Tuesday, June 19, 2018

A Double Dose Of Power Pop Expertise

Photo from The Posies Facebook page.

It’s hard to imagine a better place for Chicago area power pop fans to be this Saturday night than at Park West for a double bill of The Posies and Material Reissue. The Posies, in the midst of their 30th Anniversary Tour, will be drawing from a wealth of albums, including Dear 23, Frosting On The Beater, and Blood/Candy. The set list is sure to include irresistible gems like “I May Hate You Sometimes,” “Suddenly Mary,” “Dream All Day,” and “So Caroline.” Singer-guitarist Jon Auer and singer-guitarist Ken Stringfellow have been the band’s nucleus for all these years, and their harmonies remain impeccable.

Material Reissue includes Material Issue founding members bassist-vocalist Ted Ansani and drummer Mike Zelenko, along with singer-guitarist Phil Angotti, who was a good friend of the late Jim Ellison. The new formation came together for an International Pop Overthrow - Chicago gig a few years back that packed the house at The Abbey Pub. They still perform occasionally on the local club scene, and opened for Matthew Sweet at Park West a few years ago. Original tunes like “Valerie Loves Me,” “Diane,” and “Renee Remains The Same,” along with their cover of The Green Pajamas’ “Kim The Waitress” still pack a melodic whallop. Singer-guitarist Terra Lightfoot is also on the bill, and will be playing songs from her recently released album New Mistakes. The music starts at 8:00.

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Thursday, June 14, 2018

Power Pop Shoppe In Wrigleyville

Photo from The Power Pop Shoppe’s post on Facebook

WNUR air personality Kirk Fox has been hosting live showcases based on his Power Pop Shoppe radio program at area venues for a while now, and he has another gem coming up tomorrow (Friday, June 15) night. This one’s a 1970s Night of cover versions with a definite power pop flavor at The Sandlot Wrigley. It features one of Chicago’s masters of tributes, Phil Angotti, along with the Lovepunch band, with special guest Mark Watson.

Angotti has quickly become a Power Pop Shoppe showcase veteran, having played his own material in the past. He’s also done tributes to Simon And Garfunkel, The Bee Gees, The Zombies, and Squeeze at various venues. Tomorrow night, Angotti will be performing songs by Elvis Costello, Tom Petty, Badfinger, and Cheap Trick. Lovepunch plans on serving up music originally done by Blondie and The Knack. The show starts at 8:00 p.m. The Sandlot Wrigley is located at 3477 N. Clark St.

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Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Incoming

Here they come, walking down Lawrence Avenue. The Monkees Present The Mike Nesmith And Micky Dolenz Show comes to the Copernicus Center in Chicago’s Jefferson Park neighborhood this Thursday night. Hits songs will begin flowing at 7:30 p.m.

Monty Python’s Spamalot will open at Mercury Theater in Chicago on this Thursday, June 14 and run throughAugust 5.

CHIRP Radio 107.1 FM is helping present Urgh! A Music War at the Music Box this Saturday, July 16 at 7:00 p.m. The 1981 documentary features performances from The Go-Go’s, X, Echo And The Bunnymen, UB40, Devo, 999, Gary Numan, Devo, Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark, and several other punk and new wave bands. Admission is $10.

Arthur Buck (Peter Buck and Joseph Arthur); Buddy Guy; Johnny Marr; and The English Beat have new albums coming out this Friday, June 15th.

Cracker is what the world needs now and they’ll be bringing their catchy Americana rock to The Old Town School Of Folk Music this Sunday night.

Gomez will stage a 20 Year Celebration Of Bring It On in a WXRT show at The Vic this Friday, June 15, and Saturday, June 16. The radio station has been giving away tickets to callers this week.

A Day In The Country returns to The Hideout, one of Chicago’s more eclectic and critically acclaimed venues, on Sunday, June 24 from 2:00 to 11:00 p.m. Scheduled acts include headliner The Cactus Blossoms, along with Three Blue Teardrops, Golden Horse Ranch Band, The Saluda Moonlighters, The Lawrence Peters Outfit, and Al Scorch’s Country Soul Ensemble. There will be a barbecue by Honky Tonk BBQ and homemade pie by Bang! Bang! The Hideout is located at 1354 W. Wabansia on the north side.

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Monday, June 11, 2018

The Spindles – Past And Present

Past And Present lives up to its name with an entertaining mix of new original material and a few well-chosen cover versions of vintage songs. The Spindles specialize in power pop and have been a participant at International Pop Overthrow – Chicago for a number of years. Vocalist-guitarist Jeff Janulis is also a founding member (with Michael Steven Cohen) of another IPO – Chicago standout The Abbeys.

Janulis wrote all of the new stuff here, and while he knows how to craft the standard love and heartache songs, he’s also able to put more sensitive subject matter to catchy arrangements. “I Want My Baby Back” shows us a guy at the funeral of a wife or girlfriend, wondering what he could have done to prevent her suicide. “Almost The Same” is from a parent’s point of view and concerns a son or daughter who’s run off in search of fame and trouble.

On the happier side, “Whenever We’re Together” is a spritely celebration of long-lasting romance, and “If I Fall In Love” is pure, mid-1960s style fun. The Spindles also throw in a faithful take on The Hollies’ classic hit “Look Through Any Window,” complete with ringing guitars and impressive harmonies. “Young Heart,” a song penned by Brad Steakley and originally intended to be on an album by The Elvis Brothers, offers some fun and helpful tips about staying cool while getting older. Steakley plays drums on the track, and his former Elvis Brothers mates Graham Walker and Rob Newhouse pop up separately throughout Past And Present. The Spindles pay homage to The Elvis Brothers with a rollicking version of the fast and funny “Santa Fe.”

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Friday, June 1, 2018

Slumgullion

Chicago-based singer-songwriter Jared Rabin has a gig at 10:00 p.m. tonight at SPACE in Evanston to mark the release of his new Wondering About The Weather seven-song EP.

Tickets are now available for the baseball-themed rock and roll charity event Hot Stove Cool Music at Metro next Friday night, June 8. WXRT air personality Lin Brehmer and Mad Men cast member Joel Murray will host, with performances by Chicago Cubs President Of Operations Theo Epstein, Len Kasper and the Chicago Hot Stove All-Stars; legendary baseball writer Peter Gammons and the Boston Hot Stove All-Stars; and Chicago-based buzz band The Orwells. Proceeds will support Cubs charities and Epstein’s Foundation To Be Named Later.

Ted Leo and The Pharmacists, La Luz, and Deerhoof will be among the acts playing at Do Division street fest in West Town this weekend.

The Chicago Alternative Comics Expo (CAKE) will be held tomorrow and Sunday at The Center on Halsted (3656 N. Halsted). Admission is free.

The Alan Parsons Project is bringing its Eye In The Sky 35th Anniversary Tour to the Copernicus Center (a short walk from the Jefferson Park Blue Line stop) this coming Tuesday, June 5.

Lookingglass Theatre Company’s staging of Jules Verne’s 20,000 League’s Under The Seas continues its run through August 19. Adapted by David Kersnar and Althos Low, the production promises encounters with “the monsters of the sea—and those inside us all.”

The Amazing Hebby Jeebies will be performing their rockabilly/garage music at 3:00 p.m. next Saturday as part of Ribfest Chicago. Ra Ra Riot, The Weeks, and Waco Brothers are also among the scheduled acts. Suggested donation is $10, which will benefit school, youth sports, and social services. Ribfest is located at the intersection of Lincoln Avenue, Irving Park, and Damen.

And that’s just part of the fun going on next weekend when Chicago will transform into an outdoor festival wonderland. The Chicago Blues Festival, Old Town Art Fair, Wells Street Art Fair, 57th Street Art Fair, Midsommarfest, Spring Awakening Music Festival, and Printers Row Lit Fest are all taking place.

The UK independent label Mega Dodo has a limited-edition blue vinyl LP of live Traffic music titled First Exit coming out this month. The album features Steve Winwood, Dave Mason, Jim Capaldi, and Chris Wood performing “Smiling Phases,” Paper Sun,” “Dear Mr. Fantasy,” and four other songs for a 1967 radio broadcast in Stockholm. Mega Dodo will also release Shipless Ocean, the latest effort from current psyche duo Us and Them as a limited-edition 180 gram aquamarine vinyl LP.

The Vinyl Merchant’s next Record Pop-Up takes place on June 10 On The Patio At Peckish Pig in Evanston. Attendees will be able to buy, sell, or trade seven-inch and LP records. There is no cover for the all ages show, and DJs will provide music. Peckish Pig is located at 623 Howard Street.

Cheap Trick will share a double bill with Poison next Saturday, June 9 at the Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre in Tinley Park.

Urgh! A Music War, the 1981 documentary that features performances from The Go-Go’s, X, Echo And The Bunnymen, UB40, Devo, 999, Gary Numan, Devo, Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark, and several other punk and new wave bands, will be screened at the Music Box on July 16. Admission is $10.

According to the June issue of the Illinois Entertainer (available free in record stores and music venues around Chicago), Mazzy Star; Neko Case; Pete Yorn and Scarlet Johansson; and Roger Dalty released new albums today. And we can expect new albums later this month from Lily Allen on the 8th, Arthur Buck (Peter Buck and Joseph Arthur); Buddy Guy; Johnny Marr; and The English Beat on the 15th, and Florence + The Machine and Ray Davies on the 29th.

Congratulations to Julia Louis-Dreyfus on being chosen as the recipient of the Kennedy Center’s 2018 Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. Dreyfus, whose impressive TV resume includes Saturday Night Live, Seinfeld, The New Adventures Of Old Christine, and Veep, first started her comedic career in Chicago. She and husband Brad Hall were members of the Practical Theatre Company.

And congratulations to blues vocalist-guitarist Buddy Guy. He’ll receive a lifetime achievemnt award from the American Music Association on September 12 at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, TN.

Monty Python’s Spamalot will open at Mercury Theater in Chicago on June 14 and run throughAugust 5.

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Thursday, May 31, 2018

Riot Fest & The Regrettes

Photo from the Johnny Marr Facebook page.

The first wave of acts scheduled to perform at this year’s Riot Fest on the weekend of September 14 through 16 in Douglas Park has been announced, and it includes Johnny Marr, Elvis Costello And The Imposters, Beck, Blondie, Liz Phair, Twin Peaks, Cypress Hill, Cat Power, Gary Numan, The Exploited, and Jerry Lee Lewis. Marr will likely be performing songs from his brand new album Call The Comet, which is due out on June 15. His previous two solo albums The Messenger and Playland placed first and second on my 2013 and 2014 Favorite Releases of Year lists, respectively.

Tickets go on sale tomorrow for an August 4 show with The Vaccines and The Regrettes at Schubas. It should be interesting to see if The Regrettes have come up with any new songs since their critically acclaimed Feel Your Feelings Fool came out last year. In other Regrettes news, the Los Angeles band has recorded a revved up and irresistible version of “Helpless” from the musical Hamilton. It’s part of Hamilton composer Lin-Manual Miranda’s #Hamildrop series. A video of their performance can be found on YouTube and various other sites, including Playbill.

Tickets also go on sale tomorrow for Chvrches and Sasha Sloan on August 1 at Metro; Alejandro Escovedo and Joe Ely at Old Town School Of Folk Music on August 24; Florence + The Machine and Perfume Genius at United Center on October 19; Franz Ferdinand at Park West on August 1; Houndmouth and Lewis Capaldi at Metro on August 3; Ziggy Marley at Thalia Hall on August 28; and Parquet Courts and Dream Wife at Thalia Hall on August 2.

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Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Various Artists - Altered Sweet - A Tribute To Matthew Sweet

The recently released Altered Sweet double CD tribute showcases Matthew Sweet’s skills at creating amazing hooks and heartfelt lyrics about the pitfalls of relationships. The 27 acts chosen by Futureman Records to participate exude an obvious familiarity and affection for Sweet’s power pop gems and meet the challenge of putting their own stamp on them. There are a few missteps here and there, but nothing serious enough to disrupt the party.

CokeRoque offers gorgeous harmonies on their baroque pop version of “Get Older,” but the clip-clop percussion that comes later in the arrangement sounds too cute. Paranoid Lovesick nails the catchy pop of “What Matters,” so we don’t really need the extended call-and-response coda.”Hide” by Donny Brown, “Not When I Need It” by Greg Pope, and “You Don’t Love Me” by Keith Klingensmith are all well-crafted, but these slower tunes have a tough time competing with the more energetic tracks scattered throughout the collection.

The always reliable Lannie Flowers delivers tight harmonies and high-powered guitar work on the optimistic “I’ve Been Waiting,” while Lisa Mychols gives “Looking At The Sun” a dreamy psychedelic vibe. Gretchen’s Wheel mixes acoustic and electric guitars for a catchy take on “Walk Out” that evokes Aimee Mann. The ringing guitars and harmonies on Robyn Gibson’s “I Should Never Had Let You Know” and Trolley’s “Quiet Her” bring to mind The Byrds, as does
Arvidson and Butterfly’s impressive performance of the aptly titled “Byrdgirl.”

It would take too much space to go into detail on each of the songs on Altered Sweet. A quick mention of the many highlights would Michael Carpenter’s “Girlfriend,” Phil Ajjarapu’s “I Thought I Knew You,” Nick Piunti’s “Behind The Smile,” and Andy Reed’s “Where You Get Love.” All in all, they bring some much deserved attention to one of our better modern day composers.

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Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Incoming

The Chicago Cultural Center in downtown Chicago will be screening music-related films at 6:30 p.m. each Wednesday night through October 3. Reel Music will feature flicks from countries around the world. The first installment, screening tomorrow night, is B-Movie: Lust and Sound In West Berlin, a look at the punk scene in West Berlin during the 1980s from directors Jorg A. Hoppe, Klaus Maeck, and Heiko Lange. The 92-minute documentary offers vintage clips of Joy Division, New Order, and Nick Cave. The Chicago Cultural Center warns that it has explicit content.

“Here Comes The Night” on Thursday. Androgynous Mustache, one of Chicago’s highly entertaining and inventive tribute bands, will turn its attention to Them this Thursday night, May 31 at Montrose Saloon. As any good Brit Invasion fan can tell you, Van Morrison led Them through “Gloria” before The Shadows Of Knight scored big with it in the USA.

Empower, a new opera that explores the experiences of growing up on the south side of Chicago, will be performed Thursday, May 31 at the Lyric Opera Of Chicago. The work features a script adapted by Ike Holter and music by Damien Sneed and is a collaboration with the Chicago Urban League. Tickets are $10–$20.

Chicago-based singer-songwriter Jared Rabin has a gig coming up this Friday, June 8 at SPACE in Evanston to mark the release of his new Wondering About The Weather seven-song EP. Rabin drew critical acclaim for his debut effort Something Left To Say in 2016, and melodic Americana tunes like “Back To You,” “If I Told You,” and “Road To No Regrets” on Weather are sure to continue that trend. The SPACE show starts at 10:00 p.m.

The garage rock band Vamos has a free show coming up this Friday, June 1 at the Cole’s club at 2338 N. Milwaukee Avenue.

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Friday, May 25, 2018

Slumgullion

Photo from the EXPO ’76 Facebook page.

EXPO ’76 returns to Mac’s On Slade in Palatine tonight. The band is not only fascinating for its unpredictable and wide-ranging choice of cover versions, but also for the resumes of its members. In addition to their previous achievements, these guys continue to sprout new projects. Vocalist-guitarist Dag Juhlin is also part of the socially aware and consistently melodic Sunshine Boys, and keyboardist-vocalist Kenn Goodman is also a member of the new soul/rock outfit The Imperial Sound. The EXPO ’76 show kicks off at Mac’s tonight at 8:45 p.m.

Also in Palatine tonight, the Creative Tribal Collab will be holding another open mic night at Christie’s Dairy Delights n’ Coffee from 6:30 to 9:00 p.m.

Elsewhere tonight, Great Moments In Vinyl will be performing Pink Floyd’s entire Dark Side Of The Moon and Wish You Were Here albums at Martyrs’ on Lincoln Avenue. GMiV has a roster of several local musicians, so you never know which ones will be on hand for a particular show. Tonight’s event starts at 9:00 p.m.

If you’ve heard those stories about the eerie way the Dark Side Of The Moon album synchs with The Wizard Of Oz movie and want to see for yourself, drop by the Logan Theatre at 2646 N. Milwaukee in Chicago tonight at 11:00 p.m. for its special presentation Dark Side Of The Rainbow.

Tickets went on sale today for Charlatans UK at Bottom Lounge on September 25; Ralph Covert at SPACE on August 12; Guided By Voices at SPACE on August 26; and Sting, Shaggy at Aragon Ballroom on October 2.

Lookingglass Theatre Company’s staging of Jules Verne’s 20,000 League’s Under The Seas kicked off this past Wednesday and will run through August 19. Adapted by David Kersnar and Althos Low, the production promises encounters with “the monsters of the sea—and those inside us all.”

This is the last weekend 33 To Nothing, a play about a band that’s coming undone due to emotional struggles among its members, will run at A Red Orchid Theatre.

How To Talk To Girls At Parties, a new movie that brings outer space aliens to London’s punk scene in 1977, opened today. It’s based on a story by Neil Gaiman and stars Elle Fanning and Nicole Kidman.

The Chicago Cultural Center in downtown Chicago will be screening music-related films at 6:30 p.m. each Wednesday night from May 30 through October 3. Reel Music will feature flicks from countries around the world. The first installment is B-Movie: Lust and Sound In West Berlin, a look at the punk scene in West Berlin during the 1980s from directors Jorg A. Hoppe, Klaus Maeck, and Heiko Lange. The 92-minute documentary offers vintage clips of Joy Division, New Order, and Nick Cave, and has explicit content.

Singer-songwriter Michael McDermott’s summer tour in support of his new album Out From Under will include an appearance at the Roscoe Village Burger fest in Chicago on July 14. Illustrator/writer Terri Murphy, a longtime member of the writers group I belong to, has created a video for McDermott’s poignant and hopeful ballad “The Silent Will Soon Be Singing.”

Birdland, writer Simon Stephens’ musical about the chaotic life a rock and roll superstar, continues its critically acclaimed staging at Steep Theatre through June 9.

Empower, a new opera that explores the experiences of growing up on the south side of Chicago, will be performed next Thursday, May 31 at the Lyric Opera Of Chicago. The work features a script adapted by Ike Holter and music by Damien Sneed and is a collaboration with the Chicago Urban League. Tickets are $10–$20.

Amplified: Chicago Blues, an exhibition honoring Chicago’s blues heritage, is now open at the Chicago History Museum and will run through August 10, 2019. The exhibition will focus on Howlin Wolf, Little Brother Montgomery, Little Walter, Magic Sam, Big Joe Williams, Willie Dixon, Koko Taylor, and Muddy Waters. at on Clark Street. The Chicago History Museum is located at 1601 N. Clark Street. Admission is $19 for adults.

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Monday, May 21, 2018

Incoming

Cheap Trick has a new single called “The Summer Looks Good On You” available to stream or download from various sites. (I went the iTunes route.) It’s a classic catchy and powerful Cheap Trick arrangement with a message that’s both flirtatious and supportive. Check out their Facebook page for the link.

Todd Rundgren’s band Utopia is now touring for the first time in 32 years, and they’ll be at the Chicago Theatre tomorrow night. It’s a great venue to hear some adventurous progressive rock.

U2 is bringing its eXPERIENCE + iNNOCENCE Tour to the United Center this Wednesday night. The band’s 2017 effort Songs Of Experience album drew favorable reviews in the media, including here on Broken Hearted Toy. The tour title suggests U2 will be concentrating on more recent material (Songs Of Innocence was released in 2014) but hopefully they’ll perform older favorites like “I Will Follow,” “Pride In The Name Of Love,” and “Vertigo.”

The Imperial Sound, a seven-piece soulful rock band that comprises veterans of The Service, New Duncan Imperials, The Goldstars, EXPO’ 76, The Krinkles, Devil In A Woodpile, Mucca Pazza, and Jay Davis Trio, is performing at the GMan Tavern on Clark Street this Thursday night. There are six vocalists in this band. Their debut album The New AM is due out soon, and fans can get a preview on the official website. The Handcuffs (also working on a new album) will be the opening act for the show this Thursday. The music starts at 9:00 p.m.

The above mentioned EXPO ’76 will be returning to my sleepy hometown of Palatine this Friday night for another evening of fun and unpredictable cover versions. The music starts at 8:45.

Also in Palatine this Friday, the Creative Tribal Collab will be holding another open mic night at Christie’s Dairy Delights n’ Coffee from 6:30 to 9:00 p.m. Maria Jordan will host and Cosmo Bob will be on sound.

Great Moments In Vinyl will be performing Pink Floyd’s entire Dark Side Of The Moon and Wish You Were Here albums this Friday night at Martyrs’ on Lincoln Avenue. GMiV has a roster of several local musicians, so you never know which ones will be on hand for a particular show. Friday night’s event starts at 9:00 p.m.

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Friday, May 18, 2018

Slumgullion

Tickets go on sale tomorrow for Neil Young’s show at the Auditorium Theatre on June 30 and July 1.

Tickets are already on sale for two shows by The Bodeans at City Winery Chicago on November 24; The Church at Lincoln Hall on October 17; The English Beat at Metro on July 6; The Flat Five at FitzGerald’s on September 1; Poi Dog Pondering at Thalia Hall on October 5 and 6; Poster Children at Lincoln Hall on June 29; and Waco Brothers at FitzGerald’s on August 25.

Jessica Risker, a Chicago-based indie/folk performer who’s been getting some positive press lately, has a 2:00 p.m. in-store performance at the Reckless Records on Milwaukee Avenue tomorrow, May 19. She’ll be performing songs from her new album I See You Among The Stars.

The Ripleys have a 9:30 p.m. show tomorrow night at FADO just north of downtown at Clark and Grand. FADO is known for its Irish food and decor, but The Ripleys will be more likely to perform tunes by Tom Petty and The Beatles than jigs and reels. And maybe a U2 cover.

The real U2 returns to the Chicago area with its eXPERIENCE + iNNOCENCE Tour next Wednesday, May 23 at the United Center.

Great Moments In Vinyl will perform the entire Dark Side Of The Moon and Wish You Were Here albums at Martyrs’ on Lincoln Avenue next Friday, May 25.

Empower, a new opera that explores the experiences of growing up on the south side of Chicago, will be performed on May 31 at the Lyric Opera Of Chicago. The work features a script adapted by Ike Holter and music by Damien Sneed and is a collaboration with the Chicago Urban League. Tickets are $10–$20.

Graham Nash, Cliff Richard, Todd Rundgren and Lee Ann Womack are among the guest vocalists covering Motown classics on legendary songwriter/producer Lamont Dozier’s new Reimagination album. Nash performs a Supremes medley that includes “Stop In The Name Of Love.” He previously covered that song with The Hollies on their What Goes Around reunion album in 1983.

Streetwise, the nonprofit publication that helps homeless people get back on their feet, is hosting The Cool Party on June 23 at The Chop Shop/1st Ward. There will be live bands and an art show.

The Vinyl Merchant is having a Record Pop-Up event at Patio at Peckish Pig in Evanston on Sunday, May 27. The Pop-Up store will also be at that location on June 10 and June 24.

Soundtrack Serenade members Charlie Short, Holly Senchak Dausch, Mark Winkler, Chris Anderson, and Neal Alger will reunite for an evening of songs from the High Fidelity flick at Quenchers Saloon on June 6. Tim Grimes will serve as MC. The gig is a farewell to the beloved Quenchers bar, which is closing soon.

How To Talk To Girls At Parties, a new movie that introduces outer space aliens to London’s punk scene in 1977, opens next Friday, May 25. It’s based on a story by Neil Gaiman and stars Elle Fanning and Nicole Kidman.

Neil Gaiman fans might also want to check out Lifeline Theatre’s adaptation of his novel Neverwhere when it opens on June 7. It’s been adapted by Robert Kauzlaric and is being directed by Ilesa Duncan.

While making my weekly trip to downtown Chicago today, I was pleasantly surprised to spot my nephew on the cover of Modern Luxury’s Men’s Book Chicago summer edition. The Magazine For The Modern Gentleman (that may sound like sleazy but it’s not) has a cover story titled Chefs On The Rise and proclaims, “Joe Flamm Leads The Next Genaration.” Joe is currently Executive Chef at Spiaggia, and won the most recent season of Top Chef on Bravo. Ken Biffar at Sienna Tavern; Ryan Pfeiffer at Blackbird; Kyleen Aronson at Acadia; Andres Padilla at Rick Bayless’ Restaurant Group; and Sarah Rinkavage at Marisol are also featured in Ariel Cheung and Jaclyn Jermyn’s article, and all the chefs were artfully rendered by photographer Anthony Tahlier.

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Friday, May 11, 2018

Slumgullion

The Second Disc website recently reported on Graham Nash’s upcoming two-CD set of demos Over The Years due out in June. The oldest demo is a version of “Marakesh Express” The Hollies rejected when Nash pitched it to them in 1968. There are also demos of classic Nash solo and CSNY material like “Immigration Man,” “Teach Your Children,” “Wind On The Water,” “I Used To Be A King,” and “Chicago/We Can Change The World.” Second Disc writer Randy Fairman also mentioned a double vinyl LP version of Over The Years coming out in August.

Another round of Ravinia tickets became available today, including Earth Wind And Fire on August 17; Beach Boys and The Righteous Brothers on August 24; Lyle Lovett and His Large Band on August 28; John Hiatt and The Goners and Sonny Landreth on August 30; Culture Club and The B-52’s on August 31 and September 1; Jethro Tull on September 3; Gipsy Kings on September 14; and Tony Bennett on September 8.

Tickets also went on sale today for Cracker at The Old Town School Of Folk Music on June 17; Roky Erickson at Lincoln Hall on November 9; Eleanor Friedberger at Empty Bottle on October 5; and Howard Jones at City Winery Chicago on July 9.

The alt rock band whitewolfsonicprincess will open for the band Echoes tomorrow night as part of the second optimistically named All Of My Strangers Are Going To Be Friends event at The Store on Halsted. Echo will be celebrating the release of its second CD, Confluence.

Haim’s Sister Sister Sister Tour stops by the Aragon Ballroom tomorrow night. The trio’s new album Something To Tell You is available now.

SPACE in Evanston will host An Evening Of George Harrison Music this Sunday night with performances by Steve Dawson, Phil Angotti, Tommi Zender, Tom Ryan, Dick Schmidt, Diane Christiansen, Natalie Galey, and Jim Barclay. The show starts at 7:00 p.m.

Birdland, writer Simon Stephens’ musical about the chaotic life a rock and roll superstar, continues its critically acclaimed staging at Steep Theatre through June 9.

Ex Norwegian, the Miami-based band whose last three power pop albums have garnered praise here on BHT, has a new one titled No Sleep coming out on June 22. I’ll be reviewing it in the near future. Fans can get a vinyl copy of No Sleep via Ex Norwegian’s page on the QRATES site.

Norwood Park All Stars are veterans of Chicago’s original punk scene and they’ve retained their ability to create authentic punk over the years. Their latest effort N.P.A.S. DOS is out now with 13 new hard-hitting songs. The promo copy came in a cool denim promo package that looks like the back pocket from a pair of faded jeans. I’m looking to review this one in the near future. The Norcore label has also released compilations of vintage Norwood Park punk.

33 To Nothing, a play about a band that’s coming undone due to emotional struggles among its members, runs through May 27 at A Red Orchid Theatre. Aaron Holland plays the band’s lead vocalist.

There’s going to be a documentary about Creem, the cutting-edge rock magazine that was published for 20 years and later made a brief comeback. Check out the Boy Howdy! The Story Of Creem Magazine Facebook page for updates.

There will be a Special Wednesday Night Screening of the original Planet Of The Apes at the Pickwick Theatre in Park Ridge next Wednesday, May 16. This year marks the 50th Anniversary of the film. Tickets for the Pickwick screening are $10/$8 Advance, and there will be prelude music provided by Jay Warren.

The Buddy Holly Story continues its month-long run tonight at the American Blues Theater. Lili-Anne Brown directs the Alan Janes play; with music directed by Michael Mahler.

Daniel Ash, of Love And Rockets and Bauhaus fame, has a fun new single called “Alien Love” available for digital download on his official website.

Gomez will stage a 20 Year Celebration Of Bring It On in a WXRT show at The Vic on Friday, June 15, and Saturday June 16.

Sons Of The Silent Age, the Chicago-based David Bowie tribute band with an impressive lineup music scene vets, plans to make up for a gig they had to cancel at Martyrs’ a while back by returning to the venue on July 6.

Chicago music scene veteran Ellis Clark will be celebrating his birthday with a bash on June 30 at Montrose Saloon. In addition to his band Big Parade, The Handcuffs and Fantastic Sound System are also on the bill. Clark has also been a member of The Social Act and one of Chicago’s first punk bands, Epicycle. The music starts at 9:00 p.m.

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Monday, May 7, 2018

Sunshine Boys - Blue Music

Sunshine Boys haven’t been around very long but each band member has years of experience on the music scene. Lead vocalist-guitarist Dag Juhlin was a founding member of the Chicago-based punk/pop band The Slugs, and his resume also includes Poi Dog Pondering and the eclectic covers band EXPO ’76. Bassist-backup vocalist Jacqueline Schimmel was a member of Big Hello, the Brad Elvis-Chloe F. Orwell band that preceded their current one The Handcuffs. Drummer Freda Love Smith was part of the Boston-based trio The Blake Babies with Juliana Hatfield and John Strohm, as well as the bands Antenna and Mysteries of Life.

That level of expertise no doubt helped accelerate the path from first gig to debut album, and it’s also likely The Sunshine Boys were eager to get their message out to the public. While most of Blue Music deals with personal and romantic entanglements, there are also urgent calls to action regarding America’s current political and social climate. Whatever the approach, well-crafted lyrics are set to indelible arrangements that combine alt rock with classic guitar-driven 1960s pop.

“Questions” is a heartfelt tale of a budding relationship built on the old-fashioned means of a man and woman exchanging letters, and the doubts they have about each other. The achingly beautiful “Caroline Yes” is another gem about a romance being tested, while “Billy Boy” deals with the challenges and expectations a young man encounters upon graduating high school. Schimmel’s backing vocals give a dreamy quality to “Tripping Through Time,” a catchy look at various events in people’s lives.

“There Goes Another One” doesn’t mention any specific issues, but lines like “Why don’t you speak up?/Why can’t you make a choice?” aim to rouse people from their complacency. “Schoolyard Bully” takes its name from an often-used description of Donald Trump, and bristles with observations like, “He lowers the bar/Sets free the monsters we already are.” “Only A Million Miles” is Blue Music’s most inspiring mix of protest and powerful instrumentation, simultaneously sounding defeated and optimistic. We’ve accomplished so much in terms of social justice, the song proclaims, but far do we still have to go? Only a million miles.

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Friday, May 4, 2018

Slumgullion

High Fidelity, the coolest film ever made about an indie record store (Empire Records is the only other one I can think of), is being shown tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the Chicago Theatre on State Street. There will be a live conversation with the film’s star John Cusack after the screening.

Alice Peacock and Phil Madeira will perform at a WXRT show at SPACE tomorrow night.

Suzanne Vega’s shows for tomorrow night and Sunday night at City Winery Chicago have sold out. Vega will be performing her Solitude Standing and 99.9 F albums in their entirety.

Eleanor Friedberger has a show tomorrow night at Lincoln Hall. In addition to being half of the critically acclaimed indie rock duo Fiery Furnaces, she’s launched a successful solo career.

Art Encounter, a nonprofit art education organization, is hosting an event to honor gallerist William Lieberman this Sunday, May 6 at the Evanston Women’s Club.

There’s a new album out today from Belly, which reminds me I haven’t played the 10-inch EP they released for Record Store Day. Or any of the other vinyl treasures I bought during this year’s event. Later this month, we’ll see new releases from Arctic Monkeys, Beach House, Ry Cooder, and The Sea And The Cake on the 11th; Matthew Sweet, Ray LaMontagne, and Courtney Barnett on the 18th; and Chvrchs on 25th. The May issue of the Illinois Entertainer has a more extensive list of albums coming out this month.

A picnic basket full of Ravinia shows went on sale today, including Los Lobos and Los Lonely Boys (June 1); John Fogerty and ZZ Top (June 12);  Jackson Browne (June 15); Roger Daltry (June 23 and 25); Janis Ian (June 24); and Buddy Guy and Jonny Lang (July 8).

Other shows that went on sale today include The Hot Stove Music event hosted by Theo Epstein at Metro on June 8; The FitzGerald’s annual American Music Festival from June 29 to July 3; Peter Himmelman at SPACE on June 27; Fleetwood Mac at the United Center on October 6; and Death Cab For Cutie at the Auditorium on October 7. For an extensive listing of upcoming concerts in the Chicago area, check out the final page of this week’s Reader.

The Breeders, whose new album All Nerve has been getting rave reviews, will be at The Vic Theatre this Tuesday night.

Haim will be at The Aragon Ballroom next Friday, May 11.

Birdland, writer Simon Stephens’ musical about the chaotic life of a rock and roll superstar, continues its run at Steep Theatre through May 12.

Graham Parker with James Maddock, performs at City Winery Chicago next Thursday, May 10.

The Buddy Holly Story has kicked off a month-long run tonight at the American Blues Theater. Lili-Anne Brown directs the Alan Janes play; with music directed by Michael Mahler.

Lookingglass Theatre Company will be staging Jules Verne’s 20,000 League’s Under The Seas from May 23 through August 19. Adapted by David Kersnar and Althos Low, the production promises ecounters with “the monsters of the sea—and those inside us all.” I’d like to sit in on the auditions for the giant squid.

Amplified: Chicago Blues, an exhibition honoring Chicago’s blues heritage, opened this month at the Chicago History Museum and will run through August 10, 2019. The exhibition will focus on Howlin Wolf, Little Brother Montgomery, Little Walter, Magic Sam, Big Joe Williams, Willie Dixon, Koko Taylor, and Muddy Waters. The Chicago History Museum is located at 1601 N. Clark Street. Admission is $19 for adults.

33 To Nothing runs through May 27 at A Red Orchid Theatre. Aaron Holland plays the lead vocalist of band that’s coming undone due to emotional struggles among its members.

There will be a Special Wednesday Night Screening of the original Planet Of The Apes at The Pickwick Theatre in Park Ridge on May 16. This year marks the 50th Anniversary of the film. Tickets for the Pickwick screening are $10/$8 Advance, and there will be prelude music provided by Jay Warren.

There will be an opening reception on May 12 for the Tony Fitzpatrick: The Secret Birds at the DePaul Art Museum. On May 23, Fitzpatrick will have a conversation with Chicago Tribune writer Rick Kogan from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m.

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Thursday, May 3, 2018

Frisbie 20th Anniversary Celebration

Chicago-based power pop band Frisbie’s 20th Anniversary bash this past Saturday at the Martyrs’ club on Lincoln Avenue definitely lived up to fans’ expectations. Known for its critically acclaimed albums—Subversive Sound Of Love and New Debut—and as an opening act for Cheap Trick, Matthew Sweet, and Big Star, Frisbie has gone through lulls but never actually broke up. So Saturday night’s show was not so much a reunion as the latest sporadically scheduled gig.

In addition to inviting Sunshine Boys and The Plutonians onboard for a triple bill, Frisbie founding members singer-guitarist Steve Frisbie and singer-guitarist Liam Davis, along with long-time drummer Gerald Dowd lined up a few surprise guests for its own set. Before Frisbie launched into its first number, a horn section led by Max Crawford provided a festive overture (arranged by Crawford) featuring snippets of the band’s material. Guest singer Nora O’Connor took over on lead vocals for one song and harmonized perfectly with Steve Frisbie and Liam Davis.

Even those unfamiliar with the band would have to be impressed with how Frisbie and Davis kept their powerful vocals perfectly in synch throughout several power pop songs. Crawford’s horn section pitched in at various times, enabling the band to capture the feel of songs from New Debut. “Shine,” “Disaster,” and “S.F.B.” were particular highlights during the set. Frisbie introduced an impressive new song titled “Long Shot” and added a few covers, including a rollicking take on Brian Eno’s “Needle In The Camel’s Eye.”

Opening act Sunshine Boys performed most of the tracks from its recently recently debut Blue Music. Lead-vocalist Dag Juhlin. bassist-backup vocalist Jacqueline Schimmel, and drummer Freda Love Smith have impressive resumes as musicians and they’ve gelled perfectly in this new trio. “Questions” and “Billy Boy” were heartfelt tales, while “Schoolyard Bully” and “Only A Million Miles” set politically charged lyrics to irrestible, high-energy arrangements. The brand new songs “The Serpent In Spring” and “Sideline Guys” showed Sunshine Boys are already getting strong new material ready for their next release. I wasn’t able to stay for The Plutonics, due to my usual need to catch a bus and the last train back out to Palatine.

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Tuesday, May 1, 2018

U2 - Songs Of Experience

Critics have been debating whether U2 deserves its lofty status ever since Rolling Stone writer Debra Rae Cohen claimed while reviewing Boy in 1981 that it didn’t mark the band as a “new Next Big Thing.” They were, in her estimation, “only the next best thing to something really new.” Decades of landmark albums and massive sales later, U2 suffered a backlash after distributing a free download of Songs Of Innocence.

For the most part, Songs of Experience arrived without controversy in 2017, garnering favorable press even from the journalists who slammed its predecessor. For those of us who not only graciously accepted Innocence but enjoyed it, Experience serves as further evidence that U2 remains a vital force in rock and roll. It’s an ambitious 17-track effort, that like Innocence, finds lead vocalist Bono trying to make sense of a violent world.

At times, the lyrics serve as a pep talk for anyone who feels overwhelmed by the menacing forces they see around them. “Don’t you ever doubt the light that we can really be,” Bono advises amidst the otherwise dire references in the pulsating techno rocker “The Blackout.” That same healing light metaphor also appears on “Lights Of Home,” and on “13 (There Is A Light).” The catchy, bass-driven “Summer Of Love” offers lines like, “We’ve one more chance before the light goes.”

The call to action on the hard-edged “American Soul” directly addresses the U.S. with lines like,“Let it be unity/Let it be community/For refugees like you and me.” “Love Is Bigger Than Anything In Its Way” seems to anticipate the youth movement that sprang up only recently. “So young to be the words of your own song,” Bono observes, “I know the rage in you is strong/Write a world where we can belong.”

“Get Out Of Your Own Way” and “You’re The Best Thing About Me,” the songs that have garnered the most airplay from Experience, relate more to personal relationships. They succeed with the classic U2 elements—Bono’s soaring vocals and The Edge’s shimmering guitar playing. The remixed versions of “Lights Of Home,” with its dramatic string arrangement, and the hip hop infused “You’re The Best Thing About Me (U2 VS KYGO)” make Songs Of Experience even more of an adventure.

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Friday, April 27, 2018

Slumgullion

Photo from the Frisbie Facebook page.

He’s not a million miles away, he’s right here in Chicago. Peter Case, a founding member of The Nerves and The Plimsouls, is performing tonight in Szold Hall at The Old Town School Of Folk Music.

International Pop Overthrow - Chicago wraps up its 2018 run at the Heartland Café Bar with showcases tonight, tomorrow afternoon, and tomorrow evening. Please see yesterday's post for more information.

Tickets went on sale today for My Bloody Valentine at The Riviera Theatre on July 27, and Garbage at that same venue on October 17. Other shows now on sale include Toots And The Maytals at Thalia Hall on August 8 and Simple Minds at Chicago Theatre on October 15. And Neil deGrasse Tyson returns to The Chicago Theatre on October 15.

The Buddy Holly Story kicks off a month-long run tonight at the American Blues Theater. Lili-Anne Brown directs the Alan Janes play; with music directed by Michael Mahler.

Chicago-based power pop band Frisbie will celebrate its 20th anniversary in style tomorrow night at Martyrs’ on Lincoln Avenue. The band has opened for Matthew Sweet, Big Star, Cheap Trick, and other big names on the power pop scene. Their first album The Subversive Sounds Of Love is still considered a classic of the genre. The Sunshine Boys haven’t celebrated their first anniversary yet, but their years of experience in other bands no doubt helped them create Blue Music, which is sure to be one of the best albums of 2018. They’re also on the bill at Martyrs’ tonight, as well as The Plutonians.

There will be a Van Go Concert! tomorrow night at Phyllis’ Musical Inn on Division Street. The Chicago-based band, which has a flair for energetic, catchy songs that frequently pack a satirical punch, will be showcasing its upcoming album. Deadly Bungalows and Trita, and are also on the bill tomorrow night.

Independent Bookstore Day, a national celebration of the cool and courageous retailers who still stock books, takes place tomorrow. Some stores will offer special events and snacks for patrons. The official website can tell where these magical places can be found in your area.

The Ides Of March will be at City Winery Chicago next Thursday; Suzanne Vega has shows coming up there next Saturday and Sunday, and Graham Parker with James Maddock, performs on May 10. Later at City Winery, The Cathy Richardson Band will be headline at a benefit for the Olivia Newton John Cancer Center. That event is on May 23.

The Breeders will be performing with special guests Melkbelly on May 8 at The Vic, and The Brian Jonestown Massacre will be at that same venue on May 11.

Issue number 6 of The Seen – Chicago’s International Journal of Contemporary and Modern Art is now available for free in newspaper boxes in the downtown Chicago area. Stephanie Cristello is Editor-In-Chief.

The more the merrier. 33 To Nothing, at least the fourth play based on rock and roll to be staged in Chicago during the past few months, runs through May 27 at A Red Orchid Theatre. Aaron Holland plays the lead vocalist of band that’s coming undone due to emotional struggles among its members. The Grant James Varjas play unfolds in real time in director Tyrone Phillips’ production.

Get your paws off my popcorn! There will be a Special Wednesday Night Screening of the original Planet Of The Apes at The Pickwick Theatre in Park Ridge on May 16. This year marks the 50th Anniversary of the film. Tickets for the Pickwick screening are $10/$8 Advance, and there will be prelude music provided by Jay Warren. Who is an ape. Just kidding about that last part.

Art Encounter, a nonprofit art education organization, is hosting an event to honor gallerist William Lieberman on Sunday, May 6 at the Evanston Women’s Club.

The weather outside is frightful, but one sure sign warmer temperatures are on the way is the annual festival guide in the RedEye free weekly newspaper. Each year, I rip out these pages and save them through the end of September. As usual, the latest version includes street fests, art fests, film fests, charity events, and concerts taking place around the Chicago area over the spring and summer. RedEye is available in boxes around downtown and northside neighborhoods.

Birdland, writer Simon Stephens’ musical about the chaotic life a rock and roll superstar, continues its run at Steep Theatre through May 12. Joel Reitsma has been getting a lot of praise from local critics for his work as the lead character. Jonathan Berry is the play’s director.

There will be an opening reception on May 12 for the Tony Fitzpatrick: The Secret Birds at the DePaul Art Museum. On May 23, Fitzpatrick will have a conversation with Chicago Tribune writer Rick Kogan from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m.

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Thursday, April 26, 2018

This Weekend At IPO

Photo from Jay Goeppner’s Facebook page.

International Pop Overthrow Chicago wraps up its 2018 run at the Heartland Café Bar with showcases this Friday night, Saturday afternoon, and Saturday evening. You’ll find links to all of the acts on the official IPO website, although there are still a few TBAs. Once again, I’m more familiar with some of these acts than others, and if I had to pick a favorite, it would be The Jay Goeppner Band at 11:45 tomorrow night. Like his pal and sometime bandmate Phil Angotti, Goeppner lives and breathes the 1960s and chooses the best bands to cover. I’m assuming he’ll do some originals too.

Some other recommendations would be Michael Steven Cohen, who formed three very good bands—The Abbeys, Pop Dollys, The Everly Hillbillies—and is an engaging solo performer. He kicks things off at 2:00 pm. on Saturday. The always fun Mike Vanderbilt And The Suburban Garage Sound go on at 5:00 p.m. The Queue has gone through some personnel changes over the years, but founder Sean Michael Mulligan can always be counted on for a good show. The band goes on at 8:45 on Saturday. The Bishop’s Daredevil Stunt Club just keeps releasing one good album after another, and they were impressive at a Power Pop Shoppe Showcase I caught a while back.

Several IPO regulars will be on hand; including Waiflike, The Joy Poppers, The Cells, Freetoed, and Too Much Saturn. You’ll also find Jason Batchko, The Mixture, Blameless Lake, Gal Gun, and Young Distractions. At this point, the very last act of the fest is a mystery.

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Wednesday, April 25, 2018

IPO Thursday Night Preview

There are three days and four showcases left for this year’s International Pop Overthrow - Chicago run at the Heartland Café Bar on the north side. It’s easy to get a preview all of the acts who’ll be performing because IPO Founder/CFO David Bash provides links to most of them on the official website. I’m more familiar with some of these acts than others, but here’s a quick rundown.

Thursday night’s showcase opens with singer-guitarist Josefina. Her evocative vocals are well suited for Americana and alt-country, plus she delves into funk and rock, all backed by a four-piece band. Power pop band The Spindles are veterans of this festival, and vocalist-guitarist Jeff Janulis is also a founding member (with Michael Steven Cohen) of IPO favorites The Abbeys. As demonstrated on their upcoming album, The Spindles are experts at spinning 1960s pop into appealing power pop music. In addition to catchy originals like the “Young Heart,” they impress with covers of The Hollies and The Elvis Brothers. Look for a review of that album here soon.

Thrift Store Halo recently returned from hiatus with a new album filled with radio-friendly alt rock songs. It’s a different approach from the power pop of their earliest efforts, but fans of catchy tunes with harmony vocals will be onboard. The new “Every Time With You”/”Concrete” CD single is also available to download on their website. If you go, ask Thrift Store Halo if you can have one of their very cool new buttons. Seven-piece band The Red Wigglers describe their unique sound as “indie rock with horns.” Led by vocalist Megan Tormey, these IPO veterans have a loyal following on the local music scene. Drew Neely And The Heroes feature singer-guitarist Neeley performing original rock and roll, backed by three other musicians.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2018

A Planet Of RSD Fun And More IPO To Come

International Pop Overthrow - Chicago continues its 2018 run of multi-band showcases through this Saturday night at the Heartland Café Bar on the north side. A hectic schedule has kept me from providing as much support as I’d like to, but it’s still easy to get a preview of all of the acts who’ll be performing. The links IPO Founder/CFO David Bash provides on the official website often include a Bandcamp page.

Tonight’s five-act showcase gives us Larry O. Dean, a singer-songwriter with biting humor; power pop singer-guitarist Mark Watson and his band; rock and roll quartet Blind Trust; seven-piece rock and funk ensemble The King Of Mars; and indie rock quintet soft candy. Tomorrow, IPO has Phil Yates and The Affiliates; Tony Calderisi Band; Packy Lundholm Band; Claire and The Bears, and The Pickpockets.

Congratulations to Laurie’s Planet Of Sound Records on Lincoln Avenue for another festive Record Store Day bash this past Saturday. It has become a must-attend part of this annual celebration of vinyl. I arrived in time to catch the last half of Tommi Zender and Natalie Galey performing Joni Mitchell songs. “Help Me” from Mitchell’s Court And Spark album was a particular highlight.

Phil Angotti worked as a solo act, covering all the wry and catchy songs from the The Kinks’ Something Else album, as well as a bonus song the band originally released as a B-side of a single. The Census Takers remained appropriately anonymous behind masks as they paid homage to The Residents. The Handcuffs closed out the afternoon’s entertainment with a rousing mix of material from their three albums, brand new songs, and covers of Mott The Hoople, Dave Mason, Sweet and The Who.

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Friday, April 20, 2018

Slumgullion

Photo from The Baseball Project’s Facebook page. 

This is my second post today. See the earlier one for information on Record Store Day, International Pop Overthrow, and All Things BBC!.

Depending on what time you read this, there might still be time to catch the Flirting With Disaster Neil Young Tribute at FitzGerald’s in Berwyn tonight. The always adventurous cover band EXPO ’76 will be performing in the Side Bar at FitzGerald’s.

International Pop Overthrow - Chicago kicked off tonight and will run through next Saturday, April 28 at the Heartland Cafe Bar, with multiple band showcases each night.

Tomorrow will your last chance to check out A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Punchline, an exhibit on comics, at the Chicago Literary Alliance.

Tickets went on sale today for Baseball Project at SPACE in Evanston on August 4. Hopefully, by that time the Cubs and the White Sox will be sitting comfortably atop their respective divisions. Previous shows by the national pastime inspired all-star band have included Mike Mills and Peter Buck from R.E.M.; Scott McCaughey from Young Fresh Fellows and Minus 5; Steve Wynn from The Dream Syndicate; and drummer Linda Pitmon.

Tickets also went on sale for New Pornographers at Thalia Hall on June 21.

Marshall Crenshaw and The Bottle Rockets will be performing two shows at The Old Town School Of Folk Music tomorrow night; one at 5:00 p.m. and one ar 8:00 p.m. Next Friday, April 27, Peter Case of The Plimsouls and The Nerves, will playing Szold Hall at The Old Town School Of Folk Music.

There will be an opening reception on May 12 for the Tony Fitzpatrick: The Secret Birds exhibit at the DePaul Art Museum. On May 23, Fitzpatrick will have a conversation with Chicago Tribune writer Rick Kogan from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. at the museum.

The Chicago Toy Show returns to the Kane County Fairgrounds in St. Charles this Sunday for the first of its two events there in 2018. In addition to collectibles, action figures, Matchbox cars, and Star Wars treasures, the show also offers a fair amount rock and roll memorabilia.

The Buddy Holly Story kicks off a month-long run next Friday, April 27 at the American Blues Theater. Lili-Anne Brown will direct the Alan Janes play; with music directed by Michael Mahler.

Chicago-based power pop band Frisbie will be celebrating its 20th anniversary with a gig at Martyrs next Saturday. The Sunshine Boys, who haven’t celebrated their first anniversary yet but have years of experience in various other bands, are also on the bill that night.

There will be a Van Go Concert! Event next Saturday at Phyllis’ Musical Inn on Irving Park Road. The Chicago-based band, which has a flair for energetic, catchy songs that frequently pack a satirical punch, will be showcasing its upcoming album. Deadly Bungalows, Trita, and Kosi and the Thomas Matecki Trio are also on the bill that night.

A Charlie’s Angels graphic novel series will make its debut in June. I wonder if the artists will break from the 1970s TV drama by actually drawing Charlie.

My nephew Joe Flamm, who won this past season’s Top Chef honors on the Bravo Channel, will be throwing out the first pitch at the Chicago White Sox game this Sunday.

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Record Store Day, IPO, BBC And Other Fun

Photo from The Handcuffs Facebook page.

It’s only fitting that one of the events I plan to attend tomorrow, April 21 is sponsored in part by the people who put together the annual Chicago TARDIS convention. There’s so much going tomorrow in Chicago, you’d need a TARDIS to get around to all of it. For those not familiar with Doctor Who terminology, a TARDIS (Time And Relative Dimension In Space) is the police box-shaped device The Doctor uses to travel around the universe to any point in time he chooses. Let’s step inside it now for a preview of all April 21 has to offer.

Since it’s Record Store Day, let’s start with the vinyl fanatics who’ll get up extra early to stand in line outside the record store of their choice. There’s often a sense of camaraderie as people compare their wish lists and even share Dunkin Donuts or other snacks.

And then there are the RSD in-store performances. Vintage Vinyl, at 925 Davis Street in Evanston will have alt rock/avant-garde band whitewolfsonicprincess performing at 11:00 a.m. Val’s halla Records in Oak Park has Farewell Captain at 11:00 a.m.; Two Guitars And A Tuba at noon; Matt Lenny and Elm City Council at 1:00; Ginger at 2:00; The Frantastic Sound System at 3:00; and the Gino and Friends Jam at 4:00.

Chicago rock station WXRT will celebrate Record Store Day by playing full album sides on vinyl, starting at noon. Long-time fans will no doubt be reminded of the early 1970s, when the only thing the station played were vinyl records. They’ll also probably recall when those records skipped or got stuck.

Bloodshot Records will have a Record Store Day Pop-Up Shop at its headquarters at 3039 W. Irving Park Road from noon to 5:00 p.m. On its Facebook page, the Chicago-based indie label promises “unique items, test pressings, signed stuff, out-of-print stuff, new releases and just regular stuff.” Laurie’s Records on Lincoln Avenue will have Sonny Mountain at noon; Tommi Zender with Natalie Galey performing Joni Mitchell at 1:00; Phil Angotti, following his set at International Pop Overthrow the night before, will perform The Kinks at 2:00; The Census Takers will be performing The Residents at 3:00; and The Handcuffs will perform their catchy indie rock at 4:00. This is always a fun bash and the owners and employees at Laurie’s are great hosts. (The Handcuffs and Phil Angotti will be playing at Quenchers Saloon later tomorrow night, along with The Embryos, who are having a record release party.) 

Reckless Records will have in-store performances by Intentionally Left Banke, a Left Banke cover band (2:00) and synth player Bill Vermette (3:30) at its Broadway location; and Mukqs (2:30) and RYLR (4:00) at its Milwaukee Avenue location.

The 8th Annual Numero Group Pop-Up Store will be held from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. in the Comfort Station at 2579 N. Milwaukee. These guys have their own take on RSD, and offer, “new and used LPs, CDs, dingers, tapes, tees, tests, and other weirdness from our warehouse.”

International Pop Overthrow, which returns to The Heartland Cafe Bar in Chicago tonight, will offer afternoon and evening showcases tomorrow. (Separate admission for each.) The earlier event starts at 2:00 p.m. and offers short sets by The Francos; Love Lies Bleeding; The Jades; The Long Lost, and an act to be announced later. The music resumes at 8:00 p.m. with a showcase of Phil Ajjarapu; Rainy Day Crush; The Devonns; The Lilacs; Rosa Cora Perry and the Truth Untold; and The Stick Arounds. Avid fans of power will no doubt notice The Lilacs in that schedule. The quartet formed in 1990, reunited in 2016 with the Rise Above The Filth album, and performed a powerful concert at Metro. If you like what you see on Saturday, IPO founder/CFO/host David Bash will be bringing his showcases of power pop and indie rock to The Heartland Cafe Bar through next Saturday night.

If playing vinyl feels like something from your past, imagine what you could accomplish as an actual time traveler. Chicago TARDIS, in conjunction with Happy Fish Parties, has an afternoon of non-Record Store Day fun planned with its All Things BBC! event. It’s being held at the Red Lion Tap on Lincoln Avenue, and celebrates English television shows like Doctor Who, Sherlock, and Merlin. Incidentally, when Chicago TARDIS holds its annual convention at The Westin Lombard Yorktown Center November 23 through 25, actress Pearl Mackie from Doctor Who will be one of the featured guests. She did some amazing acting in her final episodes with Peter Capaldi’s version of The Doctor.

For more Record Store Day ideas, check out this week’s issue of the RedEye free paper. It has a full page titled Where to be a music nerd on RSD. It lists the DJs and music acts that will be doing in-store performances at 606 Records; Bric-a-Brac Records; Bucket O’Blood Records; Joyride Records; Laurie’s Planet Of Sound; Shuga Records; and other locations.

With all of the vinyl activity going on this Saturday, Lumpen Radio’s decision to schedule its Spring Record Swap at Co-Prosperity Sphere at 3219 S. Morgan on Sunday was either foolhardy or a stroke of genius. At any rate, if you haven’t busted your budget and you’re not too tired, Lumpen will have records on hand for your post-RSD perusing.

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Thursday, April 19, 2018

International Pop Overthrow Returns To Chicago

Photo from Phil Angotti’s Facebook page.

It’s always a pleasure to welcome David Bash back to Chicago. Although he’s a West Coast native, he knows our local music scene by heart. That’s because he’s been bringing his International Pop Overthrow festival here for several years. In fact, Chicago was one of the first cities Bash put on his itinerary, following its debut in Los Angeles. IPO now visits New York, Detroit, Toronto, London, Liverpool, and other cities. Each has its own collection of performers—mostly local, along with a few out-of-town acts who travel the circuit.

Kalamazoo, Michigan native Jeremy Morris, one of the artists that follows Bash from location to location, opens IPO-Chicago’s 2018 nine-day run at The Heartland Cafe Bar tomorrow night. He’s an innovative guitarist who’s been known to blow the four walls down with his original psychedelic rock. Chicago-based singer-guitarist Phil Angotti is another IPO standout, and he was at the very first International Pop Overthrow in Los Angeles with his band at that time, The Idea. In addition to performing tribute shows to 1960s acts, he’s a first-rate songwriter whose latest album Such Stories is filled with acoustic gems.

Rob Schultz has a knack for putting political and social satire to catchy melodies. It’s likely this IPO veteran will have something to say about the current political climate. His most recent album came out last July. Ginger Records recording artists Weekend Vinyl formed in 2005 and have a number of IPO gigs under their belt. They recently released their latest album of power pop, Beguile Me.

The local quintet Bad Bad Meow has had success with the singles “Freak Flag” and “Hear You,” and recently released the full-length effort Fake News! Tomorrow night’s final act Kurt Michaels Continuum has shared gigs with Denny Laine from Wings and The Moody Blues. Their latest effort is titled Soaring Back To Earth. Check out the official International Pop Overthrow website for the full schedule and links to most of the bands.

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Tuesday, April 17, 2018

A Book, An Album, And A Touching Tribute

Chris Stamey, who’s been a driving force on the alternative rock scene for decades with The dB’s as well as a solo artist, just released an autobiography. A Spy In The House Of Loud - New York Songs and Stories is now available via the University Of Texas Press, and according to publisher’s website covers the origins of punk in the late 1970s. I would guess it also includes his remembrances of Alex Chilton, since the two musicians worked together on various projects. At any rate, it’s bound to a fascinating addition to your rock and roll library, and received a rave review on the Popdose website.

Universal Love, an album that was released in digital form last week, will be available on vinyl for this year’s Record Store Day. The concept behind Universal Love is to flip the pronouns in popular songs in order to send a message of inclusion and diversity. Bob Dylan, Kesha, St. Vincent, Benjamin Gibbard fron Death Cab For Cutie; Valerie June; and Kele Okereke from Bloc Party are the artists involved. 

Reporter Maureen O’Donnell offered an informative and touching tribute to music marketer Mike Egan in a recent edition of the Chicago Tribune. For decades, Egan was a familiar face at local record stores, and helped visiting bands (such as U2 before they were huge) navigate the city. He was an avid supporter of new wave, house music, and Japanese anime.

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Monday, April 16, 2018

Record Store Day Advice

Record Store Day, the annual celebration of vinyl in all its 7, 10, and 12 inch glory, returns this Saturday, April 21. The number of recording artists participating has grown over the years, and many record stores now entice customers with live entertainment, and in some cases, food and beverages. Collectors hoping to snag some of those limited edition or colored vinyl releases will need to get up  early and stand in line outside the record store of their choice. There’s a complete rundown of all the one-time treasures being offered this year on the official Record Store Day website. Just about every genre is represented, including hip hop, country, blues, jazz, and numerous variations of rock and roll.

Once you’ve studied the website and compiled your wishlist, here are a few pointers.

There are a lot of Chicago area stores to choose from. Pick up a copy of this month’s Illinois Entertainer for an extensive list. Keep an out for pop-up stores like Numero Uno in the Logan Square neighborhood.

Bring a written list of the records you want, showing the title, artist, and vinyl format. (7-inch single; 12-inch single; 10-inch EP; LP; double-LP, box set, etc.) The stores I’ve been to keep all the records behind the counter, and they like to keep the line moving. They will not look at a list on your smart phone, and definitely don’t want to hear you trying to remember what you want.

Be prepared for sticker shock. I’ve haven’t been able to find anyplace online that lists prices, so you won’t know how much these records cost until the clerk places them in front of you. Some will be relatively cheap, while others can get expensive.

Here’s a sampling of RSD in-store events.

Laurie’s Planet of Sound - 4639 N. Lincoln Avenue, Chicago:
1:00 p.m. Tommi Zender and Natalie Galey covering Joni Mitchell; 2:00 p.m. Phil Angotti covering The Kinks; 3:00 p.m. The Census Takers covering The Residents; 4:00 p.m. The Handcuffs

Val’s halla Records - 239 Harrison St., Oak Park:
11:00 a.m. Farewell Captain; noon Two Guitars And A Tuba; 1:00 p.m. Matt Lenny and Elm City Council; 2:00 p.m. Ginger; 3:00 p.m. The Frantastic Sound System; 4:00 p.m. Gino and Friends Jam

Vintage Vinyl - 925 Davis Street, Evanston:
11:a.m. whitewolfsonicprincess (alt rock band)

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Friday, April 13, 2018

Slumgullion

The annual CHIRP Record Fair and Other Delights, always one of the best things about April in Chicago, takes place tomorrow at the Local 130 Plumbers Union Hall at 1340 W. Washington. An amazing selection of records, CDs, DVDs, posters, books, and other rock and roll related merchandise will on sale from vendors; and the entertainment includes live music and DJs. Admission from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. is $8, and early admission from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. costs $25. The first 500 attendees will get a free tote bag that includes the download code for the CHIRP Record Fair Local Label Sampler.

Tickets went on sale today for the premiere of the Andrew Bird film Blue Heart at Thalia Hall on May 9. Other shows now on sale include Justin Hayward of The Moody Blues at City Winery Chicago on August 26; Dave Alvin of The Blasters and Americana artist Jimmie Dale Gilmore at The Old Town School Of Folk Music on September 8; Rufus Wainwright at The Vic on November 20; and the Willy Porter Band at City Winery Chicago on September 28.

Big Suit, the Chicago Talking Heads tribute act, performs at Park West tomorrow night.

Phil Angotti, with special guest Cliff Johnson, will be performing his monthly Beatle Brunch this Sunday from noon to 4:00 p.m. at the Reclaimed Bar and Restaurant. Both of these guys are veterans of the Chicago power pop scene, so they practically have 1960s hits flowing through their veins. In addition to his solo work and tribute shows around town, Angotti was a member of the band The Idea. Johnson currently performs with The Raine and is best known as the lead vocalist for Off Broadway. Reclaimed Bar and Restaurant is located at 3655 N. Western Avenue.

Later that same day, you can catch Tommi Zender, with special guest Steve Dawson, at Wishbone North from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Zender is a veteran of the Chicago scene and a frequent participant in tribute shows; Dawnson is a solo artist as well as a member of the critically acclaimed alt rock/Americana band Dolly Varden.

International Pop Overthrow - Chicago, starts Friday, April 20 and runs through Saturday, April 28 at the Red Line Tap, with multiple band showcases each night.

I was happy to see Jeff Elbel’s article in today’s Chicago Sun-Times about The Smithereens performing on April 19 at The Genesee Theatre in Waukegan. Robin Wilson from The Gin Blossoms will be serving as lead vocalist. It was no doubt a difficult decision to continue on after Pat DiNizio passed away last December, but I would agree with what a lot of fans are saying, which is The Smithereens’ power pop music should continue to be performed live. The Smithereens will be opening for Dave Davies of The Kinks at The Genesee.

Elbel also mentioned the new Covers album being released by The Smithereens, which features several cover versions recorded by DiNizio and the band over the years.

Head Over Heels, the new musical based on songs by The Go-Go’s, began previews earlier this week at the Curran in San Francisco. Tickets for Broadway previews, which starts in New York on June 23, are now on sale. Here’s hoping Head Over Heels comes to Chicago at some point.

Factory Theater’s production of Carrie J. Sullivan’s grunge rock play The Next Big Thing runs on Friday and Saturday nights at 8:00 p.m. and Sundays at 3:00 p.m. through April 21.

The 34th Annual Chicago Latino Film Festival runs through April 19 at AMC River East 21 at 322 E. Illinois.

The Asian American Showcase runs through April 18 at the Gene Siskel Film Center.

A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Punchline, an exhibit on comics, runs through April 21 at the Chicago Literary Alliance.

Colin Blunstone of The Zombies will embark on a U.K. tour before rejoining the band later this year for another tour. According to a post on the Essentially Pop website, Blunstone is also busy recording his next solo album.

The Posies’ 30th Anniversary Tour now includes dates in the U.K. (It arrives at Park West in Chicago, with Material Reissue as the opening act, on June 23.)

Chicago-based psychedelic band Secret Colours has created a fun and eye-catching video for its song “Dream Dream.”

Four very good songs by The Valley Downs, one of Chicago’s best but not altogether busy bands, can now be heard on Spotify.

Art Encounter, a nonprofit art education organization, is hosting an event to honor gallerist William Lieberman on Sunday, May 6 at the Evanston Women’s Club.

The Chicago Toy Show returns to the Kane County Fairgrounds in St. Charles on April 22 for the first of its two events there in 2018. In addition to collectibles, action figures, Matchbox cars, and Star Wars treasures, the show also offers a fair amount rock and roll memorabilia. There are vendors offering vintage publcations, records, CDs, and even music-related toys. I’ve purchased a car imprinted with the Beatles Revolver allbum cover, and a semi trailer showing Cheap Trick. Admission The Toy Show is &10, hours are from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The Real Pretenders, a Pretenders tribute takes place at FitzGerald’s in Berwyn on April 19.

Flirting With Time: A Tribute To Neil Young takes place at FitzGerald’s in Berwyn on April 20.
The reunited L7 at performs at Metro on April 20.

Define American Film Festival (DAFF), organized by writer/filmmaker Joes Antonio Vargas, takes place on April 20 through 22 at Venue Six10 on Michigan Avenue.

There will be a screening of the film Concert For George – Celebrating the Life and Music of George Harrison on May 16 at the Music Box. The 2002 concert brought together Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Eric Clapton, Billy Preston, Ravi Shankar, Tom Petty, Monty Python, and other to honor Harrison.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Wolf Alice - Visions Of Life

Back when I reviewed Wolf Alice’s full-length debut My Love Is Cool in 2016, I imagined how interesting it would be to see lead vocalist-guitarist Ellie Rowsell bring the various genres and personas from that that album to a live performance. The English band’s followup Vision Of Life is no less adventurous despite a persistent obsession with death. Rowsell can evoke an angel, a street fighter, or an alluring hipster, depending on the song. And once again, the well-crafted arrangements flip from pristine to overpowering in a matter of moments.

The intro to “Heavenward” could turn any church choir green with envy, and Wolf Alice drifts into a symphony before eventually bringing on the heavy metal thunder. Meanwhile, the lyrics focus on celebrating someone close who has died and looking forward to seeing that person again in the afterlife. “St. Purple And Green” has a similar approach and seems to specifically mourn a grandmother. The straight-up techno rock of “Space And Time” exudes a fear of losing control, and on the gorgeous folk ballad “After The Zero Hour,” a woman refuses to die, and embarks on an adventure instead.

Visions of Life offers other outlooks as well. Rowsell sounds like she’s ready to rip somebody’s head off in the careening “Yuk Foo,” while the light and poetic “Sad Boy” is about a guy who “thinks too much.” The impossibly catchy “Formidable Cool” depicts a villain who uses his position of power to seduce women and leave them feeling used. On “Sky Musings,” a jet flight triggers a series of emotions from the fear of crashing to regrets over not having taken a chance on a relationship. Wolf Alice is less direct but still enticing on the playful “Beautifully Unconventional” and the sci-fi adventure “Planet Hunter.”

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Friday, April 6, 2018

Slumgullion

Now it’s time to say good knight. Tickets for the September 22 concert at Chicago Theatre featuring the recently knighted Ringo Starr and his All Starr Band went on sale today. This time around, he’ll be joined by Steve Lukather; Colin Hay; Gregg Rolie; Graham Gouldman; Warren Ham; and Gregg Bissonette. There’s no doubt Ringo means it when he says “peace and love.” If only enough people would take that message to heart.

Other shows that went on sale today are Jayhawks at Thalia Hall on July 13; New Pornographers at Temperance Beer Company on June 22; Mavis Staples at Canal Shore Golf Club on July 27; and Dar Williams at City Winery Chicago on September 16.

The tribute act Fleetwood Mac Mania has sold out its show tomorrow night the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre in Arlington Heights. Tapestry: The Carole King Concert Experience comes to the Metropolis on April 24.

Happy Birthday to Allan Clarke, who served as lead vocalist of The Hollies for decades and was one of the major reasons for their distinctive and effervescent sound.

C2E2 - The Chicago Comic and Entertainment EXPO landed at the South Building of McCormick Place today and will stay through Sunday. The annual pop culture event offers high-tech promotions and exhibits, celebrity guests, and loads of people in sci-fi, superhero, ultra villain, monster, and sexy costumes. Rows of vendors offers comics, t-shirts, games, action figures, and all sorts of imaginative memorabilia. Local artists and writers get their shot at selling stuff too.

The Bad Examples will be performing at FitzGerald’s in Berwyn tomorrow night.

Repertory Ballet is presenting Modern Motions today and tomorrow at The Atheanaeum Theatre on Chicago’s north side.

The English Beat, one of the best ska revival bands that sprang up in the UK in early 1980s, will be ranking full stop at City Winery Chicago tonight and tomorrow.

There are still some tickets left for The Best Of Tellin’ Tales Solo - A New Kind Of Spring Benefit, which will be held this Sunday at The Edge Theatre at 5451 N. Broadway.

SummerFest has announced its full schedule. Here are some of the best reasons for traveling up to Milwaukee to see a concert: Cheap Trick; Matthew Sweet; The Posies; Spoon; Gin Blossoms; and Nick Lowe featuring Los Straitjackets.

The Chicago Toy Show returns to the Kane County Fairgrounds in St. Charles on April 22 for the first of its two events there in 2018. In addition to collectibles, action figures, Matchbox cars, and Star Wars treasures, the show also offers a fair amount rock and roll memorabilia. There are vendors offering vintage publications, records, CDs, and even music-related toys. I’ve purchased a car imprinted with the Beatles Revolver album cover, and a semi trailer showing Cheap Trick. Admission The Toy Show is $10, hours are from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

September 22 is the day your life will surely change for The The fans in the Chicago area. The band—Matt Johnson, really— will be at The Riviera Theatre on that night. In addition to “This Is The Day Your Life Will Surely Change” and other techno pop gems, The The also gave us the masterpiece “Uncertain Smile” on a 12-inch single.

The 34th Annual Chicago Latino Film Festival kicked off yesterday and will run through April 19 at AMC River East 21 at 322 E. Illinois. Over 100 films from Spain, Latin America, Portugal, Canada, and America will be screened.

Factory Theater’s production of Carrie J. Sullivan’s grunge rock play The Next Big Thing runs on Friday and Saturday nights at 8:00 p.m. and Sundays at 3:00 p.m. through April 21.

Aimee Mann and This Is The Kit will be performing at the Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park on July 30. Indie rockers The Sea And The Cake and Moonrise Nation will perform at the outdoor venue on August 16.

Congratulations to Chicago Tribune jazz critic Howard Reich on 40 years of writing reviews for the paper. Reich listed his top 40 favorite shows in an article this past Wednesday. Among the iconic acts he’s seen, enjoyed, and shared with his readers are Dizzy Gillespie; Cassandra Wilson; Kurt Elling; Dave Brubeck; Miles Davis; and Tony Bennett.

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Thursday, April 5, 2018

Incoming

Cheap Trick; Matthew Sweet; Buddy Guy; The Posies; James Taylor; Pixies; Foster The People; Janelle Monae; Jethro Tull; Spoon; Social Distortion; Mayer Hawthorne; Gin Blossoms; Michael Franti and Spearhead; and Nick Lowe featuring Los Straitjackets are among the acts that will be performing at SummerFest in Milwaukee this year. The annual festival runs from June 27 to July 1, and the July 3 to July 8.

C2E2 - The Chicago Comic and Entertainment EXPO returns to the South Building of McCormick Place this weekend, celebrating every imaginative form of pop culture. It’s always a fascinating event to take in high tech promotions and exhibits, celebrity guests, and loads of people in sci-fi, superhero, ultra villain, monster, and sexy costumes. Rows of vendors offers comics, t-shirts, games, action figures, and all sorts of imaginative memorabilia. Local artists and writers get their shot at selling stuff too. This year’s guests include musician/spoken word artist Henry Rollins; Caity Lotz and Dominic Purcell from DC’s Legends Of Tomorrow, Charlie Cox from Daredevil; Daphne Zuniga from Melrose Place; Gina Torres from Firefly; Khary Payton from The Walking Dead; former White Sox star Ron Kittle; and Svengoolie.

The Bad Examples perform at FitzGerald’s in Berwyn this Saturday night. Lead vocalist-guitarist Ralph Covert (of Ralph’s World fame) often calls to mind Squeeze with his vocal style on The Bad Examples’ catchy pop tunes.

Chicago Repertory Ballet is presenting Modern Motions at The Atheanaeum Theatre on tomorrow, April 6 and Saturday.

The English Beat, one of the best ska revival bands that sprang up in the UK in early 1980s, will have people up and dancing at City Winery Chicago tomorrow, April 6 and Saturday.

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