Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Incoming

Lollapalooza runs tomorrow through Sunday, bringing Sharon Van Etten; Ariana Grande; Tame Impala, Janelle Monae; Gary Clark Jr.; The Strokes; Kacey Musgraves; Death Cab For Cutie; Fitz And The Tantrums, about 170 other acts, and thousands of fans to Grant Park. This week’s edition of The Reader (out tomorrow) will be devoted to the annual festival, and I suspect Innerview magazine has published a special issue although I’ve haven’t seen it yet. Expect to find plenty of coverage in Chicago’s daily papers as well. WXRT radio personality and superb interviewer Marty Lennartz will be broadcasting live from Lollapalooza throughout its run, offering updates and chatting with some of the performers.

According to a recent email from Rock Art Show, the Zia Gallery in Winnetka is having a free Ringo Starr Fine Art Show to coincide with the Beatle drummer’s pair of shows with his All-Star Band at Ravinia this Saturday and Sunday. The gallery will be selling signed, limited edition art work by Starr on August 3 and 4, with all proceeds going to the Lotus Foundation. The Zia Gallery is located at 44 Green Bay Road in Winnetka.

The opening night for the 25th Annual Black Harvest Film Festival this Saturday will feature A Black Harvest Feast—the world premieres of five short films commissioned by the Gene Siskel Film Center. The Festival runs at the Gene Siskel Film Center through August 29.

Feel lucky, punks? The Second Disc website recently reported that Rhino Records will release a 40th anniversary boxed set of The Ramones’ Alive album in September. It will be available in four-CD and 2-LP versions. This follows an earlier post (every music fan should actively follow The Second Disc) about Dead Man’s Pop, an upcoming four-CD boxed set of previously unreleased material from The Replacements that’s also due out in September.

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Tuesday, July 30, 2019

August, Rock She Must

August is not only the last of the three months that unofficially make up summer, it’s traditionally one of the busiest times for rock and roll and pop culture in Chicago. Some of these events fall on the same day, so tough decisions will need to be made. Here’s a quick look at upcoming events. I’m sure I’ve missed a lot of great stuff but I’ve got all month to cover them.

Oh Yeah, the month gets off to a great start with Bryan Ferry from Roxy Music performing at the Chicago Theatre on August 1. In addition to being able to choose from Roxy hits like “Oh Yeah,” “Out Of The Blue,” and “Avalon,” the ultra-smooth-crooning Ferry can also tap into material from his successful solo albums.

For those who prefer English rock with a more blues-oriented feel, John Mayall will be performing at City Winery Chicago that same night. Mayall was one of the first U.K. musicians in the 1960s to draw inspiration from American rhythm and blues, and several members of his bands went on to successful solo careers.

Lollapalooza is a guaranteed way to get your August up and running. The multi-genre fest opens Thursday and runs through Sunday. There may still be one-day passes available for sale, depending on the day you’re thinking of going. Sharon Van Etten; Ariana Grande; Tame Impala, Janelle Monae; Gary Clark Jr.; The Strokes; Kacey Musgraves; Death Cab For Cutie; and Fitz And The Tantrums are among the scheduled performers.

Ringo Starr and His All-Star Band will be at Ravinia August 3 and 4. My wife Pam and I saw Ringo and His All-Star Band at Chicago Theatre last year and he and his well-chosen musicians were amazing. Ringo will share the bill on both nights with The Beach Boys, Other upcoming shows at Ravinia include the band Chicago on August 10 and 11; Sarah McLachlan on August 12; and Sting on August 23 and 24.

Santana has a gig at the Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre in Tinley Park on August 4. This year is the 50th anniversary of Woodstock, so this would be a perfect opportunity to see one of that festival’s legendary acts. The Doobie Brothers are sharing the bill with Santana.

Head Over Heels, the new musical based on songs by The Go-Go’s continues its run at Theater Wit on Belmont Avenue through the end of August. It was successful on Broadway, and is being staged here by Kokandy Productions.

Jay O’Rourke, who has performed with The Insiders and Material Reissue, has some new solo albums. He and his band have a CD Release Party Party for Cover Tracks at SPACE on August 9.

Queen, featuring vocalist Adam Lambert belting out those power ballads and energetic hits, backed by original members Brian May and Roger Taylor, will be at the United Center on August 9.

Vocalist-guitarist Justin Hayward from recent Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame inductees The Moody Blues, will perform at the Athenaeum Theatre on Southport on August 9.

The Smashing Pumpkins, one of the acts that put Chicago on the rock and roll map back in the early 1990s, is set to play the Hollywood Casino Amphitheater in Tinley Park on August 15. Noel Gallagher, of Oasis fame, will also be on the bill with his current band High Flying Birds.

YippieFest returns for its third year on the weekend of August 16 – 18 at Prop Thtr on Chicago’s north side. Organized by the Famous In The Future comedy group, the celebration aims to carry on the spirit of the Abbie Fest that was staged for almost 30 years by the Mary-Arrchie Theatre. FIF performed at every one of those Abbie Fests, and brings the same eclectic mix of comedy, theatre, performance art, and live music to their version. The live music acts at YippieFest are being coordinated by James Moeller from local alt rock band whitewolfsonicprincess. Full disclosure: I was a member of Famous In The Future for its first 20 years.

Fest For Beatles Fans – Chicago returns to the Hyatt Regency O’Hare in Rosemont for its 33rd year on the weekend of August 11 – 13. This year’s music guests include former members of Wings Steve Holley, Laurence Juber, and Denny Laine; as well as Jeremy Clyde from Chad and Jeremy (and in recent years, Peter and Jeremy); Alan White from Yes; and former manager of Apple Records Ken Mansfield. The Weeklings and Liverpool will be performing; and long-time WXRT radio personality and legend Terri Hemmert returns as the official MC.

Wizard World Comic Con returns to the Donald E. Stevens Center in Rosemont August 22 – 25. There will be countless vendors selling comic books, t shirts, action figures, and other fantasy/sci-fi related artifacts. Many attendees dress up as super heroes and other cosplay favorites; but the biggest draw for most people is a chance to meet celebrities. This year’s guests include Morena Baccarat and Ben McKenzie from Gotham; Jason Momoa from Aquaman; George Wendt—“Norm!”; and Katrina Law from Arrow.

EXPO ’76, a copy band whose members come from some of Chicago’s best alt rock bands, will be at the new Hey Nonny venue in Arlington Heights on August 30. Expect loads of fun and some amazing mashups.

The month begins with a sophisticated British rock act performing at the Chicago Theatre and wraps up in similar fashion. The consistently melodic, immensely clever Squeeze performs on August 31. Founding members Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook have earned comparisons to Paul McCartney and John Lennon for their songwriting ability with songs like “Hourglass,” “Is That Love?” and “Tempted.” Squeeze’s 2017 album The Knowledge was a touching, inventive, and consistently engaging look at the passing of time.

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Friday, July 26, 2019

Slumgullion

Thanks to everyone who sent me birthday wishes on Facebook yesterday. Longtime friends, new acquaintances, co-workers, former co-workers, entertainment people, fellow writers, fellow performers, relatives—a terrific group of individuals.

I’m sure David Bash took a moment to raise a toast in honor of my birthday at some point yesterday before getting back to the serious business of planning International Pop Overthrow - Los Angeles. The power pop festival opens with a Big Stir Records six-band showcase tonight at the Fais Do Do venue. Los Angeles is the birthplace of IPO, and this year’s celebration runs through next Sunday, August 4 at Fais Do Do, Molly Malone’s, Silverlake Lounge, and Skinny’s Lounge. Performers include Lannie Flowers Band; The Armoires; Sparkle*jets UK; The Tearaways; Maple Mars; Bill Lloyd; The Jeremy Band; and The Cherry Bluestorms.

This year’s IPO - Los Angeles is being dedicated to the memory of John Ferriter, who recently passed away. Ferriter managed several bands, including The Tearaways and The Beach Boys.

The Jeff Lynne’s ELO with Special Guest Dhani Harrison concert takes place tomorrow night at the United Center. Lynne is a founding member of Electric Light Orchestra (along with Roy Wood, Richard Tandy, and Bev Bevan) and was a member of The Traveling Wilburys. Dhani is the son of George Harrison, who in addition to being a Beatle and great solo artist, was one of Lynne’s fellow Traveling Willburys.

Outdoor festivals in the Chicago area tend to feature the same cover bands, and while there’s no doubt these acts have large and well-earned followings, discerning indie rock fans long for more variety. That’s exactly what Wicker Park Fest offers this weekend. Set on Milwaukee Avenue between Ashland and North, the Fest’s eclectic lineup includes Superchunk, Screaming Females, Deals Gone Bad, Nikki Lynette; Mother Nature, Beats y Bateria, and School Of Rock on three stages.

Tickets went on sale today for Robbie Fulks at City Winery Chicago on October 18; Kelly Hogan, Scott Ligon, and Nora O’Connor at Hideout on September 20; Gordon Lightfoot at Copernicus Center on September 27; Rasputina and Charming Disaster at Subterranean on October 26; and Tegan and Sara Northwestern University on October 15.

Presale tickets are now available for The Brian Setzer Orchestra’s 16th Annual Christmas Rocks show at the Chicago Theater on November 16.

Chicago-based Joy Division tribute band The Unknown Pleasures will mark the 40th anniversary of the release of Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures album with a show at Martyrs’s on Lincoln Avenue tomorrow night. The Handcuffs, who are wrapping up their latest album in the studio, will also perform that night, along with Quiet!. Showtime is 8:00 p.m.

Sunshine Boys, whose 2018 Blue Music debut was an absolute masterpiece,will return to The Wine Goddess venue in Evanston next Saturday, August 3. According to a post on Facebook, the trio will be performing all the songs from a brand new release at this gig.

The New Duncan Imperials have a gig tomorrow night at FitzGerald’s in Berwyn. The trio can be heard in all its off-kilter glory on the recently released Hunny Bunny five-song EP. Thrift Store Halo, whose Consolation Prize Fighter EP is currently rocking the independent music charts, will be the opening act.

English gentlemen on the way. Bryan Ferry comes to town for a gig at Chicago Theatre this Thursday, August 1. John Mayall performs at City Winery Chicago on that same night, and
Moody Blues vocalist-guitarist Justin Hayward will perform at the Athenaeum Theatre on Southport on August 9.

David Crosby: Remember My Name, the new A.J. Eaton-directed, Cameron Crowe-produced and narrated documentary about the Byrds/CSNY/solo musician, opened in selected theaters today. It drew high praise from Chicago Sun-Times movie critic Richard Roeper and Chicago Tribune movie critic Katie Walsh. For a number of reasons both of them mentioned, it seems well worth seeing.

Earlier this week, Chicago Tribune theater critic Kerry Reid gave three and a half stars to Head Over Heels, the new musical based on songs by The Go-Go’s. It ran on Broadway, and is now being staged by Kokandy Productions at Theater Wit on Belmont Avenue.

Brand new Chicago-based goth/garage rock trio Aweful has a record release party coming up at The Empty Bottle next Thursday, August 1 for its debut EP. Band members Traci Trouble, Lucy Dekay, and Izzy Price are veterans of the local alt rock scene, and their first single “Me Me Me” serves as an engaging calling card. Touched By Ghoul. Boybrain, and DJ Andy Ryan will also be featured at The Empty Bottle that night.

Santana and The Doobie Brothers will be performing at Hollywood Casino next Sunday. August 4.

The Louder Than Words – Rock Politics Power exhibit, which originated at The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, continues its run at the Museum of Broadcast Communications here in Chicago through the end of August.

New City magazine just put out its annual Music 45 - Who Keeps Chicago In Tune issue. Each time New City chooses the most influential individuals in local music, a little voice inside me says, “I’ll save you the suspense, you’re not included.” And of course, I’m not. This year’s top honor went to David Chavez and Carlos Cuauhtemoc Tortelero of the Department Of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE). Other honorees included Kate Gumbleton, Executive Director Of the Hyde Park Jazz Festival; Bettina Richards, owner of theThrill Jockey indie label; Ron Onesti of The Arcada Theater in St. Charles; and James VanOsdol, host of Demo 312 on 101WKQX.

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Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Coleman Gota - And The Losers Choir Sings

Multi-instrumentalist and former member of the band Insanity Wave Colman Gota released his latest effort And The Losers Choir Sings a few months back. Recorded in America, it finds the Madrid native taking the same off-kilter approach to lyrics he did on his 2016 Tape and the 2017 Fear The Summer albums. Gota’s knack for mixing catchy arrangements with acerbic observations on life and relationships evokes Elvis Costello and Graham Parker.

“Do You Really Want To Know?” deals with the awkward situation of running into someone you haven’t seen for years, and wondering if they really care how your life is going. On the guitar-driven “Victim Of Society,” Gota confesses, “Mostly, I feel like a beer that’s gone flat,” and he wonders if his boyhood scam of getting whatever he wanted by crying could still work on the more elaborate “No After No.” “Time To Waste” sets the common frustration of not achieving major goals to one of the album’s harder rock arrangements.

On the tale of lost romance “Lonely Tonight,” Gota combines power pop with a 1960s arrangement complete with female back-up vocals. The anti-social “Stop Me” has a similar breezy feel, even as Gota frets that trying to find love will only make him look foolish. He sounds happiest recalling the joys of rehearsing in “Practice Room,” an activity that would ultimately bring his charming music our way.

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Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Incoming

A great opportunity to remember “I Remember Nothing.” Chicago-based Joy Division tribute band The Unknown Pleasures will mark the 40th anniversary of the release of Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures with a show at Martyrs’s on Lincoln Avenue this Saturday night. The performance will cover the entire album, along with other songs from the U.K. band’s repertoire. The Handcuffs, who are wrapping up their latest album in the studio, will also perform that night, along with Quiet!. Showtime is 8:00 p.m.

Sunshine Boys, whose 2018 Blue Music debut was an absolute masterpiece, will return to The Wine Goddess venue in Evanston on Saturday, August 3. According to a post on Facebook, the trio will be performing all the songs from a brand new release at this gig. Here’s betting they strike gold again with this new effort.

It may seem a bit early for making yuletide plans, but presale tickets start tomorrow for The Brian Setzer Orchestra’s 16th Annual Christmas Rocks show at the Chicago Theater on November 16. Setzer fans already got an early present when the reunited Stray Cats released their 40 album back in May.

The New Duncan Imperials have a gig coming up this Saturday night at FitzGerald’s in Berwyn. The trio recently released its Hunny Bunny five-song EP, featuring the clever and irresistibly catchy country rock tune “I Paint The Line.” Thrift Store Halo, whose Consolation Prize Fighter EP is currently rocking the independent music charts, will be the opening act.

Jazzin’ At The Shedd continues its summertime run tomorrow night at the Shedd Aquarium. The night-time event is being held every Wednesday from 5:00 to 10:00 p.m. through August 28. The Shedd promises jazz, drinks, fireworks, and “the chance to look nature in the eye.”

The Chicago Film Society continues its Oh My, It’s Pre Code Cinema series on August 7 at Northeastern University with a screening of Merrily We Go To Hell. Director Dorothy Arzner’s 1938 film stars Sylvia Sydney and Fredric March in a tale of booze, journalism, and adultery. Northeastern University is located at 3701 W. Bryn Mawr in Chicago.

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Friday, July 19, 2019

Welcome to everyone who’s in town for the Pitchfork Music Festival taking place in Union Park this weekend. Mavis Staples, Haim, Low, The Isley Brothers, Belle and Sebastian, Stereolab, and Neneh Cherry are among the acts scheduled. The Chicago Reader once again has a colorful Pitchfork cover created by illustrator Jason Wyatt Frederick (I’m among the people who collect them), and you might still be able to pick up a copy of the Chicago Innerview Know Before The Show issue devoted to Pitchfork. You’ll also find coverage in this week’s issue of Redeye and the daily papers.

The Coolies, a new garage rock trio made up of Kim Shattuck, Melanie Varmmen, and Palmyra Delran, released their six-song Uh Oh! It’s . . . The Coolies debut in digital format today and a 10-inch clear emerald vinyl version is available on the band’s Bandcamp page.

Tickets went on sale today for English Beat at Thalia Hall on September 15; Crombies, King Hammond, Skapones, Rude Boy George, and DJ Chuck Wren at Reggie’s Music Joint on August 23; Lotus Kings Tribute to Santana at City Winery Chicago on September 1; Smells Like Nirvana at City Winery Chicago on September 15; Social Distortion, Flogging Molly, Devil Makes Three, and Le Butcherettes at Huntington Pavilion on September 7; Whitewolfsonicprincess and Ex Maquina at SPACE on September 4; and Rachel Yamagata at SPACE on September 5. For a full list of upcoming concerts in the Chicago area, check the Early Warnings page of this week’s Chicago Reader.

Abbey Road Studios had a recent post on Instagram showing the surviving members of The Quarrymen recording music as part of an upcoming documentary titled Pre Fab. The film will cover the origins of the skiffle band, which at one time included John Lennon among its members.

Neo, the Clark Street venue that played a major role in bringing new wave to Chicago back in 1979, is celebrating that heritage by having a reunion tomorrow night at Metro. DJs Suzanne Shelton, Glenn Russell, Carrie Monster, Scary Lady Sarah, and Jeff Moyer will provide the music. Admission is $21; a portion of the proceeds will go to benefit Darkest Before Dawn, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing support for industry workers.

A new season of Jerry Seinfeld’s Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee starts tonight on Netflix.

Rod Hamdallah, The Dyes, and Amazing Heeby Jeebies will share a triple bill at FitzGerald’s in Berwyn on July 30.

Musicians from the city’s Greek, Mexican, Argentinian, and Bulgarian communities will take part in the world premiere of the Chicago Jazz Philharmonic’s Chicago Immigrant Stories II on July 22 at the Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park. Emmy Award-winning trumpeter-composer Orbert Davis will lead the performance, which will feature Athanasios Zervas, Sones de Mexico, Leandro Lopez Varady, Zara Zaharieva, and Petros Dragoumis. The concert begins at 6:30 p.m.

David Crosby: Remember My Name, director A.J. Eaton’s new documentary about the Byrds/CSNY/solo musician, opens in selected theaters this week. Initial reports indicate Crosby handles interviewer Cameron Crowe’s tough questions thoughtfully and honestly throughout film.

It's hard to tell if Chicago-based Mercury Theater knew Monty Python would be celebrating its 50 Birthday in 2019 and planned accordingly; or if the upcoming production of Spamalot is just a coincidence. At any rate, it’s a perfect fit for the occasion. The “Lovingly ripped off from the classic film comedy Monty Python and the Holy Grail” show will run at Mercury Theater (3745 N. Southport) from August 28 to November 3.

You won’t find a single Gumby in Spamalot, but if you fancy dressing up like the iconic Monty Python character, there’s an official Monty Python Dress Like A Gumby event taking place on October 5. If you follow Monty Python on Instagram, you might have seen the illustrated instructions on how to assemble the costume.

Outdoor festivals in the Chicago area tend to feature the same cover bands, and while there’s no doubt these acts have large and well-earned followings, discerning indie rock fans long for more variety. That’s exactly what Wicker Park Fest will offer on the weekend of July 26 – 28. Set on Milwaukee Avenue between Ashland and North, the Fest’s eclectic lineup includes Superchunk, Screaming Females, Deals Gone Bad, Nikki Lynette; Mother Nature, Beats y Bateria, and School Of Rock on three stages.

The Bob Dylan: Electric exhibit has been extended at the American Writers Museum in downtown Chicago.

The Black Harvest Film Festival continues its 2019 run at the Gene Siskel Film Center through July 22.

The Louder Than Words – Rock Politics Power exhibit, which originated at The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, continues its run at the Museum of Broadcast Communications here in Chicago through the end of August.

Kokandy Productions’s production of Head Over Heels, the Broadway musical based on songs by The Go-Go’s, continues through August 25 at Theatre Wit on Belmont Avenue.

Pulling ducks out of the water, got the highest score. The Chicago Ducky Derby charity event to benefit Special Olympics Illinois will take place at 401 N. Michigan Avenue on August 19. Chicago Cubs players Kyle Hendricks and Willson Contreras are this year’s Ambassadors. Anyone interested in a adopting a rubber ducky to help the cause can find the details at the Chicago Ducky Derby website. 

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Friday, July 12, 2019

Slumgullion

The Pretenders With Friends, a concert Chrissie Hynde and her band performed at the Decades Rock Arena in Atlantic City, NJ with special guests Iggy Pop, Shirley Manson, Kings Of Leon, and Incubus, is out today as a Blu Ray + DVD + CD set.

There are a number of festivals taking place this weekend, including Taste Of Chicago, Irish Fest, and Roscoe Village Burger Fest. See my Wednesday post for more details on each of these.

Former Hollies lead vocalist Allan Clarke released the single “Journey Of Regret” today. The song reflects Clarke’s long-held admiration for Bruce Springsteen and is the first taste of a new album titled Resurgence coming out on September 20. It will be Clarke’s eighth solo effort, but the first in almost 30 years.

Tickets went on sale today for the Marcia Ball Band at SPACE on November 8; BoDeans at City Winery Chicago on November 30 and December 1; Ralph Covert’s Acoustic Army at FitzGerald’s on July 20; Robbie Fulks at The Hideout on August 9; Delbert McClinton and Gerald Dowd at Old Town School Of Folk Music on September 21; Lucy Wainwright Roche at SPACE on September 11; and Sarah Shook and The Disarmers, with Senora May at Sleeping Village on October 11. For a full list of upcoming concerts in the Chicago area, check the Early Warnings page of this week’s Chicago Reader.

The next season of Jerry Seinfeld’s Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee starts July 19 on Netflix.

The Long Grove Arts and Music Council will stage the first of the four free concerts it has lined for this summer when Corky Siegel and Will Tilson perform this Sunday afternoon on Towner Green. 

Pete Townshend was among the famous musicians on social media mourning the passing of Alan Rogan, a highly respected guitar roadie. Rogan had worked with The Who, The Rolling Stones, Graham Nash, and Joe Walsh. Rock In Paradise, Mr. Rogan.

Neo, the iconic new wave club that reigned on Clark Street for so many years, is having a reunion at Metro on Saturday, July 20.

Congratulations to Johnny Marr on selling out all the dates on his current UK tour.

Musicians from the city’s Greek, Mexican, Argentinian, and Bulgarian communities will take part in the world premiere of the Chicago Jazz Philharmonic’s Chicago Immigrant Stories II on July 22 at the Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park. Emmy Award-winning trumpeter-composer Orbert Davis will lead the performance, which will feature Athanasios Zervas, Sones de Mexico, Leandro Lopez Varady, Zara Zaharieva, and Petros Dragoumis. The concert begins at 6:30 p.m.

With a lineup of former Friggs, Muffs, and Pandoras members Kim Shattuck, Melanie Varmmen, and Palmyra Delran, it’s a safe bet the new trio The Coolies will be a blast. Their debut effort, the six-song EP Uh Oh! It’s . . . The Coolies will be available in digital format next Friday and the 10-inch clear emerald vinyl version is available for preorder on the band’s Bandcamp page.

Can I have one? While making my weekly trip to the Reckless Records downtown location, I noticed the store’s record bins are decorated with colorful Official Lollapalooza After Show mini-posters, including ones for Sharon Van Etton and Jade Bird at Schubas and Lincoln Hall.

Green City Market’s annual Chef BBQ will take place at the south end of Lincoln Park (approximately 1817 N. Clark) on July 18 from 5:30 to 8:00 p.m. Over 100 Chicago area restaurants and breweries will be involved, including Antique Taco, Bad Hunter, Commons Club at Virgin Hotels Chicago, Eataly, Floriole, Goose Island Brewhouse, Maddon’s Post; Revolution Brewing, Spiaggia, The Gage, and Upstairs at The Gwen. There’s a wide range of ticket prices, which can be found at the Green City Market website.

The Bob Dylan: Electric exhibit has been extended at the American Writers Museum in downtown Chicago.

The Black Harvest Film Festival continues its 2019 run at the Gene Siskel Film Center through July 22.

The Louder Than Words – Rock Politics Power exhibit, which originated at The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, continues its run at the Museum of Broadcast Communications here in Chicago through the end of August.

Kokandy Productions’s production of Head Over Heels, the Broadway musical based on songs by The Go-Go’s, continues through August 25 at Theatre Wit on Belmont Avenue.

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Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Festivals Straight Ahead

Taste Of Chicago opened today and you might even be rocking out to Courtney Barnett or Sunflower Bean as I’m posting this. The Taste runs through Sunday, with national acts scheduled for each evening. Those shows will get some stiff competition because we’re heading into one of Chicago’s busiest weekends for entertainment. If you’re a tourist who’s scheduled a vacation based around Taste Of Chicago, you might want to consider these other options as well.

The annual Irish Fest takes place at the Irish American Heritage Center on Chicago’s north side. It’s three days of traditional and more rock-oriented live Irish music, dance, a bit of theater, food vendors, and even a traditional tea if you prefer that to Harp and Guinness. Acts scheduled to perform include Tupelo (be ready for some audience participation), the wild and funny Larkin and Moran Brothers, Rory Makem, and The Bagpipes and Drums of the Emerald Society Chicago Police Department.

If you’re cool with a trip to Arlington Heights, Soundtracks Of A Generation will present A 50th Anniversary Tribute To The Woodstock Era on Friday night at the Metropolis Performing Arts Center. The show will cover songs by Santana, Crosby, Stills and Nash, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and Jefferson Airplane.

The Roscoe Village Burger Fest takes place Saturday and Sunday at Belmont and Damen. Local bands performing include The Handcuffs, School Of Rock, JC Brooks, The Empty Pockets, Michael McDermott, and Cat Fight.

Son Volt, Camper Van Beethoven, and Cracker are the headline acts at this year’s Square Roots Festival being held in Lincoln Square this Saturday and Sunday. Local indie label Bloodshot Records will be celebrating its 30th Anniversary on Saturday with a Tribute To Andre Williams featuring The Mekons, Vandoliers, and Murder By Death. Other acts scheduled include Southern Culture On The Skids, Tommi Zender, Steve Dawson’s Funeral Bonsai Wedding and as the finale, a tribute to Stevie Nicks and Stevie Wonder. Be sure to visit the Laurie’s Planet Of Sound record store while you’re in the area.

You can wrap up this busy weekend by catching Steve Forbert at City Winery Chicago on Sunday night.

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Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Incoming

Critically acclaimed Aussie singer-guitarist and free spirit Courtney Barnett kicks off this year’s Taste Of Chicago concert series tomorrow night on the Petrillo Music Shell. Barnett will likely be showcasing her latest release Tell Me How You Really Feel, which features offbeat but catchy, guitar-based tracks like “City Looks Pretty,” “Nameless, Faceless,” and “Crippling Self-Doubt And A General Lack Of Confidence.” It’s available in various formats via her own label Milk! Records. Sunflower Bean, an indie rock band that’s garnering attention with its Twentytwo In Blue album, will be her opening act. Taste of Chicago wraps up Sunday night an impressive double bill of rhythm and blues stars India.Arie and Meshell Ndegoecello.

The Long Grove Arts and Music Council has four events scheduled for the suburb’s 14th season of free Sunday afternoon outdoor concerts on Towner Green. Corky Siegel and Will Tilson will perform on July 14; followed by Creole Stomp on August 4; Sons Of The Never Wrong on August 11; and The Don Sternberg Quartet on August 18. All shows start at 4:00 p.m.

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Friday, July 5, 2019

The Unswept - Minor Blemishes

Leave it to those clever transplanted Brits of The Unswept to title their third full-length effort Minor Blemishes; as though these dozen tracks are somewhat inconvenient or embarrassing. Rather, the album brims with offbeat charm, chiming guitars, and infectious melodies. Founding members Charlie and Ryan O’Brien have lived in Chicago for a few years now but their power pop songs are still influenced by the 1960s British Invasion.

Much of Minor Blemishes concerns pining for or losing relationships, although the opening track “Sunshining” celebrates the simple pleasures (“paperbacks and cups of tea”) of sharing your life with the right person. Bassist-vocalist Liz O’Brien—I’m not how or if all the members are actually related—joins Charlie on the rollicking breakup song “I’m Still Here,” and provides spirited back-up singing throughout the album. Liz, Charlie, and Ryan combine their vocals on the Bob Dylan flavored “You Ain’t On My Mind,” and they nail the off-beat satire of The Bevis Frond’s “He’d Be A Diamond.”

“The Boy Who Wakes You Up” is simultaneously innocent and creepy, while “She Just Knows It’s Over” depicts a wife leaving her husband and kids because she’s bored with that lifestyle. “Brown Line” is another breakup song, as a couple decides to call it quits while commuting on the CTA. On a different note, the very Beatles-like “Fake It” deals with how difficult it can be just trying to survive the average workday.

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Thursday, July 4, 2019

4th Of July Barbecue

There will be no Slumgullion this week because I have to work tomorrow, and Pam and I are going to a neighborhood party in the evening. So here’s a Thursday night, 4th Of July Barbecue in its place. I hope everyone has a safe and fun celebration right through the weekend.

The 38th Annual American Music Festival continues through this Saturday at FitzGerald’s in Berwyn. Tomorrow and Saturday’s schedule includes Brave Combo; Tab Benoit; EXPO ’76; Girls Of The Golden West; Alejandro Escovedo; Marcia Ball; Terrance Simien and The Zydeco Experience; Amazing Heebie Jeebies; and The Iguanas.

Chicago Innerview continues its tradition of covering the city’s major rock events with the publication of its Know Before The Show issue devoted to Pitchfork Pitchfork Music Festival. I picked up a copy at the Reckless Records location downtown, but I’m sure copies are available in other local stores and venues. Pitchfork takes place July 19 – 21, with Mavis Staples, Haim, Low, The Isley Brothers, Belle and Sebastian, Stereolab, and Neneh Cherry among the acts scheduled.

The Petty Kings will be performing Tom Petty songs this Sunday, July 7 at the Mount Prospect Lions Club Festival and on July 12 at the 210 Live venue in Highwood.

The Handcuffs will be performing at 5:45 p.m. next Saturday on the Main Stage at the Roscoe Village Burger Fest. Sunday’s lineup includes The Empty Pockets at 3:30 p.m. and Michael McDermott at 6:00 p.m.

Steve Forbert will be performing at City Winery Chicago next Sunday, July 14. Sonny Landreth will be at that same venue on July 28.

Irish Fest returns to the Irish American Heritage Center on Chicago’s northwest side next weekend with a packed schedule of music, dance, comedy, merchandise, food vendors and a bit of theater. Baal Tinne: A Tribute To Noel Rice is sure to be a highlight—Rice was a founding member of this band and a respected teacher of Irish music. He passed away earlier this year. Other highlights include Tupelo (be ready for some audience participation), the wild and funny Larkin and Moran Brothers, Rory Makem, and The Bagpipes and Drums of the Emerald Society Chicago Police Department.

Son Volt, Camper Van Beethoven, and Cracker are the headline acts at the Square Roots Festival taking place next weekend in Lincoln Square. Chicago-based indie/roots rock label Bloodshot Records will be celebrating its 30th Anniversary as part of Square Roots on Saturday, July 13. Murder By Death, The Mekons, and The Vandoliers will take part in a tribute to the late Andre Williams. The Bloodshot All-Stars Band and other special guests will also be on hand.

The Kokandy Productions presentation of The Go-Go’s inspired musical Head Over Heels continues its run at Theatre Wit on Belmont Avenuet hrough August 25.

Former Hollies lead vocalist Allan Clarke is due to release the single “Journey Of Regret” next Friday, July 12. It’s from Clarke’s latest album, Resurgence, which is coming out on September 20.

Actress Ellie Kemper’s book My Squirrel Days came out in paperback this past Tuesday. Among other things, it covers her time on the TV shows The Office and The Unsinkable Kimmie Schmidt.

The Louder Than Words – Rock Politics Power exhibit continues its run at the Museum of Broadcast Communications through the end of August.

Wish me luck, part 2. Last Saturday, I attended the Writing Workshop Of Chicago event on Michigan Avenue and was able to pitch my YA/Paranormal/Romance/Rock and Roll novel to three literary agents. Each has given me the green light to submit the book for consideration.

In last Friday’s Slumgullion column, whilst mentioning Monty Python is celebrating its 50th birthday, I joked that if people drank enough of the official Monty Python’s Flying Circus IPA, they could end up talking like the TV show’s Gumby character. Now The Guardian is reporting the remaining five members of Monty Python are organizing a Guinness World Record-setting Gumby gathering on October 5. That’s the date my wife and Pam celebrate our wedding anniversary. There must be a way to combine these two momentous occasions.

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Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Incoming

Things will get pretty eclectic at the Arlington Heights Frontier Days this Friday night, with performances by the Alanis Morissette tribute band Jagged Little Pill; soul music legends War celebrating their 50th Anniversary; and the My Metal Heart hard rock cover act. In nearby Mount Prospect, the Tom Petty tribute band Petty Kings and Jay Goeppner and Backdated will be rocking on Sunday.

The Alarm will share a bill with Modern English on August 16 and 17 at House Of Blues in downtown Chicago.

According to this month’s issue of the Illinois Entertainer (with Perry Farrell on the cover), we can expect new albums this month from Imperial Teen (Now We Are Timeless) and New Order (∑(No,12k,Lg,17Mif): Live at Manchester International Festival) on July 12. Radiohead leader Thom Yorke’s ANIMA comes out July 19; and Violent Femmes will drop Hotel Last Resort on July 26.

That issue of I.E. is also where you’ll find a full-page ad for the Jay O’Rourke Band’s August 9 CD Release Party Party for Cover Tracks at SPACE. The album features renditions of classic rock and blues songs. It’s a safe bet the band will also be selling copies of its earlier 2019 release Sumpthin Good. The Dick Dale influenced instrumental act Spies Who Surf will be the opening act.

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