black Friday version has several limited-edition gift ideas for rock fans. When you arrive early at your favorite independent record store tomorrow, you might be able to snag treasures like The Beatles’ “Long Tall Sally” EP on 7” vinyl; David Bowie’s 10” three-track EP; Game Theory’s pair of 10” vinyl releases—Pointed Accounts Of People You Know and Distortion—on clear and green vinyl, respectively; and Chrissie Hynde 10” colored vinyl, six-song Stockholm Live At The 229 Club, London, England. Supplies are limited, and some record stores don’t get all the releases listed on the official Record Store Day website.

Just about everyone knows at least one Doctor Who fan, and there’s an amazing variety of items to choose from for that special gift. The BBC has a three-part DVD series called The Doctors Revisited that covers every actor (except the very recent Peter Capaldi ) who has ever played the role. Doctor Who: The 50th Anniversary Special: The Day Of The Doctor, is another good choice. The Time Of The Doctor not only has Matt Smith’s last show in the lead role, it includes an enjoyable Farewell To Matt Smith tribute.

WXRT has released Live From The Archives Volume 16, the latest in a series of CDs that feature exclusive concert performances that have aired on the FM station. This year’s edition is supported by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois, with proceeds benefiting Growing Home & Chicago Women’s Health Center. The artists on Vol. 16 include Suzanne Vega, Temples, Los Lobos, Jake Bugg, Modern English, and John Butler Trio. I still think WXRT should offer some sort of cool container for those of us who have collected the entire set. The CD will be available at Target stores next Tuesday, December 2nd.

The Fest For Beatles Fans catalog once again has just about everything for that John, Paul, George, and Ringo fan on your holiday gift list. The new Art Of McCartney tribute CD was a good start, but imagine the joy on your Beatles devotee’s face when you give him or her a Fab Four pair of cufflinks, bottle opener, lamp, socks, dice, dart board, jigsaw puzzle, plush doll, lunch box, or pajamas. There’s a brown suede jacket just like the one John Lennon wore on the cover of Rubber Soul, and an assortment of Beatles-themed umbrellas to make sure it doesn’t get ruined when the rain comes. If you’re not on the mailing list for the catalog, you can check out the Fest For Beatles Fans official website.

The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame has all kinds of gift items, and now there’s an exclusive line of Inductee t-shirts that includes The Who, Elvis Presley, Heart, Muddy Waters, Blondie, Dion, The Crickets, Earth, Wind And Fire, and John Lennon.

Also, check out the websites of your favorite bands for t-shirts, buttons, magnets, holiday songs, tour books, or other special items. 

Concert tickets are always a nice surprise as a holiday gift, but don’t neglect the local clubs. Here in Chicago, we have an especially active music community that encompasses rock, jazz, blues, hip hop, house, soul, country, and classical. Just about every group has a website where you can buy its music in various formats. Support your local bands.

The same goes for Chicago’s theatre scene, which ranges from Broadway-bound productions to the in-your-face work of storefront venues.

This holiday season, give thoughtfully, and give creatively. 

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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Johnny Marr - Playland


Johnny Marr’s solo career got off to a late start after performing with The Smiths and as a guest member of various bands like Modest Mouse and The Cribs. He made an impressive debut with The Messenger in 2013, and continues that success with the recently released Playland. Once again, Marr places socially relevant lyrics within energetic guitar and keyboards arrangements. An accomplished vocalist as well as an iconic guitar player, he’s at the top of his class when it comes to bringing elements of the 1980s into current music. 

Marr adds a bit of funk to the catchy “Easy Money” while condemning the lust for riches (“that’s no way to serve”), and the satiric fable “Little King” is delivered with irresistible force and melody. “This Tension” is more cryptic, but its atmospheric arrangement is reminiscent of Marr’s best work with The Smiths. The title track opens with a few minutes of instrumental mayhem and continues with a hard-hitting song that would be well-suited to slam dancing. “The Trap” and “Dynamo” have classic new wave arrangements, while the majestic “Candidate” calls to mind U2. Over the course of two solo efforts, Johnny Marr has yet to make a mistake.

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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Friday, I've Got Vinyl On My Mind


When I posted a Black Friday Record Store Day preview on November 6th, I noted that it didn’t seem to have the same popularity as the original Record Store Day, which still takes place each year around the third week of April. I also promised to follow up with news of any in-store-performances that would be taking place on this year’s Black Friday Record Store Day. Since then, I haven’t found much in the way of live shows. 

For those in the western suburbs (or who don’t mind driving to one), Val’s Halla in Oak Park seems to have the most festive activities planned. The Get, an indie/folk quintet that’s currently working on its latest album, will be playing a live set. Val’s Halla will open two hours early at 9:00 AM, and promises hot chocolate and doughnuts to the brave souls willing to lineup in the early morning cold for rare vinyl. Laurie’s Planet Of Sound on Lincoln Avenue in Chicago and Reckless Records (speaking for all its Chicago locations) just announced on Facebook that they will taking part in Black Friday Record Store Day, but I didn’t see any mention of in-store shows.

The Dusty Groove store on Ashland Avenue in Chicago promises, “Lots of goodies, refreshments, and other surprises—of the sort we always bring out on Record Store Day, but with a Holiday twist!”  Beverly Records, on the city’s south side, will open a 8:00 AM on Friday, and Reggie’s Record Breakers at 2105 S. State Street will open at 9:00 AM. For a full list of of the stores that will be participating in this year’s Black Friday, check out the official Record Store Day website.

Even if there is less interest in this holiday version of Record Store Day, there are definitely some vinyl treasures to be picked up. Here are a few selections from my wish list: The Beatles’ “Long Tall Sally” EP on 7” vinyl; David Bowie’s 10” three-track EP; Game Theory’s pair of 10” vinyl releases—Pointed Accounts Of People You Know and Distortion—on clear and green vinyl, respectively; and Chrissie Hynde’s 10” colored vinyl, six-song Stockholm Live At The 229 Club, London, England.

Other worthy choices are available from The Kinks, Joan Jett And The Blackhearts; The Ramones (curated by Morrissey); and The Velvet Underground. For a full list of this year’s Black Friday releases, check out the official Record Store Day website. 

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Monday, November 24, 2014

The Forty Nineteens - Spin It


The California-based trio The Forty Nineteens is comprised of bassist-vocalist John Pozza and drummer-vocalist Nick Zeigler—both former members of The Leonards—along with guitarist-vocalist, Chuck Gorian, whose resume includes time with Inland Empire. They’re ably assisted by guest musicians on the eight-song Spin It, especially veteran keyboards player Kevin McCourt. His spirited work on Hammond and Farsifa organ helps The Forty Nineteens jump effortlessly from bluesy rock to Americana to new wave on this spirited follow-up to their 2012 debut No Expiration Date.

The energetic “Modern Romance” and “Pink ‘55 Bel Air” evoke 1980s dance hits, and the musicians seem to have just as much fun tapping into The J. Geils Band or Bob Seger for the bluesy rock of “Broken” and  “Only Time Will Tell.” A swaggering cover of The Rolling Stones’ “Dead Flowers” is another highlight. The Forty Nineteens show a lighter, more emotionally nuanced side on “I Can’t Let You Go,” a tale of a guy trying to win back his girlfriend, and the engaging ballad “Have A Good Time.” But for the most part, Spin It exudes the vibe of a live band getting people to party in a bar.

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Friday, November 21, 2014

Slumgullion


Tickets went on sale yesterday for The British Invasion Tour’s March 7th, 2015 date at City Winery in Chicago. The lineup will feature Peter Asher; Chad And Jeremy; Terry Sylvester of The Hollies; Billy J. Kramer; Mike Pender’s Searchers; and Denny Laine of Wings and The Moody Blues. I’ve seen all of the above at various times over the years at Fest For Beatles Fans - Chicago, but having them all perform in a single evening would be even more fun. Other dates on the tour include Boston, MA; Lancaster, PA; Tarrytown, NY; and Alexandria, VA.

Secret Colours, four young musicians who have already become masters of the psychedelic genre, are performing with Thin Hymns at the Portage Theater on Milwaukee Avenue tonight. Positive Distractions, the bands latest release, was favorably reviewed here on BHT on June 18th of this year.

WXRT’s weekly Local Anesthetic program and Goose Island Beer Co. are sponsoring a double bill of Split Single and Bailiff at Lincoln Hall tonight.

“Celebrate Your Heartbeat,” a brand new single from the Minneapolis-based synth rock band The Melismatics is now available on iTunes.

The Webstirs, a Chicago-based band that describes its music as, “Hog-butchering pop to melt your jaded hipster heart,” will be bringing its catchy melodies and clever lyrics to the Live 27 venue in Evanston tonight. Weekend Vinyl is also on the bill. The music starts at 8:30 PM.

The TesserAct Theatre Ensemble continues its run of The Christmas Schooner at Cutting Hall with shows tonight, tomorrow, and Sunday afternoon, along with three more shows next weekend.

Also in Palatine, there will be a Pours 4 Paws benefit at d’Vine Wine and Gifts tomorrow from 6:30 to 8:30 PM. Admission is $30 at the door, and proceeds will go to help transport pets that American troops have adopted back here to the States.

Grownup Noise, a Boston-based quintet that mixes elements of classical music within introspective indie rock songs, will be performing tonight at Uncommon Ground.

WXRT air personalities Lin Brehmer and Marty Lennartz will be at the Park West tomorrow night co-hosting the 26th Annual Rock For Kids Rock And Roll Auction. The charity event will benefit Foundations Of Music, an organization that helps provide music education to children who might not otherwise have that opportunity.

Best wishes for a speedy recovery to Bono. The U2 vocalist severely injured his arm in a recent bicycle accident that required extensive surgery, and will involve extensive therapy.

Lights, camera, catchy melodies. People going to International Pop Overthrow Boston Power this weekend might want to dress in their most hip outfits. Justin Fielding will be filming there for his upcoming The Power Pop Movie. I posted about this documentary last Monday here on BHT.

Eccentric UK musician Robyn Hitchcock has a gig tomorrow night at the Old Town School Of Folk Music, with The Astronomer as his special guest. Other shows coming up at Old Town School Of Folk Music include the Cherish The Ladies Celtic Christmas show on December 4th; singer-songwriter Linda Marie Smith’s multi-media fantasy Mearra - Selkie from The Sea (recommended for ages six and up) on December 7th; and alt-rock /country and western masters Over The Rhine on December 15th.

There will a Honky Tonk/Country Show this Sunday evening at the Burlington Bar in Chicago. Cropduster 4 goes on from 7:30 to 8:30, followed by Dan Whitaker at 8:45, and Decoy Prayer Meeting at 10:00 PM. Admission is $7, which is right cheap. 

Local musicians Mike Cohen and Jeff Janulis will be pulling double duty at Simon’s Tavern this Sunday when they perform original power pop as The Abbeys and vintage cover versions as Everly Hillbilies. It’s a free show and the music starts at 9:00 PM sharp.

Also on Sunday evening, veteran power pop band Sloan will be performing at Bottom Lounge, just west of downtown Chicago.

Tickets recently went on sale for British comedian/Nerdist website founder Chris Hardwick’s show at the Athenaeum Theatre.

Sons Of The Silent Age, the Davie Bowie tribute band that entertained in Daley Plaza on David Bowie Day, will be traveling up to Milwaukee early next year for a Pablove Benefit. It takes place on January 17th at Turner Hall Ballroom.

WXRT has started playing tracks from its Live From The Archives Volume 16, which will be available at Chicago area Target stores on December 2nd. The limited edition CD will include performances by Suzanne Vega, Temples, Los Lobos, Jake Bugg, Modern English, and John Butler Trio that were recorded at local venues or in the station’s own studio over the years. I still think WXRT should offer some sort of cool container for those of us who have collected the entire set.

The Severed Limb, one of the first bands to contact me when I started Broken Hearted Toy (and they’re from England) have a new record coming out in January next year. It’s titled If You Aint Livin Youre A Dead Man, and likely features the fun, skiffle-influenced rock of their earlier efforts. The Severed Limb Facebook post promises, “It’s an exotic tale of life, death... and cats.”

Put on your pork pie hat and dance off those Thanksgiving pounds. Chicago’s renown ska band Heavy Manners has a show next Saturday night, November 29th at Mayne Stage on Chicago’s far north side. The band will be selling and autographing copies of its heavier than now CD, which includes vintage hits like “Flamin’ First,” “Hometown SKA,” “Taking The Queen To Tea,” and “Blue Beat.” Run and Punch and NEO DJs Suzanne Shelton and Glenn Russell are also on the bill.

Damn right, I got the drumstick. SOPRO Music will present its 32nd Annual Thanksgiving Chicago All Star Blues Revue next Saturday, November 29th at Sullivans Irish Pub And Eatery in Midlothian. As usual, several musicians are involved, including The Chicago Horns, vocalist-guitarist Joey Drada; singer-harmonica player Doug Lee; and vocalists Peaches Staten, France Marie, and Deb Seitz. Plus there will prize giveaways. The event starts at 9:00 PM.

The online magazine Empty Lighthouse reports that Graham Nash will be on Howard Stern’s Howard 101 Show at 3:00 PM Eastern time on Wednesday, November 26th, performing acoustic versions of his solo material as well as songs from the recent CSNY 1974 box set.

Johnny Marr will likely be performing songs from his recently released Playland CD as part of a WXRT Concert for the Kids at The Vic Theatre  on Tuesday, November 25th. Those attending are being asked to bring a new or like new toy or book that can be given to children in Chicago area hospitals. Marr, a founding member of The Smiths, notched the top spot on my BHT Favorite Releases of 2013 with The Messenger, and he continues his atmospheric 1980s approach on Playland with energetic songs like “Back In The Box,” “Dynamo,” “This Tension,” and the title track.

The Chicago-based funk rock band Honey And The 45s  have a release party for its new MAD album coming up on December 5th at Metro.

The Bangles served up a fun and interesting nostalgia trip with the two-part video Q and A session that can be seen on their Facebook page. Fans were asked to submit questions about the band’s earliest days, as part of a promotion for Ladies And Gentlemen... The Bangles, a digital-only rarities collection that will become available on Thanksgiving Day. Susanna Hoffs recalled feeling embarrassed knowing Marshall Crenshaw was in the house at a concert where The Bangles’ sound system wasn’t functioning. Hoffs, Debbi Peterson, and Vicki Peterson played Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit” when they got together for the first time, and the band once rehearsed in a crawlspace.

Three bands will gather ‘round the Festivus Pole at Durty Nellie’s in Palatine on December 28th. The all-ages show, which features Omega 3, Rough Draft, and Wett will run from 5:00 to 10:00 PM, and there is no cover charge.

Dog And Butterfly, a new children’s book from Ann and Nancy Wilson based on the Heart song of the same name, is now available for pre-order from the band’s official website. An autographed hardcover edition is $25, a paperback edition is $15.

Go Time! has returned with an ambitious 19-track effort titled Ratsel that explores new territory while maintaining the band’s hard-edged power pop approach. I plan on during a review here on BHT in the near future.

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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Beatles For Sale


You could have a brown suede jacket just like the one John Lennon is wearing here.

The 2014 Fest For Beatles Fans Holiday Shopping catalog recently arrived in the mail, and while it’s not as thick as those toy catalogs I remember browsing through when I was a kid, it does offer 30 pages of fab gear merchandise. It’s like a printed version of the marketplace that’s part of The Fest For Beatles Fans when it comes to Chicago and a few other major cities, except that the actual marketplace has collectibles from other famous bands. The catalog is pretty much all Beatles. Some of us would like the catalog even more if it also had t-shirts, coffee mugs, keychains, baseball caps, blankets, and action figures of The Rolling Stones, The Kinks, The Monkees, The Hollies, The Move, and other 1960s artists.

That said, this year’s The Fest For Beatles Fans catalog once again has just about everything for that John, Paul, George, and Ringo fan on your holiday gift list. The new Art Of McCartney tribute CD was a good start, but imagine the joy on your Beatles devotee’s face when you give him or her a Fab Four pair of cufflinks, bottle opener, lamp, socks, dice, dart board, jigsaw puzzle, plush doll, lunch box, or pajamas. There’s a brown suede jacket just like the one John Lennon wore on the cover of Rubber Soul, and an assortment of Beatles-themed umbrellas to make sure it doesn’t get ruined when the rain comes.

The catalog has a two-page spread of Christmas ornaments that includes Yellow Submarines, vehicles, record players, guitars, stockings, figurines, and the standard round ornaments. All of this merchandise is also available at The Fest For Beatles Fan online shop. 

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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Aerial - Why Don’t They Teach Heartbreak At School?


It took 10 years for Aerial to put out a second album, and according to an entertaining and informative video on the Scottish trio’s official website, the recently released Why Don’t They Teach Heartbreak At School? (available in the U.S. at Kool Kat Musik) reflects the musical and personal changes that band members Colin Cummings, Mackie Mackintosh, and Steven Henderson went through during that time period. It’s a perspective that probably won’t be immediately apparent to most listeners, since they’ll be more caught up in the album’s high energy power pop arrangements. Still, it doesn’t take long to notice that Aerial creates imaginative and clever ways to examine the topic of growing up.
  
The catchy title track uses fun, Beach Boys style harmonies to suggest that standard subjects like Algebra and History might not be as important as teaching students how to survive a broken heart. “Great Teenager” is another satiric look at adolescence augmented by intricate vocal interplay and an infectious melody, while on “Japanese Dancer,” Aerial adds a touch of new wave to an offbeat love song. The powerful guitars on “Cartoon Eyes, Cartoon Heart” are reminiscent of The Smithereens, while “Madeline It’s Me” and “More Than Alcohol” find the band taking a lighter, but still catchy approach. The final track, “Wave Goodbye To Scotland.” finds Aerial exploring even further; beginning simply with piano and vocals before blossoming into full orchestration.

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Monday, November 17, 2014

Harmonizing At A Theater Near You


I have a couple of stock answers for those occasions when someone asks me to define power pop. One is: melody + harmonies + energy = power pop. The other is to explain that power pop is like The Beatles and The Hollies, except with more of an edge. Of course, like any genre, power pop can have its ups and downs. It can be twee lyrics set to a derivative arrangement, or it can be an invigorating roller coaster ride driven by ringing guitars and razor-sharp observations on the joys and frustrations of romantic relationships. And soon power pop will the subject of an expansive trilogy of books, as well as a documentary.

I’m hoping to post a review of noted music author Ken Sharp’s Play On! Power Pop Heroes Volume No. 1 sometime around the end of November or the beginning of December. I’ve already ordered my copy of his limited-edition book, which is due to be shipped in a few weeks. The cover alone is enough to get power pop aficionados and fans of The Who salivating.

And just today, I received word from Boston-based filmmaker Justin Fielding of CastParty Productions  that he’s set to begin work on a power pop documentary. Fielding has already lined up International Pop Overthrow Founder/CFO David Bash and Bruce Brodeen from Not Lame Recordings and the Pop Geek Heaven website as Executive Producers. He’s also been in contact with the members of the iconic power pop band Shoes. Principal photography will kick off at International Pop Overthrow - Boston, which runs from Wednesday, November 19th through Saturday November 22nd.

Fielding will offer updates on the film’s progress on the newly created The Power Pop Movie blog.  He’s also asking people to weigh in with their own definition of power pop, and to suggest bands they would like to see in the movie. With the arrival of Ken Sharp’s series of power pop books and Justin Fielding’s flick, there may soon be some definitive answers to the question, “What is power pop?”

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Friday, November 14, 2014

Slumgullion


Happy Birthday to vocalist-guitarist Dag Juhlin. EXPO ‘76, one of the dozens of bands he has performed with over the years (The Slugs and Poi Dog Pondering are two of the others) will be celebrating the occasion tonight with a gig at FitzGerald’s in Berwyn. EXPO ‘76 is an eclectic covers band comprised of veterans of the local music scene.

Welcome to Ian Hunter, who will be performing with his Rant Band tonight at the Park West in Chicago.

Folk singer-guitarist Quinn Tsan performs at Constellation at 3111 N. Western Avenue in Chicago tonight to celebrate the release of her Good Winter EP at in Chicago. Passerines and Kelsey Wild are also on the bill; the show starts at 9:30 PM.

Over 90 vendors will be on hand when Andersonville Galleria holds its 7th Anniversary Party tonight from 7:00 to 10:00 PM. There will be free refreshments and hors d’oeuvres. Andersonville Galleria is located at 5247 N. Clark Street.

The TesserAct Theatre Ensemble’s production of The Christmas Schooner opens tonight at Cutting Hall in Palatine. The holiday-themed musical will run through November 30th on Friday and Saturday evenings and Sunday afternoons. Tickets are $16 in advance, and $18 at the door.

ChillFest returns for its second year tomorrow, when it will present 85 acoustic performances over the course of six hours. The festival kicks off at noon and will take place throughout Wicker Park and Bucktown; involving venues like Subterranean, Lottie’s Pub, David’s Tea, Bar Bar Black Sheep, and The Smoke Daddy. Performers include Urban Twang, Liz Chidester, Blue Line, Tijuana Hercules, and Acoustic Raccoon. There will be an after-party at Subterranean, starting at 7:15 PM.

Chrissie Hynde was in town this past Wednesday for a show at the Chicago Theatre. Backed by a band of young musicians, she performed a mix of Pretenders classics and songs from her 2014 solo debut Stockholm. My review of the concert is now up on the Illinois Entertainer website.

Big Paraid, the energetic indie rock trio that performed an impressive set at Durty Nellie’s this past July as part of the Blue Whiskey Film Festival, has a gig coming up next Wednesday, November 19th at the Cobra Lounge in Chicago.

Seven bands will be performing at a benefit for Wicker Park business owner Tiffany Dean at the Double Door club on November 19th. Black Cat Heart Attack; The Artist Formally Known As Vince; The Dead On; Anger; The Ladies & Gentlemen; Sunken Ships; Dorian Taj; and Cochinas y Los Pistoleros are the musical guests, and Herb Rosen from the Liars Club will serve as host. The doors open at 7:30 PM, admission is $8. 

Grownup Noise, a Boston-based quintet that mixes elements of classical music within introspective indie rock songs, will be performing at Uncommon Ground on November 21st.

Chicago TARDIS will mark its 15th year of celebrating Doctor Who on November 28–30 at The Westin Lombard Yorktown Center in Lombard. Actress Billie Piper, who played Rose Tyler, the first companion of the rebooted series, and Noel Clarke, who played her boyfriend (and eventually fellow companion) Mickey Smith, are among the special guests.

Oh Holy (Because The) Night. The Huffington Post  is reporting that Patti Smith has been invited to perform at a Christmas concert being held by Pope Francis in Rome.

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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Return Of The Rock For Kids Rock And Roll Auction


The Rock For Kids Rock And Roll Auction returns to the Park West on Chicago’s north side for its 26th year on Saturday, November 22nd. WXRT air personalities Lin Brehmer and Marty Lennartz will once again co-host this annual charity event, which benefits Foundations Of Music. It’s an organization that helps provide music education to children who might not otherwise have that opportunity. There will also be DJ sets by DJRC, and live music by the student-comprised groups Morphtet and The Foundations of Music Blues Band.

Rock For Kids is well known for offering a fascinating selection of memorabilia from musicians and other celebrities. Some of the treasures attendees can bid on this year include a WXRT Lollapalooza Weekend package; The Ramones Anthology signed by the original members, the Heart vinyl LP Fanatic signed by Ann and Nancy Wilson; a hat signed by The Cure; a framed photograph of John Lennon; a Brian Wilson-signed DVD of Pet Sounds - Live In London; a Ray Davies guitar pick; and a Wilco and Flaming Lips New Year’s poster. There will be a silent auction and a live auction; see the Rock For Kids website for details and the complete list. 

Not everyone has the money to snag one of these rare items, but Rock For Kids is fun even for those who are just there to watch. At times, the auction takes on the ambience of a playoff game as the bidding gets ferocious. And in the end, it will be Chicago area kids who will be the winners. Early Bird tickets can be purchased for $75 through November, after that they’re $125.

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Monday, November 10, 2014

Reliving The 1980s Through A Scrapbook


It seems like I’ve been saving entertainment-related articles and reviews for over a hundred years now. Some of them are ones that I’ve written and others are by people who’ve actually made a living as journalists. The pieces by other writers are pasted into spiral notebooks, along with photos, art, and comics that also struck my fancy. I’ve been toying with the idea for some time now of trying to base blog posts on these scrapbooks, similar to the posts I do about vintage publications and 45 RPM records. And so, here’s the first installment of what could become a semi-regular feature.

My oldest notebook dates back to 1981, and despite being bloated from all the clippings pasted inside, it remains in good shape. Back then I had a part-time job at a Mom and Pop record store in the Peacock Alley section of the Ford City Mall on Chicago’s southwest side. The owner would give me his copies of Billboard magazine once he was done with them, and I would search each issue for items about my favorite bands.

I was also an avid reader of other national rock magazines, plus the Illinois Entertainer (even before I started writing for it), The Chicago Reader, and the daily newspapers. Glancing though the notebook, several of the bylines are familiar, such as J.D. Considine, Christopher Connelly, Kurt Loder, and David Fricke from Rolling Stone; and Lynn Van Matre, Dave Hoekstra, Lloyd Sachs, Don McLeese, Neil Tesser, Bill Dalton, Cary Baker, Bill Paige, Edward M. Bury, Parke Puterbaugh, Jeff Lind, and M.J. Carroll from the local press.

There are reviews and articles related to the early days of bands like The Bangles, The Elvis Brothers, The Plimsouls, Off Broadway, Gang Of Four, R.E.M., Shoes, The Teardrop Explodes, Heavy Manners, Rank And File, and Translator. There’s a bio of local power pop band The Kind from what I think is a radio station survey; ads for local acts Bohemia, The Way Moves, Naked Raygun, and John Hunter; as well as a quarter page ad for the ABC Channel 7 Sweet Home Chicago TV special that was simulcast on WXRT. It starred Dan Ackroyd, Koko Taylor, James Cotton, Buddy Guy, and Willie Dixon. 

I don’t often get a chance to sit down and reminisce with these scrapbooks, but like any good book, it’s nice to know I still have them in my library.

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Friday, November 7, 2014

Slumgullion


Chrissie Hynde has been to Chicago a number of times with The Pretenders, but her gig next Wednesday at the Chicago Theatre will be in support of her solo debut Stockholm. Hynde is likely to play a mix of songs from that effort as well as some well-chosen Pretenders gems. In my review of Stockholm earlier this year for the Illinois Entertainer (and posted later here), I wrote that the album finds Hynde breaking new ground while still playing to her strengths. Those who enjoy Wednesday night’s show might want to get up early on the day after Thanksgiving to snag the one-day only release of the six-song Stockholm Live At The 229 Club, London, England on colored vinyl. It’s one of the Black Friday Record Store Day releases.

Drummer Brad Elvis is used to traveling around the universe with The Romantics, but his Chicago-based band The Handcuffs with have a rare out-of-state show tomorrow night in Nashville when they perform with Bill Lloyd, and the Big Star A to Z tribute band at The Basement.

Chicago Art Magazine has reached 96% of its goal on IndieGoGo to raise funds to save its archive of over 1,000 articles. Although the online publication closed in 2012, former Editor-In-Chief Kathryn Born points out that the site was still drawing visitors until last month, when it was hobbled by a malware attack. The money raised through IndieGoGo will go to update and protect Chicago Art Magazine and its related websites.

I’m proud to say I contributed a number of articles to Chicago Art Magazine, and the other online publications Born produced with the help of Managing Editor Robin Dluzen, including Chicago DIY Film, TINC, and Chicago Performance And Trailers. It’s nice to see they still have such enthusiastic support from the Chicago art community.

Let’s all silly walk to Downers Grove. John Cleese, who possesses one of this generation’s sharpest comedic minds, will be at the Tivoli Theatre in Downers Grove to discuss his new book So, Anyway on Tuesday night. The appearance is being sponsored by Anderson’s BookShop. The $36 admission includes a pre-signed copy of the book.

The Telepaths, a garage rock band that includes journalist-musician Pat Über-Critic McDonald and musician-actor-writer James Moeller, will be performing their guitar-driven songs at The Mutiny tomorrow night. The club is located at 2428 N. Western in Chicago, show time is 9:00 PM.

California man David Bash has been enjoying himself in New York, where his International Pop Overthrow power pop/indie rock fest has been making its annual five-day/seven show visit. It runs through this Sunday, November 9th, at the Bar Matchless club in Brooklyn. This weekend’s highlights include The Lannie Flowers Band, Dave Rave, and The Anderson Council. 

Drummer Dennis Diken will continue touring with The Smithereens, and he’ll join Jonathan Lee and Tom Currie of The Jigsaw Seen as they back singer-guitarist Dave Davies of The Kinks in a series of upcoming gigs. That includes the November 12th and 13th dates at City Winery - Chicago next week. Brad Cole is the opening act for those Chicago gigs.

Ian Hunter And The Rant Band will be at Park West in Chicago next Friday, November 14th.

Over 90 vendors will be on hand when the Andersonville Galleria holds its 7th Anniversary Party next Friday, November 14th from 7:00 to 10:00 PM. There will be free refreshments and hors d’oeuvres. Andersonville Galleria is located at 5247 N. Clark Street.

Folk singer-guitarist Quinn Tsan will drop by Constellation at 3111 N. Western Avenue in Chicago next Friday, November 14th to celebrate the release of her Good Winter EP at in Chicago. Passerines and Kelsey Wild are also on the bill. The show starts at 9:30 PM.

ChillFest returns for its second year next Saturday, when it will present 85 acoustic performances over the course of six hours. The festival kicks off at noon and will take place throughout Wicker Park and Bucktown; involving venues like Subterranean, Lottie’s Pub, David’s Tea, Bar Bar Black Sheep, and The Smoke Daddy. Performers include Urban Twang, Liz Chidester, Blue Line, Tijuana Hercules, and Acoustic Raccoon. There will be an after-party at Subterranean, starting at 7:15 PM.

Seven bands will be performing at a benefit for Wicker Park business owner Tiffany Dean at the Double Door club on November 19th. Black Cat Heart Attack; The Artist Formally Known As Vince; The Dead On; Anger; The Ladies And Gentlemen; Sunken Ships; Dorian Taj; and Cochinas y Los Pistoleros are the musical guests, and Herb Rosen from the Liars Club will serve as host. The doors open at 7:30 PM, admission is $8. 

Vocalists-guitarists Mike Cohen and Jeff Janulis will lead their tribute band The Everly Hillbillies to Simon’s Tavern on November 23rd. The duo also fronts the all-original power pop band The Abbeys, and this side-project is a labor of love since these guys were heavily influenced by The Everly Brothers when it comes to harmony vocals. 

Indie rock trio Fort Frances, whose album Harbour was reviewed favorably here on July 31, 2013, has recorded a video showing band members David McMillin, Jeffrey Piper, and Aaron Kiser seated at a piano while playing the Sufijan Stevens song "Chicago." The result is a stark but effective version that calls to mind the way Gary Jules interpreted the Tears For Fears song “Mad World.” Fort Frances will be performing at Lincoln on December 12th.

Plastic Seoul. Paul McCartney’s official website and his Facebook page recently reported that the Linda McCartney Retrospective is now open to the public at The Daelim Museum in Seoul, Korea. The exhibition features a combination of photographs of rock stars and more personal images from her times with Paul. I have a copy of the Linda McCartney’s Sixties: Portraits Of An Era book, which follows the same format, and it’s amazing. So, I’ll just add this and the British Invasion exhibition at The Beatles Story in Liverpool to the list of things that MUST come to Chicago.

I wish they still played garage rock like they did on their first two albums, but after a misfired song or two, the Paris-based Plastiscines have now settled comfortably into their more techno-oriented music. “Back To The Start,” the official video of the title track of their latest release, underscores the song’s light, melodic arrangement with a slice of life look at the band members hanging out and having fun with friends. As far as I can tell, Back To The Start is still not available in America.

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