Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Richard X. Heyman - Incognito

Richard X. Heyman’s 12th album finds the singer-guitarist and founding member of The Doughboys once again crafting strong melodies for his power pop and indie rock songs. Released in 2017, Incognito also has elements of country and western, urban contemporary, and mainstream rock. Songs like “Her Garden Path” and “Chalk It Up” work particularly well because there’s a harder edge to the arrangements.

According to his website, Heyman wanted this effort to reflect the anxious mood of 2016 America without going into specifics. That approach is especially noticeable on the title track, which kicks off with ringing guitars before delving into some troubling observations. The rhythm and blues influenced “So What” advises “Go out and make it happen” when faced with life’s struggles, and Heyman sets a similar message to the lighter, ‘80s rock of “Lift.”

“All You Can Do” and “In Our Best Interest,” both of which are slow songs with backup vocalists, are the only times when Heyman sounds a bit too generic. “Gleam,” on the other hand, features clever and romantic lyrics set to an irresistible toe-tapping arrangement. He’s also obviously having a ball playing rollicking old-time blues on his tale of an untrustworthy girlfriend “Terry Two Timer.”


Friday, March 16, 2018


Peter Asher and Jeremy Clyde will be at Old Town School Of Folk Music tomorrow.

The WNUR radio program Power Pop Shoppe has done well with its first few live shows, but the one tonight at The Elbo Room is bound to be extra special. Local acts Phil Angotti, The Cells, The Thin Cherries, King Mixer, The Joy Poppers, Mark Watson Band, The Sh***y Amps, Love Punch, and others will take part in a tribute show to honor power pop icons Pat DiNizio of The Smithereens and Tommy Keene. All proceeds from the event will go to the Felines and Canines Dog Rescue Shelter in Edgewater.

Chicago psych group Umbra and the Volcan Siege are marking the vinyl, cassette and digital release of their latest album, Someone Will Love You But It’s Just Not Me, with a free show tonight at the Virgin Hotel in downtown Chicago.

The week of English gentlemen. Some key members of the original British Invasion will be performing in the Chicago area. Tomorrow night’s Peter and Jeremy gig at The Old Town School Of Folk Music will surely confuse anyone who got Peter And Gordon with Chad and Jeremy mixed up in the 1960s. This show gives us one from each duo; Peter Asher and Jermey Clyde. Graham Nash, who founded The Hollies with childhood friend Allan Clarke before moving on to Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, and a successful solo career, has a show tomorrow night at The North Shore Center For The Performing Arts. The invasion continues this Monday and Tuesday when The Zombies rock City Winery Chicago.

The Ravinia Festival, one of the Chicago area’s favorite places to see music outdoors, has announced its 2018 lineup. The dates run from June 1 through September 16 and cover just about every genre. Some of the acts scheduled are Roger Daltry with members of the Ravinia Festival performing Tommy; Lyle Lovett and His Large Band; Los Lobos; Diana Ross; John Fogerty and ZZ Top; Anita Baker; Sugarland; Jackson Browne; A Flock Of Seagulls; Janis Ian; Juilliard String Quartet; John Hiatt and The Goners; Culture Club, The B-52’s and Thompson Twins; Yes; Bonnie Koloc and Howard Levy; Johnny Rivers and Jimmy Webb; Earth, Wind and Fire; James Galway; Ian Anderson; Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue; Buddy Guy and Jonny Lang; Cake and Ben Folds; The Beach Boys; and Alison Krause. Tickets can be purchased for the pavilion or the lawn.

If there are any parents in Chicago wondering why their teenagers are so well behaved this weekend it could be because four-day tickets to Lollapalooza go on sale on Tuesday. The festival runs August 2 through 5. Per tradition, the schedule has yet to be announced.

Material Reissue, which features original Material Issue members Ted Ansani and Mike Zelenko, along with singer guitarist Phil Angotti and guitarist Jay O’Rourke, has a gig coming up next Friday, March 23 at Shank Hall in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Alt rock band Alvvays, whose 2017 Antisocialites album was favorably reviewed here on BHT, will be will be at Metro next Friday, March 23.

The Sons Of The Silent Age will be paying tribute to David Bowie in their usual funky, atmospheric, and all-around impressive way at Martyrs’ next Saturday, March 24. The band comprises several veterans of the Chicago rock scene, including vocalist Chris Connelly of Ministry and Revolting Cocks fame.

The engaging indie rock group In Tall Buildings will be performing at Schubas next Saturday.

The Sunshine Boys have a two-part record release show celebrating their amazing debut Blue Music coming up next Saturday. 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.

Factory Theater plunges into the late 1990s grunge rock scene with its current production The Next Big Thing. Carrie J. Sullivan’s play features original music in a tale of a small town musician named Beth who hopes to conquer the Chicago music scene. Allison Grischow stars in the title role, and Robyn Coffin directs. The Next Big Thing runs on Friday and Saturday nights at 8:00 p.m. and Sundays at 3:00 p.m. through April 21.

The Jewish Film Festival is about to wrap up its run three weekend run. Films are being screened at ArcLight Chicago, ArcLight Glenview, Century 12 Evanston/CineArts 6 and Century 16 Deer Park. The Chicago European Union Film Festival continues through April 5 at the Gene Siskel Film Center.

Millright’s restaurant in Simsbury, CT will have Season 15 Top Chef finalists Adrienne Cheatham and Chris Scott preparing a five course meal and cocktails on Sunday, March 25. The event will benefit the Sarcoma Foundation Of America, in honor of their fellow Season 15 contestant Fatima Ali, who is battling cancer.


Friday, March 9, 2018


Congratulations to my nephew Joe Flamm on winning this season’s Top Chef competition on the Bravo channel. Earlier today, I did a post here about the Top Chef viewing event the Spiaggia restaurant in Chicago hosted last night.

In related news, the Millright’s restaurant in Simsbury, CT will have Top Chef contestants Adrienne Cheatham and Chris Scott preparing a five course meal and cocktails on March 25 to benefit the Sarcoma Foundation Of America in honor fellow Season 15 contestant Fatima Ali, who is battling cancer.

Factory Theater will be plunging into grunge rock circa 1997 when its production of The Next Big Thing opens in previews tonight. Carrie J. Sullivan’s play features original music in a tale of a small town musician named Beth who hopes to conquer the Chicago music scene. Allison Grischow stars in the title role, and Robyn Coffin directs. The Next Big Thing will run on Friday and Saturday nights at 8:00 p.m. and Sundays at 3:00 p.m. through April 21.

Prop Thtr’s new late-night production The Uploose Odditorium opens tonight at 10:30 p.m. The hour-long sketch comedy show features Jessica Kearney, Dash Kidman, Kyra Leigh, Dylan McGorty, Matt Nikkila, Zoë Pike, and Chloe Speschockrom, with Jamie Shriner as a musical guest. Admission is $10; Prop Thtr is located at 3502-04 N. Elston.

Elizabeth Acevedo, a poetry slam champion who is now an author, will be discussing her first novel Poet X at the Seminary Co-op Bookstore in the Hyde Park neighborhood tomorrow at 5:00 p.m.

Graham Nash returns to the Chicago area next Saturday, March 17 with a show at the The North Shore Center For The Performing Arts in Skokie. The British Invasion continues a few days later when The Zombies perform at City Winery Chicago on March 19 and 20.

The official International Pop Overthrow website has now posted the schedule for its 2018 nine-day/12 showcase run in Chicago. The fest starts on Friday, April 20 and runs through Saturday, April 28. Several IPO favorites will be performing, including Tommi Zender, Phil Angotti, Rob Schultz Band, King Mixer, The Jeremy Band, The Lilacs, The Bishop’s Daredevil Stunt Club, Larry O. Dean, The Spindles, Thrift Store Halo, The Red Wigglers, The Cells, The Jay Goeppner Band, Michael Steven Cohen, Certain Stars, The Unswept, Dave Rave, Freetoed, Mike Vanderbilt And The Suburban Garage Sound, The Queue, and Too Much Saturn. IPO Founder/CFO David Bash has created profiles of most of the acts involved, along with links to their websites or Facebook pages. So even those who can’t make it to the shows can use this site to discover some amazing new power pop and indie rock acts.

Rock on and thanks for all the fish. The U.K. vinyl-only, indie label Fruits de Mer is celebrating its 10th Anniversary with Goldfish—a three LP/one seven inch single set on color vinyl in a triple gatefold sleeve. The tracks stretch across FdM’s decade of offering psychedelic and prog rock artists, and includes The Pretty Things, The Chemistry Set, Jack Ellister, Vibravoid, Soft Hearted Scientists, Tir na nOg, and Stay.

In addition to Goldfish, Fruits de Mer’s ten-year history will be featured in Goldmine magazine writer Dave Thompson’s new book The Incomplete Angler. The mind-bending cover art was created by artist/musician Gregory Curvey, whose band The Luck Of Eden Hall has appeared on a number frequent FdM various tribute compilations.

The Jewish Film Festival continues its run this weekend and next weekend. A total of 31 films will be screened at ArcLight Chicago, ArcLight Glenview, Century 12 Evanston/CineArts 6 and Century 16 Deer Park. The Chicago European Union Film Festival continues through April 5 at the Gene Siskel Film Center.

WNUR’s Power Pop Showcase’s multi-act tribute to Tommy Keene and Pat DiNizio takes place next Friday, on March 16 at The Elbo Room on CHicago’s north side.

Nancy Wilson from Heart will be taking part in a Rock And Roll Fantasy Camp in Chicago with blues legend Buddy Guy June 28 through July 1.

Longtime Chicago Tribune rock critic Greg Kot, whose 2014 Mavis Staples bio I’ll Take You There was chosen as part of the city’s One Book, One Chicago campaign, has a new work available in print or ebook format. Turn It Up is a collection of his Tribune reviews, as well as columns about Bono, Beck, Patti Smith, Knaye West, Wilco and other big name music acts.

The One Where A Friends Star Helps Fight Sexual Harassment. David Schwimmer, who brought plenty of humor to his lovelorn character Ross Geller on Friends before moving on to various dramatic roles, is also well known in Chicago as the co-founder of Lookingglass Theater. As noted by writer Kim Janssen in the Chicago Tribune, Schwimmer has made five short films to identify and combat acts of sexual harassment in the workplace. The clips will be shown on screens on the backseats of Chicago cabs.

Actor Michael Shannon, who like Schwimmer, remains a vital part of the Chicago theatre scene even after achieving widespread critical and commercial acclaim, watched the recent Oscars Awards show at the Old Town Ale House, according to a Chicago Sun-Times story by reporter Mitch Dudek. Shannon had every right to be at the actual ceremony in Hollywood since he had a major role in The Shape Of Water, which was nominated in 13 categories. But he chose instead to be at the closing night of the play Traitor at A Red Orchid Theatre since he was the director.


And The Crowd Goes Wild

Photo from the Spiaggia Facebook page.

For the second consecutive Thursday, Spiaggia on Michigan Avenue rolled out the red carpet for family and friends of its Executive Chef (and my nephew) Joe Flamm as he edged closer to winning the Season 15 Top Chef competition on the Bravo channel. The March 1 event, held in the restaurant’s upstairs party room with free food and drinks, ended on a happy note as we watched Joe and Adrienne Cheatham on a big screen TV being selected to move on to the finale. (The latest season wrapped up months ago but the contestants have been sworn to secrecy as to its outcome.) Joe has been traveling the country promoting Top Chef with some of the other contestants but he was in house again last night.

I can only assume this was a bigger crowd than what you’d usually find at Spiaggia, but the staff was consistently friendly and on top of things. A DJ playing an energetic blend of urban contemporary and vintage new wave added some cutting edge ambience to the restaurant’s elegance. The overall mood was happy and anxious as relatives and old friends saw each other for the first time in a while. It was tough maneuvering through all those people and even more of a challenge to find somewhere to sit for watching the show once it came on.

Shortly before airtime, my wife Pam asked if I could get her a Coke, and as I made my way to the bar, I came face to face with Mustache Joe Sasto. He had joined my nephew in a Joe Down Throw Down event the previous night at Spiaggia.

“Joe, good to see you,” I said, feeling like we were friends since I had been watching him on TV for weeks.

“Nice to see you too,” he responded.

Three other former Season 15 Top Chef contestants—Bruce Kalman, Brother Luck, and Tyler Anderson—were also present. Joe, Bruce, and Tyler called themselves The Bears on Top Chef, and Joe’s mother presented each of them with a toy stuffed bear at Spiaggia. Things quieted down when the broadcast, shown across a huge, north-facing window and on a few big-screen TVs, came on.

It quickly became obvious both contestants would be giving their best as they each cooked a four-course meal. Judges Padma Lakshmi, Tom Colicchio, Gail Simmons, and Graham Elliott talked about Joe and Adrienne being neck and neck after each course was set before them. As the crowd at Spiaggia waited for the judges to announce their decision, I couldn’t help thinking both Joe and Adrienne had won, even though only one of them could be chosen.

When Padma informed the onscreen Joe he was Top Chef, the in-house Joe and his wife Hillary embraced as everyone around them cheered and applauded. Joe Sasto and Brother Luck also came over to hug Joe. Most of the crowd lingered long after the show ended. Pam and I had a chance to talk to Brother Luck and his wife, Joe Sasto and his girlfriend, and Bruce Kalman. They were all extremely friendly. (I didn’t see Tyler after the broadcast.)

In the end, I was most proud of my nephew Joe for meeting each challenge on Top Chef head on and always keeping his cool. That could also be said for most of this year’s contestants as they created an experience they’ll probably remember the rest of their lives.


Monday, March 5, 2018

Count Vaseline – Tales From The Megaplex

Dublin native/current Atlanta, GA resident Stefan Murphy recorded albums and EPs with his band The Mighty Stef for 10 years before reinventing himself as Count Vaseline in 2017. His debut effort Tales From The Megaplex evokes swamplands rather than lush Irish pastures, with his deep vocals and twangy guitar adding to the off-kilter fun. The eight tracks zip by in flash but each makes a lasting impression.

Count Vaseline’s rock-a-billy take on Ween’s “I’ll Be Your Johnny On The Spot” is just a bit over a minute and a half long, and he crafts an informative and humorous (though not necessarily fair) comparison of John Cale and Lou Reed on “Hail Hail John Cale” in even less time. He weaves a few oddball narratives throughout the exotic rhythms of “Heavy Is The Head That Wears The Crown.” The title track uses the same bare-bones punk meets 1960s rock method that worked so well for The Ramones.

On other tracks, Count Vaseline opts for a more quirky, B-52’s approach by adding keyboards. “Song For Tom” honors a man whose adventures across the galaxy couldn’t bring him love. “He was a very good man but he died alone.” Alluring backup vocals and a dreamy arrangement provide an ironic setting for “What’s Your Name, Where Are You From, What are You On,” a song that asks people to identify themselves and their chosen drug.


Friday, March 2, 2018


This year’s Record Store Day isn’t until April 21, but information is already starting to trickle out. The Second Disc website, a great source for RSD info, recently reported that three David Bowie releases will be available. They are Welcome To The Blackout, a three-record set of live performances from the artist’s 1978 Isolar World Tour; a 12-inch single with an extended “Let’s Dance” newly remixed by Nile Rogers; and a reissue of the 1978 promo album Bowie Now, on white vinyl. Led Zeppelin will offer a seven-inch single on RSD with previously unreleased versions of “Rock And Roll” and “Friends.”

The Breeders’ new album All Nerve came out today. Other releases due this month include Francis Trouble by Albert Hammond, Jr.; American Utopia by David Byrne; In Your Own Sweet Time by The Fratellis; I’ll Be Your Girl by The Decembrists; Space Gun by Guided By Voices; and Boarding House Reach by Jack White.

Tickets are now on sale for the Pitchfork Music Festival, with Tame Impala, Japandroids, and several other artists on July 20 –22; Yeah Yeah Yeahs at Aragon Ballroom on May 29; Gomez at The Vic on June 15 and 16; Joan Baez at the Chicago Theatre on October 5; and Alan Parsons Project on June 5 at Copernicus Center.

The Continental Drifters are back in action and have a gig coming up on May 26 at the Tipitina’s club in New Orleans. The band includes Peter Holsaple of The dB’s, Vicky Peterson of The Bangles, and Susan Cowsill of the Cowsills.

The Bangles are one of the many big name acts scheduled for the Arroyo Seco Weekend festival in Pasadena on June 23 and 24. Neil Young; Jack White; The Pretenders; Belle and Sebastian; The Specials; Dwight Twilley; Robert Plant and The Sensational Space Shifters; Violent Femmes; and Los Lobos are some of the other artists scheduled to perform.

The world premiere of the Paul Edwards adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s Picture Of Dorian Gray, opens tonight at City Lit, and will run through April 15. The Edwards version sets the drama in New York from 1970 through 1980.

Karen Gillan, who easily transitioned The Doctor’s fiery companion Amy Pond on Doctor Who to the formidable villain Nebula in Guardians Of The Galaxy, has written and directed The Party’s Just Beginning, her first feature film. She also stars in comedy/drama, along with Lee Pace and Matthew Beard. Gillan was on hand when the film had its world premiere at the 14th Glasgow Film Festival on February 24.

The 19th Chicago Irish Film Festival - Films from the Land of Storytelling opened yesterday, and will run through this Sunday at the Gallery Theatre and Logan Theatre. Both venues are located on Milwaukee Avenue. The event will include feature films, shorts, and documentaries.

Abbey Road, which recently added two new studios and a mix stage, was named 2018 Studio of The Year at the Music Producers Guild - MPG Awards yesterday. My wife Pam and I saw Abbey Road when we visited London in 2006, but we weren’t allowed inside.

The Jewish Film Festival opens tomorrow and will run on weekends through 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.

The Chicago European Union Film Festival kicks off next Friday, March 9 and will continue through April 5 at the Gene Siskel Film Center.

Hello, It’s Good New News For Todd Rundgren fans. He and fellow Utopia members Kasim Sulton, Willie Wilcox, and Ralph Shuckett are reuniting for a 2018 tour that will bring them to the Chicago Theatre on May 22. Other stops include Denver, Minneapolis, Toronto, Las Vegas, and Atlanta. Plus, The Second Disc website recently covered the new three-CD Todd Rundgren - All Sides Of THE ROXY, which features his residency at the L.A. club back in 1978.

Prop Thtr is promising audiences will encounter “unhinged, unpredictable, uninhibited entertainment” at its new late-night production The Uploose Odditorium coming up next 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. Admission is $10; Prop Thtr is located at 3502-04 N. Elston.

Elizabeth Acevedo, a poetry slam champion who is now an author, will be discussing her first novel Poet X at the Seminary Co-op Bookstore in the Hyde Park neighborhood on March 10 at 5:00 p.m.

Top Chef contestant (and my nephew) Joe Flamm was the honored guest at a viewing event for his family and friends last night at the Spiaggia restaurant on Michigan Avenue in Chicago. This season had come down to three contenders—Joe, Adrienne Cheatham, and Joe Sasto—and one of them would be eliminated before the finale next week. The mood in Spiaggia’s third-floor party room was anxious but festive, and I doubt my wife Pam and I were the only ones impressed with the bond that has developed among these competing chefs. The episode also had its fun and humorous moments, and it was a kick to see former Season 15 contestants Carrie Baird, Chris Scott, and Bruce Kalman come back to help out. In the end, Joe Flamm was the first chosen to move on to next week’s finale, followed by Adrienne Cheatham. Joe Sasto, AKA, Mustache Joe, was eliminated from the competition.

A tip of the chef hat to Mustache Joe. After seeming a bit controlling at first, he now comes across as big-hearted and funny. He’ll be in town next Wednesday for the sold-out Joe-Down Throw-Down Dinner with Joe Flamm at Spiaggia.

On March 25, the Millright’s restaurant in Simsbury, CT will host Adrieene Cheatham and Chris Scott for a five course meal and cocktails to benefit the Sarcoma Foundation Of America in honor former season 15 contestant Fatima Ali, who is battling cancer.


Monday, February 26, 2018

Nonstop Harrison Highlights

Facebook photo taken by Frank Corpus

I can still remember watching a fascinating interview humorist/radio personality Martin Lewis conducted with Patti Boyd a number of years ago at The Fest For Beatles Fans – Chicago about her marriage to George Harrison. Boyd was particularly compelling while recalling how frustrated Harrison felt when Paul McCartney and John Lennon would reject one of his songs. That story came to mind while I was at the George Harrison Birthday Tribute Concert at Martyrs’ this past Saturday night. The local musicians who brought his material to life—from hits like “Something” and “Here Comes The Sun” to an obscure instrumental from the Wonderwall soundtrack—provided conclusive evidence that Harrison was a gifted composer and interpreter of other’s material.

The evening started with an exotic pre-show set by The Sandalwood Sitar Ensemble, and included a charity raffle to benefit Famous Fido Pet Rescue. Ellis Clark, whose extensive presence on the Chicago music scene includes his current band The Big Parade, as well as Epicycle, The Social Act, and The Handcuffs, once again served as MC, along with Amazing Heeby Jeebies lead vocalist Ary Paloma Jeebie. Just like their first George bash, staged in 2017, they performed together backed by members of their bands, and also introduced the other acts on the bill.

This year’s version may have been even better than last year’s, and I say that despite having not been able to stay late enough to catch Tomorrow The Moon and The Unswept, two acts I definitely wanted to see. Singer-guitarist Phil Angotti, introduced by Clark as, “The number one Beatles expert in the midwest,” offered faithful renditions of “Old Brown Shoe,” “Apple Scruffs,” and the solo deep track “Run Of The Mill.” He, Clark and Ary Paloma Jeebie, were the nucleus of a house band that supported several acts.

The easy-going atmosphere allowed for some one- or two-song sets, such as when singer Frankie B. spun “Happy Just To Dance With You” into a seductive bossa nova; and singer-acoustic guitarist Scott Williams dug into All Things Must Pass for Bob Dylan’s “If Not For You” and the Dylan/Harrison penned “I’d Have You Anyway.” The single-named singer Phoenix, daughter of Ary Paloma Jeebie, also went the deep album track route by joining Clark, Angotti, and others for a heartfelt “Long, Long, Long” from The White Album. Chicago psych rock veteran Constantine came onboard to lend his charismatic vocals to “If I Needed Someone.”

Throughout the night, the George Harrison Birthday Tribute Concert sprung one pleasant surprise after another. The Handcuffs, led by vocalist-guitarist Chloe F. Orwell and drummer Brad Elvis, enlisted a horn section and vocalist Rachel Drew to help blast through a five-song set that included “Got My Mind Set On You” and “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” Backed by the house band, rhythm and blues vocalist Gerald McClendan sang a transcendent “My Sweet Lord” that also featured Ary Paloma Jeebie, Phoenix, and Frankie B. on backup vocals. And there was still more. EXPO ’76 keyboards player Kenn Goodman joined in on “Handle Me With Care” and “Dark Horse,” and saxophonist Mars Williams from The Psychedelic Furs augmented “Isn’t It A Pity” and “You.”

At one point, Ary Paloma Jeebie declared she felt George Harrison’s spirit in the room. If he was, he must have been happy to see how much everyone there loved his music.

Related Posts with Thumbnails