Thursday, December 14, 2017

Beauty And Sadness

Listening to WXRT early yesterday morning, I heard the sad news that Pat DiNizio from The Smithereens had died. I first discovered The Smithereens back in 1983 via a Rolling Stone review of their Beauty And Sadness five-song EP. I mentioned the record to fellow power pop fanatic “Boris” during one of the many times we ran into each other at the Haywires club, and learned they were already on his radar too. Many will mourn DiNizio’s passing not only as fans but as friends who connected with him on a personal level over the years.

I can’t remember ever going to a Smithereens concert where they didn’t come out afterwards to chat, pose for pictures, and sign autographs. And I probably saw them more times than any other group. I doubt they were able to remember all of us from one concert to the next, but DiNizio, guitarist-vocalist Jim Babjak, drummer-vocalist Dennis Diken, bassist-vocalist Mike Mesaros (and later, bassist-vocalist The Thrilla) were always genuinely friendly. I would bring things for them to sign that would prove my loyalty. When I handed DiNizio my vinyl copy of Beauty And Sadness after one show, he laughed, turned to his fellow musicians and asked, “Where do they find this stuff?”

The music DiNizio wrote and performed with The Smithereens was a workingman’s power pop with energy and an unerring sense of melody. The ominous “Blood And Roses” from Especially For You brought them national attention and they scored big with songs like ‘Strangers When Me Meet,” “Behind The Wall Of Sleep,” “A Girl Like You,” “Only A Memory,” and “Drown In My Own Tears.” In 2011, they recorded The Smithereens 2011, which found the band still at its peak with catchy songs like “Sorry,” “Rings On Her Fingers,” and “What Went Wrong.” The Smithereens remained a dynamic live act through 2017, and had plans to tour next year.

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Friday, December 8, 2017

Slumgullion

Christmas is just over two weeks away, and if you’re like me, you haven’t finished decorating, gift buying, or sending cards. You still have to bring out your favorite rock and roll holiday CDs and start the rotation of seasonal DVDs, saving A Charlie Brown Christmas and The Snowman for last. And on top of all that, there’s a bunch of entertainment stuff to keep up with.

Chris Ligon and Heather McAdams have enlisted several area musicians to help out with their 20th Anniversary Calendar Show tomorrow night at FitzGerald’s in Berwyn. The guests’ performances tie in with the illustrations in McAdams’ imaginatively illustrated calendar and will include The Flat Five as The Turtles; Devil In A Woodpile as Ray Price; and Jodee Lewis as Joan Baez. Vernon Tonges will take on Burl Ives;, Big Hair Trouble will be The Royal Teens; The Corsairs will be Ronnie Hawkins; Phil Angotti will cover Crosby, Stills and Nash; Jim Becker and Becky Levi will be Buffalo Springfield; Jane Baxter Miller and Kent Kessler will sing like The Byrds; and Joel Patterson with Kelly Hogan, and Nora O’Connor will perform as Les Paul and Mary Ford.

The Bucktown Holiday ArtShow takes place tomorrow and Sunday at The Holstein Park Fieldhouse at 2200 N. Oakley. Admission is $2. The Anderson Galleria, at 5247 N. Clark Street, describes itself as, “like an Art Festival under a roof and year-round.” More than 90 local vendors sell handmade items, many of which are likely to have a holiday them around this time of year.

What I like about two. There’s a double bill of The Romantics and The A Flock Of Seagulls at Joe’s on Weed Street in Chicago next Wednesday, December 13.

1-2-3-4-5-6. Jonathan Richman of The Modern Lovers fame will be coming to on SPACE in Evanston on March 14. Tickets are available via the venue’s website. Tickets are also now on sale for Drive-By Truckers at Thalia Hall on April 6 and 7; Keren Ann at City Winery Chicago on February 20; Ty Segal at The Riviera Theatre on April 8; Southside Johnny and The Asbury Jukes at SPACE on March 3; and Steve Winwood at the Chicago Theatre on February 22.

Chris Stamey, who has a successful career as a solo artist as well as being a member of The dBs, has been named as the opening act for The Alejandro Escovedo Band’s three-night stand at City Winery Chicago on January 25 through 27.

Hugh Hart is still creating vital music even as he continues his successful endeavors in journalism. His latest recording, “Bye Bye Donny,” which can be heard on Soundcloud finds Hart setting politically charged lyrics to a catchy arrangement that recalls his 1980s work with his Chicago-based band The OD’d. Hart’s freelance articles have appeared in the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times.

The Social Act, one of the first bands I interviewed for the Illinois Entertainer back in the late 1980s, has been working on a new album, and will be performing at Martyrs’ on Lincoln Avenue next Friday, December 15. Razorhouse will also be on the bill that night.

Belly has been offering some interesting perks on its PledgeMusic page, and the latest is a colorfully illustrated retro design campaign poster.

Imagine fun in Minnesota. The 38th Annual John Lennon Tribute John Lennon Tribute featuring Curtiss A and his friends is taking place tonight in Minneapolis.

It’s the time of the holiday season to ask for Odessey And Oracle wall art, pillows, or shower curtains from The Zombies website. The British Invasion band is offering its initially overlooked but now iconic LP in assorted sizes and in various mediums.

It’s also entirely appropriate to ask Santa for rock and roll related books. Here’s a few from my list:
Everything I Know I Learned From Rock Stars by Bill Paige and We Have Company - Four Decades Of Rock And Roll Encounters by Bobby Skafish.

Congratulations to my nephew Joe Flamm on making it through the first elimination round on Top Chef. The cooking reality show opened its latest season last night on Bravo, and it was a kick to watch my godson working his culinary magic among 14 other contestants in Denver.

The Empty Bottle is hosting Warm, Safe and Sound, A Coat/Sweater Drive for Homeless Chicagoans on December 21. Donating a coat or sweater will get you in to see the blues rock band North By North, psychedelic rockers Secret Colours, indie rock band The Handcuffs, and the coed indie pop duo Star Tropics.

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Friday, December 1, 2017

Slumgullion

The local musicians behind Great Moments In Vinyl continue their series of honoring classic LPs with a double dose of The Rolling Stones tomorrow night at Martyrs’ on Lincoln Avenue. They’ll be performing Sticky Fingers and Some Girls in their entirety. Next week, on Wednesday, December 7, Tributosaurus will become Paul McCartney at Martyrs’.

U2 has has added a second show at the United Center in Chicago next May as part of its iNNOCENCE + eXPERIENCE Tour. Tickets go on sale this Monday at 10:00 a.m. The band’s new album Songs Of Experience came out today.

WXRT Live From The Archives Volume 19 is now available at Chicago area Target stores. The limited-edition various artists compilation sells out quickly.

Bloodshot Records will be spinning tracks from its various artists 13 Days Of Xmas album when it hosts a Holiday Pop Up Store tomorrow at its headquarters on Irving Park Road. The Chicago-based indie label is promising refreshments and snacks, along with exclusive holiday stuff like records, clothing, and signed memorabilia for sale. The event, which will run from noon to 7:00 p.m, ties in with Bloodshot’s seventh annual Stuffed Animal Drive, which collects soft toys and warm clothing.

If you’re searching for a unique gift that can’t be bought in any department store, check out The Renegade Craft Fair tomorrow and Sunday at The Bridgeport Center at 1200 W. 35th Street. The Bucktown Holiday ArtShow takes place next Saturday and Sunday (December  9 and 10) at The Holstein Park Fieldhouse at 2200 N. Oakley. Admission is $2. The Anderson Galleria, at 5247 N. Clark Street, describes itself as, “like an Art Festival under a roof and year-round.” More than 90 local vendors sell handmade items, many of which are likely to have a holiday them around this time of year.

Alt rock band whitewolfsonicprincess and garage rockers The Telepaths are hosting a multi-band Toys For Tots Benefit Show tomorrow night at Red Line Tap. Other performers include Kc Chronis; The Darkroom Men; Joe Lapsley and Jana Measells; Gary Nobody; The Rut; and The Rolling Clones. The show starts at 7:00 p.m.

Local bands Super Sonic Space Rebels and The Amazing Heeby Jeebies will present A Night Of Rockabilly, Punkabilly And Garage Rock’n’Roll on December 7 at the Burlington Bar on Fullerton on Chicago’s north side.

The perception that only guys are interested reading and/or creating graphic novels gets upended on the first Wednesday of each month at Graham Crackers in downtown Chicago. That’s when the store hosts Ladies Night, which members describe as, “Wimmen talkin’ ta wimmen ‘bout comics!” The next get-together takes place on December 6. Ladies Night compilations, featuring several local comic creators, are available for sale at the store.

We Fitz You A Merry Christmas. The FitzGerald’s venue in Berwyn will be a festive place over the holiday season. Next Saturday, December 9, Chris Ligon and Heather McAdams will enlist several area musicians to help out with their 20th Anniversary Calendar Show. Guests include The Flat Five, Devil In A Woodpile, Jodee Lewis, Vernon Tonges, Big Hair Trouble, The Corsairs, Phil Angotti, Joel Patterson with Kelly Hogan, and Nora O’Connor. Chicago Tribune rock critic Greg Kot’s feature story on McAdams and Ligon in today’s On The Town section mentions that the illustrated Heather’s L’il Folk, Rock, Pop, and Country Calendar includes Crosby, Stills, Nash And Young; Mel Torme; and Ray Price.

On December 22 at FitzGerald’s, the annual Redmonds Christmas Show will feature hosts The Redmonds and their guests Kevin Lee And The Kings, Duct Tape Band, and The Romeo Brothers. On the next night, December 23, there’s Flirting With Time: A Tribute To Tom Petty. Proceeds will benefit the One America Appeal Hurricane Charity.

The Regrettes played to an enthusiastic crowd at The House Of Blues last night. They were the opening act for a double bill of Swmrs and The Interrupters, but it’s already clear these young Los Angeles natives are building momentum with their catchy and emotionally charged songs. Seventeen-year-old lead vocalist-guitarist Lydia Night channels the unbridled energy that has kept punk a vital force over four decades while adding a touch of adolescent playfulness.The Regrettes’ “A Living Human Girl” was chosen chosen by Billboard magazine as one of the Top 25 Feminist Anthems, and the band’s “I Don’t Like You” is in contention for Coolest Song Of The Year on Little Steven’s Underground Garage radio program.

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. A portion of the proceeds from this event will benefit cancer patients at Northshore University Healthsystem’s Integrative Medicine Program.

All in the family. Singer-guitarist John Petitt, formerly with the rock trio This Is This, will be performing as part of the Big Brother’s Vinyl show on January 13 at the Arlington Ale House (third floor) in Arlington Heights. He’ll be joined by musicians Ryan Aiello, Rick Fobes, Joe McMichael, and Naveen Prashantham. Lizzy Petitt (John’s daughter and a former member of Serendipity) and the Bandwagon will be the opening act. The music starts at 7:30 p.m.

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

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Thursday, November 30, 2017

Music And Comic News

CHIRP Radio, which has a well-established reputation for supporting local, independent musicians, is now broadcasting from Chicago’a north side and can be heard at 107.1 FM. The station also holds its CHIRP Record Fair And Other Delights mammoth record and pop memorabilia event each April on Washington, just west of the Loop.

The NutTapper Holiday Variety Show takes place tomorrow morning, December 1, at The Old Town School of Folk Music. Reggio “The Hoofer” McLaughlin once again hosts the annual multicultural reimagining of Tchaichovsky’s classic ballet The Nutcracker, with help from local students and professional dancers. The show kicks off (literally) at 10:00 a.m.

The locals musicians behind Great Moments In Vinyl continue their series of honoring classic LPs with a double dose of The Rolling Stones this Saturday night at Martyrs’ on Lincoln Avenue. They’ll be performing Sticky Fingers and Some Girls in their entirety. Next week, on Wednesday, December 7, Tributosaurus will become Paul McCartney at Martyrs’.

The perception that only guys are interested reading and/or creating sci-fi graphic novels gets upended on the first Wednesday of each month at Graham Crackers in downtown Chicago. That’s when the store hosts Ladies Night, which members describe as, “Wimmen talkin’ ta wimmen ‘bout comics!” The next get-together takes place on December 6 next week. Ladies Night compilations, featuring several local comic creators, are available for sale at the store.

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Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Various Artists - We Weren’t Meant To Last

We Weren’t Meant To Last is the latest Norcore Comics Group compilation that casts a spotlight on the once vibrant punk scene in Norwood Park. The northwest side Chicago neighborhood seems fairly sedate now, but back in the early 1980s, it spawned numerous bands that rocked The Courtside Racket Club and other local venues. We Weren’t Meant To Last unleashes 27 songs originally recorded between 1983 and 1986 that have been mastered by Blaise Barton at Joyride with additional engineering by Brian Leach. Not all the tracks qualify as punk, but the album is a complete success.

“Lost Track” (I’m not sure if that’s the real name or just what Noncore is calling it) by Crinkum Crankum is raw and bluesy, while the boogie of The Gadderwalls’ “No Doubt About It” sounds more like Canned Heat than The Clash. The Outer Ring’s instrumental “Ska Tune” works an espionage mystique and Puss ’N Boots offers the acoustic and compelling “Parting Sees.” Blue Eyed Pasty Whites kick things off with good time rock of “Coulda Woulda Shoulda” and The Beach Hermits mix ska and power pop on “Watershed.”

The punk music exhibits a variety of approaches as well. Throttle Body’s “23 (Listen For It),” The Chocita Bandits’ “Russ Meyer,” and Helstrom’s “Something Special” are fast-paced, guitar driven efforts, while The Supreme Hustle adds a bit of funk to “Back On Up To Me.” “Jump Start” by Vagiant is a catchy, romantic song with female lead vocals, and The Tardagens rage through “Hand To Hand Combat.” The colorful liner notes by Terry Fox describe a scene “whose frenetic pace was only eclipsed by its own brevity.” Thanks to Norcore, that brief exuberance can still be experienced decades later.

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Monday, November 27, 2017

Incoming

Photo from The Regrettes Facebook page.

Some fun things around Chicago in the next few days.

The Los Anegles-based band The Regrettes return to the Chicago this Thursday night at The House Of Blues as the opening act for co-headliners The Interrupters and Swmrs. It looks to be an evening of vintage punk, and as young as they are, The Regrettes are authentic practitioners. On the quartet’s full-length debut Feel Your Feelings Fool, lead vocalist-guitarist and main songwriter Lydia Night consistently brings grit and humor to her lyrics.

The explosive but irresistible arrangements on songs like “I Don’t LikeYou” and “How It Should Be” tap also into the 1960s girl group sound in a way that’s reminiscent of the very early Go-Go’s. Even when Night creates upbeat romantic songs like “Hey Now” and “’Til Tomorrow,” they exude an off-kilter and vulnerable charm. “A Living Human Girl” mocks the limitations society places on women. The Regrettes have previously been in town for gigs at Riot Fest and Schubas.

Rhett Miller’s Holiday Extravaganza with Special Guest Matthew Ryan takes place this Thursday, November 30 at City Winery Chicago. Miller is the lead vocalist for the alt/roots rock band The Old 97s, and if you’ve seen them, you know he’s a high-energy, charismatic showman. It should be interesting to see how he works Old 97s classics like “Champaign, Illinois,” “Let’s Get Drunk And Get It On,” and “Time Bomb” into a holiday show.

WXRT overnight radio personality Emma Mac continues her series of Holiday Hours with Heineken events at venues around the Chicago this Thursday, November 30. The event will be at the Fado Irish bar on Grand Avenue. The festivities last from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. and those who show up have a chance to win a Heineken guitar.

Bloodshot Records will be spinning tracks from its various artists Christmas album when it hosts a Holiday Pop Up Store on December 2 at its headquarters on Irving Park Road. The Chicago-based indie label is promising refreshments and snacks, along with exclusive holiday stuff like records, clothing, and signed memorabilia for sale. The event, which will run from noon to 7:00 p.m, ties in with Bloodshot’s seventh annual Stuffed Animal Drive, which collects soft toys and warm clothing.

Alt rock band whitewolfsonicprincess and garage rocker The Telepaths are holding a Toys For Tots Benefits Show on December 2 at Red Line Tap. Led by vocalist Carla Hayden and guitarist-vocalist James Moeller, whitewolfsonicprincess are veterans of Chicago’s holiday charity scene.

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Friday, November 24, 2017

Turkey Casserole

Photo from the Squeeze Facebook page.
A festive Broken Hearted Toy welcome to Squeeze, who have a show tomorrow night at the Vic. The critically acclaimed British act, whose chief songwriters Glenn Tilbrook and Chris Difford are sometimes compared to John Lennon and Paul McCartney, released their most recent album The Knowledge this past October. Singer-guitarist Wesley Stace (John Wesley Harding) is the opening act.

There’s going to be a Skanksgiving 80s Ska Revival at The Beat Kitchen tomorrow night featuring Heavy Manners, DJ Chuck Wren, and Max And The Invaders. Admission is $15, doors open at 8:00 p.m.

Tickets are now on sale for U2’s May 23 concert at the United Center as part of its eXPERIENCE + iNNOCENCE tour. The band’s album by that name comes out next Friday.

Bad Examples lead vocalist/chief songwriter Ralph Covert will be at FitzGerald’s tomorrow night, as Ralph Covert’s Acoustic Army.

The power pop scene took a major hit with the recent death of veteran musician Tommy Keene. Although he never became a major star, it’s obvious from the numerous emotional posts across social media that he was highly respected and a close friend to musicians as well as journalists and promoters.

There are still some tickets left for the 93XRT Goose Island Holiday Jam featuring Spoon with special guest Real Estate on December 10 at the Chicago Theatre.

WXRT Live From The Archives Volume 19 will be available on December 1 at Chicago area Target stores. A partial list of the artists involved has been posted on the station’s website and includes Phoenix, Cold War Kids, Sting, Portugal. The Man, Vance Joy, and Real Estate. All of these live performances were recorded in 2017.

Tributosaurus, one of the Chicago area’s best known tribute bands, becomes Paul McCartney on December 6 at Martyrs’ on Lincoln Avenue.

Punk’s Not Dead. The Regrettes, an L.A.-based band that blended vintage punk, the 1960s girl group sound, and a defiant spirit on its Feel Your Feelings Fool debut, has a gig coming up on November 30 at House Of Blues in Chicago. They’ll be supporting co-headliners The Interrupters and Swmrs. The Regrettes have visited Chicago at least twice already, for appearances at Riot Fest and Schubas.

Saturday Night Live: The Experience, a multimedia exhibit celebrating the long-running NBC show, is currently running at the Museum Of Broadcast Communications in downtown Chicago.

I had a successful early morning Black Friday Record Store Day visit to the Reckless Records on Madison in downtown Chicago today, where I picked up the Cheap Trick Christmas Christmas album, The Minus Five’s Dear December album, and both Holidays Rule seven-inch singles by Paul McCartney, Jimmy Fallon, and The Roots. (One has The Decembrists singing Alex Chilton’s “Jesus Christ” on the flip side and the other has Norah Jones singing “Peace.”

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