Friday, April 20, 2018

Slumgullion

Photo from The Baseball Project’s Facebook page. 

This is my second post today. See the earlier one for information on Record Store Day, International Pop Overthrow, and All Things BBC!.

Depending on what time you read this, there might still be time to catch the Flirting With Disaster Neil Young Tribute at FitzGerald’s in Berwyn tonight. The always adventurous cover band EXPO ’76 will be performing in the Side Bar at FitzGerald’s.

International Pop Overthrow - Chicago kicked off tonight and will run through next Saturday, April 28 at the Heartland Cafe Bar, with multiple band showcases each night.

Tomorrow will your last chance to check out A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Punchline, an exhibit on comics, at the Chicago Literary Alliance.

Tickets went on sale today for Baseball Project at SPACE in Evanston on August 4. Hopefully, by that time the Cubs and the White Sox will be sitting comfortably atop their respective divisions. Previous shows by the national pastime inspired all-star band have included Mike Mills and Peter Buck from R.E.M.; Scott McCaughey from Young Fresh Fellows and Minus 5; Steve Wynn from The Dream Syndicate; and drummer Linda Pitmon.

Tickets also went on sale for New Pornographers at Thalia Hall on June 21.

Marshall Crenshaw and The Bottle Rockets will be performing two shows at The Old Town School Of Folk Music tomorrow night; one at 5:00 p.m. and one ar 8:00 p.m. Next Friday, April 27, Peter Case of The Plimsouls and The Nerves, will playing Szold Hall at The Old Town School Of Folk Music.

There will be an opening reception on May 12 for the Tony Fitzpatrick: The Secret Birds exhibit at the DePaul Art Museum. On May 23, Fitzpatrick will have a conversation with Chicago Tribune writer Rick Kogan from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. at the museum.

The Chicago Toy Show returns to the Kane County Fairgrounds in St. Charles this Sunday for the first of its two events there in 2018. In addition to collectibles, action figures, Matchbox cars, and Star Wars treasures, the show also offers a fair amount rock and roll memorabilia.

The Buddy Holly Story kicks off a month-long run next Friday, April 27 at the American Blues Theater. Lili-Anne Brown will direct the Alan Janes play; with music directed by Michael Mahler.

Chicago-based power pop band Frisbie will be celebrating its 20th anniversary with a gig at Martyrs next Saturday. The Sunshine Boys, who haven’t celebrated their first anniversary yet but have years of experience in various other bands, are also on the bill that night.

There will be a Van Go Concert! Event next Saturday at Phyllis’ Musical Inn on Irving Park Road. The Chicago-based band, which has a flair for energetic, catchy songs that frequently pack a satirical punch, will be showcasing its upcoming album. Deadly Bungalows, Trita, and Kosi and the Thomas Matecki Trio are also on the bill that night.

A Charlie’s Angels graphic novel series will make its debut in June. I wonder if the artists will break from the 1970s TV drama by actually drawing Charlie.

My nephew Joe Flamm, who won this past season’s Top Chef honors on the Bravo Channel, will be throwing out the first pitch at the Chicago White Sox game this Sunday.

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Record Store Day, IPO, BBC And Other Fun

Photo from The Handcuffs Facebook page.

It’s only fitting that one of the events I plan to attend tomorrow, April 21 is sponsored in part by the people who put together the annual Chicago TARDIS convention. There’s so much going tomorrow in Chicago, you’d need a TARDIS to get around to all of it. For those not familiar with Doctor Who terminology, a TARDIS (Time And Relative Dimension In Space) is the police box-shaped device The Doctor uses to travel around the universe to any point in time he chooses. Let’s step inside it now for a preview of all April 21 has to offer.

Since it’s Record Store Day, let’s start with the vinyl fanatics who’ll get up extra early to stand in line outside the record store of their choice. There’s often a sense of camaraderie as people compare their wish lists and even share Dunkin Donuts or other snacks.

And then there are the RSD in-store performances. Vintage Vinyl, at 925 Davis Street in Evanston will have alt rock/avant-garde band whitewolfsonicprincess performing at 11:00 a.m. Val’s halla Records in Oak Park has Farewell Captain at 11:00 a.m.; Two Guitars And A Tuba at noon; Matt Lenny and Elm City Council at 1:00; Ginger at 2:00; The Frantastic Sound System at 3:00; and the Gino and Friends Jam at 4:00.

Chicago rock station WXRT will celebrate Record Store Day by playing full album sides on vinyl, starting at noon. Long-time fans will no doubt be reminded of the early 1970s, when the only thing the station played were vinyl records. They’ll also probably recall when those records skipped or got stuck.

Bloodshot Records will have a Record Store Day Pop-Up Shop at its headquarters at 3039 W. Irving Park Road from noon to 5:00 p.m. On its Facebook page, the Chicago-based indie label promises “unique items, test pressings, signed stuff, out-of-print stuff, new releases and just regular stuff.” Laurie’s Records on Lincoln Avenue will have Sonny Mountain at noon; Tommi Zender with Natalie Galey performing Joni Mitchell at 1:00; Phil Angotti, following his set at International Pop Overthrow the night before, will perform The Kinks at 2:00; The Census Takers will be performing The Residents at 3:00; and The Handcuffs will perform their catchy indie rock at 4:00. This is always a fun bash and the owners and employees at Laurie’s are great hosts. (The Handcuffs and Phil Angotti will be playing at Quenchers Saloon later tomorrow night, along with The Embryos, who are having a record release party.) 

Reckless Records will have in-store performances by Intentionally Left Banke, a Left Banke cover band (2:00) and synth player Bill Vermette (3:30) at its Broadway location; and Mukqs (2:30) and RYLR (4:00) at its Milwaukee Avenue location.

The 8th Annual Numero Group Pop-Up Store will be held from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. in the Comfort Station at 2579 N. Milwaukee. These guys have their own take on RSD, and offer, “new and used LPs, CDs, dingers, tapes, tees, tests, and other weirdness from our warehouse.”

International Pop Overthrow, which returns to The Heartland Cafe Bar in Chicago tonight, will offer afternoon and evening showcases tomorrow. (Separate admission for each.) The earlier event starts at 2:00 p.m. and offers short sets by The Francos; Love Lies Bleeding; The Jades; The Long Lost, and an act to be announced later. The music resumes at 8:00 p.m. with a showcase of Phil Ajjarapu; Rainy Day Crush; The Devonns; The Lilacs; Rosa Cora Perry and the Truth Untold; and The Stick Arounds. Avid fans of power will no doubt notice The Lilacs in that schedule. The quartet formed in 1990, reunited in 2016 with the Rise Above The Filth album, and performed a powerful concert at Metro. If you like what you see on Saturday, IPO founder/CFO/host David Bash will be bringing his showcases of power pop and indie rock to The Heartland Cafe Bar through next Saturday night.

If playing vinyl feels like something from your past, imagine what you could accomplish as an actual time traveler. Chicago TARDIS, in conjunction with Happy Fish Parties, has an afternoon of non-Record Store Day fun planned with its All Things BBC! event. It’s being held at the Red Lion Tap on Lincoln Avenue, and celebrates English television shows like Doctor Who, Sherlock, and Merlin. Incidentally, when Chicago TARDIS holds its annual convention at The Westin Lombard Yorktown Center November 23 through 25, actress Pearl Mackie from Doctor Who will be one of the featured guests. She did some amazing acting in her final episodes with Peter Capaldi’s version of The Doctor.

For more Record Store Day ideas, check out this week’s issue of the RedEye free paper. It has a full page titled Where to be a music nerd on RSD. It lists the DJs and music acts that will be doing in-store performances at 606 Records; Bric-a-Brac Records; Bucket O’Blood Records; Joyride Records; Laurie’s Planet Of Sound; Shuga Records; and other locations.

With all of the vinyl activity going on this Saturday, Lumpen Radio’s decision to schedule its Spring Record Swap at Co-Prosperity Sphere at 3219 S. Morgan on Sunday was either foolhardy or a stroke of genius. At any rate, if you haven’t busted your budget and you’re not too tired, Lumpen will have records on hand for your post-RSD perusing.

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Thursday, April 19, 2018

International Pop Overthrow Returns To Chicago

Photo from Phil Angotti’s Facebook page.

It’s always a pleasure to welcome David Bash back to Chicago. Although he’s a West Coast native, he knows our local music scene by heart. That’s because he’s been bringing his International Pop Overthrow festival here for several years. In fact, Chicago was one of the first cities Bash put on his itinerary, following its debut in Los Angeles. IPO now visits New York, Detroit, Toronto, London, Liverpool, and other cities. Each has its own collection of performers—mostly local, along with a few out-of-town acts who travel the circuit.

Kalamazoo, Michigan native Jeremy Morris, one of the artists that follows Bash from location to location, opens IPO-Chicago’s 2018 nine-day run at The Heartland Cafe Bar tomorrow night. He’s an innovative guitarist who’s been known to blow the four walls down with his original psychedelic rock. Chicago-based singer-guitarist Phil Angotti is another IPO standout, and he was at the very first International Pop Overthrow in Los Angeles with his band at that time, The Idea. In addition to performing tribute shows to 1960s acts, he’s a first-rate songwriter whose latest album Such Stories is filled with acoustic gems.

Rob Schultz has a knack for putting political and social satire to catchy melodies. It’s likely this IPO veteran will have something to say about the current political climate. His most recent album came out last July. Ginger Records recording artists Weekend Vinyl formed in 2005 and have a number of IPO gigs under their belt. They recently released their latest album of power pop, Beguile Me.

The local quintet Bad Bad Meow has had success with the singles “Freak Flag” and “Hear You,” and recently released the full-length effort Fake News! Tomorrow night’s final act Kurt Michaels Continuum has shared gigs with Denny Laine from Wings and The Moody Blues. Their latest effort is titled Soaring Back To Earth. Check out the official International Pop Overthrow website for the full schedule and links to most of the bands.

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Tuesday, April 17, 2018

A Book, An Album, And A Touching Tribute

Chris Stamey, who’s been a driving force on the alternative rock scene for decades with The dB’s as well as a solo artist, just released an autobiography. A Spy In The House Of Loud - New York Songs and Stories is now available via the University Of Texas Press, and according to publisher’s website covers the origins of punk in the late 1970s. I would guess it also includes his remembrances of Alex Chilton, since the two musicians worked together on various projects. At any rate, it’s bound to a fascinating addition to your rock and roll library, and received a rave review on the Popdose website.

Universal Love, an album that was released in digital form last week, will be available on vinyl for this year’s Record Store Day. The concept behind Universal Love is to flip the pronouns in popular songs in order to send a message of inclusion and diversity. Bob Dylan, Kesha, St. Vincent, Benjamin Gibbard fron Death Cab For Cutie; Valerie June; and Kele Okereke from Bloc Party are the artists involved. 

Reporter Maureen O’Donnell offered an informative and touching tribute to music marketer Mike Egan in a recent edition of the Chicago Tribune. For decades, Egan was a familiar face at local record stores, and helped visiting bands (such as U2 before they were huge) navigate the city. He was an avid supporter of new wave, house music, and Japanese anime.

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Monday, April 16, 2018

Record Store Day Advice

Record Store Day, the annual celebration of vinyl in all its 7, 10, and 12 inch glory, returns this Saturday, April 21. The number of recording artists participating has grown over the years, and many record stores now entice customers with live entertainment, and in some cases, food and beverages. Collectors hoping to snag some of those limited edition or colored vinyl releases will need to get up  early and stand in line outside the record store of their choice. There’s a complete rundown of all the one-time treasures being offered this year on the official Record Store Day website. Just about every genre is represented, including hip hop, country, blues, jazz, and numerous variations of rock and roll.

Once you’ve studied the website and compiled your wishlist, here are a few pointers.

There are a lot of Chicago area stores to choose from. Pick up a copy of this month’s Illinois Entertainer for an extensive list. Keep an out for pop-up stores like Numero Uno in the Logan Square neighborhood.

Bring a written list of the records you want, showing the title, artist, and vinyl format. (7-inch single; 12-inch single; 10-inch EP; LP; double-LP, box set, etc.) The stores I’ve been to keep all the records behind the counter, and they like to keep the line moving. They will not look at a list on your smart phone, and definitely don’t want to hear you trying to remember what you want.

Be prepared for sticker shock. I’ve haven’t been able to find anyplace online that lists prices, so you won’t know how much these records cost until the clerk places them in front of you. Some will be relatively cheap, while others can get expensive.

Here’s a sampling of RSD in-store events.

Laurie’s Planet of Sound - 4639 N. Lincoln Avenue, Chicago:
1:00 p.m. Tommi Zender and Natalie Galey covering Joni Mitchell; 2:00 p.m. Phil Angotti covering The Kinks; 3:00 p.m. The Census Takers covering The Residents; 4:00 p.m. The Handcuffs

Val’s halla Records - 239 Harrison St., Oak Park:
11:00 a.m. Farewell Captain; noon Two Guitars And A Tuba; 1:00 p.m. Matt Lenny and Elm City Council; 2:00 p.m. Ginger; 3:00 p.m. The Frantastic Sound System; 4:00 p.m. Gino and Friends Jam

Vintage Vinyl - 925 Davis Street, Evanston:
11:a.m. whitewolfsonicprincess (alt rock band)

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Friday, April 13, 2018

Slumgullion

The annual CHIRP Record Fair and Other Delights, always one of the best things about April in Chicago, takes place tomorrow at the Local 130 Plumbers Union Hall at 1340 W. Washington. An amazing selection of records, CDs, DVDs, posters, books, and other rock and roll related merchandise will on sale from vendors; and the entertainment includes live music and DJs. Admission from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. is $8, and early admission from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. costs $25. The first 500 attendees will get a free tote bag that includes the download code for the CHIRP Record Fair Local Label Sampler.

Tickets went on sale today for the premiere of the Andrew Bird film Blue Heart at Thalia Hall on May 9. Other shows now on sale include Justin Hayward of The Moody Blues at City Winery Chicago on August 26; Dave Alvin of The Blasters and Americana artist Jimmie Dale Gilmore at The Old Town School Of Folk Music on September 8; Rufus Wainwright at The Vic on November 20; and the Willy Porter Band at City Winery Chicago on September 28.

Big Suit, the Chicago Talking Heads tribute act, performs at Park West tomorrow night.

Phil Angotti, with special guest Cliff Johnson, will be performing his monthly Beatle Brunch this Sunday from noon to 4:00 p.m. at the Reclaimed Bar and Restaurant. Both of these guys are veterans of the Chicago power pop scene, so they practically have 1960s hits flowing through their veins. In addition to his solo work and tribute shows around town, Angotti was a member of the band The Idea. Johnson currently performs with The Raine and is best known as the lead vocalist for Off Broadway. Reclaimed Bar and Restaurant is located at 3655 N. Western Avenue.

Later that same day, you can catch Tommi Zender, with special guest Steve Dawson, at Wishbone North from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Zender is a veteran of the Chicago scene and a frequent participant in tribute shows; Dawnson is a solo artist as well as a member of the critically acclaimed alt rock/Americana band Dolly Varden.

International Pop Overthrow - Chicago, starts Friday, April 20 and runs through Saturday, April 28 at the Red Line Tap, with multiple band showcases each night.

I was happy to see Jeff Elbel’s article in today’s Chicago Sun-Times about The Smithereens performing on April 19 at The Genesee Theatre in Waukegan. Robin Wilson from The Gin Blossoms will be serving as lead vocalist. It was no doubt a difficult decision to continue on after Pat DiNizio passed away last December, but I would agree with what a lot of fans are saying, which is The Smithereens’ power pop music should continue to be performed live. The Smithereens will be opening for Dave Davies of The Kinks at The Genesee.

Elbel also mentioned the new Covers album being released by The Smithereens, which features several cover versions recorded by DiNizio and the band over the years.

Head Over Heels, the new musical based on songs by The Go-Go’s, began previews earlier this week at the Curran in San Francisco. Tickets for Broadway previews, which starts in New York on June 23, are now on sale. Here’s hoping Head Over Heels comes to Chicago at some point.

Factory Theater’s production of Carrie J. Sullivan’s grunge rock play The Next Big Thing runs on Friday and Saturday nights at 8:00 p.m. and Sundays at 3:00 p.m. through April 21.

The 34th Annual Chicago Latino Film Festival runs through April 19 at AMC River East 21 at 322 E. Illinois.

The Asian American Showcase runs through April 18 at the Gene Siskel Film Center.

A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Punchline, an exhibit on comics, runs through April 21 at the Chicago Literary Alliance.

Colin Blunstone of The Zombies will embark on a U.K. tour before rejoining the band later this year for another tour. According to a post on the Essentially Pop website, Blunstone is also busy recording his next solo album.

The Posies’ 30th Anniversary Tour now includes dates in the U.K. (It arrives at Park West in Chicago, with Material Reissue as the opening act, on June 23.)

Chicago-based psychedelic band Secret Colours has created a fun and eye-catching video for its song “Dream Dream.”

Four very good songs by The Valley Downs, one of Chicago’s best but not altogether busy bands, can now be heard on Spotify.

Art Encounter, a nonprofit art education organization, is hosting an event to honor gallerist William Lieberman on Sunday, May 6 at the Evanston Women’s Club.

The Chicago Toy Show returns to the Kane County Fairgrounds in St. Charles on April 22 for the first of its two events there in 2018. In addition to collectibles, action figures, Matchbox cars, and Star Wars treasures, the show also offers a fair amount rock and roll memorabilia. There are vendors offering vintage publcations, records, CDs, and even music-related toys. I’ve purchased a car imprinted with the Beatles Revolver allbum cover, and a semi trailer showing Cheap Trick. Admission The Toy Show is &10, hours are from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The Real Pretenders, a Pretenders tribute takes place at FitzGerald’s in Berwyn on April 19.

Flirting With Time: A Tribute To Neil Young takes place at FitzGerald’s in Berwyn on April 20.
The reunited L7 at performs at Metro on April 20.

Define American Film Festival (DAFF), organized by writer/filmmaker Joes Antonio Vargas, takes place on April 20 through 22 at Venue Six10 on Michigan Avenue.

There will be a screening of the film Concert For George – Celebrating the Life and Music of George Harrison on May 16 at the Music Box. The 2002 concert brought together Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Eric Clapton, Billy Preston, Ravi Shankar, Tom Petty, Monty Python, and other to honor Harrison.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Wolf Alice - Visions Of Life

Back when I reviewed Wolf Alice’s full-length debut My Love Is Cool in 2016, I imagined how interesting it would be to see lead vocalist-guitarist Ellie Rowsell bring the various genres and personas from that that album to a live performance. The English band’s followup Vision Of Life is no less adventurous despite a persistent obsession with death. Rowsell can evoke an angel, a street fighter, or an alluring hipster, depending on the song. And once again, the well-crafted arrangements flip from pristine to overpowering in a matter of moments.

The intro to “Heavenward” could turn any church choir green with envy, and Wolf Alice drifts into a symphony before eventually bringing on the heavy metal thunder. Meanwhile, the lyrics focus on celebrating someone close who has died and looking forward to seeing that person again in the afterlife. “St. Purple And Green” has a similar approach and seems to specifically mourn a grandmother. The straight-up techno rock of “Space And Time” exudes a fear of losing control, and on the gorgeous folk ballad “After The Zero Hour,” a woman refuses to die, and embarks on an adventure instead.

Visions of Life offers other outlooks as well. Rowsell sounds like she’s ready to rip somebody’s head off in the careening “Yuk Foo,” while the light and poetic “Sad Boy” is about a guy who “thinks too much.” The impossibly catchy “Formidable Cool” depicts a villain who uses his position of power to seduce women and leave them feeling used. On “Sky Musings,” a jet flight triggers a series of emotions from the fear of crashing to regrets over not having taken a chance on a relationship. Wolf Alice is less direct but still enticing on the playful “Beautifully Unconventional” and the sci-fi adventure “Planet Hunter.”

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