Monday, June 30, 2014

Sam Page - The Slog In Uncertainty

The Slog In Uncertainty finds Sam Page firing on all cylinders while performing eight energetic songs that reflect his passion for 1990s alt rock. On his third release, the California-based singer-guitarist, along with drummer Jim Moreland, mixes clever and offbeat lyrics with irresistible melodies. Page is a versatile vocalist, sounding at home regardless of what style his chooses to explore.

On “Dont You Want To Get Down?” Page crafts a funk/garage rock gem in which he claims it’s his intellectual prowess that sets him apart from other guys looking to score. “Naked” describes a frantic campaign to win a woman’s heart that includes showing up in the all-together on her doorstep at 3:00AM. The bottom-heavy funk of “I Don’t Not Love You” evokes The Red Hot Chili Peppers, while the simultaneously funny and optimistic lyrics of “Shine Your Little Light” are set to a more standard rock arrangement.

Page’s wry sense of humor is particularly evident on the high-speed “Two Kinds,” on which he notes in a vocal style reminiscent of The Cure’s Robert Smith: “I got a lot of friends and when they look at me/I really couldn’t tell you what they see/Which box, what type, this kind, that hole/It’s probably better that I dont know.” The Slog In Uncertainty is likewise hard to pigeonhole, but certainly fun to dive into.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Another Helping

I stood where Ringo stood. If you’re going to the Ringo Starr concert at the Chicago Theatre tomorrow, or you’re just in the mood for some Beatles type fun, you should drop by the Hard Rock Cafe at 63 W. Ontario. June 28th is the final day of an exhibit of Starr’s artwork at the Hard Rock, and he made an appearance there on Thursday. He wasn’t about when I stopped in this afternoon, but I was pleasantly surprised to find Scott Segelbaum of Rock Art Show running the exhibit.

I’ve talked to Segelbaum at previous rock and roll related shows he’s brought to Chicago over the past few years. He told me Starr was a class act on Thursday while greeting fans and the media. In addition to Starr’s artwork, there are pieces by John Lennon and George Harrison. Admission for the Ringo Starr art show at Hard Rock Cafe is free, and 100% of the proceeds from sales of his work will go to the Lotus Foundation. Segelbaum be will be joining Ron Campbell, who worked as an animator on the 1960s Beatles cartoon show, at Fest For Beatles Fans - Chicago this August.

The world premiere of Sting’s musical The Last Ship just opened at the Bank Of America Theatre in Chicago, and judging from the reviews by Hedy Weiss in the Sun-Times and Chris Jones in the Tribune, the former Police frontman has a hit on his hands. Weiss described The Last Ship as. “A true masterwork” and “A monumental achievement on countless levels.” Jones noted that the play was, “a heartfelt  and clearly sincere tribute to the men and women of the lost ship-building industry of northeast England.”

There will be a double bill of classic power pop at Mayne Stage on Chicago’s north side this Wednesday, July 2nd, when Pezband opens for Tommy Keene. The club’s website notes that the concert will be filmed live for a new series on WYCC called Music on the Mayne Stage. On Keene’s latest release Excitement At Your Feet, he covers songs by Alex Chilton, The Rolling Stones, Lou Reed, and others. Earlier this year, Pezband released Dangerous People, which featured previously unreleased material that had been recorded back in 1979.

City Winery just announced that Glenn Tilbrook of Squeeze will be doing a gig at the club on October 15th. Tickets are already on sale. Upcoming shows at City Winery in July include The English Beat, David Crosby (sold out), Matthew Sweet, and The Bangles. 

The Readers annual Best Of Chicago issue came out this week, and as always, it’s a fun and exhaustive way to find out about the most popular restaurants, bars, clubs, radio station, bands, retail outlets, attractions, historical buildings, blogs, etc in town. It’s also a boon for tourists who happen to be visiting this weekend, and it’s free from those yellow boxes around the city, and in various clubs, stores, and restaurants.

Number One, Gary Scott Beatty and Aaron Warner’s upcoming comic release from Aazurn Publishling, will offer a full-color, 50-page comic book history via the tale of a comic book store owner named Scott. It’s available for pre-order now from the July 2014 Previews catalog, which can be found at stores like Graham Crackers Comics.


First of all, I’d like to extend a hearty welcome to Ringo Starr, who’s in town for a concert at the Chicago Theatre tomorrow evening, June 28th. Mr. Starr also has an art show running through tomorrow at the Hard Rock Cafe, located at 63 W. Ontario. Admission for the art show is free, and 100% of the proceeds from sales of his work will go to the Lotus Foundation.

Wouldn’t be a great idea if Ringo gave Chicago’s Number 1 Beatles fan Terri Hemmert a call, or even better, paid a her personal visit? Hemmert is the mid-morning DJ for WXRT and hosts the weekly Breakfast With The Beatles show for the station. She’ll miss Ringo Starr’s concert because she’ll be homebound while recovering from knee replacement surgery. Hemmert will be unable to do her regular shift for several weeks, and Breakfast With The Beatles will be cut back to one hour from its usual two. It now airs at 9:00 AM on Sundays.

Speaking of WXRT, congratulations to morning man Lin Brehmer on being chosen as Best Radio DJ in The Reader’s annual Best Of Chicago poll. The station itself came in second, following WBEZ.

As mentioned here on last week’s Slumgullion, longtime Chicago area ska favorites Heavy Manners  have a show with Guns And Ammunition and Skapones tonight at Mayne Stage on Chicago’s north side.

The Handcuffs are back in the studio working on their fourth CD. According to Facebook posts from drummer Brad Elvis and vocalist-guitarist Chloe F. Orwell, the band is aiming to put the new release out later this year. The Handcuffs have upcoming dates at Roscoe Burger Fest on July 12th and the Halsted Street Fair on August 10th.

Hey Hey Hey! Funky Turns 40 - Black Character Revolution Animation From Classic Cartoon Of The 70’s opens today at the DuSable Museum Of African American History and runs through October 20th.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Edward Rogers - KAYE

Singer-songwriter Edward Rogers has been getting more attention recently as the opening act on his longtime friend Colin Blunstone’s solo tour, but he’s been a familiar face as a performer and show producer on New York’s club scene for a number of years. His latest release KAYE is a collection of love songs and compelling tales, delivered in a resonant vocal style that’s reminiscent of David Bowie at times. There’s also a hint of Graham Nash in Rogers’ phrasing and the way he mixes personal reflections and political views.

Rogers leaves no doubt as to which artist he draws the most inspiration from, by adding a dedication to Kevin Ayers on the KAYE CD sleeve. The title is derived from Ayers’s name, and the song “Kaye,” a touching, almost spoken-word piece with the feel of a pub tune, describes the late musician’s songwriting skill as well as his troubles with substance abuse. Rogers also captures the fun romantic fantasy of Ayers’ catchy tune “After The Show.” 

“No Color For Loneliness” is a guitar-driven song about missing an ex-lover, and “Street Fashion,” takes a satiric poke at trendsetters, while “My Street” and “What Happened To The News Today” tackle social issues. Rogers’ only misstep on KAYE is the experimental “Peter Pan’s Dream, a lengthy fable that gets bogged down with too many cliches. In contrast, the gorgeous and mostly acoustic “Borrowed And Blue” is a heartbreaking look at a marriage coming apart at the seams.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Cheers To The British

Americans will be celebrating the Fourth Of July is a little over a week, but it’s never a bad time to remember when we were conquered by the British. Of course, I’m talking about bands. Somewhere in the early to mid-1960s.

The Beatles tribute band American English has a gig each day of the 4th Of July weekend. Two days from now, on June 26th, Phil Angotti, a Chicago-based singer-guitarist, will perform The Who’s Meaty Beaty Big And Bouncy LP at Reggie’s Rock Joint on State Street, with help from Chloe F. Orwell and Brad Elvis of The Handcuffs, and musician Charlie Short. On the following night, Angotti moves on to FitzGerald’s in Berwyn, where he, Casey McDonough, Scott Ligon, and Tony Kidnokis will play the entire Hard Day’s Night album by The Beatles.

Tomorrow, June 25th is Global Beatles Day, an online celebration hosted by Faith Cohen that invites people to post messages, photos, memories, and links on the event’s Facebook page. Cohen was on the No Limits radio program on Indianapolis station WFYI90.1 earlier today to promote Global Beatles Day, and she has managed to enlist a number of musicians to participate in her quest. “You are all in a position to spread the word, and share the event,” Cohen tells visitors to the GBD Facebook page. “Maybe you have a lot of followers who pay attention to your music, writing, ideas, art, or personality. The Beatles are a wondeful thing to celebrate. Music makes the world more wonderful than it is, and easier to bear when it’s not”

Happy Global Beatles Day, Faith. And thanks for a great idea.

Friday, June 20, 2014


The third annual Hot Stove Cool Music takes place at Metro tonight. See yesterday’s post for more information on this baseball-themed, multi-musician charity event.

The Detroit natives of Motor City Music Machine will be performing vintage Motown hits tonight in Palatine as part of the Sounds Of Summer series at the Fred P. Hall Amphitheater. Admission is free, and the classic soul starts at 8:00 PM.

Over 300 artists will be coming together in Grant Park tomorrow and Sunday for the Gold Coast Art Fair, one of Chicago’s oldest and most popular artistic events. In addition to paintings, sculpture, and photography, the Gold Coast Art Fair includes food vendors and live music. There is a suggested donation of $5 to help fund the Chicago Park District’s programs.

Artist Jennifer Mujezinovic will be at the Curly Tale Fine Art booth (#429) from 10:00 AM to 6:00PM on Saturday and Sunday at the Gold Coast Art Fair.

Guided By Voices will be performing at the Green Music Fest in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood tomorrow night. Other music acts at this ecologically minded festival include Bobby Bare Jr. and Moon Taxi. Green Music Fest 2014 runs tomorrow and Sunday on Damen between Schiller and North Avenue, and the South Stage will be powered by bicycles.

Congratulations to my niece Allison Flamm, who along with Andrew Ghrist, Ashlee Mays, Brian Keane, Danielle Dorsey, and Kevin Harries, will be presenting her work at the private event Young Artists Revitalizing Design (Y.A.R.D.) Sale on Chicago’s south side tomorrow evening. 

Lawrence Peters will present the 7th Annual Day In The Country Festival, at The Hideout this Sunday June 22nd. Acts performing on the Front Porch and Backroom Stages include Dogtown Ramblers, Nora O’Connor, The Lawrence Peters Outfit, The Harrow, and The Lantern Kickers.

Singer-songwriter Dawn Landes will be performing her eclectic and alluring songs this Sunday night at Schubas.

This Sunday, Marty Lennartz will host a special Bonnaroo Music And Arts Festival version of WXRT’s Sunday Night Concert that features songs by The Avett Brothers, Cage The Elephant, Umphrey’s McGee and others. The exclusive live performances were recorded at the Manchester, Tennessee festival and originally broadcast on XRT last weekend. The show can be streamed on the station’s website.

Speaking of WXRT, I’d like to express my best wishes to mid-morning air personality and Radio Hall Of Fame inductee Terri Hemmert for a speedy recovery from her knee replacement surgery. Hemmert recently announced on her Facebook page that she’ll be unable to do her regular shift for several weeks while she recovers at home. Her weekly Breakfast With The Beatles show will be cut back to one hour from its usual two, and air at 9:00 AM on Sundays. Hemmert noted that she’ll miss Chicago’s annual Pride Parade, upcoming concerts by Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, and several summer festivals. I’m not sure if that means she won’t be able to host Fest For Beatles Fans - Chicago in mid-August. Note to Mr. McCartney and Mr. Starr: Wouldn’t it be nice to pay a personal visit to Terri when you’re in town for your respective concerts?

The Downtown Sound Mondays series continues with Bob Mould and Split Single on June 23rd at Millennium Park. Admission is free, the music starts at 6:30 PM.

Kym Brunner, one of the growing number of published members of the writers group I’ve belonged to for some time now, will be signing copies of her novel Wanted: Dead Or In Love at the Barnes and Noble at 13 W. Rand in Arlington Heights next Wednesday night at 6:00 PM. The Young Adult Event will also feature Elizabeth Fama, James Klise, and Stacey Cade promoting their new books. Brunner is also having a Book Bash (eating and drinking/book signing) for her novel on July 18th at Bar Louie on Rand Road in Mt. Prospect. Guests are encouraged to dress up in Bonny and Clyde era outfits, but it’s not mandatory.

Longtime Chicago area ska favorites Heavy Manners have a show with Guns And Ammunition and Skapones next Friday, June 27th at Mayne Stage on Chicago’s north side.

The Unswept, who have performed shows as a duo of brothers Charlie and Ryan O’Brien (who came here from England a few years back), and as a full band at International Pop Overthrow - Chicago, will unveiling some new material at The Hideout next Thursday, June 26th.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Hot Stove Cool Music/A Feast Of Beatles Fest Merchandise

Just a reminder that WXRT’s morning air personality Lin Brehmer will host the third annual Hot Stove Cool Music at Metro tomorrow night, June 20th. Created by Chicago Cubs President Theo Epstein, famed baseball journalist Peter Gammons, and Cubs broadcaster Len Kaspar as a means to support local nonprofit organizations that help disadvantaged youths, the event brings together several musicians for a live performance. This year, the focus will be on Chicago’s multi-faceted musical history.

Scheduled performers include headliner Tom Morello of Rage Against The Machine (he also worked with Bruce Springsteen recently) and the Chicago Hot Stove All-Stars Jimmy Chamberlin of Smashing Pumpkins; John Stirratt of Wilco; Scott Lucas of Local H; Eddie “King” Roeser of Urge Overkill; Jered Gummere of The Ponys; Gary Klebe of Shoes; singer Jennifer Hall; and Matt Spiegel, Curt Morrison, and Jon Paul of Tributosaurus. Considering that Tributosaurus is involved, you have to wonder if some all-star parodies will be worked into the evening’s entertainment. For more details, check out Chicago Tribune columnist Mark Caro’s piece which can be found on the newspaper’s website.

Around this time every year, I eagerly await the arrival of the The Fest For Beatles Fans summer catalog in my mailbox. In addition to over 20 pages of almost every conceivable Beatles-emblazoned item for sale, this publication also offers the lowdown on The Fest For Beatles Fans - Chicago, which is coming up on August 15th through the 17th. This year’s lineup of special guests was announced earlier on the Fest website, and it includes Peter Noone, Mickey Dolenz, Mike Pender of The Searchers, Laurence Juber, Mark Hudson, and the Liverpool tribute band, but it’s nice to have the all the info in a printed format. The catalog also has the lineup for the upcoming Fest For Beatles Fans - Los Angeles.

The Beatles-related merchandise in this catalog ranges from a duffle bag to a bookmark. There are t-shirts, posters (including a Fest For Beatles Fans poster by Peter Max), Christmas ornaments, books, DVDs, wallets, keychains, calendars, CDs, latte mugs, glasses, and coasters. Some of the apparel comes in youth and infant sizes, and there’s a children’s book called The Beatles Were Fab (And They Were Funny) written by Kathleen Krull and Paul Brewer, with illustrations by Stacy Innerst. The highest priced item is a signed self-portrait of Ringo Starr titled Red Bandana that runs for $1800.00.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Secret Colours - Positive Distractions

The four members of Secret Colours hardly seem old enough to be familiar with 1980s synth rock, let alone the original British Invasion. Yet on Positive Distractions, which is available in digital, CD, and vinyl formats, they once again effectively blend both of those eras into catchy, hypnotic tunes. And despite the Anglo spelling of their name, Secret Colours are based in Chicago.

About the only complaint one could muster regarding Positive Distractions is that giving lead singer-guitarist Tommy Evans a slight echo on his vocals throughout most of these 12 tracks gets repetitive. There are signs though that Secret Colours have started thinking about diversifying their sound. The vaudeville allure of “Mrs. Bell” springs from some sprightly piano playing, while the flirtation with garage rock on “Into You” needs only some scruffier vocals from Evans. Other highlights include “City Slicker,” with its driving beat, and the vintage Pink Floyd-influenced “Monster.”

On “Quite Like You,” Secret Colours swap their psychedelic trappings for a more basic approach that could have come from the Merseybeat scene circa 1964. If these guys continue to successfully incorporate other elements into their music, they could become positively awesome. 

Monday, June 16, 2014

CD Review: The Bon Mots - Best Revenge

The recently released Best Revenge is only the third effort from The Bon Mots, following Forty Days And Forty Nights from 2007 and their 2003 debut le Main Drag. I reviewed le Main Drag for the Illinois Entertainer back when it first came out and remember admiring the Chicago-based band’s easy-going method for crafting catchy pop songs. Melodies remain a priority for songwriters singer-guitarist Mike Coy and singer-guitarist Eric Chial on Best Revenge, and with bassist Chris Frantisak and drummer Neal Ostrovsky contributing backup vocals, the harmonies are also consistently strong. Coy and Chial’s guitar playing has a harder-edge here, and The Bon Mots are drawing from a wider range of influences.

“Galahad,” with its shuffling beat and light arrangement, is the track that most resembles the approach on le Main Drag. “All The Way (Down)” and “Flaw In The Design” are energetic indie rock tunes reminiscent to Smoking Popes, while the mysterious “Under Pavement” taps into 1970s R&B. “Overblown” is another prime example of the band’s knack for enticing melodies, and “Granted,” a song of support for a woman who seems destined for disappointment and heartache, sounds like it could have been recorded by Big Star.

Friday, June 13, 2014


The Kaiser Chiefs will be at Taste Of Randolph tomorrow night. Photo from the Kaiser Chiefs Facebook page.

Any tourists arriving in Chicago this weekend are either very lucky or did some savvy research into our city’s warm weather festivities. There are a lot of events going on in the next few days, and some have a distinct Chicago flavor.

The Chicago Blues Fest returns to Grant Park today for its 31st year and will run through Sunday night. Admission is free and the impressive lineup includes Otis Taylor, Bettye Lavette, and Sugar Blue.

Taste Of Randolph Street, one of Chicago’s more elite street fests, kicks off today and runs through Sunday. The Kaiser Chiefs will be there performing songs from their latest  release Education, Education, Education and War at 9:00 PM Saturday night. Other acts include Nicki Blum And The Gramblers, Minus The Bearm and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah.

The Old Town Art Fair is a juried art fair that has been around for 65 years, and it runs tomorrow and Sunday in one of Chicago’s more picturesque neighborhoods. It’s always a good idea to get there early in the morning to beat the massive crowd that eventually shows up, and it will leave you time to wander over to the Wells Street Art Fair a few blocks to the south, at North Avenue. When it’s warm and sunny, as it will be tomorrow, the Wells Street Art Fair draws a younger crowd looking to party. The street and sidewalks get packed but the mood stays festive. There are bands scheduled throughout Saturday and Sunday, including Generations, a 1960s and 70s cover band, the Rolling Stones tribute band Hot Rocks, and Beatles tribute band American English.

American English, by the way, opened Palatine’s Friday night outdoor concert series tonight. It was nice seeing them add new material to their show, such as a medley from LOVE, the Las Vegas show.

Just a reminder: The Wax Trax! Records Pop-Up Store appears for one day only at Metro this Sunday, June 15th, from 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM. There will DJs playing tunes and the event’s organizer Julie Nash, daughter of original co-owner (with Dannie Flescher) Jim Nash, promises there will be a lot of records, t-shirts, posters, and other memorabilia for sale. The Wax Trax! Records Pop-Up Store is open to all ages. Drop by and get Dad a Sex Pistols poster for Fathers Day.

Also coming up at Metro, WXRT’s morning air personality Lin Brehmer will host the third annual Hot Stove Cool Music  next Friday. Created by Chicago Cubs President Theo Epstein, famed baseball journalist Peter Gammons, and Cubs broadcaster Len Kaspar as a means to support local nonprofit organizations that help disadvantaged youths, the event brings together several musicians for a live performance. This year, the focus will be on Chicago’s multi-faceted musical history. Scheduled performers include headliner Tom Morello of Rage Against The Machine (he also worked with Bruce Springsteen recently) and the Chicago Hot Stove All-Stars Jimmy Chamberlin of Smashing Pumpkins; John Stirratt of Wilco; Scott Lucas of Local H; Eddie “King” Roeser of Urge Overkill; Jered Gummere of The Ponys; Gary Klebe of Shoes; singer Jennifer Hall; and Matt Spiegel, Curt Morrison, and Jon Paul of Tributosaurus. Considering that Tributosaurus is involved, you have to wonder if some all-star parodies will be worked into the evening’s entertainment.

The Hushdrops are holding a Father’s Day Record Release Concert and Barbeque for Tomorrow, their first CD in 10 years, at Liar’s Club this Sunday, June 15th.

Chicago’s Downtown Sound Mondays series of free concerts in Millennium Park continues to impress, bringing folk rock star Richard Thompson and his Electric Trio on June 11th. The show is at 6:30 PM. Next Monday, June 23rd, it will be Bob Mould of Sugar and Hüsker Dü fame, plus Split Single.

As mentioned earlier here on BHT, Matt Dodge will hold a CD release party for Living Days at the El Cid club in his new hometown of Los Angeles next Friday, June 20th. He’ll be sharing the evening with artist Kingwhistler, whose latest effort is titled Grass Routes. I caught a set by Dodge, who was originally based in Minnesota, at International Pop Overthrow - Chicago few years back, and was impressed with his energetic tunes like “Currency.” 

Party For Pillars, a local mental health and social service agency, is staging Libations With Linda at Kama Indian Bistro in LaGrange next Thursday, June 19th. Award-winning hair designer Linda Reid-Kilzer will serve as host/guest bartender and promises to debut a new drink that is her own creation. Reid-Kilzer works next door to Kama Indian Bistro at the Sean Patrick Salon and Spa, (which is helping to support this event) and has traveled to Europe throughout her career to keep up with the latest hair styles and trends. Kama will donate a portion of the evening's proceeds to Constance Morris House, a Party For Pillars domestic violence shelter.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

CD Review: Icarus Peel/Mordecai Smyth - Barnburner EP

Off-kilter humor and an obsession with 1960s pop culture go hand-in-hand for musicians Icarus Peel and Mordecai Smyth. These English eccentrics have been releasing solo efforts over the years, and once joined forces in cover band called The Green Question Mark. They each contribute three songs to Barnburner, a recently released EP that’s available as a digital download as well as in a limited-edition blue vinyl version from Mega Dodo Records. The title Barnburner was most likely conceived with a touch of irony by its creators. There’s nothing extraordinary here; just some fun and catchy songs reminiscent of the original British Invasion.

“Almost Murder Ballad” is sort of a hybrid, as Peel takes on a song from Smyth’s 2011 release Sticky Tape And Rust, and turns it into a fractured but engaging duet with an uncredited female vocalist. “Crystal Jacqueline” is his flower child-infused tribute to a singer with that name who
also records for Mega Dodo. Smyth, whom I once designated as an honorary citizen of my hometown of Palatine (private joke), subverts the romantic sentiments of “Drifted Along” with a spooky keyboard arrangement. His melodic “Out In The Stars” is a drinking song with the feel of vintage Crosby, Stills and Nash.

Smyth laments the proliferation of vapid trend-followers with lines like, “Everywhere they grow like flowers/I can’t count them anymore” in his satiric “Plastic People.” The best track on Barnburner is Peel’s energetic “Aunty Powders Her Nose,” which serves as an authentic flashback to the psychedelic mid-1960s. There aren’t too many other ways you’ll hear a line like, “Wishing she had never seen that purple submarine.” 

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Lit Up

The weather in Chicago last weekend was perfect for the 30th Annual Printers Row Lit Fest, which was held outdoors in the south end of downtown. The event offered discussion groups with noted writers and local media celebrities, cooking demonstrations, poetry slams, and performers. There were publishers, and a lot of books for sale, ranging from vintage to brand new. Some vendors sold newspapers, magazines, posters, and even relics from old-time printing presses. When I dropped by on Sunday, I bought a poster of No Nukes, the 1980 documentary that featured Jackson Brown, Crosby, Stills and Nash, Bruce Springsteen, and other well-known musicians.

But the most fun at the Printers Row Lit Fest for an aspiring author like myself was the opportunity to have face-to-face conversations with some published writers. I’m on the verge of submitting my rock and roll novel to agents and publishers, so it was interesting to hear these writers talk about their work. Having the writers seated at tables throughout the event was reminiscent of the Artists Alleys you’ll find at Wizard World Comic Con and C2E2 (Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo). Even if you’re not an artist yourself, the creative energy in the air is exciting. Printers Row Lit Fest, with its many authors, had that same buzz.

I didn’t have a chance to meet all of the writers mentioned below, but here’s a sampling of books that were on display.

Semhar Gebre, the first author I spoke with, was friendly and informative while discussing her novel Menghedi. The title means journey, and Gebres, who’s also a motivational speaker, explained that the book follows the paths of two African women—one who spends time in America and one who fights in a liberation movement. Both are seeking to heal from emotional wounds. I also encountered Sean O’Neil, who created a graphic novel for young readers called Rocket Robinson and The Pharoah’s Fortune. The hero is a 12 year-old adventurer. The cover of Raymond Wlodski’s Motor City Boys  evokes popular musicals like Jersey Boys and Million Dollar Quartet. But it’s actually about Detroit teenagers in the 1950s, coping with trying to find girlfriends and fighting off bullies. Glory … The Hair  by Sandra Hamer, weaves a story about a character named Jennifer Williams, who sues her hairdresser Sheila for cutting off a bit too much hair. Jennifer and Sheila eventually bond over their experiences with hair and men’s attitude toward it.

The title of Scotch Wichmann’s Two Performance Artists Kidnap Their Boss And Do Things With Him sounds like the opening line of a joke, and indeed this tale of two best friends aims for dark comedy. Its available from Freakshow Books. Chaz Singleton, the protagonist of Brian Pinkerton’s How I Started The Apocalypse is the only zombie on earth and he’s under attack from humanity. Chris L. Terry’s Zero Fade is set in Virginia is the 1990s and centers on a black seventh grader coping with racism and the various pitfalls of entering his teenage years. It’s available from the Chicago publisher Curbside Splendor. Christine Todd’s novel Pins, available from Red Anemone Books, concerns an advertising exec who punishes her cheating husband via an effigy and some sharp pins.

Finally, I wound up my day at the Printers Row Lit Fest by checking out the C2E2 Drink And Draw gathering. Normally, this artistic improv exercise is done in bars, but the Drink half was missing at Lit Fest. Nonetheless, it was fun to watch successful comic artists elicit a subject for illustrating from the audience, ask everyone to draw something on that theme, and then roam around to comment on the results. Having classic new wave tunes playing over the sound system added to hip ambience.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Saturday Slumgullion

Photo from the Elvis Costello Facebook page.

Better Late Than Never:
Slumgullion was delayed this week due to extra freelance work and a flurry of fun activities. Here are a few weekend activities that are still going on tomorrow. 

The Printers Row Lit Fest continues in Chicago from 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM tomorrow, at Dearborn and Polk Street. The schedule includes a Young Authors Award Ceremony at 10:00 AM; History of Poetry Slam and Reading at 11:15 AM; The Kates, a comedic performance featuring comedian Kelsie Huff and others at 12:00 PM; Page Meets Stage, moderated by Amy Guth at 1:00 PM; Workshop: So, You Want To Write A Children’s Book, presented by author Esther Hershenhorn at 2:30 PM; More Than Capes And Tights, a graphic novels and comic discussion moderated by Elliott Serrano at 3:00 PM; and C2E2s (Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo) Drink And Draw at 4:00 PM. The above events are free, but there are some that require tickets and/or are being presented at other locations. See the the Printers Row Lit Fest for full information.

After selling out their gig at The Coach House in San Juan Capistrano on Friday night,The Bangles will perform at the LA Pride in West Hollywood tomorrow at 6:30 PM. And of course, there are those two Chicago dates coming up at City Winery on July 27th and 28th.

There’s one more day left for this year’s Midsommar Fest in Chicago’s Andersonville neighborhood. It runs from 11:00 AM to 10:00 PM tomorrow, with six stages of entertainment. Scheduled acts include The New Invaders performing a wide-range of 1960s covers and Planet Claire paying homage to The B-52’s. 

Other Upcoming Events:

Elvis Costello’s current solo tour makes a stop at Copernicus Center in Chicago’s Jefferson Park neighborhood next Wednesday, June 11th.

In My Hometown. The Palatine Park District has three outdoor shows at the Fred P. Hall Amphitheater  next week. The annual Battle Of The Bands, which is usually waged by young musicians, takes place on Monday. Ember Oceans, Nothing Yet, and Shinehammer will be competing for a chance to move on to the Illinois Battle of the Bands Regional competition. On Wednesday, the Palatine Concert Band will perform, and on Friday, Beatles tribute band American English takes its customary slot as the first Friday performance of the suburb’s summer series.

Matt Dodge will hold a CD release party for Living Days at the El Cid club in his new hometown of Los Angeles on June 20th. He’ll be sharing the evening with artist Kingwhistler, whose latest effort is titled Grass Routes. I caught a set by Dodge, who was originally based in Minnesota, at International Pop Overthrow - Chicago few years back, and was impressed with his energetic tunes like “Currency.”
Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow of The Posies will perform the entire Failure album at the Triple Door   in Seattle on August 23rd. The show ties in with a reissue of Failure, The Posies’ 1988 debut. The deluxe, remastered version will be released on Omnivore Records on CD and LP, with bonus tracks.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Like I Said

A few quick reminders about events first posted on last Friday’s Slumgullion.

Tributosaurus must either be fond of R.E.M. or they must like singing about the end of the world. The multi-faceted tribute band, which has covered everyone from Michael Jackson to Crosby, Stills and Nash, became R.E.M. this past Wednesday night at Martyrs’ in Chicago, and they’ll do  it again at Wire in Berwyn. And I feel fine. 

The Palette And Chisel Academy Of Fine Arts is hosting Summer Suite 2014, a group show featuring art by Mary Klug, Ralph Paquet, Peggy Sanders, Michelle Soncini, Bodo Stolczenberger, and Rob Waters from June 6th through the 15th. There’s an opening night reception tonight, from 6:00 to 10:00 PM. 

Hard-edged power pop trio The Viaducts are throwing a Drink/Rock Party at Live Wire in Chicago tonight at 10:00 PM.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Waxing Nostalgic

Contributing Editor Curt Baran has some good news for vinyl junkies in the June issue of the Illinois Entertainer. (Full disclosure: I’m an I.E. staff writer.) Baran’s piece Pop Goes Wax Trax! in the paper’s File section notes that there will be a Wax Trax! Records Pop-Up Store for one day at Metro on June 15th. The free event, which will include DJs playing tunes, runs from 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM, and is open to all ages.

It will be interesting to see if the Wax Trax! Records Pop-Up Store will inspire the same frenzy as the annual Record Store Day. Maybe some last minute Father’s Day shopping? It might be a good idea to get there early. According to Baran, the event’s organizer Julie Nash, daughter of original co-owner (with Dannie Flescher) Jim Nash, promises there will be a lot of records, t-shirts, posters, and other memorabilia for sale. 

Like Baran, I bought a copy of Chicago punk band Naked Raygun’s “Flammable Solid” single at Wax Trax! back in the days when it was open on Lincoln Avenue, just north of Fullerton. Wax Trax! was also where I first heard “Twist” by Tones On Tail (it was the B-Side of the blue vinyl “Christian Says” 12 single) and immediately had to buy it. To this day, I have five or six boxes of 45 RPM records, and quite a few have a Wax Trax! price sticker on them. It’s not likely I’ll be the only one at Metro this June 15th recalling the glory days  of one of Chicago’s coolest record stores.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Another Abbie In August

Rich Cotovsky Photo from The Mary-Arrchie Facebook page.

Mary-Arrchie Theatre recently announced that it will hold its Abbie Hoffman Died For Our Sins festival on the weekend of August 15th - 17th. The annual event returns to Mary-Arrchies home base at 735 W. Sheridan Road this year, after being moved to the more spacious Den Theatre on Milwaukee Avenue for the 25th Annual bash in 2013. Abbie Fest has almost been around as long as the Mary-Arrchie itself; having sprung to life just two years after the theatre was founded.

Mary-Arrchie Artistic Director Rich Cotovsky will once again do his dead-on impersonation of Yippie leader Abbie Hoffman. For over two decades, he’s overseen a chaotic celebration of the performing arts that would challenge the strategic skills of a four-star general. I performed at the Abbie Fest for 20 years with the Famous In The Future comedy group, and I’ve continued to go every year since. I can attest to the sense of community that develops among the participants, as well as the audience members who have become Abbie Fest regulars.

Cotovsky has jokingly noted on at least a few occasions that cramming 70 participants into a single weekend with no time allotted for set changes shouldn’t work, but somehow it always does.
Performers interested in being part of the madness of Abbie Hoffman Died For Our Sins this year can request a form via the theatres website. 


Monday, June 2, 2014

CD Review: Kaiser Chiefs - Education, Education, Education & War

With a history of songs like “I Predict A Riot” and “The Angry Mob,” Kaiser Chiefs have been known to come across as political activists. On their fifth release, Education, Education, Education & War, they deliver diatribes against institutionalized education and industrial pollution within massive arrangements that sound like they could have sprung from a Broadway rock musical. There are echoes of Pink Floyd and XTC in the biting lyrics, but Kaiser Chiefs singer Ricky Wilson has his own distinct brand of showmanship. 

Wilson’s voice soars on lines like, “You and me on the front lines” during the catchy and off-kilter “Bows & Arrows,” and “We lost more than we saved” on the hard-charging “Ruffians On Parade.” “The Factory Gates,” a song about how schools ultimately prepare students for military careers, opens with dramatic sound effects, and the high-powered “Cannons” breaks into a spoken word poem with almost whimsical lines like, “There’s a plan to abandon the planet, one V.I.P. at a time.” In addition to songs about war and stress, there’s the lush, atmospheric ballad, “Coming Home.” Education, Education, Education & War is a persuasive concept album that might have the potential to become an American Idiot type of theatrical production. 
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