Monday, January 21, 2019

The Stan Laurels - Maybe

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

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

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

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Friday, January 18, 2019

Slumgullion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Friday, January 11, 2019

Slumgullion

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

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

The always impressive and entertaining David Bowie tribute act Sons Of The Silent Age will be joined by special guest, acclaimed actor Michael Shannon when it performs Bowie’s Scary Monsters (and Supercreeps) tomorrow night at Metro. A portion of the proceeds will benefit cancer patients at NorthShore University HealthSystems’s Integrative Medicine Program.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Thursday, January 10, 2019

Have Some Fun Tonight

Great Moments In Vinyl, a collective of Chicago area musicians that pays tribute to iconic albums, are performing Joni Mitchell’s Court And Spark tonight at Martyrs. Chicago radio personality Lindsey Cochran will host, and singer-songwriter Kara Cavanaugh will be the featured vocalist. Packy Lundholm, John Bowes, Debbie Kaczynski, and Aaron Weistrop will also be performing. The show starts at 8:00 p.m., Martyrs’ is located at 3855 N. Lincoln Avenue.

Four speakers from the restaurant/entertainment scene will be discussing rock albums at 7:00 p.m. tonight as Shannon Nico Shreibak, the Director of Publicity at the Metro venue, hosts Liner Notes - A Musical Storytelling at the GMan Tavern. Restaurant manager Christine Cikowski will talk about Bon Iver’s For Emma, Forever Ago; WXRT overnight DJ Emma Mac will offer her take on The Beatles’ Abbey Road; musician Nick Abel will discuss I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning by Bright Eyes; and restaurant executive/performer Andreas Tsironis will have some thoughts on Meteora by Linkin Park. Admission is free, and the event will also be available as a Liner Notes podcast. GMan Tavern is located at 3740 N. Clark Street.

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Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Paul McCartney - Egypt Station

Egypt Station, Paul McCartney’s first album since New came out in 2013, once again finds the iconic musician eager to embark on more adventures. It has 16 tracks, and would have been stronger without a few of them. Still, even if some of the slower tunes are nondescript, there’s a lot to admire about the work Sir Paul keeps sending our way.

The piano arrangements and vocal phrasing on “Hand In Hand” and “Do It Now” call to mind the vintage material of Kisses On The Bottom, but these two newer efforts fall short of being standards. “I Don’t Know” and “Happy With You” also find McCartney in a pensive mood, but their arrangements are more inventive and engaging. On the other end of the spectrum, he sounds like he’s having a blast amidst the offbeat sound effects and middle eastern rhythms of “Caesar Rock.”

“Come On To Me” figured prominently in that viral Carpool Karaoke clip McCartney did with James Corden, and it also has a lineage to his Beatles songs and some of his better solo hits. The anti-bullying rallying cry of “Who Cares” grooves to a funky beat that should connect with the kids who most need to hear its empowering message. “Back In The Brazil” sets a romantic tale to some infectious jazz; coming across as South American take on “Oh Bla Di Oh Bla Da.” McCartney throws some political punches on “Despite Repeated Warnings” and the clever format and heartfelt lyrics of “People Want Peace” would make John Lennon proud.

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Monday, January 7, 2019

Incoming

Tributosaurus continues its Signature Series at the Copernicus Center on Chicago’s northwest side on January 20 with One Hit Wonders of The 80s. The commercial for this event on WXRT features the song “Tainted Love” by Soft Cell, which is a good indication that this will be a fun show. Tributosaurus is one of Chicago’s best known tribute acts, and has been known to recruit several musicians in its quest to recreate the music of the act(s) their honoring.

What We Do In The Dark, the hilarious film that brought vampires and werewolves into the realm of mundane reality television, is coming to TV as a half-hour show on FX. Jermaine Clement and Taika Waititi are adapting their film, but according to a roundup TV shows in the Chicago Tribune, they are not performing in the small screen version.

The original lineup of Chicago power pop band Off Broadway will celebrate the 40th Anniversary of its still vital debut album On at Reggie’s Rock Club on February 23. Singer-guitarist Phil Angotti, another veteran of Chicago’s power pop elite and founding member of The Idea, will perform with his current band. The Evictions are also on the bill. Reggie’s Rock Club is located on State Street just south of downtown.

Congratulations to Alexis Gaw, Anonda Tyler, and Luna MacWilliams on having their plays chosen as winners of Pegasus Theatre’s 32nd Young Playwrights Festival. As noted by Web Behrens in the Chicago Tribune, Pegasus will give each winning entry a professional production that will be staged at Chicago Dramatists at 773 N. Aberdeen. The plays will run on weekends through January 27.

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

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Sunday, January 6, 2019

Eric Haydock Tribute

The Hollies back in the 1960s, with Eric Haydock crouching in front.

I’m sad to hear that bassist Eric Haydock, an original member of The Hollies, has passed away. Earlier today, the band posted the news on its official Facebook page and website. Haydock's rhythm section mate back in the 1960s and still current Hollies drummer Bobby Elliott composed a heartfelt tribute that praised Haydock’s expertise as a musician.

“In the early 1960s Eric was one of the finest bass players on the planet,” Elliott stated. “Although Eric left the Hollies in 1966, I occasionally listen enthralled by our BBC and Abbey Road recording sessions and dear Eric masterfully playing his six string bass.”

Haydock was playing that bass when the band first caught my attention with the effervescent hits “I Can’t Let Go” and “Bus Stop,” as well as on the Hear Here album I received as a Christmas present back in 1966. I’ve been an avid Hollies fan ever since. Haydock was sometimes described in fan magazines as the quiet or enigmatic member. He was replaced by Bernie Calvert in 1966.

I saw The Hollies perform live on three occasions, but not the lineup with Haydock. It would have been an essential part of their history to experience. When The Hollies were inducted into The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 2010, Haydock was invited to attend the ceremony, and joined Graham Nash, Allan Clarke, Terry Sylvester, and Bernie Calvert onstage to receive their awards. (Bobby Elliott and Tony Hicks were performing with the current version of The Hollies in London.) So, a toast to Eric Haydock and the role he played in making The Hollies an international success.

Here’s a clip of Haydock playing bass with The Hollies on one of their earliest hits “I’m Alive.”

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