Monday, October 16, 2017

An Amazing Night At Martyrs'

Photo from The Amazing Heeby Jeebies Facebook page.

The Martyrs’ venue on Lincoln Avenue has been on a roll lately, with upcoming shows like The Vulgar Boatmen, Walter Salas-Humura from The Silos, and The Sunshine Boys on Thursday, October 19; Expo ’76 with The Total Pro Horns, Robert Cornelius and Susan Voelz on October 20; and a Halloween show featuring The Cells as The Smithereens, Craftwerc, The Differents, and Phil Angotti and Friends as Squeeze on October 28.

A recent four-band showcase proved to be a major success for each of the acts involved. On a bill that already offered a variety of musical styles, Samson The Aviator jumped from one genre to another within a single set. Fronted by powerful vocalist Aubrey Thornton, the quartet embellished heavy  songs with serious jamming, but also did well with alt rock numbers.Thornton was particularly impressive on a rapid-fire punk song.

The Amazing Heeby Jeebies offered original rockabilly/garage rock tunes, and also covered songs by Little Richard, The Sonics and Roky Erickson. Ary Paloma Jeebie is a versatile lead vocalist, with a stage presence that taps into 1960s a-go-go with a hint of Salome. Guitarists Bob Hyatt and Tommy “Boss X” Klein provided loads of firepower on songs like “Bad Feeling” and “She’s Just A Woman.” The Amazing Heeby Jeebies have a new album coming out soon.

Lead vocalist Chloe F. Orwell jokingly complained about following the charismatic Amazing Heeby Jeebies, but The Handcuffs, which also includes drummer Brad Elvis, easily won over the crowd with energetic and catchy tunes like “Miss You On Tuesday.” Orwell engaged the crowd in some raucous call-and-response singing on “Everybody Waves Hello” and “Gotta’ Problem With Me?” The Handcuffs are currently working on a new album.

Unfortunately, I had to leave in order to catch a bus and train back to Palatine, so I only saw one song by sci-fi rock band Tomorrow The Moon. But it was a prime example of the imaginative and powerful rock they’ve created on their recordings, and I’m hoping to catch a full set at some point.

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Friday, October 13, 2017

Slumgullion

The Logan Center Blues Fest takes place this weekend at the Reva and David Logan Center For The Arts At The University Of Chicago. The event includes workshops, film, live performances by Elvin Bishop, Eddy Clearwater, Lil’ Ed, Jimmy Johnson, Corky Siegel, Kenny “Beedy Eyes” Smith, and others. On Sunday, the Logan Center Blues Fest will co-present with CIMMFest the midwest premiere of the director John Anderson’s documentary Horn From The Heart: The Paul Butterfield Story. The film, which features David Sanborn, Bonnie Raitt, B. B. King, Bob Dylan, Maria Muldaur, Al Kooper, Corky Siegel, Elvin Bishop, Todd Rundgren, Anton Fig, and other musicians, has been raking in awards on the independent film circuit.

Tickets are now on sale for The Zombies shows on March 19 and 20 at City Winery Chicago. Hopefully, by that point, they will have been inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame.

The 53rd Chicago International Film Festival is running through October 26 at AMC River East 21, just north and east of downtown run area.

Destinos, the first Chicago International Latino Theater Festival continues this weekend with Aguijon Theater’s production of Death And The Maisen at Steppenwolf’s 1700 Theatre, The Rojas Projects’ production of Growing Up Gonzalez at Victory Gardens Theater. Chicago International Latino Theater Festival runs through October 29 at various venues in town.

Middle school kids on a field trip encounter some of Chicago’s most famous ghosts in the new musical comedy Six Stories Up – In Haunted Chicago being staged by Tellin’ Tales Theatre.  According to director/performer Tekki Lomnicki, it’s “a hilarious and thoughtful original musical featuring kids and adults with and without disabilities.” And the spirits (including Lorraine Hansberry and John Belushi) have a lot to say about the current state of Chicago. It runs this weekend and next weekend, at Filament Theatre, 4041 N. Milwaukee, Chicago.

The recently released 2-CD/2-LP For Sale - Live At Maxwell’s 1986  by The Replacements captures an 83-minute performance by the incendiary band back in its heyday. The set list includes “Hold My Life,” “Can’t Hardly Wait,” and “Kiss Me On The Bus,” along with cover versions of The Beatles’ “Nowhere Man” and The Sweet’s “Fox On The Run.” A full-page ad in Magnet magazine notes: The Replacements’ First Official Live Album (. . . recorded in front of more than 30 people).

That same issue of Magnet has an interesting feature on Elizabeth Ziman of Elizabeth And The Catapult, about their new Keepsake album. I still have fond memories of the group’s debut Taller Children and the lush indie ballad “Rainiest Day Of Summer” in particular.

The Vulgar Boatmen, a critically acclaimed Chicago band since the late 1980s, have a show coming up at Martyrs’ next Thursday, October 19. Walter Salas-Humura from The Silos is also on the bill, along with The Sunshine Boys, a new trio composed of Freda Love Smith from The Blake Babies, Dag Juhlin from The Slugs and Poi Dog Pondering, and Jacqueline Schimmel from Big Hello. The Sunshine Boys just posted on Facebook that their debut album will be out in early 2018.

Dag Juhlin returns to Martyrs’ the next night, October 20, for a show with his eccentric covers band Expo ’76, backed by The Total Pro Horns, and with special guests Robert Cornelius and Susan Voelz.

Rebecca Toon and Tommi Zender, will be performing Joni Mitchell’s entire Court And Spark album at Wishbone North next Thursday, October 19 as part of the restaurant’s Third Thursday series. Zender arranged the songs for acoustic guitar.

The Bill Graham Rock And Roll Revolution continues its run at the Illinois Holocaust Museum And Education Center at 9603 Woods Drive through Nov. 12.

The Collectors have a show coming up at the Cubby Bear in Wrigleyville next Friday, October 20. Erica Loftus of the band The Right Tidys, will be helping out on backup vocals. The Ars Nova and Superbig will also be on the bill that night.

The critically acclaimed alt rock Americana band Old 97s will be at Durty Nellie’s in Palatine on next Saturday, October 21.

This Is This, a local band that took its name from The Deer Hunter and who recorded a couple of albums of catchy originals, will be doing its final show on October 21 at Buffalo Creek Brewing in Long Grove.

The Dayna Clay Project will host the Unplugged: A Survivor’s Story In Scenes And Songs Book And Album Release - Benefit Show on Sunday, October 22 at City Winery Chicago. The event starts at 1:00 p.m. According to the Chicago Tribune, the book was inspired Kurt Cobain.

Cheap Trick plans to release a holiday album titled Christmas Christmas on October 20. The 12 songs will be a mix of original music and covers, including “Silent Night” with an arrangement by Robin Zander and Julian Raymond

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Thursday, October 12, 2017

Buffalos Bay - Living Under The Reef

Formed in Belfast back in 2015, Buffalos Bay gained fame in Ireland after releasing the catchy and satiric single “In The Factory” at the start of this year. Their six-song EP Living Under The Reef just came out and it’s immediately evident why these guys claim The Kinks and The Bee Gees as major influences. Though the emphasis is on 1960s style pop, there’s also a hint of country and western twang from time to time.

“In The Factory,” with its “Muswell Hillbillies” twang and lines like, “always sipping tea, only thinks that he’s happy,” has already illustrated how much Buffalos Bay admires the way Ray Davies can wrap stinging social observations within irresistible melodies. “In Response,” “Make A Wish,” and “Portraits Of Polly” recall the delicate melodies of early The Bee Gees and showcase the harmonies of lead singer-bassist Stuart Miskelly, and rhythm guitarist-vocalist Andy Bell. “Weeping Onion,” which is actually a happy love song, even offers that off kilter approach to lyrics often taken by the Brothers Gibb.

“Early Morning Fry,” like “In The Factory,” uses a toe-tapping country and western arrangement. The title meal is apparently a sort of breakfast sandwich people eat on farms, and the joke here is that it can make you feel better no matter what goes wrong in your life. While everything on Under The Reef is well crafted and catchy, it would be nice to see Buffalos Bay expand its repertoire with a few more energetic songs next time out.

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Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Stay - Always Here

First, a quick message before moving on to the review.

Cordial Sins, a Columbus-based, seven-piece alt rock band fronted by vocalist-synth-violin player Liz Fisher and vocalist-guitarist Corey Dickerson, have an in-store appearance coming up this Friday at the RPM Music Chicago record store. The musicians were in town for Riot Fest (attending, not performing) and during a visit to the RPM store, asked the owner if they could perform there during their next tour. I discovered the store myself last Saturday night before the Tomorrow The Moon, Handcuffs, Amazing Heeby Jeebies, and Samson The Aviator show at Martyrs, and was impressed with the selection. RPM Music Chicago is located at 1839 W. Irving Park Road; the Cordial Sins gig on Friday starts at 7:00 p.m.

Always Here is the first Fruits de Mer effort from Stay since the Barcelona-based group released Mersey Dream on the U.K. label some years back. Like that record, Always Here is an EP that’s only available on colored vinyl. This time out though, Stay adds two original tracks to go with its cover versions of 1960s gems. It arrives at a time when Stay has also released a full-length effort titled Mean Solar Times on Picture In My Ear Records.

Although brand new, the melodic title track “Always Here” exudes the peaceful vibes and psychedelic instrumentation of late 1960s rock. It offers a message of support, as well as the intriguing line, “I need another angel, but my heaven isn’t here.” The other original, “You Know It’s Right,” also proves Stay has learned a lot from listening to music from that era, as its jangling guitars and lush harmonies evoke The Byrds.

A faithful (pun intended) take on “Every Christian Lion Hearted Man Will Show You,” from the first Bee Gees album, proves these guys even know the more obscure stuff. They don’t duplicate the original’s monk chanting, but some organ playing adds a church element. Keyboards also figure prominently in a rollicking version of The Kinks’ “Where Have All The Good Times Gone?” as well as a cover of “Rock And Roll Woman” that does Buffalo Springfield proud.

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Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Incoming!

The 53rd Chicago International Film Festival runs from this Thursday through October 26 at AMC River East 21, just north and east of the downtown area. In addition to screening movies from every imaginable genre and location, the event will offer tributes to Patrick Stewart of Star Trek: The Next Generation and X-Men fame, and iconic English actress Vanessa Redgrave. Regular screenings are $15; special presentations are $20; there are discounts for seniors or students; and multiple-show passes are available.

The Laureates have a rare live gig coming up this Thursday night at The Empty Bottle. The Chicago-based band has successfully drawn upon UK acts like The Who and The Kinks for inspiration on three full-length albums and a pair of EPs, and will have a new effort titled And Then Not Even Then available on Bandcamp earlier that day. A video for the song “Toys” (be forewarned, several were harmed during the filming) showcases lead singer Chad Preston’s distinctive vocals and The Laureates’ signature jangling guitar sound. Cross Country and Innkeepers are also on the bill this Thursday at The Empty Bottle.

Also on Thursday, Music On Stage begins its run of Little Shop Of Horrors at Cutting Hall in Palatine. Broadway actress and Tony Award nominee Felicia P. Fields will be providing the voice of Audrey II, and the play will be directed and choreographed by Frank Roberts, with musical direction by Bobby Dietz.

Middle school kids on a field trip encounter some of Chicago’s most famous ghosts in the new musical comedy Six Stories Up – In Haunted Chicago being staged by Tellin’ Tales Theatre. According to director/performer Tekki Lomnicki, it’s “a hilarious and thoughtful original musical featuring kids and adults with and without disabilities.” And the spirits (including Lorraine Hansberry and John Belushi) have a lot to say about the current state of Chicago. It runs this weekend and next weekend, at Filament Theatre, 4041 N. Milwaukee, Chicago.

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Friday, October 6, 2017

Slumgullion

The recently announced 2018 Rock And Roll Of Fame nominees form a 19-artist list that reaches back to 1930s gospel singer-guitarist Sister Rosetta Tharpe and includes mainstream rock, new wave, rap, British Invasion, jazz, funk, reggae, heavy metal, techno, and prog rock. A good case could be made that most of these act were catalysts of their particular genre—The Meters, Judas Priest, Rufus featuring Chaka Khan, Nina Simone, Link Wray, LL Cool J, Kate Bush, The Moody Blues—as well as being popular.

As noted by Patrick Ryan in USA Today, The Zombies, The Cars, MC5, Depeche Mode, and J Geils Band, are all back in contention after previously not making the cut. First time nominees Bon Jovi, Dire Straits, and Eurythmics are finally being considered, while Radiohead and Rage Against The Machine have been nominated in their first year of eligibility. It’s hard to pick, but I’m definitely rooting for The Zombies and The Cars.

Martyrs’ on Lincoln Avenue has an eclectic four-act event coming up tomorrow night that looks like it will be a lot of fun. The Handcuffs, led by vocalist-guitarist Chloe F. Orwell and drummer Brad Elvis (who also performs with The Romantics), always a offer festive mix of originals and occasional well-chosen cover. Sci-fi rock outfit Tomorrow The Moon features the impressive Steve Gerlach (he’s also in the Sons Of The Silent Age David Bowie tribute act) on lead vocals and guitar. The Amazing Heeby Jeebies perform spooky rockabilly/garage rock songs that make every gig a Halloween party.

Metric, the techno/rock band that has given us great songs like “Monster Hospital,” will be releasing a concert triple LP, Blu Ray, DVD package in March next year. Dreams So Real was recorded on the last date of its 2016 Lights On The Horizon tour. Autographed copies are now available for pre-order on the Pledge Music website.

The Fab Faux will be performing A Hard Day’s Night in its entirety, along with other Beatles tunes tomorrow night atThe Vic Theatre.

Phil Angotti and Friends will be celebrating John Lennon’s birthday on Monday, October 9 at Martyrs. Also at that same venue next week: The Vulgar Boatmen; Walter Salas-Humura from The Silos; and The Sunshine Boys on Thursday, and Expo ’76 with The Total Pro Horns with special guests Robert Cornelius and Susan Voelz on Friday.

The 53rd Chicago International Film Festival runs from next Thursday, October 12 through October 26 at AMC River East 21, just north and east of the downtown area. In addition to screening movies from every imaginable genre and location, the event will offer tributes to Patrick Stewart of Star Trek: The Next Generation and X-Men fame, and iconic English actress Vanessa Redgrave. Regular screenings are $15, special presentations are $20, and there discounts for seniors or students, and multiple-show passes are available.

The Laureates, a local band that has released a pair of full-length albums and recorded a number of interesting cover versions that could be downloaded from their website, will be at The Empty Bottle next Thursday, October 12.

Rebecca Toon and Tommi Zender, will be performing Joni Mitchell’s entire Court And Spark album at Wishbone North on October 19 as part of the restaurant’s Third Thursday series. Zender arranged the songs for acoustic guitar.

Ron Onesti, who’s been doing a bang-up job of bringing acts like Graham Nash, The Smithereens, The Romantics, Marshall Crenshaw, Steven Wright, Shoes, Pezband, Dwight Twilley, Off Broadway, and Micky Dolenz to The Arcada Theatre in St. Charles, has announced plans to create a Chicago Music Hall Of Fame. Honorees would stretch from the formative days of jazz and blues in the 1930s, through the folk and pop music of the 1960s, to more recents acts that have made Chicago proud. Considering Onesti’s organzational skills, it will be interesting to follow how this project comes along.

Tom Petty’s sudden death earlier this week left fans and fellow musicians alike struggling to process the news. Several turned to social media to express memories of the terrific songs he recorded and the live shows he performed. Those who worked with him described him as always friendly and a class act. I first heard Tom Petty on WXRT in Chicago, and was inspired to buy his self-titled debut album. Tracks like “Breakdown” and “Roclin' Aroound (Witrh You)” are still regarded as classics today. I only saw him perform once, on a double bill with Elvis Costello at The Riviera Theatre in 1979, but it was enough to set me on a course of following his music throughout the rest of his career.

The Bill Graham Rock And Roll Revolution continues its run at the Illinois Holocaust Museum And Education Center at 9603 Woods Drive through Nov. 12.

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Thursday, October 5, 2017

An Adventurous Rock And Roll Event

There’s a four-band showcase coming up this Saturday night at Martyrs’ on Lincoln Avenue that taps into a variety of genres. Samson The Aviator describes its music as a love child of grunge and funk, and the coed quartet adds a hard edge to melodic tunes like “Big Top Bill” and “Tempest.” The Handcuffs, led by vocalist-guitarist Chloe F. Orwell and drummer Brad Elvis (who also performs with The Romantics), have released three albums filled with catchy indie rock songs, and it’s a safe bet the one they’re currently working on will follow suit. Their live performances are always a fun mix of originals along with an occasional well-chosen cover like Mott The Hoople’s “All The Way To Memphis” and The Kinks’ “Lola.”

Tomorrow The Moon, led by vocalist-guitarist Steve Gerlach (he’s also in the Sons Of The Silent Age David Bowie tribute act and was a long-time member of The Bad Examples), have released two EPs and a full-length album of imaginative and highly melodic sci-fi rock. Their live show is sure to be impressive. The Amazing Heeby Jeebies have established a loyal following on the club scene with fun rockabilly/garage songs like “Loupe Garou” and “Mummy” that make every gig a Halloween party. Martyrs’ is located at 3855 N. Lincoln Avenue, the show kicks off at 8:45 p.m. Admission is $12.00.

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Wednesday, October 4, 2017

The Chemistry Set - Lovely Cuppa Tea

Veteran English prog/psychedelic rock band The Chemistry Set continues its mutually beneficial relationship with Fruits der Mer with the release of the Lovely Cuppa Tea EP. It follows the 2015 full-length LP The Endless More And More, which also came out on the U.K. vinyl-only indie label. The new seven-inch record, sporting FdM’s customary color vinyl, also includes “The Rubicon” and a cover of The Moody Blues’ “Legend Of A Mind.”

“Lovely Cuppa Tea” is a quintessential British pop song, brimming with clever rhymes about the magical powers of the title brew, and is set to a catchy arrangement. The high-energy and psychedelic “The Rubicon” protests against the current political climate while simultaneously proclaiming, “Let love shine bright into your day.” By covering “Legend Of A Mind,” The Chemistry Set returns to the subject of LSD after paying tribute to the drug’s creator on their own “Albert Hoffman” on The Endless More And More. It’s faithful to the original, but also adds its own touches, like a spoken word bit, and festive horns.

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Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Thrift Store Halo - Pop-Rocket

It’s been almost two decades since Thrift Store Halo released its full-length debut World Gone Mad, which was an impressive collection of power pop tunes. The world has gone on during that time, and the Chicago-based trio seems to have made a conscious move toward what’s currently topping the charts. The six-song EP Pop-Rocket accomplishes that goal, although fans who still fondly remember World Gone Mad may be surprised by the alt-rock feel this time around.

There’s more of an edge to lead vocalist-bassist Frank Gradishar’s singing, and new guitarist Lance Tawzer adds some appealing backup vocals. Gradishar conveys an emotional frustration on “Get Over You” and “(Love By) Misadventure,” which depict crumbling relationships. Particularly on lines like, “I was never sentimental/My love for you was accidental.”

He’s just as believable on “Let’s Not Wait,” a celebration of discovering a new romance. The song’s more playful instrumentation is also a welcome change from the mid-tempo pace the dominates Pop-Rocket elsewhere. “Stay Away” also stands out; matching jabs like “Every time I’m near you I’m reminded you’re insane” with a guitar-driven, energetic arrangement.

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Friday, September 29, 2017

Slumgullion

Congratulations to the Chicago Cubs on winning their division for the second year in row and making the playoffs for the third year in a row. That kind of thing happens to this team about, oh, once in a century.

According to various reports in the media, actor Bill Murray is hoping to portray manager Joe Maddon in a movie about the Cubs’ 2016 championship season. In the meantime, Murray has a gig with acclaimed cello player Jan Vogler at the Chicago Symphony Center on October 10. The full-page ad in this week’s Chicago Reader notes the show will offer a “spirited evening of music and literature” and “readings of classic American poetry and prose.”

The music documentary Let’s Play Two! Pearl Jam Live At Wrigley Field is now showing at Arclight Chicago on Clybourn Avenue. Sun-Times movie critic Ricard Roeper gave it 4 stars, while Chicago Tribune music critic Greg Kot gave it 2 and a half stars.

The third annual Irish American Movie Hooley kicked off tonight at the Gene Siskel Film Center and will run through this Sunday. The films The Dunning Man, Emerald City, and The Young Offenders will be screened.

Chicago Book Expo takes place this Sunday from noon to 5:00 p.m. at Columbia College Chicago, 1104 S. Wabash Avenue. The free event promises 20 programs and over 80 exhibitors.

Local alt rock band whitewolfsonicprincess will host a night of rock and roll at The Store venue at 2002 N. Halsted in Chicago tomorrow. Parallelicopter and The Remember Knots will also be performing. Earlier in the day, whitewolfsonicprincess will do a 3:00 p.m. show as part of Project Adoptable’s The Doggone Music Festival at IO Theater on Kingsbury in Chicago. Admission is $20, which includes a drink. Project Adoptable is celebrating its first year of saving dogs through adoption.

Chris Hillman, an original member of The Byrds, will be performing along with Herb Pedersen and John Jorgensen next Friday, October 6, at The Old Town School Of Folk Music on Lincoln Avenue.

The Fab Faux will be performing A Hard Day’s Night in its entirety, along with other Beatles tunes next Saturday, October 7 at The Vic Theatre.

Martyrs’ on Lincoln Avenue has an eclectic four-act event coming up next Saturday. October 7 with the sci-fi, high energy music of Tomorrow The Moon, the catchy, coed indie rock of The Handcuffs, the rockabilly sound of The Amazing Heeby Jeebies, and the hard rock/punk of Samson The Aviator.

The Dayna Clay Project will host the Unplugged: A Survivor’s Story In Scenes And Songs Book And Album Release - Benefit Show on Sunday, October 22 at City Winery Chicago. The event starts at 1:00 p.m. According to the Chicago Tribune, the book was inspired Kurt Cobain.

Cheap Trick plans to release a holiday album titled Christmas Christmas on October 20. The 12 songs will be a mix of original music and covers, including “Silent Night” with an arrangement by Robin Zander and Julian Raymond.

This Is This, a local band that took its name from The Deer Hunter and who recorded a couple of albums of catchy originals, will be doing its final show on October 21 at Buffalo Creek Brewing in Long Grove.

The 53rd Chicago International Film Festival runs from October 12 to 26 at AMC River East 21, just north and east of the downtown area. In addition to screening movies from every imaginable genre and location, the event will offer tributes to Patrick Stewart of Star Trek: The Next Generation and X-Men fame, and iconic English actress Vanessa Redgrave. Regular screenings are $15; special presentations are $20; there are discounts for seniors or students; and multiple-show passes.

Tickets went on sale today for the Celebrating David Bowie concert with Mike Garson, Adrian Belew, Gerry Leonard and others on February 23 at The Vic. Also available: Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds at Chicago Theatre on February 24; Rhett Miller and Matthew Ryan at City Winery Chicago November 30; Badfinger’s Straight Up performed live with Joey Molland at City Winery Chicago on November 20; Morrissey at the Riviera Theatre on November 25; and Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters on February 20 at The Riviera Theatre.

Congratulations to the organizers of Minstrelpalooza on a successful third installment of celebrating the Minstrels music store. The crowd at Durty Nellie’s in Palatine last Saturday was in a festive mood for a series of 30-minute sets by The Gus Adonis Band; Cracked Actor; Cliff Johnson With The Raine; Van Go; and others.

There’s a new expanded edition of XTC’s Black Sea album on the way, according to writer Mike Duquette on The Second Disc website. The bonus material will include seven additional songs, including the previously unreleased “Let’s Ban The Bomb” and the non-LP single “Take This Town,” as well as videos for “Towers Of London,” “Generals And Majors,” and “Respectable Street.” Duquette also notes that people in the U.K. will be able to watch a new XTC documentary called This Is Pop on October 7.

As noted by staff writer Nina Metz in the Chicago Tribune, Chicago performers Chris Redd and Luke Null have been added to the cast of Saturday Night Live. Writer Gary Richardson will also be joining the show, which has its season premiere tomorrow night.

As listed in the new issue of the Illinois Entertainer, new albums are due out in October from Liam Gallagher on the 6th; and from Beck, Robert Plant, St. Vincent, and Tegan and Sara on the 13th. The October issue of I.E. also has Tom Lanham’s interview with Little Steven Van Zandt; a positive review of the new Sticks and Stones album by Kevin Lee And The Kings; and a full-page ad for the 4th Annual Chicagoland Vintage Guitar Show, which takes place November 19 at the Copernicus Center. Admission is $5.

I’ve been wondering what Matt Smith has been up to since his successful take on The Doctor on Doctor Who, so I was glad to see he’s now portraying Philip, Duke Of Edinburg in the Sony Pictures television series The Crown.

Music On Stage will present Little Shop Of Horrors, featuring Broadway actress and Tony Award nominee Felicia P. Fields as the voice of Audrey II, at Cutting Hall in Palatine starting October 14. The play will be directed and choreographed by Frank Roberts, with musical direction by Bobby Dietz.

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Thursday, September 28, 2017

Benefits And Other Music News

As on previous occasions dating back to George Harrison and The Concert For Bangladesh, musicians are coming to the aid of those affected by a natural disaster. Several entertainers are gathering at the El Portal Theatre in North Hollywood, CA this evening to help the SAG/AFTRA Hurricane Relief Fund. Hosted by Wendy Liebman and Fritz Coleman, Deep In The Heart will offer music and comedy for a good cause.

Performers include Micky Dolenz of The Monkees, Vicki Peterson of The Bangles, Jeff Alan Ross from Badfinger, Marcy Levy, The Nasty Housewives, Rockabilly Hall Of Fame inductee Bobby Cochran, Rebecca Holden, Alex Sherman, Chris Olsen, country singer Chely Wright, and Denny Seiwell from Paul McCartney’s former band Wings. Laurence Juber, who was also a member of Wings, will serve as musical director.

Comedians Carol Leifer, Orny Adams, Brian Kiley, Chris Fonseca, John Mendoza, Jared Sandler, and Karen Rontkpwski will also be on hand. The event starts at 7:00 p.m. Ticket prices for Deep In The Heart range from $25 to $100, with all proceeds going to help the victims of hurricanes Harvey and Irma. I couldn’t find any mention of how people not at the event could donate money, but hopefully that’s an option.

Regular listeners of WXRT are accustomed to hearing Terri Hemmert’s Breakfast With The Beatles program each Sunday, but this week, the fab four will also get the Friday Featured Artist treatment. That means songs by The Beatles or from their solo efforts will be mixed in with tomorrow’s regular programming. It’s not as intensive as when Hemmert used to host the marathon Rampant Beatlemania, but it’s still more John, Paul, George, and Ringo to enjoy.

In other WXRT news, the station’s Local Anesthetic program will wrap up its decades-long run with the annual holiday broadcast in December. Richard Milne deserves a great deal of praise for serving as the host over the years and showcasing Chicago’s vibrant, multifaceted music scene. He will continue his other on-air work at WXRT.

Local alt rock band whitewolfsonicprincess will host a night of rock and roll at The Store venue at 2002 N. Halsted in Chicago this Saturday, September 30. Parallelicopter and The Remember Knots will also be performing that night. Earlier that day, whitewolfsonicprincess will do a 3:00 p.m. show as part of Project Adoptable’s The Doggone Music Festival  at IO Theater on Kingsbury in Chicago. Admission is $20, which includes a drink. Project Adoptable is celebrating its first year of saving dogs through adoption.

Congratulations to Sunshine Boys, the recently formed trio of Freda Love Smith, Jacqueline Schimmel, and Dag Juhlin, on selling out its show with Utah Carol at Daly Barn this Saturday, September 30 in the Lincoln Square neighborhood.

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Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Green Circles – No Room For Squares

Green Circles aren’t well known outside their homeland of Australia, but the recently released No Room For Squares (available on Kool Kat Musik) shows it’s definitely worth getting to know them. The compilation reaches back to the band’s birth in 1998, includes tracks from various artists tribute albums they’ve been invited to contribute to, as well as some live performances recorded in 2013. Various lineups have come and gone over the years while Mark Gilbert remained at the helm.

Gilbert and company are so proficient at psychedelic and garage rock, it would be easy to assume No Room For Squares dates back to the late 1960s. A rampaging take on The Stooges’ “1969” reinforces that impression. “Let Me Through” has a Beatles Revolver era allure and “Long Live Sivanandi”—originally recorded by the Adelaide band Inside Looking Out—vibrates with a hippie spirituality. “Stephanie Comes” is a prime example of what Gilbert calls “pastoral psyche tunes,” and “Flown” is an exotic fable.

Green Circles, who took their name from a Small Faces song, are especially fun on the high-speed garage rock tracks. “Girl In A Morris Minor,” their official first release, and “Elevator Operator” set goofy metaphors to catchy, 1960s style arrangements, while “Tomorrow Will Be Fine,” a cover of a 1981 song originally released by fellow Aussies Sunny Boys, explodes with the feeling of losing control. The live renditions of “Kneejerk Reaction,” “Dirty Taste,” and “Five Blue Moons” prove Green Circles has remained at full power over the years.

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Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Sidewalk Society - Strange Roads (The Songs Of Rolled Gold By The Action)

Sidewalk Society’s fascination with The Action first surfaced on a seven-inch single they recorded for the U.K. vinyl-only label Fruits de Mer in 2016. That record offered four splendid cover versions—two originally done by David Bowie and two from The Action. Bowie, of course is famous around the world, but The Action was a short-lived Mod band in 1960s England that dissolved before it could release what might have been its masterpiece.

The Long Beach, CA-based Sidewalk Society delves even deeper into its Action obsession with a new Fruits de Mer release driven by vintage demos of that lost album. Strange Roads (The Songs of Rolled Gold by The Action) is a well-crafted tribute, although a few tracks, like “Brain” and “Little Boy,” fall prey to the more quaint or self-absorbed aspects of 1968. Listening to the peppy vocals on “Things You Cannot See,” it’s easy to imagine the band members in matching blazers and turtleneck sweaters.

Fortunately, the rest of Strange Roads demonstrates the timeless power of psychedelic rock when it’s done right. “Look At The View,” which was also on Sidewalk Society’s earlier four-song single, is a celebration of nature set to a catchy, guitar and piano arrangement, while the extended instrumental passage on “Love Is All” evokes the Who. The band also cuts loose on the galloping fable “Follow Me.” Sidewalk Society likewise succeeds with its lighter material, adding gorgeous harmonies to “Really Doesn’t Matter” and combining powerful rock with a spiritual message to “Come Around.”

To see how well Sidewalk Society can do with its own material, check out my August 24, 2016 review of their Venus, Saturn And The Crescent Moon LP.

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Friday, September 22, 2017

Slumgullion

Photo from the Sons of the Silent Age Facebook page.

Depending on what time you read this, you might still be able to catch some impressive covers of David Bowie tunes by the Sons Of The Silent Age tribute act at Wire in Berwyn tonight. This time out, they’ll be concentrating on the years 1969-1974. New, a tribute a tribute act honoring the 1970s German electronic rock outfit Neu!, will also be on the bill; music starts at 9:00 p.m. Sons of the Silent Age guitarist Steve Gerlach (he’s also in sci-fi rockers Tomorrow The Moon) will be a guest on WNUR-FM 89.3 in Evanston on October 12, at 11:00 a.m. 

The Brooklyn Brewery MASH is promising “a wind-in-your-hair, seat-of-your-pants, highwire-act of a beer bash” called Beer Mansion tonight and tomorrow night at Morgan’s on Fulton. In addition to lots of craft beer, food vendors, games, art, tech, and mysteries, Beer Mansion will have live music by Deeper Connections, Negative Scanner, and Peter Stringer-Hye.


Durty Nellie’s in Palatine will rocking in the daytime tomorrow with a seven-hour event titled Minstrelpalooza. Subtitled The Very Best of ’81, this celebration of the Minstrels music store in Niles will feature the bands Cracked Actor; Cliff Johnson And The Raine; Van Go; The Adonis Experience; and probably a few other bands. Admission is free.

I should have posted the three bits above earlier in the week, but I had to finish a new chapter of my YA/paranormal/romance/rock and roll novel for a monthly meeting of the writers group I belong to last night. You read it here first: If I ever do get this book published, I’ll be the most famous rock and roll novelist in a retirement home.

Durty Nellie’s has booked the critically acclaimed alt rock/Americana band Old 97s for an 8:00 p.m. show on October 21. Admission is $25. This is a particularly ambitious move for the club, so I hope it draws a big crowd.

Classic Album Sundays Chicago presents Bjork’s Homogenic this Sunday at the Saturday Audio Exchange on Belmont. A pre-album playlist kicks things off at 5:30 p.m. and then the Bjork business starts at 6:45. It’s a BYOB event.

Some rock critics actually do get books published. Long-time journalist Bill Paige has published a book titled Everything I Know I Learned From Rock Stars - Conversations 1975 – 1995. It’s a compilation of interviews and articles that includes coverage of Queen, Cheap Trick, ELO, and other acts. Paige was the editor when I had some reviews and articles published in the midwest publication The Prairie Sun back in the early 1980s.

Congratulations to long-time Chicago Tribune rock critic Greg Kot on his biography of Mavis Staples being chosen by the city of Chicago for its One Book, One Chicago reading series. Kot’s 2014 work I’ll Take You There: Mavis Staples, the Staple Singers and the March Up Freedom’s Highway celebrates the life of the iconic soul singer and her family. 

Local alt rock band whitewolfsonicprincess will host a night of rock and roll at The Store venue at 2002 N. Halsted in Chicago on September 30. Parallelicopter and The Remember Knots will also be performing that night.

The Laureates, a local band that has released a pair of full-length albums and recorded a number of interesting cover versions for a series of downloads on their website, will be at The Empty Bottle on October 12.

Cross Country and Innkeepers will share a double bill with Sunshine Boys, the recently formed and volatile trio of rock veterans Freda Love Smith, Jacqueline Schimmel, and Dag Juhlin at Daly Barn next  Saturday, September 30 in the Lincoln Square neighborhood. Utah Carol will also be on the bill; music starts at 7:30.

Martyrs’ on Lincoln Avenue has an eclectic four-act event coming up on October 7 with the sci-fi, high energy music of Tomorrow The Moon, the catchy, coed indie rock of The Handcuffs, the rockabilly sound of The Amazing Heeby Jeebies, and the hard rock/punk of Samson The Aviator.

The Collectors have a show coming up at the Cubby Bear in Wrigleyville on October 20. Erica Loftus of the band The Right Tidys, will be helping out on backup vocals. The Ars Nova and Superbig will also be on the bill that night.

Just a reminder that the Bill Graham Rock And Roll Revolution continues its run at the Illinois Holocaust Museum And Education Center at 9603 Woods Drive. Graham was an iconic music promoter who brought big names bands to the Fillmore concert venue in San Francisco, and later to the Fillmore East in New York. He is credited with helping the careers of Janis Joplin, The Grateful Dead, The Who, and Jimi Hendrix. The exhibition runs through Nov. 12.

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Friday, September 15, 2017

Slumgullion

Photo from the Official Smthereens Facebook page.

A hearty welcome to all who have come to Chicago for Riot Fest this weekend. It’s probably the city’s last major outdoor rock festival of 2017, and one that still enjoys a good deal of cred among true indie rock fans. This year’s lineup includes New Order; X; The Cribs; Buzzcocks; The Regrettes; and The Orwells. You can find loads of information on the various acts performing in today’s Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times, as well as in the Redeye and Reader free papers. Innerview magazine devoted an entire issue to Riot Fest, but there may not be any copies still around. And, as revealed in a article by Ed Blair in this week’s Reader, Riot Fest has its own online magazine. You’ll find the link at the top of the official website. 

On a related note, the Buzzcocks have an Official Riot Fest Late Night Show at The Cobra Lounge at 235 N. Ashland tomorrow night. Doors open at 10:00 p.m.; the music starts at 11:00.

EXPO Chicago opened at Navy Pier earlier this week and will run through Sunday. This is the sixth year for the international art event, and over 3,500 artists and 135 galleries will be involved. In addition to art and sculpture, there will panel discussions, films, and videos.

There will be a double dose of high-energy power pop at The Arcada in St. Charles tomorrow night when Cliff Johnson and The Raine open for The Smithereens. Johnson was the lead vocalist and driving force of Off Broadway, a Chicago-based band whose debut On remains a classic of the genre to this day. Off Broadway enjoyed several successful years on the club scene, but Johnson is now backed by The Raine, who also got their start in the 80s. I saw The Smithereens not too long ago in Schaumburg and they’re a top-notch live act. In addition to their own hits like “Blood And Roses” and “Behind The Wall Of Sleep,” they cover The Beatles and The Who. 

West Loop Art Fest is back for its third year but has a new location. It’s now on Fulton Street, from Morgan to Racine. Over 120 artists will be showcasing their work, and there will also be live entertainment and food trucks.

Tickets are now on sale for a concert by The Posies on January 31, 2018 at City Winery Chicago. In the less distant future, Fastball will be playing that same venue on October 8 of this year.

Congratulations to Park West on its 40th Anniversary. The Lincoln Park venue took out a back page ad for this week’s Reader, listing some of the artists it has hosted over the years, and it’s quite impressive. Ringo Starr And His All Starr Band; Adele; Talking Heads; R.E.M.; U2; Patti Smith; INXS; B.B.King; Prince; Carly Simon; Bob Dylan; Stray Cats; Mavis Staples; The B-52’s; The Jam; The Strokes; OMD; Tina Turner; Roy Orbison; Iggy Pop; Steve Winwood; Tom Waits; Liam Gallagher; Genesis; The Go-Go’s; The Police; Todd Rundgren; The Pretenders; The Psychedelic Furs; Frank Zappa; and Cheap Trick make up less than half of the list. Some first-rate acts I’ve seen at Park West that weren’t included in the ad are The Smithereens; Matthew Sweet, Fountains Of Wayne; Jon Auer; Graham Nash; Material Reissue; Let’s Active; and Aimee Mann.

Sons Of The Silent Age, a highly polished David Bowie tribute band that comprises veterans of the Chicago rock scene, has a gig coming next Friday, September 22 at Wire in Berwyn. New, a tribute a tribute act honoring the 1970s German electronic rock outfit Neu!, will also be on the bill.

Sunshine Boys, the recently formed trio of Freda Love Smith, Jacqueline Schimmel, and Dag Juhlin, will be performing at Daly Barn on Saturday, September 30 in the Lincoln Square neighborhood. Utah Carol will also be on the bill; music starts at 7:30. This is the first official headlining show for Sunshine Boys, although they did an impressive short set of politically charged, energetic tunes as part of the Power Pop Shoppe Showcase at Elbo Room a while back.

Martyrs’ on Lincoln Avenue has an eclectic four-act event coming up on October 7 with the sci-fi, high energy music of Tomorrow The Moon, the catchy, coed indie rock of The Handcuffs, the rockabilly sound of The Amazing Heeby Jeebies, and the hard rock/punk of Samson The Aviator. The show starts at 8:30 p.m.

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Thursday, September 14, 2017

Power Pop Showcases

Photo from the Official Shoes Facebook page.

When The Smithereens play The Arcada this Saturday night with opening act Cliff Johnson and The Raine, it will the second power pop showcase at the St. Charles venue in the past two months. Also coming up, WNUR radio personality Kirk Fox will host his second Power Pop Shoppe Showcase on October 20 at the Elbo Room on Lincoln Avenue in Chicago. The Bishops’ Daredevil Stunt Club, The Addisons, The Peeves, and The Mark Watson Band will be performing.

In that vein, here’s a long overdue look at the August 11 triple bill of Pezband, Shoes, and Dwight Twilley at The Arcada.

Some bands hate being labeled as power pop, believing it suggests a lack of originality or confines them to a bygone era. The kiss of death in terms of marketing. Other acts, as well as their fans, see power pop as a simple equation: melody + energy = fun music. To be sure, its main inspiration comes from the mid-1960s, but in the right hands, power pop holds up as well as any current type of music.

A recent event at The Arcada Theatre in St. Charles featured three bands that have been flying the power pop banner for decades and are still among the genre’s most vital practitioners. The Chicago-based Pezband performed “Baby It’s Cold Outside,” “Please Be Somewhere Tonight,” and “Close Your Eyes” from a 1977 self-titled debut that helped put power pop on the map. Vocalist-guitarist Mimi Betinis, bassist John Pazdan and drummer Mick Rain also rocked through the melodic gems “Stop, Wait A Minute,” and “Lovesmith.” It was a pleasant surprise to see Betinis cutting loose on guitar on a number of songs.

After opening with the hard-driving and sensual “Animal Attraction” from their 2012 Ignition album, Shoes proved they’ve lost none of their pop instincts. The band’s set list stretched back to “Okay” from their self-released Black Vinyl Shoes in 1977 to the exquisite “Heaven Help Me” and the swaggering fun of “Hot Mess” from Ignition. Other highlights included “Too Late” and “Tomorrow Night” from their Elektra debut Present Tense, “Burned Out Love” from Tongue Twister, and the dreamy “Summer Rain.” Their final encore was a blistering take on “I Don’t Miss You."

Dwight Twilley is best known for the hits “I’m On Fire” and “Boys,” and his knack for melodic and energetic songs has influenced several musicians. He also worked extensively with Tom Petty for a while. At The Arcada, he was joined by special guest Ron Flynt from 20/20, the Los Angeles-based band that created power pop gems like “Remember The Lightning.” Twilley has an amiable, funny stage presence, and he spun interesting tales between catchy tunes like “Some People Have All The Luck” and Playing With Fire.” He brought this evening of classic power pop to a rousing finale with an extended performance of “Girls.”

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Wednesday, September 13, 2017

The Morning Line - Smoke

The Morning Line returns after an absence of eight years, with singer-songwriter Stephen Smith still at the helm. The seven tracks on the San Francisco-based quartet’s recently released Smoke EP reflect Smith’s background on the indie rock scene in bands like Salem 66 and Green Magnet School. There’s also a hint of Americana music running through this series of emotionally charged tales set to exquisite melodies.

The mostly acoustic “Last One Of The Losers” works fine in a literal sense, but it’s also possible that Smith intends this detailed portrait of a club owner shutting down his business as a metaphor for a relationship that’s run its course. The mid-tempo “Stars To Me” likewise has a symbolic feel to it, but there’s no mistaking the barbed observations of big city life in “Los Angeles.” It’s also probably the only song with a reference to working at the since departed Tower Records.

“Only Game In Town,” an energetic tune reminiscent of Gin Blossoms, gives us a guy who’s fed up with his unpredictable girlfriend, her relatives, and the boring people who live in the area. “Anybody Else” and “All Mine” also brim with negative sentiments, but The Morning Line gives them irresistible, power pop-meets-Americana arrangements. Smoke is available for download on the group’s Bandcamp site, which is where you can also buy a limited edition version on cassette.

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Monday, September 11, 2017

Keepers Of The Multicolored Flame

Photo of The Red Plastic Buddha by Lee Klawans.

After the first two bands performed at the Kaleidoscope Eye Festival Of Modern Psychedelia this past Saturday night, it was apparent that psychedelic rock is not strictly a baby boomers’ fascination. Diagonal and White Shape both comprise young musicians fully immersed in the genre. White Shape even organizes a psych rock festival in its hometown of Rockford, IL.

Created by Tim Ferguson from The Red Plastic Buddha; Gregory Curvey from The Luck Of Eden Hall, and journalist/photographer Lee Klawans, Kaleidoscope Eye brought 15 bands from around the country to the LiveWire Lounge on Chicago’s north side. Seven bands, including The Luck Of Eden Hall, played on Friday night, and eight performed on Saturday. I’m not sure if Ferguson has run an event like this before, but during the three-plus hours I was at LiveWire Saturday, he took to the role quite naturally. In addition to introducing each act, he helped move gear off and on the stage after each set ended.

A playlist of psychedelic music ranging from 1960s acts like Count Five to current practitioners kept the vibe going between live performances. Each band benefited from imaginative lighting and swirling visuals crafted by the same tech duo that provided first-rate sound quality throughout the evening. A merchandise table sold CDs, posters, and t-shirts of the various groups involved, and there was a sense of community in seeing so many of the musicians hanging out before and after their shows.

Diagonal, led by charismatic lead vocalist Andy Ryan, was equally proficient at crafting atmospheric dreamscapes and high energy numbers. White Shape singer-keyboards player Kayla Hall’s haunting vocals were woven into hypnotic arrangements and the band would also break loose with some hard-hitting instrumentation. Constantine, which has a longtime loyal following on the midwest club scene, dressed in flower power inspired outfits, and their well-crafted arrangements evoked Traffic by tapping into elements of jazz.

The Red Plastic Buddha once again proved it’s capable of recreating the adventurous songs vocalist-bassist Tim Ferguson composed for their albums. Guitarist Derik Kendall fueled each number but all the band members played with precision and power. They opened with “She’s An Alien” from the Songs For Mara album and followed with a number of freewheeling, psychedelic songs. I couldn’t stay for the the sets by The Orange Pop, Magic Castles, Warhorses, and Sisters Of Your Sunshine Vapor, but it’s a safe bet they carried on in mind-bending fashion.

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Friday, September 8, 2017

Slumgullion

It was a pleasant surprise when WXRT air personality Johnny Mars introduced a new song by U2 the other day. The melodic “You’re The Best Thing About Me” will be on a new album titled Songs Of Experience due out in December. WXRT’s morning DJ Lin Brehmer did a short telephone interview with U2 frontman Bono that can be heard on the station’s website. Brehmer was decidedly NOT among those whining about how evil U2 was to deliver a free album a few years back.

Best wishes to Bruce Brodeen as he retires from his online music store Pop Geek Heaven. Brodeen previously ran the the critically acclaimed and influential Not Lame record label. International Pop Overthrow founder David Bash recently posted a tribute to Brodeen on Facebook, noting, “I hope nobody ever forgets his contributions to the pop scene, which were beyond invaluable.”

By the way, congratulations and best wishes to David Bash and Rina Bardfield on their upcoming marriage. I wonder if they’ll have six bands at their reception, each playing a half hour set.

Kaleidoscope Eye Festival Of Modern Psychedelia continues tomorrow night with eight bands at the Live Wire club. Diagonal kicks things off at 7:00 p.m., and will be followed by White Shape; Constantine; The Red Plastic Buddha; The Orange Drop; Magic Castles; Warhorses; and Sisters of Your Sunshine Vapor. Live Wire is located at 3394 N. Milwaukee.

Chicago Fringe Fest finishes up its 2017 run this weekend in Jefferson Park. Those interested in attending will need to buy an admission button for $5.00 (only one is needed for the entire festival), as well as a $10.00 ticket for each show.

UK band The Chemistry Set has created an eye-popping, politically charged video  for “Rubicon,” one of the three impressive songs on its new single on the Fruits de Mer vinyl-only label. The other two tracks are the eccentric and funny “Lovely Cuppa Tea” and a rousing cover of The Moody Blues’ “Legend Of A Mind.”

Riot Fest returns to Chicago for three days at Douglas Park next weekend. Participating acts include New Order; X; The Cribs; Buzzcocks; The Regrettes; Paramore, and The Orwells. The Buzzcocks will also be at Cobra Lounge on September 16, and The Orwells have a gig at House Of Blues on September 14.

Martyrs’ on Lincoln Avenue has an eclectic four-act event coming up on October 7 with the sci-fi, high energy music of Tomorrow The Moon, the catchy, coed indie rock of The Handcuffs, the rockabilly sound of The Amazing Heeby Jeebies, and the hard rock/punk of Samson The Aviator. The show starts at 8:30 p.m.

Cliff Johnson and The Raine will be the opening act when power pop masters The Smithereens return to The Arcada in St. Charles next Saturday, September 16.

My wife Pam and I met several fun and interesting people at The Windy Kitty Cat Cafe And Lounge’s fundraising event last Saturday night. Chris Poole, whose Facebook page featuring his cats Cole and Marmalade is gaining popularity, was there for the entire event, chatting with just about all of the guests. He reminds me of Arthur Darvill of Doctor Who and Legends of Tomorrow, but maybe it’s just the English accent. Once it officially opens, The Windy Kitty Cafe and Lounge will give people an opportunity to enjoy beverages while visiting with up to 10 cats available for adoption.

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Thursday, September 7, 2017

Eye Opening

The Luck Of Eden Hall in a particularly mind-bending moment on stage.

The very first Kaleidoscope Eye Festival Of Modern Psychedelia kicks off at 5:00 p.m. tomorrow at Live Wire in Chicago. Tim Ferguson from local band The Red Plastic Buddha, Gregory Curvey from the Detroit-based psychedelic rock band The Luck Of Eden Hall, and writer/photographer Lee Klawans have enlisted 15 bands from around the country to perform tomorrow and Saturday. In addition to The Red Plastic Buddha and The Luck Of Eden Hall, the schedule includes Soft Candy; Magic Castles; The Orange Drop; Brujas del Sol; Constantine; White Shape; Friends Of Dennis Wilson; Junkee Girl; Warhorses; Sisters of Your Sunshine Vapor; Heaven’s Gateway Drugs; Diagonal; and Aethereal.

The Kaleidoscope Eye Festival website  has profiles of most of the acts, along with ticket info and merchandise. Live Wire is located at 3394 N. Milwaukee. WXRT air personality Richard Milne mentioned Kaleidoscope Eye on his Local Anesthetic program last Sunday night, and played the tripped-out and fun “She’s An Alien” from The Red Plastic Buddha’s Songs For Mara album.

Also, Chicago Fringe Fest picks up where it left off last weekend, filling the Jefferson Park neighborhood with avant grade performances at venues like The Gift Theatre; Windy City Music Blackbox Studio; Jefferson Playhouse; and The Congregational Church. A $5.00 admission button is needed to navigate the festival, and there’s a $10.00 ticket for each show.

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Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Colman Gota - Fear The Summer

Fear The Summer, Colman Gota’s followup to last year’s impressive Tape album, once again finds the Madrid-based multi-instrumentalist delivering catchy, guitar-driven songs about navigating life and relationships. In my July 5, 2016 review of Tape, I noted Gota’s acerbic observations are reminiscent of Elvis Costello and Graham Parker, and that holds true for this new collection. The consistently fun arrangements, which also feature a variety of keyboards, fall somewhere between pub rock and power pop.

Gota’s conversational vocal style is well suited to the material, particularly when he addresses an ex-lover on the rollicking “Can I Get It Back” by singing, “I want my life back, if you happen to have it.” The energetic “Never Lie” has Gota contemplating, “Sometimes you wonder what’s on people’s minds, but if I think about it, I’d rather not know.” The title track flips the usual equation of summer with romance by giving us a guy who dreads the season because it brings back memories of a busted relationship.

Gota exudes a restless spirit throughout Fear The Summer; whether he’s rallying against robotic complacency on “Someday, I’ll Get It Right” or just being himself on “What You Want Me To Be.” There’s a satiric edge to “Make A Stand” and “One Mistake,” and Gota even throws in a torch song with “For A Reason.”

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Friday, September 1, 2017

Slumgullilon

Kaleidoscope Eye Festival Of Modern Psychedelia logo by Gregory Curvey

Singer-guitarist Jimmy Rane brings his hard-edge power pop band The Viaducts to FitzGerald’s in Berwyn tonight, where they’ll be joined by the Wooly Rhinos and Allegra Malone. The music starts at 8:00 p.m.

It seems like only yesterday the Kaleidoscope Eye Festival Of Modern Psychedelia was a gleam in vocalist-bass player Tim Ferguson’s eye as we talked before his band The Red Plastic Buddha blew away the crowd at International Pop Overthrow - Chicago last April. Ferguson, Gregory Curvey from the critically acclaimed Detroit-based psychedelic rock band The Luck Of Eden Hall, and writer/photographer Lee Klawan now have all the pieces in place for the festival’s debut next weekend at Live Wire on Milwaukee Avenue. Fifteen bands from around the country and representing various facets of psychedelia—“nearly every combination you could imagine,” according to the Facebook page—are scheduled to perform Friday and Saturday. Single day and weekend tickets, as well as deluxe packages and merchandise, are available at the Kaleidoscope Eye Festival website.

The Polonia Festival takes place in Jefferson Park over this Labor Day weekend, and one of the highlights is sure be the Tributosaurus becomes Tom Petty show tonight. Other bands will be going the tribute route at the Polonia Festival, including Heartless as Heart; Reely Dan as Steely Dan; American English as The Beatles; Beggars Banquest as The Rolling Stones; and CTA as Chicago.

Jefferson Park is once again also hosting the annual Chicago Fringe Fest, which opened last night and will offer 47 shows over the next two weekends at The Gift Theatre; Windy City Music Blackbox Studio; Jefferson Playhouse; and The Congregational Church of Jefferson Park. Those interested in attending will need to buy an admission button for $5.00 (only one is needed for the entire festival), as well as a $10.00 ticket for each show. There are also 4-pack, 10-pack, and unlimited package deals.

The Windy Kitty Cat Cafe And Lounge at 1746 W. North Avenue in Chicago is hosting a fundraising event from 6:30 to 9:30 tonight and tomorrow night that will also offer a preview of the soon-to-open venue. WGN radio personality Steve Dale is on hand tonight, and Chris Poole, whose Facebook page featuring his cats Cole and Marmalade is gaining popularity, will be there tomorrow night. The $30 admission price for each night also includes hors ‘doeuvres, refreshments, a silent auction and raffles. Once it officially opens, The Windy Kitty Cat Cafe and Lounge will give people an opportunity to enjoy beverages while visiting with up to 10 cats available for adoption.

New albums coming out next Friday, September 8 include Antisocialites by Alvvays; Shades by Living Colour; Hitchhiker by Neil Young; and Native Invader by Tori Amos. Later this month, we’ll see releases from Ringo Starr; Chris Hillman; Stephen Stills and Judy Collins; David Crosby; and Wolf Alice.

Riot Fest returns to Chicago for three days at Douglas Park starting on Friday, September 15.  Participating acts include New Order; X; The Cribs; Buzzcocks; The Regrettes; Paramore, and The Orwells. The Buzzcocks will also be at Cobra Lounge on September 16, and The Orwells have a gig at House Of Blues on September 14.

Power pop masters The Smithereens will return to The Arcada Theatre in Charles on Saturday, September 16.

The recently announced 2017 – 18 season at the Prairie Center for the Arts in Schaumburg includes a double bill of The Love Generation 1967 – 1970 and the Joe Cocker Tribute Band on Friday, September 29. According to a promotional email from Prairie Center for the Arts, the former features local musicians covering The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Aretha Franklin; The Doors, Jefferson Airplane, and other late 1960s acts. Derrick Procell leads the Cocker tribute.

Sons Of The Silent Age, a highly polished David Bowie tribute band that comprises veterans of the Chicago rock scene, has a gig coming up on September 22 at Wire in Berwyn. New, a tribute a tribute act honoring the 1970s German electronic rock outfit Neu!, will also be on the bill.

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Thursday, August 31, 2017

Music News

Depending on when you read this, you might still be able to catch Phil Angotti and Friends playing John Lennon’s entire Rock And Roll LP at Reggie’s tonight on State Street. Angotti recently did a terrific job performing Paul McCartney songs at the Apple Jam Stage at Fest For Beatles Fans - Chicago. He’ll be backed by a horn section at Reggie’s with other special guests joining in on stage.

Minstrelpalooza returns to Durty Nellie’s in Palatine for its third installment on Saturday, September 23. Subtitled The Very Best of ’81, this celebration of the Minstrels music store in Niles will once again feature the hard-edged and satirical power pop group Van Go. Other acts will certainly be involved, although I don’t see any listed on the Facebook  page yet. The event is free and will run from 1:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Congratulations to Laurie’s Planet Of Sound on its 20th Anniversary. To mark the occasion, the record store is showing The Monkees’experimental film Head and the lesser-known comedy Record City this Sunday at the Davis Theater. Tickets are free and available at store, which is located at 4639 N. Lincoln Avenue in Chicago. Laurie’s Planet Of Sound has become an essential part of Record Store Day festivities each April, with in-store performances by local acts like Dolly Varden, The Romeros, The Handcuffs, John San Juan, and Phil Angotti.

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Friday, August 25, 2017

Slumgullion

Photo from the Tributosaurus Facebook page.
Wizard World Chicago Comic Con announced today via a sensitively worded e-mail that David Tennant from the Doctor Who and Jessica Jones TV shows has cancelled his appearances at this year’s event due to an illness in his immediate family. While it’s a major disappointment, the important thing is to wish for a full recovery of the person who is ill. “We trust all will be well in London,” the Wizard World message states, “and will be sending our thoughts and prayers to David and his family.” All customers who paid to have an autograph and/or photo session with Tennant will be issued refunds.

The Backlot Bash kicked off in Skokie tonight with A Flock Of Seagulls, The Alarm, and Devil In A Woodpile. Soul Asylum and Frisbie are among the acts performing tomorrow, and on Sunday at 6:30 p.m., Tributosaurus becomes R.E.M. Admission is free.

Also in Skokie, the Bill Graham Rock And Roll Revolution continues its run at the Illinois Holocaust Museum And Education Center at 9603 Woods Drive. Graham was an iconic music promoter who brought big names bands to the Fillmore concert venue in San Francisco, and later to the Fillmore East in New York. He is credited with helping the careers of Janis Joplin, The Grateful Dead, The Who, and Jimi Hendrix. The exhibition runs through Nov. 12.

Acclaimed alt rock/Americana band Over The Rhine performs at SPACE in Evanston tomorrow and Sunday.

I always feel a rush of anticipation whenever I find a package from Fruits de Mer in my mailbox. The British indie label offers vinyl-only releases of current purveyors of prog, garage, and Euro rock and sends out promo CDs of its latest releases. The ones I just received—a five-song EP from the Spanish band Stay and a three-song single from UK veterans The Chemistry Set— are particularly good and I’m hoping to review them in the future.

Tickets are now on sale today for The Buzzcocks gig at Cobra Lounge in Chicago on September 16. Other new shows on sale include Peter Case at FitzGerald’s on October 21; Lemon Twigs at Thalia Hall on October 26; Los Lobos at City Winery on December 10–13; and Orwells at House Of Blues on September 14.

According to Tracy Swartz in a recent CHICAGO INC. column in the Chicago Tribune, the popular Fox series Empire plans to shoot a Prince-themed episode in Chicago for its fourth season.

An article by Robert Holly in this past Wednesday’s Blue Sky page in the Chicago Tribune’s Business section noted that the Reverb online marketplace for musicians is considering selling records and other music formats.

When the Polonia Festival in Jefferson Park takes place over the Labor Day weekend, one of the highlights will surely be the Tributosaurus becomes Tom Petty show on September 1. Other bands will be going the tribute route at the Polonia Festival, including Heartless as Heart; Reely Dan as Steely Dan; American English as The Beatles; Beggars Banquest as The Rolling Stones; and CTA as Chicago.

Congratulations to Streetwise as it celebrates its 25th Anniversary. I was at the first public meeting for Streetwise back 1992 when the idea of creating a publication that homeless people could sell to help support themselves was still in early development. I wrote entertainment features for Streetwise during its first few years, and I’m glad to see the publication still actively covers the performing arts scene in Chicago. Pick up a copy of the latest issue for $2 from one of the vendors in the downtown area.

I second that emotion. It was nice to see the support and affection popular weatherman Tom Skilling received after becoming overwhelmed as he reported on the recent eclipse for WGN TV. Reportedly, his tears were a response to witnessing the deep effect the solar event was having on those who had come out to view it.

In a perfect world, I would have spent the bulk of last weekend basking in the communal and creative vibes of the inaugural YippieFest at the Prop Thtr. As it was, a hectic schedule, a freelance overload, and a nasty cold limited me to a Saturday night visit to this three-day festival dedicated to carrying on the spirit of the Abbie Hoffman Died For Our Sins festival that was staged by the Mary-Arrchie Theatre for several years. From what I heard, former Mary-Arrchie Theatre Artistic Director (the troupe called it quits in 2016) dropped by on Friday night to show his support. On Saturday, Famous In Future performed a mix of old and new comedy material to packed and appreciative house, followed by an engaging new work from Black Forest Theatre that opened with a tribute to the late Sam Shepard. Here’s hoping YippieFest becomes a new summer tradition.

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Thursday, August 24, 2017

A TARDIS Full Of Guests

David Tennant and Catherine Tate. Photo from David Tennant’s Facebook page.

Wizard World Chicago Comic Con opened today at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont and will cast its magical spell through Sunday. The annual event brings together self-professed nerds, sci-fi devotees, graphic novels readers, art lovers, and anyone who embraces the more adventurous paths of modern culture.

When I posted a preview of Wizard World last year, I noted celebrity guests were being assembled in teams from TV shows like The X-Files; The Walking Dead; Daredevil; and Arrow, and I wished there were a grouping of Doctor Who stars. This year, that dream comes true with David Tennant, Alex Kingston, John Barrowman, Catherine Tate, and Jenna Coleman among the amazing assortment of celebrity guests. As always, several other TV shows and movies will be represented.

Wizard World Comic Con Chicago also offers aisle after aisle of corporate and independent vendors selling comic books, t shirts, action figures, and other fantasy/sci-fi related artifacts. In the huge marketplace dubbed Artists Alley, up-and-coming artists and writers compete for attention. If I was a high-powered financier from a counter-culture version of Shark Tank, I’d put up funds for several of the worthy projects these people have created.

There’s also a fun, masquerade atmosphere as people dress up in superhero or villain costumes, and gladly pose for photos. Where else are you going to see Batman and Princess Leia sipping 32-oz. Cokes together, or Captain Jack Sparrow and Harry Potter walking side by side. Check the Wizard World Chicago Comic Con website for the complete list of guests, schedule, and prices.

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Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The Backlot Bash, A Taste Of Polonia, And Bill Graham

There will be a variety of live performances this coming weekend at the Backlot Bash in Skokie. A Flock Of Seagulls, The Alarm, and Devil In A Woodpile kick things off on Friday, August 25, with Soul Asylum, Frisbie, the Bach And Beethoven Ensemble among the acts scheduled for Saturday. On Sunday at 6:30 p.m., the renowned tribute act Tributosaurus becomes R.E.M. Admission for the Backlot Bash is free.

As previously mentioned here on BHT, Tributosaurus will become Tom Petty on September 1 as part of the Taste Of Polonia in Jefferson Park over the Labor Day weekend. Tribute bands will rule at this festival (along with several Polish acts), with Heartless covering Heart; Reely Dan covering Steely Dan; American English covering Herman’s Hermits; Beggars Banquest covering The Rolling Stones; and CTA covering Chicago. Of course, I was kidding about American English—they will be covering The Beatles.

Rock fans heading to Skokie next weekend for the Backlot Bash could tie that in with a visit to the Bill Graham And The Rock And Roll Revolution exhibition at the Illinois Holocaust Museum And Education Center at 9603 Woods Drive. Graham was an iconic music promoter who brought big names bands to the Fillmore concert venue in San Francisco, and later to the Fillmore East in New York. He is credited with helping the careers of Janis Joplin, The Grateful Dead, The Who, and Jimi Hendrix. The exhibition runs through Nov. 12.

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Thursday, August 17, 2017

Yippie! Chicago Has A New Arts Festival!

YippieFest, a three-day celebration of theatre, comedy, music, puppets, and other forms of offbeat entertainment, opens tomorrow, August 18 at Prop Thtr on Chicago’s north side. The people behind this brand new event—Frank Carr and Desiree Burcum from the Famous In The Future comedy group, and Carla Hayden and James Moeller from Black Forest Theatre—are veterans of the Abbie Hoffman Died For Our Sins festival that Mary-Arrchie Theatre hosted for 30 years. If they can carry on that same tie-dyed, rebellious spirit Mary-Arrchie Artistic Director Rich Cotovsky, channeling Abbie Hoffman, brought to his annual events, YippieFest will be worth celebrating.

Fans of Abbie Fest will see some familiar faces at its lovechild. In addition to Famous In The Future (full disclosure: I used to be part of this group) and Black Forest, YippieFest will offer Rush Pearson, DB Comedy, David Drazin, and Danger Circus. There will also be plenty of live music, including Moeller and Hayden’s alt rock band whitewolfsonicprincess; The Rut; The Telepaths; Voodoo Asylum; and the Grateful Dead tribute band Trouble Ahead. Tickets are $15 for each night, $25 for the entire weekend.

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Friday, August 11, 2017

Slumgullion

Photo from the official Shoes Facebook page.

People sometimes call these the dog days of summer but I prefer to employ the more positive Simon and Garfunkel paraphrase, August, Rock She Must. The month traditionally has a lot going on in the Chicago area, and 2017 is no exception. In the next few weeks, we have a power pop showcase with Dwight Twilley, Pezband, and Shoes at The Arcada in St. Charles; Fest For Beatles Fans and Wizard World Comic Con Chicago in Rosemont; and YippieFest and The Chicago Air And Water Show taking place in the city.

The 41st Annual Fest For Beatles Fans - Chicago comes to the Hyatt Regency O’Hare in suburban Rosemont this weekend. The event presents musicians, authors, artists, photographers, and music biz people who have some connection to to the most famous band in rock history. See yesterday’s post for more information.

The Arcada Theatre in St. Charles presents three power pop legends tonight with Pezband, Shoes, and Dwight Twilley. Doors open at 7:00 p.m. See my Wednesday night post for more information. Note: Due to unforeseen circumstances, Cliff Johnson and The Raine will not be performing as part of the show tonight.

YippieFest, a three-day celebration of theatre, comedy, music, puppets, and other forms of entertainment set for next weekend, August 18 – 21 at Prop Thtr. The people behind this brand new event are veterans of the Abbie Hoffman Died For Our Sins festival that Mary-Arrchie Theatre hosted for 30 years.

When Wizard World Comic Con Chicago returns to the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont August 24 through 27, it will be particularly interesting for Doctor Who fans. David Tennant, Alex Kingston, John Barrowman, Catherine Tare, and Jenna Coleman will be on hand. Fans of the TV shows The Walking Dead; Arrow; Firefly; and Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. will also find some of their favorite stars there. I’m hoping to post more on this in the near future.

Jackson Browne and Greg Leisz are performing a Benefit For Veterans For Peace this Sunday night at the Copernicus Center in Chicago’s Jefferson Park neighborhood.

California residents will have an opportunity to hear two famous and very funny British men conversing now that tickets are on sale for the John Cleese with Eric Idle Live Talks Los Angeles show at The Alex Theatre. The Monty Python duo will be discussing Cleese’s book So, Anyway . . .

Monty Python fans in the Chicago area can see Neil Innes at Fest For Beatles Fans this weekend at the Hotel in Rosemont. Innes is a musician/comedian who worked quite bit with the Pythons, and was a driving force behind the Beatles parody act The Rutles.

The 23rd Annual Black Harvest Film Festival continues at the Gene Siskel Center in downtown Chicago and runs through the end of the month.

The American Ska-Thic festival will celebrate its 25th Anniversary next Saturday, August 19 at Metro. MU330, Coolidge, The Eclectics, Detroit Rude Boy Society, Skapone, Tango Wedding Band, and DJ Chuck Wren will be performing.

Also, next Saturday, Chicago venue The Elbo Room is sponsoring the ninth annual I Am Fest – International Art and Music Festival. The day-long event will actually be held at the more spacious The House Of Blues and feature music acts, art, and photography. The Smoking Popes, Sin Anestesia, and Littlebirds are scheduled to perform.

Tributosaurus will performing Tom Petty songs at the Taste Of Polonia Festival in Jefferson Park on September. The critically acclaimed tribute act, which use a rotating lineup of musicians, has honored Petty in the past.

Jefferson Park will also be the home of the Chicago Fringe Fest, which takes place in various venues around the northwest side neighborhood on two weekends, starting August 30. There’s a Preview Party on August 30 at the Copernicus Center.

We’ve recently had Stephen Stills and Graham Nash doing separate shows in Chicago, and now David Crosby is on his way. His David Crosby and Friends concert comes to City Winery Chicago on 10 - 30. Other upcoming shows at City Winery include Rusty Young with Poco on 10-25; The Alarm on 8-28, and Living Colour on 9-3.

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