Friday, April 28, 2017


A hearty welcome to Aimee Mann, who is back in town for a show tomorrow night at Park West. She’ll no doubt be performing songs from Mental Illness, an acoustic album and her first solo effort in five years. Music critic Greg Kot has an extensive interview with Mann in today’s edition of the Chicago Tribune.

Yes, we’re going to a party, party. Paul McCartney will be celebrating my birthday on July 25 with a concert in the Chicago area. Not on my gazebo like I had hoped, but at the Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre in Tinley Park. Tickets go on sale tomorrow at 10:00 a.m.

Other concert tickets that went on sale this week include The Church at City Winery Chicago on July 3 and 4; the Alejandro Escovedo Band at SPACE on June 11, Rasputina at Subterranean on August 10; and Riot Fest on September 15 through 17.

International Pop Overthrow wraps up its 2017 visit to Chicago tomorrow with an afternoon showcase and then one later in the evening. Michael Steven Cohen from The Abbeys has a solo show at 2:00 p.m., followed by Freetoed, The Pickpockets, The Vinyl Skyway, The Red Plastic Buddha, and The Jeremy Band. The Queue kicks off at the evening showcase at 8:00 p.m., followed by Too Much Saturn, Steve Ramone and The Pensioners, Private Instigators, and The Romeros. Note: there’s a TBA in the middle of the schedule, so there’s no telling who’ll show up there. Closing out IPO - Chicago has become a tradition for The Romeros, who bring a busload of faith, er, fans to the gig.

The 33rd Chicago Latino Film Festival continues its run through next Thursday, May 4.

Penthouse Sweets will be playing songs from their new album House Of The Penthouse Sweets when they perform tomorrow night at the LiveWire Club on Milwaukee Avenue with The Safes and Means Of Production.

There must be something about the combination of Graham Nash and The Old Town School Of Folk Music that Chicagoans find appealing. Nash quickly sold out shows there for July 29 and 30, and now has added a third gig at the venue.

Alt rock band whitewolfsonicprincess hosts the latest in its series of Rock And Roll Circus events at The Red Line Tap this Sunday from 5:00 to 7:30 p.m. Vocalist Carla Hayden and guitarist-vocalist James Moeller performed at Mary-Arrchie Theatre’s Abbie Hoffman Died For Our Sins festival for several years with their Black Forest Theatre group. They’re aiming for that same freewheeling Abbie Fest vibe this Sunday. KC Chronis, The Remember Knots, and The Rolling Clones are also on the bill.

Frank Carr, a founding member of the Famous In The Future comedy group (along with David Drazin, Lake Sirmon, and myself—full disclosure) is also hoping to keep the Abbie Hoffman Died For Our Sins spirit alive. He’s the driving force behind YippieFest, which is penciled in for the weekend of August 18–20 at Prop Thtr. Carr was the only individual other than Mary-Arrchie Artistic Director Rich Cotovsky to have performed at every Abbie Fest.


The Webstirs Rock IPO Tonight

Photo from The Webstirs’ Facebook page.

One of the benefits of going to International Pop Overthrow in any of the cities it visits is discovering new acts. There are also bands that over the years have become favorites. Unfortunately, this post is much later than it was intended to be, but if you live on the north side, you still have time to catch one of IPO - Chicago’s best acts at 11:00 p.m. tonight at The Red Line Tap.

The Webstirs' impeccable power pop instincts result in songs with clever lyrics about oddball characters and unusual situations. Their 2015 album Now You’ve Really Done It carried on that tradition with catchy and wry songs like “Saving The World” and “Farther When You Fall.” It came in at number four on the 2015 Broken Hearted Toy Favorite Releases list.

Rob Schulz, a singer-guitarist with a knack for positioning liberal sentiments within power pop arrangements, performs in the 9:30 p.m. slot, and his band will be followed by Weekend Vinyl, a power pop outfit that offers catchy songs filled with appealing arrangements and ringing guitars. Dad’s Magazine, the final act tonight, is sort of a local indie all-star group, with members who come from The Sun Sawed In 1/2, The Webstirs, and Swinger.

International Pop Overthrow has a afternoon showcase and an evening showcase at The Red Line Tap tomorrow, the final day of its 2017 visit to Chicago. See the official website for the full schedule and links to the acts involved.


Thursday, April 27, 2017

Festivals On The Way

As noted by Jesi Roti in the Chicago Tribune earlier this week, two headline acts have been named for this year’s Taste Of Chicago. Ben Harper, whose trademark ability to blend elements of various genres into fetching indie rock songs like “Diamonds On The Inside” has brought him critical acclaim, and the quickly rising Chicago indie rock band Twin Peaks will be performing. The entire lineup will be announced on Tuesday, May 2. This week’s edition of Red Eye has the Chicago free paper’s annual massive listing of upcoming outdoor concerts, festivals, and art fairs. I always circle the events I want to go to, and then save the the schedule as an essential guide for the upcoming months.

One new festival that wasn’t included on the Red Eye list is the Kaleidoscope Eye Festival at the LiveWire lounge on September 8 and 9. For a hint of of what it will be like, drop by the Red Line Tap this Saturday. The Red Plastic Buddha is performing at 5:00 p.m. Saturday afternoon as part of International Pop Overthrow

The band has been on the front lines of Chicago’s psychedelic rock scene for years, and lead vocalist-bassist Tim Ferguson is one of the organizers of Kaleidoscope Eye, along with Gregory Curvey (that's his art at the top of this post) from the band The Luck Of Eden Hall, and photographer-journalist Lee Klawans. The Red Plastic Buddha’s last album, Songs For Mara, was an adventurous effort that came in at number four on the Broken Hearted Toy Favorite Releases of 2014.


Wednesday, April 26, 2017

IPO’s Thursday Schedule

After tonight, there will still be three more days and four multi-act showcases to catch at The Red Line Tap as International Pop Overthrow continues its 2017 Chicago run. Thursday night’s lineup offers some familiar faces and sounds for local music fans. The Aaron Williams Band released its first album in 2008, and continues to play a mix of indie rock and pop. They’ll kick things off tomorrow night at 8:00 p.m. Boolean Knife specializes in postmodern rock and records for the Aquariphone record label.

The Spindles are a power pop act that includes guitarist-vocalist Jeff Janulis from The Abbeys. Their shows offer a mix of original tunes and cover versions that stretch back over the years. Expect harmonies from Janulis and bassist-vocalist Jerald Cross. The Spindles record for the Rubber Road label. The Red Wigglers seven-piece coed band has plenty of experience playing the Chicago area, and augments its indie rock sound with trombone, trumpet, and sax.

The Treeshakers will wrap things up with an 11:00 p.m. set. This quartet draws inspiration from fellow Chicago power pop bands Pezband, Cheap Trick, Shoes, and Material Issue, as well as British Invasion acts like The Beatles, The Hollies, The Yardbirds, and The Kinks. International Pop Overthrow continues Friday night with a six-band showcase, and there will be an afternoon and evening showcase on Saturday. See the official website for the full schedule and links to most of the acts performing.


Monday, April 24, 2017

Record Store Day Reflections

Adam Dausch Facebook photo of Phil Angotti delivering a batch of Kinks songs.

As someone who doesn’t drive, I’ve come to regard the Reckless Records on Madison as my go-to place for Record Store Day shopping. After an hour-long train ride (in the midst of sign-wielding protesters on their way to the science march, costumed superheroes off to the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo, and Cubs fans) I arrived at the downtown Reckless Records 90 minutes before it was due to open.

Eventually, I came away with everything on my 10th Annual Record Store Day wish list except The Shelters’ “Really Wanted You” seven-inch single. My acquisitions: Epic Archives Vol. One double LP by Cheap Trick; “Want You Back” and “A Rose For Emily” singles by The Zombies; “All Day And All Of The Night” EP by The Kinks; “Strawberry Fields” single by The Beatles; the Tegan and Sara/The Regrettes “Back In Your Head” single; “Rocket Science” single by The Chills; and the Demos cassette by Paul McCartney and Elvis Costello.

Reckless Records once again ran a smooth operation, including a guy sent outside to prep the people in line and hand out free stuff. He’s been there on previous RSD occasions and is friendly and helpful. Unlike the Reckless locations on Broadway and Milwaukee Avenue, the downtown store isn’t big enough for in-store performances, but I’ve had good luck there getting the releases I want.

If Fezziwig from Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol were to throw a Record Store Day party, it would look a lot what the owners of Laurie’s Planet Of Sound on Lincoln Avenue stage each year. Without the old school dancing, of course, but there’s live music, refreshments, and plenty of merriment. This year’s eclectic lineup of in-store performances began with Ted Wulfers, whose “The Cubs Won It All In 2016” single managed an Eddie Vedder style indie rock grit and garnered airplay in the Chicago area right after the World Series. Phil Angotti’s heartfelt solo rendition of the entire The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society would make any reasonable music fan want to buy the album, and he got some help from Sweet Figurines lead vocalist Kevin McComb on “Picture Book.”

Angotti’s set of wry Brit rock observations was followed by the homespun appeal of Sanctified Grumblers, who played a mix of standard and originals on washboard, tuba, steel guitar, and other Americana instruments. The Romeros, who’ll continue their long-standing tradition of closing out International Pop Overthrow - Chicago on Saturday, April 29, dropped by Laurie’s on Record Store Day to deliver some amped-up renditions of George Michael and Wham songs. I had to leave before Sweet Figurines went on, but I caught their rousing David Bowie tribute at Laurie’s Record Store Day event last year, and I’m assuming this year’s followed suit. Dust Bunnies wrapped up the party at 5:00 p.m.

In addition to the live music, it’s always fun to see the local musicians who drop by the Laurie’s Planet Of Sound RSD bash. This year, Eric Chial from Bon Mots and Penthouse Sweets was there, as were Holly Senchak Dausch and Adam Dausch from Metropolly, and Chloe F. Orwell from The Handcuffs. Romeros frontman Mike Vanderbilt was hanging out hours before his band’s show started, and I’m sure other musicians came and went as the festivities continued.


International Pop Overthrow Continues In Chicago

International Pop Overthrow rolls into the work week after kicking off its 2017 visit to Chicago with what appears to have been a successful weekend. Tonight’s five-band showcase at the Red Line Tap brings the fun and catchy England-to-America transplants The Unswept back for a performance at 10:15 p.m. If the band is selling any of its CDs, be sure to pick one up. Sam Vicari opens the show at 8:00 p.m., followed by Leisure McCorkle. Packy Lundholm performs at 9:30 p.m., and Reaction, a band that formed in the 1980s and recently reunited, is tonight’s headliner.

Tomorrow brings Cabin Essence, Mark Watson, Christopher Joseph Elam, and Blind Trust to the stage. Young Distractions, a trio that claims The Replacements, Husker Du, and The Ramones as influences, are tomorrow’s closer. On Wednesday, IPO vet and globe-trotting rock star Dave Rave performs, along with The Romeros frontman Mike Vanderbilt with his The Suburban Garage Sound. Collectors, another trustworthy IPO outfit, plays at 9:30 p.m., and the Tony Calderisi Band opens at 8:00 p.m. See the official International Pop Overthrow website for the full Chicago schedule through next Saturday night, along with links to most of the performers involved.


Friday, April 21, 2017


To paraphrase The Electric Prunes: Get me to the fest on time. (Yes, they had other great songs besides “I Had To Much To Dream Last Night.) Within the next few weeks, Chicago will experience C2E2 (Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo); the CIMMfest (Chicago International Movies and Music Festival) Spring Fling ThingInternational Pop Overthrow and Record Store Day, with its accompanying live shows. Plus The Rolling Stones Exhibitionism is out on Navy Pier through the end of July.

Riot Fest’s First Wave Lineup Announcement came out a few days ago. Nine Inch Nails, Queens Of The Stone Age, and Jawbreaker are the headline acts for September 15, 16, and 17 respectively, and other scheduled acts include The Cribs; The Buzzcocks; The Orwells; Paramore; Ministry; The Regrettes; Bad Brains; Dinosaur Jr.; Peaches; M.I.A.; The Mighty Mighty Bosstones; and Wu Tang Clan.

The Second Disc website has been working overtime with Record Store Day posts, but also recently reported on the upcoming release of two vintage EPs by The Paul Collins Beat. Long Long Gone and To Beat Or Not To Beat are coming out on Lollipop Records on April 28.

Graham Nash’s July 30 show at The Old Town School of Folk Music sold out immediately when it went on sale a few weeks back, so earlier this week, he added a concert there on July 29. That one has now sold out as well.

Ann Wilson from Heart has a solo tour coming underway, and her sister/bandmate Nancy has some things on her plate as well. Nancy has teamed up with vocalist Liv Warfield form Prince’s New Power Generations to form Roadcase Royale. The band’s first single, the women-empowering “Get Loud,” is now available on several digital outlets and the video can be seen on YouTube.

The 33rd Chicago Latino Film Festival opened yesterday and runs through May 4.

Kevin Lee And The Kings will be performing at the Breaking The Silence - A Benefit For Autism Awareness this Sunday, August 23, at Durty Nellie’s in Palatine. The event runs from noon to 8:00 p.m., and special VIP Floor Tables (as opposed to in the balcony) are still available for $200.

The 11th Annual Screen Test Student Fest takes place tonight and tomorrow at the Prairie Center For The Arts in Schaumburg. Presented by 3 Monkeys and Aardvark Studios and Tribeca Flashpoint College, the event will include 31 short films by students in grades five through eight, as well as by high school students around the world.

The Zombies, who are in the midst of a 50th Anniversary Odessey and Oracle Tour, have created a new animated video for the song “Care Of Cell 44,” which comes from that initially overlooked but now legendary album.

The Bishop’s Daredevil Stunt Club, Phil Angotti, and Sunshine Boys will be featured in a WNUR Power Pop Shoppe showcase being staged at The Elbo Room on Lincoln Avenue on May 19.

Penthouse Sweets will be playing songs from their new album In The House Of The Penthouse Sweets when they perform at the LiveWire Club on Milwaukee Avenue with The Safes and Means Of Production next Saturday, April 29.

Sopro Music’s 30th Annual Easter Parade Blues Revue takes place tomorrow night at Sullivan’s Night Club and Restaurant in Midlothian. Performers include The Chicago Horns, Debbie Seitz, Joey Drada, Doug Lee, and Billy King. There music starts at 9:00 p.m.

The Griffin Theatre’s production In To America, featuring stories of immigrants to America throughout the country’s history, wraps up its run at The Den Theatre this Sunday.

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