Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Dot Dash - Proto Retro

Proto Retro finds Dot Dash experimenting with Beach Boys style backup vocals and jangling guitars. It’s a new but not surprising approach from a band that has pretty much employed a different game plan for each of the six full-length albums it’s released since 2011. Based in Washington, D.C., Dot Dash has previously given us authentic punk, as well as guitar-driven alt rock inspired by 1980s masters like Translator and Red Rockers. The impressive journey continues with the recently released Proto Retro.

Dot Dash brings a sharper edge and cryptic lyrics to their jangling, catchy arrangements, particularly on “Unfair Weather” and “Sun + Moon = Disguise.” Much of the album evokes the way R.E.M. updated The Byrds, with “It’s The End Of The World As We Know It” often serving as a template. Vocalist-guitarist Terry Banks adroitly navigates quick rhymes and off-kilter phrases like “I made a hat of a Texas map” on the defiant “Green On Red” and “I’ve gone back in time, please remain on the line” on “World’s Last Payphone.”

“Dead Letter Rays” and “Parachute Powerline” are melodic tracks in a more traditional power pop vein, while the slower and romantic “Triple Rainbow” has a psychedelic feel. At times, it’s even fun to hear Banks contradict himself within the same song. “Tamed A Wild Beast” offers uplifting sentiments like “If you moved a mountain” and “If you rose above,” only to snap back with, “Keep it to yourself.”

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Friday, November 9, 2018

Slumgullion

Black Friday arrives in exactly two weeks, but for people looking to find gifts for the rock and roll fans on their lists, today is White Album Friday. The Beatles’ 1968 two-record set, a ground breaking and band breaking up affair, becomes available today in a variety of versions. The $138.74 option on Amazon comprises six CDs, including one with 27 tracks from the now legendary Esher demo tapes that were recorded at George Harrison’s home back in the day. The $22.97 three-CD set also has that disc.

The new documentary Horn From The Heart: The Paul Butterfield Story will be screened tonight at the Gene Siskel Film Center and run through November 15. Director John Anderson, along with special guests, will be on hand tonight, tomorrow, and Sunday for a discussion with the audience. Jeff Johnson in the Chicago Sun-Times and Greg Kot in the Chicago Tribune each gave Horn From The Heart a three-star rating in their reviews today.

Tickets went on sale today for Dave Davies at SPACE on April 20 and at City Winery Chicago on April 21; Herb Alpert and Lani Hall at City Winery Chicago on May 4 and 5; Fleetwood Mac at the United Center on are March 1; and Nick Mason’s Saucerful Of Secrets at the Chicago Theatre on on April 4. You can always find an extensive list of concerts that have just gone on sale on the second to last page of Chicago free paper The Reader.

This week’s Reader has a particularly good edition of The Secret History Of Chicago Music by artist/musician Plastic Crime Wave. The comic is a regular feature in the paper, and the latest installment focuses on the band The Service and the Pravda indie label they founded. It’s a detailed look at how these musicians have kept active in the local music scene, with three of them—Rick Mosher, Kenn Goodman, and Gary Schepers—currently performing with The Imperial Sound.

As noted in The Mix column of today’s Chicago Sun-Times, the 30th Annual Polish Film Festival is currently running at Facets Cinematheque; AMC Rosemont; and The Gallery Theatre. The Mix also noted that the Green Line Performing Arts Centre, which plans to collaborate with south side theatre groups, is inviting the public to check out its space at 329 E. Garfield tomorrow from 2 :00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

David Crosby has a gig coming up on November 19 at the North Shore Center For The Performing Arts in Skokie. The Richard Thompson Electric Trio will be at Thalia Hall on December 7 and 8.

The Zombies have a special concert coming up to honor the late Jim Rodford, who played bass guitar for them, Argent, and The Kinks. The event will be held on January 20 at The Alban Arena in St. Albans in the U.K.

Long-time Lincoln Park store The Book Cellar will host An Evening With Jeff Tweedy at The Music Box on Southport next Sunday, November 18 at 7:00 p.m. Tweedy, well-known frontman for Wilco, will be discussing his new memoir Let’s Go (So We Can Get Back).

There will be plenty of merriment when EXPO ’76 returns to my sleepy hometown of Palatine next Friday night for a gig at Mac’s On Slade. Trees are being decorated all over town, although that might have more to do with the holiday season than the band’s imaginative and always fun selection of cover versions. The music starts at 8:45 but since Mac’s is a small joint, you’ll have to get there much earlier if you want a place to sit.

Long-time Chicago guitar slinger Lorrie Kountz will bring her band to Mac’s on November 28 for a 7:30 p.m. show.

The Safes are holding their 15th Annual Black Wednesday Show at Schubas so be sure to have all your Thanksgiving meal preparation done early. This year, they’ll be joined by The Differents, Baby Money, The Down Payments, and The Marcatos.

The Sunshine Boys will celebrate the vinyl release of their superb album Blue Music with a show on November 24 at Montrose Saloon.

Private Peaceful, the play based on Michael Morpurgo’s 2003 critically acclaimed children’s novel, wraps up its run at the Greenhouse Theater on Lincoln Avenue tomorrow night.

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Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Graham Nash - Over The Years . . .

The first disc of Over The Years . . . offers 15 classic songs recorded by Graham Nash throughout his post-Hollies career. “Our House,” “Wasted On The Way,” and “Teach Your Children” represent his Crosby, Stills, Nash and sometimes Young tenure, while “Immigration Man”is a Crosby/Nash highlight. The solo material reaches back to “Military Madness” from his Songs For Beginners solo debut up to “Myself At Last” from his 2016 effort This Path Tonight. But the real treasure for Nash fans can be found on disc two, which uncovers several previously unreleased demos.

For rock and roll archaeologists, the major find here is a demo of “Marrakesh Express” Nash recorded for The Hollies back in 1968. It’s easy to recognize the song’s exotic charms even via this bare-bones arrangement, and the band’s inexplicable rejection of it helped push Nash toward his new friends in America. The simple beauty of Nash’s songwriting is also evident as his sings and strums an acoustic guitar on “Simple Man,” “Right Between The Eyes,” and the Everly Brothers flavored “You’ll Never Be The Same.”

A stark rendition of “Chicago” featuring Nash alone at his piano makes it an even more emphatic call to action that the 1971 studio version. “Wind On The Water,” originally augmented with Crosby’s gorgeous harmonies, is still impressive in this earlier solo take. “Wasted On The Way” is the only track on Disc 2 with additional vocals, as Nash joins Timothy B. Schmidt of Poco and The Eagles fame and Stephen Stills on this heartfelt plea to make the most of life.

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Tuesday, November 6, 2018

The Imperial Sound – The New AM

The Imperial Sound creates music that fits the neo-soul genre but goes beyond it in adventurous ways. The songs on the Chicago-based sextet’s debut effort The New AM also incorporate jazz, blues, and rock, with a dash of vintage supper club ambience for extra flavor. Although these guys are music scene veterans, this is a new approach for them, and they do wonders with it.

Special guests add to the fun, especially vocalists Nora O’Connor, Kathy Ruestow, Kelly Hogan, Peter Himmelman, Robert Cornelius, and Dag Juhlin. The Imperial Sound’s lead singer Rick Mosher does well with all of them; creating duets with O’Connor on the soulful “Yesterday,” a tale of a relationship gone sour, and Kathy Ruestow on the sexy tale “The Quarry.” Himmelman and Hogan bring sass to “Ain’t Crawling Back,” a clever take on a guy who’s not quite as over his ex as he claims.

Cornelius helps give “A Man Like You” a combination movie theme/hit single appeal as the band breaks loose behind him. Juhlin, a frequent collaborator with some of these guys on other projects, adds energetic back-up vocals to the more rocking numbers “You’ve Been A Fool” and “Get Along!” Throughout the 12 tracks, The New AM suggests The Imperial Sound would be a blast to see in a live performance.

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Monday, November 5, 2018

Incoming

I’d to extend a warm welcome to Steven Van Zandt, who’s in town with his Disciples Of Soul band for a WXRT Holiday Concert tonight at The Copernicus Center on the northwest side. (It’s a short walk from the Jefferson Park Metra/CTA hub.) He dropped by the FM radio station earlier today for a visit with morning DJ Lin Brehmer. Van Zandt is a long-time member of Bruce Springsteen’s E-Street Band, a successful solo artist, actor, radio show host, and more recently, a champion of educators.

There was an interesting article about him by writer Jeff Elbel in last Friday’s Chicago Sun-Times. In addition to Van Zandt’s current Soulfire Teacher Solidarity Tour, it focused on his TeachRock.org initiative. The idea is for teachers to use music to reach students who might otherwise drop out. Each concert on the tour offers free tickets to teachers who contact the TeachRock website.

The Bad Examples have a special event coming up this Saturday, November 10 at Two Brothers Roundhouse in Aurora to celebrate the life of Donna Heaney. An early supporter of the Chicago-based band who helped with the creation of buttons and flyers, Heaney passed away recently. I still have one of the Bad Examples buttons lead vocalist Ralph Covert was giving out at an Illinois Entertainer event at Metro several years ago, but I’m not sure if it was one of the originals.

Love, Gilda, director Lisa Apolito’s 2018 documentary about Saturday Night Live pioneer Gilda Radner, is currently running at the Gene Siskel Center. The 90-minute film will be screened each night through this Thursday, November 8.

The Sting Police, a tribute band that covers the music of Sting and The Police, has a gig coming up on November 16 at the Metropolitan Arts Centre in Arlington Heights. Looking ahead to early 2019, that same venue will present Marrakesh Express – A Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young Experience on January 18.

According to a UK organization called The Official Charts Co., the honor for recording the most popular British album ever goes to The Beatles for their 1967 masterpiece Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

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Friday, November 2, 2018

Slumgullion

Tickets went on sale today for the following 2019 shows: Mark Knopfler at the Chicago Theatre on September 1; Robbie Fulks and Linda Gail Lewis at Lincoln Hall on February 23; Guster and Saintseneca at The Riviera Theatre on April 13; Peter Himmelman at The Old Town School Of Folk Music on March 30; The Kooks at The Riviera Theatre on February 21; John McCutcheon at The Old Town School Of Folk Music on February 5; Peter Murphy of Bauhaus fame at the Rockefeller Memorial Chapel on February 22; and Bob Mould Band at Metro on February 22 and 23.

Mark Knopfler has a new album titled Down The Road Forever coming out November 9, and The Kooks recently released Let’s Go Sunshine, which finds them moving back to more familiar territory than their more techno-oriented 2015 effort Listen.

Other albums due out this month include Negative Capability by Marianne Faithful today; Shiny And Oh So Bright. . . by Smashing Pumpkins on November 16; The Bela Session by Bauhaus on November 23; and Bitter-Sweet by Brian Ferry and WARM by Jeff Tweedy on November 30.

Speaking of releases, don’t forget Black Friday Record Day will offer several one-day only vinyl treasures. Check the official RSD website for the complete list.

The SOFA Expo, which bills itself as “The World’s Foremost Fair of Contemporary Decorative Arts and Design,” opened on Navy Pier yesterday and will run through Sunday.

Little Steven and The Disciples Of Soul will be performing at Copernicus Center this Monday, November 5. The concert is part of WXRT 2018 Holiday Concert series.

Singer-guitarist Michael Steven Cohen, who founded the local power pop bands The Abbeys and The Pop Dollys, will host a Saturday Morning Open Stage at KaffeStube in Schaumburg tomorrow morning.

Chicago-based filmmaker Lance Eliot Adams is about to start work on his first feature-length film. Adams, a familiar face to regular attendees of the Mary-Arrchie Theater’s annual Abbie Fest, has made 40 short films over the past 10 years.

The Safes are holding their 15th Annual Black Wednesday Show at Schubas so be sure to have all your Thanksgiving meal preparation done early. This year, they’ll be joined by The Differents, Baby Money, The Down Payments, and The Marcatos. The party will also celebrate the release of a very cool Juliana Hatfield tribute seven-inch single by The Safes on the American Laundromat label. “Universal Heart-Beat” and “I See You” were recorded with help from Material Issue’s Ted Ansani and Mike Zelenko and produced by Steve Albini.

The American Laundromat site is also where you can pre-order a new album titled Weird from Juliana Hatfield herself. It’s due out January 18 and is available in various formats—including colored vinyl.

The Stern Pinball company plans to market a new pinball machine based on the early days of Beatlemania. According to an article by Ryan Smith in the Chicago Sun-Times, there will be 1,964 machines in the line, including a 100-run Diamond Edition that could rake in mega dollars from ultimate pinball machine fanatics.

The Sunshine Boys will celebrate the vinyl release of their superb album Blue Music with a show on November 24 at Montrose Saloon. When I reviewed the CD/download version here last May, I noted the material ranged from romantic entanglements to urgent calls for political action, with well-crafted lyrics set to arrangements that combine alt rock with guitar-driven 1960s pop. Five months later, I would still say “Only A Million Miles” ranks as the best rock song any artist has recorded in 2018.

Chicago-based rock critic Jessica Hopper will be promoting her new memoir book Night Moves as she joins José Olivarez this Sunday at Chicago Athletic Association - Stagg Court as part of the 2018 Chicago Humanities Festival.

Peter Asher and Jeremy Clyde—that’s one half of Peter and Gordon and one half of Chad and Jeremy—have a gig coming up next Tuesday, November 6 at City Winery Chicago.

Film director (and one-time Cleaning Ladys band member) John Anderson will be at the Gene Siskel Film Center November 9, 10, and 11 for screenings of his new documentary Horn From The Heart: The Paul Butterfield Story. There will be a discussion with the audience on each of those occasions, as well as special guests to be announced later. Horn From The Heart will run at The Gene Siskel Center through November 15.

Private Peaceful, the play based on Michael Morpurgo’s 2003 critically acclaimed novel, runs through November 11 at the Greenhouse Theater on Lincoln Avenue. Lead actor Shane O’Regan was an Irish Times Best Actor nominee when Private Peaceful was staged in Ireland.

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