Monday, April 30, 2012

International Pop Overthrow - Chicago: In The Rear View Mirror

Photo from Aaron Fox & The Reliables website.

The Friday, April 20th showcase for International Pop Overthrow - Chicago offered a particularly strong lineup comprised of several musicians I’ve covered for Broken Hearted Toy and/or the Illinois Entertainer. Arriving a little after 7:00 PM, I checked it with IPO main man David Bash, who works every showcase; introducing acts and hyping each one with updates on Facebook. I’ve interviewed Bash on three or four occasions as part of the IPO - Chicago preview I write each year for the Illinois Entertainer. His enthusiasm for the traveling power pop/indie rock festival he started 13 years ago in L.A., and the  bands who participate in it, is unmistakable.

Aaron Fox & The Reliables, marking their third year at IPO - Chicago, treated the audience to a seven-song preview of their follow up to 2010’s Late Too Soon. The catchy “Unpromised Land” and “What We Think” were immediate grabbers that highlighted the band’s knack for guitar-driven arrangements and impressive harmonies.

Go Time! followed with a strong set of songs that explored the harder edges of power pop. Songs like “Reluctant Hero” from the band’s new Boneshaker CD were particularly noteworthy, and Go Time! added a country and western twang on a few of their other songs. The ambitious band is already making plans for its next release.

Fun With Atoms, visiting from Green Bay, Wisconsin, have a storied power pop history that includes recording with producer/musician Butch Vig, as well as at Shoes’ Short Order Recorder. They played energetic power pop originals at IPO this year, along with a rollicking cover of The Cyrkle’s “Red Rubber Ball.”

IPO veterans The Valley Downs opened with a slowed down, C&W flavored take on The Clash’s “Should I Stay Or Should I Go?” before moving on to catchy originals like “Sorry” and “Drama Queen.” The band was working with a last minute replacement on guitar, but he filled in admirably.

Singer-guitarist Mimi Betinis and his group played an entertaining mix of gems from his Pezband days as well as material from his well-crafted 2010 solo effort, All That Glitters. It was great hearing the timeless “Please Be Somewhere Tonight” and “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” again, along with the sexy new romp, “Come On Down To My House.”

Due to the logistics of taking public transportation from the northside of Chicago to downtown and then out to Palatine, I had to miss the last two acts on the showcase. But I definitely still got my money’s worth.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

International Pop Overthrow - Tonight, Tonight!

Photo from Ellis Clark's Facebook page.

International Pop Overthrow closes out its 2012 run in Chicago tonight with a predominately indie rock showcase starting at 7:30 PM. Ellis Clark is the only act that I've seen, although my review of Left Turn At Albuquerque's In Broad Daylight CD should be in the Illinois Entertainer soon. Please see the IPO website for links to all the bands.

The Shifties pursue a variety of musical styles, from experimental to straight ahead pop, on their nine-track CD, Song Dynasty. They’ve recorded songs for film and TV projects.

Left Turn At Albuquerque is a folk rock trio with adventurous vocals and a satirical sense of humor. Their new CD, In Broad Daylight is particularly impressive when they sing in a rapid fire style on the song “Left Turn At Albuquerque.

The four-piece band Common Shiner will be playing indie rock songs from their latest CD, Before They Sold Out: Part 1.

Panoramic And True plays melodic indie rock tunes like “California.” Their new self-titled is available in 12” vinyl as well as a digital download.

Freetoed takes a melodic, guitar-based approach to indie rock.

Ellis Clark is a veteran musician/producer who has performed at IPO - Chicago with a variety of bands. He’s currently a member of The Handcuffs, and always comes up with something intriguing for his own live shows.

The coed band GUH is lead by vocalist Lexi, and plays an energetic mix of punk and glam rock. I’ve never seen them, but I’m guessing they’ll give IPO - Chicago 2012 a rollicking sendoff.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Slumgullion #111

Poster art from Archie Powell And The Exports website.

Before moving on to a preview of tomorrow afternoon’s International Pop Overthrow - Chicago showcase, here are a few other points of interest.

Powell To The People! Archie Powell And The Exports  are having CD Release Party tonight at  9:00 PM at Subterranean. Panther Style, Sandman Viper Command, and Wally Dogger are also performing.

If you miss the show, be sure to check out the band’s highly impressive latest release. Hopefully, my review of Great Ideas In Action will be in the May Illinois Entertainer. The CD is a collection of extremely melodic though bitterly funny depictions of working class (and unemployment class) people coping with the modern world. I’m not alone in already thinking it might be one of 2012’s best.

Aaaarggggdman! The Pirates! Band Of Misfits, which opened at movie theaters today, has a number of things going for it. It comes from Aardman Animations, creators of the hilariously droll Wallace & Gromit series; it features former Doctor Who star David Tennant as the voice of Charles Darwin; and according to reviewer Nell Minow in today’s Chicago Sun-Times, it has a new song by Flight Of The Conchords.

What’s Going On? Black Ensemble Theatre, now in its new home at 4450 N. Clark Street, has a well-deserved reputation for creating compelling and entertaining musical biographies based on African American superstars. The Marvin Gaye Story, written by the theater’s guiding light, Jackie Taylor, begins previews on May 11th, and officially opens on the 20th.

Miles Started A Joke. I was glad to help out at the recent Jokes 4 Miles  30 Hour Joke-A-Thon at the Laugh Factory in Chicago. I dropped by around 4:00 PM Wednesday, and was put in charge of  getting people to sign a release form after they were videotaped telling a joke to Miles Austrevich. His father, Len, has been finding various creative means of collecting 5.000 videotaped jokes. Watching people from around the world taking the time to cheer him up does Miles a wealth of good while he’s enduring another round of therapy for his brain cancer.

The campaign has been getting some good press coverage lately, but Len still has a ways to go before reaching his goal of 5,000 videotaped jokes. So once again, I’m appealing to comedians, theater people, and musicians to pitch in. It doesn’t have to be a joke; maybe just a few minutes of a song, a monologue, or just a wish to feel better. Miles will soon be undergoing an autologous stem cell transplant that will require him to be in isolation for months.

Everybody’s Gonna Play On The Very Last Day. Tomorrow’s the last day of International Pop Overthrow - Chicago 2012. Visitors to the daytime showcase will get a taste of what the very first International Pop Overthrow, held 14 years ago in Los Angeles, was like. 92 Degrees, one of three Chicago acts that appeared at that groundbreaking event, (The Critics and The Idea were the other two) will kick things off at 1:00 PM. They’ve been performing at International Pop Overthrow - Chicago for several years, and haven’t lost one degree of their power pop edge. The trio will be playing songs from their Money Makes The World Go ‘Round vinyl EP, their self-titled CD debut, and if past shows are any indication, some gems that were never recorded, but hopefully will be someday.

Former UK residents Charlie and Ryan O’Brien of The Unswept will be making their American debut at Red Line Tap. The two songs available for free download on their Bandcamp page, “She’s So Cool” and “You’re Going Home,” feature catchy melodies, harmonies, and ringing guitars.

Jess Godwin bills herself as a singer-songwriter misfit with soul. She sings and plays keyboards on the easy-going “Out With The Old,” which mixes R&B with a bit of Country music. It’s available for free download on her website. Godwin sounds like she has a full orchestra behind her on some of the tracks from her three EPs, so it will interesting to see what she does at Red Line Tap.

A veteran of the Canadian club and festival scene, singer-songwriter Andy Griffiths has released the 8-song EP No Reason, as well as the 2011 full-length CD, Looking At Life. His melodic songs mix acoustic and electric guitars with his rough hewn, engaging vocals.

The Michigan-based power pop band Your Gracious Host is fronted by singer-multi-instrumentalist Tom Curless, and will have special guest Brian Leach on board for its IPO - Chicago gig.

Singer-guitarist and Jam Records honcho Jeremy is an IPO veteran who travels to many of the cities on the festival’s circuit. He creates melodic power pop songs, and has been known to cut loose on his axe in live performances.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

International Pop Overthrow: Friday On My Mind

Photo from The Goldstars Facebook page.

As International Pop Overthrow - Chicago comes down to its final days for 2012, there are still some potent lineups to check out at Red Line Tap. Friday night features three bands I've enjoyed in the past, and four that I don’t know as well. But IPO is always worthwhile even if you’re not familiar with any of the acts. 

Founder/CEO David Bash and his girlfriend Rina do a great job of lining up talent for these shows.
International Pop Overthrow has a new website with links to almost all of the bands on the schedule. “I need to give my props to Jerry Lindman and Lecompton Alternate for building such a fine site,” Bash wrote during an email interview I did for the Illinois Entertainer. I didn’t have space to mention that in the article, so I’ll add it here. Bash explained that the site is a work in progress, and he hopes to have videos on it in the near future. And now, here’s the Friday night lineup. All acts are from Chicago unless otherwise noted. 

The Pounders are visiting from Detroit, and played IPO - Detroit on April 14th. The four-piece band claims the British Invasion and Motown as major influences, and released their You And What Army CD in January, 2011.

The Viaducts  may have a new CD titled Mission To Destroy, but don’t get any ideas about this being a heavy metal band. The trio’s melodic songs like “Drive-Thru Girl” and the title track fall on the lighter side of power pop, although the guitar figures prominently in The Viaducts’ approach.

Magatha Trysty is back for its third year at IPO - Chicago, and have their full-length debut coming out this summer. There’s no mention on the band's press release about previewing new songs tomorrow, but who knows. In my review of their self-titled EP a while back on BHT, I noted, “the husband and wife team of vocalist-keyboards player Catherine Bevard and vocalist-guitarist Christopher Bevard anchor a sound that falls somewhere between melodic power pop and cutting edge indie rock.”

Singer-guitarist Johnny Monaco plays radio friendly, guitar driven songs like “Tall, Thin & Pretty.”   

Too Much Saturn specializes in Midwestern power pop, although their alphabetically ordered list of influences ranges from The Beatles to Frank Zappa.

If you’ve never seen one of the 500 bands guitarist Dag Juhlin performs in, The Goldstars are a good place to start. (He’s also in the The Slugs, Poi Dog Pondering, and Expo 76.) I saw them open for Hoodoo Gurus a few years back at The Abbey Pub, and their songs were catchy and fun. The instrumental “Purple Girlfriend” was one of my 31 Songs For Halloween blog posts.

Van Go’s latest CD, The Long Lost Last Call, is filled with hard-edged power pop with biting lyrics, particularly “Invisible Girls” and “Your Three Minutes Are Up.” They do a rousing cover of Elvis Costello’s “Girls Talk” as well. This will be bassist Lou Galassini’s second straight night at IPO - Chicago; he’s also a member of The Right Tidys. 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Jokes4Miles/International Pop Overthrow

Photo from The Right Todys Facebook page.

First a word about the Jokes 4 Miles Joke-A-Thon, which is going on at the Laugh Factory Club on Chicago’s north side through 9:00 PM tonight. Len and Miles Austrevich were on a couple different news programs last night, talking about Len’s campaign to videotape 5,000 people telling his son a joke. Drop by the Joke-A-Thon tonight and be part of the fun. 

If you haven’t made it out to International Pop Overthrow - Chicago yet this year, you’ve got four chances left to experience this celebration of indie rock and power pop. I’ve been to three showcases so far - - last Friday night, Saturday afternoon, and Monday night  - - although time and travel constraints have prevented me from seeing every band involved with those showcases. Someday soon, I’ll post some reviews.

There are six bands in Thursday’s showcase, including Keith Betti, The Elements Of Style, Red Wigglers, The Lovely Tyrants, The Right Tidys, and Everelle. I can’t provide details because I’m about to run out the door, but IPO founder David Bash has a great website where you can get all the details. I’ll try to add some information later tonight.  

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

When Wednesday Comes

Hey, I actually have a little time to do a proper preview for International Pop Overthrow - Chicago on Wednesday. This doesn’t mean I like these bands better than the ones in my recent minimalist posts, it’s just that my schedule has been really hectic lately.

In addition to his solo career, singer-guitarist Graham Czach performs as a member of Chicago Afrobeat Project and has worked on recordings with Paul Wertico and Lupe Fiasco. His solo debut, Lucid, came out in 2010. His new single, “To Be Free,” is available for free download on his website.  

The Injured Parties is an indie rock/power pop trio led by Larry O. Dean, a veteran of the clever outfit, Post Office. Dean continues to view the world through satiric eyes on songs like “American Comfort.”  

The Pralines  are fronted by vocalist-guitarist Pamela Richardson. The quintet gives her melodic tunes a bit of Country & Western twang. The Pralines’ latest CD, Song Of The Day, was released on local indie label, Spade Kittie Records.

The Red Plastic Buddha’s love for 1960s style psychedelic rock is evident on their cover of The Electric Prunes’ hit, “Too Much To Dream (Last Night)” and there are several original mind-altering gems, like “King Of The Underground,” on their latest CD, All Out Revolution. The dreamy “Daisy Love” will make you want to paint flowers on the person next to you.

The garage pop quintet Little Boy Jr. draws upon artists ranging from Del Shannon to Elvis Costello, with a lot of British Invasion music in between. They have two catchy songs available for free download on their bandcamp page.

You have to like a band that lists its current location as, The bushes outside your window” on its Facebook page. If that doesn’t make The Joy Riders sound like wiseguys, then check out their influences, which includes New Kids On The Block and The Osmonds. They play a mix of cover tunes and guitar-based originals like “Your Saints Are Watching You.”

The Thon Is On!

The 30 Hour Joke-A-Thon  starts today at 3:00 PM and runs through tomorrow at 9:00 PM at the Laugh Factory comedy clubs in Chicago and Los Angeles.

The Jokes 4 Miles crew will be on hand to videotape people eager to help 19 year-old Miles Austrevich cope with his cancer therapy. Miles was diagnosed with brain cancer over three years ago, and will soon undergo an autologous stem cell transplant at the Los Angeles Children’s Hospital. This will require Miles to be put in isolation for 3 to 6 months.

Len Austrevich is a veteran stand-up comedian who has set out on a mission to collect 5,000 video tapes of people telling a joke to his son. Miles gets a huge kick out of watching the jokes while he’s going through therapy. So far, Jay Leno, Ernie Banks, Amy Poehler, and Will Arnett have taken part in the campaign, and Len has been on WGN radio with Jonathon Brandmeier, and on Channel 2 News promoting the cause.

So drop by, tell a joke, and be part of a fun event for a worthy cause. Maybe even hang out a while and support all the other people who have come to share the gift of humor. The Laugh Factory in Chicago is located at 3175 N. Broadway in Chicago.

Monday, April 23, 2012

International Pop Overthrow - Tuesday Lineup

Sorry for another abbreviated post, but here’s Tuesday night’s International Pop Overthrow showcase at Red Line Tap. The only act Ive seen is The Queue.

The International Pop Overthrow website has links to all of Tuesday night’s bands, so dive in and discover some new music.

Here are the bands:

The Spindles

The Tree Shakers

Certain Stars

Thrift Store Heroes (Not to be confused with Thrift Store Halo, which is a different power pop band.)

The Queue. Very 1960s pop influenced band with catchy songs and harmony vocals.

Mike Vanderbilt & The Suburban Garage Sound

Sunday, April 22, 2012

A Second Week Of International Pop Overthrow - Chicago

Photo from Trolley's Facebook page.

I had a busy weekend so I’m a bit behind in posting a combined review of the International Pop Overthrows Friday night and early Saturday showcases, and Record Store Day festivities. Hopefully, it will appear on Tuesday evening. In the meantime, here’s a preview of Monday night’s IPO Showcase at Red Line Tap. The only act I’m familiar with is Trolley. All acts are from Chicago unless otherwise noted.

The IPO website has links to all of Monday night’s bands.

The Redfords are a four-piece group that has moved from power pop to more of an indie pop sound in recent years. They previously put out a full-length CD as well as an EP, and their latest release, My Little Hero, is available for a free download on their website
Red Giant is a self-described prog pop trio from Milwaukee. They’re also slated to perform at IPO - Milwaukee later this year.
Trolley also hails from Milwaukee, and have played IPO gigs in Chicago and their hometown. “I Woke Up,” from their latest power pop CD, Things That Shine And  Glow, was chosen by Little Steven as the Coolest Song Of The Week on his syndicated Underground Garage radio show. Things That Shine And  Glow was included on my Top Ten list of 2011 CDs.
Telstar is a guitar-driven duo that plays harder-edged pop with harmonies. The two songs on its website, “Waiting” and “Tonight,” sound like they could be hit singles.

The coed  band The Powwows mix rock and folk on melodic songs like “Tide” and “Everything’s Alright.”

The Burrows are a brand new quintet that states on its Facebook page that it’s influenced by all styles of music, including rock, R&B, blues, jazz, soul, and country. Their Lose Your Mind EP is due out soon.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Saturday Night Slumgullion

Poster art from the Pieptone website.

International Pop Overthrow - Chicago is to Broken Hearted Toy what the Christmas season is to retail. But before moving on to that subject, here’s some other important business.

In Tribute: Although I had been familiar with The Band from its better known FM radio hits, it wasn’t until I saw The Last Waltz that I fully realized their impact on rock music. Martin Scorsese’s film not only celebrated and explored the group’s uniquely homespun sound, it clearly defined each of the individual members. Singer-drummer Levon Helm came across as intense as talented. Little wonder that he and Robbie Robertson went on to acting careers. Over the years, Helm’s reputation only grew stronger as he battled cancer while continuing to make music.

Dick Clark combined two emerging mediums, rock ‘n’ roll and television to promote talented performers and bring people together. He enabled the various races to dance together and express their joy of music. I still have fond memories of watching American Bandstand every Saturday morning.

Trouble Ahead. Artist Nicholas Sistler’s  latest exhibition, Trouble, will run at Firecat Projects,  2124 N. Damen Avenue, from April 27th through May 19th. Sistler creates intriguing miniature paintings that incorporate sensual and occasionally disturbing imagery, with vibrant colors. An Artist’s Reception will be held next Friday, April 27th, from 7:00 to 10:00 PM.

Stand Up And Be Comic. Be sure to drop by the 30-hour JOKE-A-THON taking place at Laugh Factory, from this Tuesday, 3:00 PM through 9:00 PM Wednesday night. There’s no admission charge for an opportunity to stand in front of camera and have your joke recorded for a great cause. The Jokes4Miles campaign started when comedian Len Austrevich decided to collect 5,000 videotaped jokes for his son, Miles, who is suffering through his fourth recurrence of brain cancer. Miles gets a huge boost from watching   videos of people like Jay Leno, Bill Murray, Tim Kazurinsky, Ernie Banks, Bobby Hull, and countless others who have taken the time to send along a humorous message. Numerous groups, schools, companies, and charitable organizations have pitched in as well.

Miles’s need for cheering up will become more acute in the coming months when he’ll undergo a treatment that will require him to be kept in isolation. The jokes don’t have to be original, and you don’t need the delivery of a Jerry Seinfeld or Eddie Murphy to make this work. They should be relatively clean and to the point, but other than that feel free to wing it. So gather as many friends and/or family members as you can, and come down and make it a party.

IPO Chicago -Day Four. International Pop Overthrow rolls into Day 4 on Sunday, with an eclectic afternoon showcase as well as a more power pop-oriented one in the evening.

The Pondhawks will be performing songs from their upcoming EP, Dreaming Over Ireland, during its 1:00 PM show. Other acts on the early showcase include singer-guitarist, Shalini, who draws upon Cheap Trick, The Raveonettes, The Undertones, and The Bangles as influences; glitter rockers, The Artist Formerly Known As Vince; the pop quartet Wiplot, Pieptone, a band that claims to play “German chart hits and rarities from the 50s and 60s”; and psychedelia masters The Luck Of Eden Hall, who released two impressive CDs in the past year  - - Butterfly Revolutions, Vol. 1 & 2.

The night time showcase kicks off at 7:30 with The Uncommon Houseflies, a four-piece power pop band from Lousville, KY;  power pop/punk quartet Collectors; indie rockers, The Hurtin’ Kind; pure power pop master Wes Hollywood, who recently released the very good new LP, Fantasy Arcade; Dave Rave, a tireless Canadian rocker who’s the only performer to have played in every city on the IPO tour; and Squeegee, a female fronted band that brings a hard rock edge to catchy arrangements.
You can find links to all of these bands on the International Pop Overthrow website.

Hope all your Record Store Day dreams came true. Have a fun and peaceful Earth Day tomorrow.

Friday, April 20, 2012

A Double Dose Of International Pop Overthrow

Photo from The Webstirs website.

Sorry, no Slumgullion today. I’m off to play the grand piano.

Just a quick note about the two International Pop Overthrow showcases at Redline Tap tomorrow. Check out the festival’s website for details on all the bands. I particularly recommend The Pop Dollys, The Shake Ups, and The Abbeys for the daytime showcase, and Swinger, Phil Angotti, and The Webstirs for the night time showcase. But I'm sure each of the acts will put on a good show.

And don’t forget, there’s a great IPO showcase tonight at Redline Tap.

Happy vinyl hunting for Record Store Day tomorrow.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

International Pop Overthrow - Day Two

Photo from Mimi Betinis Facebook page.

Sorry to make this so short, but as the band Shoes said in one of their numerous energetic and melodic songs: Hate To Run. I’ve two freelance gigs today, so here’s quick word on tomorrow night’s International Pop Overthrow - Chicago showcase at Redline Tap. I’ve mentioned here before that if I had the time and money, I would catch every night of this musical festival when it comes to town. It’s just a great way to discover new bands and check in with old favorites. The Friday, April 20th lineup is a great choice for longtime IPO fans and newcomers.

Aaron Fox & The Reliables, Go Time, The Valley Downs and Mimi Betinis of Pezband all have great track records. I’m not as familiar with Fun With Atoms, The Break, and The Velvet Cadillacs, but as I just mentioned, part of the fun is discovering new music. I can’t give any details today, but IPO founder David Bash has a great website, with links to all of tomorrow’s bands. So be sure to check it out.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

IPO - Chicago: Visions Of Multiple Band Showcases

Photo from The Iveys Facebook page.

Every year, around the middle of April, power pop fans begin to have visions of multiple band showcases dance in their heads. That’s when International Pop Overthrow arrives for its annual 10-day visit. Technically, it’s correct to call it a traveling music festival since founder/CEO David Bash brings IPO to 16 cities, although each location has its own roster of talent. Some acts, like Dave Rave or Jeremy, play much of the circuit, including stops in Liverpool and London.

The style of music can vary a bit as well. Some cities lean more toward indie rock, but Bash knows power pop is his bread and butter in the Midwest capital of Chicago. My preview of this year’s International Pop Overthrow is now available at the online version of the Illinois Entertainer. For Broken Hearted Toy, I’ll try to concentrate more on the band lineups, as well as a few reviews. That’s easier said than done, but I’m hoping to do at least a short post for each night of the fest.

So, here’s a look at the bands performing at opening night tomorrow at Red Line Tap. Unless otherwise noted, they’re from Chicago.

Idealist is comprised of two women and assorted guys, and their CD, Fibs, Lies & Lullabies mixes melodic pop with some slower tunes. Lead vocalist Sammi Foti has an engaging voice similar to British singer, Lilly Allen.

The three guys and one woman in Bumble Monkey draw influences from 1960s pop, hard rock, and new wave. The catchy songs on their CD, Three Happiness, feature a male lead singer, with female back-up vocals.

Texas-based The Iveys feature two women, and one guy playing songs with a touch of Country & Western. They recently released a new CD titled Days & Nights.

The Kuhls are two sisters, Renee and Grace, from Kansas City who play acoustic rock. They claim Bonnie Raitt as influence.

Multi-instrumentalist Tommi Zender is a singer-songwriter who has worked with a number of artists, such as Ralph’s World, Bon Mots, Ellen Rosner, Phil Angotti, Dag Juhlin. His CDs have included Words Got In The Way and Will Work For Harmony.

I couldn’t find much on John Mead & The Coyotes, but they have fun taking a rockabilly approach to the Modern English hit , “I Melt With You” in a clip on YouTube.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Not Just “Another Day”

Rock fans in the Chicago area will have two opportunities to celebrate their adventurous spirit this Saturday. April 21st is Record Store Day, and there will also be a pair of International Pop Overthrow showcases at Red Line Tap. If your only interest in Record Store Day is rising at the crack of dawn to snap up specially released 45s like Paul McCartney’s “Another Day,” Small Faces’ “Itchycoo Park,” and The Clash’s “London Calling”; or 10” LPs like The Knack’s Live In Los Angeles and Pete Townshend’s Quadrophenia Demos Part 2, then there’s no conflict. IPO’s daytime showcase doesn’t kick off until 1:00 PM.

Planning a schedule around both events gets trickier for those of us who savor the various in-store performances and guest appearances that have become an integral part of Record Store Day. IPO will be in town through April 28th, but the line up is different for each showcase. Fans of singer-guitarist Mike Cohen won’t want to miss IPO’s early showcase since both of his bands, The Pop Dollys and The Abbeys, are on the bill.

Even if you take International Pop Overthrow out of the equation, navigating all the fun being served up at record stores around town could take the skills of Ferdinand Magellan. Here’s a sampling of some of the more promising options.

Psychedelic rockers The Luck Of Eden Hall will be doing an in-store appearance at Vintage Vinyl in Evanston at noon.

Brad Elvis from The Handcuffs, Steve Dawson from Dolly Varden, singer-guitarist Phil Angotti, and keyboards player Alton Smith will be performing songs from The Monkees’ LP, Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd at Laurie’s Planet Of Sound in Lincoln Square at 2:00 PM. Other bands are scheduled throughout the day.

Later at Laurie’s, WXRT radio personality Terri Hemmert will be working behind the counter as a “guest record clerk,” starting around 4:00PM. There’s no truth to the rumor that she’ll be giving gold stars to anyone who buys a Beatles album.

Reckless Records on Milwaukee Avenue has a full lineup of bands scheduled, starting at 2:00 PM with a “stripped down synth version” of Radar Eyes, and running through a 5:15 performance by Circles, which includes ex-members of The Ponys. Artist Steve Krakow will be drawing rock ‘ roll caricatures from noon to 5:00 PM. The Reckless Records Broadway location will present live bands at 2:00, 3:00, 4:00 PM, and 5:30 PM, and the downtown store will have bands at 1:30 PM, 3:30 PM, and 4:30 PM.

Monday, April 16, 2012

C2E2 - Creativity Running Rampant

Comic book cover from The Ultimate 7 website.

C2E2 may be shorthand for Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo, but one of the C’s could just as easily stand for Creativity. As the annual event unfolded in Chicago this past weekend, there were promotions for new movies like Dark Shadows and The Raven, special presentations by DC and Marvel Comics, celebrities signing autographs, and countless people dressed as their favorite super heroes and villains. Other patrons, armed with cameras, seemed to delight in getting shots of unlikely character combinations like Batman alongside a Star Wars Stormtrooper.

A fan waiting in line to get an autograph from Anthony Daniels, the actor who played CP30 in Star Wars, fondly recalled last year’s C2E2, when he got an Amy Pond look-alike to pose with a guy dressed as the 10th Doctor from Doctor Who. Even though the two characters, played by Karen Gillan and David Tennant respectively, never crossed paths in the actual show, the fan said he was happy to get a pic of his favorite companion and the best actor to have played The Doctor. He paused a moment, and added, “Well, maybe Tom Baker was the best Doctor.”

The conversation had started when a family in line behind the fan asked about Doctor Who/Torchwood star John Barrowman, who was signing autographs at Table Six. The actor looked like he was having a blast, and a friend of mine posted on Facebook that Barrowman had the audience in stitches at a Q & A session earlier in the day. Other stars who dropped by over the weekend included John Cusack, promoting The Raven; Maggie Q from Nikita; Val Kilmer from Top Gun; and Nerdist website founder Chris Hardwick. Gail Simone (Wonder Woman); David Finch (The Dark Knight) and Frank Cho (Avengers VS X-Men) were among the famous visitors form the comic world.

Cruising through Artist Alley, where over three hundred up-and-comers were eager to talk about their latest projects, was a fun and eye-opening experience. Some had illustrated and/or written graphic novels in printed or online formats, while others made their art available via sketch books, posters, or portraits. Ashleigh Michelle Popplewell (gotta love that name) sold cool looking sketch cards of characters from TV and movies, while Black Action Tees & Prints offered vibrant t shirts with African American super heroes and urban contemporary bands like Cypress Hill.

It was easy to get caught up in Robert Wawrzyniak’s spirited description of the sensual Colonel Jennifer Rocket, who battles the Evil OverLord in The Ultimate 7. His graphic novel series is an imaginative take on how dinosaurs came to be replaced by humans. Onrie Kompan was standing in the aisle in front of his table, ready to greet people, hand them a business card, and explain why his YI SOON SHIN project is destined for greatness. He’s a polished salesman but genuinely friendly as he offers a deal on his graphic novels.

Going from table to table, I feel guilty about not buying anything after letting these artists go through their entire sales pitch. I’m genuinely interested in hearing their tales, and besides, it seems like it would be rude to just zip by. Although I do that as well - - some of the stuff is either annoyingly cute, overly violent, or the artist was straining too hard to be unique. I bought a Doctor Who bookmark showing the 9th, 10th, and 11th Doctors, and some Tom Baker stickers from Ashleigh Michelle Popplewell, to go with some Doctor Who/famous masterpiece mash-up posters I got at the Jesse Rubenfeld Illustrations booth.

You never know what could emerge from the creative hotbed of Artist Alley. Maybe in a couple years, someone dressed as the warrior and defender YI SOON SHIN will be posing alongside Superman and Princess Leia.

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