Friday, February 16, 2018


March around the corner. February is now more than half over, so it might be a good time to plan for what’s coming up next month. The Old 97s will be at Thalia Hall on March 1; Phil Angotti and Tommi Zender will perform the music of Simon And Garfunkel at City Winery Chicago on March 12; WNUR Power Pop Showcase’s multi-act tribute to Tommy Keene and Pat DiNizio takes place at The Elbo Room on March 16; Graham Nash will be at the The North Shore Center For The Performing Arts in Skokie on March 17; The Zombies will be at City Winery Chicago on March 19 and 20; Alvvays will be at Metro on March 23; Material Reissue will be at Shank Hall in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on March 23; the Sons Of The Silent Age David Bowie tribute band will be at Martyrs’ on March 24; and Wolf Alice will be at Metro on March 30.

Black Panther, Marvel’s latest superhero blockbuster, is now in movie theaters, and according to Chicago Sun-Tmes critic Richard Roeper and Chicago Tribune critic Michael Phillips, it definitely lives up to excitement that has been building for months. In related news, Sun-Times columnist/WBEZ reporter Natalie Y. Moore joyfully notes in today’s edition, “Black Chicagoans are dressing up in regalia to see the film this weekend. They’re renting out theaters, hosting events, donating tickets to children and marveling in total geekdom.”

Buffalo Springfield member Richie Furay will join forces with The Wild Honey Foundation and a number of special guests tomorrow night at the Alex Theatre in Glendale, CA for a three-hour tribute concert for the band he helped found back in the mid 1960s. See my post from this past Wednesday for more details. Tickets range from $110 to $20. Proceeds will help the Autism Think Tank, an organization devoted to funding autism research.

Former Saturday Night Live writer Alan Zweibel’s play Bunny Bunny: Gilda Radner, A Sort Of Love Story is running at the Mercury Theater in Chicago through April 1. Written in 1994 as an affectionate tribute to Radner, it currently stars Dana Tretta as the multifaceted performer who won Americans’ hearts—and Zweibel’s—with her offbeat characters. Chicago Tribune theatre critic Chris Jones had high praise for Tretta’s portrayal, and gave the production three stars.

By the way, the Saturday Night Live: The Experience exhibit is still running at the Chicago Museum of Broadcast Communications on State Street. It runs through December 31 of this year.

The Beatles’ animated move Yellow Submarine has been transformed into a graphic novel by noted artist/writer Bill Morrison and will be published by Ttitan Comics this summer. Morrison is president of the National Cartoonists Society and was recently named editor of Mad Magazine. 2018 marks the 50th anniversary of Yellow Submarine’s release.

Sopro Music has a tradition of giving us the blues each year at Thanksgiving and Easter with multi-act concert events. The company now has another blues festival in its repertoire; this one coming on the more appropriate blues occasion of giving our money to Uncle Sam. The Sopro Tax Time Relief All-Star Blues Revue will be held on Sunday, April 15 at the Pheasant Run Inn, located at 4051 Main Street in St. Charles. Several Chicago area blues musicians will be performing.

Noel Gallagher’s High Fling Birds concert at The Chicago Theatre next Saturday, February 24 will feature a 10-piece band, a horn section, and members of Oasis.

Celebrating David Bowie, the multi-act event that features Mike Garson, Earl Slick, Gerry Leonard and others, comes to The Vic in Chicago next Friday, February 23.

The 2018 George Harrison Birthday Tribute Concert takes place next Saturday night, February 24 at Martyrs’ on Lincoln Avenue. Many of the performers who made last year’s event so enjoyable are coming back again.

Singer-guitarist Keren Ann will be performing at City Winery Chicago next Tuesday, February 20. Sergio Mendes will be at that same venue on Sunday, February 25.

Early Man opened in movie theaters today, and while Chicago critics felt it doesn’t quite measure up to previous Aardmann Studio flicks like Wallace And Grommit, they seemed overall to think it was clever and funny.

The Continuing Adventures Of Babyface Joe And Mustache Joe. As revealed on last night’s Top Chef episode, my nephew Joe Flamm was able to work his way back to the main competition after winning three rounds of Last Chance Kitchen. Which means Top Chef again has two guys named Joe among its contestants. From the first episode of this season, Joe Sasto has been dubbed Mustache Joe while my nephew has been referred to No-mustache Joe, Joe Flamm, and on at least one occasion, Babyface Joe. Regardless of who makes it to the Top Chef finale, there will be a Joe Down Throw Down involving the above-mentioned guys at Spiaggia (where Joe Flamm is the Executive Chef ) on March. The $150 admission includes a five-course meal.


Thursday, February 15, 2018


Photo from Belly’s Facebook page.

Tickets go on sale tomorrow for Peter Case at The Old Town School Of Folk Music on April 27; Belly on October 6 at The Vic; L7 at Metro on April 20; Depeche Mode at United Center on June 1; and David Hidalgo and Marc Ribot at Old Town School Of Folk Music on March 30.

The Laureates, whose latest album And Then Not Even Then drew kind words in a review I posted here on Tuesday, will be part of a quadruple bill at Quenchers this Friday night. Little Church, Rooftop Love Club, and headliners Old Joy are the other acts performing. Quenchers is located at the corner of Fullerton and Western on Chicago’s north side.

Cliff Johnson And The Raine have a gig coming up this Saturday night at the Live@210 venue in Highwood, Illinois.

Coming to a record store near you. The Sunshine Boys have a two-part record release show celebrating their debut Blue Music coming up on March 24. They’ll be at Rediscover Records in Elgin at noon, before heading off for a 3:00 p.m. performance at Val’s Halla in Oak Park. Blue Music, by the way, is an amazing album and well worth picking up. I’ll be reviewing it here in the near future.


Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Everybody Look What’s Going Down

There may not be any immediate plans for another Buffalo Springfield reunion but fans of the influential group have other reasons to be happy. A cover story by founding member Richie Furay in the February issue of Mojo magazine provides lots of inside information and insight on Buffalo Springfield’s short but impressive career. Plus, people who live on the west coast will be able to see an all-star tribute concert featuring Furay and special guests this Saturday, February 17 at the Alex Theatre Glendale, CA.

In Mojo, Furay recalls his early days of sharing an apartment with Stephen Stills on Fountain Boulevard in Hollywood, and playing double bills with The Grassroots, Love, and The Doors in 1966 at the Whiskey A-Go-Go. He met his wife Nancy at The Whiskey back then and they’re still married to this day. Members came and went throughout Buffalo Springfield’s two-year run, but Furay believes the first incarnation of himself, Neil Young, Stephen Stills, Dewey Martin, and Bruce Palmer was the best.

For the three-hour tribute concert, Furay is joining forces with The Wild Honey Foundation, an organization that does very cool things on a regular basis to raise funds for autism research. Past shows have honored The Band, The Beatles, The Hollies, and Big Star by bringing together well-known members of the Los Angeles music scene. The Buffalo Springfield event will include Paisley Underground vets The Three O’Clock and The Dream Syndicate; Terry Reid, Micky Dolenz; Susan Cowsill; Carlene Carter; Elliot Easton; Syd Straw; Martha Davis; Gary Myrick; Brent Rademaker; Carla Olson; Cindy Lee Berryhill; Darian Sahanaja; Claudia Lennear; and Iain Matthews.

These guests will be backed by the Wild Honey Orchestra, which includes Derrick Anderson; Jim Laspesa; Andrew Sandoval, Probyn Gregory,  and several other musicians. Bib Laufer will serve as Musical Director. Tickets range from $110 to $20. Proceeds will help the Autism Think Tank, an organization devoted to funding autism research. If past shows are any indication, those of us who can’t make to L.A. in person will be able to watch clips on the Wild Honey Foundation Facebook page.


Tuesday, February 13, 2018

The Laureates - And Then Not Even Then

I’m still determined to post a Favorite Releases Of 2017 list, even if it takes until July to do it. Here’s another contender from last year, as I get closer to finally catching up.

The third album from The Laureates comes six years after their second one, but any worries that their unique sound might have deteriorated during that span are dispelled on the very first track. The Chicago-based quintet still fancies melding 1960s Brit pop with cutting-edge alt rock circa the ‘80s and ‘90s. And Then Not Even Then, which was self-recorded in a basement studio, actually finds The Laureates accomplishing that mission with even more success than they did on 2011’s impressive Spells.

“House Of Wives” combines the muscular pounding of The Who with a catchy arrangement spearheaded by vocalist-guitarist Chad Preston. In the midst of the hard-driving opener, “Youthy, Natural,” there’s an instrumental break with eerie Ray Manzarek style keyboards playing. Elsewhere, the band uses shimmering synth sounds to add texture to the offbeat but effective romantic overture “Let’s Merge.”

“Old As Gold” taps into the same rebellious spirit that fueled the underground imagery on “Youthy, Natural,” and then breaks into a galloping arrangement. “Creatures,” which echoes vintage R.E.M. with its twangy guitar, has Preston advising, “Whatever you do, pray that you’ll never be found” and later, “fight like I would.” There’s a sense of confusion and loss drifting through the careening guitars and steady beat of “Toys,”  which the band picked for its first video from the album. The more introspective “Stereo Man” brings a change of pace, and on the acoustic “Don’t Want To Dance,” a guy’s aversion to social get-togethers has an amiable Kinks feel.


Friday, February 9, 2018


The Amazing Heeby Jeebies will be showcasing tunes from their new album Bad Feeling at their Sleeze Ball Costume Party And Release Party at the Cigars And Stripes venue in Berwyn. According to the band’s Facebook page, there will be a release party on Chicago’s northside in the near future.

The Bishop’s Daredevil Stunt Club, the clever-named Chicago band that plays catchy power pop, will be unveiling some new material tonight at The Elbo Room on Chicago’s north side.

JBTV is presenting veteran Chicago area musician Jay O’Rourke in a special show this Sunday at 1:00 a.m. on DirecTV WJYS channel 62.

Tickets are now on sale for legendary guitarist Jeff Beck and Paul Rogers of Free and Bad Company fame at the Huntington Pavilion on July 29; indie rock band In Tall Buildings at Schubas on March 24; Leo Kottke at SPACE on May 25 and 26; Graham Parker and James Maddock at City Winery Chicago on May 10; Alice Peacock at SPACE on May 5; Cheap Trick and Poison at Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre on June 9; and Paul Simon at the United Center on June 6. There’s a full-page ad for Paul Simon’s show in today’s Chicago Tribune.

Welcome to everyone in town for the Chicago Auto Show, which kicks off tomorrow and runs through February 19 at McCormick Place. According to Robert Duffer’s preview in today’s Chicago Tribune, some of the more interesting vehicles on hand will be a Nissan Titan AT-M6 that looks like a walker machine from Star Wars, and the high-speed Chevy Corvette ZR1. I still have fond memories of my Dad bringing me and my brothers to the Auto Show when we were kids. We’d would come home with bags filled with STP stickers, cool buttons and other promotional trinkets, and if we were lucky, some sports celebrities’ autographs.

I keep meaning to give a shoutout to the Reckless Records store on Madison in downtown Chicago for its collection of 45 rpm singles. Each week, there are really cool new rarities and vintage singles. Curbside Books And Records, located in the far front corner of Revival Hall on Clark Street, also has some fascinating 45s, along with its selection of indie books, cassettes, and vinyl. I picked up a copy of First Aid Kit’s “Universal Soldier”/“It Hurts Me Too” single on Jack White’s Third Man Records label today.

Chicago-based power pop band Frisbie is celebrating its 30th anniversary with a gig at Martyrs on April 28. The Sunshine Boys, who haven’t celebrated their first anniversary yet but have years of experience in various other bands, are also on the bill that night. In a recent Facebook post, Steve Frisbee promised, “a host of juicy surprises are in the works.”

Freda Love Smith, one of the music biz veterans that comprise The Sunshine Boys, was in Boston on February 3 for the East Coast half of the Hot Stove Cool Music charity events hosted each year by the Foundation To Be Named Later. She was part of an all-star act dubbed Band Of Their Own (BOTO) that fielded nine women rock musicians. Juliana Hatfield also performed that night. The Foundation To Be Named Later was created by Chicago Cubs (former Boston Red Sox) President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein and his twin brother Paul as a means to improve lives through the healthy development of kids and their families. The Chicago half of Hot Stove Cool Music will be held on June 8 at Metro.

The Go-Go’s reunited for a seven-song set at New York’s Bowery Ballroom in honor of Head Over Heels, a new musical based on their catchy repertoire. The production will run from April 10 through May 6 in San Francisco before moving to Broadway for previews starting June 23. It would be great if it came to Chicago at some point in the future. The Go-Go’s are scheduled to perform at Fox Theater in Oakland on June 28.

The Bangles were part of a Totally ‘80s Live show in Anaheim, CA on January 26 that also featured The Romantics, A Flock Of Seagulls, Tone Loc, Boy George, Adam Ant, Nick Hayward of Haircut 100, Dramarama, Sugarhill Gang, and members of The Furious 5. Radio and TV personality Richard Blade served as host. According to the Best Classic Bands website, it was the first live gig for The Bangles in over a year. It’s hard to think of The Bangles being AWOL for that long since Susanna Hoffs, Debbi Peterson, and Vicki Peterson always seem so busy doing various music projects. Vicki Peterson is in a new band called Action Skulls that comprises John Cowsill from The Cowsills and Billy Mumy from the Lost In Space 1960s sci-fi show.

The 2018 George Harrison Birthday Tribute Concert with host Ellis Clark takes place at Martyrs’ on Lincoln Avenue on Saturday February 24. Vocalist Ary Jeebie from The Amazing Heeby Jeebies will be helping out, and as with last year’s tribute, a number of Chicago’s best bands will be taking part. The lineup features Clark’s band The Big Parade; Phil Angotti; The Handcuffs; Tomorrow The Moon; Constantine; Greg Jackson Combs; Phoenix; Frankie B; The Unswept; Aethereal; Gerald McClendan, and other guests to be announced.

As I mentioned here earlier, my nephew Joe Flamm was told to pack his knives after finishing last in a QuickFire showdown on last week’s installment of Top Chef. He has since won one Last Chance Kitchen challenge, and qualified in another. His latest LCK battle, with the hard-charging Brother Luck, ended in a cliffhanger—the results of which we probably won’t know for another week. The winner returns to compete in the Top Chef finals. Last night in Chicago, Joe made a special appearance at a Chicago Blackhawks game.


Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Hanging Out With Jon And Ken

The Posies are celebrating their 30th Anniversary in various ways this year. Some of their classic albums, like Dear 23, Amazing Disgrace, and Frosting On The Beater, are available in deluxe editions via the band’s PledgeMusic site, and the full band will embark on a tour this spring. In the meantime, founding members singer-guitarist Jon Auer and singer-guitarist Ken Stringfellow are hitting the City Winery circuit as a duo.

Their show last Wednesday at City Winery Chicago was both a treat and an endurance test for long-time fans. There were elements of standup comedy too. After realizing it was 10:00 p.m., Auer and Stringfellow joked that they had only played 25 minutes of music during the previous two hours. The rest was taken up by instrument tuning, teasing, and stream-of-consciousness tales ranging from the band’s history to American politics. Watching his bandmate tuning up, Auer remarked, “Remember the 1990s? We used to pay people to do this for us.”

The constant tuning definitely slowed things down, but as for the rest of the non-music fare, it was pretty entertaining. Auer and Stringfellow engaged in comic bickering, almost as if their 30th anniversary marked a marriage rather than a musical partnership. “I swear to God if you make that face one more time . . . ” Stringfellow gazed out at City Winery’s restaurant/rock club arrangement of chairs and long tables, and said it felt like they were performing in the dining hall at Hogwarts.

The songs—when they came—were stripped down but expertly rendered selections from The Posies’ three-decade repertoire. Auer and Stringfellow harmonized perfectly throughout the concert and each proved to be a strong vocalist when singing individually. It was easy to imagine people unfamiliar with the songs still being impressed. Easy because even those of us who are loyal fans might not have known all the deep tracks being performed.

The more familiar fare ranged from the catchy “I May Hate You Sometimes” from The Posies’ 1988 debut Failure to the more involved “Squirrel Vs. Snake” from the almost secretly released Solid States in 2016. Other highlights included “Golden Blunders,” “Solar Sister,” “Flavor Of The Month,” “Believe In Something Other (Than Yourself),” “My Big Mouth,” and “20 Questions.” Inviting Chicago-based singer-songwriter Shelley Miller onstage to join in on “The Glitter Prize” (after she joked about not expecting a comedy show) added to the show’s good time, community feel.

Following an encore that included a gorgeous rendition of “Suddenly Mary,” Auer and Stringfellow came out to a merchandise table in the lobby. Even after a two and a half hour show, there was still time to bond with their fans.


Friday, February 2, 2018


Happy Birthday to Graham Nash. It’s nice to see the the various Facebook posts from well-known musicians honoring him. Nash, who founded The Hollies with childhood friend Allan Clarke before moving on to Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, as well as a solo career, has a show coming up soon in the Chicago area. An Intimate Evening of Songs And Stories with Graham Nash takes place at The North Shore Center For The Performing Arts on March 17.

The WNUR radio program Power Pop Shoppe has done well with its first few live shows, but the one coming up at The Elbo Room on March 16 looks particularly promising. It’s a tribute show for two power pop icons who left us recently— Pat DiNozio of The Smithereens and singer-guitarist Tommy Keene. Phil Angotti, The Cells, The Thin Cherries, King Mixer, The Joy Poppers, Mark Watson Band, The Sh***y Amps, and Love Punch are scheduled to perform. The event will likely benefit a charity, but the exact one hasn’t been chosen yet.

The January 29 February 4 issue of Streetwise, a Chicago publication aimed at helping homeless people find employment, has a bouquet of articles about Paul McCartney by various contributors. It’s interesting to read the different perspectives.

Don’t you forget about them. Simple Minds have a new album titled Walk Between Worlds coming out today. Later this month, we’ll see new releases from Belle and Sebastian; Laurie Anderson and Kronos Quartet; Brandi Carlile; MGMT; and Franz Ferdinand.

A 1927 silent film version of Hamlet, starring Denmark actress Asta Nielsen in the title role, will be screened at Rockafeller Chapel in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood this Sunday, February 4 at 7:00 p.m. Organist Dennis James and harpsichordist Michael Tsalka will provide music accompaniment.

Wolf Alice has a show coming up on March 30 at Metro. Alvvays will perform a week later at the same venue. In addition to each of them being a versatile techno band with a woman lead vocalist, both are sure to be included in my Favorite Releases of 2017. When I finally get around to posting it.

Phil Angotti, whose Such Stories album will also be on my 2017 Favorites List, will be performing Simon and Garfunkel songs with Tommi Zender on March 12 at City Winery Chicago. In my Such Stories review, I noted that Angotti seemed to be drawing inspiration from vintage Simon and Garfunkel for some of his own acoustic-based songs. Paul Simon has announced that his upcoming tour, will be his last.

The 2018 George Harrison Birthday Tribute Concert with host Ellis Clark takes place at Martyrs’ on Lincoln Avenue on Saturday February 24. Vocalist Ary Jeebie from The Amazing Heeby Jeebies will be helping out, and as with last year’s tribute, a number of Chicago’s best bands will be taking part. The lineup features Clark’s band The Big Parade; Phil Angotti; The Handcuffs; Tomorrow The Moon; Constantine; Greg Jackson Combs; Phoenix; Frankie B; The Unswept; Aethereal; Gerald McClendan, and other guests to be announced.

Elizabeth Acevedo, a poetry slam champion who is now an author, will be discussing her first novel Poet X at the Seminary Co-op Bookstore in the Hyde Park neighborhood on March 10 at 5:00 p.m.

Sad to say, my nephew Joe Flamm was told to pack his knives on last night’s installment of the Bravo Channel’s Top Chef. He finished last in a Quickfire showdown involving cauliflower. Losing the Quickfire segment didn’t have as much emphasis earlier, so it’s kind of like playing an entire season of baseball and then losing a game by giving up a walk in the first inning. Joe might be able to come back via the Last Chance Kitchen option. At any rate, our whole family is incredibly proud of him. And kudos to all of this year’s chefs for working under challenging circumstances and still being supportive of each other. I sense a lot of them will remain friends long after this season’s finale.

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