Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Signs Of Summer

Memorial Day weekend is often seen as the unofficial start of summer, and this year, Chicagoans have a street festival with one of the city’s best bands to help us celebrate. The Belmont-Sheffield Music Festival runs Saturday and Sunday, with the highlight being a 4:15 p.m. show by The Handcuffs on Saturday. Led by vocalist-guitarist Chloe F. Orwell and drummer Brad Elvis (who’s also a member of The Romantics) the band has recorded three impressive albums filled with catchy indie rock songs. They’re currently wrapping up a new album, so there’s a good chance we’ll be hearing some new songs at the Belmont-Sheffield Music Festival. Two days later, you can catch The Handcuffs at Montrose Saloon on Chicago’s north side.

This year’s lineup for Fest For Beatles Fans - Chicago (August 10 – 12) has been announced, and while it’s disappointing The Zombies aren’t among the guests—they were at the NY Fest edition—there’s still plenty to like. Alan White, who was a member of Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame inductees Yes, will be making his Fest - Chicago debut. White was also among the noted musicians who joined John Lennon and Yoko Ono at the 1969 Toronto Rock And Roll Festival, and helped out on George Harrison’s All Thing Must Pass album.

Jeremy Clyde has performed at The Fest with Chad and Jeremy partner Chad Stuart, as well as Peter Asher. This year, he’s going solo, backed a guitarist, cellist, and violinist. Other celebrity guests include former Wings members Steve Holley, Laurence Juber, and Denny Laine, and former Apple Records manager Ken Mansfield. The Beatles tribute band Liverpool will be back again, along with The Weeklings, who mix obscure Beatles songs with catchy, British Invasion-flavored originals.


Monday, May 20, 2019

You Can Read It In The Sunday Papers

Pretend it's the graphic for the Hollywood Casino show in Tinley Park.

The Who’s Moving On tour comes to the Chicago area tomorrow night for a concert at the Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre in Tinley Park. According to an article by Jeff Elbel in last Friday’s Chicago Sun-Times, Pete Townshend and Roger Daltry will likely perform bits from Tommy and Quadrophenia, along with a selection of deep album tracks. A new album—The Who’s Tommy Orchestral—is due out next month, and these guys have also been working on songs for the first new Who album in over 10 years.

I mentioned last Friday that critically acclaimed singer-guitarist Courtney Barnett will be one of the headliners at this year’s Taste Of Chicago, which runs July 10 – 14. There will also be a full schedule of local acts rocking on the Goose Island Stage, according to Chicago Tribune writer Jessi Roti. Another highlight for those who don’t bother with the food at Taste but enjoy the entertainment will be the debut of a Theatre Garden garden featuring shows by Second City and other Chicago-based theatre groups.

Yesterday’s edition of the ChicagoSun-Times included a 63-page special magazine titled Walk This Way - Straight ahead: Your guide to the perfect Chicago summer. It lists several art shows and concerts coming up in the next few (hopefully warmer) months.

Knock, knock, knocking down shots of Heaven’s Door. There’s a full-page ad in this month’s edition of Michigan Avenue for Bob Dylan’s new line of whiskeys, Heaven’s Door. It sounds like a National Lampoon bit, but this posh magazine isn’t known for satire. “We wanted to create a collection of whiskeys, that in their own way, tell a story,” Dylan is quoted in the ad copy. The tag is, HANDCRAFTED, AWARD-WINNING. UNCOMPROMISING. Not sure if that refers to the alcohol or Bob.


Friday, May 17, 2019


Four Chords and a Gun, actor John Ross Bowie’s drama about The Ramones recording their End Of The Century album under the guidance (influence?) of Phil Spector, opens tomorrow night at The Broadway Playhouse in Chicago. The official website stresses this is not a musical, which makes me think it might be like Aftermath, Ronan Marra’s terrific Rolling Stones play that was performed by Signal Ensemble back in 2010. Four Chords and a Gun, the website explains, is “A Play Followed By A Concert.” It runs through June 2.

Speaking of The Rolling Stones, they’ll kick off their rescheduled No Filter Tour with gigs at Soldier Field in Chicago on June 21 and June 25. A recent clip of Mick Jagger practicing his dance moves proves he’s still more agile than a lot of people on this planet.

The 7th Annual Chicago Critics Film Festival, which bills itself as “The only film festival created and curated by a film critics association,” opened today and runs through May 23 at the Music Box Theatre.

Tickets went on sale today for Waterboys at The Old Town School Of Folk Music on September 29. They’ll be doing two shows that day, one at 5:00 p.m. and one at 8:00 p.m.

Courtney Barnett will be among the headline acts at this year’s Taste of Chicago. She’s scheduled for July 10, with Sunflower Bean as the opening act. India.Arie and Meshell Ndegeocello share a double bill at The Taste on July 14.

The 10th Annual Chicago Zine Fest - A Self-Publishing Celebration has been staging events the past few days, and will wrap up with its Exhibition Day tomorrow at Plumbers Union Hall just west of downtown Chicago. More than 250 self publishers will be on hand.

Former Houndmouth vocalist Katie Toupin has a gig coming up at Schubas this Sunday to showcase her new solo effort, Magnetic Moves. The album is due out June 14.

L7 will most likely be playing songs from their recently released album Scatter The Rats when they rock the Metro this coming Tuesday. The four-woman band was originally part of the grunge scene and reformed in 2017.

Vintage Garage Chicago will hold a flea market this Sunday featuring clothing, jewelry, and assorted other items. Admission is $6.

Robbie Fulks will be performing Doc Watson songs at 2:00 p.m. at the Evanston History Center this Sunday as part of the Out Of Space series created by the suburb’s well-known music venue SPACE.

International Pop Overthrow - Liverpool continues its run at the Cavern Pub and Cavern Club through this Tuesday, May 21.

If you enjoy The Handcuffs’s show at the Belmont/Sheffield Street Fest next Saturday, May 25, you can catch them again two days later at Montrose Saloon. They’ll be sharing a double bill with The Convincers. It’s a record release party for The Convincers.

Chicago’s Irish Music Community suffered a major loss this week with the passing of Noah Rice, a long-time teacher at the Irish Academy Of Music and founding member of the Baal Tinne band. Rice was a familiar face at the annual Irish Fest at the Academy, as well as the Celtic Fest that used to held in Grant Park. His students and family will no doubt carry on his love of Irish music and culture.


Saturday, May 11, 2019

Saturday Slumgullion

Photo from the Johnny Marr Facebook page.

Hi Hello, Johnny. Welcome back to Chicago. Johnny Marr’s USA Comet Tour 2019 arrives in Chicago this Monday, May 13 for a show at The Vic Theater. Call The Comet, his third straight solo masterpiece, came out in 2018.

Slumgullion didn’t appear in its usual Friday night spot due to my wife Pam and I attending the ArtReach Educational Theatre and Spotlite Theatrix production of Mamma Mia at Cutting Hall in Palatine. I’m not an avid ABBA fan, but I believe that this type of production—where kids are introduced to the performing arts with mentoring from adults—should be encouraged. All of the adult cast members sang well; most of the kids put their hearts into it; and the finale had a big, good-time feel.

Tickets are now on sale for Bishop’s Daredevil Stunt Club, Gal Gun, and the Mark Watson Band at GMan Tavern on May 31; Hot Stove Cool Music With Peter Gammons and More at Metro on June 7; Megan McDonough at SPACE on July 6; the Neo Reunion at Metro on July 20; New Duncan Imperials at FitzGerald’s on July 27; and Nots and Olivia Neutron-John at Subterranean on June 4.

International Pop Overthrow - Liverpool, which is the second hottest topic in the UK right now—next to the new royal baby—kicks off this Tuesday, May 14 and will run through May 21 at the Cavern Pub and Cavern Club. The event brings in acts from around the globe, including Yanks like The Bishop’s Daredevil Stunt Cub and The Jeremy Band. The IPO website has the full schedule.

This week’s edition of Redeye includes the Chicago free paper’s annual festival guide. Compiled by Aine Dougherty, it provides an amazingly diverse schedule of outdoor events coming up from May through September. I always keep this list as a resource to make sure I don’t miss any of my favorite events.

Former Houndmouth vocalist Katie Toupin has a gig coming up at Schubas next Sunday May 19. Toupin has been employing an effective social media blitz to promote her first solo effort, Magnetic Moves, which is due out June 14.

The Handcuffs plan to return to Chicago’s outdoor festival scene with a “big, long, rocking set” at the Belmont/Sheffield Street Fest on Saturday, May 25. I’m guessing a few new tunes may turn up at that gig since the band has been working on its next album for a while now.

Girls Rock! Chicago is having a fundraiser next Sunday, May 19 at Sleeping Village on Belmont Avenue.

There’s a triple bill of Go Time, The Spindles, and 45 Souls coming up on May 30 at Martyrs’ on Lincoln Avenue. The first two acts have garnered praise here on Broken Hearted Toy for their recordings and live shows; 45 Souls is a roots rock, American duo that I’ve haven’t seen yet. Their latest CD, Free, came out early last month. Showtime is 8:00 p.m.

CAKE - The Chicago Alternative Comics Expo comes to the Center on Halsted for a two-day celebration and marketplace of independent comics on June 1 and 2. Special guests include Ezra Claytan Daniels, Nicholas Gurewitch, and Rosemary Valero-O’Connell. Admission is free.

L7 recently released its latest album, Scatter The Rats, and will most likely be playing songs from it when they rock the Metro on May 21. The four-woman band was originally part of the grunge scene and reformed in 2017.

Vintage Garage Chicago has a flea market featuring clothing, jewelry, and assorted other items coming on May 19 in Evanston. Admission is $6.

Robbie Fulks will be performing Doc Watson songs at 2:00 p.m. at the Evanston History Center next Sunday, May 19. The show is part of the Out Of Space series created by the suburb’s well-known music venue SPACE.

The Young Authors organization is offering a Write To The City Summer Camp for educators and aspiring poets and activists (ages 12 – 25) at the University of Illinois on July 8 through July12.

Rolling Stone recently reported that Liz Phair’s memoir Horror Stories will be published by Random House in October.

The 7th Annual Chicago Critics Film Festival, which bills itself as “The only film festival created and curated by a film critics association,” starts next Friday, May 17 and runs through May 23 at the Music Box Theatre.


Thursday, May 9, 2019

whitewolfsonicprincess - The Alternate Boot Vols. 1 and 2

Those of us who first encountered Carla Hayden and James Moeller performing with their Black Forest theatre group probably have an advantage navigating the mystical lyrics of its musical offshoot whitewolfsonicprincess. The band has definitely established its own identity, but it still retains theatrical elements. On The Alternate Boot Vols. 1 and 2, whitewolfsonicprincess once again weaves energetic guitars and percussion through otherwise slow-moving arrangements.

Like U2 on its recent releases, whitewolfsonicprincess seems obsessed with the darkness and bad will that engulfs the modern world but feels there’s a light that can save us. “So Clear” invokes visions of a holy trinity as Hayden sings, “In forgiveness they cut through despair./Their lips painting words on the air.” Hayden takes an ethereal approach to her vocals, while Moeller’s singing is more conversational. They frequently join together on the chorus.

Moeller’s sense of loss regarding global unrest is unmistakable on the gritty “Sadness In The World,” but he defiantly proclaims, “Let’s paint it in the colors of love.” Hayden’s voice underscores the magic of “Dance A Wave” as she declares, “The ocean was my love./The darkness knew my name.” “I Close My Eyes” has a bluesy feel that also echoes the Jimi Hendrix rendition of Dylan’s “All Along The Watchtower” and “Brown Eyes” offers an enticing mix of adventurous and intricate instrumentation.


Wednesday, May 8, 2019


Marquee Moon will shine in Lincoln Park. Television, one of the first and most influential acts to don the punk label, have two shows coming up this Friday at the Old Town School of Folk Music. The first is at 7:00 p.m., the second at 10:00 p.m. The New York City band, led by vocalist-guitarist Tom Verlaine, released its critically acclaimed debut Marquee Moon in 1977. Chicago-based singer-songwriter Half Gringa is the opening act. She’ll be performing songs from her debut album Gruñona.

Johnny Marr’s USA Comet Tour 2019 arrives in Chicago for a show at The Vic Theater next Monday, May 13. Marr first attracted world-wide attention for his distinctive guitar playing for The Smiths in Manchester, UK back in the early 1980s. He went on to perform with Modest Mouse, The Pretenders, and The Cribs. He’s excelled as a solo artist too, releasing his third impressive effort, Call The Comet in 2018.

There will be five components to the 10th Annual Chicago Zine Fest - A Self-Publishing Celebration, starting with a Zine Archives Visit and Zines + Social Justice Panel at DePaul University next Thursday, May 16. On May 17, there will be a CZF Exhibitor Reading at Quimby’s Bookstore, plus Zine Jeopardy at Cards Against Humanity Theater. Exhibition Day on Saturday will feature more than 250 self-publishers to Plumbers Union Hall. See the Chicago Zine Fest website for all the details.


Friday, May 3, 2019


Barak Goodman’s new documentary Woodstock - Three Days That Defined A Generation will have its Chicago premiere at the Gene Siskel Film Center on May 31, and run through June 6.

Tickets went on sale today for Berlin at City Winery Chicago on September 10; EXPO ’76 with Kelly Hogan and Robert Cornelius, and Katie Belle and the Belle Rangers at Martyrs’ on May 31; Herbie Hancock and Kamasi Washington at Huntington Bank Pavilion on August 10; Over The Rhine at SPACE on August 16; Son Volt at SPACE on July 13; and Sunday Papers, a Joe Jackson Tribute, at SPACE on June 23.

Martyrs’ is inviting family and friends of David Daniel Horn, a staff member who recently passed away, to attend a gathering in his honor at the music venue this Sunday at 3:00 p.m. There will be a cash bar and food to purchase. Martyrs’ encourages contributions to cover the cost of Horn’s funeral.

New albums released today include Scatter The Rats by L7; These Times by The Dream Syndicate; and Father Of The Bride by Vampire Weekend. Next Friday will bring We Get By from Mavis Staples; and on May 24, we’ll see My Songs by Sting and California Sun by Morrisey.

JBTV will present the band Actors this Saturday night at Chop Shop on North Avenue in Chicago. Bootblacks, The Bellwether Syndicate, and DJ Greg Corner from the band Kill Hannah will also be on hand.

A new production of the ABBA jukebox musical Mamma Mia by Art Reach Educational Theatre and Spotlite Theatrix kicks off tonight at Cutting Hall in Palatine and will run this weekend and next Friday and Saturday.

From Netflix to The Old Vic. London Theatre Direct website writer Nicholas Ephram Ryan Daniels reports that Claire Foy and Matt Smith from the acclaimed series The Crown will be joining forces again for a production of the Duncan Macmillan play Lungs at the Old Vic Theatre in the UK. Daniels describes Lungs as a “darkly hilarious drama.” Of course, many of us know Smith, who referred to me as ‘mate’ while autographing his photo at the Ace Comic Con in Chicago, from his portrayal of The Doctor on Doctor Who.

Tickets are now on sale for the Chicago edition of Hot Stove Cool Music (there’s one in Boston as well) taking place on June 7 at Metro. The annual baseball/rock and roll mashup helps Chicago Cubs President of Operations Theo Epstein, his brother Paul, and award-winning sportswriter Peter Gammons raise funds for the Foundation To Be Named Later. See yesterday’s post for more details.

Power pop musician Lannie Flowers continues his string of monthly free downloads on the SpyderPop website with the catchy “What Did I Know.” Flowers plans to release a free song each month up to the release of his next album Home comes out, and none of those songs will be on the album.

Reggies Music Joint on State Street is offering A Day Of Psychedelia on Sunday, June 16 featuring two bands for a $5 cover. Ovadya, whose music has been described as “Pink Floyd Meets the MidEast,” will be performing songs from its Black Fire album, and whitewolfsonicprincess will be spotlighting music from its new album The Alternate Boot Vols 1 and 2, along with earlier releases. The show starts at 4:00 p.m.

Thrift Store Halo have a CD release bash for their latest effort Consolation Prize Fighter coming up at the Ballydoyle Irish Pub and Restaurant in Downers Grover on June 6. The Chicago-based power pop trio did extremely well on the indie rock charts with their 2017 full-length album Pop Rocket and has already seen its first single from Consolation, “Once,” grab the number one spot on Monie’s New Music Radio in England.

Chicago’s critically acclaimed alt rock veterans Smoking Popes have gigs coming up next Friday and Saturday, May 10 and 11, at the Bottom Lounge. They’ll be performing with Flatfoot 56, The Sidekicks, and Sincere Engineer on Friday, and with Direct Hit!, Bad Cop/Bad Cop, and War On Women on Saturday. Bottom Lounge is located west of downtown at 1375 W. Lake.

Side Street Studio Arts in Elgin has an upcoming exhibit titled Sub Veintiuno (Sub 21). It’s a juried showcase of Latino artists under the age of 21 and runs from May 10 through May 26.

The Arts and Entertainment section of this past Thursday’s Chicago Tribune featured author David Kirby’s review of the new David Browne book Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young - The Wild, Definitive Saga of Rock’s Greatest Super Group. The piece, picked up from The Washington Post, makes Browne’s deep dive into the band’s history sound well worth buying. Reading the story again of how Stephen Stills and David Crosby saw Graham Nash performing with The Hollies at The Whiskey a Go Go in Los Angeles in 1968 and were so impressed they wanted to “steal him” for their new band makes me wonder if any footage exists of that show. It would not only show The Hollies at the height of Nash’s tenure with them but also capture the conception of one of the most important groups in rock history.

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