Friday, March 22, 2019


Photo from the C2E2 Facebook page.

C2E2 has returned to the Chicago area for a weekend run at McCormick Place on the lakefront. This year’s celebrity guests include Paul Rudd, Ming-Na Wen, David Tennant, Dave Mustaine, Alicia Silverman, Colin Donnell, John Barrowman, Summer Glau, and Svengoolie, as well as several popular artists and writers. It’s like a huge Halloween party where fans dress up as their favorite heroes and villains, and you can buy action figures, posters, t-shirts, comic books graphic novels and all sorts of imaginative collector’s items.

Tickets went on sale today for Squeeze at Chicago Theatre on August 31; Roseanne Cash and Ry Cooder at Chicago Theatre on June 18; Flat Five at Hideout on June 2; Ben Harper and Innocent Criminals at Huntington Bank Pavilion on August 17; L7 at Metro on May 31; and NRBQ at Hideout on June 21 and 22.

Avant-garde alt rock band whitewolfsonicprincess will share a bill with post-punk/groovy jazz band Ex Maquina! at the Chimera Loft LLC in Evanston tomorrow night. Showtime is 7:00 p.m.

Penn and Teller will be bringing their astounding tricks and acerbic humor to The Chicago Theatre on November 8.

The Imperial Sound will be performing some new material tomorrow night at Montrose Saloon, along with those classy soul, jazz, and rock tunes from its stellar debut effort The New AM. And on a somehow related note, veteran rockers The New Duncan Imperials have a new EP titled Hunny Bunny coming out on April 6.

Stray Cats 40, the first album from The Stray Cats in 26 years, comes out May 24, and they’ll be starting an American tour that will not take them to Chicago, in August.

The Center Of Nowhere, a new documentary about the fertile but undiscovered music scene in Springfield, Missouri, will be screened on Thursday, April 4 at the Music Box Theatre on Chicago’s north side. The film, which was written and directed by veteran journalist Dave Hoekstra and co-produced with Jamie Ceaser, focuses on roots rock. The Skeletons, Brenda Lee, Dave Alvin, Robbie Fulks, Syd Straw, Merle haggard, and Jonathan Richman are among the acts featured.

Fastball, of “The Way” fame, recently played its first UK gig in 20 years, in London. The colorful gig poster depicts the wandering couple walking away from their broken-down car. I'd like a copy.

Durty Nellie’s has made a quick comeback after a fire severely damaged the Palatine music venue a few months ago. It wasn’t open in time for its annual St. Patrick’s Day bash, but upcoming events are already being scheduled, including Local H on June 14.

The Corky Siegel Chamber Blues with Lynne Jovdah takes place next Sunday, March 31 at the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre in Arlington Heights.

The Chicago Philharmonic, led by composer and conductor Tom Nazziola, will provide a live soundtrack for a trio of vintage silent films at 4:00 p.m. this Sunday at the North Shore Center in Skokie. The Silent Sherlock event will present Buston Keaton’s Sherlock, Jr. as the main feature, along with Fadeaway with Koko the Clown and Sure-locked Holmes with Felix the Cat. Tickets range from $25 to $75.

Jenny Lewis will be performing songs from her latest album On The Line next Saturday night, March 30 at the Riviera Theatre on Chicago’s north side.

Great Moments In Vinyl, a rotating collective of local musicians who pay tribute to iconic albums, will be covering Paul Simon’s Graceland next Thursday, March 28 at Martyrs’ on Lincoln Avenue.

Singer-guitarist Christopher David is an author as well as a member of the Chicago band Magatha Trysty and a prolific solo artist. His new, “hard R-rated” novel The Hook Slips is now available on Amazon.

Theatre Nebula’s production of the Duncan Sheik/Steven Sater musical Spring Awakening continues its run at Cutting Hall in Palatine through this weekend. Kevin Wiczer directs a cast of 13, with choreography by Kristine Burdi.

More exclusive vinyl releases have been added to this year’s Record Store Day list, including efforts by Peter Gabriel, Generation X, John Hiatt and his daughter Lily Hiatt, L7, and Queen. If you haven’t checked the official website in a while, it’s worth another look.


Thursday, March 21, 2019


Sharon Van Etten will be at Lollapalooza. Photo from her Facebook page.

Tickets went on sale for Lollapalooza 2019 this past Tuesday and the official line-up was announced yesterday. Doing things in that order might sound backwards, but not in Lolla land. The annual summer festival always draws enough of the hottest names in popular music to make buying tickets blindly in advance worth the risk. This year, the acts include The Strokes, Sharon Van Etten, Tame Impala, Jade Bird, Janelle Monae, Kacey Musgraves, Fitz and The Tantrums, and Gary Clark Jr. The festival returns to Chicago an August 1 – 4 run in Grant Park.

Longtime Chicago area musicians Mike Cohen and Phil Angotti will be joining forces tomorrow night (3-22) at Wishbone North at 3300 N. Lincoln Avenue. Cohen promised on Facebook that “We’ll be singing some Everly-centric material,” which makes sense since he’s a member of the Everly Hillbillies tribute band. Angotti stated they’ll also be covering Buddy Holly and The Beatles. The show starts at 7:00 p.m.

The Zombies will be among the special guests at this year’s Fest For Beatles Fans - New York. It would be great if the newly inducted Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame band is also at Fest For Beatles Fans – Chicago, but I’m not counting on it. The Big Apple version sometimes gets cool things that the Midwest doesn’t, like a recreation of the Cavern Club a few years back.

The Imperial Sound will bring its classy blend of soul, jazz, and rock to Montrose Saloon this Saturday night. The band’s debut effort The New AM ranked as one of the best releases of 2018.

Here comes the son. Dhani Harrison, the only child of George and Olivia Harrison and a successful musician in his own right, has been named as the opening act of Jeff Lynne’s ELO Tour. Lynne was a member of The Traveling Wilburys with George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison, and Tom Petty. His ELO tour comes to Chicago at the United Center on July 27.


Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Doctor Doctor—Almost

Somewhere in the Brokenhearted Toy archives there’s another Doctor Who-related post named Doctor Doctor. It explores how David Tennant, then the current actor playing the lead role in the long-running British sci-fi series, was being called the best Doctor since the legendary Tom Baker. When Tennant later announced he was leaving the show, it was hard to see how anyone could follow him.

Luckily, his successor Matt Smith would bring his own distinctive style, and become a social media sensation, along with The Ponds, played by Karen Gillan and Arthur Darville. Smith’s take on The Doctor was as different from Tennant’s as Tennant’s was from Baker’s, and yet it was easy to believe that all three were the same character. Smith and Tennant generated great chemistry when they joined forces on the 50th Anniversary Doctor Who Special Day Of The Doctor.

Both actors have gone on to successful roles in films and television. Tennant has appeared in the Jessica Jones series and starred in British and American versions of the mystery drama Broadchurch. More recently, he portrayed religious fanatic John Knox in the Mary Queen Of Scots movie. He now has a podcast where he’s chatted with the current Doctor Jodie Whittaker and his former companion on the show, Catherine Tate, as well as celebrities like Whoopi Goldberg. Matt Smith has portrayed Prince Philip in The Crown, and also played avant garde photographer Robert Mapplethorpe in the indie film Mapplethorpe.

If all had gone as scheduled, fans attending C2E2 at McCormick Place in Chicago this weekend would have been in for a treat because Smith and Tennant were among the celebrity guests. Unfortunately, I just discovered tonight that Smith has cancelled, so their joint photo op session and panel discussion will have to wait for another time and place.


Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Nash Pays Homage To ‘The Other Kids’ While Doing Fine Without Them

Photo of Shane Fontayne (left) and Graham Nash from Nash’s Facebook page.

Before Graham Nash was even half way through his performance this past Sunday night at the Athenaeum Theatre, some guy yelled a request for “Chicago.”

“Do you think I’d come to this city and not play that song?” Nash asked. “Patience, my dear.”

While it was obvious he would save “Chicago” for almost last, the rest of the concert was not as predictable. Nash was once again joined by Shane Fontayne, a versatile guitarist-vocalist who’s also toured with Sting and Bruce Springsteen, but unlike his other recent shows in our area, there was a third party on stage. Keyboards player-vocalist Todd Caldwell is also a familiar companion for Nash, having toured with Crosby, Stills and Nash in the past.

Caldwell and Fontayne enabled Nash to recreate the three part harmonies he perfected with his supergroup mates, whom he described at one point during the show as, “the other kids.” “Marrakesh Express,” “Pre-road Downs,” “Wasted On The Way,” and the rarely performed “Carried Away” were delivered with impeccable singing. They also pulled off a spirited version of Stills’ “Love The One You’re With” as well as his breathtaking “Find The Cost Of Freedom.” That was followed immediately by Neil Young’s “Ohio,” which was driven by Fontayne’s ferocious strumming and climaxed with Nash leading the crowd in a chant of, “Four dead in Ohio.”

Fontayne also added extra power to “Wind On The Water,” “Cathedral,” and “I Used To Be A King.” The quieter moments came on “Golden Days” from Nash’s 2016 solo effort This Path Tonight, “Simple Man,” and “Sleep Song.” Nash mentioned the recent Joni 75 all-star birthday concert (and upcoming film) for Joni Mitchell while introducing his exquisite love song to her, “Our House.” There was only one Hollies song this time out, a well-crafted take on “Bus Stop.” I’d still love to see Nash come to terms with the Hollies portion of his career, perhaps devoting an entire concert or album to reworked versions of his best material with them.

As for “Chicago,” it served as a rousing first encore, bringing the crowd to its feet to sing along on, “We can change the world.” After a gorgeous rendition of Buddy Holly’s “Everyday,” Nash had everyone joining in again on “Teach Your Children,” which he dedicated to the high school activists campaigning to end gun violence.


Monday, March 18, 2019


All three original members of The Stray Cats will kick off a 40th Anniversary Tour on June 21 and will continue through August 31. Brian Setzer, Slim Jim Phantom, and Lee Rocker don’t land on American soil until an August 3 date in Atlantic City NJ, and they’ll follow that with stops in New York City; Vienna, VA; Huber Heights, OH; Grand Rapids, MI; Welch, MN; Salt Lake City, UT, and San Diego and Los Angeles in CA. Hard to imagine why Chicago isn’t included. At least we’ll be able to buy the new album The Stray Cats have recorded—their first in 26 years. Stray Cats 40 comes out May 24.

Phil Angotti, one of Chicago’s best tribute acts, will be joining fellow musician (and presumably fellow Beatles fan) John Bowes for some ‘70s McCartney tunes tomorrow night (March 19) at Martyrs’ on Lincoln Avenue. The rock show starts at eight, so don’t be late. In previous shows, Angotti has honored The Beatles, Elvis Costello, The Zombies, The Kinks, and other acts.

Lollapalooza 2019 tickets go on sale tomorrow at 10:00 a.m. and there’s a good chance they’ll sell out almost immediately again without any of the performing acts being named. We do know there will be over 170 acts performing on eight different stages. This year’s event runs August 1 through August 4.

Tickets go on sale this Friday morning for The Squeeze Songbook 2019 show at the Chicago Theatre on August 31. Other cities on the U.S. tour include New York, Dallas, Atlanta, and Los Angeles. It looks like it’s being billed as The Difford And Tilbrook Songbook for the European dates later in the fall. By either name, it’s bound to be a great time.


Friday, March 15, 2019


First, a hearty welcome to Graham Nash, who’s in town for a concert this Sunday night at The Athenaeum Theatre on Chicago’s north side. It’s a benefit for the Old Town School Of Folk Music’s music education programs. He’ll be performing songs from his entire career, with help from guitarist-vocalist Shane Fontayne and keyboards player-vocalist Todd Caldwell.

St. Patricks’s Day is this Sunday but the entire weekend will be filled with celebrations around town. The Irish American Heritage center on Chicago’s northwest side will be rocking Saturday with live music, dance, food and drinks, children’s activities, an art gallery and more from 1:00 p.m. to midnight.

Singer-songwriter William Steffey has a release party tonight for his latest solo effort Reality Jockey at the Esquina venue at 4602 N. Western in Chicago. The album is available on CD, vinyl, and digital.

How soon will Morrissey be performing at the Ravinia Festival? Pretty close to now. He’s one of the recently announced artists scheduled for the summer-long series of outdoor concerts in Highland Park, IL. Ringo Starr and his AllStar Band will share a double bill with The Beach Boys, and other shows include Sting; Ramsey Lewis; Sarah McLachlan; John Prine; Buddy Guy with Blues Traveler and Shemekia Copeland; Tony Bennett; and Lyle Lovett and his Large Band.

Speaking of Morrissey, he also has a run on Broadway coming up at the beginning of May, and a new album called California Son that features him covering songs from the ‘60s and ‘70s.

Season EIGHT of Asian Pop-Up Cinema is underway, and will feature contemporary Asian films with English subtitles at AMC River East 21 and a few other locations through April 24.

The 22nd Annual Chicago European Union Film Festival runs through April 4 at the Gene Siskel Film Center. The Jewish Film Festival runs through this Sunday March 17, with screenings at various venues, including Arclight Cinema, Cinemark, and Music Box Theatre.

Girl with the guitar says all right for British Invasion band. The Zombies have announced on social media Susanna Hoffs will present them when they’re inducted into the The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame on March 29. Hoffs is a perfect choice considering the major influence bands like The Zombies, The Beatles, and The Hollies have had on The Bangles. By the way, my opening sentence to this bit is a reference to Michael Quercio’s “Girl With The Guitar” with The Three O’Clock. It’s said to be a tribute to Hoffs.

The Juliana Hatfield Three has a spring tour coming up in support of her new album Weird that kicks off with four dates in the U.K. before moving on to America. The stateside gigs include a double bill with Liz Phair at the Out Of Space 2019 event presented by SPACE and Temperance Beer Company in Evanston, IL on June 22. The Juliana Hatfield Three will also be in Evanston on June 20 for a solo show at Out Of Space 2019.

According to a Brad Elvis Facebook post, The Handcuffs have just a few more recording sessions to go before they’ll be ready to mix their next album. Looking forward to it.

Theatre Nebula’s production of the Duncan Sheik/Steven Sater musical Spring Awakening hcontinues its run at Cutting Hall in Palatine through March 24.

The Chicago Philharmonic, led by composer and conductor Tom Nazziola, will provide a live soundtrack for a trio of vintage silent films at 4:00 p.m. on March 24 at the North Shore Center in Skokie. The Silent Sherlock event will present Buston Keaton’s Sherlock, Jr. as the main feature, along with Fadeaway with Koko the Clown and Sure-locked Holmes with Felix the Cat.

Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy has gig coming up next Friday at The Vic on Chicago’s north side.

Cinema/Chicago will present the CINEYOUTH FESTIVAL featuring young filmmakers from around the world from April 26 through 28 at Music Box Theatre on Southport


Thursday, March 14, 2019

He Comes To Chicago As He Pleases

Graham Nash has been a regular visitor to the Chicago area over the past few years. He’s performed at The Arcada in St. Charles, City Winery Chicago, and The Old Town School of Folk Music, as well as a gig in Skokie that was the only one of his recent tours I missed. His show coming up this Sunday at the Athenaeum Theatre on Chicago’s north side is a benefit for the Old Town School Of Folk Music’s music education programs. According to an article in the Asbury Park Press by Alex Biese (and linked to Nash’s official Facebook page), his current touring band consists of guitarist-vocalist Shane Fontayne and keyboards player-vocalist Todd Caldwell.

Nash has already formed a musical bond with Fontayne, a veteran of tours with Sting and Bruce Springsteen. He and Fontayne crafted gorgeous harmonies together on the concerts mentioned above, and they also write songs together. Caldwell’s resume includes working with Crosby, Stills and Nash. It seems likely the addition of a third player will improve the already impressive team of Nash and Fontayne. This Sunday’s show will be a couple hours long, with an intermission dividing two separate sets. Nash has been including a few Hollies songs in his shows during the past few years, and it would be great to hear him delve even deeper into the earliest days of his stellar career.

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