Friday, June 23, 2017

Slumgullion

There’s a double bill of Material Reissue and Cliff Johnson backed by The Raine tomorrow night at the Wire club in Berwyn. Material Reissue, featuring original Material Issue members bassist-vocalist Ted Ansani and drummer Mike Zelenko, along with singer-guitarist Phil Angotti, have been performing the classic power pop songs created by the late (and original vocalist-guitarist) Jim Ellison on the Chicago club scene over the past few years. Cliff Johnson, of Pezband and Off Broadway fame has found a solid match in his current backing band The Raine.

Those of us who have enjoyed Wendy Rice’s wit and friendly delivery as host of WXRT’s Saturday Morning Flashback over the years will have one last chance tomorrow to hear her do the show. Rice, who started as an intern at the station in 1978, always fit in perfectly with the station’s patented air personality as friend format. With pre-recorded help from other members of the staff, like Lin Brehmer, Frank E. Lee, and news anchor Mary Dixon, Rice made Flashback fun, nostalgic, and informative. Each Saturday, the show focuses on a particular year with songs, news, and trivia. Rice will cover 1978 on her final broadcast before retiring. Unfortunately, I’ll be at a writing seminar all day tomorrow, so I’ll miss it.

Speaking of WXRT, congratulations to morning man Lin Brehmer on being voted as Chicago’s Best Radio DJ in the The Reader’s annual Best Of Chicago Issue. It’s always interesting to find out who nabbed top honors in the weekly free paper’s assorted categories. Other winners this year include Women And Children First as Best Bookstore; Alleycat Comics as Best Comics Shop; Salvage One as Best Place To Get Married (my nephew and his wife had their reception there); Revolution Brewing as Best BrewPub; CHIRP Radio as Best Local Music Blog; Riot Fest as Best Music Festival; and Steppenwolf Theatre as Best Established Theater Company.

That writing seminar I mentioned previously is The 2017 Writing Workshop of Chicago, being held from 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the Congress Plaza Hotel at 520 S. Michigan Avenue. Several literary agents will be on hand, and there will be a series of seminars with tips on how get published and how to develop stronger writing skills. I’ll be discussing my Work In Progess, a YA/Paranormal/Romance novel set in a rich San Diego suburb, in a 10-minute one-on-one with a literary agent. I also have three complete novels that I’m hoping to get published.

Chicago venue The Elbo Room is sponsoring the ninth annual I Am Fest – International Art and Music Festival on August 19. The day-long event will actually be held at the more spacious House Of Blues and feature music acts, art, and photography. The Smoking Popes, Sin Anestesia, and Littlebirds are scheduled to perform. Tickets are $18, doors open at 2:00 p.m.

Steppenwolf Theatre will be presenting How To Be A Rock Critic (Based ON The Writings Of Lester Bangs) as part of its New Lookout Series. As reported by Chicago Tribune theatre critic Kerry Reid in a preview of summer shows, there will be special guests after each performance. The show run from July 6 through July 22.

Milwaukee’s annual SummerFest runs June 28 – July and July 4 – July 9, and as usual, offers an amazing range of musical genres. Acts scheduled to perform include Red Hot Chili Peppers; Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers; Outlaw Music Festival; Bob Dylan; Sheryl Crow; The Shins; The Moody Blues; Ziggy Marley; Tegan And Sara; Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue; Brian Setzer’s Rockabilly Riot; The Isley Brothers; Guster; Peter Wolf; The Church; Berlin featuring Terri Nunn; and The Regrettes.

There’s still time to see a production of Hair at the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre in Arlington Heights. The musical, which debuted off Broadway in 1967, runs at the Metropolis through July 1.

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Thursday, June 22, 2017

Power Pop Drawing Power?

Ric Menck, a musician whose impressive career stretches back to the Chicago-based band The Reverbs in 1984 to performing on Matthew Sweet’s new Tomorrow Forever album, recently posted an interesting question on Facebook. He asked if anyone would go to a power pop weekend festival with artists like Cheap Trick, The Smithereens, The Raspberries, Big Star Redux, Dwight Twilley, Shoes, Pezband, Rubinoos, Marshall Crenshaw, Matthew Sweet, Material Reissue, and others. There is no such event in the works, but hopefully Menck’s post might get some influential people thinking about staging one. We can only hope.

In the meantime, there is some good news on the power pop front. Like the double bill of Material Reissue and Cliff Johnson backed by The Raine coming up this Saturday at the Wire club in Berwyn. Material Reissue comprises original Material Issue members bassist-vocalist Ted Ansani and drummer Mike Zelenko, along with singer-guitarist Phil Angotti. They’ve been doing a great job of performing the classic songs the late Jim Ellison created with the band back in the 1990s. As a veteran of Pezband and Off Broadway (and other groups), Cliff Johnson has composed and sang lead vocals on several power pop gems. Lately, he’s been hitting the club scene backed by veteran band The Raine, and the combination has been working really well.

Later this summer, Matthew Sweet (and I’m assuming with Ric Menck) has two shows coming up at City Winery Chicago on July 13 and July 14. Then there’s a Power Pop Night at The Arcada Theatre in St. Charles on August 11 featuring Dwight Twilley, Pezband, and Shoes. I’ll be posting more about this as the concert gets closer. In other news, The Smithereens have reunited with their original bass player Mike Mesaros and have two shows coming up on July 2 and 3 at the Wonder Bar in Asbury Park, NJ. According to the Slicing Up Eyeballs website,  Mesaros is also joining The Smithereens in the recording studio as they work on a new album.

Bassist-vocalist Derrick Anderson, who has performed with The Smithereens on occasion, recently recorded a video for “When I Was Your Man” with help from Vicki and Debbie Peterson from The Bangles and Kim Shattuck from The Muffs. The song was on Anderson’s stellar debut A World Of My Own, which included help from The Bangles, Shattuck, The Smithereens, Matthew Sweet, and other power pop stars. It would be great to see Anderson tour with all of those people onboard, or maybe as part of a major power pop weekend festival.

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Saturday, June 17, 2017

Saturday Slumgullion

Summer Of Love Revisited Part I. The Music Box Theatre on Chicago’s north side is screening a new 4K restoration of D. A. Pennebaker’s 1968 documentary Monterey Pop today and tomorrow at 2:00 p.m. The groundbreaking rock festival, which took place a year before the film was released, included performances by Jimi Hendrix, Eric Burdon and The Animals, Buffalo Springfield, Janis Joplin, The Who, Ravi Shankar, Otis Redding, Simon and Garfunkel, Grateful Dead, Lou Rawls, The Mamas and The Papas, and The Byrds. Lou Adler, the successful producer and one of Monterey Pop’s organizers, is staging a 50th Anniversary version this weekend. Original performers Eric Burdon, Booker T. and Phil Lesh will be joined by new acts like Norah Jones (Shankar’s daughter), Father John Misty, and The Head And The Heart.

Tellin’ Tales Theatre, a Chicago-based company with a mission to “shatter barriers between the disabled and able-bodied worlds through the transformative power of personal story,” is bringing back its original production of Divercity for a limited run this weekend at Prop Thtr. It opened last night and will be staged tonight at 8:00 p.m. and tomorrow at 2:00 p.m. Divercity features monologues from cast members. Prop Thtr is located at 3502 N. Elston.

Summer Of Love Revisited Part II. There’s still time to see a production of Hair at the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre in Arlington Heights. The musical, which debuted off Broadway in 1967, runs at the Metropolis through July 1.

Cheap Trick’s latest album We’re All Alright became available to download yesterday for those of us who preordered it through PledgeMusic. It’s a harder edged effort than last year’s Trick offering Bang, Zoom, Crazy . . . Hello, but still retains the band’s knack for infectious melodies. One of the less manic tracks (and possible the album’s best) is a magnificent cover of The Move’s “Blackberry Way.” I’ll be reviewing We’re All Alright here in the near future.

Martyrs’ On Mondays. The Sunshine Boys, a new band formed by music veterans vocalist-guitarist Dag Juhlin (The Slugs, Poi Dog Pondering, EXPO ’76); drummer Freda Love Smith (Blake Babies Antenna, Mysteries Of Life); and bassist-backup vocalist Jacqueline Schimmel (Big Hello), have a solo gig coming up this Monday at Martyrs’ on Lincoln Avenue and a week later at the same venue as the opening act for The Imperial Sound. For those hesitant to venture out on a school night, The Sunshine Boys promise they have more gigs on the way. They also have a demo of their politically charged song “Schoolyard Bully” available as a name-your-price deal on their BandCamp page.

Summer Of Love Revisited Part III. The Second Disc website recently had a post by Joe Marchese about a new album from The Isley Brothers and Santana titled Power Of Peace. The collaboration is due out August 4 and will feature covers of inspirational rhythm and blues standards like Stevie Wonder’s “Higher Ground,” Burt Bacharach and Hal David’s “What The World Needs Now,” and Marvin Gaye’s “Mercy, Mercy Me.”

Northwestern University has announced the shows for its SummerStage 2017 at the Ethel M. Barber Theater in Evanston. The performance series includes an August 3 – 6 run for The Who’s Tommy - In Concert directed by Northwestern alum Geoff Button. Northwestern Communication promises, “a unique and electrifying tribute concert staging of this acclaimed musical that will rock your senses!”

The indie UK label Fruits de Mer has three new vinyl-only releases coming soon. California-based trio Sidewalk Society will once again pay tribute to The Action by recreating demos recorded by the British group for its Rolled Gold album back in the 1960s. The Action’s original version didn’t see the light of day until the early 1990s. Sidewalk Society’s self-titled 2016 EP had two covers of songs by The Action. Also on the FdM label, Tony Durant from Fuchsia has put together a double seven-inch release titled Song that features tracks culled from the psyche/folk band’s 50-year career. And American singer-songwriter/producer Anton Barbeau’s Heaven Is In Your Mind four-song seven-inch EP on FdM has one original tune, plus a David Bowie cover, a Big Star cover, and a Traffic cover.

Summer Of Love Revisited Part III. The Prop Thtr is staging the Andy Somma 60 Psychedelic Show on Saturday, July 22. According to a post on the theatre’s Facebook page, the event will offer, “music, dance,film, and more!” The late 1960s vibe returns to Prop about a month later when the very first YippeFest, a love child of the late Mary-Arrchie Theatre’s Abbie Hoffman Died For Our Sins festival, runs the weekend of August 18 through 20.

Social Act, one of the first local bands I interviewed when I began my decades-long tenure at the Illinois Entertainer, recently reunited and has filmed a video to promote its upcoming album Today’s Tomorrow. Band members include Ellis Clark and John A. Krenger.

Wonder Woman is getting a lot of press these days, thanks to the new action-packed movie starring Gal Gadot. If you had enough cash, you could have snagged the Wonder Woman #1 DC comic from 1942 at a recent Heritage Auctions event. It sold for $95,600. Or you can probably still get the June 5 – 11 edition of Streetwise from one of the publication’s vendors for $2.00. It has Wonder Woman on the cover and features some great DC Entertainment images and copy by Anastasia Safioleas from Australia’s The Big Issue publication.

Summer Of Love Revisited Part IV. There may be no better way to remember The Summer Of Love than to pick up a copy of the remixed 50th Anniversary of The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band album. The sound quality is amazing and the 2-CD edition includes 18 tracks of alternate takes of the album’s songs, plus versions of “Penny Lane” and “Strawberry Fields.” I’ll be posting a more extensive look at this new release of the iconic album in the new future.

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Monday, June 12, 2017

Concert News

Art from the Elvis Costello Facebook page.

A hearty Broken Hearted Toy welcome to Elvis Costello, who’s in town tonight with The Imposters for an Imperial Bedroom and Other Chambers gig at the Huntington Pavilion at Northerly Island. I see some of my Facebook acquaintances are there, and I’m sure they’re have a great time. Even though the temperature was up in the 90s today, it’s probably perfect on the lakefront right now.

Micky Dolenz comes to City Winery Chicago for shows tomorrow and Wednesday night, and Feist will be at the Vic Theatre on Wednesday and Thursday.

Roger Waters’ Us + Them Tour hits Chicago for a concert at the United Center on July 23, which means he, Paul McCartney, and Graham Nash will all be in town around my birthday. Give me a call, guys. We’ll get together.

Meanwhile, the massive, multi-media The Pink Floyd Exhibition: Their Mortal Remains is now open at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. According to a piece on the ABC News Radio website, the exhibit arrives on the 50th anniversary of the release of Pink Floyd’s first single “Arnold Layne.” With its collection of instruments, artifacts, handwritten lyrics, and posters, it sounds similar to The Rolling Stones’ Exhibitionism, which has now migrated to our own Navy Pier. If Their Mortal Remains ever comes to to Navy Pier, I guarantee you Frank Carr from the Famous In The Future comedy group will move in there.

According to an article by William Lee in the Chicago Tribune, a huge crowd gathered at the corner of State and Randolph in downtown last Thursday to witness the official dedication of a huge and colorful mural honoring blues great Muddy Waters. Waters’ sons Mud and Big Bill Morganfield performed live with their band at the event.
I recently reviewed the Cover Palooza show at The Gallery Cafe, but I want to add how much I enjoyed the opportunity to talk to some of the musicians involved. I ran into Erica Loftus from The Right Tidys as soon as I arrived, and later had a chance to sit down with Lou Galassini from Van Go and The Right Tidys. John D. Kolonel from The Raine wasn’t performing that night, but he joined Galassini and me for while. Gallassini told me Van Go is currently recording a new album, which will be one of their hardest hitting one yet. The Raine will once again back Cliff Johnson from Off Broadway in a double bill with Material Reissue on June 24 at Wire in Berwyn.

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Thursday, June 8, 2017

A Cultural Cornucopia

If you’re a Chicagoan with out-of-town guests this weekend, you’ll have plenty of ways to impress them with some hometown culture.

The Printers Row Lit Fest returns to the Printers Row section of downtown Chicago this weekend. The event will feature 200 authors and presenters, as well as 150 booksellers. There are other interesting vendors and food places too. Admission to the fest itself is free, but it does cost money to attend the speaking engagements/book signings by Abdul-Jabbar and Al Franken.

The world-renowned Chicago Blues Festival runs Friday through Sunday, in its new space in Millennium Park. Performers include Lurie Bell, Freddie Dixon, Bill McFarland and Chicago Fire Horns, Rhiannon Giddens, and Ronnie Baker Brooks. Admission is free.

Two of Chicago’s most popular arts fests take place this Saturday and Sunday, and they’re within walking distance of each other. The Old Town Art Fair, which is located at 1763 N. North Park Avenue, will be back for its 69th year, with 250 juried artists, a garden walk, and live music. The Wells Street Art Festival, at the corner of North and Wells (just south of Second City), has a bit more of a party feel, and if the weather’s nice, the street gets extremely crowded. It also offers a schedule of live music.

The Andersonville Midsommarfest is located at 5200 N. Clark, and runs Friday through Sunday. The New Invaders, one of Chicago’s best 1960s cover bands, will be performing at Midsommarfest at 4:00 p.m. on Sunday.

CAKE - Chicago Alternative Comics Expo takes place Saturday and Sunday at the Center On Halsted, 3656 N. Halsted St. Special guests include Gabrielle Bell, Gary Panter Ben Passmore, and Jessi Zabarsky. Admission is free.

Long-time blues rock (and occasional classical) performer Corky Siegel will be the keynote speaker for Jews and the Blues, a three-day event held by the Congress of Secular Jewish Organization at the University of Chicago at Chicago this weekend.

Denny Laine, a founding member of The Moody Blues and a member of Wings; Fran Cosmo, who was a lead vocalist for Boston; and Joey Molland from Badfinger will be performing together at The Arcada in St. Charles this Saturday. The show starts at 8:00 p.m.

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Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Cover Palooza and YippieFest

The Cover Palooza event at The Gallery Cabaret last Saturday night gave local bands who usually perform original material an opportunity to pay homage to some of their favorite artists. The cover versions played by Van Go, Deadly Bungalows, Right Tidys, Red Wigglers, and 92 provided insight into the type of music that inspires them. Some of the selections were obscure, which led to a fun audience participation guessing game as to the artists being covered. Luckily, the Gallery Cabaret audience had an extended knowledge of power pop and alt rock.

Van Go’s set (each act did about five songs) included Blondie’s “Dreaming, The Plimsouls’ “Million Miles Away,” and as a change of pace, Def Leppard’s “Wasted.” The Right Tidys offered pumped-up versions of “Under The Milky” by The Church and Freda Payne’s “Band Of Gold,” along with a faithful take on Cheap Trick’s “He’s A Whore.” Red Wigglers had fun adding a horn section to Devo’s “Mongoloid” and World Party’s “Put The Message In The Box.” I wasn’t able to stay for all of Cover Palooza, but I’ll definitely be back if there’s another round.

It looks like YippieFest, the tie-dyed offspring of the annual Abbie Hoffman Died For Ours Sins performing arts festival at Mary-Arrchie Theatre, is aiming to rock. Abbie vets like Frank Carr and Desiree Burcum of the Famous In Future comedy group are looking to carry the torch now that Mary-Arrchie has called it quits after a 30-year run. It has the blessing of former Mary-Arrchie Artistic Director and Abbie Hoffman impersonator Rich Cotovsky.

Singer-guitarist James Moeller from the alt-rock band whitewolfsonicprincess and garage rock outfit The Telepaths, is the designated Music Coordinator for YippieFest. Moeller is also a founding member (along with Carla Hayden of whitewolfsonicprincess) of Black Forest Theatre, which bewildered and amused audiences (in a good way) at Abbie Fest for several years. YippieFest is scheduled for the weekend August 18-20 at Prop Thtr. Musicians interested in performing can contact Moeller via the fest’s official website.

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Friday, June 2, 2017

Slumgullion

A hearty Broken Hearted Toy welcome to U2 as they arrive in Chicago for shows at Soldier Field this weekend as part of The 2017 Joshua Tree Tour. The Irish quartet made an immediate impression with “I Will Follow” and its debut Boy over 35 years ago, and have remained a major force in music and global affairs ever since.

Cover Palooza!, an evening of Chicago area bands that usually perform originals but will switch to cover versions, takes place tomorrow at the Gallery Cabaret. Van Go, 92 (formerly 92 Degrees), Red Wigglers, Deadly Bungalows, John Moulten, and Right Tidy’s are the acts involved.

Tickets went on sale today for Brian Setzer at House Of Blues on June 17; Liam Gallagher and Blossoms at Park West, and Spoon and CRX at Metro on August 2; Tegan and Sara at Park West on August 3; Live and Shelters at Park West on August 4; and Alvvays at the Empty Bottle on August 5. Looks like it could be a very busy first week of August for fans of alt rock music.

Tickets are also now available for a September 3 concert at Grand Victoria Casino in Elgin featuring Belinda Carlisle, Smash Mouth, The Motels with Martha Davis, and Bow Wow Wow.

The Flat Five will be performing a WXRT show at Thalia Hall on June 9.

If you’ve been wondering where all the good times have gone, you’re sure to find one at Martyrs’ next Wednesday. That’s when Tributosaurus becomes The Kinks at the Lincoln Avenue venue.

It will be Six Degrees Of Susanna Hoffs when the Chicago-based indie band The Handcuffs opens for Matthew Sweet on July 15 in downtown Springfield, IL at the Amaranth Apple Festival. Sweet has worked with The Bangles as a producer, and has recorded three albums of well-chosen cover tunes with Hoffs. Handcuffs drummer Brad Elvis (previously with Big Hello, The Elvis Brothers, and Screams) helped out on drums for a few songs when The Bangles played City Winery Chicago a couple years ago. By the way, Matthew Sweet’s next album, Tomorrow Forever, comes out on June 16.

Other albums due out this month include Is This The Life We Really Want? by Roger Waters; Binary by Ani DiFranco; CHUCK by Chuck Berry; Other by Alison Moyet; So You Wannabe An Outlaw by Steve Earle; and Together At Last by Jeff Tweedy.

Penthouse Sweets, who recently released a new album, have a date coming up with Lutz, The Black Tape, and Juice Cleanse at Quenchers Saloon on Chicago’s north side on June 22.

The Sunshine Boys, a new trio that was very impressive at the recent WNUR Power Pop Shoppe Showcase at The Elbo Room, have a gig coming up on June 22 at Martyrs’ on Lincoln Avenue. Band members Dag Juhlin, Freda Love Smith, and Jacqueline Schimmel have extensive resumes, and together they could be the next big band to emerge from the Chicago area.

Long-time blues rock (and occasional classical) performer Corky Siegel will be the keynote speaker for Jews and the Blues, a three-day event held by the Congress of Secular Jewish Organization at the University of Chicago at Chicago on the weekend of June 9–11.

Musician/journalist/comic creator Dan Pavelich is now capable of offering his Just Say Uncle - The Complete 2013 GoComics Dailies book around the world via his Etsy store.

Sons Of The Silent Age, the impressive David Bowie cover band, is returning soon according to a post from band member Steve Gerlach on Facebook.

The B-52’s, The Wallflowers, and A Flock Of Seagulls are among the acts slated for the annual Ribfest in Naperville. The festival, which runs from June 30 to July 3, has raised over $15.5 to help eliminate child abuse and domestic violence.

The second annual Localpalooza takes place on July 22 at Lincoln Hall and will feature The Ivorys; Rich Jones; Honey And The 45s; Bad Bad Meow; Namorado; The Dyes; and Elle Casazza. The event is once again being organized by guitarist Michael Vogus of local band Burnside And Hooker, and will benefit the Patrick Grange Memorial Foundation for ALS Research.

Next weekend brings two of the north side’s most popular art events. The Old Town Fair, which has been around for 67 years, will have over 250 juried fine artists, and The Wells Street Festival features art, sculpture, and if the weather is nice, a millennial party atmosphere. The two fairs are within walking distance of each other, so it’s easy to check them both out.

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Thursday, June 1, 2017

Mark Crozer And The Rels - Sunny Side Down

It’s been almost five years since Mark Crozer first joined forces with The Rels, but the arrival of Sunny Side Down brings fond memories of that self-titled debut (see October 16, 2012 in archives). This new effort carries on as though no time had passed at all. With Mitch Easter of Let’s Active fame producing and helping out on guitar, Crozer and The Rels once again set offbeat subject matter to irresistible pop melodies.

The romantic “All You Gotta Do” kicks off the need-to-escape theme that surfaces elsewhere on Sunny Side Down. On “Toxic Town,” a guy warns a woman that their dead-end surroundings will destroy her if she doesn’t escape with him to the open country. “Corners Of Your Mind” places the album’s most positive vibes (“Life brings redemption when you rise looking for paradise”) with imaginative images of nature, and a lilting arrangement.

The guitar-driven “Lukewarm Love” is more in line with the album’s acerbic title, as a guy realizes his recently terminated relationship was strictly one sided. “I told her she was special,” Crozer sings along to the driving beat, “that’s when she said, ‘Yeah well, let’s just take this slow.’” He also has fun with the gallows humor of “Loathsome Freddy.” “Haunted Head” is genuinely scary—a tale of encountering a mysterious force when trying to sleep at night. The song’s hypnotic arrangement adds another successful dimension to Sunny Side Down.

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Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Excellent Exhibitionism

Exhibitionism – The Rolling Stones, which runs through July 31 at Navy Pier in Chicago, uses assorted media and artifacts to celebrate the iconic English band. From the ‘Ladies And Gentlemen’ neon sign and wall of monitors at the entrance, to the tiny pages of Keith Richards’ faded 1960s tour diary, it’s a banquet for Stones fans. In addition to displaying instruments the musicians played, scale models of their elaborate stages, studio tape boxes with their recordings, outfits they wore, and posters that heralded their gigs, Exhibitionism underscores how much American blues music was part of the band’s DNA.

A number of the rooms within Exhibitionism have large screens showing Rolling Stones performances from over the decades. That includes footage of them onstage with Muddy Waters, where the mutual respect and affection is unmistakeable. We also see Buddy Guy praising the Rolling Stones, and Richards recalling that being able to record at Chess Studios in Chicago cemented the band’s passion for black music.

The recreations of the apartment the band members shared back in their early days, as well as the studio where they recorded some of their most successful albums are also fascinating. Each of the display cases for the guitars has a notecard explaining the role that instrument played in creating particular songs. It’s a kick to read personal memories from Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Ron Wood, and other musicians who recorded and/or performed with the Stones.

The posters range from the early days of multiple band showcases with The Supremes, The Beach Boys, Gerry And The Pacemakers, James Brown, The Hollies, and others to more sophisticated efforts that qualify as fine art. There’s an exhibit on how artist John Pasche came up with the lips and tongue logo, as well as portraits of the band members by Andy Warhol. All in all, Exhibitionism does a bang up job of entertaining as well showing the lasting effect The Rolling Stones have had on modern culture.

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Friday, May 26, 2017

Slumgullion

The latest Hot Stove Cool Music benefit takes place next Friday, June 2 at Metro with Twin Peaks as the headline act. The Boston-meets-Chicago mashup of baseball and rock personalities benefits The Foundation To Be Named Later, which aims to help youth-oriented nonprofit organizations. The event will also feature Peter Gammons And The Boston Hot Stove All Stars; Theo Epstein; Len Kasper and The Chicago Hot Stove All Stars; Daxx Nielsen; Scott Lucas; Jason Narducy; Kelly Hogan; Nora O’Connor, Gerald Dowd; and Freda Love Smith. WXRT morning DJ Lin Brehmer and former Cubs ace Ryan Dempster are your hosts.

The 18th Annual Animation Show Of Shows, a feature-length collection of 17 shorts is being shown at 8:00 p.m. tonight and 5:15 tomorrow at the Gene Siskel Film Center.

So you’re going to The Arcada Theatre in St. Charles on June 10 to see Denny Laine, or maybe you’ve got tickets for that amazing power pop triple bill of Shoes, Pezband, and Dwight Twilley on August 11. But you’re still not sure how to get there. Try a practice drive this weekend and check out the St. Charles Fine Art Show, which runs Saturday and Sunday. Last year’s fair, which ran on the same day The Zombies were performing at The Arcada, featured lots of interesting work, including some rock and roll inspired pieces. Artist Chris Drench creates eye-catching portraits of Prince, The Beatles, and other musicians by arranging the lyrics of their songs.

Tickets are now on sale for Peter Asher and Albert Lee at SPACE in Evanston on July 22; Coathangers at Beat Kitchen on July 27; Alejandro Escobedo and Joe Ely at City Winery Chicago on August 24; and Joan Osborne at City Winery Chicago on September 5 and 6.

Tickets are also now available for the 36th Anniversary American Music Festival running June 30–July 3 at FitzGerald’s in Berwyn. Performers include Marcia Ball, Dave Alvin, Southern Culture On The Skids, Shemekia Copeland, Los Straitjackets with Marshall Crenshaw, Waco Brothers, and Tributosaurus Becomes The Monkees.

The Nowhere Else Festival, a celebration of art music, film, and farming, featuring Over The Rhine, Band of Sweethearts, Birds Of Chicago, Carrie Rodriguez, and other acts, takes place tomorrow and Sunday in Ohio, about 45 miles east of Cincinnati,

Next Thursday, July 1, is being billed as Pepper Day at the AMG Village Crossing 18 movie theatre in Skokie. There will be a Dolby Atmos audio presentation created by Giles Martin (son of renowned producer George) of a new mix of The Beatles album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Admission is free but those interested in attending must RSVP in advance. A ticket does not guarantee entry.

On the following night, The Beatle Brothers will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the release of Sgt. Pepper by performing the iconic album in its entirety.

It sounds like something Julie Andrews would sing to the Von Trapp family, but NoBeRSO stands for North Berwyn Rhythm & Soul Organization, a band featuring Casey McDonough, Scott Ligon, and John Perrin. They’re performing next Thursday, June 1 at Martyrs’ on Lincoln Avenue. Phil Angotti will also be on hand, doing songs from the The Bee Gees Gold compilation, and Rachel Drew will cover Amy Winehouse’s Back To Black album.

Cover Palooza!, an evening of Chicago area bands that usually perform originals but will switch to cover versions for one magical evening takes next Saturday, June 3 at the Gallery Cabaret. Van Go, 92, Red Wigglers, Deadly Bungalows, John Moulten, and Right Tidy’s are the acts involved.

Long-time blues rock (and occasional classical) performer Corky Siegel will be the keynote speaker for Jews and the Blues, a three-day event held by the Congress of Secular Jewish Organization at the University of Chicago at Chicago on the weekend of June 9–11.

Musician/journalist/comic creator Dan Pavelich is offering his Just Say Uncle - The Complete 2013 GoComics Dailies book around the world via his Etsy store.

This month’s issue of NewCity has the Chicago free publication’s annual Lit 50 list of the movers and shakers in the local publishing scene. Spoiler alert: I’m not in it. The issue usually comes out around the same time as the Printers Row Lit Fest, which will be held on June 10 and 11.

There are only a few days left to check out the Omaze fundraising site for a chance to have breakfast in London with seven of the actors who have portrayed the lead character in the legendary Doctor Who British sci-fi series. Donations start at $10 and can be done via Paypal or credit card. The campaign is part of the annual Red Nose Day to help save children from poverty around the world, and involves Peter Capaldi, Matt Smith, David Tennant, Peter Davison, Paul McGann, Sylvester McCoy, and Colin Baker. Donations must be received by May 31; the winner will be announced around June 9.

Omaze has also partnered with Ringo Starr and The David Lynch Foundation for a charity event involving his birthday on July 7. The Beatles’ drummer and other VIP guests will be gathering in Los Angeles for brunch, and fans have an opportunity to join in the fun. Donations start at $10 and can be done via Paypal or credit card.

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Thursday, May 25, 2017

Ex Norwegian - Tekstet (Subtitled)

The Miami-based Ex Norwegian shakes things up a bit on Tekstet (Subtitled), its third album in as many years, and eighth overall. The male-female vocal dynamic of singer-guitarist Roger Houdaille and singer Michelle Grand is mostly absent and some tracks have deliberately off-kilter arrangements. Still, Grand makes the most of her three songs and Houdaille layers his distinctive vocals within catchy arrangements that adroitly tap into power pop and various shades of 1960s rock.

“Any Old Time,” with its galloping bass and cartoon voices that drift in and out, is one of Houdaille’s more appealing adventures on this effort. “F’Nostalgia” starts slowly before evolving into a delirious swirl of keyboards, and “Whose Motion” also conjures psychedelic elements. “Gemmas” has a driving beat and an infectious melody that evokes Let’s Active and The dB’s.

Grand sings lead on Tekset’s most energetic tracks, including the bass guitar propelled and defiant “Fearless.” She helps give “June Flakes” a buoyant, 1960s girl group sound that recalls the departed and still missed band The Like, and is also impressive with the catchy retro pop of “O Simone.” It would be nice to find Grand and Houdaille singing as a team again on the next (2018?) release, but in the meantime, Tekset is an eccentric but consistently enjoyable effort.

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Saturday, May 20, 2017

Saturday Slumgullion

This past Wednesday, I felt like fate was sticking its tongue out at me when I walked from the Metra Ogilvie Station to the end of Navy Pier to check out The Rolling Stones Exhibitionism show and discovered it wasn’t open. There’s a new, somewhat haphazard schedule in place, so be sure you check the website before heading out for your Stones fix.

Slumgullion was delayed this week due to my hanging out at the Elbo Room last night for the first WNUR Power Pop Shoppe Showcase. Even though I was only able to stay for two of the three acts scheduled, it’s still safe to declare the event a major success. The Power Pop Shoppe is a weekly radio program on the Evanston-based FM station, and I’m hoping DJ Gil stages more live showcases in the future.

Last night’s opening band, Sunshine Boys, is destined to rise as a major force from the Chicago music scene. Composed of lead vocalist-guitarist Dag Juhlin (The Slugs, Poi Dog Pondering); drummer Freda Love Smith (Blake Babies, Antenna); and bassist-backup vocalist Jacqueline Schimmel (Big Hello), the trio made an immediate impact with hard-hitting, socially relevant and melodic songs. When Juhlin noted that Sunshine Boys had immediate plans to record a single, I couldn’t help wishing it would be an entire album.

It was also a treat to see The Bishop’s Daredevil Stunt Club live after having enjoyed their studio recordings for some time now. The band’s latest effort, Don’t Buy This Record is available for a free download on its BandCamp page. I wasn’t able to stay for The Phil Angotti Band, but it’s inconceivable Angotti and friends would have put on a bad show. Angotti has a brand new solo album out titled Such Stories.

Phil Angotti will be a guest on Richard Milne’s Local Anesthetic program this Sunday night on WXRT.

Tickets are now on sale for Brian Wilson Presents Pet Sounds: The Final Performances at the Rosemont Theatre on October 6. Wilson will be joined by Beach Boys members Al Jardine and Blondie Chaplin. Other upcoming shows include The Kooks at The Vic on October 11; Rhett Miller at City Winery on July 9, and the FitzGerald’s American Music Festival, which runs from June 30 to July 3 at the Berwyn club.

Great Moments In Vinyl, a collection of local musicians that performs memorable albums at the Martyrs’ club on Lincoln Avenue, will delve into R.E.M.’s Document and grammatically incorrect Lifes Rich Pageant next Wednesday, October 24.

Local musician John Moulten has been added to the lineup for Cover Palooza!, an evening of Chicago area bands that usually perform originals but will switch to cover versions for one magical evening on June 3 at the Gallery Cabaret. Van Go, 92, Red Wigglers, Deadly Bungalows, and Right Tidy’s are the other acts involved.

Nowhere Else Festival, a celebration of art music, film, and farming  takes place Saturday and Sunday, May 27 and 28, about 45 miles east of Cincinnati, Ohio. Over The Rhine, a beloved alt rock/roots band that often performs in Chicago, are among the bands performing, along with Band of Sweethearts, Birds Of Chicago, Carrie Rodriguez, Carrie Newcomer, and Red Dirt Boys. A screening of the film Doctor Strange will be hosted by its director Scott Derrickson.

The Unswept, a Chicago-based band led by cousins who grew up in England, has a jangling new single titled “You Ain’t On My Mind” available for $1 on its Bandcamp page. The group has logged a number of shows at International Pop Overthrow - Chicago.

In related news, International Pop Overthrow - Liverpool runs through next Tuesday, May 23 at the Cavern Club, with many bands yet to perform.

There’s a 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. celebration on Chicago’s Riverwalk today. According to a Chicago Sun-Times piece by Miriam DiNunzio, the event will feature “walking tours, live music, a life-size fish puppet parade [and] fishing demonstrations.” I’ve never heard of a life-size fish puppet parade, and it’s hard to imagine how well it could be seen from even a few feet away.

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Thursday, May 18, 2017

Shoppe Til You Pop

Photo from The Bishop's Daredevil Stunt Club Facebook page.

The Power Pop Shoppe has chosen three worthy acts for its showcase tomorrow night at The Elbo Room on Lincoln Avenue. A weekly program on WNUR 89.3 FM, The Power Pop Shoppe is hosted by DJ Gil, whose mission is to present a global selection of melodic rock that includes a healthy dose of Chicago area talent. That approach will no doubt transfer well to the stage, with performances by The Phil Angotti Band, The Bishop’s Daredevil Stunt Club, and Sunshine Boys.

Phil Angotti is a veteran of the Chicago club scene, and was also one of the performers (with his band The Idea) at the very first International Pop Overthrow in Los Angeles. He’s known for doing tribute shows to The Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel, The Bee Gees, The Zombies, etc., and he’s an accomplished singer-songwriter as well. He’ll most likely be showcasing songs from his new acoustic album Such Stories at The Elbo Room.

The Bishop’s Daredevil Stunt Club adroitly combines catchy arrangements with offbeat subject matter, and the brand new Don’t Buy This Record finds the quintet at the top of its game. As I noted in a review posted on Broken Hearted Toy earlier, Don’t Buy This Record follows in the tradition of fellow Midwestern acts Wilco and The Webstirs, but also explores 1980s style synth rock. The adventurous vocal interplay of guitarist Bill Giricz, bassist Dan Passarelli, and guitarist Paulette Bertrand is another highlight.

The name Sunshine Boys might not be familiar to even long-time followers of the Chicago music scene, but the three musicians in this new trio have built solid reputations with previous acts. Freda Love Smith was a founding member of Blake Babies; Jacqueline Schimmel played with Big Hello; and Dag Juhlin formed The Slugs and is a member of Poi Dog Pondering. A clip of a song called “Only A Million Miles” on the Sunshine Boys Facebook page suggests they favor a guitar-driven, energetic approach.

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Friday, May 12, 2017

Slumgullion

Depending on what time you’re reading this, you might still have time to catch singer-guitarist Phil Angotti performing songs from his latest album Such Stories tonight at a CD release show at the G Man Tavern on Clark Street. The event is being hosted by CAUDog Records and Avenue N Guitars, and Angotti will be joined by Rachel Drew and Tommi Zender, with special guests Joe George and Tony Richards.

If you miss Angotti’s show at tonight, you can catch him next Friday, May 19 at The Elbo Room on Lincoln Avenue, along with power pop marvels The Bishop’s Daredevil Stunt Club and Sunshine Boys. They’re part of the WNUR Power Pop Shoppe showcase.

Tickets went on sale today for Over The Rhine at SPACE in Evanston on August 26 and 27, and Paul Weller at House Of Blues on October 9.

There will be a Renegade Craft Fair Pop-up tomorrow and Sunday on Halsted, between 18th St. and Canalport.

My superstar chef nephew Joe Flamm and his Spiaggia co-worker Tony Mantuano will be part of Craft And Cuisine event at The Park At Wrigley tomorrow afternoon. Other participants include Stephanie Izard of Girl And The Goat fame; Matthias Merges from Yusho; Paul Kahan from Big Star; Chris Teixeira and Samantha Turner from West Town Bakery. There will be over 40 beer and wine tastings.

John San Juan, who is a founding member of The Hushdrops and just released a solo album, will be opening for Ian Hunter at Park West tomorrow night.

The recently reunited Baltimore-based power pop band Splitsville will headline a four-act showcase tomorrow night at the LiveWire Lounge on Milwaukee Avenue. Chicago bands Hyperplane, Collectors, and The Handcuffs are also on the bill.

Tickets are now on sale that amazing August 11 triple bill of Dwight Twilley, Pezband, and Shoes at The Arcada Theatre in St. Charles.

Neil deGrasse Tyson, a guy who’s so smart he got to host Cosmos and do cameos on The Big Bang Theory, will be at the Chicago Theatre this coming Tuesday night to talk about his book Astrophysics for People in a Hurry.

Writer Steve Johnson had an interesting feature story in yesterday’s edition of the Chicago Tribune about the American Writers Museum, which officially opens at 180 N. Michigan Avenue this Tuesday. Johnson notes, “the museum manages to feel ambitious, far-reaching and wise in its appreciation of writers and writing.”

Texas Guitar Shows is bringing what’s being billed as the Midwest’s Largest Guitar Show to the Odeum Expo Center in Villa Park next Saturday and Sunday. Adult admission is $20; children 11 and under can attend for free if accompanied by an adult.

Micky Dolenz will be performing at City Winery Chicago on June 13 and 14.

There’s a triple bill of Roxy Swain, Toy Robots, and Cheryl Lynn Tomblin coming up on June 16 at Wire in Berwyn. Material Reissue and Cliff Johnson with The Raine will be performing at that same venue on June 24.

There’s still time to check out the Omaze fundraising site for a chance to have breakfast in London with seven of the actors who have portrayed the lead character in the legendary Doctor Who British sci-fi series. Donations start at $10 and can be done via Paypal or credit card. The campaign is part of the annual Red Nose Day to help save children from poverty around the world, and involves Peter Capaldi, Matt Smith, David Tennant, Peter Davison, Paul McGann, Sylvester McCoy, and Colin Baker. Donations must be received by May 31; the winner will be announced around June 9.

Omaze, has also partnered with Ringo Starr and The David Lynch Foundation for a charity event involving his birthday on July 7. The Beatles’ drummer and other VIP guests will be gathering in Los Angeles for brunch, and fans have an opportunity to join in the fun. Donations start at $10 and can be done via Paypal or credit card.

There are two weeks left to see the critically acclaimed production of Jesus Christ Superstar at the Paramount Theatre in Aurora.

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Thursday, May 11, 2017

The Hollies - Shake With The Hollies

Shake With The Hollies was a 2017 Record Store Day release only in the UK, but Facebook sites like Allan Clarke Appreciation Society and Hollies Appreciation Facebook Area (both are closed groups) brought it to the attention of people around the world. I bought one on eBay for a reasonable price, and there may still be copies available via that route. Like a lot of Record Store Day limited-edition vinyl, it offers alternative versions and/or previously unreleased material.

As noted on the LP’s back cover, the five 1963 tracks were captured by “an enthusiastic fan who placed a microphone in front of the radio speaker!” The sound quality drifts in and out on a 1965 recording of “Just One Look” from Shindig, but otherwise the dated technology on Shake With The Hollies shouldn’t keep avid Hollies fans from enjoying these unearthed treasures. Particularly the rousing renditions of Chuck Berry’s “Roll Over Beethoven” and “Reelin’ And Rockin’,” which have never been released before.

The opening track “I Can’t Let Go” was recorded in 1966 and features Eric Haydock grabbing the spotlight with some spirited bass playing. There’s also an early version of “Don’t Even Think About Changin’” from that same radio session. The song would later appear on The Hollies’ first of three consecutive masterpieces, For Certain Because. (Evolution and Butterfly were the other two.) All 16 songs exude a raw, fun energy, and the brief interviews with Graham Nash, Allan Clarke, and Tony Hicks add to allure of Shake With The Hollies.

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Tuesday, May 9, 2017

The New Pornographers - Whiteout Conditions

Whiteout Conditions, the seventh full-length album from The New Pornographers, and the first on their own Collected Works label, is likely to expand their devoted following. A.C. Newman and Neko Case have done well as solo artists, but there’s a certain magic in the way these eight Vancouver-based musicians create impossibly catchy and eccentric music. Having five members who can sing results in terrific harmonies and adventurous vocal arrangements.

As in the past, The New Pornographers’ lyrics have a logic all their own. The haunting “We’ve Been Here Before” and “Second Sleep,” as well as the pulsating “Avalanche Alley” could have sprung from the pages of a fantasy novel. “High Ticket Attractions,” which bears a resemblance to The Dandy Warhols’ “Bohemian Like You,” sports numerous quick and clever rhymes that reference everything from the Magna Carta to the ancient Mayans.

The lilting yet ominous “This Is The World Of The Theatre” mixes guitars and keyboards, while the title track and the futuristic “Clockwise” explore a more aggressive 1980s alternative rock. The tribal beat and male-female vocal dynamic on “Darling Shade” evokes The B-52’s at their best. “Play Money,” which uses an infectious arrangement and biting lyrics to lampoon a cash-hungry music industry, might explain why The New Pornographers have decided to go their own way.

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Monday, May 8, 2017

Music News and Other Events

Tickets are now on sale for the Nowhere Else Festival being staged May 27 and 28 about 45 miles east of Cincinnati, Ohio. Billed as Two Full Days Of Music, Art, Earth, Sky, Nowhere Else will have a painting workshop/demonstration, a nonfiction writing workshop, readings, a lecture on regenerative farming, live music, and a screening of Doctor Strange hosted by its director Scott Derrickson. Scheduled acts include Over The Rhine, who perform in Chicago on a semi-regular basis, Band of Sweethearts, and Red Dirt Boys.

One of the first bands I interviewed for the Illinois Entertainer back in the late 1980s was Social Act. Lead singer-bassist Ellis Clark had already built a following as a member of Epicycle, and would go on to work with The Handcuffs and other acts, along with pursuing a solo career. So it’s great to see that he’s bringing Social Act back again. According to a recent post on Clark’s Facebook page, the band recently shot a video at a church in the Humboldt Park neighborhood.

Another Chicago music scene veteran, Mimi Betinis, recently posted on Facebook that we could see the release of a 1972 recording from the original lineup of Pezband some time this summer.

John San Juan, who is a founding member of The Hushdrops and just released a solo album, will be opening for Ian Hunter at Park West this Saturday, May 13.

Local H, the Chicago-based duo of vocalist-guitarist Scott Lucas and drummer Ryan Harding, has a gig this Friday night at Durty Nellie’s in Palatine. Opening act Stoop Goodnoise kicks off the evening at 9:00 p.m.

My superstar chef nephew Joe Flamm and his Spiaggia co-worker Tony Mantuano will be part of Craft And Cuisine event at The Park At Wrigley this Saturday. Other participants include Stephanie Izard of Girl And The Goat fame; Matthias Merges from Yusho; Paul Kahan from Big Star; Chris Teixeira and Samantha Turner from West Town Bakery. There will be over 40 beer and wine tastings.

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Friday, May 5, 2017

Slumgullion

It’s great to see Cheap Trick isn’t resting on its laurels after the dual triumphs of being inducted into The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame and having its Bang, Zoom, Crazy . . . Hello album land at number one on the Broken Hearted Toy Favorite Releases Of 2016 list. The group already has another album ready to release on June 16, and fans can pre-order We’re All Alright! in various configurations from the PledgeMusic website.  

Tickets go on sale this coming Tuesday, May 9 for an August 11 triple bill of Dwight Twilley, Pezband, and Shoes at The Arcada Theatre in St. Charles. Also going on sale this Tuesday at The Arcada are Rickie Lee Jones on August 19 and Al Stewart performing his Year Of The Cat album, backed by The Empty Pockets.

Just don’t order the Eggs Terminate. The Omaze fundraising site is giving Doctor Who fans an opportunity to have breakfast in London with seven of the actors who have portrayed the lead character in the legendary British sci-fi series. Donations start at $10 and can be done via Paypal or credit card. The campaign is part of the annual Red Nose Day to help save children from poverty around the world, and involves Peter Capaldi, Matt Smith, David Tennant, Peter Davison, Paul McGann, Sylvester McCoy, and Colin Baker. Donations must be received by May 31; the winner will be announced around June 9.

Peace and love and pass the omelets. Omaze has also partnered with Ringo Starr and The David Lynch Foundation for a charity event involving his birthday on July 7. The Beatles’ drummer and other VIP guests will be gathering in Los Angeles for brunch, and one fan will have an opportunity to join in the fun. Donations start at $10 and can be done via Paypal or credit card.

Susanna Hoffs has recorded a simple and elegant acoustic guitar/strings version of “Take Me With U” as a tribute to Prince that can be heard on Spotify. All proceeds will go to the Mending Kids charity organization.

The recently reunited Baltimore-based power pop band Splitsville will headline a four-act showcase at the LiveWire Lounge on Milwaukee Avenue in Chicago next Saturday, May 13. Chicago bands Hyperplane, Collectors, and The Handcuffs are also on the bill.

The iconic hippie musical Hair opens on May 18 at the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre in Arlington Heights and runs through July 1.

Denny Laine, a former member of The Moody Blues and Wings, will be performing the complete Band On The Run album Monday night, May 8, at City Winery Chicago. The Blasters will be at that same venue on May 12, and Micky Dolenz has gigs there on June 13 and 14.

Cover Palooza, an evening of Chicago area bands known for performing original material covering some of their favorite artists, will take place on June 3 at the Gallery Cabaret. Van Go, 92  (92 Degrees?), Red Wigglers, Deadly Bungalows, and Right Tidys are scheduled to appear.

The Thin Cherries, a new Chicago-based band founded by Steven Delisi from the punk/avant-garde band Phenomenal Cat and Mark Lofgren from psychedelic scene veterans The Luck Of Eden Hall, have a gig coming up next Thursday, May 11 at The Burlington on Chicago’s north side. The Thin Cherries’ self-titled debut is available as a limited-edition CD, and can be downloaded from their Bandcamp page.

Power pop/glam rock artist Ty Segall will be at Metro next Sunday, May 14.

Tickets went on sale today for Guided By Voices at Beat Kitchen on July 28, The Cranberries at Riviera on September 28, and for Rachael Yamagata and Joshua Radin at House Of Blues on July 29.

International Pop Overthrow wrapped up its 2017 Chicago visit last Saturday with two showcases at The Red Line Tap. I caught most of the afternoon set, finally getting a chance to see The Red Plastic Buddha perform live. I have two albums I like quite a bit by this psychedelic band, and their live show did not disappoint. I also caught solid sets by Michael Steven Cohen from The Abbeys; Freetoed; The Pickpockets; and The Vinyl Skyway. I wasn’t able to stay for The Jeremy Band, but I’ve been impressed with his shows in the past. Next up for International Pop Overthrow and CFO/Founder David Bash is a May 16 through 23 run at The Cavern Club in Liverpool that will feature dozens of acts.

Black Pearl - A Tribute To Josephine Baker, the latest production from the critically acclaimed Black Ensemble Theatre, opens tomorrow and will run through June 25.

Tickets for a number of acts at this year’s Ravinia Festival go on sale Tuesday, May 9; including The Beach Boys and Temptations; Blondie and Garbage; Sheryl Crow; The Moody Blues; Stevie Nicks; Smokey Robinson; and Stephen Stills and Judy Collins.

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Derrick Anderson - A World Of My Own

For those of us who’ve seen Derrick Anderson perform with The Bangles or fill in on occasion with The Smithereens, it’s not surprising to find members of those bands helping out on his solo debut. But they’re just part of an army of all-star guests that includes Matthew Sweet; Steve Barton from Translator; Tommy Keene; Bob, John, and Susan Cowsill; Darian Sahanaja and Probyn Gregory from The Wondermints; and Kim Shattuck from The Muffs. It’s a safe bet they all enjoyed recording A World Of My Own because it’s an engaging collection of songs that taps into power pop, the 1960s, and a bit of 1970s rock.

It’s possible to detect influences from the participating musicians, particularly The Smithereens on the guitar-driven romance of “Waiting For You.” But A World Of My Own most often resembles the band Anderson performed with years ago, The Andersons, and he’s got members helping him out here. Derrick Anderson’s solo debut is focused on power pop, but he adds funky horns and keyboards to “You Don’t Have To Hurt No More,” and opts for garage rock on “Checking Out” and “Stop Messin’ About.”

“A Mother’s Love” and “When I Was Your Man” could have been hit singles in the 1960s, and the irresistible “Phyllis And Sharon” has a satirical bite. Anderson’s lyrics are well-crafted and convincing throughout A World Of My Own. “Send Me Down A Sign” deals with finding one’s place in life, and on “Happiness,” a guy is waiting for his lover to return. Anderson switches to a slow, authentic 1970s approach on “Something New.” The bonus track cover of “Norwegian Wood” takes some getting used to, but this hard-edged reworking of The Beatles’ classic goes in the win column as well.

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Tuesday, May 2, 2017

John San Juan - Smashed

Photo from John San Juan’s Facebook page.

John San Juan is a founding member of The Hushdrops, a Chicago-based trio known for artfully blending prog rock elements into power pop songs. He takes a more introspective approach on his solo debut Smashed, backed by fellow club veterans Anthony Illarde, Carolyn Engelmann, Jason Walker, and Rachel Drew. San Juan has crafted a series of exquisite melodies for this effort, and he weaves harder-edged instrumentation through some of the arrangements.

That more adventurous approach is evident on “Move It,” where the band breaks into an extended psychedelic jam session. “My Version Of Your Dream,” a good example of San Juan’s knack for clever wordplay, and “Look What You Made Me Sing” also have a more energetic feel. San Juan closes out what he has dubbed Act One of Smashed by drifting through various tempo shifts on “Why Aren’t You Dancing.”

“My Little Red Tape,” “Back For Less,” and “The Little Things” concern troubled relationships but have a deceptively breezy 1960s feel that’s augmented by layered vocals and keyboards. The acoustic setting for “I’m Going To Count To Three” and “Someone’s Birthday” helps to showcase San Juan’s engaging vocals. The fantasy world of “There’s A Place” proves to be a pleasant destination, and Smashed closes with the simple but elegant “You.”

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Friday, April 28, 2017

Slumgullion

A hearty welcome to Aimee Mann, who is back in town for a show tomorrow night at Park West. She’ll no doubt be performing songs from Mental Illness, an acoustic album and her first solo effort in five years. Music critic Greg Kot has an extensive interview with Mann in today’s edition of the Chicago Tribune.

Yes, we’re going to a party, party. Paul McCartney will be celebrating my birthday on July 25 with a concert in the Chicago area. Not on my gazebo like I had hoped, but at the Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre in Tinley Park. Tickets go on sale tomorrow at 10:00 a.m.

Other concert tickets that went on sale this week include The Church at City Winery Chicago on July 3 and 4; the Alejandro Escovedo Band at SPACE on June 11, Rasputina at Subterranean on August 10; and Riot Fest on September 15 through 17.

International Pop Overthrow wraps up its 2017 visit to Chicago tomorrow with an afternoon showcase and then one later in the evening. Michael Steven Cohen from The Abbeys has a solo show at 2:00 p.m., followed by Freetoed, The Pickpockets, The Vinyl Skyway, The Red Plastic Buddha, and The Jeremy Band. The Queue kicks off at the evening showcase at 8:00 p.m., followed by Too Much Saturn, Steve Ramone and The Pensioners, Private Instigators, and The Romeros. Note: there’s a TBA in the middle of the schedule, so there’s no telling who’ll show up there. Closing out IPO - Chicago has become a tradition for The Romeros, who bring a busload of faith, er, fans to the gig.

The 33rd Chicago Latino Film Festival continues its run through next Thursday, May 4.

Penthouse Sweets will be playing songs from their new album House Of The Penthouse Sweets when they perform tomorrow night at the LiveWire Club on Milwaukee Avenue with The Safes and Means Of Production.

There must be something about the combination of Graham Nash and The Old Town School Of Folk Music that Chicagoans find appealing. Nash quickly sold out shows there for July 29 and 30, and now has added a third gig at the venue.

Alt rock band whitewolfsonicprincess hosts the latest in its series of Rock And Roll Circus events at The Red Line Tap this Sunday from 5:00 to 7:30 p.m. Vocalist Carla Hayden and guitarist-vocalist James Moeller performed at Mary-Arrchie Theatre’s Abbie Hoffman Died For Our Sins festival for several years with their Black Forest Theatre group. They’re aiming for that same freewheeling Abbie Fest vibe this Sunday. KC Chronis, The Remember Knots, and The Rolling Clones are also on the bill.

Frank Carr, a founding member of the Famous In The Future comedy group (along with David Drazin, Lake Sirmon, and myself—full disclosure) is also hoping to keep the Abbie Hoffman Died For Our Sins spirit alive. He’s the driving force behind YippieFest, which is penciled in for the weekend of August 18–20 at Prop Thtr. Carr was the only individual other than Mary-Arrchie Artistic Director Rich Cotovsky to have performed at every Abbie Fest.

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The Webstirs Rock IPO Tonight

Photo from The Webstirs’ Facebook page.

One of the benefits of going to International Pop Overthrow in any of the cities it visits is discovering new acts. There are also bands that over the years have become favorites. Unfortunately, this post is much later than it was intended to be, but if you live on the north side, you still have time to catch one of IPO - Chicago’s best acts at 11:00 p.m. tonight at The Red Line Tap.

The Webstirs' impeccable power pop instincts result in songs with clever lyrics about oddball characters and unusual situations. Their 2015 album Now You’ve Really Done It carried on that tradition with catchy and wry songs like “Saving The World” and “Farther When You Fall.” It came in at number four on the 2015 Broken Hearted Toy Favorite Releases list.

Rob Schulz, a singer-guitarist with a knack for positioning liberal sentiments within power pop arrangements, performs in the 9:30 p.m. slot, and his band will be followed by Weekend Vinyl, a power pop outfit that offers catchy songs filled with appealing arrangements and ringing guitars. Dad’s Magazine, the final act tonight, is sort of a local indie all-star group, with members who come from The Sun Sawed In 1/2, The Webstirs, and Swinger.

International Pop Overthrow has a afternoon showcase and an evening showcase at The Red Line Tap tomorrow, the final day of its 2017 visit to Chicago. See the official website for the full schedule and links to the acts involved.

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Thursday, April 27, 2017

Festivals On The Way

As noted by Jesi Roti in the Chicago Tribune earlier this week, two headline acts have been named for this year’s Taste Of Chicago. Ben Harper, whose trademark ability to blend elements of various genres into fetching indie rock songs like “Diamonds On The Inside” has brought him critical acclaim, and the quickly rising Chicago indie rock band Twin Peaks will be performing. The entire lineup will be announced on Tuesday, May 2. This week’s edition of Red Eye has the Chicago free paper’s annual massive listing of upcoming outdoor concerts, festivals, and art fairs. I always circle the events I want to go to, and then save the the schedule as an essential guide for the upcoming months.

One new festival that wasn’t included on the Red Eye list is the Kaleidoscope Eye Festival at the LiveWire lounge on September 8 and 9. For a hint of of what it will be like, drop by the Red Line Tap this Saturday. The Red Plastic Buddha is performing at 5:00 p.m. Saturday afternoon as part of International Pop Overthrow

The band has been on the front lines of Chicago’s psychedelic rock scene for years, and lead vocalist-bassist Tim Ferguson is one of the organizers of Kaleidoscope Eye, along with Gregory Curvey (that's his art at the top of this post) from the band The Luck Of Eden Hall, and photographer-journalist Lee Klawans. The Red Plastic Buddha’s last album, Songs For Mara, was an adventurous effort that came in at number four on the Broken Hearted Toy Favorite Releases of 2014.

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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

IPO’s Thursday Schedule

After tonight, there will still be three more days and four multi-act showcases to catch at The Red Line Tap as International Pop Overthrow continues its 2017 Chicago run. Thursday night’s lineup offers some familiar faces and sounds for local music fans. The Aaron Williams Band released its first album in 2008, and continues to play a mix of indie rock and pop. They’ll kick things off tomorrow night at 8:00 p.m. Boolean Knife specializes in postmodern rock and records for the Aquariphone record label.

The Spindles are a power pop act that includes guitarist-vocalist Jeff Janulis from The Abbeys. Their shows offer a mix of original tunes and cover versions that stretch back over the years. Expect harmonies from Janulis and bassist-vocalist Jerald Cross. The Spindles record for the Rubber Road label. The Red Wigglers seven-piece coed band has plenty of experience playing the Chicago area, and augments its indie rock sound with trombone, trumpet, and sax.

The Treeshakers will wrap things up with an 11:00 p.m. set. This quartet draws inspiration from fellow Chicago power pop bands Pezband, Cheap Trick, Shoes, and Material Issue, as well as British Invasion acts like The Beatles, The Hollies, The Yardbirds, and The Kinks. International Pop Overthrow continues Friday night with a six-band showcase, and there will be an afternoon and evening showcase on Saturday. See the official website for the full schedule and links to most of the acts performing.

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Monday, April 24, 2017

Record Store Day Reflections

Adam Dausch Facebook photo of Phil Angotti delivering a batch of Kinks songs.

As someone who doesn’t drive, I’ve come to regard the Reckless Records on Madison as my go-to place for Record Store Day shopping. After an hour-long train ride (in the midst of sign-wielding protesters on their way to the science march, costumed superheroes off to the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo, and Cubs fans) I arrived at the downtown Reckless Records 90 minutes before it was due to open.

Eventually, I came away with everything on my 10th Annual Record Store Day wish list except The Shelters’ “Really Wanted You” seven-inch single. My acquisitions: Epic Archives Vol. One double LP by Cheap Trick; “Want You Back” and “A Rose For Emily” singles by The Zombies; “All Day And All Of The Night” EP by The Kinks; “Strawberry Fields” single by The Beatles; the Tegan and Sara/The Regrettes “Back In Your Head” single; “Rocket Science” single by The Chills; and the Demos cassette by Paul McCartney and Elvis Costello.

Reckless Records once again ran a smooth operation, including a guy sent outside to prep the people in line and hand out free stuff. He’s been there on previous RSD occasions and is friendly and helpful. Unlike the Reckless locations on Broadway and Milwaukee Avenue, the downtown store isn’t big enough for in-store performances, but I’ve had good luck there getting the releases I want.

If Fezziwig from Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol were to throw a Record Store Day party, it would look a lot what the owners of Laurie’s Planet Of Sound on Lincoln Avenue stage each year. Without the old school dancing, of course, but there’s live music, refreshments, and plenty of merriment. This year’s eclectic lineup of in-store performances began with Ted Wulfers, whose “The Cubs Won It All In 2016” single managed an Eddie Vedder style indie rock grit and garnered airplay in the Chicago area right after the World Series. Phil Angotti’s heartfelt solo rendition of the entire The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society would make any reasonable music fan want to buy the album, and he got some help from Sweet Figurines lead vocalist Kevin McComb on “Picture Book.”

Angotti’s set of wry Brit rock observations was followed by the homespun appeal of Sanctified Grumblers, who played a mix of standard and originals on washboard, tuba, steel guitar, and other Americana instruments. The Romeros, who’ll continue their long-standing tradition of closing out International Pop Overthrow - Chicago on Saturday, April 29, dropped by Laurie’s on Record Store Day to deliver some amped-up renditions of George Michael and Wham songs. I had to leave before Sweet Figurines went on, but I caught their rousing David Bowie tribute at Laurie’s Record Store Day event last year, and I’m assuming this year’s followed suit. Dust Bunnies wrapped up the party at 5:00 p.m.

In addition to the live music, it’s always fun to see the local musicians who drop by the Laurie’s Planet Of Sound RSD bash. This year, Eric Chial from Bon Mots and Penthouse Sweets was there, as were Holly Senchak Dausch and Adam Dausch from Metropolly, and Chloe F. Orwell from The Handcuffs. Romeros frontman Mike Vanderbilt was hanging out hours before his band’s show started, and I’m sure other musicians came and went as the festivities continued.

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International Pop Overthrow Continues In Chicago

International Pop Overthrow rolls into the work week after kicking off its 2017 visit to Chicago with what appears to have been a successful weekend. Tonight’s five-band showcase at the Red Line Tap brings the fun and catchy England-to-America transplants The Unswept back for a performance at 10:15 p.m. If the band is selling any of its CDs, be sure to pick one up. Sam Vicari opens the show at 8:00 p.m., followed by Leisure McCorkle. Packy Lundholm performs at 9:30 p.m., and Reaction, a band that formed in the 1980s and recently reunited, is tonight’s headliner.

Tomorrow brings Cabin Essence, Mark Watson, Christopher Joseph Elam, and Blind Trust to the stage. Young Distractions, a trio that claims The Replacements, Husker Du, and The Ramones as influences, are tomorrow’s closer. On Wednesday, IPO vet and globe-trotting rock star Dave Rave performs, along with The Romeros frontman Mike Vanderbilt with his The Suburban Garage Sound. Collectors, another trustworthy IPO outfit, plays at 9:30 p.m., and the Tony Calderisi Band opens at 8:00 p.m. See the official International Pop Overthrow website for the full Chicago schedule through next Saturday night, along with links to most of the performers involved.

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Friday, April 21, 2017

Slumgullion

To paraphrase The Electric Prunes: Get me to the fest on time. (Yes, they had other great songs besides “I Had To Much To Dream Last Night.) Within the next few weeks, Chicago will experience C2E2 (Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo); the CIMMfest (Chicago International Movies and Music Festival) Spring Fling ThingInternational Pop Overthrow and Record Store Day, with its accompanying live shows. Plus The Rolling Stones Exhibitionism is out on Navy Pier through the end of July.

Riot Fest’s First Wave Lineup Announcement came out a few days ago. Nine Inch Nails, Queens Of The Stone Age, and Jawbreaker are the headline acts for September 15, 16, and 17 respectively, and other scheduled acts include The Cribs; The Buzzcocks; The Orwells; Paramore; Ministry; The Regrettes; Bad Brains; Dinosaur Jr.; Peaches; M.I.A.; The Mighty Mighty Bosstones; and Wu Tang Clan.

The Second Disc website has been working overtime with Record Store Day posts, but also recently reported on the upcoming release of two vintage EPs by The Paul Collins Beat. Long Long Gone and To Beat Or Not To Beat are coming out on Lollipop Records on April 28.

Graham Nash’s July 30 show at The Old Town School of Folk Music sold out immediately when it went on sale a few weeks back, so earlier this week, he added a concert there on July 29. That one has now sold out as well.

Ann Wilson from Heart has a solo tour coming underway, and her sister/bandmate Nancy has some things on her plate as well. Nancy has teamed up with vocalist Liv Warfield form Prince’s New Power Generations to form Roadcase Royale. The band’s first single, the women-empowering “Get Loud,” is now available on several digital outlets and the video can be seen on YouTube.

The 33rd Chicago Latino Film Festival opened yesterday and runs through May 4.

Kevin Lee And The Kings will be performing at the Breaking The Silence - A Benefit For Autism Awareness this Sunday, August 23, at Durty Nellie’s in Palatine. The event runs from noon to 8:00 p.m., and special VIP Floor Tables (as opposed to in the balcony) are still available for $200.

The 11th Annual Screen Test Student Fest takes place tonight and tomorrow at the Prairie Center For The Arts in Schaumburg. Presented by 3 Monkeys and Aardvark Studios and Tribeca Flashpoint College, the event will include 31 short films by students in grades five through eight, as well as by high school students around the world.

The Zombies, who are in the midst of a 50th Anniversary Odessey and Oracle Tour, have created a new animated video for the song “Care Of Cell 44,” which comes from that initially overlooked but now legendary album.

The Bishop’s Daredevil Stunt Club, Phil Angotti, and Sunshine Boys will be featured in a WNUR Power Pop Shoppe showcase being staged at The Elbo Room on Lincoln Avenue on May 19.

Penthouse Sweets will be playing songs from their new album In The House Of The Penthouse Sweets when they perform at the LiveWire Club on Milwaukee Avenue with The Safes and Means Of Production next Saturday, April 29.

Sopro Music’s 30th Annual Easter Parade Blues Revue takes place tomorrow night at Sullivan’s Night Club and Restaurant in Midlothian. Performers include The Chicago Horns, Debbie Seitz, Joey Drada, Doug Lee, and Billy King. There music starts at 9:00 p.m.

The Griffin Theatre’s production In To America, featuring stories of immigrants to America throughout the country’s history, wraps up its run at The Den Theatre this Sunday.

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RSD - Come For The Vinyl, Stay For The Jams


As the 10th Annual Record Store Day unfolds tomorrow, some stores will be augmenting the vinyl-hunting experience with live performances by local bands. In the Chicago area, Laurie’s Planet Of Sound on Lincoln Avenue; Val’s Halla in Oak Park; Vintage Vinyl in Evanston; and the Reckless Records on Broadway and Milwaukee Avenue have entertainment scheduled. It’s worthing to see if your favorite record store has anything planned.

But first, a few Record Store Day Tips:

Check the official RSD website for the full list of limited-edition releases and create a handwritten or printed list. Based on my experience in Chicago, record store employees don’t want you to hand them your smartphone—they want an actual list. They also don’t have time for any customer dithering at the counter.

Get there early. These records are limited editions, and they’re likely to sell out quickly.

Dress appropriately for the weather. You might be waiting outside in line for an extended time.

And now, here are some of the live RSD shows going on tomorrow.

Reckless Records - 1379 N. Milwaukee Avenue

2:00 p.m. Magas

3:00 p.m. OHMME

4:30 p.m. Smoking Popes

Reckless Records - 3125 N. Broadway

2:00 p.m. CARPENTERSville

3:00 p.m. Tal Sounds

4:00 p.m. Poison Arrows

Laurie’s Planet Of Sound - 4639 N. Lincoln Avenue

12:00 p.m. Ted Wulfers (performing songs from his album The Cubs Won It All in 2016

12:40 p.m. Phil Angotti and Friends perform The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society

2:00 p.m. Sanctified Grumblers

3:00 p.m. The Romeros perform the music of George Michael

4:00 p.m. Sweet Figurines perform the music of David Bowie

5:00 p.m. Dust Bunnies

Vintage Vinyl - 925 Davis Street, Evanston

12:00 p.m. Acoustic set by The Luck Of Eden Hall

Val’s Halla - 239 Harrison Street Oak Park

11:00 a.m. Mike Nutt & Charlie Bredrup from Fletcher Rockwell

12:00 p.m. Bill Kavanagh & Friends

1:00 p.m. Dead Freddies perform songs by David Bowie

2:00 p.m. Ellis Clark & Ary Jeebie

3:00 p.m. The InBetween Days

4:00 p.m. Phil Angotti

5:00 p.m. Rachel Drew

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