Monday, July 16, 2018

Three Hour Tour - You Never Know

Three Hour Tour’s latest release finds the Champaign, IL band once again cruising through guitar-based power pop songs. Lead vocalist/lead guitarist/bassist Darren Cooper is joined by rhythm guitarist/backup vocalist Kent Whitesell, and drummer Brad Elvis, along with guest appearances from drummers Terry Wathen and John L. Richardson. Adam Schmitt, who mastered the album, plays keyboards on one of the tracks.

Cooper wrote (or co-wrote with Ken Glosser) all the material on You Never Know, and he definitely favors mid-tempo arrangements. There isn’t a wide range of approaches, but Cooper is consistently on the mark with fetching melodies and well-crafted lyrics on songs like “Birds Of Clay” and “Theodore’s Last Call.” On a number of tracks, he seems to be drawing inspiration from power pop master Matthew Sweet.

“Fallen Angel” is a romantic and imaginative tale about a heavenly creature who veers too close to earth, and is forced to live among mortal men entranced by her beauty. On the fun and engaging title track, Cooper channels his best David Bowie baritone to describe the career of a rock and roll superstar, and leads the band through an impressive instrumental coda. The energetic “Standing Still” is another highlight.

Cooper also likes to throw the occasional curveball; such as “Ballad Of Buddy Rich.” It’s a funny look at what life on the road might be like with the legendary jazz drummer. “Pascal The Hypnotist” is a spirited instrumental that features Cooper, Whitesell, and Brad Elvis really cutting loose. As enjoyable as You Never Know is, a few more tracks with that high level of energy would have made it even better.

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Friday, July 13, 2018

Slumgullion

Music Box Theatre, located at 3733 N. Southport, will be screening the 50th Anniversary edition of Yellow Submarine at 2:00 p.m. this Sunday. A recent article by Randy Lewis in the Los Angeles Times (also carried in the Chicago Tribune) notes that the animated film based on The Beatles song has undergone a 4K restoration with new mixes for all of the songs. The August issue of British magazine MOJO—with a dapper looking David Bowie on the cover—has a six-page feature on Yellow Submarine.

That same issue of MOJO has a four-star review of Graham Nash’s new Over The Years double CD of demos and alternative versions, as well as a review of The Rolling Stones at The London Stadium.

If you catch Yellow Submarine at the Music Box on Sunday, you can also take in the Southport Art Festival at Southport at Waveland Avenue. It runs tomorrow and Sunday and will offer art, photography, sculpture, jewelry and mixed media.

The Square Roots Festival is happening in Lincoln Square this weekend. Matthew Sweet and The Dream Syndicate are the main acts tonight; The Jayhawks, The Handsome Family, Bombino, and Gato Pero headline tomorrow; and Pokey Lafarge and Tossers are Sunday’s headliners. The off-kilter but charming singer-songwriter Dawn Landes will perform tomorrow, and other acts include Les Rodailleurs, and the Alma Afrobeat Ensemble.

Tickets went on sale today for Jonathan Richman at Thalia Hall on October 27; Local H at Lincoln Hall on November 18; Marcia Ball at SPACE on August 23; The Sadies at Hideout on August 6; and Todd Snider at SPACE on November 7.

WLS-AM radio host Steve Dahl is holding a Garage Sale tomorrow at the Rivers Casino in Des Plaines that will benefit Beds Plus, a charity organization dedicated to helping homeless people.
He’ll be selling vintage vinyl, CDs, artwork, sports memorabilia, old studio equipment, and assorted personal belongings. EXPO ’76 will be performing an eclectic selection of cover songs from noon to 2:00 p.m., and there will be food trucks on hand. The garage sale runs from 10:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. in the casino’s north lot. Admission is free but you have to be 21 or older to attend.

The 8th Annual 5K Run To End Homelessness kicks off at 8:30 a.m. tomorrow at Montrose Harbor, and the fastest 50 overall runners will win two 3-day passes to Riot Fest.

Alt rock band whitewolfsonicprincess will be at Moe’s Tavern tomorrow night at 8:30 p.m. Boundary Waters and Waterplanet are also on the bill. Next Saturday, whitewolfsonicprincess will perform at The Store with The Darkroom Men and Flapunco.

Robert Cray has a gig coming up at the North Shore Center For The Performing Arts in Skokie on July 21, and Chris Isaak rock that same venue on August 12.

Congratulations to Loyola University Chicago on coming in at Number 5 on College magazine’s Top 10 most eco-friendly colleges in America. According to a Sun-Times article by Alice Bazerghi, the top spot went to Colby College. It’s located in Maine, and held its first Green Graduation ceremony this year.

Urgh! A Music War, the 1981 documentary that features performances from The Go-Go’s, X, Echo And The Bunnymen, UB40, Devo, 999, Gary Numan, Devo, Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark, and several other punk and new wave bands, will be screened at the Music Box this Monday July 16. Admission is $10.

Power pop fans who show up at FitzGerald’s in Berwyn next Saturday, July 21 will witness a transformation as Cliff Johnson and The Raine open the evening, and Johnson and the original members of Off Broadway close it. The Raine (John D. Kolonel, Dave Sebastian, Bill Bickel, and Bill Kowalski) have done a great job of backing Johnson as he performs Off Broadway tunes, but it’s also a safe bet that longtime fans will love to see the original Off Broadway back on stage again.

Foo Fighters have sold out their Concrete and Gold Tour date with The Struts and Melkbelly at Wrigley Field on July 29, and added a show with The Breeders and Touched By A Ghoul at the Cubs park on July 30.

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Tuesday, July 10, 2018

It Came From Steve Dahl’s Garage

Like a lot of us who’ve accumulated rock and roll memorabilia, WLS-AM radio host Steve Dahl is looking to get rid of some stuff. What sets Dahl apart is that his immense popularity stretches back beyond the earliest days of juggernaut hard rock station The Loop, and he’s had access to all sorts of promo material. He’s interviewed famous rock musicians and performed parodies with his own group. Plus, as noted in a recent Chicago Tribune article by Jennifer Johnson, money from the sales at his Garage Sale this Saturday at the Rivers Casino in Des Plaines will benefit Beds Plus, a charity organization dedicated to helping homeless people.

Dahl explained to Johnson that he’ll be selling vintage vinyl, CDs, artwork, sports memorabilia, old studio equipment, and “some personal items.” Back in 1983, I heard from friends that Dahl did a phone interview with The Hollies in advance of their reunion tour (Graham Nash was even involved) performance at ChicagoFest. The possibility that he might be selling items from that tour brings back memories of when I was a kid and WLS—a Top 40 station in those days—was giving away Christmas cards from rock stars. They had one from The Hollies but I wasn’t the lucky caller who snagged it. Even with no Hollies items involved, it should be fascinating to discover what Dahl has to offer.

Another incentive is that musician Dag Juhlin, who’s a regular on Dahl’s current afternoon show, will be performing from noon to 2:00 p.m. with his extremely entertaining covers band EXPO ’76. Juhlin’s extensive resume also includes Poi Dog Pondering, The Slugs, and the recently formed Sunshine Boys. The garage sale runs from 10:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. in the Rivers Casino’s north lot at 3000 S. River Road. Admission is free but you have to be older than 21 to attend.

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Friday, July 6, 2018

Slumgullion

There’s a power pop explosion coming up at FitzGerald’s in Berwyn on July 21 when Cliff Johnson and The Raine open the evening, and Johnson and the original members of Off Broadway close it. The Raine (John D. Kolonel, Dave Sebastian, Bill Bickel, and Bill Kowalski) have done a great job over the past few years of backing Johnson as he performs Off Broadway tunes, but it’s also a safe bet that longtime fans will love to see the original Off Broadway back on stage again. I’m hoping to have more on this as the gig gets closer.

WESTfest kicked off today at 5:00 p.m. and will continue tomorrow from noon to 10:00 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 10:00 p.m. Presented by the popular and critically acclaimed Empty Bottle venue, the festival will offer over 30 live acts and DJs at Chicago Avenue and Damen.

The Millennium Art Festival at Lake and Michigan Avenue also started today, and will be back tomorrow and Sunday.

Congratulations to Pilsen on being chosen by Forbes as one of the world’s “coolest neighborhoods.” As reported by Katherine Rosenberg-Douglas in this past Tuesday’s Chicago Tribune, the Forbes travel writers praised the Chicago neighborhood for its, “hip galleries and walls decorated with colorful murals.” Rock fans have grown more familiar with Pilsen in recent years due to the emergence of Thalia Hall as a popular venue for indie rock shows.

The July issue of UK magazine MOJO, with the cover story The 50 Greatest Songs Of Pink Floyd cover story, also has a short interview with Chicago-based Liz Phair about her favorite records and musicians. Phair’s Girly-Sound To Guyville: The 25th Anniversary Box Set was recently released. MOJO also has a longer piece on former Doctor Who star Christopher Eccleston about his favorite releases. Oh, and the number one song on MOJO’s Pink Floyd list? “Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Part I – V).”

Last Saturday night’s birthday bash for local musicians Ellis Clark, Ary Paloma Jeebie, and Chloe F. Orwell at Montrose Saloon underscored the venue’s emergence as a viable new showcase for Chicago area bands. A number of musicians were on hand to join in the fun and watch performances by The Frantastic Sound System, The Handcuffs, and Ellis Clark’s Big Parade. Upcoming shows at Montrose Saloon include Futuristic Drago playing the music of T Rex tomorrow night, The Amazing Heebie Jeebies (fronted by Ary Paloma Jeebie) and The Dyes on July 14, and The Bon Mots and Mike Coy and Friends on July 28.

Songs from the beginning. I was excited when I read about Graham Nash’s Over The Years two-CD compilation on social media and The Second Disc website, and now that I’ve had a chance to listen to the album, it totally fulfills my expectations. Over The Years offers a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at some of his best-known songs via previously unreleased demos and alternate versions. I’m planning to post a full review in the near future. Nash will be spending the last week in July performing in England.

The Square Roots Festival being held in Lincoln Square next weekend will offer an eclectic and guaranteed entertaining selection of acts throughout its run. Matthew Sweet and The Dream Syndicate are the headliners for Friday night; The Jayhawks, The Handsome Family, Bombino, and Gato Pero headline Saturday; and Pokey Lafarge and Tossers headline on Sunday. The off-kilter but always charming singer-songwriter Dawn Landes will perform on Saturday, and other acts include Les Rodailleurs, and the Alma Afrobeat Ensemble.

Urgh! A Music War, the 1981 documentary that features performances from The Go-Go’s, X, Echo And The Bunnymen, UB40, Devo, 999, Gary Numan, Devo, Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark, and several other punk and new wave bands, will be screened at the Music Box on July 16. Admission is $10.

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Thursday, July 5, 2018

Incoming

Graphic from The Sons Of The Silent Age Facebook page.

Glam and swagger. Chicago area fans of classic British rock can get a double dose at Martyrs’ on Lincoln Avenue this weekend. The Sons Of The Silent Age will be covering the music of David Bowie on Friday, and Great Moments In Vinyl will perform The Rolling Stones’ Hot Rocks 1964-1971 greatest hits album in its entirety on Saturday. Made up of well-known Chicago area musicians, The Sons Of The Silent Age have notched high-profile gigs at Daley Plaza, when the David Bowie Is exhibition opened at the Museum Of Contemporary Art, and at Taste Of Chicago as Billy Idol’s opening act. They’ve got plenty of firepower to bring Bowie’s eclectic catalog to life. Great Moments In Vinyl is a collective of area musicians who’ve built a strong reputation by performing classic albums in their entirety on the club scene.

Tomorrow night’s English Beat concert at Metro is sure to bring back fond memories for long-time ska fans in the Chicago area. Particularly with Chicago’s own Heavy Manners as the opening act. Both bands started out around the same time; in the midst of a ska revival in England that quickly spread to the States. According to Wikipedia, Heavy Manners opened for The English Beat (as well as The Clash) back in those days. People in attendance tomorrow night can expect English Beat classics like “Save It For Later,” “Ranking Full Stop” and “I Confess,” as well Heavy Manners gems like “Taking The Queen To Tea” and “Hometown Ska.” DJ Chuck Wren is also on the bill.

It’s not the biggest or best known among Chicago’s summertime art fairs, but the Millennium Art Festival at Lake and Michigan Avenue always has an impressive selection of painting, photography and sculptures, and it’s right in the heart of downtown. The festival runs from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Friday; 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Saturday, and 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Sunday.

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Tuesday, July 3, 2018

The Sick Rose - Someplace Better

The Sick Rose is based in Torino, Italy, but guitarist-backup vocalist Georgio Cappellaro spent the better part of the 1990s in Chicago and performed with a band here called The Drapes. Before returning to Italy, he must have packed his suitcases with loads of Midwestern power pop know-how. While it’s unclear whether the band’s name comes from William Blake’s 1794 poem, The Sick Rose’s recently released seventh album Someplace Better could serve as a blueprint for how to best use the power pop genre.

Produced by Ken Stringfellow of The Posies, the material concentrates on romantic relationships and features Luca Re’s powerful singing and the band’s spirited backing vocals set to catchy arrangements. “How To Be Your Friend” and “Childhood Dreams” are guitar-driven tracks that evoke the earliest power pop bands like The Records and The Raspberries. On “Blame It On Me,” The Sick Rose crafts an achingly beautiful melody without sacrificing a bit of energy.

“Nobody” is pure 1960s-fueled entertainment; mixing garage rock with a hint of soul in a high-speed swirl of guitars and keyboards. It’s easy to imagine it being performed on a show like Shindig or Hullaballoo, with a bevy of dancers around the band. “Fortune And Fame” and “Frustrated” likewise explore garage rock territory with fun results, while the title track is peppy instrumental that sounds like it could be a TV theme song.

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Friday, June 29, 2018

Slumgullion

Montrose Saloon on Chicago’s north side will be the perfect place tomorrow night to enjoy high energy rock and wish some local musicians a happy birthday. Initially, the bash was planned for singer-guitarist Ellis Clark, but it’s been extended to include Ary Paloma Jeebie and Chloe F. Orwell. Clark currently leads the group Big Parade, and his storied past includes being part of Epicycle—one of Chicago’s first punk bands—founding Social Act, and being a member of The Handcuffs. Ary Paloma Jeebie is the front person for The Amazing Heebie Jeebies garage rock/rockabilly band; and Chloe F. Orwell is the lead vocalist-guitarist for indie rockers The Handcuffs. Facebook posts have hinted at a Ary-Chloe duet, and it’s likely guest musicians will be involved. The Frantastic Sound System will kick off the evening at 9:00 p.m. The Montrose Saloon is located at 2933 W. Montrose Avenue, admission is a mere $5.

Singer-guitarist Phil Angotti also recently had a birthday, but he and Casey McDonough will be performing a show at Reclaimed Bar tomorrow night.

Chicago’s long-running ska band Heavy Manners and DJ Chuck Wren will be the opening acts when The English Beat plays at Metro next Friday, July 6.

I was happy to see an email from Amazon today stating my copy of Graham Nash’s two-CD set of demos Over The Years has shipped and will land on my porch this coming Tuesday. It features demos of classic Nash solo and and CSNY material like “Immigration Man,” “Teach Your Children,” “Wind On The Water,” “I Used To Be A King,” and “Chicago/We Can Change The World.” The oldest demo is a version of “Marrakesh Express” The Hollies rejected when Nash pitched it to them in 1968.

YippieFest, the love child of the once-annual Abbie Hoffman Died For Our Sins Theatre Festival at Mary-Arrchie Theatre, will be back for a second round on the weekend of August 17 – 19 at Prop Thtr. Last year’s bash was organized by Famous In The Future comedy group founder Frank Carr, who picked up a few tips about how to run this sort of event while performing at every single Abbie Fest. He’s back at the helm this year. Any theatre groups, performance artists, or musicians interested in being part of Yippie Fest 2018 can contact the official website.

New albums came out today from Florence + The Machine (High As Hope) and Ray Davies (Our Country: Americana II).

Actress Karen Gillan has been having a splendid career since leaving Doctor Who, landing roles in Guardians Of The Galaxy, Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle, and Avengers: Infinity Wars, as well as directing the indie film Tupperware Party. She’s also among the women featured in the new Feminists Don’t Wear Pink (and other lies): Amazing Women On What The F Word Means To Them book curated by Scarlet Curtis. It’s now available on Amazon UK.

The Bangles had original bassist Annette Zilinskas on board when they performed last Sunday at the Arroyo Seco festival in Pasadena. Other acts on the bill included Neil Young, Jack White, and The Pretenders. Next up for The Bangles is the Pershing Square Downtown Stage summer concert on July 14 in Los Angeles. I’d love to see them do an outdoor gig in the Chicago area.

The Go-Go’s are also keeping busy on the west coast. They’re performing tonight at Humphreys Concerts By The Bay in San Diego and on Monday, July 2 at The Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles. Meanwhile, Head Over Heels, a play based on their music, is running on Broadway.

Fruits de Mer, the UK indie vinyl label, shared a post on Facebook promoting the very last gig by The Pretty Things. Although the band was never well known in the States, they been active in their native England for 55 years. The Final Bow takes place on December 13 in London at the O2 Arena, with special guests David Gilmour, Van Morrison, and Bill Nighy.

Let’s raise a toast to local artist Eddie Carr, who recently passed away. As noted in a Sun-Times article by Maureen O’Donnell, Carr was the genius behind the elaborate Christmas displays at Butch McGuire’s on Division Street for 30 years. He also enjoyed creating portraits of his favorite rock musicians, including Jimi Hendrix and Bob Marley.

Monty Python’s Spamalot continues its run at Mercury Theater in Chicago through August 5.

Amplified: Chicago Blues, an exhibition honoring Chicago’s blues heritage, is up and running at the Chicago History Museum through August 10, 2019. The exhibition will focus on Howlin Wolf, Little Brother Montgomery, Little Walter, Magic Sam, Big Joe Williams, Willie Dixon, Koko Taylor, and Muddy Waters. at on Clark Street. The Chicago History Museum is located at 1601 N. Clark Street. Admission is $19 for adults.

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