Friday, February 28, 2014


Note: On yesterday’s post about the Chiditarod, I mentioned that it would be wrapping up at the Bottom Lounge on Lake Street. The Chicago-based mobile charity event has since changed its final destination, so anyone interested in going should check out the official Chiditarod website for route information.

Archie Powell And The Exports, a long-time favorite here at BHT, kicked off a U.S. tour today in anticipation of their next CD. Back In Black, which no doubt has more acerbic power pop than the AC/DC album of the same name, will drop on April 28th. The Back In Black Tour has dates in Hot Springs and Little Rock, AR; St. Louis, MO; Lawrence, KS; Fort Worth and Austin, TX; Lexington and Louisville, KY; and Indianapolis, IN. Several of those dates will be with indie rockers The Damn Choir, who recently released their own CD, Creatures Of Habit. By the way, Marty Kane, formerly with the Chicago synth rock band Dot Dot Dot, is the new drummer for The Damn Choir.

Dave Davies will be performing at the Barbican Hall in London on Friday, April 11th. According to his Facebook page, this will be the Kinks guitarist’s first UK concert in 13 years. I saw Dave Davies and his band (featuring members of The Jigsaw Seen) last summer at an outdoor gig in Chicago, so I know the citizens of London are in for a treat.

Australian singer-multi instrumentalist Joe Algeri continues to keep a hectic schedule. He’s a member of the international power pop trio The Britannicas, who are wrapping up their next full-length effort, and he’s just released a new five-song EP Love Dumb. I’m hoping to post a review in the new future.

Do you know what they call a birthday card in England? A birthday card. If you still remember a joke similar to that involving a chair on the Dick Van Dyke Show, then you might want to send a card to Jeremy Clyde of the British Invasion act Chad And Jeremy. They’re still out touring, and when I saw them last August at Fest For Beatles Fans - Chicago, they put on a great show. Jeremy turns 73 on March 22nd, and the duo’s management is asking fans to send greetings to the following address: Jeremy Clyde c/o F. Jason Rhoden 13513 Greentree Dr. Tampa, FL. 33613

There’s a nice profile and some performance footage of the power pop/rock band Aaron Fox And The Reliables on The Almanac Mag online magazine. 

Sabers, a new band led by Josh Chicoine of the eccentric pop band The M’s, has an album release party for its debut, Sic Semper Sabers, coming up on March 22nd at The Hideout. The Sabers lineup also includes veterans of Poi Dog Pondering, Head Of Femur, and The 1900s.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Rocking And Freezing For Good Causes

As noted here a while back, there will be a Lou Reed tribute show at The Empty Bottle in Chicago this Sunday, March 2nd. Perfect Day will bring together an impressive lineup of local talent to benefit Lurie’s Children’s Hospital. The participating bands are Supercell Mothership, Energy Gown, Phil Angotti And Friends, The Red Plastic Buddha, The Luck Of Eden Hall, and Tanglewood. Tickets are $10, and the tribute kicks off at 7:00 PM.

There’s been a lot of coverage in the local news about brand new Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon coming to town to take a dip in the icy Lake Michigan water at North Avenue Beach along with Mayor Rahm Emanuel this Sunday morning at 10:00AM. The Polar Plunge is a charity event that raises money for Special Olympics Chicago.

One day earlier, The Chiditarod, AKA Chicago’s Urban Iditarod, will kick off its annual race involving imaginatively decked-out shopping carts at 12:30 PM. The starting gate is located at 1900 W. Hubbard, and teams of exotic competitors will wind their way through a currently undisclosed path (see the website for details) to the finish line some time after 4:00 PM. Organizers claim this is “probably the world’s largest mobile food drive that combines elements of a race with costumes, shopping carts, and pageantry.”

The event benefits the Greater Chicago Food Depository, and in 2013, the The Chiditarod Foundation gave out $20,000 in grants to 501(c)3 organizations devoted to alleviating hunger in the Chicago area. To make a contribution, log on to Greater Chicago Food Depository website. To make it more fun, pick out one of the racing teams to support, throw on your warmest clothes, and cheer them on this Saturday afternoon. 

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Wrapping Up Fresh Fruits

As previously mentioned here on BHT, the U.K.-based Fruits de Mer Records recently released a new batch of seven-inch singles on colored vinyl. (I reviewed Crystal Jacqueline on 2-18 and Bronco Frog on 2-20 last week.) Here’s a quick rundown on the remaining three singles.

Us and Them contributed an ethereal reading of “Butterfly” to the various artists compilation Re-Evolution: FDM Sings The Hollies, and apparently this Scandinavian duo has been on the label’s radar for some time. For their new single, Us and Them offer a beautiful version of Sandy Denny’s “By The Time It Gets Dark.” Lead singer Britt Rönnholm’s classic folk singer vocals are set to Anders Håkanson’s beguiling guitar and keyboards arrangement. Us and Them bring an authentic medieval ambience to “Jabberwocky,” Donovan’s reworking of the Lewis Carroll poem, and impress with the haunting vocals and atmosphere of their own composition, “Do I Know You.”

The American band Schizo Fun Addict takes a cinematic approach on its single by tackling the theme from the Italian cult horror movie Suspiria, along with a cover of “In The Long Run,” from Russ Meyer’s Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls flick. “Suspiria” is mostly instrumental, with the exception of female vocalist Jane (couldn’t find a last name) singing “la la la” over a marching drumbeat and bubbling synthesizers. The band, led by musician/filmmaker Jet Wintzer, gives “In The Long Run” a breezy mid-1960s feel via horns and Jane’s interwoven vocals.

The British band Schnauser taps into some of its major influences with adventurous covers of “Astral Traveler” from the Time And A Word LP by Yes, and “As Long As He Lies Perfectly Still” from Soft Machine’s Volume Two release. On its version of “Astral Traveler,” Schnauser brews up a funky and psychedelic vibe with percussion that evokes Santana. “As Long As He Lies Perfectly Still” is an imaginative prog rock gem with an extended instrumental break.  

Friday, February 21, 2014


Déjà vu Listings. The following gigs were mentioned in last Friday’s Slumgullion, but here’s a quick reminder of what’s going on tomorrow night: Alejandro Escovedo and former R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck at Lincoln Hall. * Bluefish Fellows, The Viaducts, The Mike Michalak Band, and Captain Coopersmith at the Goose Island Wrigleyville Pub on Clark Street. * Kevin Lee And The Kings at the LiveWire Lounge in Chicago, along with Pete Berwick and The Renegades, and Lynch. Van Go and 92 Degrees at Phyllis’ Musical Inn. * Gerry O’Keefe and Scott Niekelski from the band Go Time! at The Buzz Cafe in Oak Park. See last Friday’s Slumgullion for more details.

Déjà vu Composer. It wasn’t clear why David Crosby, who penned the title track for the Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young Déjà Vu LP, postponed his two-night stay at City Winery in Chicago a few weeks back. Now it has been revealed that Crosby underwent heart surgery. The two shows have been rescheduled for some time in July. Best wishes to Croz for a speedy recovery.

Save The Date For Save The Clock Tower. I’m urging everyone in the Chicago area to come out to see Save The Clock Tower at Durty Nellie’s in my quaint hometown of Palatine this coming Thursday, February 27th. I’ve never seen Save The Clock Tower perform live, but in a review of their second release, Carousel, I noted that the band, “employs various methods for bringing a distinctive edge to each of its lush techno songs.” I went on to write, “‘Drip’ opens with a flourish of synthesizer playing, and is infused with middle eastern rhythms. ‘The One Thing’ uses vocal distortion similar to Tom Tom Club’s ‘The Man With The 4 Way Hips’ in a sinister tale of stalking, while the shimmering ‘Far Apart’ mixes ethereal voices and a dance club beat.” This is an ambitious booking for Durty Nellies, and if the club is amply rewarded, it may continue to book outside the copy band box.

The King Of Soul—Acoustic Otis Redding show is coming back to City Winery in Chicago on March 3rd. Singer Gerald McLendon will be recreating the legendary soul singer’s hit songs, along with guitarist Carlo Basile from Las Guitarras De Espana, violinist Chihsuan Yang, and noted guest musicians.

Come aboard, they’ll be rocking you. It’s not the Love Boat, but it does have Heart. Ann and Nancy Wilson, Emmylou Harris, Shawn Colvin, Indigo Girls, Estelle, and Skylar Grey will be performing on the Grammy Festival At Sea Women Who Rock cruise, scheduled to take place November 4 through the 8th. The ship leaves Miami and then travels to the Grand Bahamas and Nassau. On a related note, Heart is releasing its Fanatic Live CD, recorded at the Caesars Colosseum, on February 25th.

The coed rock quartet Panther Style has a record preview party lined up at the Township restaurant/cafe/concert venue in Chicago on April 11th. 

The online V Magazine has a psychedelic, floral-inspired video for “Too True To Be Good” from the impressive new Too True CD from The Dum Dum Girls.

As a Chicagoan, I’m developing a bad case of power pop envy. First, Los Angeles has The Wild Honey Benefit  featuring The Bangles, Matthew Sweet, The Muffs, The Three O’Clock, Denny Laine, and others, coming up on March 1st. Now New York has the two-day Brooklyn Power Pop Festival, co-sponsored by Trouser Press and The Bell House rock club, in May. Dwight Twilley, Pezband, and 1-800-Band will be performing on May 9thShoes, Paul Collins Beat, and Games are scheduled for the 10th. It’s not clear if any other acts will be there over two days, but this is already an impressive showcase of power pop royalty.

And now, good news for Chicago power pop fans. International Pop Overthrow has announced the schedule for its IPO - Chicago run at the Red Line Tap from April 10th through April 19th. A number of favorite acts will be on the schedule again this year, including The Right Tidys, Van Go, Dave Rave, The Unswept, Kevin Lee and The Kings, Mike Vanderbilt, The Viaducts, Lannie Flowers, Phil Angotti, The Abbeys, Jeremy, Magatha Trysty, and The Romeros.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Single Review: Bronco Bullfrog - “Time Waits For Norman”

Bronco Bullfrog’s new single is part of that latest batch of releases from the vinyl-only U.K. label Fruits de Mer. (See Tuesday’s post for a review of Crystal Jacqueline and The Honey Pot.) Their name (possibly taken from a 1970 film) might be unfamiliar to a majority of Americans, but these guys have been performing for almost two decades in England. Judging by the three tracks on this colored vinyl single, Bronco Bullfrog has a deep fascination with 1960s music.

“Time Waits For Norman,” a tale of a kleptomaniac stalking a small town, emulates “Strawberry Fields” with its panoramic view and clever character studies. The melody and harmony vocals are gorgeous, even as the lyrics lament the banality of middle class life, with lines like, “What is there to show, ‘cept for growing old?” “Working Horse Mender” is an unabashed children’s tune about a shop where wooden horses go to begin a new life after they’ve fallen off a carousel. The descriptive and innocent imagery recalls the more ornate efforts of The Bee Gees and The Hollies.

A cover of “Listen To The Sky” by a short-lived Brit group called Sands provides another sterling example of how so many Fruits de Mer artists unearth treasures from another era and make them new again. “Listen To The Sky” has a more rock-oriented arrangement than the other two tracks here, while maintaining Bronco Bullfrog’s penchant for intricate vocal interplay.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

EP Review: The Plastiscines - Black XS

When The Plastiscines released their brief but feisty debut LP 1 in 2007, it was a kick to hear Parisian teenagers so adroit at performing American style garage rock. 2009’s About Love included a few forays into techno pop, but overall, it still rocked. The Plastiscines haven’t recorded much since then, and lost and/or changed a few members along the way. The five cover versions on the recently released Black XS EP (available on iTunes) find lead vocalist-guitarist Katty Besnard, bassist Louise Basilien, and drummer Ana Vandevyvere now pursuing a sound that falls somewhere between rock and techno pop.

Their take on Lana Del Rey's “Blue Jeans” is an energetic mix of guitar and keyboards, anchored by Besnard’s powerful vocals. Her singing is more playful and rendered in her native French on a slinky version of French singer Caroline Loeb’s “C’est La Ouate.” “Murder On The Dancefloor,” originally recorded by U.K. artist Sophie Ellis-Bextor, is fueled by Basilien’s pulsating bass playing, and an alluring version of “Sexy Boy” from the French duo Air also exudes an authentic 1980s vibe. An unplugged romp through Wham’s “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” is a surprising and breezy bit of fun. I’d prefer to see The Plastiscines recording original garage rock songs or covering them, but if Black XS indicates a new direction, it definitely has its charms.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Single Review: Crystal Jacqueline & The Honey Pot

Crystal Jacqueline and The Honey Pot’s double seven-inch single is by far the most ambitious of the latest flock of vinyl releases from the U.K. indie label Fruits de Mer. Available on March 30th, it comes in a gatefold sleeve, along with a children’s story based on the record’s seven psychedelic tracks. And once you hear about the song selection, you’ll understand why the short tale (conceived by label co-founder Andy Bracken and illustrated by Dale Simpson) seems so intriguing.

As with previous efforts from Crystal Jacqueline, both as a solo act and with The Honey Pot, this latest adventure is a mix of well-chosen covers and original material. It kicks off with a massive, swirling take on “Remember A Day” from Pink Floyd’s 1968 A Saucerful Of Secrets LP. Built on Crystal Jacqueline’s evocative vocals, drummer Wayne Fraquet’s tribal beat, and energetic guitar playing by Icarus Peel, it’s an authentic trip back to the original psychedelic era. Peel’s composition “It’s Raining,” propelled by Tom Brown’s rampaging bass and Crystal Jacqueline’s atmospheric keyboards, segues nicely from the Floyd track.

The band’s inventive rendition of Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit” might be open to debate among psychedelic purists. Opening with a stark arrangement, The Honey Pot adds careening guitars and energetic strings. “I Had Too Much To Dream,” the cherished nugget from The Electric Prunes, is also dramatically reinvented, but like “White Rabbit,” it definitely draws in the listener. The Honey Pot slips out of its mind-altering mode to take an almost theatrical approach on the Curved Air tune “Puppets.”

Crystal Jacqueline, Peel, and Brown craft exquisite harmonies within the enticing psychedelic landscape of Mighty Baby’s “Egyptian Tomb.” “Tick Tock,” originally done by the garage band Fleur de Lys in 1967, creeps along with wah wah guitar playing and eerie keyboards reminiscent of The Doors. It’s a natural for Halloween parties, although some younger kids might get spooked.

Monday, February 17, 2014

CD Review: The Mike Benign Compulsion - Here’s How It Works

Check out “Haley Daley,” the first single from The Mike Benign Compulsion’s latest release, and it’s immediately apparent this Milwaukee-based quartet still enjoys setting unusual tales to fetching power pop arrangements. The guitar-driven song taps into mid-1960s music while describing a young woman whose destructive behavior leads to her parents’ demise and doesn’t bode well for her own future either. It’s part of a stream of social satire that flows throughout Here’s How It Works

Singer-guitarist Mike Benign, who consistently combines with drummer-vocalist Michael Koch and guitarist-vocalist Joe Vent for gorgeous and inventive harmonies, is also capable of bringing a snide attitude to his delivery. The three musicians, along with bassist Brian Wooldridge, were veterans of other area bands before joining forces in The Mike Benign Compulsion. The high-speed “Boyhood Idol” and “Rubbing Off On Me,” a quick jab at corporate morality, feature the ringing guitars of Benign and Vent, while the slower “Bay Window” has a bit of a Kinks feel.

On “Martha, We” and “You Say It’s Over” the band uses melodic mid-tempo arrangements to describe crumbling relationships, and “Sleep” is a short acoustic number augmented with three-part harmonies. Those well-crafted vocals have a more ironic purpose on “Professional Jealousy/Saw Your Post,” as the energetic song shifts into a slow coda with the repeated line, “Saw your post, it was clear for the umpteenth time your life is better than mine.” The Mike Benign Compulsion has a release party for Here’s How It Works scheduled at Shank Hall in Milwaukee on March 8th, with guest Testa Rosa.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

More Slumgullion

Starting their second life. Photo from the Catfight Facebook page.

Shake Rattle And Read has been in business at 4812 N. Broadway in Chicago for 48 years and is currently celebrating that achievement with a sale that runs through this coming Monday. All books, posters, publications, CDs, DVDs and 45 RPM records are 48% off. The store will be selling all its new and used 33 RPM vinyl for 25% off. Sounds like a good opportunity to discover why local musicians have become regular customers at this place.

Lincoln Hall will present the intriguing double bill of Alejandro Escovedo, the highly respected roots rock musician who got his start with Rank And File back in the early 1980s, and former R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck next Saturday night. The Lincoln Hall website notes that Buck plans to release a vinyl-only solo effort at some point in the near future.

The Goose Island Wrigleyville Pub on Clark Street will offer a four-band showcase next Saturday night that includes Bluefish Fellows, The Viaducts, The Mike Michalak Band, and Captain Coopersmith. The music starts at 9:00 PM.

Also, on February 22nd, Kevin Lee And The Kings will be performing at the LiveWire Lounge in Chicago, along with Pete Berwick and The Renegades, and Lynch.

There will be a power pop double bill of Van Go and 92 Degrees at Phyllis’ Musical Inn on that same Saturday night. Which means the battling bass brothers Lou and Mike Galassini will be facing off once again. Both Van Go and 92 Degrees have garnered praise here on BHT for their CDs. Phyliss’ Musical Inn is located at 1800 W. Division, show time is 9:00 PM.

Singer-guitarist Gerry O’Keefe, will be performing acoustic versions of songs from his Whatever Suits You CD next Saturday at The Buzz Cafe in Oak Park. Scott Niekelski from the band Go Time!, will be his special guest.

Fighting Back. Here’s another reason to look forward to this summer. Catfight, an adventurous copy band that had its origins in Palatine’s Durty Nellie’s club before establishing a citywide following via the outdoor festival circuit, has announced it’s getting back together. The group went through various line-up changes during its previous go-round, but it looks like the reunited clowder features three of the original members (Little Lisa, Julie, and Lori—guitarist Rose no longer lives in Illinois) along with Molly (who sang lead at quite a few Catfight gigs), and two other musicians.

Friday, February 14, 2014


Happy Valentine’s Day!

I’ll start off with a special greeting for my wife Pam. As I’ve previously mentioned, she set up this blog for me, and has shown an amazing patience in all my less than lucrative creative endeavours. Here’s a clip of The Hollies singing their obscure but exquisite love song "Wings." It was the first song at our wedding.

The Go-Go’s will be headlining the Florida AIDS Walk and Music Festival on March 30th. The event combines a 5K walk with a live concert in a quest to increase HIV/AIDS awareness, and to raise funds to help people in Florida who are battling the disease. Attendees will be greeted with a welcome message from the stage at 9:00 AM that morning. The official website for the Florida AIDS Walk and Music Festival promise more information soon.

If you were among those of us who downloaded the U2 song “Invisible” around the time of the Super Bowl, you can pat yourself on the back for joining in the fight to find a cure for AIDS. The always-ready-to-back-a-good-cause Irish band raised 3 million dollars, in conjunction with (RED). Bank Of America donated $1 for every download of “Invisible.” And the added bonus? It’s a good song in the hallowed U2 tradition. 

The band Sh’ Bang will headline the Julia’s Legacy Of Hope Benefit to fight cancer on February 23rd at Bourbon Street in Merrionette Park. The event is in honor of Julia Janes, and runs from 1 to 6 PM. Admission is $30 for adults; $15 for 21 and under. The Oak Forest Teachers Band are also scheduled to perform, and there will be a DJ, Silent Raffle, and 50/50 raffle.

Congratulations to Mary-Arrchie TheatreIts current production of the Marilyn Campbell and Curt Columbus adaptation of Dostoyevsky's Crime And Punishment has garnered positive reviews and is now Jeff Recommended.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Fresh Psychedelic Fruits

The UK indie label Fruits de Mer Records has just given the world another bounty of psychedelic tunes on 7-inch colored vinyl. This time, the harvest includes Crystal Jacqueline and The Honey Pot, Schnauser, and Bronco Bullfrog from England; Schizo Fun Addict from America; and the Scandanavian duo Us And Them. As on previous Fruits de Mer releases, these records offer a mix of original songs and intriguing covers. I’m hoping to post reviews of these efforts in the near future.

On April 26th, Crystal Jacqueline will be performing at Crabstock: The Fruits de Mer Records Festival of Psychedelia, along with Sendelica, Earthling Society, James McKeown, and Jack Ellister. The event takes place at the Cellar Bar in Cardigan. Fruits de Mer promises exclusive vinyl and CDs for sale at this event, along with free goodie-bags for the first 100 people through the door.

Those of us in America can join in the mind-altering fun when Fruits de Mer brings Crabstock USA to The Outer Space in Hamden, CT on April 11th. The Luck Of Eden Hall, Sky Picnic, and The Seventh Ring Of Saturn will be performing for a mere $5 cover charge. The show is being sponsored by WPKN FM. The first 100 attendees at this event get a free Fruits de Mer Crabstock USA CD. Fruits de Mer promises more details soon. It would be great to see Crabstock make the rounds to other cities.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Wisconsin Power Pop/Mike Benign Compulsion/10 Years Of Underground Bee

Spooner, the band Butch Vig and Doug (later Duke) Erikson formed long before they joined forces with Shirley Manson in Garbage, is one of the acts featured on the new compilation Radio Ready: Wisconsin Lost Power Hits 1979 -1982. Currently available in digital format, it features 14 guitar-driven and melodic tracks from the dairy state for just $7. In addition to Spooner’s catchy “You’re The Lucky One” (which I still have on a 45 single) Radio Ready includes “Wait A Minute” by The Pop. 

The Mike Benign Compulsion’s new single “Haley Daley” is now available for download on iTunes, Amazon, CD Baby, and Bandcamp. It’s an accurate preview of the band’s Here’s How It Works album, which comes out on March 8th. As with its previous effort Martha, The Mike Benign Compulsion once again aims for more than the usual love songs. This is catchy power pop with great harmonies and lyrics that bite and amuse. I’m hoping to post a full review some time next week.

Congratulations to journalist/photographer Robert Loerzel. Today marks the 10th Anniversary of his Underground Bee blog. Loerzel covers just about every buzz-worth indie and alt act that comes through Chicago, and his photos are consistently amazing.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Back To No Future

Apparently, the faculty and students at The Old Town School Of Folk Music in Chicago occasionally join forces to honor a “cultural/musical legacy of the 20th Century.” This Saturday night, the days of Johnny Rotten and Joey Ramone get the treatment via Tribute to Punk: CBGB to the UK. Considering The Old Town School Of Folk Music’s tradition of booking esteemed folk artists like Joan Baez, Steve Goodman, John Hartford, and Josh White, Jr., it’s tempting to envision Punk: CBGB to the UK as a showcase of bearded guys with acoustic guitars sneering, “We mean it, man!”

That’s not likely to be the case, and the school’s teachers, students, staff, and friends seem well-versed in vintage punk artists. The website promises covers of songs by The Sex Pistols, The Ramones, The Clash, Blondie, Patti Smith, X, Wire, Bikini Kill, Television, X Ray Spex, Mink Deville, and more. Guitar instructor Jimmy Tomasello will serve as host, and over 20 performers are scheduled to perform, including Bob Goins, Jenny Biennemann, Vamplifier, and The Cookie Pocket. The event begins at 8:00 PM; admission is $15 for the general public and $13 for members. 

Monday, February 10, 2014

Odds And Sods

The original plan for last Friday’s Slumgullion was to offer a mix of Beatles’ U.S.A. Invasion Anniversary celebration tips along with other the usual eclectic observations from the entertainment world. But the Fab Four 50 stuff overwhelmed the column, so I figured I’d post a separate Slumgullion on Saturday. I wasn’t able to get around to doing that, so here a few of those stranded bits.

Juliana Hatfield sang, “When it comes around, when it comes” with such anticipation in her song “Spin The Bottle.” She could have been waiting for International Pop Overthrow, which kicks off its 2014 run at The Sail Inn in Phoenix on March 29th. The 12 acts performing include Rough Tough Dynamite, Green Line Operator, Lemon Krayola, and Ed Masley from The Breakup Society. Soon after that, founder/CEO David Bash brings his traveling showcase of power pop and indie rock acts (the lineup changes for each location) to Chicago for series of showcases from April 10th through the 19th. IPO will hit a total of 16 cities this year, including New York, Los Angeles, Liverpool, and London. The website doesn’t have any specific info on which acts will be performing at this other cities, but it’s a good idea to check it out from time to time, so you can plan ahead. 

The Elements Of Style, are one of the many acts I’ve enjoyed over the years at International Pop Overthrow - Chicago over the past few years. The innovative indie rock band has a gig coming up next Wednesday at Schubas. A recent post from The Elements Of Style on Facebook noted it might be their last show for a while. Forgotten Species and Michelles are also on the bill that night.

It was fun hearing air personality Terri Hemmert’s breathlessly enthusiastic phone to the Lin Brehmer show on WXRT this morning. Hemmert was reporting on the time she spent at Fest For Beatles Fans - New York, which was dedicated to 50th Anniversary of The Beatles coming to America. I’m just hoping she used her influence with the organizers to get them to include some of those special features (particularly the recreation of The Cavern Club) when Fest For Beatles Fans comes to Chicago this August.

Dublin-based Beatles artist Georgina Flood has quickly become a favorite among visitors to Fest For Beatles Fans. She’s organizing a Celebration of George Harrison’s 71st Birthday on February 24th. Be sure to post something to honor the quiet Beatle on that day.

Friday, February 7, 2014

I Don't Want To Spoil The Party So I'll Blog

Congratulate Ringo in person on the 50th Anniversary of The Beatles coming to America.
 Photo from Ringo’s Facebook page.

50 years after The Beatles invaded the U.S.A., Ringo Starr will be conquering Chicago. Tickets went on sale earlier today for his June 28th concert at the Chicago Theatre.

Here are some other Beatles related things going on.

WXRT kicked off the weekend today by picking the early Beatles as their Friday Feature. In addition to all those short and catchy Liverpool-spawned tunes, the station has been airing special reports from DJ Terri Hemmert, who is in New York for the Fest For Beatles Fans celebration this weekend. She’ll give Lin Brehmer and his listeners a complete report this Monday morning. On Sunday morning, she’ll be doing her Breakfast With The Beatles show on XRT from 8:00 to 10:00AM.

All You Need Is Love - A Beatles Tribute has a performance tonight at the Ridgefield Playhouse in Ridgefield, CT, and shows at the NYCB Theatre in Westbury, NY on Saturday and Sunday nights. The traveling band is comprised of 20 musicians with experience doing Beatle tribute gigs.

Abbey Road On The River will be marking The Beatles Anniversary in Louisville this weekend, with 12 cover bands. 

BritBeat, one of the acts scheduled for Abbey Road On The River, will also be performing at the North Shore Center For The Performing Arts tomorrow night at 8:00 PM.

Ellis Clark and Phil Angotti have both had long careers as solo artists and with various bands. They’ve been joining forces on gigs lately, and they’ve recorded a version of The Beatles’ “I Dig A Pony”. The duo will be doing a Beatle tribute show at Mayne Stage tomorrow night.

Liverpool Legends will be at the Arcada Theater in St. Charles this Sunday. Show time is 4:30 PM. George Harrison’s sister Louise, an avid supporter of this tribute band, will be at the Arcada to meet fans. She no doubt still has fond memories of being at the Ed Sullivan Show when The Beatles made their American TV debut.

The Rock And Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland will be celebrating the 50th Anniversary of The Beatles coming to America with a screening of the CNN series The Sixties: The British Invasion and The Beatles: The First U.S. Visit in its Foster Theater. 

Beatles artist Shannon will have extensive involvement in New York City’s Fab 50 events at the Apollo Theater, the Hudson Theatre, Town Hall, and the Bitter End club. She has been named as Fab 50’s official art director/stage designer, and has created a 50th Anniversary poster. 

Rock Art Show, an online store that features art and photography of and by famous musicians, has a special framed item to commemorate The Beatles’ appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. It includes a ticket, buttons, and picture sleeve images.  

Celebrate Beatlemania with a book (rhymes with kook). If you’ve got the money, Genesis Publications  has a number of limited edition books pertaining to The Beatles for sale, including 50 Years Adrift by former Beatles press officer Derek Taylor. It features some very cool illustrations by Roy Williams. The high-end UK publisher is celebrating its 40 anniversary this year. 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

CD Review: Colleens - Wild Dreams

The Harter brothers couldn’t help but bring their day jobs into this self-produced debut from their band, Colleens. They work as recording engineers and producers at KHM Studios in San Antonio, Texas. Plus, singer-guitarist Josh and drummer Jon perform with two former clients whose musicianship had impressed them—bassist Deric Wynne and guitarist Jackson Floyd. Together, they bring an easy-going indie rock vibe to Josh Harter’s songs on Wild Dreams, with an occasional foray into harder or more soulful material.

“About You” and “Maybe We’ll Fall In Love” evoke Wilco with fetching melodies and offbeat lyrics about the twists and turns of romantic relationships. Colleens find a way to incorporate a pedal steel guitar sound into the seductive rhythm and blues of “Dont You Remember Love,” while the acoustic “No Flowers” mixes Josh Harter’s hushed singing with a haunting string arrangement. At seven minutes, the title track makes for an epic finale, but “Second Century Home,” with its hard-hitting guitars and quick rhymes, might be the strongest track on Wild Dreams.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

CD Review: Big Star - Playlist: The Very Best Of Big Star

Note: This review originally appeared in the Illinois Entertainer

This recently released compilation underscores the importance of the critically acclaimed 1970’s band and influence it continues to have on so many current musicians. As with other recording artists profiled in the Playlist Series, The Very Best Of Big Star uses a mix of well-known material and rarities. In this case, that means balancing the original 1970s version of Big Star with its later incarnation in the 1990s.

“Feel,” a swaggering track from the band’s debut, #1 Record, incorporates a horn section behind Chris Bell’s emotional lead vocals. There’s an early rehearsal of Radio Star’s catchy “September Gurls,” as well as “Kanga-Roo” from 3rd, the album that found singer-guitarist Alex Chilton trying more experimental arrangements. Almost half of the tracks on Playlist: The Very Best Of Big Star were recorded live at Missouri University in 1993, with Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow of The Posies joining original member Chilton and Jody Stephens. That was also the lineup that recorded the rollicking  “A Whole New Thing” in 2005, proving that Big Star did indeed sound fresh over three decades after its birth.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

CD Review: PT Walkley - Shoulders

Note: This review previously appeared in the Illinois Entertainer.

Singer-guitarist PT Walkley travels across several genres while delivering quirky tales and an offbeat philosophy on his latest effort, Shoulders. His talky, mannered vocals are a good match for the material, although he occasionally sounds like he’s going overboard with his singing and his lyrics. Mostly though, Walkley is entertaining while steadfastly playing by his own rules.

Shoulders is the type of album where Walkley follows the line, “It’s all right to be disgusted with yourself” with some festive Latin horn playing on “Rose-Coloured Glasses.” The guitar-driven “No Time To Sweat” concerns a contented family man who’s nevertheless bug-eyed over a hot woman he encounters. Walkley’s vocals are too precocious on the ballad “Children,” but he makes the acoustic-based “Silverdollar Pancakes” and “Hello Eyelids” clever and engaging. The funky “It’s Alright” evokes Prince and Sly Stone; “Lost My Way” has a dramatic 1970s hard rock stomp; and Walkley closes this eclectic collection with the big, Bruce Springsteen style rock of “A Toast.”

Monday, February 3, 2014

CD Reviews: Growth Ltd. - Self-Titled/Safe Haven - Sermon For No One

Note: These reviews first appeared in the Around Hears section of the Illinois Entertainer.

Growth Ltd.’s self-titled debut opens and closes with middle-of-the-road rock tunes that are highly polished but not particularly noteworthy. The CD catches fire in the middle though, with the high energy “Sending Her Love To No-One” and the Rolling Stones-oriented “Good-bye Champion.” The way Growth Ltd. successfully mixes twanging guitars, horns, and backup female vocalists on “It’s Alright” makes you wish these guys would always be so adventurous.

The authentically rendered Southern rock and blues on Safe Haven’s debut Sermon For No One is credited to 10 musicians, led by songwriter Patrick Lyons. There’s an appealing mix of fiddles, guitars, pedal steel, and harmonica across the nine tracks. The romantic “Colorado Moon” has a homespun feel, while the shuffling honkytonk of “Leave Me Where I Want To Be” evokes Mungo Jerry’s “In The Summertime.” Safe Haven also impresses with the traditional “Going To Germany” and cuts loose behind the spiritual imagery of “Eternal Farm.”
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