Saturday, November 17, 2018

That’s Sarcasm

Photo from The Regrettes’ Facebook page.

One of the reasons The Regrettes’ 2017 debut Feel Your Feelings Fool! drew critical raves was way the Los Angeles-based punk band brought social commentary to its energetic songs. Lead vocalist-guitarist Lydia Night’s satirical lyrics took deadly aim at the limitations society places on women, using catchy arrangements that often evoked the 1960s girl group sound. “You’re talking to me like I’m hurt,” she sang on “Seashore” but quickly added, “And I’ll still kick your ass even in my skirt.”
So it’s no surprise The Regrettes’new single “Poor Boy” mocks the “men are under attack” backlash against the #MeTooMovement with a driving beat and a simple animated video that depicts a man with streams of tears gushing from his eyes. “We’re releasing this song because we are done with letting abusers walk free,” the band explains on its Facebook page. Viewers of the clip are being asked to make a donation to RAINN, a foundation that helps sexual assault and rape victims.

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Friday, November 16, 2018

Slumgullion

Maybe I’m Omazed. Two lucky Paul McCartney fans could win tickets to see him perform at the Echo Arena in Liverpool, as well as free airfare, hotel accommodations, and a chance to join him onstage. It’s all part of a current campaign on the Omaze fundraising site to support the not-for-profit Meat Free Monday campaign, which Paul and his daughters Mary and Stella started in 2009. Omaze specializes in matching popular celebrities to worthwhile causes.

Depending on when you read this tonight, you might still have time to catch EXPO ’76 at Mac’s On Slade in Palatine; The Sting Police tribute act at the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre in Arlington Heights; Big Brother’s Vinyl at Countryside Saloon in Des Plaines; the WNUR Showcase at Montrose Saloon in Chicago featuring The Idea, Love Punch and The Dry Look; or The Vanessa Davis Band at FitzGerald’s in Berwyn.

Tickets went on sale today for Frank Orrall from Poi Dog Pondering at SPACE on November 16; Meshell Ndegeocello at Thalia Hall on November 16; Flat Five at SPACE on February 14; celtic band Cherish The Ladies at The Old Town School Of Folk Music on March 24; Coathangers at Empty Bottle on April 9; Billy Bragg at Lincoln Hall on April 25 – 27; and Dido at The Vic on June 13.

Shiny and Oh So Bright . . ., the latest release from The Smashing Pumpkins, arrived today. Next Friday brings The Bela Session by Bauhaus; and on November 30, we’ll see Bitter-Sweet from Bryan Ferry and WARM from Jeff Tweedy.

Long-time Lincoln Park store The Book Cellar will host An Evening With Jeff Tweedy at The Music Box on Southport this Sunday 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).

Black Friday Record Store Day is next Friday. Do you know where your wish list is?

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.

David Crosby has a gig coming up on Monday, November 19 at the North Shore Center For The Performing Arts in Skokie.

Second City is already known for live shows that have launched the careers of several big time comic performers, as well as for its training facilities. It’s now also the home of the Harold Ramis Film School, which is being billed as The World’s Only Film School Dedicated To Comedy. The program is divided into three segments—Comedy Theory, Storytelling, and Filmmaking. Anyone interested in enrolling can contact Second City at admissions@secondcity.com.

The BoDeans have three shows coming up next weekend at City Winery Chicago; a 7:00 p.m. and a 10:00 p.m. on Saturday, and a 7:00 p.m. on Sunday.

Congratulations to long-time Chicago Tribune theater critic Chris Jones on his brand new book Rise Up! Broadway and American Society from Angels in America to Hamilton. Last Sunday’s edition of the Chicago Tribune had an extensive excerpt describing Barack and Michelle Obama attending a Broadway production of Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun back in 2014.

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

The 20th Annual Animation Show Of Shows comes to the Gene Siskel Film for a two-week run starting on December 14.

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Thursday, November 15, 2018

We Get The Idea

The Chicago-based band The Idea returns to action tomorrow night at Montrose Saloon for a triple bill of power pop being sponsored by local radio station WNUR. Kirk Fox, host of The Power Pop Shoppe, has done an impressive job of bringing his radio show to venues like Montrose Saloon and The Elbo Room. Singer-guitarist Phil Angotti of The Idea was featured as a solo act in one of those live shows, and he’s released a trio of albums in recent years that have drawn praise here on Broken Hearted Toy.

Angotti was performing with The Idea when it was one of three Chicago bands (The Critics and 92 Degrees being the others) to perform at the very first International Pop Overthrow festival in Los Angeles in 1977. The band also contributed “It’s About That Time,” one of the best Christmas pop songs ever to Yuletunes, one of the best holiday compilations ever. It might be a bit early for The Idea to play “It’s About That Time” tomorrow night, but I doubt anyone at Montrose Saloon would mind.

The music starts at 9:00 p.m. tomorrow. Love Punch and The Dry Look are also on the bill.

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Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Incoming

Photo from the EXPO ’76 Facebook page.

EXPO ’76 returns to Mac’s On Slade in Palatine for an 8:45 p.m. gig this Friday night. The band members are music scene veterans, and their experience is evident in the decades-spanning and impeccable cover versions they perform. Unique treats, like a “James Bond Theme”/”Sunny” by Bobby Hebb mashup, and song segues not many bands would have the knowledge to craft, are part of every show. Note: Mac’s is a small venue so get there early if you want a place to sit. Also, it will cost $3 to see this gig (I think Mac’s generally doesn’t have a cover charge) but as the band humbly noted on social media, it’s worth at least twice that much.

Singer-guitarist Dag Juhlin, who’s one of those EXPO ’76 band members, has a show titled Solo Recital #2 coming up on November 30 at the Friendly Tap in Berwyn. I have no idea what songs he’ll be playing, but it would be fun to hear a mix of material from The Slugs, Poi Dog Pondering, Sunshine Boys and other bands he’s performed with over the years. Dave Sebastian, a member of The Raine—the band that backed Off Broadway vocalist Cliff Johnson on a number of occasions—will be the opening act.

Tributosaurus, one of Chicago’s most successful tribute acts, will be performing a One Hit Wonders of the 1980s show when it return to the Copernicus Center in Chicago’s Jefferson Park neighborhood on January 20.

The Sting Police, a tribute act that specializes in the music by The Police and Sting, have a 7:30 p.m. show coming up this Friday at the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre For The in Arlington Heights.

Big Brother’s Vinyl will be playing guitar-driven, classic rock hits and deep album cuts at the Countryside Saloon in Des Plaines this Friday night, and at the Arlington Ale House in Arlington Heights on December 8.

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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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Friday, October 26, 2018

Slumgullion

This Is Halloween, This Is Halloween. Actually, Halloween isn’t until next Wednesday, but it’s not too soon to plan your holiday fun. The October issue of Streetwise, which you can buy from vendors in the downtown area, has two pages of suggestions for scary stuff.

The Auditorium Theatre will offer Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas 25 Years on Halloween night and November 1. The screening will be accompanied by The Chicago Philharmonic.

The Music Box Theatre on Southport will have midnight screenings of Rocky Horror Picture Show tonight and tomorrow, as well as at 8:00 p.m. on Tuesday and 11:00 p.m. on Halloween.

I’m not sure how scary she can be, but British singer/actress Lily Allen will be performing at The Vic on Halloween.

The Innertown Pub in Chicago’s Ukrainian Village has a Halloween version of its weekly New Wave Wednesdays coming up on October 31. DJ Skid Licious will be spinning vintage vinyl and the club’s Facebook page promises “Musical tricks and treats all night long!!!” Costumes are encouraged.

And as I mentioned earlier this week, Halloweekend runs this Friday and Saturday at Montrose Saloon. The line up features Ellis Clark and Ary Jeebie as Alice Cooper; Phil Angotti as Chris Isaac, Rachel Drew as Blondie; Tiberius Strange as Boston; Hollow Men as The Cult; Androgynous Mustache as Kenny Loggins; Boudoir Heroes as Cream; Mammal as Zombie Buddy Holly; I Lost Control as Interpol; and Statutes of Liberty as MC5. There will also be a costume contest. The music starts at 9:00 p.m. each night, admission is $15.

Tickets went on sale today for the David Bowie tribute band Sons Of The Silent Age at Metro on January 12; Albert Lee at SPACE on February 7; Sonny Landreth and Marcia Ball at SPACE in Evanston on March 1; and Jeff Lynne’s ELO at United Center on June 27.

The October issue of Chicago monthly publication New City features its annual Best Of Chicago choices.

Love, Gilda, director Lisa D’Apolito’s heartfelt documentary honoring Saturday Night Live star Gilda Radner will be screened at The Gene Siskel Film Center November 2 through November 8.

Chicago-based rock critic Jessica Hopper will be promoting her new memoir Night Moves at the Empty Bottle club this Monday, October 29, and will join José Olivarez at the Chicago Humanities Festival on November 4.

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 at City Winery Chicago on November 6. I saw them perform at Fest For Beatles Fans this past August, and was thoroughly impressed with their terrific harmonies, sense of humor, and terrific stories about the English entertainment scene from their childhood and the swinging 1960s.

The Party’s Just Beginning, the directorial debut from Guardians Of The Galaxy/DoctorWho star Karen Gillan was screened at the Philadelphia Film Festival today.

The Chicago Toy Show returns to the Kane County Fairgrounds in St. Charles this Sunday. In addition to having a massive selection of toys from various decades, The Midwest Garrison Of The 501st Legion Star Wars costuming organization will be on hand to pose for photos.

I dropped by the Reckless Records location on Madison in downtown Chicago yesterday, and was happy to see their selection of vintage seven-inch singles is still highly suited for treasure hunting. I picked up a picture sleeve copy of The Rolling Stones’ “Let’s Spend The Night Together”/“Ruby Tuesday,” and there were interesting new additions from the last time I visited. Come November 23, Reckless Records will be my go-to place for Black Friday Record Store Day.

Something I found out about while my wife and I were visiting Ireland recently: Murder One - Ireland’s International Crime Writing Festival runs November 2 – 4 at the historic Smock Alley Theatre in Dublin. There will be workshops and special events involving several well-known authors.

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.

Long-time Lincoln Park store The Book Cellar will host An Evening With Jeff Tweedy at The Music Box on Southport on 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).

Much of the October edition of Chicago-based Latin publication Contra Tiempo is devoted to the city’s punk rock scene. In addition to a number of articles, there are over 10 pages of vintage black and white photos of punk performances in the Pilsen neighborhood. 

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Monday, October 22, 2018

In Tune With Montrose Saloon

Graphic from The Montrose Saloon Halloweekend Facebook page.

It comes as no surprise that this year’s Halloweekend is being staged at the Montrose Saloon. An annual event that features local bands covering famous recording artists, Halloweekend has always been a wandering spirit. It’s been staged at Martyrs’, The Abbey Pub, and even a recording studio in the River North neighborhood. Plus, Montrose Saloon has quickly established itself a hot new spot for some of Chicago’s best local bands.

This past Sunday, power pop band Frisbee and Eric Chial from The Bon Mots shared a double bill, and past shows have featured Decoy Prayer Meeting, Phil Angotti, The Handcuffs, The Amazing Heeby Jeebies, Lonesome Still, and Ellis Clark. Montrose Saloon also books a fair amount of roots rock acts. On Thursday, October 25, neo soul/jazz/rock/vintage supper club sextet The Imperial Sound will showcase songs from its critically acclaimed debut The New Am.

Halloweekend runs this coming Friday and Saturday, with a line up of Ellis Clark and Ary Jeebie as Alice Cooper; Phil Angotti as Chris Isaac; Rachel Drew as Blondie; Tiberius Strange as Boston; Hollow Men as The Cult; Androgynous Mustache as Kenny Loggins; Boudoir Heroes as Cream; Mammal as Zombie Buddy Holly; I Lost Control as Interpol; and Statutes of Liberty as MC5. There will also be a costume contest. The music starts at 9:00 p.m. each night, admission is $15.

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Friday, October 19, 2018

Slumgullion

He’s coming to Chicago again. Tickets are now available for Graham Nash at The Athenaeum Theatre on March 17, 2019. The event is a benefit for the Old Town School Of Folk Music’s music education programs. Nash released Over The Years, a double album retrospective earlier this year that included fascinating demo versions of some of his best songs.

Nash is currently part of The Lantern Tour, which has a stop at The Town Hall in New York on Sunday, October 28. Emmylou Harris, Jackson Browne, Shawn Colvin, and Lila Downs are also on the bill, along with other special guests. The concert will benefit the Women’s Refugee Commission, which advocates on behalf of migrant and refugee families.

The 54th Chicago International Film Festival wraps up this weekend at the AMC River East 21 at 332 East Illinois Street, just north of downtown.

The Party’s Just Beginning, the directorial debut from Guardians Of The Galaxy/Doctor Who star Karen Gillan will be shown at the Philadelphia Film Festival on October 26. She also wrote and starred in the film.

Gillan, her Doctor Who co-star Matt Smith, Chris Evans, Tom Hiddleston, Elizabeth Olsen, and Lee Pace were among the featured guests at the Ace Comic Con at Navy Pier in Chicago last weekend. I paid for autograph sessions with Gillan and Smith—both were as charming and friendly as a Doctor Who fanatic could want—and the whole process went smoothly. Hats off to Ace on their well-run debut in Chicago.

Destinos, the 2nd Chicago International Latino Theater Festival, wraps up this weekend at various venues around town.

Maybe all the good times could come back again. Ray and Dave Davies reunited with their fellow surviving Kinks member drummer Mick Avory (bassist Pete Quaife passed away in 2010) at the recent Q Magazine awards ceremony in London. They were given the Q Classic Award for their 1968 record The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society. That album comes out in a deluxe 50th anniversary edition on October 26. According to ABC News online, the Davies brothers are still open to a Kinks reunion.

The Kinks were inducted into the American-based Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 1990, and there’s a new crop of nominees hoping to join them. This year’s candidates are The Zombies, Def Leppard, Janet Jackson, Roxy Music, Stevie Nicks, Todd Rundgren, John Prine, Devo, The Cure, MC5, Rage Against The Machine, Rufus featuring Chaka Khan, Kraftwerk, LL Cool J, and Radiohead. There are good reasons for any of these artists getting in, but if I had to choose five, it would be The Zombies, Roxy Music, The Cure, Todd Rundgren, and John Prine.

Tickets went on sale today for Art Garfunkel at City Winery Chicago on December 14 and 15; WXRT’s Holiday Jam concert featuring The Head and The Heart with Mount Joy at the Chicago Theatre on December 6; and Sharon Van Etten at Thalia Hall on February 14.

Tickets are also now on sale for the Experience Hendrix Tour, which features Billy Cox, Joe Satriani, Dave Mustaine, Jonny Lang, Dweezil Zappa, Eric Johnson, Taj Mahal, David Hidalgo, Cesar Rosas, and other performers. It’s being staged at the Chicago Theatre on March 22.

The Goodman Theatre is having a costume sale tomorrow from 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

The Logan Center Blues Fest, three days of concerts, workshops, film, poetry and conversation, runs this weekend at the Reva and David Logan Center For The Arts. Charlie Musselwhite, Ruthie Foster, and Chris Thomas King are the headlines, and several other musicians will participate.

Van Go, a veteran Chicago band that excels at putting sharp-edged lyrics to high-powered melodies, has a new album out titled Everyone Loves You When You’re Gone. I’m planning on reviewing it in the near future.

High Concept Labs is holding an Open House from 7:00 to 10:00 p.m. next Thursday, October 25 at Constellation. There will be performances and exhibitions, as well as an opportunity to engage with artists. Admission is $20. Constellation is located at 3111 N. Western Avenue.

Private Peaceful, the play based on Michael Morpurgo’s 2003 critically acclaimed children’s novel, had its Chicago premiere this past Wednesday at the Greenhouse Theater on Lincoln Avenue and runs through November 11.

Juliana Hatfield has a new album titled Weird coming out on January 18. It’s going to be available in various formats—including colored vinyl— for pre-order on the American Laundromat site.

Singer-guitarist Rick Hromadka recently tweeted that his Los Angeles-based psych/rock/pop band Maple Mars has started recording its next album.

As noted in the Illinois Entertainer and other publications, Fender recently conducted a survey that found 50% of new guitarists are female.

The Chicago Toy Show returns to the Kane County Fairgrounds in St. Charles on October 28. In addition to having a massive selection of toys from various decades, the event has invited The Midwest Garrison Of The 501st Legion Star Wars costuming organization come and to pose for photos.

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Friday, October 12, 2018

Slumgullion

The ACE Comic Con kicked off today and runs through Sunday at Navy Pier. Guests include Matt Smith, Karen Gillan, Zadie Beetz, Chris Evans, Tom Hiddleston, Elizabeth Olson, and Lee Pace. There will also be artists and writers on hand, along with a number of vendors.

Liz Phair has a 7:00 p.m. gig this Sunday night at Metro, with Material Reissue as her opening act. See yesterday’s post for more details.

Tickets went on sale today for Joe Jackson at Thalia Hall on February 21 and 22. Other tickets now available include Cat Power and Willis Earl Beal at Thalia Hall on December 20; Steve Earle at City Winery Chicago on January 14 and 15 and February 25 and 26; Regrettes at Subterranean on November 30; and Lily Allen at The Vic on Halloween.

Neil deGrasse Tyson returns to The Chicago Theatre next Thursday, October 18.

Monty Python member and Spamalot creator Eric Idle has a new book out titled Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life – A Sortabiography. An ad in the Review section of UK publication The Daily Telegraph describes the work as “The Holy Grail For Comedy Fans” and “Absurdly Funny.”

Snow City Arts will celebrate its 20th anniversary with a multifaceted bash this Sunday at the Gene Siskel Film Center on State Street. The non-profit organization promises “monsters, alien encounters, heavy metal superheroes and talking paintbrushes as we celebrate student films, videos, and animations created at Rush University Children’s Hospital, Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital Of Chicago, Children’s Hospital University Of Illinois, and Stroger Hospital Of Cook County.” Admission is free.

Garbage will perform next Wednesday, October 17 at The Riviera Theatre as part of its 20 Years Paranoid tour. On that same night, The Church will be at Lincoln Hall as part of its Starfish 30th Anniversary Tour.

The Goodman Theatre is having a costume sale next Saturday, October 20, from 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

The Lantern Tour, which features Emmylou Harris, Jackson Browne, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Shawn Colvin, Lila Downs Steve Earle and Graham Nash has its first gig coming up on October 23 at the City Winery in Nashville, TN. Other stops include Washington, D.C., Boston, and New York. The series of acoustic concerts will benefit the Women’s Refugee Commission, which advocates on behalf of migrant and refugee families.

Destinos, the 2nd Chicago International Latino Theater Festival, runs through October 21 at various venues around town.

High Concept Labs is holding an Open House from 7:00 to 10:00 p.m. on Thursday, October 25 at Constellation. There will be performances and exhibitions, as well as an opportunity to engage with artists. Admission is $20. Constellation is located at 3111 N. Western Avenue.

According to a blurb in a recent copy of the Chicago Tribune, journalist/filmmaker Cameron Crowe plans to turn his hit movie Almost Famous into a musical. He’s enlisting critically acclaimed composer Tom Kit to write the music, and is hoping for a run on Broadway at some point in the future.

The Logan Center Blues Fest, three days of concerts, workshops, film, poetry and conversation, will be held next weekend (October 19 – 21) at the Reva and David Logan Center For The Arts. Charlie Musselwhite, Ruthie Foster, and Chris Thomas King are the headliners, and several other musicians will participate.

Black Friday Record Store Day is still over a month away, but vinyl collectors can already check out the official RSD website for the list of limited-edition releases that will only be available on November 23. Generally, the Black Friday version doesn’t generate as much of a buzz as the April version, but there are definitely some prime choices this time around from The Byrds, Cheap Trick, Garbage, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Paul McCartney, and a new compilation from Paisley Underground veterans The Bangles, Rain Parade, The Three O’Clock, and Dream Syndicate.

Private Peaceful, the play based on Michael Morpurgo’s 2003 critically acclaimed children’s novel, has its Chicago premiere next Wednesday, October 17 at the Greenhouse Theater on Lincoln Avenue and runs through November 11. Lead actor Shane O’Regan was an Irish Times Best Actor nominee when Private Peaceful was staged in Ireland.

Beatles fans are mourning the loss of another key figure in the band’s legacy after the news that recording engineer Geoff Emerick passed away. He worked closely with John, Paul, George and Ringo on a number of groundbreaking techniques, particularly on the Revolver and Sgt. Pepper albums. A number of people in the Chicago area were treated to a rare opportunity to meet Emerick in person when he was a special guest at The Fest For Beatles Fans this past August. From all the accounts I saw on Facebook, he was as gracious as he was talented.

On another sad note, the power pop genre lost one of its best practitioners when vocalist-guitarist John Wickes passed away from cancer. He recorded “Starry Eyes” and “Teenarama” (I still have those 45s) as a founding member of the UK band The Records, and went on to records gems like “That Girl Is Emily” during his more recent solo career.

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Thursday, October 11, 2018

Incoming

Indie rock singer-guitarist Liz Phair has a 7:00 p.m. gig this Sunday night at Metro. Back in 1993, at a time when our city’s music scene was criminally neglected by the national media, she put Chicagoon the rock and roll map with her critically acclaimed 18-song debut Exile In Guyville. “Help Me Mary” and “Never Said” became FM radio hits. Phair recently released Girly-Sound To Guyville: The 25th Anniversary Box Set.

Material Issue was another hot band from Chicago in those days, with their debut International Pop Overthrow spawning two videos in heavy rotation on MTV.  Phair has tapped the band’s current version as her opening act for this Sunday’s show. Material Reissue features original band members bassist Ted Ansani and drummer Mike Zelenko, along with Phil Angotti in the lead vocalist-guitarist role once held by Jim Ellison. They’ve opened for Matthew Sweet and The Posies. Metro is located at 3730 N. Clark, not far from Wrigley Field.

Still paisley after all these years. Original Paisley Underground bands The Bangles, The Three O’Clock, The Dream Syndicate and The Rain Parade have combined forces on a new album that features them covering each other’s material from the early 1980s. The 12-song 3X4 will be available on vinyl from the Yep Roc label for this year’s Black Friday Record Store Day and will have its official release on January 11.

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Wednesday, October 10, 2018

An Evening Of Nonstop Showstoppers

Ringo Starr’s long-awaited return to the Chicago area took place with a recent sold-out concert at the Chicago Theatre. Like Paul McCartney’s shows last July at the Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre in Tinley Park, there was the incredible excitement of seeing an actual Beatle in person. Amazingly, each exuded a friendly, regular guy persona even while performing songs that mean so much to generations of fans.

For a number of years, Starr has picked musicians who are popular in their own right to back him on tours. The band he brought to the Chicago Theatre featured Gregg Rolie, from Santana and Journey; Colin Hay from Men At Work; Graham Gouldman from 10CC; and Steve Lukather from Toto. They each took the lead on three of their own songs, and made the most of those opportunities. Veteran touring/studio musicians Warren Ham and Greg Bissonette were also onstage, providing invaluable support throughout the concert.

Starr didn’t seem concerned that the rousing renditions of songs like Rolie’s “Black Magic Woman,” Hay’s “The Land Down Under,” Gouldman’s “I’m Not In Love,” and Lukather’s “Hold The Line”might upstage him. He was a confident gracious host, joking with the audience, and making his “Peace And Love” mantra feel genuine whether he was front and center or back at his drum kit. That goodtime vibe extended to renditions of Beatle and solo songs with his all-star group providing stellar instrumental support and amazing harmony vocals.

The set list stretched back to the early Beatles days for “I Wanna Be Your Man” and up to Starr’s own contribution to the White Album, “Don’t Pass Me By.” The entire audience sang along with the iconic “Yellow Submarine,” and Starr also did well with “Act Naturally” and “Matchbox.” He performed his solo hits “It Don’t Come Easy,” “Photograph,” and “You’re Sixteen,” as well as the more recent and aptly named “Anthem.” The final song, “A Little Help From My Friends,” felt like classic understatement as Starr, his band mates and everyone in the Chicago Theatre joined together on the vocals.

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Monday, October 8, 2018

Jonny Weathers With Paul Cook - Sonic Assault

Singer-guitarist Jonny Weathers’ new four-song EP Sonic Assault features the same sort of raw vocals and hard-driving arrangements that made his 2017 full length effort Jonny Weathers And The Cosmic Scream such a thrill ride. Weathers, the alto ego of London-based musician Gareth Proctor, gets some potent help this time out from drummer Paul Cook of The Sex Pistols fame. Together, they generate enough energy for an entire album.

On “The Man From The Orleans,” Weathers conjures a mythical ambience via cryptic lines like “He comes in here but he’s rarely seen” while spinning the tale of a woman searching for her mysterious mate. “Mother Shotgun Baby” and “Mongo Shaker” live up to their provocative titles, and each includes a freewheeling instrumental passage. “Take It Back” is more of a heavy metal stomp, as Weathers and Cook tap into that same Jimi Hendrix vibe that ran through Cosmic Scream.

Personal note: The line, “Caught the last train out of Chicago” in “The Man From The Orleans” makes it a perfect song to kick off a playlist I created for when I’m riding the 12:30 a.m. Metra back to Palatine on after seeing a band in perform in the city.

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Sunday, October 7, 2018

Jet Lag Slumgullion

Doctor Who fans who have been on the fence about checking out the ACE Comic Con coming to Navy Pier next weekend (October 12 ­­– 14) should no longer have any doubts. Matt Smith, who portrayed the 11th version of The Doctor, and Karen Gillan, who was his companion Amy Pond on the British sci-fi show, have recently been announced as guests, Following his tenure on Doctor Who, Smith went on to portray Prince Phillip on The Crown, and Gillan is well known as Nebula in the Guardians Of The Galaxy franchise. She also recently wrote, directed and starred in the independent film The Party’s Just Beginning. Hopefully, we’ll have a chance to catch a screening of that at some point in Chicago.

Irish Vacation Lore Part 1: Pam and I just returned from a 10-day trip to Ireland. We opted for a country-spanning bus tour, with Irish-born/Chicago-based singer Paddy Homan as our guide. We traveled to Cork, Killarney, the Dingle Peninsula, Ennis, Galway, and Dublin to experience the country’s historic sites and stunning natural beauty. We also dropped by pubs to watch local musicians performing jigs, reels, and traditional folk songs. On a few occasions, Homan joined them onstage.

The Chicago TARDIS Convention, coming to Westin Lombard Yorktown Center in Lombard on November 23 – 25, continues to entice Doctor Who fans. Pearl Mackie, who played Bill Potts during Peter Capaldi’s take on The Doctor (he followed Smith), will be on hand, and more recently, Jenna Coleman (Clara Oswald) has been added to the guest list.

The next season of Doctor Who, with Jodi Whittaker taking on the title role, kicks off tonight on the BBC. It will be interesting to see how Whittaker, the first woman to portray The Doctor, survives last seadon’s cliffhanger of being jettisoned from the TARDIS.

If you’re planning on hosting a holiday party this December, imagine the look on your guests’ faces when you greet them at the door dressed as Old Fezziwig. That might be possible if you check out the Goodman Theatre’s Costume Sale on Saturday, October 20, 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. I have no idea what costumes will be on sale, but The Goodman has been doing its critically acclaimed production of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol for decades. You might even find a Tiny Tim costume for one of your kids. God bless us, everyone.

I used the hours of sitting on a plane to and from Dublin to finally delve into my copy of Chrissie Hynde’s Reckless autobiography. I bought it over a year ago at Quimby’s Book Store on North Avenue, but I’m terrible at finding the time to read. I’m hoping to post a review sometime in the future; in the meantime I’d like to share her thoughts on growing up listening to 1960s rock: “We were looking for adventure. We longed to live on Love Street, We had too much to dream last night. We wanted the world and we wanted it now. We were born to be wild. We were stone free.”

Irish Vacation Lore Part 2: We had the same driver throughout our bus tour. Austin (Pam and I aren’t sure if he and our fellow travelers would want their full names used here) was a super hero in terms of navigating the country’s notoriously tricky roads under any circumstance. He also regaled us with hilarious tales and informative commentary of Ireland’s monuments and history.

A number of local musicians, including Phil Angotti, Tommi Zender, Casey McDonough, Joe Camarillo, and Tony Ryan will be gathering at City Winery Chicago this Sunday at 1:00 p.m. for A John Lennon Birthday Retrospective. All of these guys have extensive experience putting on tribute shows , and most have performed on the Apple Jam Stage at Fest For Beatles Fans – Chicago.

Irish Vacation Lore Part 3: It should come as no surprise that I was on the lookout for record stores during this trip. In Dublin, Pam helped me find Tower Records, the last remaining location for the once global record store chain. Stopping there brought back fond memories of when I visited the Tower Records in Hollywood while on a California vacation in 1980, and from when lived just around the corner from the Tower Records in Lincoln Park. The Dublin version did not disappoint. I browsed through CDs, vinyl records, magazines, and assorted rock-related memorabilia. I bought a Kinks coffee mug, a seven-inch picture sleeve 45 of “Fire Burning” by Irish rockers The Urges, and a Tower Records Dublin t-shirt. From there, we walked a few blocks to the Hard Rock Café where I picked up a few more souvenirs. Earlier on the trip, we stopped in The Record Rack store in Ennis, where I bought a Bangles “In Your Room” seven-inch picture sleeve 45, and a 1980 copy of a UK magazine called Rock Compact Disc.

Tellin’ Tales Theatre will wrap up Six Stories Up In Climate Change, the latest installment in its long-running Six Stories Up series, this weekend at the Filament Theatre. The musical comedy, written and performed by middle school students and adult mentors with and without disabilities, is set in Alaska delivers a timely message about saving the environment. Tickets are $20 for adults; $15 for children. Filament Theatre is located at 4041 N. Milwaukee Avenue in Chicago.

Irish Vacation Lore Part 4: Another benefit of our bus tour of was becoming part of a friendly and fun group of travelers, Several had been on bus tours in Paddy Homan in previous years. Since most of us came from Chicago, it’s a safe bet we’ll be keeping in touch—probably at on of Homan’s Sunday night gigs at the Galway Arms venue on Fullerton.

Destinos, the 2nd Chicago International Latino Theater Festival, runs through October 21 at various venues around town.

Irish Vacation Lore Part 5: Gee, but it’s great to be back home. I mentioned Doctor Who in a few paragraphs earlier in this post. Pam and I could have used The Doctor’s help in getting back to Chicago. Our Friday morning flight out of Dublin was delayed five hours before being canceled, and our Saturday afternoon flight was delayed 45 minutes. It would have been great to hop into the TARDIS and delivered to Chicago at the originally scheduled time.

Having our trip back delayed a day and a half demolished the plans Pam and I had for using this weekend to celebrate our wedding anniversary. (It’s October 5.) We didn’t get home until 11:30 last night. I want to wish Pam a happy anniversary and thank her for all these wonderful years and being such a fun and knowledgeable travel companion. Pam, I love you!

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Friday, September 21, 2018

Slumgullion

He didn’t pass us by with this tour. A warm welcome to Ringo Starr, iconic musician and ambassador for peace and love, on his long-awaited return to Chicago. He’ll be performing at the Chicago Theater in downtown Chicago tomorrow night. According to set lists I’ve seen posted online, he’ll be playing a mix of Beatles gems like “Yellow Submarine” and “With A Little Help From My Friends,” along with his solo hits like “It Don’t Come Easy” and “Photograph.”

This time out, his all-star band includes Gregg Rolie of Santana and Journey; vocalist Colin Hay from Men At Work; successful songwriter and 10CC member Graham Gouldman; Steve Lukather from Toto, veteran studio/live tour musician Warren Ham; and drummer/professional instructor Gregg Bissonette. Count on hearing a few hits songs from each all-star.

The two-day Goose Island 312 Block Party kicked off tonight with performances by TV On The Radio, Sunflower Bean, and four other bands. Drive By Truckers and The Hold Steady headline tomorrow night. The festival is being held just outside the brewery, at 1800 W. Fulton Street.

Minstrel Palooza Live returns to Durty Nellie’s in Palatine tomorrow for another gathering of musicians related in various way to the Minstrels Music Store in Niles. Scheduled acts include Gus Adonis; Kevin Lee and The Kings, Cracked Actor; Van Go; Todd Money Experience; Larry Mitchell and Dave Ulrich; Charlie Victor; and Tiger Bite. Admission is free, and the show starts at 1:00 p.m. Van Go has a new album titled I Wish I Could Be Grateful coming out next Friday, September 28. Power pop expert Boris Boden recently played a track from it on his Secret Weapon podcast on Woody Radio.

MusicDirect is holding a “Rock ’N’ Roll The Warehouse” Vinyl LP Sale! tomorrow Saturday between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. at 1811 W. Bryn Mawr in Chicago. The Facebook post promises lots of stuff—imports and domestic—in near mint shape. The records are mostly from the 1970s, with a few from the 1950's.

Grand Rapids-based band The JetBeats will be performing tomorrow night at Montrose Saloon on Chicago’s north side. Judging from the catchy 1960s flavored tunes on their latest album, it’s going to be a fun show.

Tickets went o sale today for Elvis Costello and The Imposter at The Vic on November 14; David Crosby at North Shore Center For The Performing Arts on November 19; Rhett Miller at SPACE on December 20; Liz Phair and Speedy Ortiz at Metro on October 13; Procol Harum at City Winery Chicago on February 20 and 21; Kasim Sulton’s Utopia ar City Winery Chicago on March 7; and Teenage Fanclub at Metro on March 6.

Incoming: The Charlatans UK have a gig coming up at Bottom Lounge, which is just west of downtown, next Tuesday. Belly will be doing a show at The Vic Theatre on Saturday, October 6; Fleetwood Mac will be at the United Center on October 6; and Death Cab For Cutie has a show at the Auditorium on October 7.

The Petty Kings will bring their tribute to Tom Petty to The Prairie Arts Center in Schaumburg tomorrow night as part of a double bill with the ‘70s FM Radio Rock band.

Tellin’ Tales Theatre will present Six Stories Up In Climate Change, the latest installment in its long-running Six Stories Up series, on the weekends of September 28 – 30 and October 5 – 7 at the Filament Theatre. The musical comedy, written and performed by middle school students and adult mentors with and without disabilities, is set in Alaska and delivers a timely message about saving the environment. Tickets are $20 for adults; $15 for children. Filament Theatre is located at 4041 N. Milwaukee Avenue in Chicago.

The Old 97’s and Old St. Nick. Having seen The Old 97s bring down the house at Durty Nellie’s in Palatine, I have high expectations for their very first Christmas album Love The Holidays. The cover photo suggests these guys aren’t expecting much in the way of presents, but they’re gifting us with a mix of standards, originals like “Snow Angels” and “Gotta Love Being A Kid (Merry Christmas),” as well as their own take on “Auld Lang Syne.” Frontman Rhett Miller has a solo effort titled The Messenger coming out on November 9.

More holiday merriment. The Monkees Christmas Party, also a mix of standards and originals, is available for preorder in CD and digital format. The new songs were penned by Peter Buck and Scott McCaughey; Rivers Cuomo; Andy Partridge; and Adam Schlesinger.

Saatchi Art will present The Other Art Fair next weekend, September 28 – 30 at the Mana Contemporary gallery at 2233 S. Throop. The event promises visitors will be able to “meet and buy direct from 120 of the best emerging and independent artists in a unique experience.”

Destinos, the 2nd Chicago International Latino Theater Festival, kicked off today and runs through October 21 at various venues around town.

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Monday, September 17, 2018

Ex Norwegian - No Sleep

Even while keeping a steady pace of recording a new album each year, Ex Norwegian shows no signs of losing its creative edge. No Sleep, which dropped a few months back, is the Miami-based band’s latest collection of cryptic lyrics set to catchy melodies. And it’s great to hear singer-guitarist Roger Houdaille and singer Michelle Grand joining forces again after Grand was absent throughout much of 2017’s Tekstet (Subtitled).

That Houdaille/Grand tandem is particularly impressive on high energy numbers like “Good Intentions” and “Right Again,” but also works on the more elegant “Seldom Sober,” which is augmented with a string arrangement. They also take turns being the sole lead vocalist; with Houdaille grabbing the spotlight on “Making Deals,” and Grand driving the garage rock fun of “Marquee 1970s.” Grand also brings an engaging carefree attitude to the breezy indie rock of “So Maybe Next Time.”

It’s hard to get a consistent message via Houdaille’s edgy lyrics. “Triggered Weeknd” opens with the inspired mantra of “Feel good deep inside, feel good worldwide, feel good to be alive” but later talks about “corrupting musical minds.” Then there’s this couplet from the acoustic-based “Alt Cool”: “traffic flowing into march/Clear blue sky seeking animal starch.” It might not make sense, but like all the songs on this latest effort from Ex Norwegian, the well crafted performances make it work.

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Friday, September 14, 2018

Slumgullion

Welcome to all the musicians gathering in Douglas Park this weekend for Riot Fest. The extensive and eclectic lineup includes Elvis Costello and The Imposters; Johnny Marr; Liz Phair; Beck; Blondie; Cypress Hill; Twin Peaks; Cat Power; Superchunk; Killing Joke; Matt and Kim; Flogging Molly; Alkaline Trio; Gary Numan; The Exploited; Jerry Lee Lewis; and Digable Planets. By the way, Look Now, the new album by Elvis Costello and The Imposters, will become available on October 12.

The recently reformed Off Broadway, led by Cliff Johnson, will be opening for Pablo Cruise of “A Place In The Sun” fame tomorrow night at The Arcada Theater in St. Charles.

WXRT air personality Terri Hemmert will join Phil Angotti, EXPO ’76, Live To Sing Choir, and other guests at Fitzgerald’s this Sunday, to celebrate the life of Val’s Halla record store owner Val Camilletti.

My nephew Joe Flamm, champion of this past season’s Top Chef on the Bravo Channel, will be one of the well-known chefs on hand for the Fulton Market Harvest Fest tomorrow and Sunday. Rick Bayless, and Stephanie Izard will also do some cooking there. The Fulton Market Harvest Fest also has a full slate of music acts scheduled, and several local restaurants will be represented.

Did I mention I’m his godfather? Joe Flamm will also be among the 250 chefs at this year’s Chicago Gourmet Rock The Fork event at the Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park on September 29. There will a 93XRT live music stage as well.

The Indie Press Fest takes place tomorrow from noon to 4:00 p.m. at publisher 826CHI’s storefront location at 1276 Milwaukee Avenue on Chicago’s north side. As noted in this week’s edition of Chicago free paper Red Eye, there will also be music and beverages.

New albums released this week include The Crossing by Alejandro Escovedo; True Meanings by Paul Weller, and Snow Bound by The Chills.

Tickets went on sale today for A Bowie Celebration with Mike Garrison, Earl Slick, Gerry Leonard, Carmine Rojas, Bernard Fowler, Corey Glover, Lee John, and other musicians at The Vic on February 22.

City Winery Chicago has just announced that Procol Harum will be performing at the venue next February 20 and 21.

Spertus Studios is hosting the Printer’s Row Art Fest tomorrow and Sunday in Chicago’s Printer’s Row area in the south Loop.

Chicago-based rock critic Jessica Hopper will be promoting her new memoir book Night Moves at some upcoming events in the area. She’ll join Megan Stielstra for a joint book release at the Women and Children bookstore on September 20, has an appearance at the Empty Bottle club on October 29, and will join José Olivarez at the Chicago Humanities Festival on November 4.

That special version of Sunshine Boys’ stellar debut album Blue Music in a limited-edition (250) blue vinyl package is now available via Cheap Kiss Records.

Minstrel Palooza Live
returns to Durty Nellie’s in Palatine on September 22 for another gathering of musicians related in various ways to the Minstrels Music Store in Niles. Scheduled acts include Gus Adonis; Kevin Lee and The Kings, Cracked Actor; Van Go; Todd Money Experience; Larry Mitchell and Dave Ulrich; Charlie Victor; and Tiger Bite. Admission is free, and the show starts at 1:00 p.m.

The Petty Kings will bring their tribute to Tom Petty to The Prairie Arts Center in Schaumburg next Saturday, September 22 as part of a double bill with the ‘70s FM Radio Rock band.

Saatchi Art will present The Other Art Fair on the weekend of September 28 – 30 at the Mana Contemporary gallery at 2233 S. Throop. The event promises visitors will be able to “meet and buy direct from 120 of the best emerging and independent artists in a unique experience.”

AntiFlag’s video of its cover of Buffalo Springfield's “For What It’s Worth” is being released in a partnership with Everytown, a movement to end gun violence. The veteran punk band will release its latest album American Reckoning on September 28.

Destinos, the 2nd Chicago International Latino Theater Festival, kicks off September 21 and runs through October 21 at various venues around town.

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Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Moon Darling – By The Light Of The Moon

Released earlier this year, the seven-song EP By The Light Of The Moon is an impressive second effort from Moon Darling. It follows Dreams, which introduced the Seattle-based band’s hypnotic and self-described “psych rock” in 2016. Lead vocalist-lead guitarist Michael Julian Escobar once again spearheads an adventure that touches on several genres without locking in on any of them.

Escobar and bandmates drummer Michelle Nuño, keyboards player Mathew Buckner, and bassist Jack Jay have a knack for immediately grabbing the listener’s attention with playful intros. “Soul Mine” kicks off with some familiar scary music before shifting to an energetic arrangement, and “Don’t Rise” opens with exotic middle-eastern instrumentation. “Right All The Time” drifts in on Buckner’s atmospheric keyboards but then morphs into an earthy blues number.

Escobar’s distinct vocals capture the emotional sentiment of the title track, which also features an irresistible groove. And on songs like “When The Morning Comes” and “Learned Amongst The Sky,” his fluid guitar playing evokes Robin Trower on Bridge Of Sighs. “She Said (The Key)” finds Moon Darling taking a lighter approach, but still allows Nuño to showcase her powerful drumming.

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Sunday, September 9, 2018

Sunday Papers

I wasn’t able to do a Slumgullion on Friday because my wife Pam and I were out making merry with some friends at the classy and fun River North Design District Walk. So here’s a Sunday look at what’g going on in the entertainment world.

Welcome to all the musicians who have traveled here for our annual World Music Festival Chicago, and to all the fans who’ve come to watch them perform. The festival opened this past Friday and will run through September 23 at various locations around the city.

And so this is what you put on your Christmas cards when you mail them this year. The U.S. commemorative stamp for John Lennon was unveiled on Friday at a ceremony in New York attended by Yoko Ono. The stamp uses the cover of Lennon’s Walls and Bridges LP.

Tickets are now on sale for Peter Asher and Jeremy Clyde at City Winery Chicago on November 6; Vanessa Davis Band at FitzGerald’s on November 16; Little Steven and The Disciples Of Soul at Copernicus Center on November 5; Nick Lowe at SPACE on December 29 and 30, and Nick Lowe’s New Year’s Eve bash with Los Straitjackets at SPACE.

Michael Nesmith and The First National Band have a gig coming up next Thursday, September 13 at the Old Town School of Folk Music.

Congratulations to Imogene Bebb, who does a fine job managing the former Hollies lead vocalist Allan Clarke Appreciation Society Facebook page, on embarking on a music career of her own. A video of her performing a demo version of her original song “(H)ours” with bassist Jim Preece can be seen on YouTube.

That special version of Sunshine Boys’ stellar debut Blue Music in a limited-edition (250) blue vinyl package is now available via Cheap Kiss Records.

Scott Ligon will host an All-Star Freakout next Wednesday, September 12, at FitzGerald’s. Four days later, on Sunday, September 16, WXRT air personality Terri Hemmert, Phil Angotti, EXPO ’76, Live To Sing Choir, and other guests will gather at Fitzgerald’s to celebrate the life of Val’s Halla record store owner Val Camilletti.

Paul McCartney’s latest album, Egypt Station is now available, and some critics are calling it his best effort in years. I haven't had a chance to listen to it yet, but “Come On To Me” was certainly a promising start.

Riot Fest returns to Douglas Park next Friday, September 14, and will run throughout the weekend. Chicago Innerview, a local publication that specializes in covering the city’s mega music festivals, has released a Know Before The Show guide to Riot Fest. A dapper looking Elvis Costello is on the cover, and there are 30 pages profiles on Beck; Blondie; Cypress Hill; Twin Peaks; Liz Phair; Cat Power; The Exploited and other participating acts. You can pick up a free copy at Reckless Records stores.

Minstrel Palooza Live returns to Durty Nellie’s in Palatine on September 22 for another gathering of musicians related in various way to the Minstrels Music Store in Niles. Scheduled acts include Gus Adonis; Kevin Lee and The Kings, Cracked Actor; Van Go; Todd Money Experience; Larry Mitchell and Dave Ulrich; Charlie Victor; and Tiger Bite. Admission is free, and the show starts at 1:00 p.m.

We’re just about a month away from Jodie Whittaker’s debut as the title character in the long-running British sci-fi series Doctor Who. She’ll be the first actress to take on the traditionally male role of a time lord capable of creating an entirely new appearance and personality via regeneration. Whittaker previously starred in the British series Broadchurch with David Tennant following his stint as The Doctor, so it seems likely the two of them occasionally discussed his time on Doctor Who. At any rate, best wishes to Whittaker on her new adventures through time and space.

I finally watched Twice Upon A Time, Peter Capaldi’s farewell episode of Doctor Who via a DVD from the Palatine library, and now intend to buy my own copy. It initially took a while for me to warm up to his version of The Doctor (particularly following Tennant and Matt Smith) but he fully embodied the character by the end of his tenure. On Twice Upon A Time, he’s funny, compassionate, clever, and very wise. Actress Pearl Mackie does a stellar job of helping with Capaldi’s sendoff, and it was nice to see the show give her character an imaginative and heartfelt exit.

Pearl Mackie will be one of the guests at Chicago TARDIS when it comes to the Westin Lombard Yorktown Center on the weekend of November 23 – 25.

In other convention news, ACE Comic Con Midwest comes to Navy Pier in Chicago on the weekend of October 12 – 14. Scheduled guests include Chris Evans, Josh Brolin, Elizabeth Olsen, Lee Pace and Zazie Beetz. There will also be over 60 comic writers, artists, and creators, as well as several vendors.

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Thursday, September 6, 2018

A Blogger Gets His Comeuppance

It’s not surprising that Juliet, Naked combines rock and roll, clever dialogue, and romantic tension in a way that’s reminiscent of High Fidelity. Both films were based on novels written by Nick Hornby. Another point of interest is that director Jesse Peretz commissioned Robyn Hitchcock, Conor Oberst, M. Ward, and Ryan Adams to compose the songs the film’s fictional American alt rocker Tucker Crowe (Ethan Hawke) is said to have recorded in the 1990s. Juliet, Naked also pokes fun at self-important music bloggers who fawn over their heroes and occasionally get things wrong.

At the risk of sounding like Duncan, the British blogger played by the always funny Chris O’Dowd, here are a few observations on Crowe’s music. It was a bit disappointing that his songs, which we’re told marked him as a rising star before he mysteriously disappeared, aren’t featured that much in the film. With the exception of Oberst’s energetic “LAX,” the Hawke-sung originals don’t drive the action as well as gems by The Three O’Clock (“Sorry”) and Squeeze (“Goodbye Girl”). The Three O’Clock and Squeeze aren’t included on the soundtrack album, but Hawke’s heartfelt take on The Kinks’ “Waterloo Sunset” is.

Fortunately, the plot is a fun series of twists and turns that finds Duncan’s girlfriend Annie (Rose Byrne) somehow striking up an online friendship with Crowe after he sees her negative comments about him on Duncan’s blog. Both feel they’ve wasted years of their lives—Crowe on drugs and alcohol and Annie on playing second fiddle to Duncan’s fanboy obsession with Crowe. Eventually, Crowe travels to the UK, and finds Annie even more appealing after meeting her in person. Meanwhile, Duncan has been having an affair with a co-worker, and is flabbergasted to discover Annie romantically involved with the musician he’s idolized for decades.

Congrats all around to Hornby, Peretz, Hawke, O’Dowd, and Byrne for making this tale of getting one’s life back on track so funny and enjoyable.

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Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Incoming

A few months back, the legendary local power pop band Frisbie celebrated its 20th Anniversary with special guests at the Martyrs’ club on Lincoln Avenue. They have a new gig coming up with Eric Chial from The Bon Mots and Decoy Prayer Meeting at Montrose Saloon on October 21. Montrose Saloon, located at 2933 W. Montrose, has been building a loyal following due to musician and self-described “talent buyer/sound wrangler” Chial lining up some of Chicago’s best music acts.

The Handcuffs will be at Montrose Saloon on December 8, along with a special performance by singer-guitarist Mike Skill from The Romantics with his new side project ’67 Riot. Brad Elvis, who plays drums with The Handcuffs and The Romantics, will be part of the Mike Skill and ’67 Riot performance. The evening kicks off at 9:00 p.m. with an acoustic set by Mike Coy.

The September issue of the Illinois Entertainer has a profile of WXRT DJ Lin Brehmer in which he explains that he’s able to enjoy late-night concerts and still do his early-morning shift thanks to his afternoon naps. Having talked to Brehmer on a few occasions, I can attest to IE media columnist Rick Kaempfer’s assessment that the DJ always treat fans as if he was their “best friend in the whole world.” The profile also offers some fascinating insight on how Brehmer creates his weekly Lin’s Bin commentary, and I’m still hoping he’ll put out a collection of those enjoyable segments, either in book or audio form.

That same issue of the Illinois Entertainer mentions a recently restored version of John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s 1972 film Imagine that’s due to hit theaters in the near future. I.E. reports that Imagine has an audio remix by Grammy Award winning engineer Paul Hicks. By the way, Hicks is the son of original and still-with-the-band Hollies guitarist/harmony vocalist Tony Hicks.

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Friday, August 31, 2018

Slumgullion

Photo from The Flat Five Facebook page.

The Flat Five, whose 2016 debut It’s A World Of Love and Hope drew widespread critical acclaim, have sold out their gig at FitzGerald’s in Berwyn tomorrow night. The band members have years of experience in various music genres, and for this project they focus on glorious harmonies and breezy, retro arrangements.

Two of those Flat Five musicians, Casey McDonough and Scott Ligon, and will be joining WXRT air personality Terri Hemmert, Phil Angotti, EXPO ’76, Live To Sing Choir, and other guests at Fitzgerald’s on September 16 for a celebration of Val’s Halla record store owner Val, who passed away earlier thus summer. On the September 12, Scott Ligon will host an All-Star Freakout, at FitzGerald’s.

Zany garage rockers The Woggles have a gig tomorrow night at Reggie’s on State Street, just south of downtown.

Paul McCartney will release his latest album, Egypt Station, next Friday. That’s the same day we’ll see These Days from Paul Carrack; Raise Vibration from Lenny Kravitz; and In The Blue Light from Paul Simon. A week after that will bring new efforts from The Chills; Alejandro Escovedo; and Paul Weller.

This year’s Chicago Fringe Festival kicked off yesterday and will run through Monday, September 3 in various locations in the Jefferson Park neighborhood on Chicago’s northwest side. Over 24 shows are scheduled to take place.

It will be a busy weekend in Jefferson Park, as the annual Polonia Festival takes place just outside the Copernicus Theatre, which is a quick walk from the Jefferson Park Metra/CTA station. Tributosaurus will wrap up the festival by covering Eric Clapton on Monday night.

Tributosaurus will become Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young on September 5 at Martyrs.

Riot Fest returns to Chicago in two weeks, bringing Beck; Elvis Costello And The Imposters; Blondie; Cypress Hill; Twin Peaks; Liz Phair; Cat Power; The Exploited; and countless other acts to Douglas Park September 14 through 16.

I just bought a copy of noted artist/writer Bill Morrison’s graphic novel treatment of The Beatles’ animated movie Yellow Submarine. Morrison is president of the National Cartoonists Society and was recently named editor of Mad Magazine. Published by Titan Comics, this colorful and faithful version celebrates the 50th anniversary of Yellow Submarine’s release.

The Petty Kings will bring their tribute to Tom Petty to The Prairie Arts Center in Schaumburg on Saturday, September 22 as part of a double bill with the ‘70s FM Radio Rock band. I’ve seen The Smithereens, American English, and The Neverly Brothers at the Prairie Arts Center, and it’s a classy venue.

City Winery Chicago recently announced it will host A John Lennon Birthday Retrospective at 1:00 p.m. on October 7.

The Bookends, the 1960s-inspired garage rock duo of bassist-vocalist Sharon Lee and guitarist-vocalist Karen Lynn, have just released their debut album Far Away But Around. It’s available on the Dead Pulse website.

Todd Rundgren will join forces with the Chicago Sinfonietta for a Night Of Harmony II on September 8 at House Of Blues. The concert is a benefit for Rundgren’s Spirit Of Harmony Foundation, which helps provide music education for youths.

The Kaleidoscope Eye 2.0 Festival of Modern Psychedelia is coming to Live Wire on Milwaukee Avenue on September 8. The first annual Kaleidoscope Eye at this same venue last year was a mind-bending success.

Minstrel Palooza Live returns to Durty Nellie’s in Palatine on September 22 for another gathering of musicians related in various way to the Minstrels Music Store in Niles. Scheduled acts include Gus Adonis; Kevin Lee and The Kings, Cracked Actor; Van Go; Todd Money Experience; Larry Mitchell and Dave Ulrich; Charlie Victor; and Tiger Bite. Admission is free, and the show starts at 1:00 p.m.

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Friday, August 24, 2018

Slumgullion

Major newspapers are carrying a story about a London-based Rolling Stones fan who has a acquired a long-lost recording of Mick Jagger and Carly Simon singing together on a ballad believed to be named “Fragile.” Still, I’m more interested in a thread on the Hollies Appreciation Facebook Area page by some of its most frequent contributors. First, Knut Skyberg shared a photo and track list for an upcoming Hollies tribute album called Wishyouawish on the Australian indie label Teensville.

Anthony Edward Marsden noted that he had never heard of one of the songs, “Coming From The Ground.” According to Cameron Burns, Hollies founding members Allan Clarke and Graham Nash wrote the song for the Swedish band The Lee Kings (no relation to Chicago’s Kevin Lee and The Kings) back in the 1960s. Clarke and Nash, along with fellow Hollies Tony Hicks and Bobby Elliot are rumored to have joined in on the recording. I’ll be following the Hollies Appreciation Facebook Area as well as Teensville Records pages to learn more about Wishyouawish. So far, I don’t see a release date.

The Seventh Annual Chicago Women’s Funny Festival kicked off yesterday and is scheduled to keep males and females laughing through Sunday at Stage773 at 1225 W. Belmont. The various shows will include standup, sketch, improv, and musical comedy.

The I AM Art and Music Festival will mark its 10th anniversary of spotlighting local talent tomorrow from 2:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. at The House Of Blues in downtown Chicago. There will be performances by Thomas Nicholas Band, Bodega, Gorilla Social, Oakmen, Sin Anestesia, Straight Skinny, Weird Beard and Wilde.

Congratulations to the organizers of last weekend’s YippieFest on successfully carrying out their second annual celebration of theatre, comedy, music, and performance art at The Prop Thtr. Modeled after the late Mary-Arrchie Theatre’s long-running Abbie Hoffman Died For Our Sins Festival, YippieFest had a full house when I dropped by on Saturday night. Abbie vets Famous In The Future offered another set of skits and songs, and was particularly impressive on its clever and biting opening political satire. Carla Hayden and James Moeller of Black Forest Theatre created a hypnotic set of alt rock, with assistance from violinist Nura A. Standup comedian Trevor Gertonson had some funny observations about growing up as a goth rocker, horror movies, and how to handle dangerous pets; and The Agency Theatre Collective hosted a freewheeling open mic set. It was nice to see this counter-culture tradition will live on.

Skokie’s Backyard Bash kicked off today and will feature performances by Sister Hazel, Foghat, and Tributosaurus as the weekend progresses.

I thoroughly enjoyed Mark Olsen’s Los Angeles Times article (also carried in the Chicago Tribune earlier this week) about the new film Juliet, Naked. Arriving in theatres today, Juliet Naked is a rock and roll comedy based on the novel of that name by Nick Hornsby. Olsen’s fascinating and extensively researched piece centered on the various musicians who were enlisted to create new music that sounds like it sprang from the alternative rock of the 1990s. There’s a quote from Robyn Hitchcock that’s one of the best descriptions of the creative process I’ve ever heard. Juliet, Naked got three-star reviews in the Chicago Sun-Times and the Chicago Tribune today.

Wizard World Chicago Comic Con
has returned to the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont and runs through Sunday. Celebrity guests include David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson from The X-Files; Nichelle Nichols from Star Trek; James Marsters from Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Torchwood, and Smallville; Michael Rooker and Pom Klementieff from the Guardians Of The Galaxy franchise; Ernie Hudson from Ghostbusters; and several cast members from Outlander.

The 33rd Annual Bucktown Arts Fest takes place 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. tomorrow and Sunday at 2200 N. Oakley in Chicago.

This year’s Chicago Fringe Festival will take place over the weekend of August 30 through September 3 in various locations in the Jefferson Park neighborhood on Chicago’s northwest side. Over 24 shows are scheduled to take place.

Chicago Filmmakers will present the Chicago Premiere of director Casey Puccini’s satirical look at filming an indie movie I Don’t Care tomorrow night. The cast includes Sasha Gioppo, Bryn Packard, Kevin Stangler, Christine Vrem-Yostie, Cameron Worden, Brian Wiebe, and Taylor Wood.

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Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Welcome To My World

Photo from the Wizard World Comic Con Chicago

Wizard World Chicago opens tomorrow at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont and will cast its magical spell through Sunday. The annual event brings together self-professed nerds, sci-fi devotees, graphic novels readers, art lovers, TV fans, and anyone who embraces the more adventurous paths of modern culture. Prices for a four-day pass and single day tickets vary, so check out the website for schedule and ticket information.

This year’s celebrity guests include David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson from The X-Files; Nichelle Nichols from the very first Star Trek; James Marsters from Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Torchwood, and Smallville; Michael Rooker and Pom Klementieff from the Guardians Of The Galaxy franchise; and Ernie Hudson from Ghostbusters. Several cast members from the Outlander TV series will be on hand for the opening tomorrow. It’s disappointing there are no Doctor Who cast members this year, but there were a number of them in 2017.

Wizard World Chicago also offers aisle after aisle of corporate and independent vendors selling comic books, t shirts, action figures, and other fantasy/sci-fi related artifacts. In the huge marketplace dubbed Artists Alley, up-and-coming artists and writers compete for attention. There’s also a fun, masquerade atmosphere as people dress up in superhero or villain costumes, and gladly pose for photos. Where else are you going to see Batman and Princess Leia sipping 32-oz. Cokes together, or Captain Jack Sparrow and Harry Potter walking side by side.

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