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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Thursday, August 10, 2017

Step Right Up

Fest For Beatles Fans - Chicago runs tomorrow, August 11 through Sunday. Founded by Mark and Carol Lapidos back in the late 1970s, the annual celebration brings a wide range of fans together at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare in Rosemont to relive Beatlemania via concerts, celebrity interviews; sing-along sessions; trivia contests; art exhibits; video presentations, and more. There are also unique Beatles and rock items for sale in the marketplace.

The 2017 lineup of celebrity guests features four musicians who performed at various times with Paul McCartney in Wings: Denny Laine, Laurence Juber, Denny Seiwell, and Steve Holley. Returning favorites include George Harrison’s sister Louise; Neil Innes, the comedian/musician behind The Rutles parody and a cohort of the Monty Python; and sax player-vocalist Mark Rivera. Mark Hudson, a musician and producer who has worked with Ringo Starr and Cher, remains a longtime Fest participant with an unbridled sense humor and an extensive knowledge of rock and roll. Bruce Spizer, Jude Southerland Kessler, Jorie Gracen, and Robert Rodriguez are among the numerous authors who’ll be on hand.

The Apple Jam Stage, a well-received recent addition to The Fest, offers performances by Laurence Juber, Phil Angotti, Jay Goeppner, Scott Erickson, and other music or comedy acts on a small stage all weekend. The superb Beatles tribute band Liverpool performs in the Ballroom each night, and will cover Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band on Saturday and Sunday night. They will also cover other Beatles songs and then likely jam with the members of Wings; Hudson; and Riveria. The Weeklings, a quartet that includes Glen Burtnik and John Merjave from Liverpool, will perform on Sunday.

There will be designated signing times for most of the guests, and many will be interviewed by master of ceremonies Terri Hemmert, whose Breakfast With The Beatles show airs on WXRT in Chicago every Sunday morning. Wally Podrazik, Tom Frangione, Susan Ryan, and Byrd will also serve as hosts and announcers. Tickets are $52 for Friday, $78 for Saturday or Sunday, and $190 for the entire weekend. Various two-day combinations are also available. Check Fest For Beatles Fans-Chicago online for a list of the celebrity guests and an extensive rundown on all the activities going on all weekend.

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Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Somewhere To Be This Friday Night

Pezband photo from the band’s Facebook page.

On August 11, The Arcada Theatre will present three of the Chicago area’s best-known power pop acts, along with a Tulsa, OK native who’s known for his mastery of the genre. The quadruple bill of Pezband, Shoes, Cliff Johnson and The Raine, and Dwight Twilley kicks off at 7:00 p.m. It’s another multi-act event for the St. Charles venue, which is housed in a vintage movie theatre.

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’s worked extensively with Tom Petty. Pezband was one of the first Chicago bands to embrace power pop music back in the mid-1970s. “Please Be Somewhere Tonight” and “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” led by vocalist Mimi Betinis, remain classics. The band’s 30 Seconds Over Schaumburg EP—recorded at the B’Ginnings club in the northwest suburb, has great versions of original tunes and a cover of “Blue Wind/Stroll On.”

Cliff Johnson’s impressive career includes fronting the band Off Broadway, which gained national attention with impossibly catchy songs like “Stay In Time,” “Hang On For Love,” and “Full Moon Turn My Head Around” from its 1980 Atlantic Records debut On. Johnson currently performs with the veteran Chicago power pop band The Raine on the local club scene. Shoes were one of the very first successful practitioners of the DIY recording approach, attracting major label interest with their self-released Black Vinyl Shoes in 1977. Their tenure with Elektra Records produced gems like “Tomorrow Night,” “Your Imagination,” and “May Day,” before they went back to recording on their own Black Vinyl label. Their most recent effort, 2012’s Ignition, found the band performing at full power with songs like “Head Vs Heart,” “Diminishing Returns,” and Rolling Stones influenced “Hot Mess.”

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Nash Thrives In New Musical Partnership

Photo of Shane Fontayne (left) and Graham Nash from Graham Nash’s Facebook page.

Graham Nash’s latest tour features him once again sharing the stage with guitarist-vocalist Shane Fontayne. It’s at least his third time around with Fontayne, who also toured with Sting and Bruce Springsteen. The duo has evolved nicely into another successful musical relationship for Nash, following those he’s forged with David Crosby, Stephen Stills, and Neil Young, as well as with Allan Clarke and Tony Hicks of The Hollies.

During Nash’s July 29 concert at The Old Town School Of Folk Music in Chicago (the second of his three sold-out shows there), he and Fontayne demonstrated how they practice harmonizing by delivering a breath-taking version of Paul McCartney’s “Blackbird.” Their compatibility extended to the way Fontayne’s electric guitar playing provided a powerful undercurrent to Nash’s melodic acoustic strumming on “Wasted On The Way,” “Immigration Man,” “Wind On The Water,” and “Marrakesh Express.” “I Used To Be A King,” which Nash described as “My first breakup song,” concluded with some spirited jamming.

Nash continued his recent tradition of opening shows with a pair of Hollies songs—this time playing “On A Carousel” and “Carrie Anne.” It would great to see him delve deeper into his tenure with the British Invasion band for songs like “Butterfly” or “Tell Me To My Face.” He and Fontayne added another stellar Beatles cover with “A Day In The Life” from Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. The bulk of the concert was devoted to Nash’s solo output and his work with Crosby, Stills, and Young. “Golden Days” and “Found Myself At Last” from his 2016 solo effort This Path Tonight were introspective and engaging. “Mississippi Burning,” a bonus track on Path, was a hard-hitting tribute to murdered civil rights workers.

Nash’s occasional political comments during the Old Town show were measured but forceful, and he altered a line in “Military Madness” to “I hope Trump discovers what’s driving the people wild.” “Chicago,” performed as the final encore, remains as relevant today as when it sprung from his Songs For Beginners solo debut in 1971. Like the early Crosby, Stills Nash and Young hits “Teach Your Children” and “Our House,” it had people joyously singing along with Nash and Fontayne.

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Monday, August 7, 2017

Get Yer Na Na Na Na Na Na Nas Out

On any given night of Paul McCartney’s current tour, a number of audience members are fulfilling a long-time (almost lifelong) desire to see Beatles songs performed by an actual Beatle. Scanning the crowd at the Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre in Tinley Park this past July 25, it was easy to spot girls-night-out friends hugging and laughing in disbelief that they were about to see Paul McCartney in person. A pair of guys behind where my wife Pam and I were sitting swapped predictions of which songs McCartney had to play, and there were plenty of parents who brought young kids with them.

McCartney and (from what I’ve read) Ringo Starr approach this mammoth responsibility with a bemused expression and an old-fashioned work ethic. McCartney played three hours of classic material augmented by dazzling technical effects, but consistently addressed the crowd as though he was chatting with some mates at the corner pub. His tales centered on encounters with other famous musicians, as well as the simple events that sometimes provide inspiration for a song.

“We’re going to take you back in time,” he announced before harmonizing perfectly with members of his first-rate backup band on the pre-Beatles Quarrymen song “In Spite Of All The Danger.” The concert also included the engaging “Queenie Eye” and “New” from his most recent release, New. McCartney’s days with Wings were well represented with rousing versions of “Nineteen Hundred And Eighty Five,” “Letting Go,” and “Band On The Run.” An extended jam at the end of “Let Me Roll It” honored Jimi Hendrix and led to a funny anecdote about the iconic musician playing to a star-studded audience that included McCartney and Eric Clapton. After realizing his guitar was out of tune, Hendrix reportedly spotted Clapton and asked if he’d come on stage to tune it for him. According to McCartney, Clapton refused.

While introducing the rollicking “I Wanna Be Your Man,” McCartney related how he and John Lennon decided to give the song to The Rolling Stones so they could have a hit single with it. “Here Today,” served as a knowing and heartfelt tribute to Lennon, and later in the show, McCartney quietly strummed “Something” on a ukulele before the full band joined in and photos of George Harrison spread across the big screens surrounding the stage. McCartney also took a moment to honor producer George Martin, suggesting there wouldn’t have been a Beatles without his guidance.

Throughout the show, he seamlessly blended highlights from his solo career—“Maybe I’m Amazed,” “Temporary Secretary,” an eye-popping “Live And Let Die”—with Beatles classics. “Blackbird,” which he explained was inspired by the civil rights movement in America, “And I Love Her,” “Fool On The Hill,” and “Let It Be” were pure magic, while “Back In The U.S.S.R.,” “Can’t Buy Me Love,” and “Lady Madonna” were performed at full power by McCartney and his band. He dedicated “Birthday” to everyone in the crowd who was celebrating their birthday that night (which included me), and in honor of the 50th anniversary of Sgt. Pepper, played “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)” and “Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite!”

As “Hey Jude” sparked its customary audience sing-along on the “Na na na na na na na” coda, it was amazing to glance around the stadium, as well as back across the lawn area, and see so many exuberant people joining together.

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Saturday, August 5, 2017

Saturday Night Slumgullion

An Evening Of John Lennon is coming to City Winery Chicago tomorrow night, August 6, featuring Phil Angotti, Tommi Zender, Casey McDonough, Joe Camarillo, and Dick Schmidt. These guys are veterans of the local music scene and have successfully staged this retrospective before. Tickets are $15; the music starts at 7:30 p.m.

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

The Chicago Art Book Fair, an international showcase of “zine-makers, book artists, comic makers, photo book creators RISOgraph printers, and self-publishers,” makes its debut November 16 through 19 at the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel at 12 S. Michigan Avenue. It will be free and open to the public.

That new video Derrick Anderson talked about filming a while back for his impossibly catchy song “When I Was Your Man” is now available. Taken from his recent solo album A World Of My Own, the stark but fun clip features him on bass, along with Debbi and Vicki Peterson of The Bangles, and Kim Shattuck from The Muffs. Anderson has been performing with The Bangles as their bass player for some time now, and he got them, along Shattuck, Matthew Sweet, The Smithereens, and other power pop stars to help out on the album. As I said here before, I’d love to see Anderson go on tour with that all-star band, and come to Chicago.

In other Bangles news, the band’s 1984 album All Over The Place, was named as one of National Public Radio’s The 150 Greatest Albums Made By Women. Join Mitchell’s Blue came in at Number One. Vicki Peterson has formed a new band called Action Skulls with John Cowsill and Bill Mumy. “Mainstream,” a satiric and jangling tune from their upcoming album Angels Hear, can be heard on The Bangles Facebook page.

The always essential website The Second Disc recently reported on Leave Home: 40th Anniversary Deluxe Edition of The Ramones’ second album. Writer Joe Marchese stated that the three-CD/one-LP box set comes with a remastered version of the album, a new mix on CD and vinyl, and a bonus disc with 33 rare tracks. In another Second Disc post, Marchese covered The Who’s upcoming Maximum As and Bs: The Complete Singles five-CD box set. It comes with a 48-page booklet.

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

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

Carlos Santana’s Transmogrify Tour comes to Ravinia next Friday, August 11 and Saturday, August 12.

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Friday, August 4, 2017

Lollagullion

A hearty Broken Hearted Toy welcome to all the music acts and fans that have arrived in Chicago for Lollapalooza, which opened yesterday and continues through Sunday. You’ll find recommendations on which performances to check out in the daily Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times; weekly Chicago Reader and Redeye; and Innerview, a publication that shows up in record stores whenever a major festival is about to happen in town. The Lollapalooza Facebook page offers updates, and is sharing live performance videos from Red Bull TV.

In yesterday’s Chicago Tribune, writer Tracy Swartz offered extensive tips on tickets, transportation parking, items that are allowed and those that aren’t, and what food vendors will be at the fest. WXRT 93.1 FM has two of its DJs—Marty Lennartz and Jason Thomas—doing live reports from Lollapalooza throughout its four-day run.

So far, the weather has caused some problems for this year’s Lollapalooza, with Lorde’s show being cut short last night due to stormy weather. Today’s temperature barely made it out of the 50s, which is unusual for Chicago this time of year. Major acts coming up in the next few days include Tegan And Sara; Ryan Adams; Run The Jewels; Foster The People; The Killers; Blink-182; Vance Joy; Banks; The Head And The Heart; Chance The Rapper; The XX; Charli XCX; Milky Chance; and The Shins.

Well, I’ve never been to Lolla, but I kind of like the pictures. Those who weren’t able to get Lollapalooza tickets or are just curious about what it looks like can check out the Rock ’n’ Roll Summer pop-up Lollapalooza concert photography retrospective at the Elephant Room Gallery at 704 S. Wabash. It’s right next to the Buddy Guy’s Legends venue and runs through August 9. Chicago-based photographers Barry Brecheisen, Andy Argyrakis, Lyle A Waisman, and Curt Baran will be displaying their work.

Lollapalooza
fans old enough to drink can purchase a festival souvenir in the form of an IPA beer bottle. According to Josh Noel in the Chicago Tribune, Stay Gold, a joint effort from Pipeworks Brewing, Interboro Spirits, and the band Run The Jewels, will be available on draft or for $10 in 22-ounce bottles at a pop-up store at 2363 N. Milwaukee Avenue through Sunday. Call 773-360-8774 for more information.

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Friday, July 28, 2017

Slumgullion

A hearty welcome to Graham Nash, who returns to Chicago for trio of shows, tonight, tomorrow, and Sunday night at The Old Town School Of Folk Music. It’s a mid-sized venue with good acoustics and a decades-long history of presenting well-known performers. A perfect match for Mr. Nash. He was a guest on Chicago Tonight yesterday, talking about the political values that have long informed his work; the on-and-off partnership of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, and his early days with The Hollies.

Also, a warm greeting to Roger Waters, whose current series of Us And Them Live Chicago gigs concludes tonight at the United Center. He is not doing on show there this Sunday, as I reported earlier here on BHT. He was at the United Center last Saturday and Sunday, July 22 and 23. I apologize for the error.

Tickets went on sale today for Pete Townshend’s Classic Quadrophenia Chicago  performance at The Rosemont Theatre on September 13. The event features Townshend, Billy Idol, Eddie Vedder, and Alfie Boe as the troubled teen Jimmy. Proceeds from the concert will benefit Teen Cancer America. WXRT morning DJ Lin Brehmer had a few brief telephone interviews with Townshend this morning and yesterday morning.

There are only a few more days left to catch The Rolling Stones Exhibitionism exhibit before it closes on Navy Pier July 30. It’s a very impressive multimedia presentation of the memorabilia, photos, and videos of the iconic band.

According to the Official Hollies Facebook page, The Rolling Stones made their live performance debut as the opening act for The Hollies on July 13, 1963.

Cliff Johnson and The Raine’s perform tomorrow night, Saturday, July 29 at Reggies Music Joint on State Street just south of downtown in Chicago. The Jay Goeppner Band is also on the bill.

Congratulations to Metro owner Joe Shanahan on celebrating 35 years of keeping his Wrigleyville club at the forefront of Chicago’s live music scene.

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Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Cheap Trick – We’re All Alright!

It’s been a little over a year since Cheap Trick’s Bang Zoom Crazy . . . Hello dovetailed so nicely with the band’s overdue induction into The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. We’re All Alright! follows quickly on the heels of that success and the initial impact, at least for some fans, has been this effort strays too far into hard rock territory. Still, this is Cheap Trick, so even on the Kiss or AC/DC style arrangements, it’s possible to join in the fun.

On “Long Time Coming,” Rick Nielsen borrows a well-known riff from The Kinks and the always inventive Robin Zander playfully rolls the ‘r’ in ‘real’ when he sings, “A real pole grinder.” Songs like “Radio Lover,” “You Got It Going On,” and “Nowhere,” put an emphasis on hot-looking women and the joys and frustrations of relationships. All the while, Nielsen, Zander, Tom Petersson, and Daxx Nielsen unleash a big and well-crafted sound.

The above-mentioned meat-and-potatoes material has enough flavor to succeed, but the real highlights on the album are the more nuanced tracks like “Lolita,” “Listen To Me,” and “If You Still Want My Love.” “She’s Alright” flows a series of double entendres through an irresistible shuffling beat. Cheap Trick once again strikes gold with a cover of The Move; giving “Blackberry Way” such a gorgeous 1960s British pop feel, it makes the album’s title We’re All Alright! seem like an understatement.

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Sunday, July 23, 2017

Sunday Papers

Three days of working overtime and one night of freelance work, plus getting a new chapter of my novel ready for my writers meeting wiped out a whole week of blogging. All worthy distractions, but I wanted to explain my absence lest anyone think I’m losing interest in Broken Hearted Toy. I’m not.

Some big names in rock will be in the Chicago area this week; with Paul McCartney playing at the Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre in Tinley Park on Tuesday and Wednesday; Stephen Stills and Judy Collins at Ravinia on Wednesday; Graham Nash at The Old Town School Of Folk Music on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday; and Roger Waters on Sunday at the United Center. I’m leaving my schedule open in case any or all these musicians want to get together for my birthday.

Longtime rock critic Greg Kot’s interview with Roger Waters in this past Friday’s Chicago Tribune included this quote from the Pink Floyd veteran about performing “The Wall” on his current tour: “It’s interesting the way it finishes onstage after all the bricks have tumbled down, a symbolic demonstration of what good can come out of a wall coming down as opposed to building one. We’d all stand and grin and bathe in connection, a deeply felt connection with the audience.”

Cliff Johnson and The Raine’s next gig is on Saturday, July 29 at Reggies Music Joint on State Street just south of downtown in Chicago. The Jay Goeppner Band is also on the bill that night.

Tickets went on sale today for The Church and Helio Sequence at Park West on October 6; Flamin’ Groovies at SPACE on October 19; LCD Soundsystem at the Aragon Ballroom on November 6; and James McMurtry at SPACE on November 10.

My wife Pam has embarked on a mission to help save the monarch butterfly population. She brings in eggs she finds on the bottom side of leaves on the milkweed plants in our garden, waits until the caterpillars hatch, and then provides fresh leaves for them to feed on. We now have four butterflies-to-be in the chrysalis stage, and six caterpillars in various sizes.

Two Chicago-based festivals are in the chrysalis stage, and I’ve been tracking their development in the hopes of helping them in my own small way to take flight.

YippieFest, a three-day celebration of theatre, comedy, music, puppets, and other forms of entertainment set for the weekend of August 18 – 21 at Prop Thtr, just extended the deadline for participants to sign up. The cutoff is now Monday, July 24. If the concept sounds like the Abbie Hoffman Died For Our Sins festival Mary-Arrchie Theatre hosted for 30 years, it’s because the people behind YippieFest are vets of The Abbie.

The Kaleidoscope Eye psychedelic music festival is now selling advanced tickets for its debut on September 8 and 9 at the Live Wire Club on. Organizers Tim Ferguson of The Red Plastic Buddha, Gregory Curvey of The Luck Of Eden Hall, and photographer/writer Lee Klawans have lined up several bands to participate.

Here’s hoping YippieFest and Kaleidoscope Eye both become annual events on the Chicago scene.

The second Power Pop Shoppe Showcase will take place on October 20 at The Elbo Room on Lincoln Avenue. That’s the same venue where radio host Kirk Fox hosted the first PPSS, a major success that featured The Bishop’s Daredevil Stunt Club, The Sunshine Boys, and Phil Angotti. The Bishop’s Daredevil Stunt Club will once again be part of the lineup, along with The Addison, The Peeves, and Mark Watson Band.

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Friday, July 14, 2017

Slumgulllion

A Broken Hearted Toy welcome to all those who have arrived in Chicago for the Pitchfork music festival running this weekend. Over 40 bands will perform on three stages in Union Park and several big names are involved. LCD Soundsystem, Thurston Moore Group, A Tribe Called Quest, PJ Harvey, The Feelies, Solange, and Ride are among the headliners. The Chicago-based band Ne-Hi will be performing songs from their impressive new effort at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday.

For those who aren’t sure which bands to check out at Pitchfork, local publications The Reader, Red Eye, Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Tribune are offering their top picks. You can also find the complete schedule, as well as thumbnail bios of the participants, in the current issue of Innerview Magazine. It came out a while ago, but there may still be some copies left at stores like Reckless Records.

Secret Colours, a major power on Chicago’s psychedelic music scene, will bring its new lineup to Martyrs’ on Lincoln Avenue tomorrow night to celebrate the release party of its new Dream Dream album. Yoko And The Oh No’s and Soft Candy are also on the bill.

It will be Six Degrees Of Susanna Hoffs when the Chicago-based indie band The Handcuffs joins Matthew Sweet in downtown Springfield, IL tomorrow at the Amaranth Apple Fest. Sweet has worked with The Bangles as a producer, and recorded three albums of well-chosen cover tunes with Hoffs. Handcuffs drummer Brad Elvis (previously with Big Hello, The Elvis Brothers, and Screams) helped out on drums for a few songs when The Bangles played City Winery Chicago a few years ago. Captain Ivory, The Starter Jackets, and Bruiser Queen are also performing tomorrow at the Amaranth Apple Fest.

The people of Park Ridge, IL must really get into their outdoor festivals. I went past the downtown area this morning while taking the Metra to work, and there was already a crowd of people in the street at 7:00 a.m. for Taste Of Park Ridge. They were drinking coffee from a Dunkin’ Donuts truck rather than beer, but that still counts as partying.

Former WXRT and WLUP air personality Rob Skafish will be at the Chicagoland Record And CD Collectors Show in Hillside from 8:45 a.m. this Sunday, July 16, to sell and sign copies of his book We Have Company: Four Decades Of Rock And Roll Encounters.

You can wear your love like heaven to Wishbone North at 3300 N. Lincoln Avenue next Thursday, July 20 for Tommi Zender And John San Juan: An Evening Of Donovan. The music starts at 7:00 p.m. Zender and San Juan are veterans of the local music scene and have played major roles in other tribute shows.

Author Roger Steffens has a new book out titled So Much Things To Say: The Oral History Of Bob Marley that offers fond memories and reflections from friends and fellow musicians.

My wife Pam and I had a great time watching spirited performances by Gaelic Storm, Tupelo, Makem And Spain, Baal Tinne, and The Academy Of Irish Music last Sunday at the Irish American Heritage Center’s annual Irish Fest. We also caught an entertaining production of George Bernard Shaw’s one-act play How He Lied To Her Husband by Shapeshifters Theatre at Irish Fest.

Roger Waters’ Us + Them Tour hits Chicago next Sunday, July 23 for a concert at the United Center.

Several artists will be displaying their work when Artfest Michigan Avenue takes place next weekend, July 21- 23, just north of the river, near the Chicago Tribune building.

Over 20 bands will be performing at Taste Of River North next weekend, July 21 - 23. The fest takes place at Kingsbury and Erie.

Power pop fans in the Los Angeles area are no doubt familiar with the all-star benefits staged by the Wild Honey Foundation. The events are often tributes to famous bands, particularly The Beatles and Big Star, and the profits go to charitable organizations like the Autism Think Tank. The Wild Honey Foundation is currently seeking donations so it can build its own in-house sound system for future shows rather renting speakers, etc. Anyone interested in helping out can send money to the Wild Honey paypal account. For those in L.A., Wild Honey has a benefit for the Autism Think Tank coming up on July 23 with Marianne, Kristian Hoffman, and special guest Eleni Mandell.

The Rage And Rapture Tour, featuring Blondie and Garbage with special guests John Doe and Exene Cervenka from X, will invade Ravinia next Saturday, July 22.

YippieFest, the newborn love child of the Abbie Hoffman Died For Our Sins Festival, is seeking a “social media guru” to help spread the word about its debut at Prop Thtr on the weekend of August 18 – 20. Much like Abbie Fest, which ran for 30 years at the Mary-Arrchie Theatre, YippieFest hopes to stage three days of theatre, comedy, performance art, and music. Some Abbie Fest vets, like Frank Carr and Desiree Burcum from Famous In The Future; and Carla Hayden and James Moeller from Black Forest Theatre, are among the planners. They’re also still looking for more participants, so anyone interested in performing should check out the official YippeFest website.

Today is Collector Car Appreciation Day, according to a recent blurb in Parade magazine. As soon as I’ve finished posting this blog, I’m going up to my man cave to play with my Matchbox Mustang, Stingray, and Jaguar.

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Thursday, July 13, 2017

The Mike Benign Compulsion - Kid

Three years have passed since the The Mike Benign Compulsion gave us Here’s How It Works, a collection of satiric tales put to power pop arrangements. The recently released Kid shows the Milwaukee-based quartet still favors that approach and knows how to make it work. Singer-guitarist Benign’s lyrics on these 11 new songs simultaneously leave the listener laughing and a bit worried, while the music is consistently well crafted and engaging.

“The life inside your head’s the better one to live in,” Benign suggests on “What You Do To Me.” The song’s bump and grind rhythm and guest musician Ed Spangenberg’s trombone playing evoke a strip club, but this song could also be about some creepy guy ogling women on a street corner. “Best Years Of Our Lives” offers pure sarcasm as the band sets typical senior citizen complaints to guitar-driven power pop. The self-centered subject of Benign’s catchy “Gadfly” could be any number of people in the current news, while the more complicated title track presents a guy looking back at his younger self as if he were another person.

“Goodbye, Kid Dreams” deals with the sobering realization that most of our lifelong plans may never see the light of day, while the acoustic-based “Hooray” opens with the line, “I’ve got to get out of my head before there’s no getting out anymore.” “The Legendary Band (That’s Still Together)” might have worked better as a rocker rather than a ballad, but it’s still a prime example of Benign’s ability to spin intriguing tales from various points of view.

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Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Random Name Generator

Artwork from the Tommi Zender And John San Juan: An Evening Of Donovan Facebook page.

In honor of the Wilco song by that name, I recently created a BHT feature of shout-outs addressed toward the famous and not so famous around the globe. It made its debut in a July 2 post here but will also occasionally run as a stand-alone post. Fasten your seatbelt. Here we go:

A Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame member and original flower power troubadour will get the local tribute treatment when Tommi Zender And John San Juan: An Evening Of Donovan takes place on July 20 at Wishbone North on Lincoln Avenue. * Reading recent reviews of Broadchurch by Ellen Gray in the Philadelphia Daily News and Lloyd Sachs in the Chicago Tribune reminded me that the BBC show’s star David Tennant seems to be having the most successful post Doctor Who career of any actor who has played The Doctor in the long-running sci-fi series. Congratulations to Evanston native Laura Harrier on the positive reviews she’s getting for her role as Liz in the new Spider-Man: Homecoming flick. According to Jen Yamato in the Los Angeles Times, director Jon Watts insisted on a diverse cast. The comic strip Zits is often good for some generations-clash comedy, but the recent story arc about teenage Jeremy’s band playing for hard-rocking residents of a senior citizens’ home was particularly funny. It was also cool to see a character referencing blues artists Magic Sam, Koko Taylor, and Bukka White. Richard Milne’s Sunday night program Local Anesthetic on WXRT has been an informative and entertaining source for Chicago area music news for decades. Here’s hoping he doesn’t lose his audience now that XRT has moved the show from its 7:30 p.m. slot to 10:30 p.m.  It’s hard to believe U.K. musician Mordecai Smyth, whom I’ve named an honorary citizen of Palatine, IL, came to America for a week, and didn’t drop by to visit me. Mr. Smyth has a new album coming out titled The Mayor Of Toytown Is Dead, which will likely continue in the same funny/scary vein as his earlier Sticky Tape And RustAuthor Roger Steffens has a new book out titled So Much Things To Say: The Oral History Of Bob Marley that offers fond memories and reflections from friends and fellow musicians.

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Friday, July 7, 2017

Slumgullion

Happy Birthday to Ringo Starr. The Beatles drummer marked the occasion today with a star-studded afternoon bash at the Capitol Records headquarters in Hollywood, CA. Fans who weren’t able to make it out to the west coast could view the festivities via a live feed on Starr’s Facebook page. As usual, his wish was for Peace And Love, and that truly is what the world needs now. Peace and love to you too, Mr. Starkey.

It’s hard to understand why the city of Chicago doesn’t have its annual Celtic Fest in Grant Park anymore, but we still have the smaller but freewheeling and eclectic Irish Fest at the Irish American Heritage Center on Chicago’s northwest side. It kicked off today and runs through Sunday evening. In addition to the headline acts Gaelic Storm, Michael McDermott, Tupelo, We Banjo 3, Runa, Makem Spain, and Scythian, there are entertaining bands like Baal Tinne, The Gleasons, Larkin And Moran Brothers, and The Academy Of Irish Music. Attendees can also watch the high-kicking Trinity Irish Dancers, Foy School Of Irish Dance, and O’Hare School Of Irish Dance; check out an art show; and shop for gifts. Admission is $15.

The Millennium Art Festival takes place this weekend on Lake Street at Michigan Avenue. It’s not one of the city’s bigger art events, but there’s always some interesting work on display there, along with a live music stage and food vendors. Plus, it’s right in the midst of several of downtown’s best attractions.

There are at least three events this weekend for anyone who’s tired of seeing pretty much the same bands at everyone of Chicago’s outdoor events over the summer. West Fest, at Chicago Avenue and Damen Avenue, is teaming up with well-known indie rock venue Empty Bottle in presenting a lineup that includes Local H, Har Mar Superstar, Speedy Ortiz, Woods, Palehound, and Cymbals Eat Guitars. Square Roots Festival is being presented by The Old Town School Of Folk Music on Lincoln Avenue between Montrose and Wilson, and has Nikki Lane, Meat Puppets, and Lucero. Ruido Fest in Medill Park casts a spotlight on Latin alternative rock acts like Molotov, Desorden Publico, and Julieta Venegas.

Chicago-based alt rock band whitewolfsonicprincess will be playing at Tommy Nevins in Evanston this Sunday at 5:00 p.m., and at The Red Line Tap next Sunday, also at 5:00 p.m. The Red Line Tap gig will be part of the R And R Circus series whitewolfsonicprincess has been staging at that venue on a semi-regular basis.

In between the last paragraph and this one, I took a short break to go watch Band Called Catch performing their homespun original alt rock tunes at the Fred P. Hall Amphitheater right here in Palatine. I had forgotten how good their vocals are, and they’ve added a third singer since the last time I saw them.

Secret Colours, has a record release party for its new Dream Dream album coming up on July 15 at Martyrs’ on Lincoln Avenue. Yoko And The Oh No’s and Soft Candy are also on the bill.

The Rage And Rapture Tour, featuring Blondie and Garbage with special guests John Doe and Exene Cervenka from X, comes to Ravinia on July 22.

The Pitchfork music festival returns to Chicago July 21–23, offering over 40 bands on three stages in Union Park. There are several big names involved, including LCD Soundsystem, Thurston Moore Group, A Tribe Called Quest, PJ Harvey, The Feelies, Solange, and Ride. The Chicago-based band Ne-Hi will be performing songs from their impressive new album at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday of Pitchfork.

For a complete Pitchfork schedule as well as thumbnail bios of the participants, pick up a copy of Innerview Magazine at stores like Reckless Records. The Chicago-based Innerview publishes “Know Before The Show” guides to major events in town. Look for their annual Lollapolooza issue to appear in a few weeks.

Former WXRT and WLUP air personality Rob Skafish will be at the Chicagoland Record And CD Collectors Show in Hillside from 8:45 a.m. to noon on Sunday, July 16 to sell and sign copies of his book We Have Company: Four Decades Of Rock And Roll Encounters.

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

Last week I mentioned that An Evening Of John Lennon, featuring Phil Angotti, Tommi Zender, and Casey McDonough, was coming up at City Winery Chicago, but I forgot to mention the actual date, which is August 6. In the meantime, Angotti will be part of the Great Moments In Vinyl ensemble when it covers The Beatles White Album next Friday, July 14 at Martyrs’ on Lincoln Avenue.

Jay Goeppner brought his band Backdated to his hometown of Mount Prospect on the 4th Of July and gave the festival a rollicking finish. Backdated takes its name from The Who song “Substitute,” so it was no surprise to hear them cover at least three Who songs. They also did well with stuff by The Doors, Chicago, The Hollies, and other 1960s acts.

Another highlight of Mount Prospect’s 4th Of July celebration on Tuesday was the Motown revue band R-Gang. These guys have a great stage presence and cover a range of rhythm and blues songs that includes Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, The Time, and Fine Young Cannibals.

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Thursday, July 6, 2017

Fest For Beatles Fans - Chicago Returns

First, a few words about some things to do tomorrow night: The Chicago-based alt-rock group Band Called Catch will be performing at 8:00 p.m. at the Fred P. Hall Amphitheater in Palatine. On previous visits to Palatine (including a concert as part of The Blue Whiskey Film Festival), Band Called Catch has offered a mix of tuneful originals and well-chosen covers.

The 41st Annual Fest For Beatles Fans - Chicago comes to the Hyatt Regency O’Hare in suburban Rosemont on the weekend of August 11–13. The event presents musicians, authors, artists, photographers, and music biz people who have some connection to to the most famous band in rock history. Many are accessible to fans in both the general sense of watching them being interviewed in the hotel ballroom, and on a face-to-face basis at the autograph tables. It’s not unusual to spot guests walking through the crowd or chatting with fans.

This year, the guest list leans heavily toward musicians who worked in Paul McCartney’s post Beatles band Wings—with guitarist-vocalist Denny Laine, lead guitarist Laurence Juber, drummer Denny Seiwell, and drummer Steve Holley all scheduled to appear. In addition to being a founding member of Wings with Paul and Linda McCartney, Laine was the original vocalist for The Moody Blues. (Long gone before “Nights In White Satin.”) Juber now has a successful career recording albums of acoustic guitar instrumental versions of Beatles songs. Other guests include George Harrison’s older sister Louise, musician/producer Mark Hudson; sax player-vocalist Mark Riviera; and Neil Innes, who collaborated with Monty Python and was a driving force behind The Rutles parody band.

WXRT air personality Terri Hemmert will once again be serving as Master Of Ceremonies. In addition to the Beatles-related guests, Liverpool, one of the best Beatles tribute bands around, will perform each night. Liverpool usually invites the Fest’s musical guests to join them on stage, so expect to hear a flight of Wings tunes in addition to Beatles covers. There’s also a marketplace with loads of music-related memorabilia. The Apple Jam Stage, a recent and welcome addition to the festivities, will be back again. Performers in that area will include Laurence Juber, Phil Angotti, Scott Erickson, and Jay Goeppner.

Tickets for The Fest For Beatles Fans - Chicago are $52.00 for Friday; $78.00 for Saturday or Sunday; and $190.00 for the entire weekend. Note: Admission is cheaper for those who purchase their tickets before July 21. I’m hoping to do a more extensive preview closer to the event.

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Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Andy Stone – Blender

Andy Stone’s new album Blender is a skillful collection of traditional singer-songwriter tunes and eccentric 1960s style pop. As was the case with his 2013 effort This Giant Awoke (see archives February 28, 2013), some of these latest songs could have sprung from a musical stage production. The ways in which Stone depicts assorted stages of romantic relationships or offers advice on living life to its fullest provide strong hints he’s a novelist as well as a musician.

“Catherine’s Acting” is an intriguing tale of how a woman’s childhood imaginary friends resurface as characters in her successful one-woman show. The fetching and energetic “Be That Girl” encourages a woman to take risks in love and her career, noting, “hearts don’t beat on rational.” It works better than the similar but more generic-sounding “Are You Satisfied?”

“When You Were Here,” a study of a man coping with a broken relationship, is set to a ornate string arrangement, while “Please Don’t Go” has a melodic, mid-tempo pop arrangement. A more optimistic view of romance arrives with the energetic “4:30,” a giddy celebration of frolicking outdoors with a new love at that early hour of the morning. Occasionally, Stone’s dramatic phrasing distracts from the flow of the songs, but that’s just a small issue on this well-crafted effort.

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Sunday, July 2, 2017

Sunday Papers

Photo from The Church’s Facebook page.

The Church will be City Winery Chicago tomorrow night and July 4. The Australian band formed in 1980 and is best known for its international hit “Under The Milky Way.”

Also coming up at City Winery Chicago is An Evening Of John Lennon featuring Phil Angotti, Tommi Zender, and Casey McDonough. Singer-guitarist Angotti’s new Such Stories album is available on iTunes.

The Arcada Theatre has added another power pop feather to its cap by bringing back The Smithereens on September 16. Pat DiNizio and the boys have previously played the St. Charles venue as part of a 1980s showcase with The Romantics, Marshall Crenshaw, and Tommy Tutone, and for a solo gig. As previously mentioned here on BHT, there’s a triple bill of Shoes, Pezband, and Dwight Twilley coming up at The Arcada on August 11.

Secret Colours, a young but nevertheless major power on Chicago’s psychedelic music scene, has a record release party for its new Dream Dream album coming up on July 15 at Martyrs’ on Lincoln Avenue. Yoko And The Oh No’s, a good band with a not so good name, and Soft Candy, a quartet that lists The Zombies and The Kinks among its influences, are also on the bill that night.

Thanks to John D. Kolonel of The Raine for tagging me in a Facebook post about wearing his Broken Hearted Toy button during the Material Reissue/Cliff Johnson and The Raine show at the Wire club in Berwyn. I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Kolonel at the Cover Palooza show at The Gallery Cabaret a while and gave him a button. So here’s the deal: if I give you a BHT button and you post a picture of yourself on Facebook wearing it, I’ll give your post a “Like.” Cliff Johnson and The Raine’s next gig is on July 29 at Reggies Music Joint on State Street just south of downtown in Chicago. The Jay Goeppner Band is also on the bill that night.

The Yep Roc 20 Festival, an offshoot of the indie record label, will be held October 19 – 21 in Carrboro and Hillsborough, NC. The lineup so far comprises Nick Lowe; Dave and Phil Alvin with The Guilty Ones; Los Straitjackets; Tony Joe White; and the Stray Birds, with more to be announced. Tickets are already available on the official Yep Roc site and there are VIP packages available for $175.

Former WXRT and WLUP air personality Rob Skafish will be at the Chicagoland Record And CD Collectors Show in Hillside from 8:45 a.m. to noon on Sunday, July 16 to sell and sign copies of his book We Have Company: Four Decades Of Rock And Roll Encounters. Skafish, along with his fellow XRT DJ Terri Hemmert, were among the first Chicago radio people to embrace punk and new wave music when it emerged in the mid-1970s. In my yet-to-be-published rock novel, there’s a local radio DJ character who’s sort of a mix of Skafish, Hemmert, and Chrissie Hynde.

Speaking of Terri Hemmert, she focused on Ringo Starr’s birthday on her Breakfast With The Beatles show this morning on XRT. The Beatle drummer’s 77th birthday comes next Friday, and he’ll celebrate at the Capitol Records Building in Hollywood, CA from noon to 4:00 p.m. I’m still kicking myself for missing the birthday bash he had in Chicago a number of years back.

As reported in an Associated Press article in the Chicago Tribune, The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in Cleveland has a brand new exhibit called “The Power Of Rock.” It uses smoke, laser lights and hidden speakers to amp up film clips of induction ceremony performances from over 30 years. The article also mentioned that The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame is undergoing a $15 million dollar remodeling. Hopefully, that means more Hollies memorabilia.

Random Name Generator: In honor of the Wilco song by that name, here’s a new BHT feature of shout-outs (and occasionally shout-ats) addressed toward the famous and not so famous around the globe. It could become a regular part of Slumgullion, a stand-alone post, or just pass into oblivion. Fasten your seatbelts, ‘cause here we go:

Chicago Tribune critic Kerry Reid’s review of City Lit Theater’s production of London Assurance was so well written and researched it makes me want to go see it. As much as I’ll miss Wendy Rice doing Saturday Morning Flashback on WXRT, I have no doubt that new rotating hosts (and longtime XRT air personalities) Johnny Mars and Frank E. Lee will do a great job. Lily Aldridge is the Victoria’s Secret model I think I could most easily be friends with. I’ve never seen the Talking Heads tribute band Big Suit but their ad on page 42 of the new Illinois Entertainer for an upcoming show at the Addison Rock ’N Wheels event on July 20 is so cool it makes me want to check them out. Father Michael Pfleger made a valid point when he told the Chicago Sun-Times that athletes from Chicago’s major teams should visit with city kids in low income neighborhoods the way Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah did when they played for The Bulls. My wife Pam and I go to the cafe at Mariano’s in Palatine every Saturday because we like the beverages and the friendly service from Hailey, Matt, Michelle, and Deb. To Mr. I-Fly-The-W-Flag-All-The-Time-No-Matter-How-The-Cubs-Are-Doing: if you don’t understand the rules, don’t play the game. Boris Boden, a guy I met back in the mid-1970s when we both hung out at the Harlow’s club on Chicago’s southwest side, does a great power pop show called Secret Weapon on Woody Radio. Critics have been praising Baby Driver as a well-made and clever action flick with a wall-to-wall soundtrack of classic rock, but I haven't heard if it actually uses the Simon And Garfunkel song by that name. 

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Saturday, July 1, 2017

Who’s On Fourth?

I’m awfully late getting this post out, but there’s still a lot of live music to catch outdoors in the Chicago area through the 4th of July.

FitzGerald’s 36th Annual American Music Festival  in Berwyn has a full plate of entertainment tomorrow, with performances by Brett Newski; Ike Reilly; Tributosaurus as The Monkees; and others. CJ Chenier; Marcia Ball; Dave Alvin; and The Blisters are among the performers on Monday.

Milwaukee’s annual SummerFest continues tomorrow, skips Monday, and then runs July 4 through July 9. Acts scheduled to perform include Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers; Bob Dylan; Sheryl Crow; The Shins; and Tegan And Sara.

The very first Live On Lincoln festival combines an eclectic live music lineup of with food from local vendors on Sunday.

The International Festival Of Life has returned for a 25th year of featuring Caribbean, African, and Latin American culture. It runs in Union Park through July 4.

Collective Soul performs tomorrow at the 30th annual Ribfest in Naperville, and you can catch The Wallflowers, and Better Than Ezra on Monday. The festival has raised over $15.5 to help eliminate child abuse and domestic violence.

Live rock continues at The Palatine Jaycees’ 60th Annual Hometown Fest in Palatine tomorrow and runs through Monday night. Scheduled acts include Serendipity on Sunday at 5:00 p.m. and the Rolling Stones tribute band Hot Rocks at 5:00 p.m. on Monday.

The Mount Prospect Club 79th Annual Lions Club Festival has live bands running through July 4; including School Of Rock tomorrow; Serendipity and Seventh Heaven on Monday; and Jay Goeppner and Backdated on Tuesday.

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Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Upcoming Shows And Some Self-Promotion

Photo from the Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers Facebook page.

Milwaukee’s annual SummerFest kicked off today and runs through July 9, with a one-day break on July 3. Acts scheduled to perform include Red Hot Chili Peppers; Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers; Outlaw Music Festival; Bob Dylan; Sheryl Crow; The Shins; The Moody Blues; Ziggy Marley; Tegan And Sara; Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue; Brian Setzer’s Rockabilly Riot; The Isley Brothers; Guster; Peter Wolf; The Church; Berlin featuring Terri Nunn; and The Regrettes.

Goose Island and WXRT’s Friday Night Sounds on the Plaza at Millennium Park concert series continues this week with an acoustic set by Chicago’s long-running punk band Smoking Popes. The show has an inconvenient starting time of 4:30 p.m., but hopefully those of us who work nine-to-five will be able to catch some of the Smoking Popes before they finish at 6:30. Upcoming Friday Night Sounds concerts include Tim Kinsella and Joan Of Arc on August 11 and Scott Lucas of Local H on August 18.

Local pop band Ne-Hi, who came across very well on a recent appearance on XRT’s Local Anesthetic program with Richard Milne, have a gig coming up on July 15 at Lincoln Hall.

The 2017 Writing Workshop Of Chicago held last Saturday at the Congress Plaza Hotel on Michigan Avenue no doubt provided inspiration as well as a reality check for aspiring authors. There were several sessions hosted by industry professionals that offered essential tips on getting published. For an additional fee, you could have one-on-one time to pitch your book to a literary agent or get feedback on its first 10 pages.

I opted for the latter, and had a rewarding conversation with a successful author/writing teacher about my Young Adult, paranormal rock and roll novel. Her encouraging words gave me a buzz I’m still enjoying four days later, and she suggested some astute edits as well. Now, the challenge is for me to put those positive vibes into action.

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Friday, June 23, 2017

Slumgullion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Thursday, June 22, 2017

Power Pop Drawing Power?

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

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

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

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

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Saturday, June 17, 2017

Saturday Slumgullion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Monday, June 12, 2017

Concert News

Art from the Elvis Costello Facebook page.

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

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

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

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

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

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Thursday, June 8, 2017

A Cultural Cornucopia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Cover Palooza and YippieFest

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

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

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

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

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Friday, June 2, 2017

Slumgullion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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