Saturday, December 16, 2017

Saturday Slumgullion

Tony Hicks is at the bottom of the steps in this vintage Hollies pic.

A happy belated birthday to guitarist-harmony vocalist Tony Hicks of The Hollies. Hicks has played an essential role in the band’s distinctive and effervescent sound from the start and still tours across Europe with the current lineup, along with original drummer Bobby Elliott.

Graham Nash, who performed with Hicks in The Hollies through 1969, will be at the North Shore Center For the Performing Arts on March 17, 2018. In the past few years, Nash has performed in the Chicago area at The Arcada in St. Charles; City Winery Chicago; and The Old Town School Of Folk Music. And he’s always welcome.

I got my first Hollies album as a Christmas present back in 1966 and have been hooked since.

Singer-guitarist Phil Angotti will offer a Beatles Brunch Extravaganza tomorrow afternoon at the Reclaimed Restaurant on Western Avenue. Angotti promises to play holiday songs, Beatles material, and take requests from the audience.

Richard Milne’s Local Anesthetic Holiday Spectacular on WXRT has been an annual tradition among fans of Chicago area rock for several years. But the very last one is this Sunday night at 8:00 pm., with a repeat airing on Christmas Eve. Several short seasonal messages and songs from area musicians comprise the show and it’s always fun to hear what the participants come up with. A toast to Mr. Milne for the decades he supported Chicago music on his weekly Local Anesthetic show.

The Empty Bottle is hosting Warm, Safe and Sound, A Coat/Sweater Drive for Homeless Chicagoans next Thursday, December 21. Donating a coat or sweater will get you in to see the blues rock band North By North, psychedelic rockers Secret Colours, indie rock band The Handcuffs, and the coed indie pop duo Star Tropics. On December 22 at FitzGerald’s, the annual Redmonds Christmas Show will will feature hosts The Redmonds and their guests Kevin Lee And The Kings, Duct Tape Band, and The Romeo Brothers. On the next night, December 23, there’s Flirting With Time: A Tribute To Tom Petty. Proceeds will benefit the One America Appeal Hurricane Charity.

Congratulations to 2018 Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Inductees The Cars, Dire Straits, The Moody Blues, Nina Simone, Bon Jovi, and Sister Rosetta Tharpe. I wanted The Zombies to make it in this year, but I also had Dire Straits, The Cars, and The Moody Blues on my wish list. American fans can make it up to The Zombies by seeing the band on its 2018 tour. They’ll be at City Winery Chicago on March 19.

The Go-Go’s recently shared a link on Twitter to a Variety article about the band’s Head Over Heels musical coming to Broadway at some point in 2018 or 2019. Gwyneth Paltrow is slated as the producer.

My nephew Joe Flamm’s adventure as one of the contestants on the new season of the Bravo Channel’s Top Chef continued in fine fashion this past Thursday as he won the Quick Fire event and earned immunity for the second elimination round.

Several local acts are lined up for the 13th Alex Chilton Birthday Bash! coming up on December 28 at the Empty Bottle. Sponsored by the WNUR radio show Power Pop Shoppe, the event will include The Injured Parties, Dann Morr, Hannah Frank Group, and Falling Stars.

I mentioned in my Thursday post about Pat DiNizio that I first heard about his passing away early morning on WXRT. That was when overnight DJ Emma Mac was still on the air and she broke the news. Later that day, the station’s morning air personality Lin Brehmer offered a touching tribute that has been shared on The Smithereens Official Facebook page and by others.

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Thursday, December 14, 2017

Beauty And Sadness

Listening to WXRT early yesterday morning, I heard the sad news that Pat DiNizio from The Smithereens had died. I first discovered The Smithereens back in 1983 via a Rolling Stone review of their Beauty And Sadness five-song EP. I mentioned the record to fellow power pop fanatic “Boris” during one of the many times we ran into each other at the Haywires club, and learned they were already on his radar too. Many will mourn DiNizio’s passing not only as fans but as friends who connected with him on a personal level over the years.

I can’t remember ever going to a Smithereens concert where they didn’t come out afterwards to chat, pose for pictures, and sign autographs. And I probably saw them more times than any other group. I doubt they were able to remember all of us from one concert to the next, but DiNizio, guitarist-vocalist Jim Babjak, drummer-vocalist Dennis Diken, bassist-vocalist Mike Mesaros (and later, bassist-vocalist The Thrilla) were always genuinely friendly. I would bring things for them to sign that would prove my loyalty. When I handed DiNizio my vinyl copy of Beauty And Sadness after one show, he laughed, turned to his fellow musicians and asked, “Where do they find this stuff?”

The music DiNizio wrote and performed with The Smithereens was a workingman’s power pop with energy and an unerring sense of melody. The ominous “Blood And Roses” from Especially For You brought them national attention and they scored big with songs like ‘Strangers When Me Meet,” “Behind The Wall Of Sleep,” “A Girl Like You,” “Only A Memory,” and “Drown In My Own Tears.” In 2011, they recorded The Smithereens 2011, which found the band still at its peak with catchy songs like “Sorry,” “Rings On Her Fingers,” and “What Went Wrong.” The Smithereens remained a dynamic live act through 2017, and had plans to tour next year.

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Friday, December 8, 2017

Slumgullion

Christmas is just over two weeks away, and if you’re like me, you haven’t finished decorating, gift buying, or sending cards. You still have to bring out your favorite rock and roll holiday CDs and start the rotation of seasonal DVDs, saving A Charlie Brown Christmas and The Snowman for last. And on top of all that, there’s a bunch of entertainment stuff to keep up with.

Chris Ligon and Heather McAdams have enlisted several area musicians to help out with their 20th Anniversary Calendar Show tomorrow night at FitzGerald’s in Berwyn. The guests’ performances tie in with the illustrations in McAdams’ imaginatively illustrated calendar and will include The Flat Five as The Turtles; Devil In A Woodpile as Ray Price; and Jodee Lewis as Joan Baez. Vernon Tonges will take on Burl Ives;, Big Hair Trouble will be The Royal Teens; The Corsairs will be Ronnie Hawkins; Phil Angotti will cover Crosby, Stills and Nash; Jim Becker and Becky Levi will be Buffalo Springfield; Jane Baxter Miller and Kent Kessler will sing like The Byrds; and Joel Patterson with Kelly Hogan, and Nora O’Connor will perform as Les Paul and Mary Ford.

The Bucktown Holiday ArtShow takes place tomorrow and Sunday at The Holstein Park Fieldhouse at 2200 N. Oakley. Admission is $2. The Anderson Galleria, at 5247 N. Clark Street, describes itself as, “like an Art Festival under a roof and year-round.” More than 90 local vendors sell handmade items, many of which are likely to have a holiday them around this time of year.

What I like about two. There’s a double bill of The Romantics and The A Flock Of Seagulls at Joe’s on Weed Street in Chicago next Wednesday, December 13.

1-2-3-4-5-6. Jonathan Richman of The Modern Lovers fame will be coming to on SPACE in Evanston on March 14. Tickets are available via the venue’s website. Tickets are also now on sale for Drive-By Truckers at Thalia Hall on April 6 and 7; Keren Ann at City Winery Chicago on February 20; Ty Segal at The Riviera Theatre on April 8; Southside Johnny and The Asbury Jukes at SPACE on March 3; and Steve Winwood at the Chicago Theatre on February 22.

Chris Stamey, who has a successful career as a solo artist as well as being a member of The dBs, has been named as the opening act for The Alejandro Escovedo Band’s three-night stand at City Winery Chicago on January 25 through 27.

Hugh Hart is still creating vital music even as he continues his successful endeavors in journalism. His latest recording, “Bye Bye Donny,” which can be heard on Soundcloud finds Hart setting politically charged lyrics to a catchy arrangement that recalls his 1980s work with his Chicago-based band The OD’d. Hart’s freelance articles have appeared in the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times.

The Social Act, one of the first bands I interviewed for the Illinois Entertainer back in the late 1980s, has been working on a new album, and will be performing at Martyrs’ on Lincoln Avenue next Friday, December 15. Razorhouse will also be on the bill that night.

Belly has been offering some interesting perks on its PledgeMusic page, and the latest is a colorfully illustrated retro design campaign poster.

Imagine fun in Minnesota. The 38th Annual John Lennon Tribute John Lennon Tribute featuring Curtiss A and his friends is taking place tonight in Minneapolis.

It’s the time of the holiday season to ask for Odessey And Oracle wall art, pillows, or shower curtains from The Zombies website. The British Invasion band is offering its initially overlooked but now iconic LP in assorted sizes and in various mediums.

It’s also entirely appropriate to ask Santa for rock and roll related books. Here’s a few from my list:
Everything I Know I Learned From Rock Stars by Bill Paige and We Have Company - Four Decades Of Rock And Roll Encounters by Bobby Skafish.

Congratulations to my nephew Joe Flamm on making it through the first elimination round on Top Chef. The cooking reality show opened its latest season last night on Bravo, and it was a kick to watch my godson working his culinary magic among 14 other contestants in Denver.

The Empty Bottle is hosting Warm, Safe and Sound, A Coat/Sweater Drive for Homeless Chicagoans on December 21. Donating a coat or sweater will get you in to see the blues rock band North By North, psychedelic rockers Secret Colours, indie rock band The Handcuffs, and the coed indie pop duo Star Tropics.

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Friday, December 1, 2017

Slumgullion

The local musicians behind Great Moments In Vinyl continue their series of honoring classic LPs with a double dose of The Rolling Stones tomorrow night at Martyrs’ on Lincoln Avenue. They’ll be performing Sticky Fingers and Some Girls in their entirety. Next week, on Wednesday, December 7, Tributosaurus will become Paul McCartney at Martyrs’.

U2 has has added a second show at the United Center in Chicago next May as part of its iNNOCENCE + eXPERIENCE Tour. Tickets go on sale this Monday at 10:00 a.m. The band’s new album Songs Of Experience came out today.

WXRT Live From The Archives Volume 19 is now available at Chicago area Target stores. The limited-edition various artists compilation sells out quickly.

Bloodshot Records will be spinning tracks from its various artists 13 Days Of Xmas album when it hosts a Holiday Pop Up Store tomorrow at its headquarters on Irving Park Road. The Chicago-based indie label is promising refreshments and snacks, along with exclusive holiday stuff like records, clothing, and signed memorabilia for sale. The event, which will run from noon to 7:00 p.m, ties in with Bloodshot’s seventh annual Stuffed Animal Drive, which collects soft toys and warm clothing.

If you’re searching for a unique gift that can’t be bought in any department store, check out The Renegade Craft Fair tomorrow and Sunday at The Bridgeport Center at 1200 W. 35th Street. The Bucktown Holiday ArtShow takes place next Saturday and Sunday (December  9 and 10) at The Holstein Park Fieldhouse at 2200 N. Oakley. Admission is $2. The Anderson Galleria, at 5247 N. Clark Street, describes itself as, “like an Art Festival under a roof and year-round.” More than 90 local vendors sell handmade items, many of which are likely to have a holiday them around this time of year.

Alt rock band whitewolfsonicprincess and garage rockers The Telepaths are hosting a multi-band Toys For Tots Benefit Show tomorrow night at Red Line Tap. Other performers include Kc Chronis; The Darkroom Men; Joe Lapsley and Jana Measells; Gary Nobody; The Rut; and The Rolling Clones. The show starts at 7:00 p.m.

Local bands Super Sonic Space Rebels and The Amazing Heeby Jeebies will present A Night Of Rockabilly, Punkabilly And Garage Rock’n’Roll on December 7 at the Burlington Bar on Fullerton on Chicago’s north side.

The perception that only guys are interested reading and/or creating graphic novels gets upended on the first Wednesday of each month at Graham Crackers in downtown Chicago. That’s when the store hosts Ladies Night, which members describe as, “Wimmen talkin’ ta wimmen ‘bout comics!” The next get-together takes place on December 6. Ladies Night compilations, featuring several local comic creators, are available for sale at the store.

We Fitz You A Merry Christmas. The FitzGerald’s venue in Berwyn will be a festive place over the holiday season. Next Saturday, December 9, Chris Ligon and Heather McAdams will enlist several area musicians to help out with their 20th Anniversary Calendar Show. Guests include The Flat Five, Devil In A Woodpile, Jodee Lewis, Vernon Tonges, Big Hair Trouble, The Corsairs, Phil Angotti, Joel Patterson with Kelly Hogan, and Nora O’Connor. Chicago Tribune rock critic Greg Kot’s feature story on McAdams and Ligon in today’s On The Town section mentions that the illustrated Heather’s L’il Folk, Rock, Pop, and Country Calendar includes Crosby, Stills, Nash And Young; Mel Torme; and Ray Price.

On December 22 at FitzGerald’s, the annual Redmonds Christmas Show will feature hosts The Redmonds and their guests Kevin Lee And The Kings, Duct Tape Band, and The Romeo Brothers. On the next night, December 23, there’s Flirting With Time: A Tribute To Tom Petty. Proceeds will benefit the One America Appeal Hurricane Charity.

The Regrettes played to an enthusiastic crowd at The House Of Blues last night. They were the opening act for a double bill of Swmrs and The Interrupters, but it’s already clear these young Los Angeles natives are building momentum with their catchy and emotionally charged songs. Seventeen-year-old lead vocalist-guitarist Lydia Night channels the unbridled energy that has kept punk a vital force over four decades while adding a touch of adolescent playfulness.The Regrettes’ “A Living Human Girl” was chosen chosen by Billboard magazine as one of the Top 25 Feminist Anthems, and the band’s “I Don’t Like You” is in contention for Coolest Song Of The Year on Little Steven’s Underground Garage radio program.

Sons Of The Silent Age, the David Bowie tribute act composed of several Chicago music scene veterans, will have acclaimed actor Michael Shannon as their special guest when they perform The Berlin Years on January 6 at Metro. A portion of the proceeds from this event will benefit cancer patients at Northshore University Healthsystem’s Integrative Medicine Program.

All in the family. Singer-guitarist John Petitt, formerly with the rock trio This Is This, will be performing as part of the Big Brother’s Vinyl show on January 13 at the Arlington Ale House (third floor) in Arlington Heights. He’ll be joined by musicians Ryan Aiello, Rick Fobes, Joe McMichael, and Naveen Prashantham. Lizzy Petitt (John’s daughter and a former member of Serendipity) and the Bandwagon will be the opening act. The music starts at 7:30 p.m.

Band Called Catch celebrates its 10th anniversary with a show on January 13 at Martyrs’. Past members are scheduled to join in the celebration. The show will be preceded by sets from Laura Glyda, Buffalo Rose, and Todd Kessler.

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Thursday, November 30, 2017

Music And Comic News

CHIRP Radio, which has a well-established reputation for supporting local, independent musicians, is now broadcasting from Chicago’a north side and can be heard at 107.1 FM. The station also holds its CHIRP Record Fair And Other Delights mammoth record and pop memorabilia event each April on Washington, just west of the Loop.

The NutTapper Holiday Variety Show takes place tomorrow morning, December 1, at The Old Town School of Folk Music. Reggio “The Hoofer” McLaughlin once again hosts the annual multicultural reimagining of Tchaichovsky’s classic ballet The Nutcracker, with help from local students and professional dancers. The show kicks off (literally) at 10:00 a.m.

The locals musicians behind Great Moments In Vinyl continue their series of honoring classic LPs with a double dose of The Rolling Stones this Saturday night at Martyrs’ on Lincoln Avenue. They’ll be performing Sticky Fingers and Some Girls in their entirety. Next week, on Wednesday, December 7, Tributosaurus will become Paul McCartney at Martyrs’.

The perception that only guys are interested reading and/or creating sci-fi graphic novels gets upended on the first Wednesday of each month at Graham Crackers in downtown Chicago. That’s when the store hosts Ladies Night, which members describe as, “Wimmen talkin’ ta wimmen ‘bout comics!” The next get-together takes place on December 6 next week. Ladies Night compilations, featuring several local comic creators, are available for sale at the store.

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Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Various Artists - We Weren’t Meant To Last

We Weren’t Meant To Last is the latest Norcore Comics Group compilation that casts a spotlight on the once vibrant punk scene in Norwood Park. The northwest side Chicago neighborhood seems fairly sedate now, but back in the early 1980s, it spawned numerous bands that rocked The Courtside Racket Club and other local venues. We Weren’t Meant To Last unleashes 27 songs originally recorded between 1983 and 1986 that have been mastered by Blaise Barton at Joyride with additional engineering by Brian Leach. Not all the tracks qualify as punk, but the album is a complete success.

“Lost Track” (I’m not sure if that’s the real name or just what Noncore is calling it) by Crinkum Crankum is raw and bluesy, while the boogie of The Gadderwalls’ “No Doubt About It” sounds more like Canned Heat than The Clash. The Outer Ring’s instrumental “Ska Tune” works an espionage mystique and Puss ’N Boots offers the acoustic and compelling “Parting Sees.” Blue Eyed Pasty Whites kick things off with good time rock of “Coulda Woulda Shoulda” and The Beach Hermits mix ska and power pop on “Watershed.”

The punk music exhibits a variety of approaches as well. Throttle Body’s “23 (Listen For It),” The Chocita Bandits’ “Russ Meyer,” and Helstrom’s “Something Special” are fast-paced, guitar driven efforts, while The Supreme Hustle adds a bit of funk to “Back On Up To Me.” “Jump Start” by Vagiant is a catchy, romantic song with female lead vocals, and The Tardagens rage through “Hand To Hand Combat.” The colorful liner notes by Terry Fox describe a scene “whose frenetic pace was only eclipsed by its own brevity.” Thanks to Norcore, that brief exuberance can still be experienced decades later.

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Monday, November 27, 2017

Incoming

Photo from The Regrettes Facebook page.

Some fun things around Chicago in the next few days.

The Los Anegles-based band The Regrettes return to the Chicago this Thursday night at The House Of Blues as the opening act for co-headliners The Interrupters and Swmrs. It looks to be an evening of vintage punk, and as young as they are, The Regrettes are authentic practitioners. On the quartet’s full-length debut Feel Your Feelings Fool, lead vocalist-guitarist and main songwriter Lydia Night consistently brings grit and humor to her lyrics.

The explosive but irresistible arrangements on songs like “I Don’t LikeYou” and “How It Should Be” tap also into the 1960s girl group sound in a way that’s reminiscent of the very early Go-Go’s. Even when Night creates upbeat romantic songs like “Hey Now” and “’Til Tomorrow,” they exude an off-kilter and vulnerable charm. “A Living Human Girl” mocks the limitations society places on women. The Regrettes have previously been in town for gigs at Riot Fest and Schubas.

Rhett Miller’s Holiday Extravaganza with Special Guest Matthew Ryan takes place this Thursday, November 30 at City Winery Chicago. Miller is the lead vocalist for the alt/roots rock band The Old 97s, and if you’ve seen them, you know he’s a high-energy, charismatic showman. It should be interesting to see how he works Old 97s classics like “Champaign, Illinois,” “Let’s Get Drunk And Get It On,” and “Time Bomb” into a holiday show.

WXRT overnight radio personality Emma Mac continues her series of Holiday Hours with Heineken events at venues around the Chicago this Thursday, November 30. The event will be at the Fado Irish bar on Grand Avenue. The festivities last from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. and those who show up have a chance to win a Heineken guitar.

Bloodshot Records will be spinning tracks from its various artists Christmas album when it hosts a Holiday Pop Up Store on December 2 at its headquarters on Irving Park Road. The Chicago-based indie label is promising refreshments and snacks, along with exclusive holiday stuff like records, clothing, and signed memorabilia for sale. The event, which will run from noon to 7:00 p.m, ties in with Bloodshot’s seventh annual Stuffed Animal Drive, which collects soft toys and warm clothing.

Alt rock band whitewolfsonicprincess and garage rocker The Telepaths are holding a Toys For Tots Benefits Show on December 2 at Red Line Tap. Led by vocalist Carla Hayden and guitarist-vocalist James Moeller, whitewolfsonicprincess are veterans of Chicago’s holiday charity scene.

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Friday, November 24, 2017

Turkey Casserole

Photo from the Squeeze Facebook page.
A festive Broken Hearted Toy welcome to Squeeze, who have a show tomorrow night at the Vic. The critically acclaimed British act, whose chief songwriters Glenn Tilbrook and Chris Difford are sometimes compared to John Lennon and Paul McCartney, released their most recent album The Knowledge this past October. Singer-guitarist Wesley Stace (John Wesley Harding) is the opening act.

There’s going to be a Skanksgiving 80s Ska Revival at The Beat Kitchen tomorrow night featuring Heavy Manners, DJ Chuck Wren, and Max And The Invaders. Admission is $15, doors open at 8:00 p.m.

Tickets are now on sale for U2’s May 23 concert at the United Center as part of its eXPERIENCE + iNNOCENCE tour. The band’s album by that name comes out next Friday.

Bad Examples lead vocalist/chief songwriter Ralph Covert will be at FitzGerald’s tomorrow night, as Ralph Covert’s Acoustic Army.

The power pop scene took a major hit with the recent death of veteran musician Tommy Keene. Although he never became a major star, it’s obvious from the numerous emotional posts across social media that he was highly respected and a close friend to musicians as well as journalists and promoters.

There are still some tickets left for the 93XRT Goose Island Holiday Jam featuring Spoon with special guest Real Estate on December 10 at the Chicago Theatre.

WXRT Live From The Archives Volume 19 will be available on December 1 at Chicago area Target stores. A partial list of the artists involved has been posted on the station’s website and includes Phoenix, Cold War Kids, Sting, Portugal. The Man, Vance Joy, and Real Estate. All of these live performances were recorded in 2017.

Tributosaurus, one of the Chicago area’s best known tribute bands, becomes Paul McCartney on December 6 at Martyrs’ on Lincoln Avenue.

Punk’s Not Dead. The Regrettes, an L.A.-based band that blended vintage punk, the 1960s girl group sound, and a defiant spirit on its Feel Your Feelings Fool debut, has a gig coming up on November 30 at House Of Blues in Chicago. They’ll be supporting co-headliners The Interrupters and Swmrs. The Regrettes have visited Chicago at least twice already, for appearances at Riot Fest and Schubas.

Saturday Night Live: The Experience, a multimedia exhibit celebrating the long-running NBC show, is currently running at the Museum Of Broadcast Communications in downtown Chicago.

I had a successful early morning Black Friday Record Store Day visit to the Reckless Records on Madison in downtown Chicago today, where I picked up the Cheap Trick Christmas Christmas album, The Minus Five’s Dear December album, and both Holidays Rule seven-inch singles by Paul McCartney, Jimmy Fallon, and The Roots. (One has The Decembrists singing Alex Chilton’s “Jesus Christ” on the flip side and the other has Norah Jones singing “Peace.”

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Thursday, November 23, 2017

Rock And Roll Holiday Gift Guide

First of all, a Happy Thanksgiving to all the American readers of this blog. Even if you’re not located in the U.S., it’s never a bad idea to take a few moments to consider the things you’re grateful for.

It’s that time of year when indie newspapers and major publications alike offer gift guides for their readers. Their choices are decidedly quirky and aimed at those with special interests or hobbies. It’s a great way to discover items you won’t likely encounter in your local department store. With that goal in mind, here’s the somewhat annual (I know I’ve missed a few years) Broken Hearted Toy Rock And Roll Gift Guide.

When I was at Fest For Beatles Fans - Chicago this past August, I had the honor of meeting Vivek J. Tiwary, author of The Fifth Beatle - The Brian Epstein Story. It’s an eye-pooping, 135-page graphic novel tribute to the man who gave us The Beatles, and has won a number of awards. Tiwary, who’s also a successful Broadway producer, is currently bringing The Fifth Beatle to television as a six-part mini series.

For the vinyl lovers in your life, choose from the limited-edition releases coming to record stores tomorrow only for Black Friday Record Store Day. It’s not as massive as the April version, but there are lots of choices in every imaginable genre. Keep in mind, the earlier you get there, the better the selection. In yesterday’s post, I mentioned some of the artists participating, but I’d like to add something to my comments on the Dear December holiday album from The Minus Five. The band’s founding member Scott McCaughey is recovering from a recent stroke, and a portion of the sales will go to his medical fund. As noted in an email from Yep Roc Records, several well-known artists helped out on Dear December, including M. Ward, Ben Gibbard, Peter Buck, Mike Mills, The Posies, Kelly Hogan and Nora O’Connor.

Author Bill Bentley’s Smithsonian Rock And Roll - Live And Unseen hardcover book is the result of the Smithsonian museum asking fans in 2015 to submit photos they had taken at their favorite concerts. The Woodstock and Lollapalooza festivals are included, as well as gigs at the Whisky A Go Go. The photos include Chuck Berry, Bruce Springsteen, and other major artists.

For sci-fi, gaming, action figures, vintage toys, movie and TV memorabilia, and other collectibles, check out the Chicago Pop Culture Convention  at the Pheasant Run Mega Center and Ballroom in St. Charles this Saturday and Sunday. The event also promises cosplay, artists, sports memorabilia, and music in vinyl and CDs.

As reported in the most recent edition of Parade magazine, rock and roll fans can purchase photos of iconic musicians like The Doors; The Beatles; Crosby, Stills and Nash; Joni Mitchell; The Clash; Stevie Wonder; The Rolling Stones; Jimi Hendrix; Bruce Springsteen, The Who; and Bob Dylan from the Morrison Hotel Gallery. Books, posters, t-shirts, and tote bags are also available on the site’s marketplace.

After buying a pack of colorful David Bowie stickers at the Alice’s Tea Cup restaurant when my wife Pam and I were on vacation in New York, I was surprised to discover Last Craft, the company that makes them, is located in Chicago. The website also sells candles, clothing, stickers, tarot cards, enamel pins, and shoelace locks—aimed at new wave, goth, feminist, gay, lesbian, and witch consumers.

Also, be sure to check out the Facebook pages and websites of your favorite artists for exclusive music, apparel, and other items. Record label websites like Bloodshot, Yep Roc, and Fruits de Mer are always worth shopping, and The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame website has lots of inductee and exhibit memorabilia. Pledge Music, Go Fund Me, and other crowd funding sites are a good way to support your favorite artists and pick up autographed items. And you never know what rare treasures you’ll discover on eBay.

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Wednesday, November 22, 2017

When Black Friday Comes

The Black Friday version of Record Store Day has yet to achieve the success of the original that comes in April, but there are still enough vinyl treasures in a variety of genres to make a trip to your nearest record store worthwhile. The artists involved include Tori Amos; Chuck Berry; The Byrds; Papa John Creech; Steve Earle; Janis Joplin; Wes Montgomery; Queen; Southside Johnny; The Sundays; Tangerine Dream; Big Star; Muddy Waters; Chet Atkins; U2; Sparks; Sun Ra; The Turtles; The Brian Setzer Orchestra; Gram Parsons and The Fallen Angels; The Doors; Aretha Franklin; The Grateful Dead; Richard Hell and The Voidoids; John Lee Hooker; Lydia Loveless; Waylon Jennings; Ziggy Marley; Petula Clark; Procol Harum; The Raspberries; Otis Redding; and Neil Young. There are also various artists collections featuring garage rock, jazz, soul, and 1960s Los Angeles-area bands.

The colder weather, holiday celebrations, and an already established tradition of shopping department stores may cut down on your competition for RSD limited editions, but it’s still advisable to get out there early. Afterwards, you can celebrate your successful hunt over a hot beverage (in my case, a chai tea latte) at a nearby Starbucks, Argo, or Dunkin Donuts. Here’s a look at some of the records I’m hoping to snag this time around.

Paul McCartney, Jimmy Fallon, and The Roots - A pair of Holidays Rule seven-inch singles, both with “Wonderful Christmastime” on the A-Side. The green vinyl version has The Decemberists singing Alex Chilton’s “Jesus Christ” on the flip side and the red version has Norah Jones singing “Peace.”

Cheap Trick - Christmas Christmas A 12-song holiday collection of original tunes and cover versions of The Kinks, The Ramones, Chuck Berry, and Wizzard.

The Minus Five - Dear December A 12-song seasonal collection from the quirky power pop band.

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Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Ooh, You’re A Holiday

Some festive activities coming up in town.

WXRT overnight radio personality Emma Mac will be hosting Holiday Hours with Heineken at venues around the Chicago every Thursday through December 21. This week’s event at O’Shaughnessy’s on Ravenswood takes place tomorrow (Wednesday) night due to Thanksgiving. Mac will be at Fado, Elbo Room, Emerald Loop Bar and Grill, and Lottie’s in the coming weeks. The festivities last from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. and those who show up have a chance to win a Heineken’s guitar.

Vinyl fanatics can unwind with some live music after buying limited-edition albums and singles on Black Friday Record Store Day at Val’s Halla in Oak Park. Scheduled performers include Ellis Clark and Ary Jeebie; the Greg Jackson Combo; Decoy Prayer Meeting; Scott Williams Family Band; Phoenix; Tom Klein Experience; Phil Angotti; Black Friars Club; and Hamburglars.

Bloodshot Records will be spinning tracks from its various artists Christmas album 13 Days Of Xmas when it hosts a Holiday Pop Up Store on December 2 at its headquarters on Irving Park Road. The Chicago-based indie label is promising refreshments and snacks, along with exclusive holiday stuff like records, clothing, and signed memorabilia for sale. The event, which will run from noon to 7:00 p.m, ties in with Bloodshot’s seventh annual Stuffed Animal Drive, which collects soft toys and warm clothing.

Alt rock band whitewolfsonicprincess and garage rockers The Telepaths are holding a Toys For Tots Benefit Show on December 2 at Red Line Tap. Led by vocalist Carla Hayden and guitarist-vocalist James Moeller, whitewolfsonicprincess are veterans of Chicago’s holiday charity scene.

The Empty Bottle is hosting Warm, Safe and Sound, A Coat/Sweater Drive for Homeless Chicagoans  on December 21. Donating a coat or sweater will get you in to see the blues rock band North By North, psychedelic rockers Secret Colours, indie rock band The Handcuffs, and the coed indie pop duo Star Tropics.

Read more...

Monday, November 20, 2017

Gee, But It’s Great To Be Back Home

I’ve offered excuses in the past for being AWOB (Absent Without Blogging) but this is a particularly valid one. My wife Pam and I were on vacation in Manhattan starting last Wednesday and just returned today. It was my first visit, and New York more than lived up to its billing as an eye-popping, multi-cultural, bigger-than-life entertainment mecca with delightful surprises and cultural icons around every corner.

All the credit goes to Pam for crafting an itinerary that included the best tourist attractions as well as places that appealed to our own unique interests. We walked at least 10 miles a day, including a journey up inside The Statue Of Liberty to her crown, and taking in the view from the 86th floor of the Empire State Building. We mingled with the crowd in Times Square each night and listened to a lecture on immigration at Ellis Island.

We passed by The Ed Sullivan Theatre, where The Beatles performed and David Letterman held court; and got a quick view of The Apollo in Harlem. We joined the fans at the John Lennon Imagine memorial in the Strawberry Fields area of Central Park, and browsed the John Varvatos store where CBGB’s—the cradle of America’s punk scene—used to stand. Broadway retains its status as the most influential and star-studded theatre scene in the country.

As we passed through LaGuardia Airport today, a guard asked if I had any magazines or newspapers in my luggage. It’s the first time I’ve been asked that by airport security, and I answered that I had a ton of them. Luckily, it just involved her taking a quick look through my newfound collection. I’m hoping to post more about those New York publications, as well as some record stores and small eateries, in a future post.

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Saturday, November 11, 2017

Slumgullion

Photo of Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow from The Posies' Facebook page.

2018 will mark the 30th anniversary for The Posies, and some celebrations are in the works. Founding members Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow plan to tour as a duo starting in January, and and at some point, as a full band. Upcoming dates include New York, Boston, Memphis, Atlanta, Washington, D.C. and Nashville. They’ll hit City Winery Chicago on January 31. A post on the band’s Facebook page states: “We will be doing material from four different decades in these shows. Good Grief! Special guests . . . mayhem . . . harmonies . . .” The Posies will also release deluxe reissue of their albums from the 1990s.

CIMMfest (Chicago International Movies and Music Festival) is back for its annual run at various venues around Chicago. The four day event runs through tomorrow and will screen films featuring David Bowie, Sharon Jones, Penelope Spheeris, Paul Butterfield, Public Image Ltd., X, Blind Boys From Alabama, System Of A Down, Dixie Hummingbirds, Circle jerks, Pansy Division, and others. Live music performances include a Sharon Jones and Dap Kings Tribute, Tom Rush, Lee Ranaldo, and Nth Power.

They’re still in love with him. A number of local musicians will join together at Martyrs on Lincoln Avenue this Monday, November 13 for Love And Happiness: The Music of Al Green.  John Mead (who’ll serve as host), Bill Brickey, Steve Dawson, and Alton Smith are going to pay tribute to the iconic singer, with help from Chris Greene, Jack Cassidy, Gros Nolle Polossi, and Lenny Marsh. The show starts at 8:00 p.m.

Saturday Night Live: The Experience, a multimedia exhibit celebrating the long-running NBC show, is currently running at the Museum Of Broadcast Communications in downtown Chicago. 

Phil Angotti will likely be showcasing songs from his latest album Such Stories when he performs at Montrose Saloon on Wednesday, November 15.

The Chicago Art Book Fair will run from Thursday, November 16 through Sunday, November 19 at the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel on Michigan Avenue. The first annual showcase promises zine-makers from around the globe, book and comics artists, and self publishers. Admission is free.

Record Store Day Black Friday is a great opportunity to pick up one-of-a-kind vinyl treasures, either as holiday gifts or for yourself. You can also catch some live music throughout the day after Thanksgiving at Val’s Halla record store in Oak Park. The scheduled performers are Ellis Clark and Ary Jeebie; Greg Jackson Combo; Decoy Prayer Meeting; Scott Williams Family Band; Big Hair Trouble featuring Ellis Clark and Ary Jeebie; Phoenix; Tom Klein Experience 3:30; Ellis Clark and The Big Parade featuring Ary Jeebie; Phil Angotti; Black Friars Club; and Hamburglars.

WXRT Live From The Archives Volume 19 will be available on December 1 at Chicago area Target stores. A partial list of the artists involved has been posted on the station’s website and includes Phoenix, Cold War Kids, Sting, Portugal. The Man, Vance Joy, and Real Estate. All of these live performances were recorded in 2017.

Limited-edition 18 x 24 screen prints of artist Shepard Fairey’s dazzling portrait of Debbie Harry will become available for $75 each between 10:00 a.m. and noon on November 13 on his Obey Giant  website. The prints will be signed by Fairey and Blondie founding members Debbie Harry and Chris Stein.

The Empty Bottle is hosting Warm, Safe and Sound, A Coat/Sweater Drive for Homeless Chicagoans  on December 21. Donating a coat or sweater will get you in to see the blues rock band North By North, psychedelic rockers Secret Colours, indie rock band The Handcuffs, and the coed indie pop duo Star Tropics.

Tributosaurus, one of the Chicago area’s best known tribute bands, becomes Paul McCartney on December 6 at Martyrs’ on Lincoln Avenue.

The Bill Graham Rock And Roll Revolution
 ends its run at the Illinois Holocaust Museum And Education Center in Skokie tomorrow. Graham is credited with helping the careers of Janis Joplin, The Grateful Dead, The Who, and Jimi Hendrix.

Congratulations to Rolling Stone on its 50th anniversary. The magazine is celebrating in various ways, including a recent two-part special on HBO and special printed editions. If you missed the TV special, it’s likely it will air again, and/or be released on DVD or Blu-ray.

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Friday, November 3, 2017

Slumgullion

The Bad Examples will be performing the energetic rock of “Not Dead Yet,” along with Squeeze-worthy gems like “Kill Amanda” and “Pictures Of A Masquerade” at FitzGerald’s in Berwyn tomorrow night. Billy Prine, younger brother of iconic folk singer John Prine, and his band are the opening act. Bad Examples lead vocalist/chief songwriter Ralph Covert will be back at the same venue on November 25 as Ralph Covert’s Acoustic Army.

Other highlights at FitzGerald’s this month include critically acclaimed singer-songwriter James McMurtry with Max Gomez next Saturday, and the Speed4Sarah Fall Fundraiser and Concert with Expo ’76 and Nasty Snacks on November 24.

IFP Chicago will celebrate 30 years of supporting independent filmmakers with a bash on tomorrow at Noisefloor on Erie Street. There will drinks, entertainment, and raffle prizes.

There’s a four-band showcase taking place at Silvie’s on Irving Park Road tomorrow night featuring Go Time!, Paul Coady And The Edsels, Letterbomb, and Too Much Saturn.

The 34th Annual Chicago International Children’s Film Festival continues through this Sunday at Facets on Fullerton, The Music Box on Southport, and six partner venues around Chicago and the suburbs. The films—several are animated—are divided into the categories of Tots, Big Kids, Tweens, and Teens.

Punk’s Not Dead. The Regrettes, an L.A.-based band that blended vintage punk, the 1960s girl group sound, and a defiant spirit on its Feel Your Feelings Fool debut, has a gig coming up on November 30 at House Of Blues in Chicago. They’ll be supporting co-headliners The Interrupters and Swmrs. The Regrettes have visited Chicago at least twice already, for appearances at Riot Fest and Schubas.

The Arcada Theatre in St. Charles just might be ornate enough to pass for a ballroom when The Sweet performs there on at on March 31. Tickets are now on sale on the venue’s website.

Tickets went on sale earlier today for Los Lobos at SPACE in Evanston on December 9, Anne Heaton at SPACE on December 28, and Guided By Voices at Empty Bottle on December 30.

If it’s not too early to make holiday plans, The BoDeans will be at City Winery Chicago on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.

Saturday Night Live: The Experience is now running at the Museum Of Broadcast Communications in downtown Chicago, and judging from the press it has been receiving, the exhibit, to quote Wayne and Garth, is “Excellent.” The suburban Aurora basement studio where Wayne’s World was filmed is just one of the sets that has been recreated for the exhibit. You can even pose on the couch in your ripped jeans and baseball cap while reciting your favorite catch phrases from the skit. The exhibit’s format of a typical SNL work week includes props and costumes, as well as a representation of the Wednesday table read, where everyone involved with the show would go over that week’s script.

The Safes, a Chicago-based band whose punk/garage rock Record Heat and Thanks To You albums were favorably reviewed here on BHT, have a record release party for their latest release Tasty Waves coming up at Beat Kitchen on November 22. The Differents (who were very impressive at Martyrs’ last Saturday), Little Boy, Jr., and The Hustle are are also on the bill that night.

The Social Act, one of the first bands I interviewed for the Illinois Entertainer back in the late 1980s,  have been working on a new album, and they’ll be performing at Martyrs’ on Lincoln Avenue on December 15. Razorhouse will also be on the bill that night.

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.

Desiree Burcum and Tina Teske, longtime members of the Famous In The Future comedy group, will be performing at the Lady Laughs Comedy Festival in Madison. WI tomorrow night. Their Sketch-She (Improv & Sketch) show goes on at 7:00 p.m. at the Artemis Bow Stage. Burcum is a Marilyn Monroe fanatic, so I wonder if she knows about Milton H. Greene’s new book The Essential Marilyn Monroe: 50 Sessions. It has 154 photos that have been previously unseen by the public.

In the Garden of Atlantis, a fashion show benefit for Elements Ballet, will take place on November 18 at the Hairpin Arts Center in Logan Square. Models on the runway will be sporting Atlantis-inspired fashions from Rebirth Garments, MJ Ernst, and Amara Black. There will also be art, photography, dance performances, and a reading of a new novel by Miata Boayue.

There’s going to be a Skanksgiving 80s Ska Revival at The Beat Kitchen on November 25 featuring Heavy Manners, DJ Chuck Wren, and Max And The Invaders. Admission is $15, doors open at 8:00 p.m.

The Second Disc website recently reported on a new box set of seven-inch singles that were originally released only to members of the Official Beatles Fan Club from 1963 through 1969. The records are packaged in reproductions of the original sleeves.

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Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Record Store Day Black Friday - For The Vinyl Junkies On Your Holiday Gift List

Traditionally, the day after Thanksgiving is when bargain hunters swarm retail outlets, battling for the best prices on items for gifts or for themselves. In recent years, it’s also become a challenge for vinyl aficionados hoping to acquire limited-edition releases. Record Store Day Black Friday is the seasonal version of the original RSD that takes place every April. The timing has been ideal for nabbing one-of-a-kind Christmas gifts.

This year, some of the more interesting Black Friday releases are literally Christmas gifts. Cheap Trick’s Christmas Christmas is a 12-song album with original holiday tunes and cover versions of The Kinks, Wizzard, and The Ramones. Paul McCartney is releasing a new version of “Wonderful Christmastime” he recorded with Jimmy Fallon and The Roots on two separate seven-inch singles. The red vinyl one has Norah Jones singing “Peace” on the B-side and the green vinyl one has The Decembrists performing “Jesus Christ” on the B-side.

Also, The Minus Five, the Scott McCaughey-led band that excels at mixing quirky ideas with catchy indie rock arrangements, is releasing Dear December. It’s hard to figure how titles like “Musical Tribute To The Oscar Meyer Weiner Wagon” fit the holiday theme, but it is a white vinyl album with an Advent calendar inspired cover. I’m hoping to post more about Record Store Day Black Friday as it gets closer.

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Monday, October 30, 2017

A Few Tricks But Plenty Of Treats

John San Juan (left) joins Phil Angotti (center) and Friends for a Squeeze number.
Photo by Ari Shagal on John San Juan’s Facebook page.

It would have been possible in Chicago this past weekend to go from bar to bar checking out rock band tribute shows, much like kids trick or treating in their neighborhood. The Montrose Saloon, Live Wire, Martyrs’, and Subterranean were just a few of the venues presenting local musicians covering famous ones. It would have been great to go to them all, but due to a hectic schedule, I was only able to drop by Martyrs last Saturday night.

In keeping with the holiday, a few of the acts had tricks up their sleeves. John San Juan and his band’s set was listed as an Eddie Money tribute but anyone hoping for “Two Tickets To Paradise” would have been waiting so long to hear that or any other Money material. That’s because San Juan instead performed songs by the less commercial but catchy and engaging Teenage Fanclub.

Phil Angotti and Friends delivered a set of Squeeze hits as promised, and captured the sophisticated pop of “Black Coffee In Bed,” “Take Me I’m Yours,” “Tempted,” and “Up The Junction.” Still, the biggest treat from his set might have been the lesser known but irresistible “Messed Around.” Angotti also brought up guest musicians to augment the first-rate ensemble he had already hand-picked.

Like John San Juan, The Differents were in prank mode that night, but their idea was well-executed and clever enough to ensure nobody would complain. They promised a.m. radio hits, which for most people would mean the 1950s and 60s. Instead, they covered alt rock songs that were released long after the a.m. dial became infested with talk radio. An onstage announcer claimed the show was being broadcast live, and used the distinct patter of an old time disk jockey to describe the proceedings (“That was The Differents covering The Jam on ‘Start’”).

Comprising singer-guitarist Lou Hallwas (who had been one of Angotti’s guests) vocalist bassist Gary Stier, and drummer Dan Garrity, the band also covered The Pretenders’ version of “Stop Your Sobbing” and also roughed up Freda Payne’s “Band Of Gold.” Angotti climbed onboard to sing lead  and play guitar on Tom Petty’s “American Girl,” and by the time The Differents blasted through Harry Nilsson’s “Jump Into The Fire” and Cheap Trick’s “Southern Girls,” there were a number of guest musicians joining in on the fun.

Sadly, that was as much of the party I caught at Martyrs’ since it was almost midnight and I had to make the long public transportation trek back to Palatine.

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Halloween Song: The Flat Five - The Raven

The Flat Five has been called a Chicago super group due to members Casey McDonough, Kelly Hogan, Scott Ligon, Nora O’Connor, and Alex Hall being veterans of the local music scene and beyond. There’s a vintage quality to their music that includes silly lyrics, smooth-as-silk crooning, jazz beats, and occasional Latin rhythms. After years of performing together on an irregular basis, The Flat Five surprised its fans with a full-length debut last year.

That entertaining vibe of It’s A World Of Love And Hope continues on the band’s recent 45 rpm, colored vinyl single “The Raven.” The members sing Edgar Allan Poe’s words verbatim to finger-snapping arrangement with keyboards and percussion. It’s tempting to think the melody crafted by The Flat Five could be more adventurous, but that approach might have obscured the fun of turning one of the most chilling poems ever written into an irresistible Halloween party song. “The Raven” can be ordered on vinyl or downloaded via the Bloodshot Records site.

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Friday, October 27, 2017

Slumgullion

A warm Broken Hearted Toy welcome to the iconic Bob Dylan, who’s in town for a WXRT concert tonight at the brand new Wintrust Arena on the lakefront. Chicago’s own legend Mavis Staples will also be performing, which makes this a potent double bill.

Dylan is on the cover of a new Heritage Auctions catalog I just received in the mail. I’m only familiar with Heritage because the company usually has reps at Fest For Beatles Fans, and they’re very friendly. Their Music and Entertainment Memorabilia Signature Auction coming up live in Dallas and online on November 11 includes a “Bob Dylan owned and stage-played 1963 Martin D-28 acoustic guitar used on stage at George Harrison’s Concert For Bangladesh and the Rolling Thunder Review Tour.” There are also items related to The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Billie Holiday, Pink Floyd, The Who, Led Zeppelin, and Marilyn Monroe. The opening bid on the Dylan guitar is $300,000.

Halloweekend, the annual two-night tribute event that offers at least four bands doing short sets each night, kicks off at Montrose Saloon tonight. Depending on what time you read this, you could catch part of tonight’s like up of Shoeless Joe Jackson as Joe Jackson; Statutes Of Libery as Grand Funk Railroad, Phil Angotti as The Animals; Rachel Drew covering The Pixies; and The Big Parade & Ary Jeebie as Alice Cooper. Tomorrow night, Decoy Prayer Meeting pays homage to Tom Petty; The Webstirs will be The Guess Who; Androgynous Moustache performs as Crowded House; and Charlie Short will be Robert Palmer. Montrose Saloon is located 2933 W. Montrose.

There’s also a tribute show going on at Subterranean tonight, as part of a benefit/tribute fest for the Intonation Music charity. The Handcuffs will be playing George Harrison tunes; Dayton will play The Rolling Stones; The Good will perform as Queen; Kid Million will do Jane’s Addiction; The Cell Phones will play Lesley Gore; and Que Rico will perform as Toto.

There are five bands doing tributes tomorrow night Martyrs’ on Lincoln Avenue. The Cells will be performing as The Smithereens; Craftwerc will be doing a Kraftwerk tribute; Phil Angotti and Friends will perform as Squeeze, The Differents will be playing AM Radio Hits; and John San Juan will be doing the songs of Eddy Money

If you’d rather be the one belting out tunes by famous (albeit no-longer-with-us) musicians, then FitzGerald’s in Berwyn would be the place for you tomorrow night. That’s when the venue is holding a Ghosts Of Rock Stars Past Halloween Costume Party – Lip Sync Battle And Dance Party.

The Safes, a Chicago-based band whose punk-inflected indie rock albums have been favorably reviewed here on BHT, have a record release party for their new release Tasty Waves coming up at Beat Kitchen on November 22. The Differents, Little Boy, Jr., and The Hustle are are also on the bill that night.

The Bangles, The Romantics, A Flock Of Seagulls, Violent Femmes, Nick Heyward, Boy George And Culture Club, Salt N Peppa and Adam Ant will all be on the bill at the Totally 80s Live Show coming up on January 26 at the Honda Center in Anaheim, CA.

Congratulations to my nephew Joe Flamm on being chosen as one of the contestants for the upcoming season of the Bravo Channel’s Top Chef  program. Joe is currently the chef at critically acclaimed Spiaggia on Michigan Avenue. Our family is extremely proud of him.

A tip of the cap to Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo on proving once again that he’s first-class guy. Rizzo, who has battled cancer himself, had already sent 12-year-old Abby Schrage an autographed picture to help her cope with her treatment for brain cancer. When the news broke that Schrage was devasted after the photo was stolen from her hospital room, Rizzo sent another signed photo, a signed jersey, and some tickets so she and her family can go to the Cubs’ 2018 season opener.

Just when you thought they might be dead (pronounced ‘did’ with A New Zealand accent) The Flight Of The Conchords have announced upcoming concerts in Ireland and the U.K. According to posts on Facebook, the March/April 2018 shows sold out almost immediately.

A super hectic schedule last week decimated my blogging output, resulting in missed opportunities for promoting some worthwhile events. I even neglected to mention Elgin’s annual Nightmare On Chicago Street Halloween Festival, which was held in the city’s downtown area last Saturday. Jeff Kelley and Dave Metzger once again created a zombie-related comedy/thriller to be screened as part of the festivities. I have a small part in their new The Elgin Dead film, which makes my failure to mention it here even more glaring. At least I can mention that The Elgin Dead can be seen on YouTube.

The Fall issue of Inspirer came out before the 2018 nominees for the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame were announced but the magazine and the Hall seem to be somewhat on the same wavelength. Inspirer, which is dedicated to covering women in music and entertainment, ran a feature titled Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, Induct These Women. Three of their suggestions—Nina Simone, Kate Bush, and Chaka Khan are among this year’s nominees. Inspirer’s RRHOF recommendations also included The Runaways, Janet Jackson, The Go-Go’s, PJ Harvey, Pat Benatar, Lucinda Williams, and Carole King.

Belly, of “Feed The Tree” fame, has launched a Pledge Music campaign to help with the release of its long-awaited third album. Those who sign up for the yet-to-be-titled effort will have access to exclusive merchandise like signed vinyl, posters, and special show passes.

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Thursday, October 26, 2017

Interesting Rock Formations

Dating back to the days of Crosby, Stills and Nash and Blind Faith, it’s always been fascinating to discover the chemistry that happens when members of various bands join together to start a new project. In Chicago, the recently formed trio Sunshine Boys comprises Freda Love Smith from Blake Babies; Dag Juhlin from The Slugs; and Jacqueline Schimmel from Big Hello. Blue Music, their debut release of hard-hitting but consistently melodic songs is due out early next year and they open for Poi Dog Pondering (another band Juhlin is part of) on December 30 at City Winery Chicago. Back in 2015, members from the Love Me Nots and Wooly Bandits joined forces for an impressive and fun new garage rock band called Motobunny.

More recently, Vicki Peterson from The Bangles; John Cowsill from The Cowsills; and actor/producer/musician Billy Mummy forged Action Skulls. Their debut album Angels Hear is now available and it’s filled with sparse, roots and garage rock tunes with twangy guitars and an adventurous mix of vocals from all three members. Highlights include the catchy “Mainstream” and gospel influenced “Feed My Hungry Heart.”

The Small Square combines Paul Chastain, who co-founded The Velvet Crush with Ric Menck, with John Louis Richardson who currently performs with Shoes. The resumes for both musicians include time spent with Matthew Sweet, Tommy Keene, Susanna Hoffs, Joey Molland, Ric Menck, Roger McGuinn, and Mitch Easter. The Small Square’s new single “Open Up”  is a power pop gem gleaming with the unmistakable presence of guest musicians Jeff Murphy, John Murphy, and Gary Klebe from Shoes.

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Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Scaring Up Some More Fun

The Scary Ferry  - A Maritime Masquerade On The Chicago River and Lake Michigan will feature Archie Powell And The Exports, who’ve racked up some rave album reviews here on Broken Hearted Toy, along with Family Of Geniuses, and Band From The Back Porch this Friday night. In addition to live music, there will be costumes and prizes. The fun starts at 7:30 p.m.

Here’s an addition to yesterday’s You Be Me For A While post about upcoming tribute band shows: The Fab Four will be performing Beatles songs this Friday, October 27 at Star Plaza Theatre in Merrillville, IN. It’s not related to Halloween, these guys do this stuff all the time.

A super hectic schedule last week decimated my blogging output, resulting in missed opportunities for promoting some worthwhile events. I even neglected to mention Elgin’s annual Nightmare On Chicago Street Halloween Festival, which was held in the city’s downtown area on Saturday, October 21. Jeff Kelley and Dave Metzger once again created a zombie-related comedy/thriller to be screened as part of the festivities. I have a small part in their new The Elgin Dead film, which makes my failure to mention it here even more glaring. At least I can say that The Elgin Dead can now be seen on YouTube.

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Tuesday, October 24, 2017

You Be Me For A While

Halloween will soon be upon us, and along with costumes, trick or treating, and apple bobbing, that means several local bands will be doing tributes to rock stars in local clubs. At least in Chicago. Here’s a quick look at who’s becoming who this weekend and through All Hallows Eve. I’m pretty sure there are more tribute shows than I’m listing below, and if I find out about them (or someone contacts me), I’ll be sure to post them.

Halloweekend, a two-night event with at least four bands doing short sets each night, lands at Montrose Saloon this year, after having been staged at Martyrs’, The Abbey Pub, Quenchers Saloon, and other locations in the past. On Friday, October 27, Shoeless Joe Jackson will perform as Joe Jackson; Statutes Of Liberty rock out as Grand Funk Railroad, Phil Angotti will lead a pack of musicians performing as The Animals; Rachel Drew will cover The Pixies; and The Big Parade & Ary Jeebie wrap up the evening as Alice Cooper. On the Saturday night, Decoy Prayer Meeting pays homage to Tom Petty; The Webstirs will be The Guess Who; Androgynous Moustache performs as Crowded House; and you might as well face, Charlie Short will be Robert Palmer. Montrose Saloon is located 2933 W. Montrose.

The Martyrs’ venue, at 3855 N. Lincoln Avenue, has five bands doing tributes on Saturday, October 28. The Cells will be performing as The Smithereens; Craftwerc will have fun fun fun on the autobahn doing a Kraftwerk tribute; Phil Angotti and Friends will perform as Squeeze, The Differents will be playing AM Radio Hits; and John San Juan will be doing the songs of Eddy Money. On Halloween night at Martyrs, Creampuff Warriors will perform as The Grateful Dead, and Murley will be The Allman Brothers.

On Friday night, Subterranean (2011 W. North Avenue) is hosting a benefit/tribute fest for the Intonation Music charity. The Handcuffs will be playing George Harrison tunes; Dayton will play The Rolling Stones; The Good will perform as Queen; Kid Million will do Jane’s Addiction; The Cell Phones will play Lesley Gore; and Que Rico will perform as Toto.

If you’d rather be the one belting out tunes by famous (albeit no-longer-with-us) musicians, then FitzGerald’s in Berwyn would be the place for you on Saturday. That’s when the venue is holding a Ghosts Of Rock Stars Past Halloween Costume Party – Lip Sync Battle And Dance Party.

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Monday, October 23, 2017

The Old 97s At Durty Nellie's

The Old 97s have visited the Chicago area several times over the years, but this past Saturday night’s performance at Durty Nellie’s was their first in suburban Palatine. Likewise, Durty Nellie’s doesn’t often book nationally known, critically acclaimed acts like The Old 97s. This rare occurrence worked well for both parties, as a packed house enjoyed 90 minutes of rollicking country flavored alternative and garage rock.

Hearing audience members singing along to the fun and catchy “Barrier Reef,” it seemed likely long-time fans had traveled from afar to catch this show. Newcomers were no doubt easily converted as The Old 97s tore through a mix of high-speed rock songs and boozy ballads drawn from their latest effort Graveyard Laughing and 11 previous albums. Lead vocalist-guitarist Rhett Miller was a charismatic frontman who consistently fed off the crowd’s enthusiasm, while guitarist Ken Bethea provided plenty of firepower and twang.

Opening act Lily Hiatt, daughter of John Hiatt, joined the quartet (bassist Murry Hammond and drummer Philip Peeples are the rhythm section) for “Good With God” from Graveyard Laughing, swapping vocals with Miller. (Brandi Carlile sings on the recorded version.) The set also included “Champaign, Illinois,” a funny tune that has received a lot of airplay on Chicago station WXRT. The Old 97s returned for a trio of encores that kicked off with the touchingly romantic “Question” before blazing away on “Let’s Get Drunk And Get It On” and “Time Bomb.” After The Old 97s had finished, a guy standing nearby turned to me, and with a childlike sense of urgency said, “I want more!” Exactly.

P.S. Due a dinner engagement, I didn’t arrive at Durty Nellie’s until after Lily Hiatt’s opening set, but I did talk to her at the merch table and she was very friendly and cool.

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Saturday, October 21, 2017

Saturday Slumgulion

The Old 97s are performing at Durty Nellie’s with Lily Hiatt as their opening act in Palatine tonight. Despite its first-rate acoustics and a classy décor, this venue relies too much on local cover bands. So an adventurous move like this should be rewarded with a packed house.

Led by lead vocalist Rhett Miller, the band formed in Dallas, TX back in 1993 and has released 11 studio albums. The online rock publication Paste describes The Old 97s as “one of the few bands that have never really put out a bad record.” Their latest non-bad effort, Graveyard Whistling, came out earlier this year.

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 tomorrow night at the new Buffalo Creek Brewing venue in Long Grove.

Last night’s Slumgullion had to be postponed because I was at at Filament Theatre watching Tellin’ Tales Theatre’s original Halloween-style musical comedy Six Stories Up – In Haunted Chicago. It concerns middle school kids encountering some famous Chicago ghosts while on a field trip ad wraps up its run this weekend. Filament Theatre is located at 4041 N. Milwaukee Avenue.

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

The Dayna Clay Project will host the Unplugged: A Survivor’s Story In Scenes And Songs Book And Album Release - Benefit Show this 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.

Destinos, the first Chicago International Latino Theater Festival continues this weekend, and runs through October 29 at various venues in town.

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Thursday, October 19, 2017

The Power Pop Shoppe Showcase Vol. 2 and The Old 97s This Weekend

WNUR 89.3 radio personality Kirk Fox will bring the second installment of The Power Pop Shoppe Showcase to the Elbo Room on Lincoln Avenue tomorrow (Friday) night. Fox plays a variety of artists on his Power Pop Shoppe program, and so far, the live shows have been adventurous as well. Last March, The PPSS gave us a triple bill of singer-guitarist Phil Angotti, the quirky band The Bishop’s Daredevil Stunt Club, and The Sunshine Boys—a new energetic, politically aware trio comprised of music scene veterans.

The Bishop’s Daredevil Stunt Club, whose latest album Don’t Buy This Record follows in the tradition of fellow Midwestern acts Wilco and The Webstirs, are coming back for The Power Pop Shoppe Showcase Vol. 2. Two of the other bands on the bill, The Addisons and The Peeves, lean more toward an aggressive punk band, while The Mark Watson Band draws on Cheap Trick and Fountains Of Wayne for influences. It will be interesting to see if Fox once again requests that each act perform a cover of a power pop classic. The Showcase kicks off at 8:00 p.m.

Alt rock fans in Palatine and neighboring northwest suburbs have to be thrilled to find The Old 97s are booked for Durty Nellie’s this Saturday night. The venue has first-rate acoustics and a classy décor, but generally makes its bread and butter on local cover bands. This is definitely a bold move that should be rewarded with a packed house.

Led by lead vocalist Rhett Miller—who’s also released a few solo efforts—the band formed in Dallas, TX back in 1993. Over the course of 11 studio albums (and a few live ones), they crafted critically acclaimed alt rock/country classics like “Timebomb,” “Buick City Complex,” “Barrier Reef,” and “What We Talk About.” The online rock publication Paste describes The Old 97s as “one of the few bands that have never really put out a bad record.” Their latest non-bad effort, Graveyard Whistling, came out earlier this year.

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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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