Monday, December 31, 2018

One Last Post For 2018

Best wishes to all for a happy and safe New Year’s Eve!

The latest edition of MOJO has a 75 Best Albums Of 2018 list, and it’s hard to fathom how the British rock publication placed Call The Comet by Johnny Marr all the way down at #68. It’s his third stellar solo effort in the past few years and belongs in the Top 10. Other artists on the list include Prince (#42), Richard Thompson (#41), Paul McCartney (#27), Elvis Costello (#26), Cat Power (#25), Paul Weller (#14), and Breeders (#10).

“Auld Lang Syne” will resonate more deeply this year for the staff and regulars of The Heartland Cafe. A popular food and live entertainment venue on Chicago’s far north side since 1976, it closed for good today at 5:00 p.m. It was an inviting place for local acts to develop a following, and it also played host to International Pop Overthrow - Chicago for several years. IPO founder David Bash paid tribute to Heartland Cafe in a recent Facebook post. The Chicago incarnation of his traveling power pop festival will move to the LiveWire venue on Milwaukee Avenue.

Having posted a review praising the 2016 debut EP Turn Around from The Top Boost recently, I was glad to hear the Vancouver, BC power pop/psychedelic trio is now “putting the finishing touches” on a new effort. I’m looking forward to hearing it.

My wife Pam and I saw Bohemian Rhapsody over the holidays, and despite the fact that the film tosses the Freddie Mercury/Queen timeline in a blender and serves it up as a frothy concoction, we enjoyed it for the most part. Seeing the songs come to life and watching the band members argue over whose stuff would get recorded (there was a running joke about “I’m In Love With My Car”) was fun, and the live performances were impressive.

One of the previews we saw before the Queen movie started was for the Elton John Rocketman biopic coming out this summer. Perhaps due to the uproar over the factual errors in Bohemian Rhapsody, the Elton John flick is being billed as “Based On A True Fantasy.” I hope it has a scene showing Elton playing piano in the studio with The Hollies while they record “He Ain’t Heavy He’s My Brother,” but I don’t think that’s likely.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Champagne Toast

If it’s become obvious that none of your friends are having a New Year’s Eve party, or worse yet, there is a party and you weren’t invited, here are a few suggestions on how to still have fun tomorrow night.

Nick Lowe is in the midst of a short series of gigs at SPACE in Evanston, and for his New Year’s Eve bash, he’ll be joined by the instrumental group Los Straitjackets. The pairing makes perfect sense since Los Straitjackets recorded an album’s worth of Lowe’s material titled What’s So Funny About Peace, Love And Los Straitjackets on the indie label Yep Roc Records. Lowe himself has a lengthy resume to draw from, including “Cruel To Be Kind,” “Raging Eyes,” “So It Goes,” “Cracking Up,” “Play That Fast Thing (One More Time),” and of course, “What’s So Funny About Peace, Love And Understanding?”

Material Reissue, which features original Material Issue band members bassist-vocalist Ted Ansani and drummer Mike Zelenko, along with singer-guitarist Phil Angotti, will ring in the new year with awesome original power pop tunes like “Valerie Loves Me,” “Renee Remains The Same,” and their chilling cover of The Green Pajamas’ “Kim The Waitress” at the Liar’s Club on Fullerton in Chicago. John San Juan, a member of the Chicago psychedelic band The Hushdrops as well as a solo recording artist, will be helping out on guitar. The doors open at 8:00 p.m., and according to a Facebook post, the rocking starts at 11:00 p.m.

Tomorrow is the last day Chicagoans can check out the Saturday Night Live: The Experience exhibit is at the Chicago Museum of Broadcast Communications on State Street. Just seeing some of the costumes and props that were used in iconic skits and songs over the TV show’s extensive history elicits smiles and often, bursts of laughter.

It would easier to predict what the coming year will bring than guess what cover versions EXPO ’76 will perform at FitzGerald’s in Berwyn on New Year’s Eve. These veterans of the Chicago club scene have decades of material in their repertoire and the way they combine unlikely tunes together adds to the fun. The Outcast Jazz Band will also be on hand.

The Neverly Brothers will bring their rock and roll history tour to the Pheasant Run Mainstage Theatre in St. Charles tomorrow night but they won’t be there to ring in the new year. Their set ends at 9:30.

The new Hey Nonny club in downtown Arlington Heights (a short walk from the Metra station) is holding a New Year’s Eve Blues Bash with Lil’ Ed And The Blues Imperials. The show starts at 8:00 p.m.

Those who have fully recovered from their New Year’s Eve revelry by Thursday can check out the Montrose Saloon Tribute Social Night #2 - Elvis Costello Edition. Phil Angotti, Brad Elvis, Chloe F. Orwell, Rachel Drew, and Casey McDonough are among the participating acts, and all of them are veterans of tribute shows around Chicago.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

The Top Boost - Turn Around

The Top Boost released their five-track debut Turn Around in 2016, but I had never heard of them until International Pop Overthrow CFO/Founder David Bash posted a Facebook shoutout after they performed at one of his festivals earlier this year. A quick visit to their Bandcamp page proves Bash’s admiration is justified. Self-described as “Vancouver’s premier (and only) psychedelic power pop trio,” The Top Boost is drummer Hunter Gogo, guitarist Krill Yurtsev, bassist Parker Elkins, and at some point, bassist Greg Johnstone. All of them sing.

Turn Around, which was recorded in Vancouver and mixed at Abbey Road Studios in London, opens with the brief and silly “Sunscreen Livin.’” From there, chief songwriter Hunter crafts breathtaking melodies while celebrating the mystical, if all too often brief, power of romance. “She has every piece of you written on her mind” is one of the more intriguing images from “What If She Loves You,” a high-energy gem fueled by Yurtsev’s jangling guitar playing.

The wistful “Tell That Girl” is a gorgeous ballad that promises, “I’ll be thinking of you when I’m gone,” and the title track features a spacey atmosphere built with swirling keyboards. “Still On My Mind” mixes 1960s era psychedelic and garage rock at a brisk pace, and gives the EP a massive finish.  

Friday, December 21, 2018

Slumgullion

Happy Birthday to my lovely wife Pam. She set up this blog for me a little over nine years ago, and without that help, Broken Hearted Toy would never have been possible.

That’s what girls (and boys) want. Material Reissue, which features original Material Issue band members bassist-vocalist Ted Ansani and drummer Mike Zelenko, along with singer-guitarist Phil Angotti, will ring in the new year with awesome power pop at the Liar’s Club on Fullerton in Chicago on December 31. The doors open at 8:00 p.m.

The online Graham Nash Official Store recently had its grand opening, and there are plenty of items, including t-shirts, autographed CDs, and manuscripts, that would thrill all the Nash fans on your holiday gift list. I still remember getting my first Hollies album as Christmas gift in 1966. Personally, I’d love to see Nash bring a pop-up store to Chicago.

Someday soon, you might see me wearing Handcuffs. Apparel. The Handcuffs, the Chicago-based indie band that recorded three solid albums and has landed songs on national TV shows, is now selling t-shirts. Check The Handcuffs’ Facebook page for details. Mine came in the mail today.

Chloe F. Orwell and Brad Elvis of The Handcuffs will be among the musicians paying tribute to Elvis Costello at a show coming up at Montrose Tavern on January 3. On February 8, The Handcuffs will share a double bill with The Jet Beats at Montrose Saloon. The Handcuffs are also busy working on their next album.

The Women Of Soul: With A Tribute To Aretha Franklin runs through January 13 at the Black Ensemble Theatre on Chicago’s north side. BET is well know for its authentic tribute shows to soul and rhythm and blues artists.

Nick Lowe will perform at SPACE in Evanston on December 29 and 30, and for his New Year’s Eve bash at that same venue, he’ll be joined by Los Straitjackets.

San Francisco-based singer/multi-instrumentalist Richard Turgeon shows impeccable taste in the songs he’s chosen for his new 9 Covers album, which is available for a limited time as a free download on his website. The interpretations of The Beatles, Tom Petty, Nirvana, and Gin Blossoms are particularly impressive. Turgeon has recorded two albums of original material, which are available for sale on his site.

The Chicago-based indie band Mooner has teamed up with producer Kit Shields for a cover version of the Tears For Fears hit “Everybody Wants To Rule The World.” It’s an instrumental take that sounds like it was part of the Charlie Brown Christmas Special, and can be downloaded for free on the band’s website. The song is a preview of Mooner’s EML 101 Vol. 2, a full album of cover versions due out in January.

The Sons Of The Silent Age David Bowie tribute band has a gig coming up January 12 at Metro that will help the NorthShore University HealthSystem Foundation in its fight against cancer. Michael Shannon, the nationally acclaimed actor with strong ties to the Chicago theatre scene, will perform a few Lou Reed songs at the Metro show.

Chicago Tribune writer Heidi Stevens usually doesn’t review local theatre productions in her balancing act column, but her recent take on the Goodman Theatre’s annual production of A Christmas Carol made an interesting point. Stevens focused on the compassion and determination Ebenezer Scrooge’s nephew Fred (changed to niece Frida in the Goodman show) employed in the hope of transforming the old miser into a caring human being again.

Best wishes to everyone for a joyous and caring holiday season.

Friday, December 14, 2018

Slumgullion

Congratulations to 2019 Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame inductees The Cure, Def Leppard; Janet Jackson, Stevie Nicks; Radiohead, Roxy Music, and The Zombies. I was particularly pulling for The Zombies, not only because their catchy blues and jazz infused pop songs were ahead of their time, but because I had the honor of doing a phone interview with Zombies frontman Colin Blunstone for the Illinois Entertainer a few years back, and he couldn’t have been nicer.

Perhaps no act deserves the ahead-of-their-time description more than Roxy Music; and The Cure, like last year’s inductee The Cars, played a huge role in helping new wave become an enduring genre rather than simply a fad.

The RRHOF is not without its critics, and for a lot of discerning rock fans, the failure to induct Todd Rundgren was inexcusable. If you’d like to tell him that in person, he’s kicking off a tour in April. He’ll be at the Athenaeum Theatre in Chicago on April 23 and 24. Other stops on the tour include Atlanta, New York, Boston, and Toronto.

Welcome to legendary English guitarist Richard Thompson, who has arrived in Chicago for performances tonight and tomorrow at Thalia Hall.

The 20th Annual Animation Show Of Shows started today at the Gene Siskel Film Center and runs through December 27. The 15 animated short films come from France, USA, Germany, Brazil, The Netherlands, and Spain.

Wild Honey, the California based concert promoter that regularly stages benefit concerts that bring together well-known musicians to pay tribute to The Beatles, Big Star, Buffalo Springfield, and other artists, has another show in the works. Wild Honey Orchestra Perform The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society will be held on February 23 at The Alex Theatre in Glendale, CA. Special guests will be announced soon.

Tickets went on sale today for Bad Examples at FitzGerald’s on February 8; Adrian Belew at Old Town School Of Folk Music on April 4; King Crimson at the Auditorium Theatre on September 10; Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes at SPACE on April 10; and Rachel Yamagata at City Winery Chicago on January 29 and 30.

Tickets are also on sale for Van Morrison at the Chicago Theatre on April 24 and 25; Gang Of Four at SPACE on February 13; The Chills at The Empty Bottle on February 27; Alice Peacock at SPACE on May 18; Marshall Crenshaw and The Bottle Rockets (two shows) at Old Town School Of Folk Music on April 6; Neko Case at The Vic Theatre on April 26 and 27; Queen and Adam Lambert at the United Center on August 9; and Jenny Lewis at the Riviera Theatre on March 30.

Durty Nellie’s in Palatine is hosting a Benefit To Feed The Hungry  from 5:30 to 9:00 p.m. this Monday. Wall Of Denial, a Stevie Ray Vaughn tribute band, is hosting the event with benefits going to the Schaumburg Food Pantry.

Chicago’s rollicking and always fun rockabilly/garage rock band The Amazing Heeby Jeebies will have a residency throughout 2019 at Montrose Saloon, playing every second Sunday. The band promises special guests and lots of surprises.

First, there was Head Over Heels, the Broadway play featuring songs by The Go-Go’s, and now there’s a new book of crime fiction inspired by the band’s music. Edited by Holly West, with a forward by Go-Go’s member Jane Wiedlin, Murder-A-Go-Go’s includes tales based on “Our Lips Are Sealed,” “Skidmarks On My Heart,” Head Over Heels,” “We Got The Beat,” Lust To Love” and other tracks from Go-Go’s albums. Authors include Lori Rader-Day, Susanna Calkins, Greg Herren, Lisa Alber, Eric Beetner, Nadine Nettmann, and Travis Richardson. The anthology, which features an illustration of the band members in full Sam Spade mode on the cover, is available from Down and Out Books. Net proceeds will benefit Planned Parenthood of America.

I received my copy of The Alternate Boot, the new album from Chicago alt rockers whitewolfsonicprincess yesterday, and I’m looking forward to exploring its provocative sounds. Wes Hollywood is simultaneously releasing the full album Dynamite and the four-song EP Lipstick. Both efforts feature the exquisite power pop we’ve have come to expect from this Chicago act. Plus, there are new hard-hitting albums from Van Go and Norwood Park All Stars. Please consider giving the gift of local music this holiday season. There’s plenty of great stuff to share.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Before And After They Turned To Stone

Fans of The Stone Roses are justifiably disappointed that the Manchester-based band has released so few albums since its groundbreaking self-titled debut in 1989. Earlier this year, two Stone Roses-related singles appeared via Record Store Day in the UK. The Waterfront band is a predecessor that featured musicians who would later form The Stones Roses, and The High was formed after the Stone Roses made their mark. Both records should please fans not only as collector’s items, but also because the songs are good.

“Normandy”/“Where The Wind Blows” was previously only available as a limited run cassette distributed by The Waterfront back in the 1980s. The band included future Stone Roses members Andy Couzens, John Squire, and Gary “Mani” Mounfield. The Waterfront brought an appealing working class feel to these songs, or in the case of “Normandy,” perhaps not being employed at all. Backed by a sparse arrangement that calls to mind The Clash, it describes feeling cold, hungry, and alone while walking along the beach. “Where The Wind Blows,” with its loping bass guitar and band members whistling, seems a bit silly coming from the guys who would go on to found The Stone Roses, but it’s still fun. When the remastered “Normandy” was released on vinyl for this year’s RSD, it helped raise money for The Christie Hospital in Manchester.

The High, led by Andy Couzens after his success with The Stone Roses, pursued an atmospheric rock approach on its two albums. “Say It Now” was originally recorded as a demo and never made the cut for those releases. It sounds majestic in the recently remastered version, with lines like, “I never looked back” and “You have thrown it all away” spinning the tale of a faltering relationship. The extended shoegazer arrangement (over five minutes) is built on shimmering guitars and expansive keyboards. “Sugarpuff,” a song about starting over, was recorded in 2015 and has an infectious energy reminiscentt of The Cure. Couzens recently brought The High back to life with a few different members.



Monday, December 10, 2018

Power Pop Mates Offer A Pair Of New Holiday Songs

Singer/multi-instrumentalist Joe Algeri from Australia and singer/bassist Herb Eimerman from the USA collaborate as members of The Britannicas through the magic of modern technology. (Guitarist/vocalist Magnus Karlsson and drummer Stefan Johansson from Sweden make up the rest of the international power pop band.) Algeri and Eimerman have also pursued separate musical paths for years. Algeri records as the one-man band The JAC (with occasional help from others) and also works with The Outyders and the appropriately named The Jangle Band. Eimerman is a veteran solo recording artist and joined forces with Jeff Murphy of Shoes for the side project Nerk Twins. His heartfelt and melodic ballad “You Gave Me” is one of the many highlights on the Yuletunes power pop holiday compilation produced by Murphy back in 1991. And now, Algeri and Eimermann have both released new holiday songs that are available for a free download.

Algeri’s wistful “December” continues his 18-year tradition of offering a new Christmas song for a free download on his Bandcamp page. As with past efforts, it’s a bit off kilter, with a chiming pop arrangement that evokes 1960s bands like The Byrds. There’s also a nice dose of Beach Boys style vocals as Algeri relates how the twelfth month always brings back memories of an old flame he once sipped spiced rum with and who also had an affection for Soft Boys records. The catchy arrangement features Algeri on lead vocals, guitar, and piano; Eimerman on bass and backing vocals; and Swedish musicians drummer Stefan Johansson and organ player Lars Bruselll.

Eimerman’s catchy and cheerful “Don’t Ask For More” suggests every day can be Christmas, and features jangling guitars directly inspired by Roger McGuinn. It’s more rock oriented than his much earlier “You Gave Me,” but Eimerman once again uses the holiday to reflect on what’s really important in life. He plays most of the instruments, with help from Algeri on 12-string Rickenbacker and Australian Mark “Sid” Eaton on drums. “Don’t Ask For More” is available for free download on Joe Algeri’s Bandcamp page.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Slumgullion

The Handcuffs, Mike Skill and ’67 Riot, and Mike Coy will join forces for an impressive triple bill tomorrow night at Montrose Saloon. Skill is a longtime member of The Romantics, and Brad Elvis plays drums with The Handcuffs and The Romantics. Coy will being doing an acoustic set. The music starts at 9:00 p.m.

Big Brother’s Vinyl, a guitar-driven band that covers classic rock hits, as well as deep album cuts, returns to the Arlington Ale House tomorrow night.

Alt rock band whitewolfsonicprincess has its third album coming out soon, and will be hosting its annual Rock For Tots event tomorrow night at The Store on Chicago’s north side. They’ll be joined be Telepaths; The Dark Room Men; The Rut (a musical offshoot of the Famous In The Future comedy group); the five-woman David Bowie tribute band Lady Stardust; acoustic duo Parallelicopter; Ex Maquina; the power trio Portmantowzone; and comedian Trevor Gertonson. The show kicks off at 7:30 p.m.; The Store is located at 2002 N. Halsted.

Cheap Kiss Records is having a warehouse sale featuring lots of cool vinyl tomorrow from 9:00 a.m to 1:00 p.m at 604 Albion Avenue in Schaumburg, IL. The store’s Facebook post shows albums by U2, R.E.M., Elvis Costello, Cheap Trick, and The Cars.

Congratulations to The Art Institute Of Chicago on its 125th Anniversary. The museum will celebrate  will special events tomorrow.

Several musicians around the world have posted tributes to Pete Shelley of The Buzzcocks, who passed away recently from what is believed to be a heart attack. Fans have also been posting links to YouTube videos of their favorite Buzzcocks songs on Facebook. The band was known for combining the power of punk with irresistible melodies.

The Irish Heritage Center on Chicago’s northwest side will present Paddy Homan and The Noble Call Irish Christmas show this Sunday at 5:00 p.m. Vocalist/recording artist Homan is adept at festive as well as heartfelt songs, and The Noble Call is a quartet that features traditional Celtic instruments. Both acts will also have dancers on stage.

Tickets went on sale today for Neko Case at The Vic Theatre on on April 26 and 27; and Jenny Lewis at the Riviera Theatre on March 30. Lewis has a new album coming out around that time.

Other shows now on sale include Queen and Adam Lambert at the United Center on August 9; Elton John at the Allstate Arena on February 15; Wanda Jackson at SPACE on March 14; Marshall Crenshaw and The Bottle Rockets (two shows) at Old Town School Of Folk Music on April 6; Terry Reid at SPACE on April 25; Snow Patrol at the Riviera Theatre on May 7; and Old 97’s at Thalia Hall on March 28.

Tom Lanham’s cover story on The Old 97’s in the December issue of the Illinois Entertainer mentions that lead vocalist Rhett Butler has what Lanham describes as an “Edward Gorey-grim” book of children’s poetry called No More Poems! coming out in March. “I even scored the biggest illustrator in the business,” Miller states, “this guy who’s a Caldecott winner winner.” We sometimes have guest authors at the monthly writers group I belong to, so maybe our people could call his people.

By the way, “Rudolph Was Blue” from The Old 97’s Love The Holidays album is one of the most fun rock holiday songs to be released this year.

Van Morrison has shows coming up at the Chicago Theatre on April 24 and 25. His new album The Prophet Speaks just came out today.

The first U.S. tour by The Chills since 1996 will include a stop at The Empty Bottle in Chicago on February 27. Other dates include Brooklyn, Washington, D.C., Minneapolis, and Los Angeles. The New Zealand band found worldwide success with “Heavenly Pop Hit” back in the 1980s, but with Martin Phillipps at the helm, continues to record engaging albums like the recently released Snow Bound and their politically charged 2016 effort Silver Bullets.

M-U-S-T-S-E-E. Women Of Soul: With A Tribute To Aretha Franklin is currently running at the Black Ensemble Theatre on Chicago’s north side. BET his well know for its authentic tribute shows to soul and rhythm and blues artists. Women Of Soul runs through January 13.

Just over a year ago, when my wife Pam and I were visiting Manhattan, I bought a Bruce Springsteen On Broadway shot glass at the Hard Rock Café store. I asked the clerk if Bruce himself had ever browsed the souvenirs from his show, and she joked, “If he did, people would have heard me scream for miles around.” She’ll likely be among the multitude of fans buying the Springsteen on Broadway soundtrack when it’s released next Friday. The show Springsteen On Broadway ends its run on December 15.

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

Congratulations to my nephew Joe Flamm, winner of the Season 15 Top Chef competition on the Bravo Channel, and his wife Hillary Delich on the birth of their son Luka.

Monday, December 3, 2018

The Bookends - Far Away But Around

Bassist Sharon Lee and guitarist Karen Lynn leave no doubt as to which decade serves as the main inspiration for the 12 catchy songs on their new Far Away But Around album. Performing under the name The Bookends, they’re able to recreate various shades of 1960s rock through authentic instrumentation and their dual vocals approach. For the most part, they deal in girl-meets-boy, boy-is-impossible-to-figure-out relationships.

On “What I Wouldn’t Do” and “Mean What You Say,” guitar-driven garage rock arrangements underscore the message that some guy is about to get kicked to the curb. “Let It Go,” which features instrumentation inspired by the earliest days of The Who, also deals with a two-faced boyfriend. The songs are fun but might have worked even better with a rougher edge to the vocals.

“It Takes Two” sounds like how The Go-Go’s and The Bangles have interpreted the 1960s, as a woman passes a word of caution on to her ex-boyfriend’s new flame. “The Rooftop” is a romantic celebration that evokes a packed dance floor at a sock hop. A good boyfriend also surfaces on the peppy “Morning Sky,” which proves The Bookends are also adept at more current sounding indie rock.

Friday, November 30, 2018

Slumgullion

Comic artist Heather McAdams is once again hosting a bash with various local musicians covering the famous rock and roll acts that will be featured via her drawings in an upcoming calendar. She and Chris Ligon will be at FitzGerald’s in Berwyn tomorrow night, along with The Flat Five (The Association); Jodee Lewis (Bill Monroe); Phil Angotti (The Dave Clark Five); Robbie Fulks (George Jones); Joshlyn Lomax (Sarah Vaughan); The Jim Becker Group (The Grateful Dead); Dave Drazin (Jess Stacy) Matt Miller (Richie Havens); and others. There will also be a merchandise table with CDs, postcards and calendfars. Doors open at 7:00 p.m., admission is $20.00.

The Rolling Stones have added another Chicago date to their 2019 No Filter U.S. tour. In addition to June 21, they’ll also be at Soldier Field on June 25. Maybe that gives them five days to spend in town. I just hope they know that Broken Hearted Toy is the best way for famous British musicians to find out what’s happening on the Chicago club scene. Tickets for both concerts went on sale this morning.

Colin Blunstone, lead vocalist and founding member of The Zombies, has a tour of America’s East Coast coming up next year. Dates include Pawling, NY; Philadelphia; Portland, MN; Boston; Washington, D.C.; and New York.

The Dyes; Baby Money and Down Payments; and Willow Canyon will take turns rocking the stage at Montrose Saloon tomorrow night. August Forte will be spinning rock, punk. garage, and surf records. The show starts at 9:00 p.m.

The Waco Brothers will be at the new Hey Nonny club in Arlington Heights tomorrow night.

If you’re an avid follower of the Chicago rock scene, you’ve probably heard the concerns being raised about how the proposed $6 billion Lincoln Yards project might affect clubs like The Hideout that are located in that area. Long-time rock critic Greg Kot recently raised the issue in the Chicago Tribune, and other venues, like Beat Kitchen and Subterranean have joined forces with The Hideout as The Chicago Independent Venues League. Representatives from Lincoln Yards developer Sterling Bay met with music venue owners and people from the community to discuss the project at a meeting last night hosted by Alderman Brian Hopkins. Chicago Sun-Times reporter Rachel Hinton has a story about that meeting in today’s issue.

Jeff Tweedy the frontman for Wilco, now has a new a solo album—titled WARM—to go with his new memoir Let’s Go (So We Can Get Back). The album was released today.

Bryan Ferry’s latest album, Bitter-Sweet, also came out today.

Chicago alt rock band whitewolfsonicprincess is planning to have its third album, The Alternate Boot, out in time for the holiday shopping season. Their last two efforts were favorably reviewed here on Broken Hearted Toy. The band will be hosting its annual Rock For Tots event on December 8 at The Store on Chicago’s north side. They’ll be joined be Dark Room Men; The Rut (a musical offshoot of the Famous In The Future comedy group); Lady Stardust; Parallelicopter; Ex Maquina; @Portman-towzone; and comedian Trevor Gertonson.

The David Bowie tribute act Sons Of The Silent Age will be joined by special guest, acclaimed actor Michael Shannon when it performs Bowie’s Scary Monsters (and Supercreeps) at Metro on January 12. A portion of the proceeds will benefit cancer patients at NorthShore University HealthSystems’s Integrative Medicine Program.

The 3 X 4 double LP I picked up at the downtown Reckless Records on Black Friday Record Store Day sounds like it’s going to be one of my favorite albums of 2018.  It features original Paisley Underground members The Bangles, Dream Syndicate, The Rain Parade, and The Three O’Clock covering each other’s songs. Hopefully, I’ll be posting a review in the near future.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Incoming

Tickets for The Rolling Stones’ June 21 2019 concert at Soldier Field go on sale this Friday morning. The band had been teasing fans about its U.S. Unfiltered Tour with a short video on social media, but a new, longer version offers a montage of live performance footage and fun graphics. I still have fond memories of attending the band’s Exhibitionism exhibit at Navy Pier a few years back.

The Zombies’ lead vocalist Colin Blunstone, another member of Brit rock royalty, has announced an East Coast tour of the U.S. starting in Pawling, NY on January 31. Other stops include Philadelphia; Portland, MN; Boston; Washington, D.C.; and New York. I saw Blunstone at City Winery Chicago a few years back and it was a superb show. Also, don’t forget to cast a vote for The Zombies to be included in the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame 2019 Inductees.

Montrose Saloon on Chicago’s north side will be packed with music this Saturday night with The Dyes; Baby Money and Down Payments; and Willow Canyon scheduled to perform. Plus, August Forte will be spinning records, with an emphasis on rock, punk. garage, and surf. The show starts at 9:00 p.m.

The Imperial Sound has a gig coming up at Hey Nonny in Arlington Heights on January 26. So far, this new club has been doing an impressive job of moving beyond the suburban blueprint of booking the same handful of cover bands by bringing in acts that play original songs. The Waco Brothers will be there this Saturday, December 1 and upcoming gigs include jazz, folk, soul, bluegrass, classical, and blues acts.

Finally, Happy Birthday to Karen Gillan—Amy Pond of Doctor Who, Nebula of Guardians Of The Galaxy, and writer, director and star of the indie film The Party’s Just Beginning.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Johnny Marr - Call The Comet

For someone who’s performed so well within groups (The Smiths, Modest Mouse, The Cribs, etc.), Johnny Marr might be even more impressive when he records as a solo artist. On his first two efforts, The Messenger (2013) and Playland (2014), Marr combined his signature guitar strumming with irresistible synth arrangements. It took him four years to record another, but on the recently released Call The Comet, Marr once again breathes new life into a distinctively 1980s format.

On Call The Comet, he sets imaginative and often cryptic lyrics to atmospheric rock to evoke sci-fi film noir. “It’s the dawn of the dogs,” Marr warns on the opening track “Rise,” and adds “They hound they howl/They never let up.” An ominous message likewise lurks within the percolating synth rhythms of “New Dominions,” while the funky “Bug” depicts a widespread virus that leaves the population “sick and shaking.”

“Hi Hello,” which sounds a bit like Patti Smith’s “Dancing Barefoot,” offers a consoling message to someone who feels overcome and lost. The shimmering “Spiral Cities” describes an urban landscape that includes vertical streets, and “Tracers” urges us to “Make your way to the edge of the world.” “My Eternal” deals with confusion and possibly, a disdain for religious beliefs, but it moves with such exhilarating high speed, it’s impossible not to enjoy the ride.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Rock And Roll Holiday Gift Guide

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

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

For the vinyl lovers in your life, choose from the limited-edition releases coming to record stores tomorrow only for Black Friday Record Store Day. It’s not as massive as the April version, but there are lots of choices in every imaginable genre. Keep in mind, the earlier you get there, the better the selection.

The Beatles’ White album is now available in various 50th Anniversary editions that include previously unreleased tracks and other bonus stuff, depending on how much you want to spend.

The Rolling Stones put together a collection of vintage songs by their favorite blues artists, titled Confessin The Blues. It’s available as a two-CD set; a Volume 1 and Volume 2 LP set, or a special 5x 10 vinyl bookpack + six art card prints. Stones guitarist Ron Wood created the art for the cover.

And don’t forget to support your local bands. If you’ve seen one you really like in a club, chances are they have stuff you can download or order on their website.

You can treat the comedy fans on your list to tickets to the Saturday Night Live: The Experience exhibit at the Chicago Museum of Broadcast Communications on State Street. Walking through the costumes, artifacts, and reconstructed sets kept me smiling, and occasionally laughing out loud. It runs through December 31.

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.

Rock and roll books are always a great choice, and since they’re often visually oriented, you’ll want to give the real thing and not a Kindle version. Here are a few recommendations;

Artist/writer Bill Morrison of Mad Magazine fame has crafted a fun graphic novel treatment of The Beatles’ animated movie Yellow Submarine. It’s published by Titan Comics.

Unstrung Heroes: Fifty Guitar Greats You Should Know by author Pete Braidis casts a spotlight on musicians who aren’t as well known as Eric Clapton or Jimi Hendrix but are still noteworthy. Profiles include Pat Travers, Steve Hackett, Tony Hicks, Martin Barre, Bruce Cockburn, and Richie Furay.

Classic Rock Photographs From Yesterday And Today combines Jim Summaria’s photographs with Mark Plotnick’s copy. According to Amazon, the book compares famous artists in their prime to how they’re performing now.

It Must Be Art: Big O Poster Artists of the 1960s and 70s finds authors Michael Fishel and Nigel Suckling honoring the gig posters created by the Big O Posters company in swinging London. As you can tell by the cover, this is some eye-popping work.

Monty Python member and Spamalot co-creator Eric Idle has a new book out titled Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life – A Sortabiography. Guaranteed to break the ice at naughty parties. Nudge, nudge, know what I mean?

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

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Thanksgiving Weekend Stuff

We’ve arrived at the most appreciated Wednesday night in America; the gateway to a four-day weekend anchored by Thanksgiving. Here are a few suggestions on how to spend some of that extra leisure time.

Depending on when you see this, there might still be time to catch The Safes hosting their 15th Annual Black Wednesday Show at Schubas on Chicago’s north side. The Safes, whose albums have garnered praise here on Broken Hearted Toy, will be joined by The Differents, Baby Money, The Down Payments, and The Marcatos. You could also pick up a copy of The Safes’ new Juliana Hatfield tribute seven-inch single.

Chicago musicians Ellis Clark (Epicycle, The Social Act, The Handcuffs) and Ary Jeebie (The Amazing Heeby Jeebies) will host a Black Friday bash this Friday from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. at the Val’s Record Store in Oak Park. Acts scheduled to perform include psychedelic rockers Constantine; vocalist Phoenix; Big Hair Trouble (a Clark/Jeebie side project); Country Doctors; and Black Friars Club.

Chicago TARDIS takes place this Friday through Sunday at the Westin Lombard Yorktown Center. Billed as “The Midwest’s Largest Doctor Who Event,” it will feature Pearl Mackie, who did a fantastic job as The Doctor’s companion Bill Potts; Tony Curran, who portrayed Vincent Van Gogh on an episode; Nicholas Briggs, the voice of the Daleks, Cybermen, and Ice Warriors; and other celebrity guests. Note: according to the Chicago TARDIS website, actress Jenna Coleman, who played Clara Oswald, has had to cancel her appearance due to filming obligations.

Dave Drazin, a founding member of the Famous In The Future comedy group along with Lake Sirmon, Frank Carr, and myself, will be providing piano accompaniment for Buster Keaton’s 1927 classic silent film The General this Saturday at the Gene Siskel Film Center downtown. He does this sort of thing on a regular basis and is quite good at it.

Sunshine Boys, the recently formed trio of music scene vets Dag Juhlin, Freda Love Jones, and Jacqueline Schimmel, have a vinyl release show this Saturday night at Montrose Saloon on Chicago’s north side. Their debut album Blue Music, stands as one of the year’s best releases. Gerald Dowd is also on the bill.

Damn right, I’ve got the drumstick. Sopro Music’s 36th Annual Thanksgiving Blues Revue Concert Event takes place this Saturday night at the Cheers live music venue/restaurant in Midlothian. Sopro,  an independent music promoter with decades of booking experience in the Chicago area, has once again assembled an impressive list of blues and jazz musicians. Critically acclaimed trombone/saxophone quartet The Chicago Horns will headline, and other guests include guitarist-vocalist Joey Drada; vocalist Deb Seitz; bassist John Falstrom; guitarist vocalist Billy King; drummer Grant Niebergall; and guitarist-vocalist Chainsaw Dupont. Showtime is 9:00 p.m., and there will be prize giveaways in addition to the blues.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

When Black Friday Comes

Maybe it’s due to the holiday season competition, but Black Friday Record Store Day has yet to match the fanatical devotion the April version continues to generate. Still, there are enough vinyl treasures in a variety of genres to make a wintry trip to your favorite record store this Friday morning worthwhile.

The artists involved include Brian Auger And The Trinity; The B-52’s; Taylor Swift; Hank Williams; Blue Oyster Cult; John Coltrane; The Breeders; Roy Buchanan; The Byrds; Garbage with John Doe and Exene Cervenka; Robert Johnson; Outkast; Sheryl Crow; U2; Tangerine Dream; Eric Clapton; Jim Morrison & The Doors; Devo; Alice Cooper; Ella FitzGerald; Bobby Gentry; Talking Heads; Flamin Groovies; Dexter Gordon; Iggy & The Stooges; Soul Asylum; Herbie Hancock; The Jimi Hendrix Experience; Lone Justice; Bob Marley And The Wailers; The Mamas & The Papas; Matthew Sweet; Rage Against The Machine; Ramones; Keith Richards; Rosie Thomas; Todd Rundgren; The Smithereens; and The Smashing Pumpkins.

Number one on my wish list is the 3 X 4 double LP from The Bangles, The Three O’Clock; The Dream Syndicate, and Rain Parade on which they cover each other’s Paisley Underground songs. Here are a few of the other records I’m hoping to snag this time around: The Epic Archive Volume 2 (1980–1983) by Cheap Trick; “Take Me I’m Yours” seven-inch single by Difford & Tilbrook with ?uestlove and Robert Glasper; and “I Don’t Know”/“Come On To Me” seven-inch single by Paul McCartney.

Even though the colder weather and already established tradition of shopping department stores may cut down on your competition for RSD limited editions, it’s still advisable to get out there early. Afterwards, you can celebrate your successful hunt over a hot beverage (in my case, a chai tea latte) at a nearby Starbucks, Argo, or Dunkin Donuts.

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.

Friday, November 16, 2018

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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.

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.

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.

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.”

Friday, November 9, 2018

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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.

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.

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.

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.

Friday, November 2, 2018

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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.

Friday, October 26, 2018

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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. 

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.

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.

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.