Friday, December 7, 2018


The Handcuffs, Mike Skill and ’67 Riot, and Mike Coy will join forces for an impressive triple bill tomorrow night at Montrose Saloon. Skill is a longtime member of The Romantics, and Brad Elvis plays drums with The Handcuffs and The Romantics. Coy will being doing an acoustic set. The music starts at 9:00 p.m.

Big Brother’s Vinyl, a guitar-driven band that covers classic rock hits, as well as deep album cuts, returns to the Arlington Ale House tomorrow night.

Alt rock band whitewolfsonicprincess has its third album coming out soon, and will be hosting its annual Rock For Tots event tomorrow night at The Store on Chicago’s north side. They’ll be joined be Telepaths; The Dark Room Men; The Rut (a musical offshoot of the Famous In The Future comedy group); the five-woman David Bowie tribute band Lady Stardust; acoustic duo Parallelicopter; Ex Maquina; the power trio Portmantowzone; and comedian Trevor Gertonson. The show kicks off at 7:30 p.m.; The Store is located at 2002 N. Halsted.

Cheap Kiss Records is having a warehouse sale featuring lots of cool vinyl tomorrow from 9:00 a.m to 1:00 p.m at 604 Albion Avenue in Schaumburg, IL. The store’s Facebook post shows albums by U2, R.E.M., Elvis Costello, Cheap Trick, and The Cars.

Congratulations to The Art Institute Of Chicago on its 125th Anniversary. The museum will celebrate  will special events tomorrow.

Several musicians around the world have posted tributes to Pete Shelley of The Buzzcocks, who passed away recently from what is believed to be a heart attack. Fans have also been posting links to YouTube videos of their favorite Buzzcocks songs on Facebook. The band was known for combining the power of punk with irresistible melodies.

The Irish Heritage Center on Chicago’s northwest side will present Paddy Homan and The Noble Call Irish Christmas show this Sunday at 5:00 p.m. Vocalist/recording artist Homan is adept at festive as well as heartfelt songs, and The Noble Call is a quartet that features traditional Celtic instruments. Both acts will also have dancers on stage.

Tickets went on sale today for Neko Case at The Vic Theatre on on April 26 and 27; and Jenny Lewis at the Riviera Theatre on March 30. Lewis has a new album coming out around that time.

Other shows now on sale include Queen and Adam Lambert at the United Center on August 9; Elton John at the Allstate Arena on February 15; Wanda Jackson at SPACE on March 14; Marshall Crenshaw and The Bottle Rockets (two shows) at Old Town School Of Folk Music on April 6; Terry Reid at SPACE on April 25; Snow Patrol at the Riviera Theatre on May 7; and Old 97’s at Thalia Hall on March 28.

Tom Lanham’s cover story on The Old 97’s in the December issue of the Illinois Entertainer mentions that lead vocalist Rhett Butler has what Lanham describes as an “Edward Gorey-grim” book of children’s poetry called No More Poems! coming out in March. “I even scored the biggest illustrator in the business,” Miller states, “this guy who’s a Caldecott winner winner.” We sometimes have guest authors at the monthly writers group I belong to, so maybe our people could call his people.

By the way, “Rudolph Was Blue” from The Old 97’s Love The Holidays album is one of the most fun rock holiday songs to be released this year.

Van Morrison has shows coming up at the Chicago Theatre on April 24 and 25. His new album The Prophet Speaks just came out today.

The first U.S. tour by The Chills since 1996 will include a stop at The Empty Bottle in Chicago on February 27. Other dates include Brooklyn, Washington, D.C., Minneapolis, and Los Angeles. The New Zealand band found worldwide success with “Heavenly Pop Hit” back in the 1980s, but with Martin Phillipps at the helm, continues to record engaging albums like the recently released Snow Bound and their politically charged 2016 effort Silver Bullets.

M-U-S-T-S-E-E. Women Of Soul: With A Tribute To Aretha Franklin is currently running at the Black Ensemble Theatre on Chicago’s north side. BET his well know for its authentic tribute shows to soul and rhythm and blues artists. Women Of Soul runs through January 13.

Just over a year ago, when my wife Pam and I were visiting Manhattan, I bought a Bruce Springsteen On Broadway shot glass at the Hard Rock CafĂ© store. I asked the clerk if Bruce himself had ever browsed the souvenirs from his show, and she joked, “If he did, people would have heard me scream for miles around.” She’ll likely be among the multitude of fans buying the Springsteen on Broadway soundtrack when it’s released next Friday. The show Springsteen On Broadway ends its run on December 15.

The 20th Annual Animation Show Of Shows comes to the Gene Siskel Film for a two-week run starting on December 14.

Congratulations to my nephew Joe Flamm, winner of the Season 15 Top Chef competition on the Bravo Channel, and his wife Hillary Delich on the birth of their son Luka.


Monday, December 3, 2018

The Bookends - Far Away But Around

Bassist Sharon Lee and guitarist Karen Lynn leave no doubt as to which decade serves as the main inspiration for the 12 catchy songs on their new Far Away But Around album. Performing under the name The Bookends, they’re able to recreate various shades of 1960s rock through authentic instrumentation and their dual vocals approach. For the most part, they deal in girl-meets-boy, boy-is-impossible-to-figure-out relationships.

On “What I Wouldn’t Do” and “Mean What You Say,” guitar-driven garage rock arrangements underscore the message that some guy is about to get kicked to the curb. “Let It Go,” which features instrumentation inspired by the earliest days of The Who, also deals with a two-faced boyfriend. The songs are fun but might have worked even better with a rougher edge to the vocals.

“It Takes Two” sounds like how The Go-Go’s and The Bangles have interpreted the 1960s, as a woman passes a word of caution on to her ex-boyfriend’s new flame. “The Rooftop” is a romantic celebration that evokes a packed dance floor at a sock hop. A good boyfriend also surfaces on the peppy “Morning Sky,” which proves The Bookends are also adept at more current sounding indie rock.


Friday, November 30, 2018


Comic artist Heather McAdams is once again hosting a bash with various local musicians covering the famous rock and roll acts that will be featured via her drawings in an upcoming calendar. She and Chris Ligon will be at FitzGerald’s in Berwyn tomorrow night, along with The Flat Five (The Association); Jodee Lewis (Bill Monroe); Phil Angotti (The Dave Clark Five); Robbie Fulks (George Jones); Joshlyn Lomax (Sarah Vaughan); The Jim Becker Group (The Grateful Dead); Dave Drazin (Jess Stacy) Matt Miller (Richie Havens); and others. There will also be a merchandise table with CDs, postcards and calendfars. Doors open at 7:00 p.m., admission is $20.00.

The Rolling Stones have added another Chicago date to their 2019 No Filter U.S. tour. In addition to June 21, they’ll also be at Soldier Field on June 25. Maybe that gives them five days to spend in town. I just hope they know that Broken Hearted Toy is the best way for famous British musicians to find out what’s happening on the Chicago club scene. Tickets for both concerts went on sale this morning.

Colin Blunstone, lead vocalist and founding member of The Zombies, has a tour of America’s East Coast coming up next year. Dates include Pawling, NY; Philadelphia; Portland, MN; Boston; Washington, D.C.; and New York.

The Dyes; Baby Money and Down Payments; and Willow Canyon will take turns rocking the stage at Montrose Saloon tomorrow night. August Forte will be spinning rock, punk. garage, and surf records. The show starts at 9:00 p.m.

The Waco Brothers will be at the new Hey Nonny club in Arlington Heights tomorrow night.

If you’re an avid follower of the Chicago rock scene, you’ve probably heard the concerns being raised about how the proposed $6 billion Lincoln Yards project might affect clubs like The Hideout that are located in that area. Long-time rock critic Greg Kot recently raised the issue in the Chicago Tribune, and other venues, like Beat Kitchen and Subterranean have joined forces with The Hideout as The Chicago Independent Venues League. Representatives from Lincoln Yards developer Sterling Bay met with music venue owners and people from the community to discuss the project at a meeting last night hosted by Alderman Brian Hopkins. Chicago Sun-Times reporter Rachel Hinton has a story about that meeting in today’s issue.

Jeff Tweedy the frontman for Wilco, now has a new a solo album—titled WARM—to go with his new memoir Let’s Go (So We Can Get Back). The album was released today.

Bryan Ferry’s latest album, Bitter-Sweet, also came out today.

Chicago alt rock band whitewolfsonicprincess is planning to have its third album, The Alternate Boot, out in time for the holiday shopping season. Their last two efforts were favorably reviewed here on Broken Hearted Toy. The band will be hosting its annual Rock For Tots event on December 8 at The Store on Chicago’s north side. They’ll be joined be Dark Room Men; The Rut (a musical offshoot of the Famous In The Future comedy group); Lady Stardust; Parallelicopter; Ex Maquina; @Portman-towzone; and comedian Trevor Gertonson.

The 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) at Metro on January 12. A portion of the proceeds will benefit cancer patients at NorthShore University HealthSystems’s Integrative Medicine Program.

The 3 X 4 double LP I picked up at the downtown Reckless Records on Black Friday Record Store Day sounds like it’s going to be one of my favorite albums of 2018.  It features original Paisley Underground members The Bangles, Dream Syndicate, The Rain Parade, and The Three O’Clock covering each other’s songs. Hopefully, I’ll be posting a review in the near future.


Wednesday, November 28, 2018


Tickets for The Rolling Stones’ June 21 2019 concert at Soldier Field go on sale this Friday morning. The band had been teasing fans about its U.S. Unfiltered Tour with a short video on social media, but a new, longer version offers a montage of live performance footage and fun graphics. I still have fond memories of attending the band’s Exhibitionism exhibit at Navy Pier a few years back.

The Zombies’ lead vocalist Colin Blunstone, another member of Brit rock royalty, has announced an East Coast tour of the U.S. starting in Pawling, NY on January 31. Other stops include Philadelphia; Portland, MN; Boston; Washington, D.C.; and New York. I saw Blunstone at City Winery Chicago a few years back and it was a superb show. Also, don’t forget to cast a vote for The Zombies to be included in the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame 2019 Inductees.

Montrose Saloon on Chicago’s north side will be packed with music this Saturday night with The Dyes; Baby Money and Down Payments; and Willow Canyon scheduled to perform. Plus, August Forte will be spinning records, with an emphasis on rock, punk. garage, and surf. The show starts at 9:00 p.m.

The Imperial Sound has a gig coming up at Hey Nonny in Arlington Heights on January 26. So far, this new club has been doing an impressive job of moving beyond the suburban blueprint of booking the same handful of cover bands by bringing in acts that play original songs. The Waco Brothers will be there this Saturday, December 1 and upcoming gigs include jazz, folk, soul, bluegrass, classical, and blues acts.

Finally, Happy Birthday to Karen Gillan—Amy Pond of Doctor Who, Nebula of Guardians Of The Galaxy, and writer, director and star of the indie film The Party’s Just Beginning.


Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Johnny Marr - Call The Comet

For someone who’s performed so well within groups (The Smiths, Modest Mouse, The Cribs, etc.), Johnny Marr might be even more impressive when he records as a solo artist. On his first two efforts, The Messenger (2013) and Playland (2014), Marr combined his signature guitar strumming with irresistible synth arrangements. It took him four years to record another, but on the recently released Call The Comet, Marr once again breathes new life into a distinctively 1980s format.

On Call The Comet, he sets imaginative and often cryptic lyrics to atmospheric rock to evoke sci-fi film noir. “It’s the dawn of the dogs,” Marr warns on the opening track “Rise,” and adds “They hound they howl/They never let up.” An ominous message likewise lurks within the percolating synth rhythms of “New Dominions,” while the funky “Bug” depicts a widespread virus that leaves the population “sick and shaking.”

“Hi Hello,” which sounds a bit like Patti Smith’s “Dancing Barefoot,” offers a consoling message to someone who feels overcome and lost. The shimmering “Spiral Cities” describes an urban landscape that includes vertical streets, and “Tracers” urges us to “Make your way to the edge of the world.” “My Eternal” deals with confusion and possibly, a disdain for religious beliefs, but it moves with such exhilarating high speed, it’s impossible not to enjoy the ride.


Thursday, November 22, 2018

Rock And Roll Holiday Gift Guide

First of all, Happy Thanksgiving to all the readers of this blog. Even if you’re not located in the U.S., it’s never a bad idea to take a few moments to consider the things you’re grateful for.

It’s also that time of year when indie newspapers and major publications offer holiday gift guides for their readers. Their choices are usually aimed at those with special interests or hobbies. It’s a great way to discover items you won’t encounter in your local department store. With that goal in mind, here’s the somewhat annual (I’ve missed a few years) Broken Hearted Toy Rock And Roll Gift Guide.

For the vinyl lovers in your life, choose from the limited-edition releases coming to record stores tomorrow only for Black Friday Record Store Day. It’s not as massive as the April version, but there are lots of choices in every imaginable genre. Keep in mind, the earlier you get there, the better the selection.

The Beatles’ White album is now available in various 50th Anniversary editions that include previously unreleased tracks and other bonus stuff, depending on how much you want to spend.

The Rolling Stones put together a collection of vintage songs by their favorite blues artists, titled Confessin The Blues. It’s available as a two-CD set; a Volume 1 and Volume 2 LP set, or a special 5x 10 vinyl bookpack + six art card prints. Stones guitarist Ron Wood created the art for the cover.

And don’t forget to support your local bands. If you’ve seen one you really like in a club, chances are they have stuff you can download or order on their website.

You can treat the comedy fans on your list to tickets to the Saturday Night Live: The Experience exhibit at the Chicago Museum of Broadcast Communications on State Street. Walking through the costumes, artifacts, and reconstructed sets kept me smiling, and occasionally laughing out loud. It runs through December 31.

The Stern Pinball company plans to market a new pinball machine based on the early days of Beatlemania. According to an article by Ryan Smith in the Chicago Sun-Times, there will be 1,964 machines in the line, including a 100-run Diamond Edition that could rake in mega dollars from ultimate pinball machine fanatics.

Rock and roll books are always a great choice, and since they’re often visually oriented, you’ll want to give the real thing and not a Kindle version. Here are a few recommendations;

Artist/writer Bill Morrison of Mad Magazine fame has crafted a fun graphic novel treatment of The Beatles’ animated movie Yellow Submarine. It’s published by Titan Comics.

Unstrung Heroes: Fifty Guitar Greats You Should Know by author Pete Braidis casts a spotlight on musicians who aren’t as well known as Eric Clapton or Jimi Hendrix but are still noteworthy. Profiles include Pat Travers, Steve Hackett, Tony Hicks, Martin Barre, Bruce Cockburn, and Richie Furay.

Classic Rock Photographs From Yesterday And Today combines Jim Summaria’s photographs with Mark Plotnick’s copy. According to Amazon, the book compares famous artists in their prime to how they’re performing now.

It Must Be Art: Big O Poster Artists of the 1960s and 70s finds authors Michael Fishel and Nigel Suckling honoring the gig posters created by the Big O Posters company in swinging London. As you can tell by the cover, this is some eye-popping work.

Monty Python member and Spamalot co-creator Eric Idle has a new book out titled Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life – A Sortabiography. Guaranteed to break the ice at naughty parties. Nudge, nudge, know what I mean?

Also, be sure to check out the Facebook pages and websites of your favorite artists for exclusive music, apparel, and other items. Record label websites like Bloodshot, Yep Roc, and Fruits de Mer are always worth shopping, and The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame website has lots of inductee and exhibit memorabilia. Pledge Music, Go Fund Me, and other crowd funding sites are a good way to support your favorite artists and pick up autographed items. And you never know what rare treasures you’ll discover on eBay.


Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Thanksgiving Weekend Stuff

We’ve arrived at the most appreciated Wednesday night in America; the gateway to a four-day weekend anchored by Thanksgiving. Here are a few suggestions on how to spend some of that extra leisure time.

Depending on when you see this, there might still be time to catch The Safes hosting their 15th Annual Black Wednesday Show at Schubas on Chicago’s north side. The Safes, whose albums have garnered praise here on Broken Hearted Toy, will be joined by The Differents, Baby Money, The Down Payments, and The Marcatos. You could also pick up a copy of The Safes’ new Juliana Hatfield tribute seven-inch single.

Chicago musicians Ellis Clark (Epicycle, The Social Act, The Handcuffs) and Ary Jeebie (The Amazing Heeby Jeebies) will host a Black Friday bash this Friday from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. at the Val’s Record Store in Oak Park. Acts scheduled to perform include psychedelic rockers Constantine; vocalist Phoenix; Big Hair Trouble (a Clark/Jeebie side project); Country Doctors; and Black Friars Club.

Chicago TARDIS takes place this Friday through Sunday at the Westin Lombard Yorktown Center. Billed as “The Midwest’s Largest Doctor Who Event,” it will feature Pearl Mackie, who did a fantastic job as The Doctor’s companion Bill Potts; Tony Curran, who portrayed Vincent Van Gogh on an episode; Nicholas Briggs, the voice of the Daleks, Cybermen, and Ice Warriors; and other celebrity guests. Note: according to the Chicago TARDIS website, actress Jenna Coleman, who played Clara Oswald, has had to cancel her appearance due to filming obligations.

Dave Drazin, a founding member of the Famous In The Future comedy group along with Lake Sirmon, Frank Carr, and myself, will be providing piano accompaniment for Buster Keaton’s 1927 classic silent film The General this Saturday at the Gene Siskel Film Center downtown. He does this sort of thing on a regular basis and is quite good at it.

Sunshine Boys, the recently formed trio of music scene vets Dag Juhlin, Freda Love Jones, and Jacqueline Schimmel, have a vinyl release show this Saturday night at Montrose Saloon on Chicago’s north side. Their debut album Blue Music, stands as one of the year’s best releases. Gerald Dowd is also on the bill.

Damn right, I’ve got the drumstick. Sopro Music’s 36th Annual Thanksgiving Blues Revue Concert Event takes place this Saturday night at the Cheers live music venue/restaurant in Midlothian. Sopro,  an independent music promoter with decades of booking experience in the Chicago area, has once again assembled an impressive list of blues and jazz musicians. Critically acclaimed trombone/saxophone quartet The Chicago Horns will headline, and other guests include guitarist-vocalist Joey Drada; vocalist Deb Seitz; bassist John Falstrom; guitarist vocalist Billy King; drummer Grant Niebergall; and guitarist-vocalist Chainsaw Dupont. Showtime is 9:00 p.m., and there will be prize giveaways in addition to the blues.

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