Monday, October 22, 2018

In Tune With Montrose Saloon

Graphic from The Montrose Saloon Halloweekend Facebook page.

It comes as no surprise that this year’s Halloweekend is being staged at the Montrose Saloon. An annual event that features local bands covering famous recording artists, Halloweekend has always been a wandering spirit. It’s been staged at Martyrs’, The Abbey Pub, and even a recording studio in the River North neighborhood. Plus, Montrose Saloon has quickly established itself a hot new spot for some of Chicago’s best local bands.

This past Sunday, power pop band Frisbee and Eric Chial from The Bon Mots shared a double bill, and past shows have featured Decoy Prayer Meeting, Phil Angotti, The Handcuffs, The Amazing Heeby Jeebies, Lonesome Still, and Ellis Clark. Montrose Saloon also books a fair amount of roots rock acts. On Thursday, October 25, neo soul/jazz/rock/vintage supper club sextet The Imperial Sound will showcase songs from its critically acclaimed debut The New Am.

Halloweekend runs this coming Friday and Saturday, with a line up of Ellis Clark and Ary Jeebie as Alice Cooper; Phil Angotti as Chris Isaac; Rachel Drew as Blondie; Tiberius Strange as Boston; Hollow Men as The Cult; Androgynous Mustache as Kenny Loggins; Boudoir Heroes as Cream; Mammal as Zombie Buddy Holly; I Lost Control as Interpol; and Statutes of Liberty as MC5. There will also be a costume contest. The music starts at 9:00 p.m. each night, admission is $15.


Friday, October 19, 2018


He’s coming to Chicago again. Tickets are now available for Graham Nash at The Athenaeum Theatre on March 17, 2019. The event is a benefit for the Old Town School Of Folk Music’s music education programs. Nash released Over The Years, a double album retrospective earlier this year that included fascinating demo versions of some of his best songs.

Nash is currently part of The Lantern Tour, which has a stop at The Town Hall in New York on Sunday, October 28. Emmylou Harris, Jackson Browne, Shawn Colvin, and Lila Downs are also on the bill, along with other special guests. The concert will benefit the Women’s Refugee Commission, which advocates on behalf of migrant and refugee families.

The 54th Chicago International Film Festival wraps up this weekend at the AMC River East 21 at 332 East Illinois Street, just north of downtown.

The Party’s Just Beginning, the directorial debut from Guardians Of The Galaxy/Doctor Who star Karen Gillan will be shown at the Philadelphia Film Festival on October 26. She also wrote and starred in the film.

Gillan, her Doctor Who co-star Matt Smith, Chris Evans, Tom Hiddleston, Elizabeth Olsen, and Lee Pace were among the featured guests at the Ace Comic Con at Navy Pier in Chicago last weekend. I paid for autograph sessions with Gillan and Smith—both were as charming and friendly as a Doctor Who fanatic could want—and the whole process went smoothly. Hats off to Ace on their well-run debut in Chicago.

Destinos, the 2nd Chicago International Latino Theater Festival, wraps up this weekend at various venues around town.

Maybe all the good times could come back again. Ray and Dave Davies reunited with their fellow surviving Kinks member drummer Mick Avory (bassist Pete Quaife passed away in 2010) at the recent Q Magazine awards ceremony in London. They were given the Q Classic Award for their 1968 record The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society. That album comes out in a deluxe 50th anniversary edition on October 26. According to ABC News online, the Davies brothers are still open to a Kinks reunion.

The Kinks were inducted into the American-based Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 1990, and there’s a new crop of nominees hoping to join them. This year’s candidates are The Zombies, Def Leppard, Janet Jackson, Roxy Music, Stevie Nicks, Todd Rundgren, John Prine, Devo, The Cure, MC5, Rage Against The Machine, Rufus featuring Chaka Khan, Kraftwerk, LL Cool J, and Radiohead. There are good reasons for any of these artists getting in, but if I had to choose five, it would be The Zombies, Roxy Music, The Cure, Todd Rundgren, and John Prine.

Tickets went on sale today for Art Garfunkel at City Winery Chicago on December 14 and 15; WXRT’s Holiday Jam concert featuring The Head and The Heart with Mount Joy at the Chicago Theatre on December 6; and Sharon Van Etten at Thalia Hall on February 14.

Tickets are also now on sale for the Experience Hendrix Tour, which features Billy Cox, Joe Satriani, Dave Mustaine, Jonny Lang, Dweezil Zappa, Eric Johnson, Taj Mahal, David Hidalgo, Cesar Rosas, and other performers. It’s being staged at the Chicago Theatre on March 22.

The Goodman Theatre is having a costume sale tomorrow from 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

The Logan Center Blues Fest, three days of concerts, workshops, film, poetry and conversation, runs this weekend at the Reva and David Logan Center For The Arts. Charlie Musselwhite, Ruthie Foster, and Chris Thomas King are the headlines, and several other musicians will participate.

Van Go, a veteran Chicago band that excels at putting sharp-edged lyrics to high-powered melodies, has a new album out titled Everyone Loves You When You’re Gone. I’m planning on reviewing it in the near future.

High Concept Labs is holding an Open House from 7:00 to 10:00 p.m. next Thursday, October 25 at Constellation. There will be performances and exhibitions, as well as an opportunity to engage with artists. Admission is $20. Constellation is located at 3111 N. Western Avenue.

Private Peaceful, the play based on Michael Morpurgo’s 2003 critically acclaimed children’s novel, had its Chicago premiere this past Wednesday at the Greenhouse Theater on Lincoln Avenue and runs through November 11.

Juliana Hatfield has a new album titled Weird coming out on January 18. It’s going to be available in various formats—including colored vinyl— for pre-order on the American Laundromat site.

Singer-guitarist Rick Hromadka recently tweeted that his Los Angeles-based psych/rock/pop band Maple Mars has started recording its next album.

As noted in the Illinois Entertainer and other publications, Fender recently conducted a survey that found 50% of new guitarists are female.

The Chicago Toy Show returns to the Kane County Fairgrounds in St. Charles on October 28. In addition to having a massive selection of toys from various decades, the event has invited The Midwest Garrison Of The 501st Legion Star Wars costuming organization come and to pose for photos.


Friday, October 12, 2018


The ACE Comic Con kicked off today and runs through Sunday at Navy Pier. Guests include Matt Smith, Karen Gillan, Zadie Beetz, Chris Evans, Tom Hiddleston, Elizabeth Olson, and Lee Pace. There will also be artists and writers on hand, along with a number of vendors.

Liz Phair has a 7:00 p.m. gig this Sunday night at Metro, with Material Reissue as her opening act. See yesterday’s post for more details.

Tickets went on sale today for Joe Jackson at Thalia Hall on February 21 and 22. Other tickets now available include Cat Power and Willis Earl Beal at Thalia Hall on December 20; Steve Earle at City Winery Chicago on January 14 and 15 and February 25 and 26; Regrettes at Subterranean on November 30; and Lily Allen at The Vic on Halloween.

Neil deGrasse Tyson returns to The Chicago Theatre next Thursday, October 18.

Monty Python member and Spamalot creator Eric Idle has a new book out titled Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life – A Sortabiography. An ad in the Review section of UK publication The Daily Telegraph describes the work as “The Holy Grail For Comedy Fans” and “Absurdly Funny.”

Snow City Arts will celebrate its 20th anniversary with a multifaceted bash this Sunday at the Gene Siskel Film Center on State Street. The non-profit organization promises “monsters, alien encounters, heavy metal superheroes and talking paintbrushes as we celebrate student films, videos, and animations created at Rush University Children’s Hospital, Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital Of Chicago, Children’s Hospital University Of Illinois, and Stroger Hospital Of Cook County.” Admission is free.

Garbage will perform next Wednesday, October 17 at The Riviera Theatre as part of its 20 Years Paranoid tour. On that same night, The Church will be at Lincoln Hall as part of its Starfish 30th Anniversary Tour.

The Goodman Theatre is having a costume sale next Saturday, October 20, from 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

The Lantern Tour, which features Emmylou Harris, Jackson Browne, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Shawn Colvin, Lila Downs Steve Earle and Graham Nash has its first gig coming up on October 23 at the City Winery in Nashville, TN. Other stops include Washington, D.C., Boston, and New York. The series of acoustic concerts will benefit the Women’s Refugee Commission, which advocates on behalf of migrant and refugee families.

Destinos, the 2nd Chicago International Latino Theater Festival, runs through October 21 at various venues around town.

High Concept Labs is holding an Open House from 7:00 to 10:00 p.m. on Thursday, October 25 at Constellation. There will be performances and exhibitions, as well as an opportunity to engage with artists. Admission is $20. Constellation is located at 3111 N. Western Avenue.

According to a blurb in a recent copy of the Chicago Tribune, journalist/filmmaker Cameron Crowe plans to turn his hit movie Almost Famous into a musical. He’s enlisting critically acclaimed composer Tom Kit to write the music, and is hoping for a run on Broadway at some point in the future.

The Logan Center Blues Fest, three days of concerts, workshops, film, poetry and conversation, will be held next weekend (October 19 – 21) at the Reva and David Logan Center For The Arts. Charlie Musselwhite, Ruthie Foster, and Chris Thomas King are the headliners, and several other musicians will participate.

Black Friday Record Store Day is still over a month away, but vinyl collectors can already check out the official RSD website for the list of limited-edition releases that will only be available on November 23. Generally, the Black Friday version doesn’t generate as much of a buzz as the April version, but there are definitely some prime choices this time around from The Byrds, Cheap Trick, Garbage, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Paul McCartney, and a new compilation from Paisley Underground veterans The Bangles, Rain Parade, The Three O’Clock, and Dream Syndicate.

Private Peaceful, the play based on Michael Morpurgo’s 2003 critically acclaimed children’s novel, has its Chicago premiere next Wednesday, October 17 at the Greenhouse Theater on Lincoln Avenue and runs through November 11. Lead actor Shane O’Regan was an Irish Times Best Actor nominee when Private Peaceful was staged in Ireland.

Beatles fans are mourning the loss of another key figure in the band’s legacy after the news that recording engineer Geoff Emerick passed away. He worked closely with John, Paul, George and Ringo on a number of groundbreaking techniques, particularly on the Revolver and Sgt. Pepper albums. A number of people in the Chicago area were treated to a rare opportunity to meet Emerick in person when he was a special guest at The Fest For Beatles Fans this past August. From all the accounts I saw on Facebook, he was as gracious as he was talented.

On another sad note, the power pop genre lost one of its best practitioners when vocalist-guitarist John Wickes passed away from cancer. He recorded “Starry Eyes” and “Teenarama” (I still have those 45s) as a founding member of the UK band The Records, and went on to records gems like “That Girl Is Emily” during his more recent solo career.


Thursday, October 11, 2018


Indie rock singer-guitarist Liz Phair has a 7:00 p.m. gig this Sunday night at Metro. Back in 1993, at a time when our city’s music scene was criminally neglected by the national media, she put Chicagoon the rock and roll map with her critically acclaimed 18-song debut Exile In Guyville. “Help Me Mary” and “Never Said” became FM radio hits. Phair recently released Girly-Sound To Guyville: The 25th Anniversary Box Set.

Material Issue was another hot band from Chicago in those days, with their debut International Pop Overthrow spawning two videos in heavy rotation on MTV.  Phair has tapped the band’s current version as her opening act for this Sunday’s show. Material Reissue features original band members bassist Ted Ansani and drummer Mike Zelenko, along with Phil Angotti in the lead vocalist-guitarist role once held by Jim Ellison. They’ve opened for Matthew Sweet and The Posies. Metro is located at 3730 N. Clark, not far from Wrigley Field.

Still paisley after all these years. Original Paisley Underground bands The Bangles, The Three O’Clock, The Dream Syndicate and The Rain Parade have combined forces on a new album that features them covering each other’s material from the early 1980s. The 12-song 3X4 will be available on vinyl from the Yep Roc label for this year’s Black Friday Record Store Day and will have its official release on January 11.


Wednesday, October 10, 2018

An Evening Of Nonstop Showstoppers

Ringo Starr’s long-awaited return to the Chicago area took place with a recent sold-out concert at the Chicago Theatre. Like Paul McCartney’s shows last July at the Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre in Tinley Park, there was the incredible excitement of seeing an actual Beatle in person. Amazingly, each exuded a friendly, regular guy persona even while performing songs that mean so much to generations of fans.

For a number of years, Starr has picked musicians who are popular in their own right to back him on tours. The band he brought to the Chicago Theatre featured Gregg Rolie, from Santana and Journey; Colin Hay from Men At Work; Graham Gouldman from 10CC; and Steve Lukather from Toto. They each took the lead on three of their own songs, and made the most of those opportunities. Veteran touring/studio musicians Warren Ham and Greg Bissonette were also onstage, providing invaluable support throughout the concert.

Starr didn’t seem concerned that the rousing renditions of songs like Rolie’s “Black Magic Woman,” Hay’s “The Land Down Under,” Gouldman’s “I’m Not In Love,” and Lukather’s “Hold The Line”might upstage him. He was a confident gracious host, joking with the audience, and making his “Peace And Love” mantra feel genuine whether he was front and center or back at his drum kit. That goodtime vibe extended to renditions of Beatle and solo songs with his all-star group providing stellar instrumental support and amazing harmony vocals.

The set list stretched back to the early Beatles days for “I Wanna Be Your Man” and up to Starr’s own contribution to the White Album, “Don’t Pass Me By.” The entire audience sang along with the iconic “Yellow Submarine,” and Starr also did well with “Act Naturally” and “Matchbox.” He performed his solo hits “It Don’t Come Easy,” “Photograph,” and “You’re Sixteen,” as well as the more recent and aptly named “Anthem.” The final song, “A Little Help From My Friends,” felt like classic understatement as Starr, his band mates and everyone in the Chicago Theatre joined together on the vocals.


Monday, October 8, 2018

Jonny Weathers With Paul Cook - Sonic Assault

Singer-guitarist Jonny Weathers’ new four-song EP Sonic Assault features the same sort of raw vocals and hard-driving arrangements that made his 2017 full length effort Jonny Weathers And The Cosmic Scream such a thrill ride. Weathers, the alto ego of London-based musician Gareth Proctor, gets some potent help this time out from drummer Paul Cook of The Sex Pistols fame. Together, they generate enough energy for an entire album.

On “The Man From The Orleans,” Weathers conjures a mythical ambience via cryptic lines like “He comes in here but he’s rarely seen” while spinning the tale of a woman searching for her mysterious mate. “Mother Shotgun Baby” and “Mongo Shaker” live up to their provocative titles, and each includes a freewheeling instrumental passage. “Take It Back” is more of a heavy metal stomp, as Weathers and Cook tap into that same Jimi Hendrix vibe that ran through Cosmic Scream.

Personal note: The line, “Caught the last train out of Chicago” in “The Man From The Orleans” makes it a perfect song to kick off a playlist I created for when I’m riding the 12:30 a.m. Metra back to Palatine on after seeing a band in perform in the city.


Sunday, October 7, 2018

Jet Lag Slumgullion

Doctor Who fans who have been on the fence about checking out the ACE Comic Con coming to Navy Pier next weekend (October 12 ­­– 14) should no longer have any doubts. Matt Smith, who portrayed the 11th version of The Doctor, and Karen Gillan, who was his companion Amy Pond on the British sci-fi show, have recently been announced as guests, Following his tenure on Doctor Who, Smith went on to portray Prince Phillip on The Crown, and Gillan is well known as Nebula in the Guardians Of The Galaxy franchise. She also recently wrote, directed and starred in the independent film The Party’s Just Beginning. Hopefully, we’ll have a chance to catch a screening of that at some point in Chicago.

Irish Vacation Lore Part 1: Pam and I just returned from a 10-day trip to Ireland. We opted for a country-spanning bus tour, with Irish-born/Chicago-based singer Paddy Homan as our guide. We traveled to Cork, Killarney, the Dingle Peninsula, Ennis, Galway, and Dublin to experience the country’s historic sites and stunning natural beauty. We also dropped by pubs to watch local musicians performing jigs, reels, and traditional folk songs. On a few occasions, Homan joined them onstage.

The Chicago TARDIS Convention, coming to Westin Lombard Yorktown Center in Lombard on November 23 – 25, continues to entice Doctor Who fans. Pearl Mackie, who played Bill Potts during Peter Capaldi’s take on The Doctor (he followed Smith), will be on hand, and more recently, Jenna Coleman (Clara Oswald) has been added to the guest list.

The next season of Doctor Who, with Jodi Whittaker taking on the title role, kicks off tonight on the BBC. It will be interesting to see how Whittaker, the first woman to portray The Doctor, survives last seadon’s cliffhanger of being jettisoned from the TARDIS.

If you’re planning on hosting a holiday party this December, imagine the look on your guests’ faces when you greet them at the door dressed as Old Fezziwig. That might be possible if you check out the Goodman Theatre’s Costume Sale on Saturday, October 20, 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. I have no idea what costumes will be on sale, but The Goodman has been doing its critically acclaimed production of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol for decades. You might even find a Tiny Tim costume for one of your kids. God bless us, everyone.

I used the hours of sitting on a plane to and from Dublin to finally delve into my copy of Chrissie Hynde’s Reckless autobiography. I bought it over a year ago at Quimby’s Book Store on North Avenue, but I’m terrible at finding the time to read. I’m hoping to post a review sometime in the future; in the meantime I’d like to share her thoughts on growing up listening to 1960s rock: “We were looking for adventure. We longed to live on Love Street, We had too much to dream last night. We wanted the world and we wanted it now. We were born to be wild. We were stone free.”

Irish Vacation Lore Part 2: We had the same driver throughout our bus tour. Austin (Pam and I aren’t sure if he and our fellow travelers would want their full names used here) was a super hero in terms of navigating the country’s notoriously tricky roads under any circumstance. He also regaled us with hilarious tales and informative commentary of Ireland’s monuments and history.

A number of local musicians, including Phil Angotti, Tommi Zender, Casey McDonough, Joe Camarillo, and Tony Ryan will be gathering at City Winery Chicago this Sunday at 1:00 p.m. for A John Lennon Birthday Retrospective. All of these guys have extensive experience putting on tribute shows , and most have performed on the Apple Jam Stage at Fest For Beatles Fans – Chicago.

Irish Vacation Lore Part 3: It should come as no surprise that I was on the lookout for record stores during this trip. In Dublin, Pam helped me find Tower Records, the last remaining location for the once global record store chain. Stopping there brought back fond memories of when I visited the Tower Records in Hollywood while on a California vacation in 1980, and from when lived just around the corner from the Tower Records in Lincoln Park. The Dublin version did not disappoint. I browsed through CDs, vinyl records, magazines, and assorted rock-related memorabilia. I bought a Kinks coffee mug, a seven-inch picture sleeve 45 of “Fire Burning” by Irish rockers The Urges, and a Tower Records Dublin t-shirt. From there, we walked a few blocks to the Hard Rock CafĂ© where I picked up a few more souvenirs. Earlier on the trip, we stopped in The Record Rack store in Ennis, where I bought a Bangles “In Your Room” seven-inch picture sleeve 45, and a 1980 copy of a UK magazine called Rock Compact Disc.

Tellin’ Tales Theatre will wrap up Six Stories Up In Climate Change, the latest installment in its long-running Six Stories Up series, this weekend at the Filament Theatre. The musical comedy, written and performed by middle school students and adult mentors with and without disabilities, is set in Alaska delivers a timely message about saving the environment. Tickets are $20 for adults; $15 for children. Filament Theatre is located at 4041 N. Milwaukee Avenue in Chicago.

Irish Vacation Lore Part 4: Another benefit of our bus tour of was becoming part of a friendly and fun group of travelers, Several had been on bus tours in Paddy Homan in previous years. Since most of us came from Chicago, it’s a safe bet we’ll be keeping in touch—probably at on of Homan’s Sunday night gigs at the Galway Arms venue on Fullerton.

Destinos, the 2nd Chicago International Latino Theater Festival, runs through October 21 at various venues around town.

Irish Vacation Lore Part 5: Gee, but it’s great to be back home. I mentioned Doctor Who in a few paragraphs earlier in this post. Pam and I could have used The Doctor’s help in getting back to Chicago. Our Friday morning flight out of Dublin was delayed five hours before being canceled, and our Saturday afternoon flight was delayed 45 minutes. It would have been great to hop into the TARDIS and delivered to Chicago at the originally scheduled time.

Having our trip back delayed a day and a half demolished the plans Pam and I had for using this weekend to celebrate our wedding anniversary. (It’s October 5.) We didn’t get home until 11:30 last night. I want to wish Pam a happy anniversary and thank her for all these wonderful years and being such a fun and knowledgeable travel companion. Pam, I love you!

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