Friday, January 12, 2018


Photo from the Jeff Tweedy Facebook page.

The state of Wisconsin has been plastering ads around the Chicago area trying to lure millennials up north. I can’t say the idea has any appeal for me. Here’s some entertainment news about Chicago and beyond.

Tickets went on sale today for The Breeders at The Vic on May 8; Jeff Tweedy at The Vic on April 27 and 28; and Suzanne Vega at City Winery Chicago on May 5 and May 6.

Lifeline Theatre’s 21st Annual Filet Of Solo kicks off tonight and will run on weekends at Lifeline Theatre and Heartland Studio Theatre through January 28. The festival will feature solo performances by Lily Be; Ada Cheng; Shelby Marie Edwards; Julie Gannet; Carly Jo Geer; R.C. Riley; and Jameson Wentworth. There will also be tales spun by Around The World: Immigrant Stories; GayCo; GeNarrations; the kates; The Lifeline Storytelling Project; Sappho’s Salon; Serving The Sentence; Stir Friday Night; The Stoop; Sweat Girls; Tellin’ Tales Theatre, featuring Tekkie Lomnicki; and You’re Being Ridiculous. Tickets are $10 for each performance; festival passes are available for $50. See the Lifeline website for the full schedule.

The January issue of New City includes a cover story on The 50 People Who Really Perform For Chicago on the local theatre scene.

Big Brother’s Vinyl will be playing songs from the 1960s and 1970 at the Arlington Ale House (third floor) in Arlington Heights tomorrow night. The opening act Lizzy Petitt and the Bandwagon will perform a mix of 1960s and contemporary rock. The music starts at 7:30 p.m.

Band Called Catch celebrates its 10th anniversary with a show tomorrow night at Martyrs’. Past members are scheduled to join in the fun. The show will be preceded by sets from Laura Glyda, Buffalo Rose, and Todd Kessler.

A recent Facebook post from International Pop Overthrow Founder/CFO David Bash presented his annual best releases list, a super size document that comprises over 300 titles scattered across 13 categories. All of which makes my 2017 Favorites list, which I’m hoping to post by month’s end, look like a chicken nugget by comparison. Actually, Bash’s Albums List, like his IPO website, is a great way to discover new artists. His top album of the year? Shag by the Los Angeles-based power pop band Sitcom Neighbor.

Longtime Chicago rock critic Peter Margasak listed his Favorite Albums of 2017 in this week’s issue of The Reader. His number one pick was Peasant by English singer-songwriter Richard Dawson.

The Celebrating David Bowie tribute concert arrives in America on February 10, following a series of European dates throughout January. It’s coming to The Vic Theatre in Chicago on Friday, February 23. Adrian Belew. Earl Slick, Mike Garson, Bernard Fowler, Angelo Moore , Gerry Leonard, Joe Sumner, Carmine Rojas will be performing, along with other guest musicians.

Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow of The Posies will perform as a duo at City Winery Chicago on January 31. It part of the band’s 30th Anniversary Tour.

My nephew Joe Flamm continues his run on the Bravo channel’s Top Chef; having made it through the sixth episode last night.

The Moody Blues’ induction into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame later this year won’t feel the same now that flute player/vocalist Ray Thomas has passed away. He played a major role in the band’s melodic and imaginative progressive rock and will be missed.

The Chicago Inc. column in today’s Chicago Tribune mentioned that MTV is considering Chicago as the location of a Jersey Shore spinoff called Family Vacation featuring the original cast. Now there’s a group of people who would be better off choosing Wisconsin.


Monday, January 8, 2018

Squeeze - The Knowledge

Released in October of 2017, The Knowledge proves Squeeze is still the champagne of pop music. The 12 songs feature Glenn Tilbrook and Chris Difford’s clever lyrics and irresistible melodies, as well as their impressive harmony vocals. Drummer Simon Hanson and keyboards player Stephen Large from the 2015 album Cradle To The Grave are back onboard, and there are enough guest musicians and vocalists to fill a continent.

Like wisdom, The Knowledge seems to have come with age, as Tilbrook and Difford reflect on the later stages of life; for themselves and the people they encounter. Their observations can be poignant, as on the energetic “Innocence In Paradise” and the acoustic “Departure Lounge,” or laced with wry humor, like “Please Be Upstanding,” which seems to be about a couple reigniting their sex life via a Viagra prescription. “Albatross” is a short and funny portrait of a vinyl junkie whose, “youthful past still floats around, both in his head and in his sounds.”

This latest effort explores current social issues as well. On “Rough Ride,” Squeeze takes lines like, “Either you’re rich or it’s tough” and “Austerity, austerity, is that all you have to give to me?” and drops them into an improbable but engaging mix of funk, opera, and Broadway musical. “A and E” turns a trip to the emergency room into a Motown-fueled call for more medical funding. Mostly, The Knowledge is another serving of classic Squeeze. “Patchouli” is an appealing look back at a teenage romance, and “Two Forks” is a rollicking celebration of people being able to overcome their differences.


Friday, January 5, 2018


We had a super moon earlier this week and as always when there’s something going on with moon, my mind immediately goes to Off Broadway’s “Full Moon Turn My Head Around.” It’s from the Chicago band’s 1979 debut On, which is still considered a landmark album among power pop fans. Lead vocalist and chief songwriter Cliff Johnson often moved beyond the standard boy wants girl lyrics of power pop in favor of something more unusual and fun. Johnson will be performing the entire On album with The Raine at Fitzgerald’s in Berwyn tomorrow night. Over the past few years, the guys in The Raine have proved to be a perfect match for Johnson’s catchy and energetic material. The Jay Geoppner Band, which performs an eclectic variety of classic rock, is also on the bill. The music starts at 8:30.

The Vulgar Boatmen, an Indianapolis-based band that has built a loyal following around the songwriting duo of Robert Ray and Dale Lawrence, is performing at Schubas on Southport tomorrow night. Their impressive 1989 debut You And Your Sister returned in a 25th Anniversary remastered edition in 2016 and featured classic indie rock songs like “Change The World Around” and “Drink More Coffee.” The coed alt rock duo KaiserCartel will be opening with songs that emphasize harmonies and strong melodies.

Bev Bevan of The Move and Electric Light Orchestra fame, is currently playing drums and co-writing with the band Quill. The work reunites him with former ELO Part 2 mate Phil Bates. The Quill Riding Rainbows tour kicks off on March 2 in the UK.

International Pop Overthrow has entered into a partnership with indie label Omnivore Recordings, according to a Facebook post from IPO honcho David Bash. Omnivore will release the IPO Volume 21 CD ater this year. Volumes three through 20 were released on Bruce Brodeen’s Not Lame label. Brodeen announced in 2017 that he was leaving the business.

The 11th Annual Ian’s Party snagged a cover story in this week’s edition of The Reader and a mention in the Chicago Tribune. Two venues—Subterranean and Chop House—are hosting year’s event today, tomorrow and Sunday, with 69 bands scheduled to perform. The lineup includes beastii, Mother Nature, The Brokedown, and Montrose Man. Links to all the bands can be found on the Ian’s Party website. Ticket prices ranging from $10 to $30.

Congratulations to my nephew Joe Flamm for making it through another week on Bravo’s Top Chef program.

The Chicago-based David Bowie tribute band Sons Of The Silent Age has a show called The Berlin Years at Metro tomorrow night. With help from acclaimed actor Michael Shannon, they’ll perform Bowie’s Low, Heroes, and Lodger albums.

WXRT is holding its annual Listener Poll Gala on January 23 at City Winery Chicago. Tributosaurus will once again be providing live music, and the station’s DJs will announce listeners’ most-loved concerts, albums, local artists, etc. The event starts at 7:00 p.m. Those interested in attending can enter for a chance to win tickets on WXRT’s official website.

Band Called Catch celebrates its 10th anniversary with a show next Saturday, January 13 at Martyrs’. Past members are scheduled to join the party. The show will be preceded by sets from Laura Glyda, Buffalo Rose, and Todd Kessler.

Singer-guitarist John Petitt, formerly with the rock trio This Is This, is now performing with Big Brother’s Vinyl. The band plays songs from the 1960s and 1970s, and as Petitt explained, “Much of our repertoire is off road of Top 40 radio.” Big Brother’s Vinyl has a gig coming up next Saturday, January 13 at the Arlington Ale House (third floor) in Arlington Heights. The opening act that night Lizzy Petitt (John’s daughter, and a former member of Serendipity) and the Bandwagon plays a mix of 1960s and contemporary rock. The music starts at 7:30 p.m.


Wednesday, January 3, 2018


Sons Of The Silent Age poster by Molly Kate Lane

As tough as January can be in Chicago—and we’re working on a record cold snap right now—it’s a great time of year for blues fans. It’s traditionally when homegrown but international legend Buddy Guy spends a lot of time performing at his Legends blues club. As noted by writer Miriam Nunzio in the Chicago Sun-Times, tomorrow’s opening night of Guy’s 2018 residency will also serve as fundraiser for PCa Blue. The blues-infused charity organization is dedicated to finding a cure for prostate cancer. Tickets for the 21-and-older show are $55; the show at Buddy Guy’s Legends starts at 7:30 p.m.

Sons Of The Silent Age have built a strong following in the Chicago area and the David Bowie tribute act has a particularly ambitious show coming up this Saturday, January 6 at Metro. The Berlin Years will find these Chicago music scene veterans joined by critically acclaimed actor Michael Shannon as they perform Bowie’s Low, Heroes, and Lodger albums. A portion of the proceeds will benefit cancer patients at Northshore University Healthsystem’s Integrative Medicine Program. The music starts at 8:00 p.m.

There’s some retro-inspired fun coming up tomorrow night at Martyrs’ on Lincoln Avenue. Rosie And The Rivets, who play rockabilly, girl group, surf, and British Invasion songs, will share the bill with Amazing Heeby Jeebies, who mix originals with covers ranging from Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra to The Cramps. The blues/rockabilly outfit Tiny Miles Trio will also be performing. The shown starts at 8:00 p.m.


Saturday, December 30, 2017

More New Year’s Eve Suggestions

Ring in the new year with The Zombies

Every time I cruise Facebook, I find more worthwhile things to promote for New Year’s Eve. Please note, I listed some on yesterday’s post as well. Wish I could travel around with a film crew and broadcast all of these fun celebrations on national TV.

The Zombies have a fun suggestion for New Year’s Eve. If you start playing “This Will Be Our Year”  from their classic Odessey and Oracle album at 11:58:16, the final “this will be our year” will play exactly at midnight. Unfortunately, it wasn’t their year to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame but they’re going to be on tour in 2018, so you can tell them in person how well their New Year’s Eve idea worked.

EXPO ’76, a cover band comprising veterans of the Chicago rock scene, will be performing selections from their massive and amazingly eclectic repertoire at the Sidebar Room at FitzGerald’s.

The Chicago Botanic Garden, at 1000 Lake Cook Road in Glencoe, is offering its annual Wonderland Express through January 7. The indoor exhibit features model trains, miniature Chicago landmarks, and carolers.

It’ll be a bit past New Year’s Eve, but there’s some retro-inspired good times coming up at Martyrs’ on Thursday, January 4 when Rosie And The Rivets, Amazing Heeby Jeebies, and Tiny Miles Trio share a triple bill.


Friday, December 29, 2017


Photo from the Over The Rhine Facebook page.

New Year’s Eve is only two days away, so here are some suggestions for people in the Chicago area who haven’t made plans yet.

The Cincinnati-based alt rock/roots band Over The Rhine will be playing songs from their critically acclaimed albums at The Old Town School Of Folk Music. Founding members/spouses Linford Detweiler and Karin Bergquist craft inventive arrangements and Bergquist’s amazing vocals bring the provocative lyrics to life. Journalist Jef Elbel has an interesting interview with Detweiler in the Agenda section of today’s Chicago Sun-Times.

From RSD to NYE. There’ll be no cover charge when Laurie’s Planet Of Sound holds its annual New Year’s Eve party at Ricochets Tavern on Lincoln Avenue. The record store throws great Record Store Day bashes every April, so why not check out how they’ll ring in 2018. DJ Samorama is in charge of the music and there’s free champagne at midnight. The party starts at 9:00 p.m.

The BoDeans perform the first of two gigs at City Winery Chicago on New Year’s Eve, with the second one coming on January 1. The Wisconsin-based band has lots of catchy, fun material to draw from, including “Closer To Free,” “Fadeaway,” and “She’s A Runaway.”

Guided By Voices, whose distinctive brand of alt rock/power pop has attracted a devoted following for several years now, will be performing at The Empty Bottle on Western Avenue on the north side.

WXRT (93.1 FM) overnight air personality Emma Mac, who usually holds down the oversight shift, will switch hours in order to host the station’s commercial-free 93 Best Party Songs programming. It kicks off at 7:00 p.m. and runs through midnight.

And in other entertainment news:

If you got money or a gift card for the holiday and are looking for a rock and roll way to spend it, how about On Air, a new two-CD release of live recordings by The Rolling Stones at the BBC between 1963 and 1965. It includes eight tracks that were never released or recorded commercially.

Cliff Johnson and The Raine and The Jay Geoppner Band will be performing at FitzGerald’s in Berwyn on Saturday, January 6. Later next month at FitzGerald’s, Classic Tribute Night on January 18 will feature Phil Angotti performing The Rolling Stones’ Out Of Our Heads; Rachel Drew performing Amy Winehouse’s Back To Black; and North Berwyn Rhythm And Soul Organization performing as a mystery guest.

Sons Of The Silent Age, the David Bowie tribute act composed of several Chicago music scene veterans, will have acclaimed actor Michael Shannon as their special guest when they perform The Berlin Years on January 6 at Metro.

Upcoming new albums include Wrong Creatures by Black Rebel Motorcycle Club on January 12; Marble Skies by Django Django on January 26; and Always Ascending by Franz Ferdinand on February 9.

The official trailer for Metric’s 2018 Dreams So Real concert film can now be seen on YouTube. Fans can preorder Dreams So Real on DVD and Blu Ray or as a three-LP set on the band’s PledgeMusic site.  Various bundles featuring a t-shirt, signed items, liner notes, etc. are also available. Metro vocalist Emily Haines released her third solo effort, Choir Of The Mind, earlier this year and plans to tour in support of it.

The January issue of the Illinois Entertainer is out, with staff members listing their choices for best albums and concerts. Over the twenty-some years I wrote for them, I.E. invited me to participate in this annual ritual a whopping one time. Anyway, it’s nice to see Curt Baran name The Regrettes’ Feel Your Feelings Fool among his top albums and their show at Schubas among his top concerts. Baran and publisher John Vernon both picked Visions Of A Life by Wolf Alice as one of their favorite albums, which increases my interest in buying it.

Meet the new Doc, definitely not the same as the old Doc. Actress Jodie Whittaker officially arrived as the 13th incarnation of The Doctor when the Doctor Who annual Christmas Special aired this past Monday. Whittaker is the first woman to portray the iconic sci-fi character who is able to regenerate and take on an entirely appearance and, to a less degree, persona. Imagine the suspense and surprise among the show’s loyal fans if there was no way of knowing what the new Doctor will look like until the episode aired. Of course, that kind of secrecy would be pretty much impossible these days.

After surviving a tough round in the fourth installment, my nephew Joe Flamm will be among the remaining contestants on the Bravo Channel’s Top Chef as it moves into 2018.


Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Coke Belda - (3) Gs - A Tribute To The Bee Gees

The Bee Gees weren’t exaggerating when they named one of their early records Rare, Precious And Beautiful, although they would later court a different following with funky dance-oriented material. Vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Coke Belda covers that full spectrum on his recent release (3) Gs - A Tribute To The Bee Gees. A native of Spain who now lives in Pittsburgh, Belda gives each track the easy-going allure of the band’s baroque pop era, even when he’s performing something from as late as 1987. This mix of singles and deep album cuts avoids the biggest hits (thankfully, there’s no “Jive Talking”) while concentrating on the exquisite melodies and eccentric lyrics that were Brothers Gibb trademarks.

“Claustrophobia,” a song from The Bee Gees’ early days in Australia, doesn’t so much kick off the album as float in like a feather. It’s a light, very British Invasion type song about a guy who feels the woman he’s dating has too many boyfriends. “You Win Again,” the track from 1987, also deals with too much competition in a relationship, and sports a mid-tempo arrangement with masterfully layered vocals. “Edge Of The Universe,” from the mid 70s Main Course album, finds Belda working with a soulful beat, and proves that regardless of the era, The Bee Gees loved crafting silly lyrics.

There’s plenty of clever wordplay on vintage gems like “Indian Gin And Whiskey Dry,” “Cucumber Castle,” and “Sir Geoffrey Save The World,” which has its title character, “Talking with lambs who came out of the skies.” Belda also effectively channels the different brothers’ vocal styles, particularly on the singles “First Of May,” “Gotta Get A Message To You” and “Run To Me.” But the highlight of (3) Gs - A Tribute To The Bee Gees is Belda’s breathless, power pop take on the energetic title track from Idea, the band’s million-selling third album.

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