Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Doctor Doctor—Almost

Somewhere in the Brokenhearted Toy archives there’s another Doctor Who-related post named Doctor Doctor. It explores how David Tennant, then the current actor playing the lead role in the long-running British sci-fi series, was being called the best Doctor since the legendary Tom Baker. When Tennant later announced he was leaving the show, it was hard to see how anyone could follow him.

Luckily, his successor Matt Smith would bring his own distinctive style, and become a social media sensation, along with The Ponds, played by Karen Gillan and Arthur Darville. Smith’s take on The Doctor was as different from Tennant’s as Tennant’s was from Baker’s, and yet it was easy to believe that all three were the same character. Smith and Tennant generated great chemistry when they joined forces on the 50th Anniversary Doctor Who Special Day Of The Doctor.

Both actors have gone on to successful roles in films and television. Tennant has appeared in the Jessica Jones series and starred in British and American versions of the mystery drama Broadchurch. More recently, he portrayed religious fanatic John Knox in the Mary Queen Of Scots movie. He now has a podcast where he’s chatted with the current Doctor Jodie Whittaker and his former companion on the show, Catherine Tate, as well as celebrities like Whoopi Goldberg. Matt Smith has portrayed Prince Philip in The Crown, and also played avant garde photographer Robert Mapplethorpe in the indie film Mapplethorpe.

If all had gone as scheduled, fans attending C2E2 at McCormick Place in Chicago this weekend would have been in for a treat because Smith and Tennant were among the celebrity guests. Unfortunately, I just discovered tonight that Smith has cancelled, so their joint photo op session and panel discussion will have to wait for another time and place.

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Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Nash Pays Homage To ‘The Other Kids’ While Doing Fine Without Them

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

Before Graham Nash was even half way through his performance this past Sunday night at the Athenaeum Theatre, some guy yelled a request for “Chicago.”

“Do you think I’d come to this city and not play that song?” Nash asked. “Patience, my dear.”

While it was obvious he would save “Chicago” for almost last, the rest of the concert was not as predictable. Nash was once again joined by Shane Fontayne, a versatile guitarist-vocalist who’s also toured with Sting and Bruce Springsteen, but unlike his other recent shows in our area, there was a third party on stage. Keyboards player-vocalist Todd Caldwell is also a familiar companion for Nash, having toured with Crosby, Stills and Nash in the past.

Caldwell and Fontayne enabled Nash to recreate the three part harmonies he perfected with his supergroup mates, whom he described at one point during the show as, “the other kids.” “Marrakesh Express,” “Pre-road Downs,” “Wasted On The Way,” and the rarely performed “Carried Away” were delivered with impeccable singing. They also pulled off a spirited version of Stills’ “Love The One You’re With” as well as his breathtaking “Find The Cost Of Freedom.” That was followed immediately by Neil Young’s “Ohio,” which was driven by Fontayne’s ferocious strumming and climaxed with Nash leading the crowd in a chant of, “Four dead in Ohio.”

Fontayne also added extra power to “Wind On The Water,” “Cathedral,” and “I Used To Be A King.” The quieter moments came on “Golden Days” from Nash’s 2016 solo effort This Path Tonight, “Simple Man,” and “Sleep Song.” Nash mentioned the recent Joni 75 all-star birthday concert (and upcoming film) for Joni Mitchell while introducing his exquisite love song to her, “Our House.” There was only one Hollies song this time out, a well-crafted take on “Bus Stop.” I’d still love to see Nash come to terms with the Hollies portion of his career, perhaps devoting an entire concert or album to reworked versions of his best material with them.

As for “Chicago,” it served as a rousing first encore, bringing the crowd to its feet to sing along on, “We can change the world.” After a gorgeous rendition of Buddy Holly’s “Everyday,” Nash had everyone joining in again on “Teach Your Children,” which he dedicated to the high school activists campaigning to end gun violence.

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Monday, March 18, 2019

Incoming

All three original members of The Stray Cats will kick off a 40th Anniversary Tour on June 21 and will continue through August 31. Brian Setzer, Slim Jim Phantom, and Lee Rocker don’t land on American soil until an August 3 date in Atlantic City NJ, and they’ll follow that with stops in New York City; Vienna, VA; Huber Heights, OH; Grand Rapids, MI; Welch, MN; Salt Lake City, UT, and San Diego and Los Angeles in CA. Hard to imagine why Chicago isn’t included. At least we’ll be able to buy the new album The Stray Cats have recorded—their first in 26 years. Stray Cats 40 comes out May 24.

Phil Angotti, one of Chicago’s best tribute acts, will be joining fellow musician (and presumably fellow Beatles fan) John Bowes for some ‘70s McCartney tunes tomorrow night (March 19) at Martyrs’ on Lincoln Avenue. The rock show starts at eight, so don’t be late. In previous shows, Angotti has honored The Beatles, Elvis Costello, The Zombies, The Kinks, and other acts.

Lollapalooza 2019 tickets go on sale tomorrow at 10:00 a.m. and there’s a good chance they’ll sell out almost immediately again without any of the performing acts being named. We do know there will be over 170 acts performing on eight different stages. This year’s event runs August 1 through August 4.

Tickets go on sale this Friday morning for The Squeeze Songbook 2019 show at the Chicago Theatre on August 31. Other cities on the U.S. tour include New York, Dallas, Atlanta, and Los Angeles. It looks like it’s being billed as The Difford And Tilbrook Songbook for the European dates later in the fall. By either name, it’s bound to be a great time.

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Friday, March 15, 2019

Slumgullion

First, a hearty welcome to Graham Nash, who’s in town for a concert this Sunday night at The Athenaeum Theatre on Chicago’s north side. It’s a benefit for the Old Town School Of Folk Music’s music education programs. He’ll be performing songs from his entire career, with help from guitarist-vocalist Shane Fontayne and keyboards player-vocalist Todd Caldwell.

St. Patricks’s Day is this Sunday but the entire weekend will be filled with celebrations around town. The Irish American Heritage center on Chicago’s northwest side will be rocking Saturday with live music, dance, food and drinks, children’s activities, an art gallery and more from 1:00 p.m. to midnight.

Singer-songwriter William Steffey has a release party tonight for his latest solo effort Reality Jockey at the Esquina venue at 4602 N. Western in Chicago. The album is available on CD, vinyl, and digital.

How soon will Morrissey be performing at the Ravinia Festival? Pretty close to now. He’s one of the recently announced artists scheduled for the summer-long series of outdoor concerts in Highland Park, IL. Ringo Starr and his AllStar Band will share a double bill with The Beach Boys, and other shows include Sting; Ramsey Lewis; Sarah McLachlan; John Prine; Buddy Guy with Blues Traveler and Shemekia Copeland; Tony Bennett; and Lyle Lovett and his Large Band.

Speaking of Morrissey, he also has a run on Broadway coming up at the beginning of May, and a new album called California Son that features him covering songs from the ‘60s and ‘70s.

Season EIGHT of Asian Pop-Up Cinema is underway, and will feature contemporary Asian films with English subtitles at AMC River East 21 and a few other locations through April 24.

The 22nd Annual Chicago European Union Film Festival runs through April 4 at the Gene Siskel Film Center. The Jewish Film Festival runs through this Sunday March 17, with screenings at various venues, including Arclight Cinema, Cinemark, and Music Box Theatre.

Girl with the guitar says all right for British Invasion band. The Zombies have announced on social media Susanna Hoffs will present them when they’re inducted into the The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame on March 29. Hoffs is a perfect choice considering the major influence bands like The Zombies, The Beatles, and The Hollies have had on The Bangles. By the way, my opening sentence to this bit is a reference to Michael Quercio’s “Girl With The Guitar” with The Three O’Clock. It’s said to be a tribute to Hoffs.

The Juliana Hatfield Three has a spring tour coming up in support of her new album Weird that kicks off with four dates in the U.K. before moving on to America. The stateside gigs include a double bill with Liz Phair at the Out Of Space 2019 event presented by SPACE and Temperance Beer Company in Evanston, IL on June 22. The Juliana Hatfield Three will also be in Evanston on June 20 for a solo show at Out Of Space 2019.

According to a Brad Elvis Facebook post, The Handcuffs have just a few more recording sessions to go before they’ll be ready to mix their next album. Looking forward to it.

Theatre Nebula’s production of the Duncan Sheik/Steven Sater musical Spring Awakening hcontinues its run at Cutting Hall in Palatine through March 24.

The Chicago Philharmonic, led by composer and conductor Tom Nazziola, will provide a live soundtrack for a trio of vintage silent films at 4:00 p.m. on March 24 at the North Shore Center in Skokie. The Silent Sherlock event will present Buston Keaton’s Sherlock, Jr. as the main feature, along with Fadeaway with Koko the Clown and Sure-locked Holmes with Felix the Cat.

Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy has gig coming up next Friday at The Vic on Chicago’s north side.

Cinema/Chicago will present the CINEYOUTH FESTIVAL featuring young filmmakers from around the world from April 26 through 28 at Music Box Theatre on Southport

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Thursday, March 14, 2019

He Comes To Chicago As He Pleases

Graham Nash has been a regular visitor to the Chicago area over the past few years. He’s performed at The Arcada in St. Charles, City Winery Chicago, and The Old Town School of Folk Music, as well as a gig in Skokie that was the only one of his recent tours I missed. His show coming up this Sunday at the Athenaeum Theatre on Chicago’s north side is a benefit for the Old Town School Of Folk Music’s music education programs. According to an article in the Asbury Park Press by Alex Biese (and linked to Nash’s official Facebook page), his current touring band consists of guitarist-vocalist Shane Fontayne and keyboards player-vocalist Todd Caldwell.

Nash has already formed a musical bond with Fontayne, a veteran of tours with Sting and Bruce Springsteen. He and Fontayne crafted gorgeous harmonies together on the concerts mentioned above, and they also write songs together. Caldwell’s resume includes working with Crosby, Stills and Nash. It seems likely the addition of a third player will improve the already impressive team of Nash and Fontayne. This Sunday’s show will be a couple hours long, with an intermission dividing two separate sets. Nash has been including a few Hollies songs in his shows during the past few years, and it would be great to hear him delve even deeper into the earliest days of his stellar career.

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Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Incoming

Singer-songwriter William Steffey’s 12th solo album Reality Jockey is now available on CD, vinyl, and digital. He has a release party coming up this Friday at the Esquina venue at 4602 N. Western in Chicago. Admission is free and there will be food, drinks, and a raffle. In my review of a previous Steffey effort, Love And Armageddon, I praised the well-crafted pop of “This Show Must Go On” and noted that “Had To Pay” brings to mind Chris Stamey and Crowded House.

New York alt rock veteran Karen Haglof has just released her third solo effort, a 14 track album titled Tobiano. Mitch Easter of Let’s Active fame and Peter Holsapple from The dB’s are among the guest musicians, and Easter mixed the album. Bassist-backing vocalist Steve Almaas played throughout Tobiano and served as producer; CP Roth played drums and piano. As on her 2016 effort Perseverance and Grace, Haglof takes an off-kilter but inviting approach to melodic roots rock songs. I’m hoping to do a more extensive review in the future.

Chicago-based indie Preserve Records is presenting a label showcase at Montrose Saloon next Monday night starting at 8:00 p.m. Friends Of The Bog, the folk-oriented band that played a huge role in creating Preserve Records a little over a year ago, will be performing. Nire Nah, Hal Baum, Pontac, Vender and The Cobras, and To Do List are also scheduled to play at this free event.

As reported by Chris Jones in a recent edition of the Chicago Tribune, a Cubs musical titled Miracle - A Musical 108 Years In The Making is coming soon to the Royal George Theatre at 1641 N. Halsted Avenue. According to lead producer William Marovitz, Miracle celebrates the relief and exuberance long-time fans felt when the Cubs won the World Series in 2016. Judging from the drunken Cubs fans I’ve seen stumbling onto the Metra Northwest line at the Irving Park stop on summer nights, A Musical 108 Beers In The Making might be a more apt subtitle. Seriously, this does sound like a fun show, especially since the Cubs have agreed to allow Marovitz to use official footage from the team’s championship year.

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Friday, March 8, 2019

Slumgullion

The schedule for International Pop Overthrow - Chicago is now online at the official IPO website. A number of favorites will be returning, including Enuff Z’nuff, Jeremy, Magnaphonic, King Mixer, The Webstirs, Three Hour Tour, Michael Steven Cohen, Van Go, Thrift Store Halo, The Collectors, The Unswept, Mike Vanderbilt, Rose Cora Perry And The Truth Untold, The Queue, The Spindles, The Red Wigglers, Dave Rave, Catherine Tecktiel from Magatha Trysty, The Jay Goeppner Band, Rob Schultz Band, The Bishop’s Daredevil Stunt Club, The Injured Parties, The Artist Formally Known As Vince, and Scott Niekelski from Go Time. IPO - Chicago takes place at the LiveWire venue on Milwaukee Avenue this year and runs from April 12 through April 20.

Tickets went on sale today for Dave Mason at City Winery Chicago on August 13 and 14; and Smashing Pumpkins and Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds at Hollywood Casino Amphitheater in Tinley Park on August 15.

Singer-guitarist Ani DiFranco will be discussing her new book No Walls and the Recurring Dream with rock critic/author Jessica Hopper at Everybody’s Coffee in Chicago’s Uptown Neighborhood on May 10. The tour will also include stops in New York; Boston; Washington, D.C.; and Los Angeles.

SXSW kicked of today and will offer live music, conferences, and film screenings at various venues around Austin, Texas through March 17.

I was sad to see on social media that Sara Romweber from Let’s Active has passed away from cancer. The trio emerged in the early 1980s with spirited coed vocals and irresistible power pop songs that included the FM radio hit “Every Word Means No.” Singer-guitarist Mitch Easter is now the only remaining member; bassist-vocalist Faye Hunter left us in 2013. I still have all of their albums.

He comes to Chicago as he pleases. Graham Nash is getting to be a regular visitor here, with a number of concerts in town over the past few years. I’ve seen him at The Arcada in St. Charles, City Winery Chicago, and the Old Town School Of Folk Music. His concert next Sunday, March 17 at The Athenaeum Theatre is a benefit for the Old Town School Of Folk Music’s music education programs.

Local bands Sonia Dada; The Way Moves; Nicholas Tremulis and The Prodical 9; and Dick Holiday and The Bamboo Gang join host WXRT air personality Lin Brehmer for Kocour Fest – A Celebration of the Life of Steve Kocour this Monday, March 11 at Metro. Kocour was a highly regarded and popular sound/lighting expert and teacher who worked with several bans in the Chicago area.

I had never heard of Peter Capaldi before his terrific portrayal of The Doctor on Doctor Who, and now that I’m following him on social media, I’d like to be in a comedy group with him.

The One Earth Film Festival continues to screen environmentally friendly films throughout the Chicago area through March 10. See the official website for times and locations. The 22nd Annual Chicago European Union Film Festival opened today at the Gene Siskel Film Center and runs through April 4. The Jewish Film Festival runs through March 17, with screenings at various venues, including Arclight Cinema, Cinemark, and Music Box Theatre.

Looks like I’m not the only one who writes rock and roll fiction. Pete Townshend, whose rock operas Tommy and Quadrophenia were packed with drama, humor, and vivid characters, has a novel titled Age Of Anxiety coming out in November. Reportedly, it’s about his generation and the music industry in general.

As reported by Chris Jones in the Chicago Tribune and Stefano Esposito in the Chicago Sun-Times, Steppenwolf Theatre is getting a $54 million upgrade. The additions include a 400-seat theater-in-the-round and an education center. The highly acclaimed Steppenwolf was the starting point for John Malkovich, Gary Sinise, and Laurie Metcalf.

Theatre Nebula’s production of the Duncan Sheik/Steven Sater musical Spring Awakening has begun its run at Cutting Hall in Palatine and will continue through March 24. Kevin Wiczer directs a cast of 13, with choreography by Kristine Burdi.

Also in Palatine, Christie’s Dairy Delights in downtown Palatine will present its next Rock ‘N Roll Ala Mode open mic event on March 13.

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Thursday, March 7, 2019

The Official Release: Various Artists - 3X4

The concept behind 3X4 was to reignite the psychedelic atmosphere and catchy songs of the early 1980s Paisley Underground by bringing together some of the era’s best-known participants. The album was released last November as part of the Black Friday Record Store Day limited vinyl editions, but was recently given an official release. The curveball here is that the four major players from that Los Angeles scene recorded new versions of each other’s vintage songs.

The Bangles are the best known of the acts involved, but don’t expect anything resembling “Eternal Flame.” This is the band as their true fans know them; mixing 1960s pop and garage rock with lush harmonies and strong melodies. The Three O’Clock, The Dream Syndicate, and Rain Parade follow the same blueprint, and like The Bangles, they sound like they’re having a blast on 3X4. After all, this is music they’ve known and loved for decades.

The Dream Syndicate’s Steve Wynn states in the extensive liner notes that he wanted his band’s new version of The Salvation Army (a precursor of The Three O’Clock) song “She Turns To Flowers” to capture the original’s “beautiful chaos,” and the result is a mind-bending gem. The Bangles’ exotic take on Rain Parade’s “Talking In My Sleep” features tabla playing from guest musician Meena Makhijani, and The Three O’Clock capture the lilting arrangement of The Dream Syndicate’s psychedelic “What She’s Done To Your Mind.”

Rain Parade slows the tempo a bit on The Bangles’ romantic “The Real World,” giving it a delicate beauty as well as ringing guitars. But the best example of how well 3X4 works comes on The Dream Syndicate’s guitar-fueled take on The Bangles’ first hit “Hero Takes A Fall,” which features Linda Pitmon and Bangle Vicki Peterson supporting Steve Wynn on backing vocals. Here’s hoping we’ll hear more collaborations from these for bands and even a tour.

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Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Incoming

Photo from John Fogerty's Facebook page.

Put him in, Coach, he’s ready to play. John Fogerty’s 50 Year Trip tour will bring the Creedence Clearwater Revival founding member to The Venue at Horseshoe Casino in Hammond, Indiana this Friday night. He’ll be performing classic CCR swamp rock songs like “Bad Moon Rising,” “Born On The Bayou,” and “Green River,” as well as his solo hits like “Centerfield” and “Rock And Roll Girls.” Tickets range from $64.50 to $94.50.

Fogerty will take his 50 Year Trip to The Wynn in Las Vegas from April 10 through 20. A post on his Facebook page states, “Can’t wait to share stories and celebrate my songs and career with you. We are even going to play the entire Woodstock set.” CCR fans that live in the Chicago area and can’t make it to Nevada, might consider checking out the Green River Revival tribute band at the Metropolis Performing Arts Center in Arlington Heights on April 13.

Leeds/Chicago legendary punk band Mekons are having a listening party for Deserted, their first album in nine years, tomorrow night at Delilah’s on Lincoln Avenue. There will also be DJ sets by Bloodshot Scott and Mekons member Jon Langford. The party starts at 9:00 p.m. and there is no cover charge. Deserted officially drops on March 29.

Former Doctor Who and Penny Dreadful cast member Billie Piper will be among the guests at this year’s Lexington Comic and Toy Con in Lexinton, KY coming March 21 – 24. Along with Christopher Eccleston (as The Doctor) Piper ensured the Doctor Who reboot was a smashing success.

The 8th Annual One Earth Film Festival continues to screen environmentally friendly films throughout the Chicago area through March 10. See the official website for times and locations.

The Chicago Philharmonic, led by composer and conductor Tom Nazziola, will provide a live soundtrack for a trio of vintage silent films at 4:00 p.m. on March 24 at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie. The Silent Sherlock event will present Buston Keaton’s Sherlock, Jr. as the main feature, along with Fadeaway with Koko the Clown and Sure-locked Holmes with Felix the Cat.

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Friday, March 1, 2019

Slumgullion

Everyone loves you when you rock. Van Go, the Chicago band with an impressive track record of putting hard-edged power pop songs with barbed lyrics on its albums, has a gig tomorrow night at The Gallery Cabaret in the Bucktown neighborhood. Everyone Loves You When You’re Gone, the latest release from Van Go, has turned up on a lot of blogs as one of the top albums of 2018. Eclectic rockers Red Wigglers are also on the bill.

March has arrived, bringing more hours of daylight, warmer temperatures, and lots of entertainment. Here are some of the events going on this month: Graham Nash at The Athenaeum Theatre on March 17; Jeff Tweedy at The Vic on March 22; C2E2 (Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo) at McCormick Place on the weekend of March 22–24; Old 97’s at Thalia Hall on March 28; and Jenny Lewis at the Riviera Theatre on March 30.

New albums due out this month include Still On My Mind by Dido next Friday; Lux Prima by Karen O and Danger Mouse and a self-titled effort from Brian Jonestown Massacre on April 15; My Finest Work by Andrew Bird and On The Line by Jenny Lewis on March 22; and Happy Now by Gang Of Four, You’re The Man by Marvin Gaye, and Deserted by The Mekons on March 29.

The above information comes from this month’s Illinois Entertainer, which also includes writer Tom Lanham’s interview with Suzi Quatro about No Control, the new album she has coming out later this month.

The Chicago Irish Film Festival, marking its 20th anniversary of “Celebraring Films From The Land Of Storytelling,” opened today and will run through Sunday. Films will be screened at Theater on the Lake, The Logan Theatre, and Gallery Theatre.

Singer-songwriter Dimitri Martin’s Wandering Mind Tour brings him to The Vic Theatre in Chicago tomorrow night. He’s sold out the 7:30 p.m. show but tickets are still available for the 10:00 p.m. show.

Mapplethorpe, Ondi Timoner’s 2018 “fictionalized biopic” of photographer Robert Mapplethorpe starring Matt Smith of Doctor Who and The Crown, had its first Chicago showing at the Gene Siskel Film Center tonight. It runs through March 7. Smith will be at this year’s C2E2 at McCormick Place later this month, along with fellow Doctor Who stars David Tennant and John Barrowman.

Tickets went on sale today for two shows by Robbie Fulks at the Evanston History Center on May 19; Smoking Popes ar Bottom Lounge on May 10 and 11; and Al Stewart at City Winery Chicago on June 3.

The 22nd Annual Chicago European Union Film Festival starts next Friday at the Gene Siskel Film Center and runs through April 4.

Local bands Sonia Dada; The Way Moves; Nicholas Tremulis and The Prodical 9; and Dick Holiday and The Bamboo Gang join host WXRT air personality Lin Brehmer for Kocour Fest – A Celebration of the Life of Steve Kocour on March 11 at Metro. Kocour was a highly regarded and popular sound/lighting expert and teacher who worked with several bans in the Chicago area.

Christie’s Dairy Delights in Palatine will have its first Creative Tribal Collab of from 7:00 p.m to 9:00 p.m March next Friday. Musicians, poets, and comedians are encouraged to arrive early if they want to participate in the open mic event.

If you missed Off Broadway at Reggies Rock Club last Saturday, you’ll have another chance to see them when they open for The Tubes at The Arcada in St. Charles on April 4.

I took my weekly after-work trip to downtown Chicago today to check on the Reckless Records on Madison. The staff is always hip and friendly, and the 45 RPM records bin has an ever-changing selection of picture sleeves. I picked up a copy of the David Bowie/Pat Metheny Group song “This Is Not America” from the movie The Falcon And The Snowman.

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Thursday, February 28, 2019

A Peek In Santa’s Bag - Record Store Day List Launch

The countdown feature on the official Record Store Day website shows there are 43 days until RSD 2019 takes place. But as of today, the list of one-day only vinyl treasures that will be available on April 13 is available to view or download. As usual, the selection sweeps across multiple genres, from Disney Songs The Satchmo Way by Louis Armstrong to Live At The Palladium by The Ramones. You’ll find new songs, reissues, and oddball collaborations on various size records in the jazz, blues, classic rock, folk, punk, and soul categories.

Over in the U.K., they give the Record Store Day List Launch a proper celebration, with several stores offering live band performances, DJs and refreshments throughout today. Their list varies from the American one, and in some ways, seems more interesting. I haven’t seen any mention of List Launch bashes stateside, but there’s sure to be plenty on the actual Record Store Day. Be on the lookout for any announcements from your local store and your favorite bands. In the meantime, you can view the upcoming releases on the RSD site and figure out which ones you’ll be waiting in line for come April 13.

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Monday, February 25, 2019

Incoming

In the famous words of Johnny Carson, “I did not know that!” Part I. George Harrison and Chicago Cubs Hall Of Fame third baseman Ron Santo were both born on this day. Somewhere right now, they’re playing catch while singing Beatles songs. (The ones George wrote.)

Congratulations to Ellis Clark, Ary Paloma Jeebie, and the Martyrs’ rock venue on successfully staging their third annual George Harrison Birthday Tribute. A number of acts performed George songs, ranging from “Don’t Bother Me,” the very first one for he wrote for The Beatles to a track from his last album Brainwashed. I had to catch a bus and a train back to Palatine so I couldn’t stay for the entire celebration, but I did enjoy three hours of George music.

EXPO ’76, one of the most unpredictable and fun cover bands you’ll ever see, will close out this challenging month of February this Thursday night with a show at the SideBar at the FitzGerald’s in Berwyn.

The Lorrie Kountz Band will be performing at Mac’s On Slade in Palatine this Wednesday night. Kountz first arrived on the Chicago club scene in the late 1970s as the lead guitarist for the hard rock band Bitch and went on to perform with Surrendur Dorothi and Rash. The four-piece Beatles tribute band Liverpool Acoustic will be performing on the following night at Mac’s.

The Chicago Feminist Film Festival runs this Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, at Film Row Cinema on the 8thfloor at 1104 S. Wabash Avenue.

New Zealand band The Chills will be performing heavenly pop hits at The Empty Bottle this Friday night.

In the famous words of Johnny Carson, “I did not know that!” Part II. I just found out via a phone conversation with my younger brother that his son/my nephew Joe Flamm created the menu for this year’s official Grammy Awards after-party. US Magazine’s online site described the event’s theme as, “a French-inspired modern masquerade ball [featuring] an exciting menu by Joe Flamm, Executive Chef of Chicago’s Michelin-starred Spiaggia and Café Spiaggia, of four Renaissance-inspired food stations including appetizers, entrees and desserts.”

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Friday, February 22, 2019

Slumgullion

George Harrison’s birthday is Monday, February 25 but there will celebrations in the late Beatle’s honor over this weekend. WXRT DJ Terri Hemmert’s Breakfast With The Beatles program this Sunday morning will have a George theme, so look for her and correspondent Professor Moptop to serve up his best songs as well as some rarities and fun trivia.

My Sweet George, the George Harrison Birthday Tribute Concert hosted by local musician Ellis Clark each year, returns to Martyrs’ tomorrow night. Clark, a founding member of Epicycle and Social Act, always brings together some of the city’s best acts, and serves as Master Of Ceremonies. Ary Paloma Jeebie from the garage/rockabilly band Amazing Heeby Jeebies will once again be his co-host.

Scheduled performers include Ken Mottet; Clar Monaco/Sandalwood Sitar; Constantine; Greg Jackson Combs; Phoenix; Frankie B; The Unswept; Gerald McClendan; Robin and Jenny Bieneman; The Handcuffs; Gunner Cleemann; Tom Linsk; Southside Exiles; The Fluffers; The Beyond; and Scott Williams. There’s a genuine atmosphere of peace and harmony at this fest that George himself would (does?) love. Martyrs’ is located at 3855 N. Lincoln Avenue.

Local music fans will have to make a tough choice tomorrow night because there’s also a show featuring the original lineup of legendary power pop band Off Broadway at Reggie’s Rock Club. Cliff Johnson and his mates will celebrating the 40th Anniversary of their debut album On. Singer-guitarist Phil Angotti, another veteran of Chicago’s power pop elite and founding member of The Idea, and The Evictions are also on the bill. Reggie’s Rock Club is located on State Street just south of downtown.

Out on the West Coast, The Wild Honey Orchestra, comprised of all-star musicians, will recreate The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society album at the Alex Theatre in Glendale. The Three O’Clock; Dennis Diken from The Smithereens; Peter Holsaple and Chris Stamey from The dB’s; Jason Falkner; Scott MCaughey from from Minus 5; Clem Burke from Blondie; Elliot Easton from The Cars; Mike Mills from R.E.M. and Jody Stephens from Big Star are among the numerous participants. The event is being organized by the Wild Honey Foundation, and once again, proceeds will go towards the Autism Think Tank. Past Wild Honey events have honored The Beatles, Buffalo Springfield, Big Star, and The Hollies.

Kevin Lee and The Kings, a veteran power pop band that fills its catchy songs with a lot of guitar firepower, has a gig tomorrow night at the Chicago Loop bar in Streamwood.

Tickets went on sale today for Johnny Marr at The Vic on on May 13; Bruce Cockburn at The Old Town School Of Folk Music on September 27 and 28; Al Green at the Chicago Theatre on May 7; and John Mayall at City Winery Chicago on August 1

A lot of us Paisley Underground fans bought the 3X4 vinyl album featuring The Bangles, The Dream Syndicate, Rain Parade, and The Three O’Clock on Black Friday Record Store Day last year, but now it’s officially available on CD and for streaming. I highly recommend it.

The Chicago Film Society will co-present with CHIRP Radio The Ramones musical comedy flick Rock ‘N’ Roll High School  this Monday evening at The Music Box Theatre on Southport. Showtime is 7:00 p.m.

The Chills will be performing at The Empty Bottle next Wednesday, February 27 as part of rare U.S. tour. The New Zealand band found worldwide success with “Heavenly Pop Hit” back in the 1980s, but with Martin Phillipps still at the helm, continues to record engaging albums like the recently released Snow Bound and their politically charged 2016 effort Silver Bullets.

The Chicago Feminist Film Festival runs next Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, at Film Row Cinema on the 8th floor at 1104 S. Wabash Avenue.

The Chicago Irish Film Festival will mark its 20th anniversary of “Celebraring Films From The Land Of Storytelling” when it runs Friday through Sunday next week. Films will be screened at Theater on the Lake, The Logan Theatre, and Gallery Theatre.

Reason number 4,387 why I’d love to visit England again: There a venue called Southsea’s Pie and Vinyl Café that’s sponsoring a Record Store Day Official List Launch on February 28 and March 1. There will be DJs, a live performance by the band Barbudo, and free cider. They have a great slogan as well: Record stores are for life, not just a day so come and visit us every week and prove the physical experience is alive and kicking!

Matt Smith fans will get a chance to see the Doctor Who and The Crown star as they never have before when director Ondi Timoner’s 2018 film Mapplethorpe opens its first Chicago run at the Gene Siskel Film Center from next Friday, March 1. The Gene Siskel Film Center describes Mapplethorpe as a “fictionalized biopic” that “benefits from the full authorization of the artist’s estate.” It runs through March 7.

Local bands Sonia Dada; The Way Moves; Nicholas Tremulis and The Prodical 9; and Dick Holiday and The Bamboo Gang join WXRT air personality Lin Brehmer for Kocour Fest – A Celebration of the Life of Steve Kocour on March at Metro. Kocour was a highly regarded and popular sound/lighting expert and teacher who worked with several bans in the Chicago area.

International Pop Overthrow hasn’t announced the schedule for this year’s Chicago edition, but a few local bands are promoting their IPO gigs already. Thrift Store Halo and The Collectors will be performing on April 19. Note: this year’s IPO Chicago is being held at the Live Wire venue on Milwaukee Avenue.

Chicago radio station WXRT’s Friday Feature this week was prog rock, and morning DJ Lin Brehmer kicked things off by playing “In The Beginning” and “Lovely To See You” from The Moody Blues album On The Threshold Of A Dream. I haven’t heard those songs in ages (I used to own the album) but they still rock.

The English indie/vinyl-only label Fruits de Mer specializes in prog and psychedelic rock, and has just announced its release of three new double LPs. Moose Goose creates guitar-driven instrumentals on its FdM debut Source Code; 16th Dream Of Dr. Sardonicus Live offers live performances of various prog rocks acts; and Astralasia finds Marc Swordfish remixing tracks from bands he’s worked with throughout his career.

Chris O’Dowd, who was funny in Juliet, Naked, Pirate Radio, and pretty much everything he’s been in, will star in a new sitcom titled State Of The Union on Sundance TV this spring.

The Weeklings, a band that has released two albums of obscure Beatles songs and similar-sounding originals, recently came up with a great idea. They joined forces with Peter Noone of Herman’s Hermits to record a new version of The Easybeats’ garage rock classic “Friday On My Mind.” It’s available on Amazon, Spotify, and iTunes.

Chicago-based, hard-edged power pop band Go Time! just released a 19-track new album titled Midway. Lead vocalist Scott Niekelski has also been working as a solo act in Chicago area venues. He’ll be performing an acoustic show with Patrick Potts from The Drysdales at District Kitchen and Tap in Oak Park tomorrow from 8:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.

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Thursday, February 21, 2019

Remembering Peter Tork

I was sad to hear the news that Peter Tork from The Monkees has died. In a post here last week, I wished him a Happy Birthday and shared a link to a friend’s story about how nice he was to her during a photo op at Wizard World Comic Con in Chicago. When I saw The Monkees perform at the Chicago Theatre in 2012, Tork frequently addressed the audience in a genuinely fun, friendly manner. It was a natural progression from the The Monkees sitcom persona that made him so popular in the 1960s. Rock In Paradise, Mr. Tork.

Here’s a review of that concert that I wrote for the Illinois Entertainer.

One of the first of many nostalgic images that flashed across a big screen at the Chicago Theatre during the sold-out performance by The Monkees last Friday night showed the band decked out in top hats and tails. It drew a huge round of applause and foreshadowed an evening of good-time, almost old-fashioned entertainment. Original members Michael Nesmith, Mickey Dolenz, and Peter Tork, backed by a seven-piece band, journeyed deep into an eclectic catalog of mid-1960’s material. Anyone who came with only a knowledge of the group’s biggest hits was likely left feeling stunned. But in a good way.

Still dismissed in some circles as actors who pretended to be musicians on a sit-com, The Monkees started writing their own material while the TV series was on the air but didn’t hit their creative stride until LPs like Headquarters and Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones, Ltd. The current 12-date tour, which reportedly was already being planned before the death of Davy Jones, gives the surviving members an opportunity to showcase just how inventive and talented The Monkees can be. It helps that all three have vibrant voices, and they pretty much play the same quirky roles that made their TV show an instant success in 1966. Dolenz and Tork exude a childlike energy while the more reserved Nesmith prefers a droll approach.

Audience members at the Chicago Theatre could be forgiven for casting a wary eye on Nesmith, who has always seemed to be the most reluctant Monkee to participate in reunions. He has occasionally performed with his mates over the years, but this is his first actual tour with them in quite some time. Fortunately, he seemed in good spirits, even during some technical difficulty with his guitar. There was a good chemistry among the three stars, starting with the opening number, “Last Train To Clarksville.” The band immediately switched to the more obscure LP tracks, “Papa Gene’s Blues,” a country-flavored song that featured Nesmith on lead vocals; and “Your Auntie Grizelda,” which found Tork delivering the silly lyrics while strutting around like a Broadway performer.

From then on, it was an almost equal mix of hits like “She,” “I’m A Believer,” and “(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone” with lesser known fare like “Sweet Young Thing” and “You Just May Be The One.” Dolenz was particularly impressive on the Gospel-flavored workout, “Goin’ Down” and very British sounding rave-up, “Randy Scouse Git.” On several occasions, the live performance was augmented by eye-popping footage on the big screen, particularly during psychedelic selections like “Porpoise Song” and “Can You Dig It” from the band’s 1968 avant garde movie, Head.

The Nesmith-penned “Daily Nightly” from Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones, Ltd. (believed to be the first rock song to feature a Moog synthesizer) showed these guys haven’t lost their touch for clowning around. Dolenz introduced it as a song, “That has never been performed before . . . and rightfully so” while adding that the lyrics were completely incomprehensible. Nesmith explained Moog synthesizers were too expensive and cumbersome to take on tour, and then vocally tried to recreate the instrument’s unique sounds. Dolenz, who was singing lead, was barely able to keep from laughing.

There were well-crafted video interludes honoring Davy Jones at various times, but the most touching tribute came toward the end of the concert, when the audience was invited to provide the vocals for “Daydream Believer” and overwhelmingly obliged. It proved to be the defining moment on an evening when The Monkees had been able to reconnect with some of their most loyal fans.

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Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Back-To-Back Brit Bands In Chicago

Procol Harum arrives in Chicago at a time when relentless snowfall has given us a bit more than a “Whiter Shade Of Pale.” Their concert tomorrow at City Winery will no doubt include that magnificent Top 40 hit, along with “Shine On Brightly,” “Homburg” and “A Salty Dog.”
Vocalist Gary Brooker, whose soulful delivery of those cryptic “Whiter Shade Of Pale” lyrics first brought the band international attention in 1967, is still onboard, although other members have come and gone over the years. Procol Harum released it most recent album, Novum, in 2017.

The British Invasion continues on Thursday night when The Kooks perform at The Riviera Theatre. The group’s latest album Let’s Go Sunshine finds them sounding more like the working class lads who first gave us engaging tunes like “She Moves In Her Own Way.” Their previous effort, Listen, dabbled in hip hop and techno with mixed results. Sunshine will give them plenty of good material to showcase, including “Pamela,” “All The Time,” and “Believe.”

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Monday, February 18, 2019

Mod Hippie - Wannabe Nobody

Mod Hippie’s latest album Wannabe Nobody is similar to Sonic Assault, the Jonny Weathers With Paul Cook EP that also came out last year. Cook was the drummer for The Sex Pistols, and Mod Hippie’s lineup includes D.J. Bonebrake, who still drums for X. Both releases create a gritty, off-the-beaten-path ambience via sparse arrangements and intriguing lyrics.

The epic “Saturday Show” on Wannabe Nobody compares a veteran band on tour to a weekly cartoon that’s lost its audience. “The older kids no longer want to hear,” vocalist and chief songwriter Doug McGuire explains over a driving beat. The power behind behind the glam rock fun of “And Everyone The Fashion (So Sorry)” comes from Jason Berk, Mike Schnee, David Marks, and Adam Marsland all playing electric guitars, and Berk’s slide guitar adds a country and western feel to the down-and-out ballad “You Know.”

It’s hard to tell if “Lux” is paying tribute to Cramps singer Lux Interior or mocking him, but either way, the twangy guitar arrangement is a blast. It follows directly after a catchy rendition of Paul Westerberg’s satirical “Johnny’s Gonna Die” that features McGuire and backing vocalist Teresa Cowles. Bonebrake sets the pace for the garage and psychedelic rock of “We Leave It All Behind” and the Schnee-penned “Cricket LaRue” mixes T-Rex with silly lines like, “After party, zing zang, everything, the whole shebang.” Shebang, indeed.

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Saturday, February 16, 2019

Saturday Slumgullion

The Bangles will headline the Like Totally Music Festival On The Beach concert at Huntington State Beach in Southern California on May 11. Public Image LTD; ABC; Kim Wilde; The Romantics; The Smithereens; Animotion; The Smithereens; B Movie; and Greg Kihn are also on the bill. Despite the retro name, most of these acts, especially The Bangles, The Smithereens, and The Romantics, are still going strong.

The critically acclaimed Chicago-based power pop band Frisbie will join Mike and Eric from The Bon Mots for a double bill tomorrow night, Sunday, February 17 at Montrose Saloon. The music starts at 8:00 p.m.

If you missed Elton John’s Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour at the Allstate Arena this past Friday you can still check out the Burn Down The Mission: Songs Of Elton John 1969 – 1975 show at 2:00 p.m. tomorrow at SPACE in Evanston. Alton Smith, Hohn Abbey, Debbie Kaczynski, Peter Manis, Richard Pettengill and Tommi Zender will be the musicians involved with this tribute.

Tickets are now on sale for Beck, Cage The Elephant, and Spoon at Huntington Bank Pavilion on July 31; Andrew Bird at Green Mill on April 2 and 3; Dream Syndicate at Hideout on May 31 and June 1; Fab Faux at Park West on May 10; Heart and Sheryl Crow at Hollywood Casino Amphitheater on July 7; Rodrigo Y Gabriela at Chicago Theatre on May 24; and John Sebastian at City Winery on July 8.

The Chicago Auto Show, billed as the nation’s largest auto show, finishes its 2019 run at McCormick Place this Monday, February 18. In addition to all the cars on display, there will be special events and guests, including local media and sports celebrities.

The Symphony Center Presents Jazz series will offer Jazz In The Key Of Ellison, a multimedia celebration of novelist Ralph Ellison at 8:00 p.m. next Friday, February 22. Roxane Gay will serve as narrator and host, and there will be performances by Will Downing, Nona Hendryx, Quiana Lynell, Nicholas Payton and The Andy Farber Jazz Orchestra. The Symphony Center is located at 220 S. Michigan Avenue.

Procol Harum will be at City Winery Chicago next Wednesday, February 20. The Kooks, whose latest album Let’s Go Sunshine finds them back in top form again, will be performing at The Riviera Theatre next Thursday, February 21. On the next night, Gin Blossoms will be at House Of Blues; and the Bowie Celebration - The David Bowie Alumni Tour hits The Vic.

Chicago’s hard-driving and sharp-tongued power pop band Van Go will be performing songs from their impressive latest album Everyone Loves You When You’re Gone on Saturday March 2 at Gallery Cabaret. Red Wigglers are also on the bill.

A black dress Marilyn Monroe wore at a 1954 press conference will be going up for auction on March 30. Don’t be surprised if you see Famous In The Future performer/writer/Marilyn Monroe fanatic Desiree Burcum wearing it on opening night at this year’s YippieFest in August. Famous In The Future will once again be hosting the three-day festival of theatre, comedy, and music.

The Impostors Theatre Company’s new show Caged - An Allegory at the Pentagon Theater opened this past Friday at Collaboration Studio. Written and directed by Stefan Roseen, the play mixes comedy and horror while exploring questions of identity and the ethics of art.

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Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Happy Birthday To Peter And A Few Other Thoughts

Happy Birthday to Peter Tork! I still remember the great story a friend told me about how nice he was when she paid for a photo op with him at a Wizard World Comic Con in Chicago in 2011. And of course, there are all those cool Monkees songs and their fun TV show. Hope he had a blast celebrating today.

The Chicago Auto Show, billed as the country’s largest auto show, opened last Saturday at McCormick Place and runs through Monday, February 18. In addition to all the cars on display, there will be special events and guests, including local media and sports celebrities. A handful of radio stations will be broadcasting live from the Auto Show. A number of years back, Cheap Trick had a gig at there, but the closest thing I see for 2019 is a pair of School Of Rock concerts next Monday.

The Symphony Center Presents Jazz series will offer Jazz In The Key Of Ellison, a multimedia celebration of novelist Ralph Ellison at 8:00 p.m. on Friday, February 22. Author Roxane Gay will serve as narrator and host, and there will be performances by Will Downing, Nona Hendryx, Quiana Lynell, Nicholas Payton and The Andy Farber Jazz Orchestra. The Symphony Center is located at 220 S. Michigan Avenue.

If you live in the Chicago area, Metra wants to reward you for surviving the recent polar vortex by letting you ride free on its trains this weekend. That’s nice for people who would normally drive to some entertainment venue. But it does nothing for Metra’s biggest supporters—the monthly pass holders who endured delays, unpredictable schedules, and the occasional surly conductor who thought passengers were somehow at fault for the inclement weather. In a better world, Metra would give every monthly pass holder an Apple iPod nano 7th Generation to listen to on our ride each day.

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Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Incoming

Pearl Jam has been chosen as the this year’s Record Store Day Ambassador, an honor that has gone to St. Vincent, David Grohl, Iggy Pop, and other cutting-edge acts in the past. RSD arrives on April 13, with another wide-ranging selection of one-day-only vinyl releases.

Congratulations to director Michael Glover Smith on the successful run of his latest film Rendezvous In Chicago, at the Gene Siskel Film Center. Last Friday’s night’s screening sold out, and when I went on Saturday, it was pretty much the same deal. The 69-minute Rendezvous In Chicago is a comic and easygoing slice of life divided into three separate tales involving relationships. There will be one more screening tomorrow (Wednesday) evening featuring a discussion with Smith afterward.

The Go-Go’s will be the subject of a full-length documentary scheduled to air later this year on Showtime. An extensive press release shown on the band’s Facebook page and across social media describes director Alison Ellwood’s film as a “candid archive-rich biography.” I bought a Stiff Records import single of “We Got The Beat” (probably at Wax Trax! on Lincoln Avenue) in 1980 and shortly after that, saw them perform at ChicagoFest on Navy Pier. I stopped at a record store on Rush Street after the concert and bought their Beauty And The Beat album. Still, I never could have predicted back then how successful they would become.

Chicago Theatre Week continues its 2019 run through this Sunday, February 17 at various theaters around the Chicago area. Discount tickets of $15 or $30 will available for 120 participating shows.

Elton John’s Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour comes to the Allstate Arena this Friday night. Maybe he should hang around a couple days and check out the Burn Down The Mission: Songs Of Elton John 1969 – 1975 show at 2:00 p.m. this Sunday at SPACE in Evanston. Alton Smith, John Abbey, Debbie Kaczynski, Peter Manis, Richard Pettengill and Tommi Zender will be the musicians involved with this tribute.

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Monday, February 11, 2019

Wes Hollywood - Dynamite

When Wes Hollywood recorded Fantasy Arcade back in 2012, it landed in the number three spot on my Broken Hearted Toy Favorite Releases for that year. Dynamite (available from Kool Kat Musik) came out in November 2018, and it feels like he’s never been away. Hollywood still likes to approach an irresistible melody with a bag of lyrical tricks like quick rhymes, putdowns, and witty observations. And along with Tom Shover, Peter Javier, and Spencer Matern, he continues to specialize in energetic power pop.

That said, Wes Hollywood draws from music that arrived at least a decade after the mid-1960s pop and Brit Invasion hits that inspire a lot of his peers. Songs like “Evelyn” and “Dirty Manhattan” evoke Elvis Costello in terms of instrumental style and biting sentiments. “I’ll Take You Back,” a funny tale of a guy who’s unaware of the legitimate reasons his girlfriend dumped him, calls to mind The Cars.

A lot of these tracks deal with crumbling relationships, but there’s also the aggressive “Get It Right,” which finds Hollywood vowing to save the world. “Small Talk,” a slap at an incessant chatterbox, would make a great companion for The Elvis Brothers’ rollicking “Motormouth.” “When Sunday Rolls Around” is another song about a girlfriend departing, but here Hollywood swaps humor for genuine emotions and a soulful arrangement.

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Friday, February 8, 2019

Slumgullion

John Cusack will be at the Genesee Theatre in Waukegan this Sunday night for a conversation with moderator Dolly McCarthy after a screening of High Fidelity. The movie starts at 6:00 p.m. There was an interesting article by Jessi Roti in yesterday’s Chicago Tribune in which Cusack talks about the making of the film and his mixed feelings about the upcoming TV version starring Zoe Kravitz.

Tickets went on sale today for Captain Beyond at Reggie’s Music Joint on April 12; Dollyrots at Reggie’s Music Joint on March 14; Florence + The Machine with Blood Orange at Huntington Bank Pavilion on May 23; Lemonheads and former Replacements bassist Tommy Stinson at Thalia Hall on May 7; Specials at The Vic on June 8; and Vampire Weekend at Huntington Bank Pavilion on June 16.

This year’s Chicago Theatre Week began yesterday and will run through Sunday, February 17 at various theaters around the Chicago area. Discount tickets of $15 or $30 will available for 120 participating shows. Check the Chicago Theatre Week website for more details.

Rendezvous In Chicago, director Michael Glover Smith’s third feature film, kicks off a four-day run tonight at the Gene Siskel Film Center. Smith will be on hand for an audience discussion at tonight's screening, as well as the ones on Saturday afternoon, Monday evening, and Wednesday evening.

Chicago alt rock band whitewolfsonicprincess will perform with a different lineup for each of its two sets at the record release party for its new album The Alternate Boot Vols. 1 and 2 at Jarvis Square Pottery tomorrow night. There will also be acoustic sets by Will Phalen and Kacie Swierk; and musician/actor/film critic Pat McDonald will serve as Master Of Ceremony. The music starts at 8:00 p.m., the Jarvis Square Pottery store is located at 1443 W. Jarvis.

The Chicago European Union Film Festival begins on March 8 and runs through April 4 at the Gene Siskel Film Center.

If you’re planning on meeting up with David Tennant at C2E2 (Chicago Comic Entertainment Expo) next month, be on your best behavior or he might talk about you on one of his podcasts. The Doctor Who, Broadchurch, Jessica Jones actor has already recorded a couple episodes of David Tennant With…, and they’re available on cashbox. His first two guests were Whoppi Goldberg and Olivia Coleman. Kristin Ritter, Jon Hamm, and Jodie Whitaker, and Ian McKellen are slated for future episodes. C2E2 runs at McCormick Place March 22 –24, and the guests also include Doctor Who alums Matt Smith and John Barrowman.

The critically acclaimed Chicago-based power pop band Frisbie will join Mike and Eric from The Bon Mots for a double bill next Sunday, February 17 at Montrose Saloon.

Upcoming concerts in the Chicago area include Judy Collins at Old Town School of Folk Music on February 15; Elton John at the Allstate Arena on February 15; Procol Harum at City Winery on February 20; The Kooks at The Riviera Theatre on February 21; Gin Blossoms at House Of Blues on February 22; and A Bowie Celebration - The David Bowie Alumni Tour at The Vic on February 22.

The Impostors Theatre Company will present Caged - An Allegory at the Pentagon Theater starting next Friday, February 15 at Collaboration Studio. Written and directed by Stefan Roseen, the play mixes comedy and horror while exploring questions of identity and the ethics of art.

There was a pleasant surprise for Graham Nash at the UK Americana Awards in London last Thursday when the person presenting his Lifetime Achievement Award turned out to be Allan Clarke. Nash and Clarke first began singing together as schoolboys and went on to form The Hollies. It’s likely their reunion last week involved some additional celebrating since Nash’s birthday was just two days later.

Joni Mitchell photographs taken over several years by Rowland Scherman, Patrick Harbron, Jay Blakesberg, Norman Seeff, Joel Bernstein, Graham Nash, Guido Harari, Henry Diltz, David Gahr, and Ken Regan will be featured in an exhibit at LeeAnn Brook Fine Art in Nevada City, CA in collaboration with the Morrison Hotel Gallery.

The Corky Siegel Chamber Blues with Lynne Jovdah takes place on March 31 at the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre in Arlington Heights. Siegel performed blues and folk influenced rock with The Siegel-Schwall Band in the 1960s and 70s, and the band joined forces with conductor Seiji Ozawa and the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra for some amazing blues/classical mashups.

I had been wondering why Phil Angotti, a veteran of Chicago’s power pop scene, wasn’t part of the lineup again for this year’s George Harrison Tribute at Martyrs’ on February 23. But then I remembered that’s the day he’s sharing a bill with the original lineup of Off Broadway at Reggie’s Rock Club. The Evictions are also scheduled for Reggie’s Rock Club on February 23.

The Palatine Patch website is reporting that the Durty Nellie’s music venue in Palatine is moving quickly toward reopening after a fire caused extensive damage a few weeks back.

Mark your calendar with paisley colors: YippieFest, a three-day celebration of theatre, comedy, and music returns for its third year on the weekend of August 16 – 18. The festival carries on the tradition of Abbie Hoffman Died For Our Sins, which was an annual event at Mary-Arrchie Theatre for over 25 years. Abbie Fest vets Famous In The Future are the driving force behind YippieFest and they’ll be looking for participants soon.

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Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Incoming

Looks like there’ll be a lot of fun, catchy sounds this Friday night at Montrose Saloon. The Chicago-based indie rock band The Handcuffs will share a double bill with The JetBeats from Grand Rapids. Led by lead vocalist-guitarist Chloe F. Orwell and drummer Brad Elvis, The Handcuffs have released three albums (all favorably reviewed on Broken Hearted Toy) and are finishing up their next effort in the studio. The JetBeats take a fun, early Beatles approach on the two EPs they’ve released, with an emphasis on guitars and harmonicas.

Chicago Theatre Week kicks off tomorrow and will run through Sunday, February 17 at various theaters around the Chicago area. Discount tickets of $15 or $30 will available for 120 participating shows, including Glass Basement by iO Theater; Defiance by Buffalo Theatre Ensemble; How To Catch Creation at the Goodman Theatre; Dead Man’s Cell Phone by The Comrades; Small Jokes About Monsters by 16th Street Theater; Arms And The Man by Shaw Chicago Theater Company; and One Clover Road by American Blues Theatre. Check the Chicago Theatre Week website for more details.

The Chicago European Union Film Festival begins on March 8 and runs through April 4 at the Gene Siskel Film Center.

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Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Making John Wicks' Final Album A Reality

Singer-guitarist John Wicks, a founding member of The Records, as well as a successful solo artist, passed away from cancer last October. He was recording a new album at the time, and now thanks to an IndieGoGo campaign, there’s a good chance it be completed and released. A recent email sent out by Bruce Brodeen from the Pop Geek Heaven website invites Wicks’ fans to become “Executive Producers” by making a donation.

As explained on the funding page, Jamie Hoover from The Spongetones, along with other musicians familiar with Wicks, will supply the missing instrumentation and vocals. The campaign aims to raise $5,800 to cover recording, mastering, packaging, and manufacturing. If all goes as planned, Wicks’ final album, with help from his friends and fans, will arrive in October of this year. There are rewards for helping out, depending how much money a donor pledges. Options from $15 to $500.

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Saturday, February 2, 2019

Saturday Slumgullion

Tickets are now on sale for Chvrches and Cherry Glazerr at Aragon Ballroom on May 2; Mekons at The Hideout on July 14; Portland Cello Project at SPACE in Evanston; Jessica Pratt at Sleeping Village (that’s a venue on Belmont, not a town) on May 10; Wild Belle at Metro on April 21; and for Strange 90s: A Benefit for Jerry Bryant of JBTV with Naked Raygun, Andrew W.K., Local H and other acts at Metro on March 8.

For a more extensive list of upcoming concerts, check out page 40 in this week’s issue of The Reader. This is also the edition that thanks all the people who donated money to help the long-time Chicago free paper stay afloat. According to publisher Tracy Baim, 2,400 people and businesses pitched in, including one donor who gave $4,800. You can find my name among the donors on 24. Long live The Reader.

Congratulations to Graham Nash on receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award at the UK Americana Awards this past Thursday at Hackney Empire in London. He’ll be coming to Chicago for show at The Athenaeum Theatre on March 17. The event is a benefit for the Old Town School Of Folk Music’s music education programs.

Rendezvous In Chicago, director Michael Glover Smith’s third feature film, kicks off a four-day run at the Gene Siskel Film Center next Friday.

The Specials released a new album titled Encore yesterday. “It’s a celebration of what The Specials is, and what it’s about,” founding member Terry Hall explains on the band’s Facebook page. “That’s why I still do it.” The band’s 40th Anniversary Tour brings them to Chicago for a show at The Vic on June 8.

Other albums due out this month include Sunshine Rock by Bob Mould and Varshons 2 by The Lemonheads on February 8; and Ladytron by Ladytron, Band Signs by Tedeschi Trucks, and Psychedelic Country Soul by The Long Ryders on February 15.

Durty Nellie’s in Palatine is temporarily closed due to a fire at the music venue last Friday. I didn’t see a mention of this on their Facebook page, but the official website promises to let everyone know when they’ll reopen. The message also thanks, “all of the first responders who worked so hard, and in such extreme temperatures, to put the fire out as quickly as they could.” Here’s hoping Durty Nellie’s will be back and rocking in the near future.

Rock documentary updates. Boy Howdy: The Story Of Creem Magazine will have its premiere at this year’s SXSW Festival in Austin. Things are moving along for The Power Pop Movie, according to a recent Facebook post from Justin Fielding stating there’s extensive editing to do but he’s “very much on track for release at the end of this year.” Director Peter Jackson of Lord Of The Rings fame is now on a quest to transform 55 hours of previously unseen footage of The Beatles into a proper documentary about the recording sessions that preceded the 1970 film Let It Be. Maybe he’ll make it a trilogy.

Chicago alt rock band whitewolfsonicprincess has a record release party coming up at Jarvis Square Pottery next Saturday, February 9 at 7:30 p.m. for its tuneful and beguiling third album The Alternate Boot. The store is located at 1443 W. Jarvis on Chicago’s north side.

Fatima Ali, one of the contestants from the 2018 season of Top Chef has passed away from cancer. Her skills, determination, and engaging personality made her a fan favorite, and she continued to show those qualities while sharing her battle with the disease on social media. My nephew Joe Flamm and all the contestants from that season of Top Chef supported Fatima throughout her struggle, and have expressed their sorrow and offered condolences to her family.

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Thursday, January 31, 2019

Incoming

I’ve already purchased a ticket to the George Harrison Birthday Tribute Concert coming up on February 23 at Martyrs’ to make sure I don’t miss this annual event. Local musicians often warn fans to buy tickets to a show because it might sell out, but in this case, it’s not hype. Ellis Clark, a founding member of Epicycle and Social Act, will once again serve as host, along with Ary Jeebie, lead vocalist from the garage/rockabilly band Amazing Heeby Jeebies.

Other scheduled performers include Ken Mottet; Clar Monaco/Sandalwood Sitar; Constantine; Greg Jackson Combs; Phoenix; Frankie B; The Unswept; Gerald McClendan; Robin and Jenny Bieneman; The Handcuffs, The Unswept; Gunner Cleemann; Tom Linsk; Southside Exiles; The Fluffers; The Beyond; and Scott Williams. In previous years, the performances have been first rate, and there’s a genuine atmosphere of peace and harmony that George himself would (does?) love. Martyrs’ is located at 3855 N. Lincoln Avenue.

The Our Music Institute (OMI) is having an opening reception tomorrow night from 6:30 to 8:30 at 400 Central Avenue in Northfield. The new school and live music agency was formed by Michael Poupko, a director and teacher at the North Shore Music Institute, and will serve Winnetka, Northfield, Glenview, Kenilworth, Willamette, Glencoe, and Highland Park. OMI’s motto is “Our Community, Our Music, Our Education.”

Rendezvous In Chicago, director Michael Glover Smith’s third feature film, kicks off a four-day run at the Gene Siskel Film Center next Friday. Smith will be on hand for an audience discussion at that screening, as well as the ones on Saturday afternoon, Monday evening, and Wednesday evening. Rendezvous In Chicago, which features Clare Cooney, Matthew Sherbach, Nina Ganet, and Rashaad Hall, was the Audience Choice Winner at the Adirondack Film Festival, and was the Best Comedy Winner at the Strasburg Film Festival.

The Wire venue in Berwyn will bring together five strangely named bands with different approaches to off-kilter rock tomorrow night with Deepspacepilots; Discoveries of the American Scientific; Umbra and The Vulcan Siege; Dead Freddie; and The Thin Cherries. The doors to this adventure open at 9:00 p.m.

Ken Stringfellow has a solo show coming up in Chicago next Thursday, February 7 at Gunhed Studios. He’ll be performing songs and spinning tales about being a founding member of The Posies, performing with R.E.M. and Big Star, and other elements of his extensive musical career. Gunhed Studios is located at 2941 W. Belmont; tickets range from $25 to $100.

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Wednesday, January 30, 2019

And Everywhere There Was Song And Celebration

Joni Mitchell has been making a steady recovery since suffering an aneurysm in 2015. Certainly, the music she created—from gorgeous folk to adventurous jazz—remains as vital and influential as ever. On February 7, her fans can watch an all-star tribute concert that was filmed last November at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles. Joni 75: A Birthday Celebration will play for that one night only in movie theaters throughout Canada and the United States.

Mitchell was sitting in the front row at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion as Graham Nash; James Taylor; Norah Jones; Kris Kristofferson; Diana Krall; Chaka Khan; Cesar Castro and Xochi Flores; Glen Hansard; Emmylou Harris; Seal; Rufus Wainwright; Brandi Carlile; and Los Lobos with Marisoul joined together to celebrate her 75th birthday. The film will be screened at Music Box Theatre and AMC River East 21 in Chicago, as well as at theaters in Lincolnshire, Vernon Hills, South Barrington, Addison, Rosemont, Crystal Lake, and other Chicago suburbs.

In related news, a collection of Joni Mitchell photographs taken over several years by Rowland Scherman, Patrick Harbron, Jay Blakesberg, Norman Seeff, Joel Bernstein, Graham Nash, Guido Harari, Henry Diltz, David Gahr, and Ken Regan will be featured in an exhibit at LeeAnn Brook Fine Art in Nevada City, CA, in collaboration with the Morrison Hotel Gallery. The opening reception this Friday from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. will include Diltz and Bernstein as special guests. The exhibit runs through February 28.

Norman Seeff’s hardcover book Joni: The Joni Mitchell Sessions came out in December, 2018. His photos graced the covers of Mitchell’s Hejira and Don Juan’s Reckless Daughter albums, and he’s also known for his iconic photographs of Ray Charles, Patti Smith, and Carly Simon.

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Friday, January 25, 2019

Slumgullion

All the way from hiatus. Tickets went on sale today for the Mott The Hoople ’74 concert featuring Ian Hunter, Morgan Fisher, and Ariel Bender at Chicago Theatre on April 3. The tour will mark the 45th anniversary of band’s The Hoople and Live albums, and will start in England.

The Imperial Sound, a Chicago-based sextet that mixed jazz, blues, rock, and a dash of vintage supper club ambience on its very fun debut effort The New AM, has a gig tomorrow night at Hey Nonny in Arlington Heights on January 26. A perfect choice for northwest suburbanites hesitant to drive into Chicago on such a cold wintry night. Plus, we should encourage this new venue to bring more Chicago-area acts out our way.

The Bangles will be part of the 80s Weekend #7 event taking place tomorrow night at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles. OMD, The Flirts, Jody Watley, and Banarama are also among the acts who’ll be performing.

Chicago Filmmakers will present Telesonic 9000 with live music by Dominick Gray tomorrow night. Gray will be performing on synchronized drums as found footage is shown on the screen. Chicago Filmmakers is located at 5720 N. Ridge Avenue in Chicago.

Congratulations to UK indie vinyl-only label Fruits de Mer on its 10th anniversary of bringing authentic garage, psychedelic and prog rock to the universe. I’ve reviewed a number of their releases over the past few years, based on the promo CDs they send out to rock critics and publications.

The 22nd Annual Fillet Of Solo continues this weekend at the Lifeline Theatre at 6912 N. Glenwood in Chicago. The event will offer performances by Laura Biagi, Anne Purky, GeNarrations OUTSpoken!, Sweat Girls, and Tellin’ Tales Theatre featuring Tekki Lomnicki.

Music Box Theatre on Southport will present Deconstructing The Beatles: The Birth Of The Beatles on Tuesday, January 29 at 7:00 p.m. Composer/producer and Beatles historian Scott Freiman will discuss the iconic band’s earliest days and their experiences in Hamburg.

Vocalist Colin Blunstone of The Zombies’ kicks off an East Coast tour of the U.S. in Pawling, NY next Thursday, January 31. Other stops on the tour include Philadelphia; Portland, MN; Boston; Washington, D.C.; and New York.

The Our Music Institute (OMI) is having an opening reception on February 1 at 400 Central Avenue in Northfield. The new school and live music agency was formed by Michael Poupko, a director and teacher at the North Shore Music Institute, and will serve Winnetka, Northfield, Glenview, Kenilworth, Willamette, Glencoe, and Highland Park. OMI’s motto is “Our Community, Our Music, Our Education.”

Pegasus Theatre’s 32nd Young Playwrights Festival wraps up its run this weekends.

If you missed Robyn Hitchcock’s recent gig at the Prairie Center For The Arts in Schaumburg, you’ll have another opportunity to catch the eccentric British rocker on April 3 at SPACE in Evanston.

Other tickets that went on sale today include Alice Merton at Bottom Lounge on April 26; Santana and The Doobie Brothers at Hollywood Casino on August 4; and Jeff Tweedy at The Vic on March 22. This Sunday night at 10:00 p.m., WXRT will air a Jeff Tweedy concert it recorded while back, along with an interview withTweedy conducted by the station’s air personality Marty Lennartz.

Graham Nash will pick up a Lifetime Achievement Award at this year’s UK Americana Awards ceremony when it takes place next Thursday at Hackney Empire in London.

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Monday, January 21, 2019

The Stan Laurels - Maybe

Nobody could accuse John Lathrop of writing standard boy-meets-girl scenarios for his power pop songs. The vocalist/multi-instrumentalist performs under the name The Stan Laurels, but the humor that drifts through Maybe (available at Kool Kat Musik) is more cryptic and satirical than old-time slapstick. It’s the soundtrack for the indie film Maybe Shower, and Lathrop crafts an ironic ambience by matching off-kilter lyrics with gorgeous melodies and layered vocals.

A casual listener might take “Sanity” for a romantic power ballad but Lathrop is serving up couplets like, “I bet you can tell by looking at my face/I have no more tolerance for this stupid place.” On the guitar-driven “Life, Lemons and an Alien,” he offers a clever take on the “when life gives you lemons” adage by suggesting that life sometimes gives you someone who seems to be from another planet. The title track, a catchy mix of guitars and synthesizer, suggests we’re better off just going with the flow.

Lathrop’s use of slow-moving arrangements feels a bit repetitive, no matter how well they’re crafted. At least “Poly Sigh,” a song about adjusting to a menage-a-trois, picks up energy as it moves along. “Door #1” brings Maybe to an energetic close, even though Lathrop is no closer to telling us what it all means.

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Friday, January 18, 2019

Slumgullion

He’ll be playing “Oh Yeah” at the Chicago Theatre. Ultra suave solo artist and founding member of Roxy Music Bryan Ferry comes to town for a gig on August 1. Tickets are now on sale.

Tickets are also available for The Who at Hollywood Casino Amphitheater on May 21; Judy Collins at Old Town School of Folk Music on February 15; Lily Hiatt at FitzGerald’s on April 5; Flat Five at FitzGerald’s on April 13; and Ex Hex at Thalia Hall on April 10.

Robyn Hitchcock will bring his eccentric and impossibly melodic tunes to the Prairie Center For The Arts in Schaumburg tomorrow night. He has an extensive catalog of songs to choose from, dating back to his days with Soft Boys in the mid-1970s. Showtime is 7:30 p.m.

The Zombies will pay tribute to the late Jim Rodford, who played bass guitar for them, Argent, and The Kinks, with a concert this Sunday at The Alban Arena in St. Albans in the U.K.

The Zombies’ lead vocalist Colin Blunstone kicks off his East Coast tour on January 31 with a gig in Pawling, NY. Other stops include Philadelphia; Portland, MN; Boston; Washington, D.C.; and New York.

The 22nd Annual Fillet Of Solo kicked off today at the Lifeline Theatre at 6912 N. Glenwood in Chicago. The event will offer performances by Laura Biagi, Anne Purky, GeNarrations OUTSpoken!, Sweat Girls, and Tellin’ Tales Theatre featuring Tekki Lomnicki.

Great Moments In Vinyl, a group of local musicians who frequently stage tribute concerts to specific album around the Chicago area, will present The Beatles With Strings at City Winery Chicago this Sunday night.

They combined forces in The Day Of The Doctor 50th Anniversary episode and now they’ll be bringing their sonic screwdrivers to the South Building at McCormick Place in Chicago. Matt Smith and David Tennant of Doctor Who will be guests at this year’s C2E2 (Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo) when it runs March 22–24. John Barrowman, from Doctor Who, Torchwood, and Green Arrow, will among the stars scheduled to appear.

Matt Smith fans will get a chance to see him as they never have before when Mapplethorpe opens its first Chicago run at the Gene Siskel Film Center from March 1 through 7. Smith plays the title role in this fictionalized biography of the photographer.

Tributosaurus continues its Signature Series at the Copernicus Center on Chicago’s northwest side this Sunday with a One Hit Wonders of The 80s concert.

It’s a jumpin’ little record I want my jockey to play. The people at Record Store Day recently unveiled their RSD3 mini-turntable at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. It will available as part of this year’s Record Store Day (April 13), along with a selection of three-inch records. RSD promises more details in the coming months.

Big Brother’s Vinyl, an local guitar-driven band that cover classic rock hits as well some unexpected deep cuts and rarities, will perform at Mac’s On Slade in Palatine on Sunday, January 20. The show starts at 5:00 p.m.

The Pegasus Theatre’s 32nd Young Playwrights Festival continues its run at Chicago Dramatists at 773 N. Aberdeen on weekends through January 27.

Montrose Saloon on Chicago’s north side has announced it will host a Smithereens Night on May 3, with The Dry Look, Phil Angotti, and Love Punch paying tribute to the New Jersey power pop champions.

Ken Stringfellow has a solo show coming up in Chicago on February 7 at Gunhed Studios. He’ll be performing songs and spinning tales about being a founding member of The Posies, performing with R.E.M. and Big Star, and other elements of his extensive musical career. Gunhed Studios is located at 2941 W. Belmont; tickets range from $25 to $100. In related news, The Posies are set to begin work on a new album soon.

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Friday, January 11, 2019

Slumgullion

Minds will be blown in downtown Chicago tonight as the psychedelic quartet Secret Colours rock the 25th floor of the Virgin Hotel at 203 N. Wabash. Two other psych-minded local acts—the trio Faintlife and singer-guitarist Jude Shuma will also be on the bill, along with DJ Cadien James. This is exactly the kind of thing I was hoping for when I heard a while back that the Virgin Hotel would be booking live music.

The Beauty Bar at 1444 W. Chicago Avenue is the place tonight for Electric Feel: An Indie Rock Dance Party being sponsored by JBTV Music Television. You can expect to hear records by MGMT, Franz Ferdinand, LCD Soundsystem, Phoenix, Matt and Kim, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and several acts starting at 9:00 p.m. There’s no cover up to 10:00 p.m.

The always impressive and entertaining 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) tomorrow night at Metro. A portion of the proceeds will benefit cancer patients at NorthShore University HealthSystems’s Integrative Medicine Program.

The Reader is asking for donations to help keep the long-running Chicago free weekly running. The amount can be as little as $1, but anyone who chips in $48 (to match the number of years The Reader has been around) will become a Founding Member with perks to be named later. All donors, regardless of the amount, will have their names listed in an upcoming issue. I’ve picked up a copy of The Reader every week for most of those 48 years and would be sad to see it go. So, I’ve just made a $48 donation.

This Sunday, January 13, is when rockabilly/garage rock band The Amazing Heeby Jeebies kick off a year-long residency at Montrose Saloon. They’ll be performing every second Sunday, and according to the band’s Facebook page, there will be special guests and lots of surprises.

The eccentric and beloved British musician Robyn Hitchcock is coming to the Prairie Center For The Arts in Schaumburg on January 19. Hitchcock has an extensive catalog of songs to choose from, dating back to his days with Soft Boys in the mid-1970s. Showtime is 7:30 p.m.

The Zombies have a special concert coming up on January 20 at The Alban Arena in St. Albans to honor the late Jim Rodford, who played bass guitar for them, Argent, and The Kinks. Founding members Colin Blunstone and Rod Argent will celebrate the band’s induction into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame with an acoustic show at Canary Wharf in London. In other Zombies news, Blunstone, Argent, Chris White and Hugh Grundy will drop by the Waterstones store in St. Albans to sign copies of the book The Odessey: The Zombies in Words And Images. Congratulations to Graham Nash on being named as the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award at this year’s UK Americana Awards. The ceremony takes place at Hackney Empire in London on January 31. Tickets are available if you live in England or fancy flying over there.

The success of former Doctor Who cast members continues as David Tennant, Billie Piper, Matt Smith, Peter Capaldi, Karen Gillan, Jenna Coleman, and John Barrowman continue to land roles in movies and on TV. Gillan, who wrote, directed, and starred in the new indie film The Party’s Just Beginning, has been added to the cast of the upcoming movie Gunpowder Milkshake, according to The Hollywood Reporter. It’s said to feature an all-woman cast in a tale about assassins. By the way, Tennant is quite unnerving as John Knox in Mary, Queen Of Scots.

Great Moments In Vinyl, a group of local musicians who frequently stage tribute concerts to specific album around the Chicago area, will present The Beatles With Strings at City Winery Chicago on January 20.

Tributosaurus continues its Signature Series at the Copernicus Center on Chicago’s northwest side on January 20 with One Hit Wonders of The 80s.

The Pegasus Theatre’s 32nd Young Playwrights Festival continues its run at Chicago Dramatists at 773 N. Aberdeen on weekends through January 27.

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