Thursday, February 22, 2018

Step Right Up!

Have to love this graphic from the Big Suit Facebook page.

Actually, the more appropriate phrase for buying concert tickets these days might be Log Right In! or Use That App! Anyway, here are some shows that are going on sale tomorrow. For a more extensive list, see the final page of this week’s Reader. The free Chicago weekly is a great source for keeping up on which bands are coming to town.

Pearl Jam at Wrigley Field on August 18 and 20; Radiohead at the United Center on July 7; the original lineup (except bass player D’Arcy Wretzky) of Smashing Pumpkins at the United Center on August 13; Eleanor Friedberger, one half of the critically acclaimed indie rock duo Fiery Furnaces and a successful solo artist, at Lincoln Hall on May 5; singer-songwriter/bass player Meshell Ndegeocello at The Promontory on March 24; rockabilly/garage rock band Southern Culture On The Skids at Schubas on May 24; and the Talking Heads tribute act Big Suit at Park West on April 14.

Just a reminder: Celebrating David Bowie, the multi-act event that features Mike Garson, Earl Slick, Carmen Rojas, Gerry Leonard and others, comes to The Vic in Chicago tomorrow night.

Also, Noel Gallagher’s High Fling Birds concert at The Chicago Theatre this Saturday will feature a 10-piece band, a horn section, and members of Oasis.


Wednesday, February 21, 2018

I’d Be Quite Prepared For That Eventuality

This Saturday night, several Chicago area musicians will gather at Martyrs’ on Lincoln Avenue for the second annual George Harrison Birthday Tribute Concert hosted by Ellis Clark and The Big Parade with Ary Jeebie. It will be an impressive mix of acts returning from last year and some interesting newcomers. At the 2017 event, the selection of Harrison material performed ranged from hit singles to deep tracks and rarities.

Ellis Clark and Ary Paloma Jeebie will likely perform together, with their respective bands, and help out other groups. Part of the fun last year was seeing musicians from different groups joining together on stage. Clark was a founding member of Epicycle, one of Chicago’s first punk acts, as well as Social Act. He’s also a successful solo recording artist and producer. Ary Jeebie is the lead vocalist for Amazing Heeby Jeebies, a the garage/rockabilly band that just released its latest album.

Returning performers include singer-guitarist Phil Angotti, who released the compelling acoustic-based Such Stories album last year; and The Handcuffs, an indie band led by vocalist-guitarist Chloe F. Orwell and drummer Brad Elvis that just wrapped up recording its fourth album. The psyche quintet Aethereal not only played last year’s George Harrison tribute, they were part of the Kaleidoscope Eye Festival held at Live Wire.

The new participants include sci-fi techno rock band Tomorrow The Moon, which is led by vocalist-guitarist Steve Gerlach; and psyche rockers Constantine, whose flower power inspired arrangements tap into elements of jazz. British imports The Unswept are long-time favorites at International Pop Overthrow - Chicago. Greg Jackson Combs; Phoenix; Frankie B; Gerald McClendan; and other acts will also be performing.

The George Harrison Birthday Tribute Concert will include a silent art auction to benefit Famous Fido Rescue. Admission is $12 at the door, he music starts at 8:00 pm.; with a pre-show with the Sandalwood Sitar Ensemble at 7:00 p.m.


Tuesday, February 20, 2018


Chicago-based writer-director Michael Glover Smith’s second film Mercury In Retrograde wraps up its current run at the Gene Siskel Film Center with a 7:45 p.m. screening tomorrow night. The film’s humorous approach to the emotional entanglements that develop when three couples gather at a rural Michigan cabin drew praise and a three star rating from critic Richard Roeper in last Friday’s edition of the Chicago Sun-Times. It was named Best Narrative Feature at the 2017 Full Bloom Film Festival.

The cast features Shane Simmons (who also served as producer), Kevin Wehby, Jack C. Newell, Najarra Townsend, Alena Arenas, Roxane Mesquida, Duane Sharp, and Andrew Sensenig. Smith and Simmons will be on hand after the screening for a discussion with the audience. Tomorrow night’s screening will be moderated by film critic Ian Simmons of Kicking The Seat.

Joan Esposito, a veteran TV news anchor in the Chicago area and occasional guest morning news anchor on WXRT radio, is now working at WCPT 820 radio in Chicago.

Prop Thtr is promising audiences will encounter “unhinged, unpredictable, uninhibited entertainment” at its new late-night production The Uploose Odditorium coming up on Friday, March 9. The hour-long sketch comedy show starts at 10:30 p.m. and will feature Jessica Kearney, Dash Kidman, Kyra Leigh, Dylan McGorty, Matt Nikkila, Zoë Pike and Chloe Speschockrom, with Jamie Shriner as a musical guest. Some of those performer names already had me laughing. Admission is $10; Prop Thtr is located at 3502-04 N. Elston.

Celebrating David Bowie, the multi-act event that features Mike Garson, Earl Slick, Carmen Rojas, Gerry Leonard and others, comes to The Vic in Chicago this Friday, February 23. As rock critic Greg Kot pointed out in a fascinating feature story in this past Sunday’s Chicago Tribune, keyboards player Garson, guitarist Slick, and bassist Rojas had a long history of performing with Bowie.

The Jewish Film Festival will run on three weekends in March, starting on March 3, and ending on March 18. A total of 31 films will be screened at ArcLight Chicago, ArcLight Glenview, Century 12 Evanston/CineArts 6 and Century 16 Deer Park.


Friday, February 16, 2018


March around the corner. February is now more than half over, so it might be a good time to plan for what’s coming up next month. The Old 97s will be at Thalia Hall on March 1; Phil Angotti and Tommi Zender will perform the music of Simon And Garfunkel at City Winery Chicago on March 12; WNUR Power Pop Showcase’s multi-act tribute to Tommy Keene and Pat DiNizio takes place at The Elbo Room on March 16; Graham Nash will be at the The North Shore Center For The Performing Arts in Skokie on March 17; The Zombies will be at City Winery Chicago on March 19 and 20; Alvvays will be at Metro on March 23; Material Reissue will be at Shank Hall in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on March 23; the Sons Of The Silent Age David Bowie tribute band will be at Martyrs’ on March 24; and Wolf Alice will be at Metro on March 30.

Black Panther, Marvel’s latest superhero blockbuster, is now in movie theaters, and according to Chicago Sun-Tmes critic Richard Roeper and Chicago Tribune critic Michael Phillips, it definitely lives up to excitement that has been building for months. In related news, Sun-Times columnist/WBEZ reporter Natalie Y. Moore joyfully notes in today’s edition, “Black Chicagoans are dressing up in regalia to see the film this weekend. They’re renting out theaters, hosting events, donating tickets to children and marveling in total geekdom.”

Buffalo Springfield member Richie Furay will join forces with The Wild Honey Foundation and a number of special guests tomorrow night at the Alex Theatre in Glendale, CA for a three-hour tribute concert for the band he helped found back in the mid 1960s. See my post from this past Wednesday for more details. Tickets range from $110 to $20. Proceeds will help the Autism Think Tank, an organization devoted to funding autism research.

Former Saturday Night Live writer Alan Zweibel’s play Bunny Bunny: Gilda Radner, A Sort Of Love Story is running at the Mercury Theater in Chicago through April 1. Written in 1994 as an affectionate tribute to Radner, it currently stars Dana Tretta as the multifaceted performer who won Americans’ hearts—and Zweibel’s—with her offbeat characters. Chicago Tribune theatre critic Chris Jones had high praise for Tretta’s portrayal, and gave the production three stars.

By the way, the Saturday Night Live: The Experience exhibit is still running at the Chicago Museum of Broadcast Communications on State Street. It runs through December 31 of this year.

The Beatles’ animated move Yellow Submarine has been transformed into a graphic novel by noted artist/writer Bill Morrison and will be published by Ttitan Comics this summer. Morrison is president of the National Cartoonists Society and was recently named editor of Mad Magazine. 2018 marks the 50th anniversary of Yellow Submarine’s release.

Sopro Music has a tradition of giving us the blues each year at Thanksgiving and Easter with multi-act concert events. The company now has another blues festival in its repertoire; this one coming on the more appropriate blues occasion of giving our money to Uncle Sam. The Sopro Tax Time Relief All-Star Blues Revue will be held on Sunday, April 15 at the Pheasant Run Inn, located at 4051 Main Street in St. Charles. Several Chicago area blues musicians will be performing.

Noel Gallagher’s High Fling Birds concert at The Chicago Theatre next Saturday, February 24 will feature a 10-piece band, a horn section, and members of Oasis.

Celebrating David Bowie, the multi-act event that features Mike Garson, Earl Slick, Gerry Leonard and others, comes to The Vic in Chicago next Friday, February 23.

The 2018 George Harrison Birthday Tribute Concert takes place next Saturday night, February 24 at Martyrs’ on Lincoln Avenue. Many of the performers who made last year’s event so enjoyable are coming back again.

Singer-guitarist Keren Ann will be performing at City Winery Chicago next Tuesday, February 20. Sergio Mendes will be at that same venue on Sunday, February 25.

Early Man opened in movie theaters today, and while Chicago critics felt it doesn’t quite measure up to previous Aardmann Studio flicks like Wallace And Grommit, they seemed overall to think it was clever and funny.

The Continuing Adventures Of Babyface Joe And Mustache Joe. As revealed on last night’s Top Chef episode, my nephew Joe Flamm was able to work his way back to the main competition after winning three rounds of Last Chance Kitchen. Which means Top Chef again has two guys named Joe among its contestants. From the first episode of this season, Joe Sasto has been dubbed Mustache Joe while my nephew has been referred to No-mustache Joe, Joe Flamm, and on at least one occasion, Babyface Joe. Regardless of who makes it to the Top Chef finale, there will be a Joe Down Throw Down involving the above-mentioned guys at Spiaggia (where Joe Flamm is the Executive Chef ) on March. The $150 admission includes a five-course meal.


Thursday, February 15, 2018


Photo from Belly’s Facebook page.

Tickets go on sale tomorrow for Peter Case at The Old Town School Of Folk Music on April 27; Belly on October 6 at The Vic; L7 at Metro on April 20; Depeche Mode at United Center on June 1; and David Hidalgo and Marc Ribot at Old Town School Of Folk Music on March 30.

The Laureates, whose latest album And Then Not Even Then drew kind words in a review I posted here on Tuesday, will be part of a quadruple bill at Quenchers this Friday night. Little Church, Rooftop Love Club, and headliners Old Joy are the other acts performing. Quenchers is located at the corner of Fullerton and Western on Chicago’s north side.

Cliff Johnson And The Raine have a gig coming up this Saturday night at the Live@210 venue in Highwood, Illinois.

Coming to a record store near you. The Sunshine Boys have a two-part record release show celebrating their debut Blue Music coming up on March 24. They’ll be at Rediscover Records in Elgin at noon, before heading off for a 3:00 p.m. performance at Val’s Halla in Oak Park. Blue Music, by the way, is an amazing album and well worth picking up. I’ll be reviewing it here in the near future.


Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Everybody Look What’s Going Down

There may not be any immediate plans for another Buffalo Springfield reunion but fans of the influential group have other reasons to be happy. A cover story by founding member Richie Furay in the February issue of Mojo magazine provides lots of inside information and insight on Buffalo Springfield’s short but impressive career. Plus, people who live on the west coast will be able to see an all-star tribute concert featuring Furay and special guests this Saturday, February 17 at the Alex Theatre Glendale, CA.

In Mojo, Furay recalls his early days of sharing an apartment with Stephen Stills on Fountain Boulevard in Hollywood, and playing double bills with The Grassroots, Love, and The Doors in 1966 at the Whiskey A-Go-Go. He met his wife Nancy at The Whiskey back then and they’re still married to this day. Members came and went throughout Buffalo Springfield’s two-year run, but Furay believes the first incarnation of himself, Neil Young, Stephen Stills, Dewey Martin, and Bruce Palmer was the best.

For the three-hour tribute concert, Furay is joining forces with The Wild Honey Foundation, an organization that does very cool things on a regular basis to raise funds for autism research. Past shows have honored The Band, The Beatles, The Hollies, and Big Star by bringing together well-known members of the Los Angeles music scene. The Buffalo Springfield event will include Paisley Underground vets The Three O’Clock and The Dream Syndicate; Terry Reid, Micky Dolenz; Susan Cowsill; Carlene Carter; Elliot Easton; Syd Straw; Martha Davis; Gary Myrick; Brent Rademaker; Carla Olson; Cindy Lee Berryhill; Darian Sahanaja; Claudia Lennear; and Iain Matthews.

These guests will be backed by the Wild Honey Orchestra, which includes Derrick Anderson; Jim Laspesa; Andrew Sandoval, Probyn Gregory,  and several other musicians. Bib Laufer will serve as Musical Director. Tickets range from $110 to $20. Proceeds will help the Autism Think Tank, an organization devoted to funding autism research. If past shows are any indication, those of us who can’t make to L.A. in person will be able to watch clips on the Wild Honey Foundation Facebook page.


Tuesday, February 13, 2018

The Laureates - And Then Not Even Then

I’m still determined to post a Favorite Releases Of 2017 list, even if it takes until July to do it. Here’s another contender from last year, as I get closer to finally catching up.

The third album from The Laureates comes six years after their second one, but any worries that their unique sound might have deteriorated during that span are dispelled on the very first track. The Chicago-based quintet still fancies melding 1960s Brit pop with cutting-edge alt rock circa the ‘80s and ‘90s. And Then Not Even Then, which was self-recorded in a basement studio, actually finds The Laureates accomplishing that mission with even more success than they did on 2011’s impressive Spells.

“House Of Wives” combines the muscular pounding of The Who with a catchy arrangement spearheaded by vocalist-guitarist Chad Preston. In the midst of the hard-driving opener, “Youthy, Natural,” there’s an instrumental break with eerie Ray Manzarek style keyboards playing. Elsewhere, the band uses shimmering synth sounds to add texture to the offbeat but effective romantic overture “Let’s Merge.”

“Old As Gold” taps into the same rebellious spirit that fueled the underground imagery on “Youthy, Natural,” and then breaks into a galloping arrangement. “Creatures,” which echoes vintage R.E.M. with its twangy guitar, has Preston advising, “Whatever you do, pray that you’ll never be found” and later, “fight like I would.” There’s a sense of confusion and loss drifting through the careening guitars and steady beat of “Toys,”  which the band picked for its first video from the album. The more introspective “Stereo Man” brings a change of pace, and on the acoustic “Don’t Want To Dance,” a guy’s aversion to social get-togethers has an amiable Kinks feel.

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