Saturday, August 8, 2020

Virtual Fest For Beatles Fans Rolls On

As The Virtual Fest For Beatles Fans continues its weekend run, the major highlight tonight for many will be Liverpool’s performance with special guest former Wings member Steve Holley. Liverpool is a top-notch tribute band that skips the costumes and concentrates on authentic renditions of classic Beatles material from the early days through Abbey Road. Liverpool’s live performance starts at 9:00 p.m. Prior to that, there will be a Soundalike Contest hosted by Byrd at 8:00 p.m. The evening’s festivities conclude with a screening of Good Ol’Freda, a cheerful and fascinating documentary about the charming woman who ran The Beatles Fan Club for several years.

Tomorrow, there’s a full line-up for the Apple Jam Stage, kicking off with Phil Angotti performing John Lennon songs at noon. Abby Slocum; Olivia Van Goor; Chad Clifford; Scott Erickson; Cellophane Flowers; Kelly Sabatino; and Daniel Phillips are also scheduled. The MarketPlace Zoom Room will offer collectibles from various vendors throughout the day, and a star-studded Main Stage lineup includes Freda Kelly, Billy J. Kramer, Klaus Voorman, Jenny Boyd, Laurence Juber, Betty Lavette, and Denny Laine.

Last night’s Apple Jam Stage highlights included Blac Rabbit;  Phil Angotti, Carol Engelemann, and Casey McDonough covering Paul McCartney; and My Sweet George, a George Harrison celebration featuring Ary Paloma, Ellis Clark, and a full band.

Check The Fest For Beatles Fans Facebook page for information on how to sign up for this virtual celebration, and to watch clips from the various Apple Jam Stage performers.

Friday, August 7, 2020


Happy Friday Night! As I’m writing this, I’m bouncing back and forth between the Ravinia Festival YouTube TV tribute to Janis Joplin with guests Cathy Richardson, Terry Talbot from Mason Proffit, and WXRT DJ Lin Brehmer; and a set by the New York duo Blac Rabbit on the Virtual Fest For Beatles Fans. Critically acclaimed Chicago musician Steve Dawson from Dolly Varden and other bands just started a live watch party on Facebook. 

I hope lots of people are enjoying these presentations, as well as other online opportunities for entertainment. And be sure to support live music venues like Montrose Saloon, Hey Nonny, and FitzGerald’s who are offering great music in safe outdoor settings.

Virtual Fest  For Beatles Fans will present Phil Angotti with Casey and Carolyn at 9:35; and Ellis and Ary’s My Sweet George at 10:35. These are acts I’ve enjoyed seeing at live Fests in the past, and I’m looking forward to tuning in tonight. The Virtual Fest For Beatles Fans has great stuff going on all weekend so be sure to check out their page on Facebook for info on how to sign up.

Angotti’s new vinyl LP The Best Of  Phil Angotti - Top Tunes And Real Grooves on Big Blast Records is now available on his website. It’s a collection of previously released material and a few new songs. He’ll likely have some some copies for sale when he’s back on the outdoor patio at Reclaimed Bar on August 23 for the monthly Beatle Brunch. I love the “I Saw Her Standing There 6 Feet Away” graphic on Facebook.

Keep a CIVL tongue in your head. Goose Island Beer Company’s limited edition of CIVL Pale Ale became available this past Wednesday and 100% of the proceeds will go to the Chicago Independent Venue League. The brew is available at the Goose Island’s Fulton Street Brewery at 1800 W. Fulton Street. According the CIVL Facebook page, its goal is to “advocate on behalf of Chicago’s independent performance venues.” It’s a refreshing way to support those businesses and the musicians who perform at them.

Another way to support artists, musicians, stage performers, and various creative types is to buy stuff from their websites. CHIRP RADIO.ORG is celebrating its 10th Anniversary by selling limited edition t-shirts through August 10.

The John San Juan-led Chicago-based psych band Hushdrops released the four-song EP Endless Summer today, giving us the first new music from these guys in six years. 

The September issue of MOJO magazine will have an 18-page special on David Bowie, along with feature stories on The Clash, P.J. Harvey, X, Deep Purple, Jonathan Richman, Warren Zevon, and Joni Mitchell discussing David Blue. The U.K. rock magazine is also offering Part One of its Neil Young edition from The Collectors’ Series. I’ve decided to take out a year’s subscription to MOJO with the some of the money I received for my birthday.

The Pretenders’ new CD Hate For Sale arrived on my doorstep this afternoon, and it’s a another highlight in the band’s career. Since I’m light years behind on posting album reviews (again, my sincere apologies to everyone who has sent stuff) I’ll just say here that Chrissie Hynde continues to pick her targets, chew them up and spit them out. The music is hard-edged, guitar-driven, and consistently melodic.

The documentary Creem: America’s Only Rock ’N’ Roll Magazine is now showing at theaters and virtual cinemas.  

Thursday, August 6, 2020


Several independent local music venues will benefit from the sales of a new various artists compilation titled Situation Chicago that’s available in various formats on Bandcamp. Quiet Pterodactyl, an organization devoted to enjoyment, education, and entry into the arts and music, brought together 25 acts that reflect the amazing diversity of Chicago’s music scene. Dee Alexander, Poi Dog Pondering, Jeff Tweedy, and OK Go are probably the best-known of the bunch, but a quick spin through these tracks reveals solid efforts from everyone involved. A digital download is priced at $25; a double vinyl LP (as well as the download) costs $45;  and their are special limited editions that run for $150 and $300. The full list of venues benefitting from Situation Chicago can be found on the Bandcamp page.

August 7 marks the 50th Anniversary of Janis Joplin’s one and only performance at the annual Ravinia Festival and the festival’s YouTube Channel will celebrate tomorrow (Friday, August 7) at 7:00 p.m. The Chicago-based band Mason Proffit opened for the Joplin that night, and former member Terry Talbot will share his memories of being backstage. Vocalist Cathy Richardson, who portrayed Joplin in the off Broadway play Love, Janis, will also be on hand, and WXRT radio personality and everyone's best friend Lin Brehmer will present a “TOPical 5” countdown of iconic rock stars died at the age of 27.

The documentary Creem: America’s Only Rock ’N’ Roll Magazine is coming to theaters and virtual cinemas this Friday. A post on the CREEM Magazine Facebook page says the flick will explain how it went from an underground newspaper to national acclaim within six years.

When Hushdrops release the four-song EP Endless Summer tomorrow (Friday, August 7), it will be the first new music from the Chicago-based psych band in six years. Founding member John San Juan has kept busy recording solo material, and before the pandemic shut things down, you could often find him performing with other musicians on the local club scene.

Friday, July 24, 2020


Fest For Beatles Fans has just announced that its massive, multi-city Virtual Fest For Beatles Fans 2020 will take place two weeks from tonight. It’s the weekend the actual Chicago version would have been held if it hadn’t been canceled due the coronavirus. Regular attendees of that event will be glad to discover WXRT DJ Terri Hemmert will be MC for the online version, and several of their favorite guests will be appearing in what The Fest people are calling BALLZOOMS. Peter Asher, Billy J. Kramer, Jeremy Clyde, Laurence Juber, Klaus Voorman, Donovan, and Freda Kelly will be taking part, along with newcomers Mary Wilson from The Supremes, Jenny Boyd, and drummer Gregg Bissonette. The Beatles tribute band Liverpool will be performing, and several Chicago-based musicians and musicians from around the country will appear as part of The Apple Jam Stage. Tickets are $44.00 for the weekend and will only be available through Eventbrite. I’m hoping to post more about this within the next few weeks.

Phil Angotti will be performing at a Beatles Brunch this Sunday afternoon at 2:00 p.m. at the Reclaimed Bar. He had a record release gig at the same venue last week for his new vinyl LP The Best Of Phil Angotti, so maybe he’ll have some copies on hand this Sunday. Reclaimed Bar is located at 3655 N. Western Avenue in Chicago.

Michael McDermott, the Chicago-based singer-songwriter whose politically charged new song “What In The Word” has been rampaging across the WXRT airwaves, has some Patio Concerts coming up August 17 – 19 at City Winery Chicago. “What In The World” is the title track of McDermott’s latest album. Other patio concerts coming up at City Winery Chicago include Al Rose and Steve Doyle on August 11; Gordon Ivanovic and Fareed Haque on August 5; Sandra Antongiorgi Trio Unplugged on August 4; Lynne Jordan on August 3 and August 10; Chicago Global All Stars on July 29; and An Evening With Neal Francis on July 28.

The Hoodoo Gurus brand new single titled “Hung Out To Dry” came out today. Like McDermott’s “What In The World,” its video features an homage to Bob Dylan’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues.”

If everything had gone according to plan, I would be having a great time in London today.
My wife Pam and I finalized our plans somewhere around early March for a dream vacation to London, Manchester, York, and Liverpool. Of course, COVID-19 put an end to that. I’m now following so many Instagram sites based in those cities I’ll be an expert on their food and entertainment scenes by the time we do go (hopefully) sometime in the spring 0f 2021.

The last few nights, I pulled out the fancy Container Store box with all the memorabilia I saved from our 2006 European trip (it’s not like we do these things every year) and relived a lot of fun memories. I have some cool U.K., French, and German papers. I always search for local publications wherever we go, whether it’s Paris or Cape May. After a few days in London back in 2006, I had collected so many free papers I decided to mail them home rather than lug them around in my backpack. A very polite gentleman at the post office weighed them and came back to the counter. “It’s going to cost you $120 American money to send a pile of free newspapers home. Do you really want to do that?” I thanked him for pointing that out, and decided to only mail my British Air Museum mug. Back at our bed and breakfast, I sorted through my stash to decide which ones I could just pull a page or two from and throw the rest of the issue away.

The publications that survived that trip in their entirety include Filter mini uk from England with Yeah Yeah Yeahs on the cover; The Skinny from Scotland with XMen The Last Stand on the cover; and Virgin! from France with Red Hot Chili Peppers, Festival de Cannes, and Bob Marley on the cover. I saved a bunch of pamphlets, flyers and postcards as well. They’ll have to hold me over for now.

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Saturday Slumgullion

By now, I hope everyone has taken part in at least a few fun activities to mark my Unofficial Hollies Celebration Day. See yesterday’s post for full details.

I’d like to send a big thank you to Chicago-based musician Phil Angotti for participating and posting a stellar rendition of “Carrie Anne” on acoustic guitar.  I was also happy to post a clip of local power pop band The Spindles covering “Bus Stop.” It’s from their recent Past and Present CD, but enhanced with a new video montage of The Hollies. Also, a big thank you to singer-guitarist Gerry Lee for posting a video of himself doing a sterling job on “I Can’t Let Go.” I have permission to share these clips on my Facebook page, so you can find them there.

Also, thanks to the Allan Clarke Appreciation Society Facebook page for allowing me to post a link to yesterday’s blog on their site. It was great seeing the responses and words of support from U.K. Hollies fans, especially on a page I've been enjoying for years.

Graham Nash will be part of the Little Kids Rock Virtual Benefit Music Will Bring Us Together taking place next Thursday, July 23. Other performers include include Elvis Costello, Warren Haynes, Christine “KINGFISH” Ingram, Joan Jett, Darlene Love, Steve Miller, Phil Lesh, Jon Secada, Keb’ Mo’, Jesse Colin Young, Judy Ho Ph.D, and celebrity chef Jeff Mauro. The event will also feature Dance Party DJs Zeke Thomas, Sam Feldt, Modern Machines, and DNMO. Little Kids Rock is a non-profit foundation dedicated to helping children play music via free lessons and instruments.

The Pretenders’ new album Hate For Sale came out yesterday and is available in CD, vinyl, and streaming formats. Chrissie Hynde and her mates generated a lot of interest for this long-awaited new effort by offering previews of some of the songs on social media. Judging from those clips, Hate For Sale looks like a definite return to the hard-hitting but melodic approach that gave us so many classic songs in the past.

Depending on when you read this, you could catch the previously mentioned Phil Angotti doing a record release show tonight at the Reclaimed Bar for his new vinyl LP The Best Of Phil Angotti. The show starts at 9:00 p.m. Reclaimed Bar is located at 3655 N. Western Avenue in Chicago. Angotti will be doing a Beatles Brunch at Reclaimed next Sunday afternoon at 2:00 p.m.

The Hoodoo Gurus have a new single titled “Hung Out To Dry” coming out next Friday.

EXPO ’76, one of the Chicago area’s best (and eclectic) cover bands will be performing on the patio at the Toadstool Pub in Highwood tomorrow afternoon. All of its members have extensive experience performing in bands that create original material.

Big Hair Big Trouble, yet another fun collaboration from Ary Paloma, lead vocalist for the rockabilly/garage rock band Amazing Heeby Jeebies and Ellis Clark from The Social Act and Epicycle, will be performing tomorrow evening from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. in the Beer Garden at Montrose Saloon. Spies Who Surf guitarist Thomas Klein will be the duo’s special guest. Big Hair Big Trouble released their second single, “Crackers In Bed,” just about a month ago.

Friday, July 17, 2020

July 18 - UNOFFICIAL Hollies Celebration Day

Tony Hicks (left) and Bobby Elliott. Come on America, let’s show them some love.

July 18 was the date The Hollies were supposed to perform at the Chicago Theatre as part of their 2020 The Road Is Long Tour. It would have been their first visit here since a ChicagoFest gig in 1983, when Graham Nash was back in the fold for a short-lived reunion. The band’s entire U.K. and U.S. tours were scratched this year due to the coronavirus. A quick scroll through the messages on the official Hollies Facebook page will reveal how many Yanks are severely disappointed by this turn of events. No amount of hand-wringing will enable The Hollies to reschedule before 2021, but I do have a plan to make us all feel a little better. And it could serve as a reminder that their American fans definitely want to see them.

I’m declaring tomorrow, July 18 as UNOFFICIAL Hollies Celebration Day in Chicago. Fans across the U.S. can choose the date the Hollies were scheduled to come to their city as their Unofficial Hollies Celebration Day. Loyal followers should have no trouble organizing several events. First, put on a Hollies t-shirt. Hopefully, you’ve purchased one online at some point, but if you haven’t, you can create one with a magic marker or just pin a photo on a t-shirt. If you live in the Chicago area and I’ve given you a custom-made Hollies button at some point, be sure to wear it. Start the morning with English tea and crumpets—you’ll find crumpets in the bread aisle at Trader Joe’s. Make out a schedule that’s a mixed bag of books, records, YouTube videos, social media, and DVDs. 

Here are a few suggestions:

DVDs: The Hollies - Look Through Any Window 1963 – 1975 - 22 Complete Performances and The Hollies Special Live Edition from 2007

CDs and Vinyl: The Hollies have released numerous greatest hits collections, but I suspect true fans will also dive into their favorite LPs, which can range from the early 1960s to almost present day. Also, check out Hollies Live Hits! - We Got The Tunes! from 2012 and The Hollies - Reunion, which was recorded at Kings Island in Cincinnati in 1983.

Books: Definitely read a few chapters from drummer Bobby Elliott’s recently released autobiography, It Ain’t Heavy, It’s My Story - My Life With The Hollies. Elliott takes us through the band’s entire history, as well as his own childhood, in an entertaining, matter-of-fact style that’s consistently engaging. If you have Volume No. 1 of critic/musician Ken Sharp’s excellent Play On! - Power Pop Heroes series, read the chapter on The Hollies. It features his interviews with Allan Clarke, Tony Hicks, and Graham Nash.

YouTube: The Hollies have their own channel, where you can watch vintage clips as well as very recent quarantine recordings of “The Air That I Breathe” and “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother.”

Social Media: In addition to the official Hollies Facebook page, there are some very good fan-created sites that offer rare clips and foster a cheery ambience. Likewise on Instagram; there’s an official site, and if you search #Hollies or # some of the band members, you’ll find amazing rare photos. Also check out the official Hollies website. It looks like they might have a store section coming back soon.

That should be enough to fill your day. Choose appropriate meals and beverages throughout the day, and concentrate on positive vibes that will help us through these difficult times, and bring The Hollies back to America next year. Cheers!

Monday, July 13, 2020

Andy Stone - Every Single Day

Andy Stone’s followup to his 2017 effort This Giant Awoke finds the Providence, Rhode Island singer-songwriter once again exploring relationships from various angles. Listening to Every Single Day, it’s easy to believe Stone is also a novelist, because he crafts believable scenes filled with heartfelt lyrics. Nothing gets too literary though, because he sets each of the 11 tracks a melodic arrangement.

The stark piano ballad “I Never Should Have Said It” gives us a guy who who tried to convince himself he was in love, only to cause pain when it turned out to be untrue. The energetic “Why” depicts a doomed relationship where neither person can pull the trigger on ending it, and the melodic “Isn’t It Funny?” suggests we all worry too much about what other people think of us. On the more romantic side, “The Man Who Could Love Only You” evokes a slow dance hit from the early 1960s, while the clever “You Are A Problem” grooves to a 1980s synth beat.

“Gonna Be Different” is a catchy and celebratory track with Stone proclaiming “I knew there was a fair tale ending from the start.” For power pop fans, “I’m Gonna Love You” is likely to be the standout track, with its high energy arrangement and a whirlwind of guitar action in the middle. Every Single Day can be purchased from Andy Stone’s Facebook page.
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