Friday, November 16, 2018


Maybe I’m Omazed. Two lucky Paul McCartney fans could win tickets to see him perform at the Echo Arena in Liverpool, as well as free airfare, hotel accommodations, and a chance to join him onstage. It’s all part of a current campaign on the Omaze fundraising site to support the not-for-profit Meat Free Monday campaign, which Paul and his daughters Mary and Stella started in 2009. Omaze specializes in matching popular celebrities to worthwhile causes.

Depending on when you read this tonight, you might still have time to catch EXPO ’76 at Mac’s On Slade in Palatine; The Sting Police tribute act at the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre in Arlington Heights; Big Brother’s Vinyl at Countryside Saloon in Des Plaines; the WNUR Showcase at Montrose Saloon in Chicago featuring The Idea, Love Punch and The Dry Look; or The Vanessa Davis Band at FitzGerald’s in Berwyn.

Tickets went on sale today for Frank Orrall from Poi Dog Pondering at SPACE on November 16; Meshell Ndegeocello at Thalia Hall on November 16; Flat Five at SPACE on February 14; celtic band Cherish The Ladies at The Old Town School Of Folk Music on March 24; Coathangers at Empty Bottle on April 9; Billy Bragg at Lincoln Hall on April 25 – 27; and Dido at The Vic on June 13.

Shiny and Oh So Bright . . ., the latest release from The Smashing Pumpkins, arrived today. Next Friday brings The Bela Session by Bauhaus; and on November 30, we’ll see Bitter-Sweet from Bryan Ferry and WARM from Jeff Tweedy.

Long-time Lincoln Park store The Book Cellar will host An Evening With Jeff Tweedy at The Music Box on Southport this Sunday at 7:00 p.m. Tweedy, well-known frontman for Wilco, will be discussing his new memoir Let’s Go (So We Can Get Back).

Black Friday Record Store Day is next Friday. Do you know where your wish list is?

The Safes are holding their 15th Annual Black Wednesday Show at Schubas, so be sure to have all your Thanksgiving meal preparation done early. This year, they’ll be joined by The Differents, Baby Money, The Down Payments, and The Marcatos.

David Crosby has a gig coming up on Monday, November 19 at the North Shore Center For The Performing Arts in Skokie.

Second City is already known for live shows that have launched the careers of several big time comic performers, as well as for its training facilities. It’s now also the home of the Harold Ramis Film School, which is being billed as The World’s Only Film School Dedicated To Comedy. The program is divided into three segments—Comedy Theory, Storytelling, and Filmmaking. Anyone interested in enrolling can contact Second City at

The BoDeans have three shows coming up next weekend at City Winery Chicago; a 7:00 p.m. and a 10:00 p.m. on Saturday, and a 7:00 p.m. on Sunday.

Congratulations to long-time Chicago Tribune theater critic Chris Jones on his brand new book Rise Up! Broadway and American Society from Angels in America to Hamilton. Last Sunday’s edition of the Chicago Tribune had an extensive excerpt describing Barack and Michelle Obama attending a Broadway production of Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun back in 2014.

The Sunshine Boys will celebrate the vinyl release of their superb album Blue Music with a show on November 24 at Montrose Saloon.

The 20th Annual Animation Show Of Shows comes to the Gene Siskel Film for a two-week run starting on December 14.


Thursday, November 15, 2018

We Get The Idea

The Chicago-based band The Idea returns to action tomorrow night at Montrose Saloon for a triple bill of power pop being sponsored by local radio station WNUR. Kirk Fox, host of The Power Pop Shoppe, has done an impressive job of bringing his radio show to venues like Montrose Saloon and The Elbo Room. Singer-guitarist Phil Angotti of The Idea was featured as a solo act in one of those live shows, and he’s released a trio of albums in recent years that have drawn praise here on Broken Hearted Toy.

Angotti was performing with The Idea when it was one of three Chicago bands (The Critics and 92 Degrees being the others) to perform at the very first International Pop Overthrow festival in Los Angeles in 1977. The band also contributed “It’s About That Time,” one of the best Christmas pop songs ever to Yuletunes, one of the best holiday compilations ever. It might be a bit early for The Idea to play “It’s About That Time” tomorrow night, but I doubt anyone at Montrose Saloon would mind.

The music starts at 9:00 p.m. tomorrow. Love Punch and The Dry Look are also on the bill.


Wednesday, November 14, 2018


Photo from the EXPO ’76 Facebook page.

EXPO ’76 returns to Mac’s On Slade in Palatine for an 8:45 p.m. gig this Friday night. The band members are music scene veterans, and their experience is evident in the decades-spanning and impeccable cover versions they perform. Unique treats, like a “James Bond Theme”/”Sunny” by Bobby Hebb mashup, and song segues not many bands would have the knowledge to craft, are part of every show. Note: Mac’s is a small venue so get there early if you want a place to sit. Also, it will cost $3 to see this gig (I think Mac’s generally doesn’t have a cover charge) but as the band humbly noted on social media, it’s worth at least twice that much.

Singer-guitarist Dag Juhlin, who’s one of those EXPO ’76 band members, has a show titled Solo Recital #2 coming up on November 30 at the Friendly Tap in Berwyn. I have no idea what songs he’ll be playing, but it would be fun to hear a mix of material from The Slugs, Poi Dog Pondering, Sunshine Boys and other bands he’s performed with over the years. Dave Sebastian, a member of The Raine—the band that backed Off Broadway vocalist Cliff Johnson on a number of occasions—will be the opening act.

Tributosaurus, one of Chicago’s most successful tribute acts, will be performing a One Hit Wonders of the 1980s show when it return to the Copernicus Center in Chicago’s Jefferson Park neighborhood on January 20.

The Sting Police, a tribute act that specializes in the music by The Police and Sting, have a 7:30 p.m. show coming up this Friday at the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre For The in Arlington Heights.

Big Brother’s Vinyl will be playing guitar-driven, classic rock hits and deep album cuts at the Countryside Saloon in Des Plaines this Friday night, and at the Arlington Ale House in Arlington Heights on December 8.


Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Dot Dash - Proto Retro

Proto Retro finds Dot Dash experimenting with Beach Boys style backup vocals and jangling guitars. It’s a new but not surprising approach from a band that has pretty much employed a different game plan for each of the six full-length albums it’s released since 2011. Based in Washington, D.C., Dot Dash has previously given us authentic punk, as well as guitar-driven alt rock inspired by 1980s masters like Translator and Red Rockers. The impressive journey continues with the recently released Proto Retro.

Dot Dash brings a sharper edge and cryptic lyrics to their jangling, catchy arrangements, particularly on “Unfair Weather” and “Sun + Moon = Disguise.” Much of the album evokes the way R.E.M. updated The Byrds, with “It’s The End Of The World As We Know It” often serving as a template. Vocalist-guitarist Terry Banks adroitly navigates quick rhymes and off-kilter phrases like “I made a hat of a Texas map” on the defiant “Green On Red” and “I’ve gone back in time, please remain on the line” on “World’s Last Payphone.”

“Dead Letter Rays” and “Parachute Powerline” are melodic tracks in a more traditional power pop vein, while the slower and romantic “Triple Rainbow” has a psychedelic feel. At times, it’s even fun to hear Banks contradict himself within the same song. “Tamed A Wild Beast” offers uplifting sentiments like “If you moved a mountain” and “If you rose above,” only to snap back with, “Keep it to yourself.”


Friday, November 9, 2018


Black Friday arrives in exactly two weeks, but for people looking to find gifts for the rock and roll fans on their lists, today is White Album Friday. The Beatles’ 1968 two-record set, a ground breaking and band breaking up affair, becomes available today in a variety of versions. The $138.74 option on Amazon comprises six CDs, including one with 27 tracks from the now legendary Esher demo tapes that were recorded at George Harrison’s home back in the day. The $22.97 three-CD set also has that disc.

The new documentary Horn From The Heart: The Paul Butterfield Story will be screened tonight at the Gene Siskel Film Center and run through November 15. Director John Anderson, along with special guests, will be on hand tonight, tomorrow, and Sunday for a discussion with the audience. Jeff Johnson in the Chicago Sun-Times and Greg Kot in the Chicago Tribune each gave Horn From The Heart a three-star rating in their reviews today.

Tickets went on sale today for Dave Davies at SPACE on April 20 and at City Winery Chicago on April 21; Herb Alpert and Lani Hall at City Winery Chicago on May 4 and 5; Fleetwood Mac at the United Center on are March 1; and Nick Mason’s Saucerful Of Secrets at the Chicago Theatre on on April 4. You can always find an extensive list of concerts that have just gone on sale on the second to last page of Chicago free paper The Reader.

This week’s Reader has a particularly good edition of The Secret History Of Chicago Music by artist/musician Plastic Crime Wave. The comic is a regular feature in the paper, and the latest installment focuses on the band The Service and the Pravda indie label they founded. It’s a detailed look at how these musicians have kept active in the local music scene, with three of them—Rick Mosher, Kenn Goodman, and Gary Schepers—currently performing with The Imperial Sound.

As noted in The Mix column of today’s Chicago Sun-Times, the 30th Annual Polish Film Festival is currently running at Facets Cinematheque; AMC Rosemont; and The Gallery Theatre. The Mix also noted that the Green Line Performing Arts Centre, which plans to collaborate with south side theatre groups, is inviting the public to check out its space at 329 E. Garfield tomorrow from 2 :00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

David Crosby has a gig coming up on November 19 at the North Shore Center For The Performing Arts in Skokie. The Richard Thompson Electric Trio will be at Thalia Hall on December 7 and 8.

The Zombies have a special concert coming up to honor the late Jim Rodford, who played bass guitar for them, Argent, and The Kinks. The event will be held on January 20 at The Alban Arena in St. Albans in the U.K.

Long-time Lincoln Park store The Book Cellar will host An Evening With Jeff Tweedy at The Music Box on Southport next Sunday, November 18 at 7:00 p.m. Tweedy, well-known frontman for Wilco, will be discussing his new memoir Let’s Go (So We Can Get Back).

There will be plenty of merriment when EXPO ’76 returns to my sleepy hometown of Palatine next Friday night for a gig at Mac’s On Slade. Trees are being decorated all over town, although that might have more to do with the holiday season than the band’s imaginative and always fun selection of cover versions. The music starts at 8:45 but since Mac’s is a small joint, you’ll have to get there much earlier if you want a place to sit.

Long-time Chicago guitar slinger Lorrie Kountz will bring her band to Mac’s on November 28 for a 7:30 p.m. show.

The Safes are holding their 15th Annual Black Wednesday Show at Schubas so be sure to have all your Thanksgiving meal preparation done early. This year, they’ll be joined by The Differents, Baby Money, The Down Payments, and The Marcatos.

The Sunshine Boys will celebrate the vinyl release of their superb album Blue Music with a show on November 24 at Montrose Saloon.

Private Peaceful, the play based on Michael Morpurgo’s 2003 critically acclaimed children’s novel, wraps up its run at the Greenhouse Theater on Lincoln Avenue tomorrow night.


Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Graham Nash - Over The Years . . .

The first disc of Over The Years . . . offers 15 classic songs recorded by Graham Nash throughout his post-Hollies career. “Our House,” “Wasted On The Way,” and “Teach Your Children” represent his Crosby, Stills, Nash and sometimes Young tenure, while “Immigration Man”is a Crosby/Nash highlight. The solo material reaches back to “Military Madness” from his Songs For Beginners solo debut up to “Myself At Last” from his 2016 effort This Path Tonight. But the real treasure for Nash fans can be found on disc two, which uncovers several previously unreleased demos.

For rock and roll archaeologists, the major find here is a demo of “Marrakesh Express” Nash recorded for The Hollies back in 1968. It’s easy to recognize the song’s exotic charms even via this bare-bones arrangement, and the band’s inexplicable rejection of it helped push Nash toward his new friends in America. The simple beauty of Nash’s songwriting is also evident as his sings and strums an acoustic guitar on “Simple Man,” “Right Between The Eyes,” and the Everly Brothers flavored “You’ll Never Be The Same.”

A stark rendition of “Chicago” featuring Nash alone at his piano makes it an even more emphatic call to action that the 1971 studio version. “Wind On The Water,” originally augmented with Crosby’s gorgeous harmonies, is still impressive in this earlier solo take. “Wasted On The Way” is the only track on Disc 2 with additional vocals, as Nash joins Timothy B. Schmidt of Poco and The Eagles fame and Stephen Stills on this heartfelt plea to make the most of life.


Tuesday, November 6, 2018

The Imperial Sound – The New AM

The Imperial Sound creates music that fits the neo-soul genre but goes beyond it in adventurous ways. The songs on the Chicago-based sextet’s debut effort The New AM also incorporate jazz, blues, and rock, with a dash of vintage supper club ambience for extra flavor. Although these guys are music scene veterans, this is a new approach for them, and they do wonders with it.

Special guests add to the fun, especially vocalists Nora O’Connor, Kathy Ruestow, Kelly Hogan, Peter Himmelman, Robert Cornelius, and Dag Juhlin. The Imperial Sound’s lead singer Rick Mosher does well with all of them; creating duets with O’Connor on the soulful “Yesterday,” a tale of a relationship gone sour, and Kathy Ruestow on the sexy tale “The Quarry.” Himmelman and Hogan bring sass to “Ain’t Crawling Back,” a clever take on a guy who’s not quite as over his ex as he claims.

Cornelius helps give “A Man Like You” a combination movie theme/hit single appeal as the band breaks loose behind him. Juhlin, a frequent collaborator with some of these guys on other projects, adds energetic back-up vocals to the more rocking numbers “You’ve Been A Fool” and “Get Along!” Throughout the 12 tracks, The New AM suggests The Imperial Sound would be a blast to see in a live performance.

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