Sunday, June 16, 2019

Gee, But It’s Great To Be Back Home

My wife Pam and I spent most of this past week in Cape May, New Jersey. Pam is fond of Victorian style houses and Cape May is to Victorian architecture what Liverpool is to Beatlemania. We booked a room at the gorgeous Mainstay Inn Bed and Breakfast. Each day, we’d walk for blocks checking out colorful homes, and took a tour of one of the largest and most famous ones. Of course, Pam knows tons more about such things, but I had a fun time as well. Victorian houses are cool.

The Washington Mall on Cape May is like its own neighborhood of specialty shops. My favorite was Marlene’s, one of those pop culture stores you find here and there but with a much wider selection. The standard Beatles, Marilyn Monroe, Pink Floyd and Three Stooges merchandise was on hand, but Marlene’s also had a Janis Joplin lunchbox, a vintage concert t-shirt of The Who (which I bought) and memorabilia for Red Hot Chili Peppers, ZZ Top, Rush, and other bands. There’s no website, so all these treasures are only available to customers who walk in the door.

To paraphrase Elvis Costello, everything is Exit Zero. Another cool place in Cape May is the recently opened Exit Zero Filling Station, which in addition to being an actual gas station, is a restaurant, bar, and shop with its own branded t-shirts and glassware. The restaurant has an appealing black and white retro decor, and on the night Pam and I dropped by, 1980s new wave songs were playing on the sound system. Owner Jack Wright, a native Scotsman, also runs the Exit Zero publishing company, which puts out magazines and books overflowing with fun and local flavor.

My June 7 Slumgullion post was called on account of two baseball/rock and roll events held in close proximity to Wrigley Field. First up was the Hot Stove Cool Music VIP Jam Session at The Brickhouse venue on Thursday, June 6. The night kicked off with several local musicians joining together under the Chicago All-Stars banner to perform an hour-long tribute to The Kinks that included “Lola,” “Where Have All The Good Times Gone?,” “She’s Got Everything,” and “You Really Got Me.” The main Hot Stove Cool Music event took place on Friday night, June 7, at Metro, and featured the Chicago All-Stars; Boston All-Stars; Chicago-based rapper Taylor Bennett; BOTO (Band Of Their Own), a group of veteran women musicians; The Chicago Children’s Choir; and special guest, blues legend Buddy Guy. WXRT morning personality Lin Brehmer once again excelled as the event’s host. Everyone came through with solid performances, and a massive amount of money was raised for the Foundation To Be Named Later.


Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Hot Stove Cool Music Returns

The Chicago half of the charity event Hot Stove Cool Music will be held this Friday night, June 7 at Metro. (The Boston version took place earlier this year.) Presented by Google, True Value, KPMG, and Chicago Trading Company, the annual baseball/rock and roll mashup helps Chicago Cubs President of Operations Theo Epstein, along with his brother Paul and award-winning sportswriter Peter Gammons raise funds for the Foundation To Be Named Later. The Foundation is dedicated to “improving lives through education, leadership and the healthy development of youth and families.”

Theo Epstein and Chicago Cubs broadcaster Len Kasper will be rocking with the Chicago All-Stars, while Peter Gammons, Bernie Williams, Jake Peavy and Will Dailey front the Boston All-Stars. Chicago-based hip hop artist (and younger brother of Chance The Rapper) Taylor Bennett was recently announced as one of the performers. WXRT morning personality/long-time Cubs fan Lin Brehmer and former Cubs pitcher Ryan Dempster return as emcees, and attendees will also hear from the Chicago Children’s Choir. Another definite highlight will be a performance by Band Of Their Own, an all-star group with a rotating roster of women musicians.

This year’s BOTO includes members of The Bangles, Belly, Letters To Cleo, The Flat Five, and Blake Babies. Bangles vocalist-drummer Debbi Peterson co-wrote one of the band’ best songs, “Some Dreams Come True” (with W. Inglehart), and Blake Babies vocalist-drummer Freda Love Smith currently performs with one of Chicago’s best current bands, Sunshine Boys. WXRT continues to tease fans on social media about a special, as yet-to-be-named guest. Metro is located just down the street from Wrigley Field, the doors open at 7:30 p.m.


Tuesday, June 4, 2019


Chicago area power pop band Thrift Store Halo will be showcasing songs from its new EP Consolation Prize Fighter this Thursday night at the Ballydoyle Irish Pub in Downers Grove. The record’s being released on the Hi-Beam/Pravda Records/Pravda Music label and has already been getting airplay on the indie radio charts. There’s no cover charge and the music starts at 8:30 p.m.

This year’s Taste Of Des Plaines festival will have a Woodstock theme when it takes place on Friday, June 14 and Saturday, June 15. The town promises a psychedelic Ferris Wheel and a “Woodstock Revival” on that Saturday night with the cover bands Kiss The Sky and Creedence Revived. Still, looking at the Saturday, June 15 schedule, the act that jumps out at me is Backdated, and they go on at 3:00 p.m. Even if Backdated isn’t part of the Woodstock bash, frontman Jay Goeppner knows 1960s rock inside and out, and his choice in covers is always impeccable.

I recently saw director Barak Goodman’s new documentary Woodstock – Three Days That Defined A Generation with a couple of friends at the Gene Siskel Film Center and our response was three thumbs up. The film delves into the background of the guys who organized the iconic rock festival, the social upheaval that preceded it, and the multiple wonders of Woodstock itself. Major heroes who emerge in this film include the hog farmers who kept things organized as best they could under the circumstances, and Richie Havens, who was unexpectedly thrust into the opening act slot and created the song “Freedom” on the spot. Woodstock – Three Days That Defined A Generation runs through this Thursday at the Gene Siskel Film Center.


Friday, May 31, 2019


Riot Fest will celebrate 15 years of bringing counter-culture and alt rock music to Chicago on the weekend of September 13 – 15. The recently announced schedule includes The Raconteurs; Nick Lowe and Los Straitjackets; The Selector; The Flaming Lips; Patti Smith and her band; Violent Femmes; The B-52’s; Bob Mould; Guided By Voices; and The Beaches. Tickets went on sale earlier today.

The Graham Crackers Comics location at 3162 N. Broadway is presenting CHIDRINK AND CADRAWGO tomorrow night from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. It’s being billed as Chicago’s Highest Rated Drink and Draw, and supplies will be provided.

Tickets went on sale today for Chris Hillman and Herb Pedersen at Old Town Scholl of Folk Music on October 13; Ladytron at Metro on December 11; Ingrid Michaelson at The Vic on October 19; Archie Powell and The Exports, with Mutts, Lung, and Vamos at Cobra Lounge on June 29; Willie Nile at SPACE on October 18; and UB40 featuring Ali Campbell and Astro, Shaggy, and Steel Pulse at Hollywood Casino Amphitheater on September 18.

CAKE - The Chicago Alternative Comics Expo comes to the Center on Halsted for a celebration and marketplace of independent comics tomorrow and Sunday.

According to the June issue of the Illinois Entertainer, new albums we’ll see this month include Neil Young’s TUSCALOOSA, Perry Farrell’s Kind Heaven, and Santana’s Africa Speak on June 7; Bruce Springsteen’s Western Stars and Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds’ Black Star on June 14; and The Raconteurs’ Help Us Stranger on June 21.

Barak Goodman’s new documentary Woodstock - Three Days That Defined A Generation is having its Chicago premiere tonight at the Gene Siskel Film Center and run through June 6.

Van Go Red Wigglers, MOULTON, and M. Winfield McEwen from Black Cat Heart Attack are slated to perform at the Porchfest Lakeview Chicago festival being held next Sunday, June 2 at 1309 W. Wolfram Street in Chicago. All ages are invited, and it’s suggested that you bring a cooler and lawn chairs. The event last from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Al Stewart returns to City Winery Chicago next Monday, with The Empty Pockets as his opening act. 

Black Ensemble Theatre continues its popular series of shows honoring legendary African American performers with its production of Style And Grace: In Tribute To Lena Horne and Nancy Wilson. It runs through June 30.

Ghostlight Ensemble will perform The Selfish Giant at Otherworld Theatre June 8 through June 30 on Saturdays and Sundays. Maria Burnham’s play is based on the Oscar Wilde short story of that same name, and is meant to warn audiences of all ages of the pitfalls of selfishness.

Music On Stage wraps up its production of The Producers – A Mel Brooks Musical at Cutting Hall in Palatine this weekend.

Four Chords and a Gun, actor John Ross Bowie’s drama about The Ramones recording their End Of The Century album under the guidance (influence?) of Phil Spector, continues its run at The Broadway Playhouse in Chicago.

The Joliet Library’s 10th Annual Star Wars Day takes place tomorrow from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The festivities will include a parade, games, costumes, live music, and food vendors.


Thursday, May 30, 2019

Everything But Breakfast For Four Hundred Thousand People

The new documentary Woodstock – Three Days That Defined A Generation has its Chicago premiere tomorrow night at the Gene Siskel Film Center on State Street. Director Barak Goodman’s film features footage that’s never been seen before, and serves as a fitting way to start a summer that’s bringing a number of ways to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the iconic rock festival. There will be tribute concerts in addition to screenings of Goodman’s film, and a multi-CD box set for people who want to get their hippie on in the privacy of their living rooms.

As reported on The Second Disc website, Rhino plans to release Woodstock - Back To The Garden: The Definitive 50th Anniversary Archive. It’s a 38-CD box set that captures the Woodstock experience from start to finish, including 267 previously unreleased songs and several announcements. It comes with a hardbound book by Michael Lang, a replica of the original program, Henry Diltz photo prints, and a life-size hologram of Wavy Gravy serving breakfast. Just kidding about that last part.

At the Metropolis Performing Centre in Arlington Heights, Soundtracks Of A Generation will present its 50th Anniversary Tribute to the Woodstcok Era on July 12. The live performances of songs by Crosby, Stills and Nash, Santana, Jefferson Airplane, and other acts will be augmented by a “documentary style narrative that recalls and explains the time frame.”

For a Woodstock-related experience, check out the Louder Than Words – Rock Power Politics exhibit at the Museum of Broadcast Communications. It’s just down the street from the Gene Siskel Center, and runs through the end of August. Echo In The Canyon, Andrew Slater’s new documentary about L.A.’s Laurel Canyon scene in the 1960s, comes to the Music Box Theatre on Chicago’s north side on June 21. Jakob Dylan, who appears in the film, will be on hand for opening night.


Wednesday, May 29, 2019

From L.A. To Chicago With Speed

The original lineup of X, one of first, most influential, and enduring bands from the original L.A. punk scene, comes to the House Of Blues in Chicago tomorrow night. I still have fond memories of blasting Wild Gift on my record player back in 1981, and recording high speed, off-kilter gems like “The Once Over Twice” and “In This House That I Call Home” for my mixed cassettes. According to writer Jeff Elbel’s interview with vocalist-bassist John Doe in last Friday’s Chicago Sun-Times, Doe and vocalist Exene Cervenka have been writing new material, with five songs already recorded. The bands Damned and Detroit Cobras are also on the bill at House Of Blues tomorrow night; the doors open at 8:00 p.m.

The Go-Go’s emerged from that same frantic Los Angeles scene, although the effervescent songs on their Beauty and The Beat debut would bring them much more mainstream success than X. I first encountered them via the Stiff Records 45 single “We Got The Beat” I bought at Wax Trax!and soon after saw them on the rock stage at ChicagoFest on Navy Pier. The Go-Go’s aren’t coming to town that I know of, but Head Over Heels, the musical inspired by their music, opens at Theater Wit in a Kokandy Productions staging on August 1. It previously enjoyed a successful run on Broadway in New York. Theater Wit is located at 1229 W. Belmont.


Tuesday, May 28, 2019


Photo from The Bishop’s Dare Devil Stunt Club Facebook page.

The Bishop’s Daredevil Stunt Club’s show this Friday night at the GMan Tavern on Clark Street is a celebration for the band’s latest album as well as the launch of the indie label releasing it. End Over End is due out soon on Big Blast Records, the revived indie label run by WNUR radio’s Power Pop Shoppe host Kirk Fox and local musician Mark Watson. In a review of The Bishop’s Daredevil Stunt Club’s 2017 album Don’t Buy This Record, I described it as “a ten-song effort that mostly follows in the tradition of fellow Midwestern acts like Wilco and The Webstirs, but also explores 1980s style synth rock.” The Mark Watson Band’s Beautiful EP has also come out on Big Blast, and they’ll be at GMan this Friday as well. The power pop quartet Gal Gun is also on the bill. GMan Tavern is located at 3740 N. Clark, the music starts at 7:30 p.m.

The triple bill of Go Time, The Spindles, and 45 Souls coming up this Thursday at Martyrs’ on Lincoln Avenue has a special bonus. Drummer Brad Elvis, currently with The Handcuffs and The Romantics, is going to join The Spindles for a few songs by his former (and still beloved) band The Elvis Brothers. The Spindles covered the Elvis Brothers song “Santa Fe” on their most recent album Past and Present. Showtime is 8:00 p.m.

On the following night at Martyrs’, EXPO ’76 will mark a career milestone with its 10 Years Of Musical Triumph event. They’ll be joined by their frequent cohorts The Total Pro Horns, along with special guest vocalists Kelly Hogan and Robert Cornelius.

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