Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Happy Birthday To Peter And A Few Other Thoughts

Happy Birthday to Peter Tork! I still remember the great story a friend told me about how nice he was when she paid for a photo op with him at a Wizard World Comic Con in Chicago in 2011. And of course, there are all those cool Monkees songs and their fun TV show. Hope he had a blast celebrating today.

The Chicago Auto Show, billed as the country’s largest auto show, opened last Saturday at McCormick Place and runs through Monday, February 18. In addition to all the cars on display, there will be special events and guests, including local media and sports celebrities. A handful of radio stations will be broadcasting live from the Auto Show. A number of years back, Cheap Trick had a gig at there, but the closest thing I see for 2019 is a pair of School Of Rock concerts next Monday.

The Symphony Center Presents Jazz series will offer Jazz In The Key Of Ellison, a multimedia celebration of novelist Ralph Ellison at 8:00 p.m. on Friday, February 22. Author Roxane Gay will serve as narrator and host, and there will be performances by Will Downing, Nona Hendryx, Quiana Lynell, Nicholas Payton and The Andy Farber Jazz Orchestra. The Symphony Center is located at 220 S. Michigan Avenue.

If you live in the Chicago area, Metra wants to reward you for surviving the recent polar vortex by letting you ride free on its trains this weekend. That’s nice for people who would normally drive to some entertainment venue. But it does nothing for Metra’s biggest supporters—the monthly pass holders who endured delays, unpredictable schedules, and the occasional surly conductor who thought passengers were somehow at fault for the inclement weather. In a better world, Metra would give every monthly pass holder an Apple iPod nano 7th Generation to listen to on our ride each day.


Tuesday, February 12, 2019


Pearl Jam has been chosen as the this year’s Record Store Day Ambassador, an honor that has gone to St. Vincent, David Grohl, Iggy Pop, and other cutting-edge acts in the past. RSD arrives on April 13, with another wide-ranging selection of one-day-only vinyl releases.

Congratulations to director Michael Glover Smith on the successful run of his latest film Rendezvous In Chicago, at the Gene Siskel Film Center. Last Friday’s night’s screening sold out, and when I went on Saturday, it was pretty much the same deal. The 69-minute Rendezvous In Chicago is a comic and easygoing slice of life divided into three separate tales involving relationships. There will be one more screening tomorrow (Wednesday) evening featuring a discussion with Smith afterward.

The Go-Go’s will be the subject of a full-length documentary scheduled to air later this year on Showtime. An extensive press release shown on the band’s Facebook page and across social media describes director Alison Ellwood’s film as a “candid archive-rich biography.” I bought a Stiff Records import single of “We Got The Beat” (probably at Wax Trax! on Lincoln Avenue) in 1980 and shortly after that, saw them perform at ChicagoFest on Navy Pier. I stopped at a record store on Rush Street after the concert and bought their Beauty And The Beat album. Still, I never could have predicted back then how successful they would become.

Chicago Theatre Week continues its 2019 run through this Sunday, February 17 at various theaters around the Chicago area. Discount tickets of $15 or $30 will available for 120 participating shows.

Elton John’s Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour comes to the Allstate Arena this Friday night. Maybe he should hang around a couple days and check out the Burn Down The Mission: Songs Of Elton John 1969 – 1975 show at 2:00 p.m. this Sunday at SPACE in Evanston. Alton Smith, John Abbey, Debbie Kaczynski, Peter Manis, Richard Pettengill and Tommi Zender will be the musicians involved with this tribute.


Monday, February 11, 2019

Wes Hollywood - Dynamite

When Wes Hollywood recorded Fantasy Arcade back in 2012, it landed in the number three spot on my Broken Hearted Toy Favorite Releases for that year. Dynamite (available from Kool Kat Musik) came out in November 2018, and it feels like he’s never been away. Hollywood still likes to approach an irresistible melody with a bag of lyrical tricks like quick rhymes, putdowns, and witty observations. And along with Tom Shover, Peter Javier, and Spencer Matern, he continues to specialize in energetic power pop.

That said, Wes Hollywood draws from music that arrived at least a decade after the mid-1960s pop and Brit Invasion hits that inspire a lot of his peers. Songs like “Evelyn” and “Dirty Manhattan” evoke Elvis Costello in terms of instrumental style and biting sentiments. “I’ll Take You Back,” a funny tale of a guy who’s unaware of the legitimate reasons his girlfriend dumped him, calls to mind The Cars.

A lot of these tracks deal with crumbling relationships, but there’s also the aggressive “Get It Right,” which finds Hollywood vowing to save the world. “Small Talk,” a slap at an incessant chatterbox, would make a great companion for The Elvis Brothers’ rollicking “Motormouth.” “When Sunday Rolls Around” is another song about a girlfriend departing, but here Hollywood swaps humor for genuine emotions and a soulful arrangement.


Friday, February 8, 2019


John Cusack will be at the Genesee Theatre in Waukegan this Sunday night for a conversation with moderator Dolly McCarthy after a screening of High Fidelity. The movie starts at 6:00 p.m. There was an interesting article by Jessi Roti in yesterday’s Chicago Tribune in which Cusack talks about the making of the film and his mixed feelings about the upcoming TV version starring Zoe Kravitz.

Tickets went on sale today for Captain Beyond at Reggie’s Music Joint on April 12; Dollyrots at Reggie’s Music Joint on March 14; Florence + The Machine with Blood Orange at Huntington Bank Pavilion on May 23; Lemonheads and former Replacements bassist Tommy Stinson at Thalia Hall on May 7; Specials at The Vic on June 8; and Vampire Weekend at Huntington Bank Pavilion on June 16.

This year’s Chicago Theatre Week began yesterday and will run through Sunday, February 17 at various theaters around the Chicago area. Discount tickets of $15 or $30 will available for 120 participating shows. Check the Chicago Theatre Week website for more details.

Rendezvous In Chicago, director Michael Glover Smith’s third feature film, kicks off a four-day run tonight at the Gene Siskel Film Center. Smith will be on hand for an audience discussion at tonight's screening, as well as the ones on Saturday afternoon, Monday evening, and Wednesday evening.

Chicago alt rock band whitewolfsonicprincess will perform with a different lineup for each of its two sets at the record release party for its new album The Alternate Boot Vols. 1 and 2 at Jarvis Square Pottery tomorrow night. There will also be acoustic sets by Will Phalen and Kacie Swierk; and musician/actor/film critic Pat McDonald will serve as Master Of Ceremony. The music starts at 8:00 p.m., the Jarvis Square Pottery store is located at 1443 W. Jarvis.

The Chicago European Union Film Festival begins on March 8 and runs through April 4 at the Gene Siskel Film Center.

If you’re planning on meeting up with David Tennant at C2E2 (Chicago Comic Entertainment Expo) next month, be on your best behavior or he might talk about you on one of his podcasts. The Doctor Who, Broadchurch, Jessica Jones actor has already recorded a couple episodes of David Tennant With…, and they’re available on cashbox. His first two guests were Whoppi Goldberg and Olivia Coleman. Kristin Ritter, Jon Hamm, and Jodie Whitaker, and Ian McKellen are slated for future episodes. C2E2 runs at McCormick Place March 22 –24, and the guests also include Doctor Who alums Matt Smith and John Barrowman.

The critically acclaimed Chicago-based power pop band Frisbie will join Mike and Eric from The Bon Mots for a double bill next Sunday, February 17 at Montrose Saloon.

Upcoming concerts in the Chicago area include Judy Collins at Old Town School of Folk Music on February 15; Elton John at the Allstate Arena on February 15; Procol Harum at City Winery on February 20; The Kooks at The Riviera Theatre on February 21; Gin Blossoms at House Of Blues on February 22; and A Bowie Celebration - The David Bowie Alumni Tour at The Vic on February 22.

The Impostors Theatre Company will present Caged - An Allegory at the Pentagon Theater starting next Friday, February 15 at Collaboration Studio. Written and directed by Stefan Roseen, the play mixes comedy and horror while exploring questions of identity and the ethics of art.

There was a pleasant surprise for Graham Nash at the UK Americana Awards in London last Thursday when the person presenting his Lifetime Achievement Award turned out to be Allan Clarke. Nash and Clarke first began singing together as schoolboys and went on to form The Hollies. It’s likely their reunion last week involved some additional celebrating since Nash’s birthday was just two days later.

Joni Mitchell photographs taken over several years by Rowland Scherman, Patrick Harbron, Jay Blakesberg, Norman Seeff, Joel Bernstein, Graham Nash, Guido Harari, Henry Diltz, David Gahr, and Ken Regan will be featured in an exhibit at LeeAnn Brook Fine Art in Nevada City, CA in collaboration with the Morrison Hotel Gallery.

The Corky Siegel Chamber Blues with Lynne Jovdah takes place on March 31 at the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre in Arlington Heights. Siegel performed blues and folk influenced rock with The Siegel-Schwall Band in the 1960s and 70s, and the band joined forces with conductor Seiji Ozawa and the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra for some amazing blues/classical mashups.

I had been wondering why Phil Angotti, a veteran of Chicago’s power pop scene, wasn’t part of the lineup again for this year’s George Harrison Tribute at Martyrs’ on February 23. But then I remembered that’s the day he’s sharing a bill with the original lineup of Off Broadway at Reggie’s Rock Club. The Evictions are also scheduled for Reggie’s Rock Club on February 23.

The Palatine Patch website is reporting that the Durty Nellie’s music venue in Palatine is moving quickly toward reopening after a fire caused extensive damage a few weeks back.

Mark your calendar with paisley colors: YippieFest, a three-day celebration of theatre, comedy, and music returns for its third year on the weekend of August 16 – 18. The festival carries on the tradition of Abbie Hoffman Died For Our Sins, which was an annual event at Mary-Arrchie Theatre for over 25 years. Abbie Fest vets Famous In The Future are the driving force behind YippieFest and they’ll be looking for participants soon.


Wednesday, February 6, 2019


Looks like there’ll be a lot of fun, catchy sounds this Friday night at Montrose Saloon. The Chicago-based indie rock band The Handcuffs will share a double bill with The JetBeats from Grand Rapids. Led by lead vocalist-guitarist Chloe F. Orwell and drummer Brad Elvis, The Handcuffs have released three albums (all favorably reviewed on Broken Hearted Toy) and are finishing up their next effort in the studio. The JetBeats take a fun, early Beatles approach on the two EPs they’ve released, with an emphasis on guitars and harmonicas.

Chicago Theatre Week kicks off tomorrow and will run through Sunday, February 17 at various theaters around the Chicago area. Discount tickets of $15 or $30 will available for 120 participating shows, including Glass Basement by iO Theater; Defiance by Buffalo Theatre Ensemble; How To Catch Creation at the Goodman Theatre; Dead Man’s Cell Phone by The Comrades; Small Jokes About Monsters by 16th Street Theater; Arms And The Man by Shaw Chicago Theater Company; and One Clover Road by American Blues Theatre. Check the Chicago Theatre Week website for more details.

The Chicago European Union Film Festival begins on March 8 and runs through April 4 at the Gene Siskel Film Center.


Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Making John Wicks' Final Album A Reality

Singer-guitarist John Wicks, a founding member of The Records, as well as a successful solo artist, passed away from cancer last October. He was recording a new album at the time, and now thanks to an IndieGoGo campaign, there’s a good chance it be completed and released. A recent email sent out by Bruce Brodeen from the Pop Geek Heaven website invites Wicks’ fans to become “Executive Producers” by making a donation.

As explained on the funding page, Jamie Hoover from The Spongetones, along with other musicians familiar with Wicks, will supply the missing instrumentation and vocals. The campaign aims to raise $5,800 to cover recording, mastering, packaging, and manufacturing. If all goes as planned, Wicks’ final album, with help from his friends and fans, will arrive in October of this year. There are rewards for helping out, depending how much money a donor pledges. Options from $15 to $500.


Saturday, February 2, 2019

Saturday Slumgullion

Tickets are now on sale for Chvrches and Cherry Glazerr at Aragon Ballroom on May 2; Mekons at The Hideout on July 14; Portland Cello Project at SPACE in Evanston; Jessica Pratt at Sleeping Village (that’s a venue on Belmont, not a town) on May 10; Wild Belle at Metro on April 21; and for Strange 90s: A Benefit for Jerry Bryant of JBTV with Naked Raygun, Andrew W.K., Local H and other acts at Metro on March 8.

For a more extensive list of upcoming concerts, check out page 40 in this week’s issue of The Reader. This is also the edition that thanks all the people who donated money to help the long-time Chicago free paper stay afloat. According to publisher Tracy Baim, 2,400 people and businesses pitched in, including one donor who gave $4,800. You can find my name among the donors on 24. Long live The Reader.

Congratulations to Graham Nash on receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award at the UK Americana Awards this past Thursday at Hackney Empire in London. He’ll be coming to Chicago for show at The Athenaeum Theatre on March 17. The event is a benefit for the Old Town School Of Folk Music’s music education programs.

Rendezvous In Chicago, director Michael Glover Smith’s third feature film, kicks off a four-day run at the Gene Siskel Film Center next Friday.

The Specials released a new album titled Encore yesterday. “It’s a celebration of what The Specials is, and what it’s about,” founding member Terry Hall explains on the band’s Facebook page. “That’s why I still do it.” The band’s 40th Anniversary Tour brings them to Chicago for a show at The Vic on June 8.

Other albums due out this month include Sunshine Rock by Bob Mould and Varshons 2 by The Lemonheads on February 8; and Ladytron by Ladytron, Band Signs by Tedeschi Trucks, and Psychedelic Country Soul by The Long Ryders on February 15.

Durty Nellie’s in Palatine is temporarily closed due to a fire at the music venue last Friday. I didn’t see a mention of this on their Facebook page, but the official website promises to let everyone know when they’ll reopen. The message also thanks, “all of the first responders who worked so hard, and in such extreme temperatures, to put the fire out as quickly as they could.” Here’s hoping Durty Nellie’s will be back and rocking in the near future.

Rock documentary updates. Boy Howdy: The Story Of Creem Magazine will have its premiere at this year’s SXSW Festival in Austin. Things are moving along for The Power Pop Movie, according to a recent Facebook post from Justin Fielding stating there’s extensive editing to do but he’s “very much on track for release at the end of this year.” Director Peter Jackson of Lord Of The Rings fame is now on a quest to transform 55 hours of previously unseen footage of The Beatles into a proper documentary about the recording sessions that preceded the 1970 film Let It Be. Maybe he’ll make it a trilogy.

Chicago alt rock band whitewolfsonicprincess has a record release party coming up at Jarvis Square Pottery next Saturday, February 9 at 7:30 p.m. for its tuneful and beguiling third album The Alternate Boot. The store is located at 1443 W. Jarvis on Chicago’s north side.

Fatima Ali, one of the contestants from the 2018 season of Top Chef has passed away from cancer. Her skills, determination, and engaging personality made her a fan favorite, and she continued to show those qualities while sharing her battle with the disease on social media. My nephew Joe Flamm and all the contestants from that season of Top Chef supported Fatima throughout her struggle, and have expressed their sorrow and offered condolences to her family.

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