Saturday, October 17, 2020

Saturday Slumgullion


Australian power pop fans have a reason to rejoice now that the Hoodoo Gurus are performing live again. They’ll be at Max Watt’s House Of Music in Sydney November 5 and 6, with The Buoys as their opening act. The rest of us around the globe will have to settle for a new single—they’ve been busy lately—titled “Get Out Of Dodge.” The guitar-driven single, which the band dedicates to “to all the non-conformists out there,” features their friend Vicki Peterson from The Bangles and John Cowsill from The Cowsills as special guests. Its available on the groups Bandcamp page, along with “Hung Out To Dry.”

Chicago Drive-In has a multi-act, socially distanced live show going on today at the Seat Geek Stadium in Bridgeview. Long-time Chicago punk band PEGBOY will celebrate its 30th anniversary at the event, and will be joined by fellow hometown acts Local H and The Bollweevils, as well as Jake Burns from the Irish punk band Stiff Little Fingers. The show starts at 5:00 p.m, and $89.99 General Admission/per car tickets are available at Infinity Ticket Solutions


NIVA (National Independent Venue Association) has its multi-act live weekend concert event Save Our Stages currently streaming on YouTube Music. Several well-known acts will be performing at clubs around the country through tomorrow. There’s no admission fee but viewers can donate money to help entertainment venues stay afloat during this difficult time while waiting for Congress to provide much-needed funds. Artists involved include Jason Mraz; Rise Against; Foo Fighters; The Roots; Portugal The Man; Major Lazer; Black Pumas; Nathaniel Rateliff; Reba McIntire; and The Revivalists.


The Saturday Night In Virtual Gala starts at 7:00 pm tonight with Channel 5 Chicago’s Patrick Fazio serving as Emcee. Guests include WXRT radio personality Lin Brehmer, Olympic medalist Apolo Ohno; Special Olympics athlete David Harlan; and comedian Jordan Klepper. There will be a concert at 7:00 pm featuring The Bono Bros Band, which includes members of Freddy Jones Band, Mr. Blotto, and Tributosaurus. Proceeds from Saturday Night In will help Special Olympics Illinois. 


Tickets are now on sale for Beach Bunny at the Schaumburg Boomers Stadium on October 30; Chicago Soul Spectacular Presents Bird At 100! - A Tribute To Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie at Chicago City Winery on October 31; and Joanna Connor at SPACE on October 30. These listings are taken from the Early Warnings page in the current edition of the Chicago Reader. The page also has information about upcoming livestream events by David Byrne: Billie Eilish; Emmylou Harris; Lilly Hiatt; and Jayhawks. The Chicago Reader can be picked up for free from various places in downtown Chicago and around the north side. You can also find it online, or subscribe so that issues are mailed directly to your residence.


The last of this year’s three RSD Drops takes place next Saturday, October 24. I had thought the Drops trilogy replaced both the April and November Record Store Day events because of the pandemic, but as Fonzie once reluctantly admitted on Happy Days, “I was wrrrrrrrrrrrong.” The official RSD site recently posted the list of limited-edition vinyl that will be available as part of Black Friday Record Store Day on November 27. If you’re going vinyl shopping next Saturday, October 24, make sure you’re looking at the right list. Otherwise, you might show up a month early for the record you want. Check with your favorite record store to see if they’re participating.


Los Straitjackets just released a cover of “Bus Stop,” the 1966 hit single by The Hollies, on its Bandcamp page. The Nashville-based guitar-driven instrumental quartet also has a seven-inch single titled “Beatles V. Stones” coming out as part of the Black Friday Record Store Day. It features them performing “I Feel Fine” and “Time Is On My Side.” Long-time fans know Los Straitjackets also recorded some fun collaborations with veteran Brit musician Nick Lowe.


The Friends Experience: The One In Chicago continues its run at The Shops At North Lincoln Avenue through January 3, 2021. For a $35 admission price, fans of the NBC hit series will be be able to wander through two floors of recreated sets, as well as check out costumes, original scripts and a gift store. Strict social distancing, temperature checks, and other protective measures will be in place.


Writer/director Aaron Sorkin’s The Trial Of The Chicago 7 began running on Netflix yesterday. The cast includes Eddie Redmayne, Jeremy Strong, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Sacha Baron Cohen, Mark Rylance, Michael Keaton, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Frank Langella. 

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Sunshine Boys - Work And Love


Note: Sunshine Boys lead vocalist-guitarist Dag Juhlin has a solo gig at the Hey Nonny venue in Arlington Heights at 7:30 PM tonight.

Considering the momentum Sunshine Boys built with their 2018 debut Blue Music, it’s good to see them quickly return with another album. The Chicago-based trio once again employs a well-crafted pop music sensibility on Work And Love, whether evoking sentimental memories, issuing a call to action, or telling us to hang in there. The three musicians have been around—Dag Juhlin with The Slugs and Poi Dog Pondering; Jackie Schimmel with Big Hello; and Freda Love Smith with The Blake Babies. Juhlin does all the lead singing, while Schimmel and Smith create lush backup vocals that occasionally recall the 1960s.

“Infinity Girl” is a guitar-driven celebration of youth and female empowerment, with lines such as, “We’re weighted down by clowns from old days/She’s built a bonfire of our old ways.” Sunshine Boys take aim at the endless hype of our political scene with the hard-edged “The Serpent In Spring,” noting “Here’s the distraction/There is the lie.” The rallying cry of “Don’t Keep It Inside” is tempered with optimism as Juhlin notes, “The good that you can see/Is the good that you can be.”

Poetic imagery emerges throughout Work And Love, particularly on the mid-tempo “Every Step” and the self-depricating but tender love song “A Ghost, At Best.” Those tracks, along with “Right Where You Need It,” feature guest musicians Susan Voelz and Anna Steinhoff on violin and cello respectively. The shimmering “Summertime Kids” works on one level as a nostalgic Beach Boys type reflection, but also laments the loss of independence as we grow older.

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Saturday Slumgullion


Yes Virginia, there will be a Black Friday RSD in 2020. The official Record Store Day website has announced it will be offer an additional event this year after the October 24 RSD Drop. I had assumed the three RSD Drops had replaced both the usual April and November versions, but there’s now a Black Friday version with more tempting limited-edition vinyl in virtually every genre.

The list includes The Bangles; Mick Fleetwood and Friends/Fleetwood Mac; George Harrison; Fountains Of Wayne; Aimee Mann; David Gilmour; The Rolling Stones; Elliott Smith; and U2. Black Friday RSD will also offer some holiday-related records, including ones from Chuck Berry; Juliana Hatfield; Dave Brubeck; Milton DeLugg and The Little Eskimos/The Fleshtones; and Vince Guaraldi.


Mekons founding member and critically acclaimed artist Jon Langford will be at Hey Nonny in Arlington Heights for his (Solo) Art Songs show from 6:00 p.m. to 8:15 p.m tomorrow (October 11). He’ll return with Bethany Thomas and John Szymanski on October 16, and with The Waco Brothers (Stripped Down And Socially Distant) on October 17. The venue will be celebrating its second anniversary on October 17.


Dag Juhlin from Sunshine Boys, Sonic 45, Poi Dog Pondering, The Slugs, and EXPO ’76, has a solo gig coming up at Hey Nonny this Tuesday, October 13.


I dropped by Martyrs on Lincoln Avenue yesterday afternoon to catch a few hours of the Phil Angotti And Friends John Lennon 80th Birthday Bash. Actually, the outdoor space where Angotti and his special guests were performing was shared by Martyrs’ and the nearby Mrs. Murphy And Sons Irish Bistro. The weather was perfect as servers from both venues made their way through the crowd with drinks and food. I’m not sure if Angotti met his goal of performing 80 Beatles or Lennon solo songs since I left early, but the music I did hear was a blast. 


On the way to the John Lennon bash, I was happy to find a copy of New City magazine’s October issue. The Chicago-based monthly is offering its annual FILM 50 issue, which this year placed writer-director Kris Rey at number one. This edition also features Monica Kass Rogers’ photos and essay titled The Alley Project and Craig Bechtel’s profile on veteran punk band Pegboy.


The October edition of the Illinois Entertainer is available online with a cover story on Mastodon, a feature story on WXRT morning DJ Richard Milne; and album reviews of Paul McCartney, The Rolling Stones, Deep Purple, and John Wesley Harding. 


I mentioned Cheap Trick’s outstanding cover of David Bowie’s “Rebel Rebel” a while back, and now there’s an eye-popping live performance/animation video to go with it. It’s become one of my all-time favorite rock videos, and brings back memories of when I watched MTV a regular basis. 


The final edition of Thompson’s three-part series Richard Thompson’s Live From London - A Lifestream Concert Series, takes tomorrow, October 11 and will be a Total Request Live Event. It’s being presented by the Chicago area venues The Old Town School and SPACE, and Tickets can be purchased on the website for The Old Town School of Folk Music, which is a co-presenter, along with SPACE in Evanston.


In Manchester, England the Headstock Festival, which runs this weekend, has joined forces with Akse P19 for a mural honoring Joy Division founding member Ian Curtis. It’s part of an effort to raise awareness for World Mental Health Day, which also takes place today.


Writer/director Aaron Sorkin’s The Trial Of The Chicago 7 comes to Netflix on October 16 and it’s already snagged positive reviews from Richard Roeper in the Chicago Sun-Times and Michael Phillips in the Chicago Tribune. The cast includes Eddie Redmayne, Jeremy Strong, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Sacha Baron Cohen, Mark Rylance, Michael Keaton, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Frank Langella.


Ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba, ba, I wanna carbon date it. The following headline in a recent edition of the Chicago Sun-Times caught my attention: Field Museum’s new dinosaur curator known as ‘punk rock’ paleontologist As noted by writer Adam Mahoney, 36 year-old Jingmai O’Connor once named a fossilized bird after vocalist Greg Graffin from Bad Religion. Congratulations to California native Ms. O’Connor, and a hearty welcome to Chicago.

Saturday, October 3, 2020

Saturday Slumgullion


Rockabilly/garage rock band Amazing Heeby Jeebies will be performing at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow (Sunday, October 4) at Montrose Saloon on Chicago’s north side. If you’re already working on a Halloween playlist, you’ll find fun, twangy, and spooky numbers such as “Cannibal Beasts,” “The Mummy,” and “Loup Garou" on the Amazing Heeby Jeebies’ Bad Feelings album. The high-energy and often satiric power pop band Van Go will be performing at Montrose Saloon on October 23. These events will be outdoors in a socially-distanced setting.


After watching The Bad Examples perform at Hey Nonny in Arlington Heights, I can report that the band and the venue are in peak form. Hey Nonny has outdoor seating available, while the indoor seating is safely spaced. Patrons wore masks when entering or moving about, while the staff was masked at all times. I caught the second of two gigs The Bad Examples did last night, and it was filled with better-known power pop gems such as “Reaching For Shadows,” “Not Dead Yet,” and “Pictures Of A Masquerade.” as well as deep cuts. The brand new songs “Water And Smoke,” “The Church Of Rock And Roll Guitar,” and “Twice In A Lifetime” from an upcoming album indicate lead vocalist/chief songwriter Ralph Covert hasn’t lost his touch for crafting irresistibly catchy pop songs.


Dag Juhlin, whose decades-long career includes performing with Sunshine Boys, The 45, The Slugs, Poi Dog Pondering and Expo ’76, has a solo gig coming up at Hey Nonny on October 13. And on October 17, the club will celebrate its second anniversary in style as musician/artist Jon Langford will be performing music and exhibiting his paintings. 


According to a recent piece by Associate Press writer David Bauder, the 40th Annual John Lennon Tribute Concert in New York will be online only when it’s held on Lennon’s birthday next Friday, October 9. Some of the video performances, such as ones by Roseanne Cash, Jackson Browne, Patti Smith, Natalie Merchant, and Taj Mahal, will come from previous years. The event will be free to stream from 7:00 p.m. to midnight EST at LennonTribute.org, but producer Joe Raiola and organizers are asking viewers to contribute to the cancer-fighting foundations Theatre Within and Gilda’s Club.


As previously mentioned on BHT, The Fest For Beatles Fans will present Our Virtual 80th Birthday Salute To John Lennon event via Zoom from 5:00 to 11:00 p.m. EST on October 9. Tickets are $20 and available through eventbrite. A number of musicians and special guests—mostly veterans of The Fest live events—will be involved.


Here in Chicago, Phil Angotti and Friends will be celebrating John Lennon’s birthday on October 9 at Martyrs on the Lincoln Avenue. The socially distanced live concert kicks off at 3:00 p.m.


As mentioned by reporter Selena Fragassi in this past Wednesday’s Chicago Sun-Times, a new pop-up exhibition titled The Friends Experience: The One In Chicago opened this past Thursday at The Shops At North Lincoln Avenue and will run through January 3, 2021. For a $35 admission price, fans of the NBC hit series will be be able to wander through two floors of recreated sets, as well as check out costumes, original scripts and a gift store. I’m not sure if it will possible to take a selfie with a turkey stuck on your head. Strict social distancing, temperature checks, and other protective measures will be in place.


Heart guitarist-vocalist Nancy Wilson has announced she “will be releasing my ever solo album in early 2021 on my own new label, Carry On Music.” As a preview, she’ll offer a cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “The Rising” on October 23. Technically, I think Wilson’s 1999 album Live At McCabe’s Guitar Shop would count as a solo album. I was recently listening to her terrific cover of Simon and Garfunkel’s “Kathy’s Song” on an acoustic playlist I created on iTunes.


Congratulations to the Chicago Reader, which is celebrating its 50th Anniversary this month. The current edition, which arrived in my mailbox today, features the now bi-weekly publication’s Fall Arts Preview. Publisher Tracy Baim notes in a page three message that the Reader is believed to be the first free weekly in America, and proclaims, “we are excited about the future.” Still, more paid subscriptions would help. Best wishes to the Chicago Reader for continued success. I’ve been picking up a copy for a number of those 50 years.  

Saturday, September 26, 2020

Saturday Slumgullion


The Fairport Convention Era
, the next installment of Richard Thompson’s Live From London - A Lifestream Concert Series, takes place tomorrow,  Sunday, September 27. It’s being presented by the Chicago area venues The Old Town School and SPACE, with tickets on the website for The Old Town School of Folk Music

The Rachel Drew Quartet has a 6:00 p.m. gig tomorrow, Sunday night at Montrose Saloon on Chicago’s north side. Amazing Heeby Jeebies will be there on October 4, and Van Go will be performing on October 23. All of these shows will be outdoors in a socially-distanced setting.


Fans of high-caliber, melodic rock and roll received two gifts this weekend with the release of Cheap Trick’s “Rebel Rebel” and The Posies’ “Sideways.” Cheap Trick has always crafted splendid cover versions, whether it’s material originally recorded by The Beatles, The Move,  Fats Domino, or Terry Reid. They score again with David Bowie’s “Rebel Rebel,” opening with a drum volley similar to the one on their rendition of “Ain’t That A Shame.” This is pure fun and it’s available to download on various sites. The Posies are masters of exquisite pop and lush harmonies, starting with the very Hollies like Dear 23 and moving on the more energetic but always catchy songs of their later albums. “Sideways, ” which is also now available for download, carries on that tradition. I hadn’t thought of it before today, but there’s a certain similarity between them and the Chicago-based Sunshine Boys.


Dag Juhlin, who formed Sunshine Boys with Freda Love Smith and Jacqueline Schimmel a few years back, has a solo gig coming up at Hey Nonny in Arlington Heights on October 13. He’ll have a decades-long career to choose material from, ranging from the 1980s punk band The Slugs through two superb Sunshine Boys albums. He also performs with Poi Dog Pondering and the tribute band Expo ’76.

Hey Nonny is on a roll with its live shows again, with upcoming gigs by The Bad Examples and Jon Langford. The venue’s goal has been to bring a Chicago style live music ambience to the northwest suburbs.


Another fairly new and very cool addition to downtown Arlington Heights is Coco and Blu, which serves beverages, cocktails, and plates. My wife Pam and I have become regulars. It’s a fairly large space that looks like it could hold events at some time in the future when it’s safe to have bigger crowds.  


A new Smashing Pumpkins song titled “Cyr” hit the airwaves this weekend, and it features the band experimenting in a more synth rock style. Billy Corgan’s vocals are still immediately recognizable though. “Cyr” and a second new song, titled “Colour Of Love,” will be on the next Smashing Pumpkins album. As noted in the Chicago Sun-Times and at the Chicago Eater website, Corgan and fashion designer Chloe Mendel have brought their Madame ZuZu’s tea shop back to Highland Park. It had been closed since 2018.


Writer/director Aaron Sorkin’s The Trial Of The Chicago 7 comes to Netflix on October 16 and it’s already snagged positive reviews from Richard Roeper in the Chicago Sun-Times and Michael Phillips in the Chicago Tribune. The cast includes Eddie Redmayne, Jeremy Strong, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Sacha Baron Cohen, Mark Rylance, Michael Keaton, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Frank Langella. Having performed for 20 years at the Mary-Arrchie Theatre’s annual Abbie Hoffman Died For Our Sins festival with the Famous In The Future comedy group, I’ll always think of Mary-Arrchie Artistic Director Rich Cotovsky whenever I hear the name Abbie Hoffman. Cotovsky did a fabulous job of portraying the Yippie leader at the opening and closing ceremonies.

Friday, September 25, 2020

Fall For Limited-Edition Vinyl


As many vinyl fanatics already know, the second of this year’s three RSD Drops takes place tomorrow (Saturday, September 26) around the globe. Usually, the main Record Store Day is held on the third Saturday in April, and the less popular but still worthwhile Black Friday version comes in November. This year’s trilogy is pretty much the main RSD chopped into separate dates to keep stores from getting too crowded in the midst of a pandemic. The last Drop will be on October 24. 

The official RSD site has the entire list of limited-edition releases coming out this year, so make sure you’re looking at the September 26th section when putting together your wish list. Otherwise, you might show up a month too early for the record you want. The list spans every imaginable genre, including jazz, blues, hard rock, prog rock, techno, punk, country, and hip hop; and includes artists from several decades. Check with your favorite record store to see if they’re participating. Chicago area stores involved include Reckless Records, Laurie’s Planet Of Sound, Dusty Groove, Vintage Vinyl, and Val’s Halla.


RSD regulars have proven to be pretty level-headed over the years, so it’s likely we’ll all be following the now-customary social distancing and mask-wearing rules. Some stores might be selling official RSD face masks. This year, more than ever, it will be important to have a written or printed list ready to hand over; store employees won’t want to look at your phone.


As for my own list, I’ll be aiming for: Fleetwood Mac - The Alternate Rumours LP; The Hot Rats - Turn Ons: 10th Anniversary Edition 2 x 10-inch; Various Artists - This Are Two-Tone LP; Various Artists - Dance Craze LP; Matt Watt + The Secondmen “In Quintessence” seven-inch; Yardbirds -  Roger The Engineer Stereo and Mono LP. The Hot Rats are Gaz Coombes and Danny Goffey of Supergrass doing covers of some of their favorite songs; Mike Watt is a founding member of The Minutemen and is covering an early Squeeze hit, This Are Two Tone is a SKA hits collection, and Dance Craze is a movie soundtrack with live versions of SKA hits.


There a lot more RSD Drop 2 releases I’d love to buy, but I only have so much money and shelf space. As in previous years, I’ve made the Reckless Records in downtown Chicago my go-to stop for Record Store Day. They came through again for the first RSD Drop in August, so that’s where I’ll be tomorrow.


While I’m in the record buying mood, I might drop by Target to see if they have the exclusive lemonade vinyl R.E.M Out Of Time release that was advertised in their flyer last Sunday. Inventory varies per store, but I was told a while back by an employee at the suburban Target that didn't have The Go-Go’s Greatest Hits I wanted, that the records can be ordered online at Target. 

Thursday, September 24, 2020

It’s Johnny’ Birthday


The Fest For Beatles Fans
continues to add special guests for the Our Virtual 80th Birthday Salute To John Lennon event, which takes place on Zoom from 5:00 to 11:00 p.m. EST on October 9. Tickets—$16 through September 30, $20 after that—are available through Eventbrite. The lineup now boasts artist/musician Klaus Voormann; Peter Asher from Peter and Gordon; producer Alan Parsons; Jeremy Clyde from Chad and Jeremy; Joey Molland from Badfinger; Terry Sylvester from The Hollies and Swinging Blue Jeans; Billy Kinsley from The Merseybeats; Rod Davis from The Quarrymen; pianist Jon Cobert; Beatles Fan Club secretary Freda Kelly; Paul’s step mum and step sister Angie and Ruth McCartney; photographers Bob Gruen and Brian Hamill, and journalists Larry Kane and Ivor Davis.

Other Birthday Salute festivities include Brit Invasion crooner Billy J. Kramer joining members of the Liverpool tribute band for a live concert, as well as a live concert featuring acts who contributed Beatles and John Lennon covers to the JEM Records Celebrates John Lennon album coming out on the indie label October 9. Beatles book authors Ken Womack and Jude Southerland Kessler will each offer a special presentation. The Fest For Beatles Fans also promises, “Music, Stories, From Stars And Friends Who Knew Him All Over The World.” 


If you fancy the concept of current power pop covering classic John Lennon material from Beatles albums and his solo stuff, you can pre-order JEM Records Celebrates John Lennon on Amazon in digital, vinyl, or CD format. Tracks include “The Word” by The Weeklings; “I Found Out” by The Anderson Council; a mash-up of “Revolution” and “Power To The People” by Bongos lead vocalist Richard Barone; “No Reply” by The Golden Needles; “Strawberry Fields Forever” by The Grip Weeds; “(Just Like) Starting Over” by Jonathan Pushkar; and “Jealous Guy” by The Midnight Callers.


On the local scene, Phil Angotti and Friends will be celebrating John Lennon’s birthday on October 9 at Martyrs. The socially distanced event kicks off at 3:00 p.m. on the Lincoln Avenue rock club’s patio. Angotti, who’s a frequent performer on the Apple Jam Stage at The Fest For Beatles Fans - Chicago, is vowing to perform 80 songs—one for each of the years Lennon should been with us. A splendid reason for cutting out from work early on a Friday.

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