Friday, August 23, 2019


Fantastic guests and where to find them. Dan Fogler, John Travolta, Jeff Goldblum, Melissa Joan Hart, Chris Sarandon, Kelly Hu, George Wendt, and Henry Winkler are among the celebrities who’ll be on hand for the Wizard World Chicago Comic Con going on at the Donald E. Stephenson Convention Center in Rosemont this weekend. The annual event brings together self-professed nerds, sci-fi devotees, graphic novels readers, art lovers, TV fans, and anyone who embraces the more adventurous paths of modern culture. Prices for a four-day pass and single day tickets vary, so check out the website for schedule and ticket information.

Hitsville: The Making Of Motown premieres tomorrow night at 8:00 p.m. on Showtime. The world-changing soul music label is now in its 60th year.

Here’s a request for all those going to see The Smithereens and Material Reissue at Skokie’s Backlot Bash tonight: At some point, raise a toast to Pat DiNizio and Jim Ellison, and all the amazing power pop songs they gave us. DiNizio was a founding member of The Smithereens, and the band wisely decided to carry on his legacy after his passing. Well-known power pop singer-guitarist Marshall Crenshall will be fronting the band tonight. Likewise, Material Issue’s surviving members Ted Ansani and Mike Zelenko realized Ellison’s songs deserve to be performed live, and brought in Chicago music scene veteran Phil Angotti as the lead vocalist-guitarist for Material Reissue  So here’s to Pat and Jim: The music lives on.

Skokie’s Backlot Bash runs through Sunday on Oakton between Lincoln and Laramie Avenues. The Imperial Sound, Tributosaurus, and War are among the acts scheduled to appear. The fest also includes a carnival and a vintage car show.

Ravinia will become a field of gold tonight when Sting performs his solo hits and mostly likely, some well-chosen selections by The Police.

Hairpin Arts Center at 2810 N. Milwaukee Avenue is the place for the Labyrinth Arts Performance Collective’s Catzilla 7 tonight and tomorrow night. The event aims to make the world a better place for cats and will feature music, performance art, artwork and photography. Admission is $20.

Cheers To Beers 19 will be held tomorrow starting at 6:00 p.m. at 3159 N. Elston. In addition to presenting the work of 19 artists, the event will feature live performances by Soultree and Remey Le Flow, along with DJ Bobby. Admission is $5.

Tickets went on sale today for Lenny Kravitz at Ravinia on September 7; Bush Tetras at Old Town School Of Folk Music on September 19; glam rock pioneers Sweet with special guests House Of Lords at The Arcada on September 5; Violent Femmes at Concord Music Hall on September 13; and A Tribute to Buddy Holly and The Crickets with Zachary Stevenson and more at FitzGerlad’s on September 9.

Jazzin’ At The Shedd wraps up its 2019 summertime run at the Shedd Aquarium next Wednesday, from 5:00 to 10:00 p.m.. Expect jazz, drinks, fireworks, and “the chance to look nature in the eye.”

The 25th Annual Black Harvest Film Festival wraps up next Thursday, August 29 at the Gene Siskel Film Center.

Squeeze, one of England’s finest bands, will be at the Chicago Theatre next Saturday night.

According to the WXRT website, Neil Young will soon release the first album he’s recorded with Crazy Horse in seven years.

In a year when we’re celebrating 50 years of Monty Python’s Flying Circus silliness, Eric Idle will release an autographed, limited edition of his memoir Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life, via the very classy Genesis Publications. And keep in mind Monty Python’s quest to stage the world’s largest gathering of people dressed like its Gumby character takes place on October 5. The program’s animator/director Terry Gilliam will serves as master of ceremonies.

Long-time country-rock band Heartsfield will be at FitzGerald’s in Berwyn next Saturday, August 31

The Tanita Tikaram anthology To Drink A Rainbow is now available for preorder from the Needle Mythology indie label.

The Dave Brubeck Tribute Project at performs SPACE in Evanston next Wednesday, August 28.

Two of Chicago’s better acts, The Phil Angotti Band and The Hushdrops, will share a double bill at Martyrs’ next Thursday, August 29.

EXPO ’76 will be delighting spectators with its unpredictable but always enticing blend of cover versions next Friday night at Hey Nonny in Arlington Heights.

Professor Moptop, whose ongoing reports on Beatles recordings are one of the many highlights on Terri Hemmert’s Breakfast With The Beatles show each Sunday morning, is coming to my humble village. He’ll be presenting The Beatles’ Abbey Road 50th Anniversary at the Palatine Library on Wednesday, October 2. He also has upcoming lectures at

Also coming up at Palatine Library is London tour guide John Gowing’s All Things British discussion on October 22.

God only knows, it is what we would choose to do. Pink Floyd fans should mark October 2 and 6 on their calendars because those are the days when the new documentary US + Them will be screened in movie theatres. It was filmed in Amsterdam during Roger Waters’ 2018 Us + Them Tour, and created by Waters and director Sean Evans. Pink Floyd’s politically charged masterpiece “Us And Them” was written by Waters and keyboards player Rick Wright for Floyd’s iconic The Dark Side Of The Moon album in 1973.


Thursday, August 22, 2019

Double Dose Of Classic Power Pop In Skokie

Skokie's Backlot Bash kicks off tomorrow night with a dream double bill of Material Reissue and The Smithereens with Marshall Crenshaw. Material Reissue must feel pretty comfortable sharing stages with power pop royalty; they’ve been paired with Matthew Sweet and The Posies in previous concert events. The Smithereens and Material Reissue have given use numerous classics of the genre—“Blood And Roses,” “Behind The Wall Of Sleep,” and “A Girl Like You” from the former and “Valerie Loves Me,” “Renee Remains The Same,” and “Diane” from the latter.

Other impressive acts at Skokie's Backlot Bash include Chicago-based The Imperial Sound, whose debut album The New AM is filled with authentic rhythm and blues, soul, and jazz; Tributosaurus, who will no doubt excel at becoming The Rolling Stones; and War, the iconic soul band that gave us “Cisco Kid,” “Why Can’t We Be Friends,” and “Low Rider.” There will also be a carnival and classic car show. Skokie’s Backlot Bash runs through Sunday on Oakton between Lincoln and Laramie Avenues.


Friday, August 16, 2019


The third annual YippieFest, a weekend celebration of theatre, comedy, short film, music, puppets, and other forms of offbeat entertainment, opened tonight and runs through Sunday at Prop Thtr on Chicago’s north side. The people behind the event—Frank Carr and Desiree Burcum from Famous In The Future, Carla Hayden and James Moeller from Black Forest Theatre—are veterans of the Abbie Hoffman Died For Our Sins festival that Mary-Arrchie Theatre hosted for 30 years.

Performers at this year’s YippieFest include !Ex Maquina!, Black Forest; Citizens’ Relief; Famous In The Future; whitewolfsonicprincess; David Drazin; Trained Monkey Productions; Rush Pearson; Michael Steven Cohen; The Rut; and The Telepaths. The previous two YippieFests have carried on the tie-dyed, rebellious spirit Mary-Arrchie brought to its annual event, so this year is likely to do the same. Prop Thtr is located at 3502 N. Elston. Ticket prices range from $15 to $20.

Chicago-based power pop band The Lilacs released their the first album in 25 years today. The Lilacs Endure was produced by Richard Lloyd and is on the indie label Pravda Records. The songs include “Monica,” “I Saw Her First,” “Shadow Of Doubt,” and “Blue Spark.

Saturday Evening Flashback. Tomorrow night’s Tutu And The Pirates gig at Montrose Saloon will no doubt bring visions of slam dancing and twisted humor to those of us who still remember their frantic songs like “Dead In Our Beds” and “Wham Bam Son Of Sam” from the late 1970s. Back then, I interviewed the band for the now long-forgotten free paper Metro Calendar. “We felt that the punk label was too limiting,” lead vocalist Rich Speck told me. “That’s how we came up with the term Sub Urban Insult Rock.” No doubt they’ll insulting and rocking tomorrow night, and the crowd will be having a great time.

Sleater-Kinney’s latest album The Center Won’t Hold came out today.

The 11th Annual I Am Fest, an event that combines live music, performance art, and artwork, kicks off at 2:00 p.m. tomorrow at the House Of Blues  in downtown Chicago. Curious Grace and Black Rabbit and three School Of Rock locations are among the bands; visual performers include CODA (Chicago Onyx Dance Alliance) and ImagiNation Dance Crew UICC; and artists include Morgan Rose Murphy and Benjamin May. Admission for this all ages show is $25.

Edison Park Fest ’19 takes place this weekend. Live performances include the Tom Petty tribute band Petty Kings at 5:45 on Saturday; and Kevin Lee And The Kings at 5:45 on Sunday. The Ripleys, a band that covers U2, The Beatles, Cheap Trick, and others, will be performing a free Edison Park Fest after show at Curragh at 10:00 p.m. on Saturday.

The Backlot Bash in Skokie kicks off next Friday, August 23 with a power pop fan’s dream double bill of Material Reissue and The Smithereens with Marshall Crenshaw. Other impressive acts at the Skokie Bash include The Imperial Sound, Tributosaurus becomes The Rolling Stones; and the iconic soul band War.

The Alarm (“The Stand”, “Marching On”) will share a bill with Modern English (“I’ll Stop The World And Melt With You”) tonight and tomorrow night at House Of Blues in downtown Chicago.

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.


Wednesday, August 14, 2019

I’ve Just Seen A Fest

Photo from Jeremy Clydes Facebook page.

The Fest For Beatles Fans - Chicago returned to the Hyatt Regency O’Hare in suburban Rosemont last weekend for its annual celebration of the most famous band in rock history. I’ve found it increasingly difficult in recent years to pack everything I want to experience at The Fest in a single day. So for 2019, I opted for a double dose. Avid Beatles followers could easily spend the entire weekend there and never get bored.

The Apple Jam Stage at The Fest For Beatles Fans has resulted in some tough choices for me. Even with all the other performances and events going on, how can I pass up the opportunity to catch some of Chicago’s best musicians strutting their Beatlesque expertise? This year, the Apple Jam Stage offered Phil Angotti and Friends doing an amazing job of covering John Lennon on Saturday and Paul McCartney on Sunday. Ellis Clark and Ary Jeebie also enlisted some local all stars to help as they honored George Harrison. Their set offered a taste of the George Harrison Birthday Bash Clark and Jeebie throw each February at Martyrs’ on Lincoln Avenue. I didn’t catch Jay Goeppner’s set on Friday, but I’ve seen him enough to know it was highly entertaining.

Another Fest highlight was WXRT air personality Terri Hemmert interviewing former Wings members Denny Laine, Steve Holley, and Laurence Juber in the hotel’s Grand Ballroom. The format resembled the musicians forums held by Martin Lewis and Mark Hudson in the past, where the participants augment their discussion with some instructive jamming. I was glad to have a chance later to congratulate Hemmert on her long tenure at WXRT. She’s semi-retired now; keeping her weekly Breakfast With The Beatles show and filling in occasionally for the other DJs.

Also in the Grand Ballroom, Jeremy Clyde, one half of Chad and Jeremy (and more recently Peter and Jeremy), brought his Bottom Drawer Band to play songs from his Bottom Drawer CD series. Clyde was in fine voice, and these rarely heard songs were consistently engaging. Drummer Alan White talked with Hemmert about his days with Yes, as well as his work on John Lennon and George Harrison solo projects. The Weeklings played a catchy mix of originals and obscure Beatles compositions on Sunday.

I spent a few hours on Saturday sorting through all the music-related memorabilia in The Fest’s expansive marketplace, and found more treasures, including a “Paperback Writer” picture sleeve import seven-inch single, on Sunday. The Marketplace is also the place to meet noted Beatles authors like Bruce Spizer, Jude S. Kessler, Professor Moptop, and Kit O’Toole. Lesser known authors were selling their books as well.

The Beatles tribute band Liverpool was on hand all three nights. After an impressive set of Beatles tunes on Saturday, they they invited Alan White, Jeremy Clyde, Denny Laine, Steve Holley, and Laurence Juber to join them. As always, it was one of the highlights of The Fest For Beatles Fans - Chicago and served as a Grand Finale.


Friday, August 9, 2019


Welcome to everyone who’s in town for The Fest For Beatles Fans - Chicago running this weekend at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare in Rosemont. If you’re staying at the Hyatt or one of the other nearby hotels and are wondering if you could make a quick visit to Chicago, the CTA Blue Line stop is a short walk away. It can get you downtown in about 40 minutes. For a preview of this year’s Fest For Beatles Fans event, check out August 5 post.

A recent post on The Second Disc website has all the details about the various versions of Abbey Road Apple will be releasing in honor of the 50th anniversary of the The Beatles’ finale. In addition to a CD/Blu Ray/hard cover book boxed set, a three LP vinyl set, a two CD set, and a single CD release; Apple is also putting out an EP version of George Harrison’s “Something.”

The Jay O’Rourke Band is having a CD Release Party Party for Cover Tracks tonight at SPACE in Evanston. 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.

How Do You Love?, the long-awaited second album from the Los Angeles punk band The Regrettes, was released today. After downloading it and giving the 15 tracks a quick listen (my CD is on its way from Amazon), I can already tell it’s another successful blend of vintage punk and 1960s girl band sound, with clever lyrics that bite and amuse.

The first batch of special guests for The Chicago TARDIS convention being held November 29 – December 1 in Lombard has been announced. It includes Paul McGann, who played The Doctor in an American TV movie version of the U.K. sci-fi series, and had a pivotal cameo the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary short clips. Tosin Cole, Greg Austin, Vivian Oparah, and Sophie Hopkins will also be there, along with other Doctor Who related guests to be announced later.

No Holiday, The Muffs’ first album in five years, will be coming out on October 18 via Omnivore Recordings. The 18 new tracks will be available on CD or on two vinyl LPs, with the fourth side being laser-etched. Band member Kim Shattuck is also part of the newly formed trio The Coolies (with Palmyra Delran and Melanie Vammen), who just released their debut EP, Uh Oh, It’s. . . The Coolies.

Stray Cats bassist Lee Rocker has a solo album titled The Low Road coming out this Friday. Earlier this year, The Stray Cats released 40, their first album in 40 years.

Back when I did my August, Rock She Must post on July 30, I knew I would miss some worthy events, and here’s a prime example. This year’s Backlot Bash in Skokie kicks off on Friday, August 23 with the highly potent double bill of Material Reissue and The Smithereens with Marshall Crenshaw. In previous shows, Material Reissue has opened for Matthew Sweet and The Posies, and here they are with another great power pop act. Other must-see acts at the Backlot Bash include The Imperial Sound, Tributosaurus becomes The Rolling Stones; and the iconic soul band War.

Ex Norwegian, the Miami-based trio whose albums have consistently met with extensive praise here on Broken Hearted Toy, have a 15-track vinyl LP titled Something Unreal: The Best Of Ex Norwegian coming out on September 20.

The Alarm (“The Stand”, “Marching On”) will share a bill with Modern English (“I’ll Stop The World And Melt With You”) on August 16 and 17 at House Of Blues in downtown Chicago.

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.

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.”


Tuesday, August 6, 2019


Indie rock veterans The Figgs have a gig coming up this Sunday night at Montrose Saloon on  Chicago’s north side. Adept at crafting catchy, guitar-driven songs like “On The Side,” “Your Smile Is A Deadly Thing,” and “Wealthy Women,” the Saratoga, NY trio got its start back in 1987. The Figgs have recorded 13 albums and are about to wrap up their latest.

The Sonic Assault EP vocalist-guitarist Johnny Weathers and former Sex Pistols drummer Paul Cook released last year will soon be available as a limited edition, numbered vinyl-only picture disc. “Man From The Orleans,” the hard-hitting opening track on that EP, was one of the very best songs of 2018.

Give the drummer some pages. Goldmine magazine recently posted on Instagram about a new book by Mike Edison titled Sympathy For Drummer: Why Charlie Watts Matters. It’s due out in October. Edison is the former editor/publisher of High Times magazine, and was a drummer with Sonic Youth, Sound Garden, and The Ramones, so he certainly seems qualified to cover The Rolling Stones.

Former Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr will release a new single titled “The Bright Parade” this Thursday. Marr’s albums The Messenger, Playland, and Call The Comet all drew high praise here on Broken Hearted Toy, and he’s also collaborated with Modest Mouse, The Pretenders, and The Cribs.


Monday, August 5, 2019

For The Benefit Of Beatles Fans

The annual Fest For Beatles Fans Chicago takes place at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare in suburban Rosemont this weekend, August 9–11. The event presents musicians, authors, artists, photographers, and music biz people who have some connection to the most famous band in rock history. Many are accessible to fans in the general sense of watching them being interviewed in the Grand Ballroom, and in face-to-face conversations at the autograph tables. It’s not unusual to spot these famous people walking through the crowd or chatting with fans.

There will be special appearances in the Grand Ballroom by Denny Laine, Steve Holley, and Laurence Juber of Wings; Jeremy Clyde (of Chad and Jeremy, and more recently Peter and Jeremy) with his Bottom Drawer Band; Alan White from Yes (and John Lennon and George Harrison projects); and Len Mansfield, former manager of Apple Records. The exceptional Beatles tribute band Liverpool will perform all three nights; and The Weeklings, an offshoot of Liverpool that plays originals and obscure Beatles compositions, will perform on Sunday.

Terri Hemmert, the Radio Hall Of Fame inductee and Breakfast With The Beatles host at radio station WXRT, will notch another year in her decades-long role of The Fest’s MC in Chicago. Hemmert recently left her mid-morning shift at XRT but her semi-retirement involves occasionally filling in for the station’s other air personalities as well continuing with Breakfast With The Beatles. The Apple Jam Stage will offer live performances of Beatles material by Jay Goeppner; Phil Angotti and Friends; and Ellis Clark and Ary Paloma Jeebie; Scott Erickson; and others.

The Fest For Beatles Fans has a few marketplace areas with loads of music-related memorabilia. The marketplace is also the place to meet noted Beatles authors like Bruce Spizer, Vivek Tiwary, Jude S. Kessler, Professor Moptop, and Kit O’Toole. Attendees can join in the fun by competing in Beatles sound-alike concerts and an art competition, and you’re welcome to jam with the musicians and singers who hang out for hours around the stairs in the lower level.

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