Sunday, April 5, 2020

Sunday Papers

Ronnie Wood is one of the many celebrities offering encouragement on social media.

As we’re about to begin another week of sheltering in place, I’d like to express my amazement and gratitude to everyone on social media who’s posting encouragement, positive vibes, and various forms of art and entertainment. As I was researching Facebook this past Friday night for items to mention on my blog, I kept getting notices that people were currently performing live. An image came to me of stars appearing one by one in the night sky until it was full of them. I couldn’t begin to give them all credit here, so let me just suggest checking out your favorite world-famous and local performers on social media and discover the entertainment they have to offer. In many cases, they’ll throw a great perk your way for funding a charitable cause they’re supporting. And by all means, keep in touch with friends, relatives, and co-workers.

Happy Birthday to Allan Clarke, the former lead vocalist of The Hollies, and one of pop music’s most distinctive voices. Clarke recently released Resurgence, his first solo album in several years. The songs seem more influenced by Bruce Springsteen than his old mates, but it’s definitely worth checking out. (Clarke was a huge Springsteen fan even before a lot of people in the States were.) Cheers, Allan!

If you’re wishing you had been able to pick up this week’s edition of The Reader, you can download a copy on the official website. It has all the usual features, listings, and reviews. If you prefer an actual copy of The Reader, a $50 subscription will bring 12 issues directly to your home. You’ll also be helping to keep Chicago’s long-running free paper in business in these difficult times.

The April edition of the Illinois Entertainer, another Chicago-based free publication, is also available online. In addition to Tom Lahham’s cover story on Best Coast, this issue includes his feature stories on Johnny Marr and The Scorpions. The Spins section offers reviews of new releases by Pearl Jam, Stephen Malkmus, and Greg Dulli.

The Outta Space Arts in Berwyn is currently accepting submissions for its Virtual Art Show: All Love. Drawings, paintings, print, mixed media, digital, fabric, and photo material are welcome. The deadline for submitting is April 6. artsubmissions@theouttaspace.com

If you’re one of the many fans of the Laurie’s Planet Of Sound record store on Lincoln Avenue in Chicago, you can show your support by purchasing a special t-shirt designed by the Barrel Maker Printing.

City Winery - Chicago has announced a trio of shows for its Open To The Future Concert Series, which invites patrons to buy tickets now for events coming up months later. Chris Hillman, a founding member of the iconic folk rock band The Byrds, will be coming to town on October 25 for An Evening Of Stories and Songs. Musicians Herb Pedersen and John Jorgenson will be joining him. Damien Escobar has a pair of shows on November 7, and folk singer Tom Rush will perform on November 19. A portion of the proceeds from ticket sales will be donated to the venue’s employee relief fund.

Vocalist Shirley Manson just wrapped up a month-long series on Instagram honoring women musicians. The informative and entertaining portraits ran on her band Garbage’s page and covered well-known, as well as more obscure recording artists. In addition to them, we learned more about Manson herself, and she’s every bit as cool as her fans would imagine.

EXPO ’76, the Chicago-based, wildly eclectic covers band made up of music scene veterans, will soon have its own podcast on Steve Dahl’s network. If you’ve seen EXPO ’76 live, you can easily see how they would fit in well on a comic disk jockey’s network.

Congratulations to Chicago area author Cherie Colyer on signing a contract with The Wild Rose Press for her latest paranormal YA novel Damned When I Didn’t. Colyer and I are long-time members of the northwest Illinois chapter of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Meetings have been suspended during the coronavirus lockdown, but I’d like to give a shoutout to all the participants over the years. Without their help and inspiration, I would have never been able to complete the four novels that I’m currently shopping to agents and small publishers.

Saturday, April 4, 2020

The Sound He Appears To Make

There still hasn’t been much news regarding live performances, so here’s another round of a BHT feature designed to promote new music being released by recording artists around the world. I’ll continue to post full album reviews as well.

The Monkees Live – The Mike And Micky Show was released in digital and CD format yesterday. The album is being promoted as the first Monkees live recording and includes early hits such as “Last Train To Clarksville” and “I’m A Believer,” as well as the much more recent “Me And Magdalena.” The duo also performs deep cuts, such as “Randy Scouse Git” and “You Just Might Be The One.” The Mike And Micky Show will be available as a double LP on May 15.

A brand new four-song EP titled The Codependent by The Unswept is now available on the trio’s Bandcamp page. There’s a rougher edge to The Unswept’s familiar British Invasion-arrives-in-Chicago approach this time out, particularly on the first three tracks. Their Bandcamp page attributes the power surge to bass player Liz O’Brien purchasing a new Fender Supersonic amp, but rest assured, catchy melodies are still an essential ingredient. The satirical final track “Wonderfully Perfectly Right” is more in line with The Unswept’s previously whimsical efforts.

Red Skylark, the solo project by Columbus, OH musician Ed Shuttleworth, has a marvelous new CD titled Collection 1 that offers 14 tracks that were previously only available as digital downloads. Each of these power pop tunes has an immediate impact, thanks to Shuttleworth’s engaging vocals, as well as inventive arrangements that offer hints of prog and psychedelic rock. Collection 1 will soon be available from Kool Kat Musik.

Missing Persons, the 1980s band whose irresistible techno songs “Words,” “Destination Unknown,” and “Walking In L.A.” became dance club favorites, has a new album coming out. The Dreaming has three new originals—including the title track—and nine particularly well-chosen cover versions from the 1960s and 1980s. Their take on The Strawberry Alarm Clock’s “Incense and Peppermints” is the first single.

Former R.E.M. frontman Michael Stipe has posted a demo of a new song titled “No Time For Love Like Now” on the official R.E.M. website as well on Rolling Stone online. Recorded with Aaron Dessner from The National, this hypnotic effort follows quickly on the heels of Stipe’s previous single, “Drive To The Ocean.”

Chicago area Beatles fans know Ellis Clark and Ary Paloma Jeebie for the annual George Harrison Birthday concert they host at Martyrs, and for their shows on the Apple Jam Stage at Fest For Beatles Fans – Chicago. Clark has been a member of Epicycle and The Handcuffs, and recently reunited with his 1980s outfit The Social Act. Paloma Jeebie is the lead vocalist for the garage/rockabilly band The Amazing Heeby Jeebies. Together, they perform as a country and western duo known as Big Hair Trouble. Their new single “Nashville Morning” is a melodic tale of hitting the road in search of stardom. The lyrics toy with the genre’s conventions but also offer genuine twang and sentiments. Paloma Jeebie sings lead, with Clark joining in on the chorus, and there’s a toe-tapping mix of acoustic and pedal steel guitar.

For those of us who watched a webcast of Dropkick Murphys doing their annual St. Patrick’s Day concert from the comfort of our shelters, one of the highlights was a brand new song titled “Mick Jones Nicked My Pudding.” Allegedly based on an incident involving the Clash singer-guitarist swiping a fellow musician’s snack, this funny, revved-up anthem is now exclusively available as a download on the band’s Bandcamp page

The Dream Syndicate’s new single “The Longing” is now available on their Bandcamp page. The song finds the west coast band expertly tapping into its Paisley Underground roots, and serves as an enticing calling card for the upcoming album The Universe Inside; due out April 10.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Saturday Slumgullion


Johnny Marr is one of the stars rocking on social media.

Just a quick reminder that The Fest For Beatles Fans 2020 Virtual Fest is taking place this weekend. The event can be viewed via The Fest’s Facebook and Instagram sites, and will feature live performances of Beatles music by special guests and musicians from Apple Jam stage series. A recent email promises Beatles-related authors and experts will also be on hand. Fan participation is enthusiastically encouraged, so check out The Fest For Beatles Fans website and social media pages for details.

Videos Kill The Corona Blahs. Let’s raise a toast to everyone who’s been chasing away our shelter-in-place blues by posting inspirational messages and live entertainment on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. In addition to the above-mentioned Beatles bash, we’ve had Graham Nash singing “Our House,” Johnny Marr strumming a fantastic instrumental on his electric guitar, Nick Offerman using his patented dry humor to describe what his typical day is like, current Doctor Who star Jodie Whittaker alluding to the corona virus and outer space villains in an optimistic “emergency transmission,” and Romee Strijd, Jasmine Tookes, and other famous models challenging each other to send out positive vibes.

I’ve seen several local musicians posting tunes via The WC Series, and others paying homage to the bands and albums that first inspired them to compose their own material. Phil Angotti offered a brand new acoustic song titled “Shy Violet,” and participated in the Fest For Beatles Virtual event. Chicago actress Roxi Heart has been reading from a novel based on the mythological gods Loki and Thor. For a dose of visual culture, you can follow pretty much every famous art museum in the world, including Chicago Art Institute. Keep up the great work, everyone.

Robyn Hitchcock will be doing a Sweet Home Quarantine show live from his house on April 1 at 8:00 p.m. The eccentric English rocker promises “music, requests, inane banter, cats, [and] technical glitches.”

Also, while we’re stuck inside, remember the Secret Weapon show on the online Woody Radio station offers the best in new and vintage power pop music, as well as a wide range of “Boris” favorites.

Steve Dawson and Funeral Bonsai Wedding have an album release party for Last Flight Out scheduled for May 8 at the Gary and Laura Maurer Concert Hall. The venue is located 4544 N. Lincoln Avenue in Chicago. In the meantime, the band is offering a Last Flight Out video preview on YouTube. The clip features Dawson and the various artists who help record this enticing collection of classical, jazz and folk music, including the Quartet Parapluie and the Birth Death Breath Singers.

The official Tower Records Instagram page is promising it will be posting some big news in the near future.

The Dream Syndicate’s new single “The Longing” is available on Bandcamp. The song finds the west coast group expertly tapping into its Paisley Underground roots, and serves as an enticing calling card for its The Universe Inside album due out April 10.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Picking Up The Reader

The Reader is currently raising funds to help it stay in business. Chicago’s long-running free alternative weekly is known for its confrontational and critically acclaimed feature stories, performance art reviews, and extensive listings of upcoming events. You can make a straight-up donation via its website or buy the new 52-page Reader Coloring Book in digital ($30) or printed ($45) format. As for the paper itself, the printed version of this week’s Stay At Home issue will have a limited print run, but you’ll be able to grab a copy for $15. The digital version is available for free online. I’ve contributed to Reader fundraisers in the past, and I’m happy to help out now.

It was probably the summer of 1972 when I saw my first copy of The Reader. As a resident of Chicago’s southwest side, I was intrigued by the radio commercials for a free weekly alternative newspaper, but I didn’t have access to it. Back then, as now, The Reader’s circulation was limited to downtown and the north side. On an extended bike ride to the Lincoln Park Zoo with a couple of friends, I saw some copies outside (or maybe inside) a store and thought, Hey, it’s that Reader I’ve been hearing about. Over the years, The Reader would become an essential part of my life.

When I was attending the University of Illinois at Chicago, I would check out the personal ads while sitting in the cafeteria, wondering what the people behind those imaginative pseudonyms were really like. For a while, the Kroozin’ Music record store at 79th and Pulaski would import Readers from the north side, and I’d pick up a copy every Friday after getting off from work at Montgomery Ward. When I worked as a proofreader at various companies downtown, my Thursday ritual involved grabbing a stack of Readers at lunch and bringing them back to my fellow employees. When I moved to Lincoln Park, just around the corner from Tower Records, it was easy to find copies.

Now that I’m living in Palatine and working away from downtown, things have come full circle. Each Thursday, instead of heading straight home after work, I take the Blue Line into downtown to visit the Reckless Records and Graham Cracker Comics stores. And, grab some copies of The Reader for myself and my coworkers.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

All Together Now - Virtually

Feeling the current coronavirus situation gave them no choice but to postpone their annual New York Metro Fest at the Hyatt Regency Jersey City, the organizers of The Fest For Beatles Fans found a way to still get some fab four fun into our lives. The Fest For Beatles Fans 2020 Virtual Fest takes place this weekend, March 27 – 29. The event can be viewed via The Fest’s Facebook and Instagram sites, and will feature live performances of Beatles music by special guests and musicians from the Apple Jam stage series.

A recent email promises Beatles-related authors and experts will also be on hand. Fan participation is enthusiastically encouraged, so check out The Fest For Beatles Fans website and social media pages for details. There’s no charge to participate. Having attended Fest For Beatles Fans - Chicago for several years now, I’m looking forward to seeing how this will all come together. The actual NY Metro Fest has been rescheduled for October.

Speaking of virtual entertainment, be sure to check out what your favorite musicians, film stars, authors, and friends are posting on social media. Support your favorite local venues by contributing to their online fundraisers, and order takeout food from local restaurants. As the late Neil Innes once told me as he signed an autograph at Fest For Beatles Fans - Chicago, “Put a smile on the world’s face.”

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

The Sound He Appears To Make

Considering how there hasn’t been much news regarding live performances, it seemed like a good time to experiment with a new feature designed to promote music being released by recording artists around the world. I’ll continue to post full album reviews as well.

This coming Friday, March 27, we’ll see the Gigaton abum from Pearl Jam and Aporia from Sufjan Stevens.

Futureman Records honors XTC in a big way with its 49-track compilation Garden Of Earthly Delights – An XTC Celebration. Most of the acts involved aren’t household names, but they obviously can appreciate and bring to life the simultaneously sophisticated and eccentric allure of the English trio. Among the numerous highlights are “Respectable Street” by Dot Dash; “Life Begins At The Hop” by The Kickstand Band; “The Ballad Of Peter Pumpkinhead” by Chris Price; “Don’t Lose Your Temper” by Derrick Anderson; “Vanishing Girl” by Bepopalula; a “Rocket From A Bottle”/“That Wave” mashup by Plasticsoul; and “Love On A Farmboy’s Wages” by Jason Berk. Garden Of Earthly Delights is available in digital and CD formats; some tracks are digital only.

The Boomtown Rats recently released Citizens Of Boomtown, which is their first album in 36 years.

Ex-Norwegian, a Miami-based band I’ve been following since I heard their irresistible cover of the Bay City Rollers hit “It’s A Game” on a split single from the U.K. vinyl label Fruits de Mer back in 2015, have a new album coming out on June 5. Hue Spotting is now available for pre-order in digital, CD, and vinyl formats on Bandcamp. The song “Bloody Parrots!” from Hue Spotting can already be downloaded, and it suggests Ex Norwegian will be continuing with its quirky power pop/garage rock approach.

The Chicago-based psychedelic band Hushdrops will be releasing its first album in six years, according to a recent post on their Facebook page from founding member John San Juan. Fans can get a preview by checking out the lengthy song “I Had A Room” on YouTube.

Moby’s new album All Visible Objects is now available.

The American Laundromat indie label has been on a roll with tribute albums; starting with Juliana Hatfield honoring Olivia Newton John and The Police on separate releases. Tanya Donelly and The Parkington Sisters have a CD coming out in August with cover songs of The Go-Go’s, The Pretenders, Leonard Cohen, The Kinks, Paul McCartney, and other acts. It’s now available for pre-order on the label’s website. And, American Laundromat is offering Just Like Heaven - A Tribute To The Cure in cassette and CD format. 17 indie acts are featured covering classic Cure material.

Musician/producer Brian Eno and his pianist Roger have collaborated for the first time with their new album Mixing Colours. It came out last Friday.

The digital single “Last One Standing” is the first new music from the Boston-based punk band The Dents in quite some time, and it’s available as a free download on the Rum Bar Records Bandcamp page. The high-speed, guitar-driven arrangement and Jennifer D’Angora’s raw vocals bode well for an EP that’s due out this summer on the Rum Bar Records label.

Gregory Curvey, a founding member of the long-running psych/prog rock outfit The Luck Of Eden Hall, has another release on the way from his side project Custard Flux. Echo is being released on vinyl and will come with a six-song bonus CD. Curvey, who lives in Detroit but travels extensively across the astral plane, drifts easily across exotic songs such as “Holiday” and “It’s Just A Matter Of Time” on the CD.

California-based musician Richard Turgeon’s new single “Higher” is being used in April Abeyta and Kim Nucley’s new sports documentary After The Game. The film will have its premiere at the Piedmont Theatre in Oakland on March 26. Turgeon created “Higher” specifically for After The Game, which studies the positive effects competitive sports have on three athletes over two decades.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Saturday Slumgullion

David Bowie tribute band Sons Of The Silent Age will be at Thalia Hall on May 23.

Best wishes for good health and safety from the coronavirus to pretty much everyone on the planet. It’s safe to assume no one in Chicago is partying in a bar, dining in a restaurant, or rocking out at a concert as I post this. We’re currently practicing social distancing, which will hopefully slow down the spread of the virus.

The financial damage associated with this is particularly devastating to those in the restaurant and entertainment industries, so it’s heartening to see so many fundraisers designed to help out. Many restaurants are staying open for carryout and delivery, and when you order, add a huge tip to your payment. Check out your favorite venues on social media to see where you can send money to help their staff, and buy music like crazy on Bandcamp and your favorite artists’ websites. You love their shows so now show them some love.

Be sure to check to check out Facebook and Instagram for entertainers who’ve posted performance videos. In the past few days, I’ve seen Margot Robbie reading a children’s book; Susanna Hoffs singing “Here Comes The Sun;” Ellen DeGeneres doing comic bits; and Karen Gillan just being goofy. (A fun goofy, though.) Chicago musicians Phil Angotti; Kevin Lee; Michael Steven Cohen; Guy Schingoethe; Ralph Covert; John San Juan; and John Petitt can be seen performing songs. Much better than binge watching TV shows.

Tickets are now on sale for Randy Bachman and Burton Cummings with Dave Mason at the Rosemont Theatre on on June 20; The Box Tops at City Winery on August 23; The Hollies at the Chicago Theatre on July 18; Justin Hayward and Mike Dawes at City Winery on April 20 and 21; Bettye LaVette at City Winery on June 9; and Sons Of The Silent Age and Damiana at Thalia Hall on May 23. Keep in mind that all shows are dependent on whether it’s safe to assemble in public by then.
Related Posts with Thumbnails