Friday, October 31, 2014

Witch’s Cauldron

This is going to be Chicago’s coldest Halloween in quite some time, so aside from a few brave kids trick-or-treating, most of the seasonal activities will be going on inside. Here are a few suggestions for where to find some spirited fun.

The Double Door club, at 1572 N. Milwaukee Avenue, will be holding its 18th Annual Halloween Bash tonight. This year’s event features Rebel Rebels performing as David Bowie; AM Taxi as The Kinks; The Noise FM as The Police; Blackbox as Oasis; and Hessler as Guns N’ Roses. Judging from the Double Door website, there might be more bands involved. The doors open at 7:30 PM. General Admission is $10, VIP Admission is $20.

The Chicago-based psychedelic band The Red Plastic Buddha has recorded a fun video for the song “She’s An Alien” from their mind-bending new album Songs For Mara. The clip was directed by Henrique Cirne-Lima, and features burlesque dancer Red Rum in alien makeup menacing singer-bassist Tim Ferguson and other members of the band.

The second half of Halloweekend: The Return takes place tonight at Wall To Wall Recording at 676 N. LaSalle, at the corner of LaSalle and Huron in Chicago. There will be five bands on hand, each performing as a famous rock act. The music starts at 9:00 PM. There is nothing on the building to indicate that Wall To Wall Recording is located there, but there will be a sign by the door directing people to the entrance to Halloweekend.

I was there last night. The live performance space has the ambience of being in someone’s basement, and there’s no seating. But it became a bona fide party once the bands started performing. John Aselin and Phil Angotti, portraying Morrissey and Johnny Marr respectively, fronted a Johnny And The Creeps’ set of music by The Smiths. Their rendition of “How Soon Is Now” was one of the evening’s highlights. Tonight’s lineup is Chris Dorf And Friends as The Cars; Phil Angotti as Tom Petty; Metropolly as Blondie; Falldown as Uncle Tupelo; and The Bon Mots as Bob Seger. Admission is $10. 

No need for Stephen King. If those frigid winds just make you want to stay inside and curl up with a cup of tea and a scary novel, a few members of the writers coven I belong to can make that happen. Cherie Colyer has two entries in her supernatural Embrace series—Embrace and Hold Tight—and then there’s her more diabolical Challenging Destiny. Kym Brunner spins a chilling and funny tale of two teens caught up with the spirits of Bonnie And Clyde in Wanted: Dead Or In Love; and Susan Kaye Quinn delves into a futuristic society where just about everyone has the ability to read minds in her Mindjack sci-fi thriller trilogy.

On a related note, congratulations to Katie Sparks from our writers group on the publication of her first YA novel Reality Natalie. It’s not spooky, but its fun. 

Martyrs’ has assembled four bands to celebrate Halloween tonight. New World Ancients will be in costumes, performing the music of The B-52’s, and Terrible Spaceship, an eight-member band whose Facebook page lists its genre as ambient synthetic horror pop, will be performing songs from its Zontar, the Thing From Venus album. The Need And The Night and Funky Hot Grits will also be on hand.

People partying in colorful garments that arent costumes. There’s nothing Halloween-related in Rick Hromadka’s video for “Dreams Of A Hippie Summer (unless you think Twiggy is scary) but it is a fun look back at the carefree 1960s, set to a breezy arrangement. The song is taken from the Maple Mars singer-guitarists solo debut Trippin’ Dinosaurs, which was favorably reviewed here on BHT earlier this October.

On a theatrical note, The Mammals will offer an evening of female-created horror with its All Girl Edgar Allan Poe revue tonight at Zoo Studios. The show features pieces adapted from The RavenThe Tell-Tale HeartThe Black CatThe Pit And The PendulumThe Imp Of The Perverse, and The Masque Of Red DeathAll Girl Edgar Allan Poe runs on Friday and Saturday nights through 8th.

Jeff Kelley and David Metzger created the Zombie Grandma series, a mashup of zombie films and Leave It To Beaver, for Elgin’s annual Nightmare On Chicago Street celebration, but you can now watch three episodes on YouTube. I’ve created comedy bits for Kelley’s Coffee With Jeff internet series in the past, and I play a dimwitted FBI agent in Episode 3 of Zombie Grandma

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Various Artists - Shots In The Dark

With a weekend of tribute shows coming up on the local club scene in celebration of Halloween, it seemed like a perfect time to showcase one of the most fun tribute albums ever released. Shots In The Dark - A Bob Keane Production brings together 20 different acts to honor the mega-successful TV theme and soundtrack composer Henry Mancini. Most of the performers involved are unknown outside of the indie rock scene, although some might be better-known musicians performing under pseudonyms.

Mancini fans might not even recognize the revved-up version of “Experiment In Terror” offered here by Davie Allan And The Arrows, but it’s well known to regular listeners of Little Steven’s syndicated Underground Garage radio show. Poison Ivy of The Cramps delivers a bone-crushing rendition of “Peter Gunn,” and The Wondermints exude a hippie vibe with their take on “The Party.” Wiskey Biscuit likewise connects with the 1960s on “A Shot In The Dark.” The Jigsaw Seen, a band that participated on a number of these tribute CDs, has a blast with an amped-up “Baby Elephant Walk.”

Just about every track on Shots In The Dark works as an unexpected but happy marriage of Mancini’s genius for creating indelible melodies and a cutting edge band’s ingenuity. Other highlights include The Boardwalkers doing “Banzai Pipeline,” Four Piece Suit’s “Something For Cat,” Man Or Astroman’s “Touch Of Evil,” and “Mr. Lucky” by Elliot Easton’s Tiki Gods. Even a literally out-of-this-world version of “Dreamsville” by Br. Cleve And His Lush Orchestra is fascinating.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

45 RPM Memories - “Don’t Box Me In”

Recorded by Stewart Copeland and Stanard Ridgway in 1983, “Don’t Box Me In”  is an off kilter declaration of independence that sounds like a mashup of the The Police and Wall Of Voodoo. The song retains its infectious melody while lurching through various tempo shifts, and comes from the soundtrack album Copeland composed for Francis Coppola’s film adaptation of the S. E. Hinton Young Adult novel Rumble Fish. Ridgway, best known for “Mexican Radio,” applies his distinctive delivery to Copeland’s clever lyrics about not being limited by other people’s expectations.

“I feel a tug on the line,” Ridgway sings, “Which end will I be on this time?” Observing the sad state of a fish in a jar at the end of the bar, Ridgway decides, “There’s an ocean out there that I gotta swim.” The arrangement taps into new wave while maintaining a unique identity, based on Copeland’s driving drumbeat and Ridgway’s wistful harmonica and energetic keyboards playing. Ultimately, “Don’t Box Me In” celebrates the freedom and confidence to be yourself. “There’ll be a time when I won’t remember what I was afraid of.” That’s a good philosophy for Halloween or any other time of the year.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Scare Tactics

A Few Halloween Celebration Suggestions:

Martyrs’ has assembled four bands to celebrate Halloween this Friday night, and there will be some role playing involved, along with some spooky stuff. New World Ancients will be in costumes, performing the music of The B-52’s, and Terrible Spaceship, an eight-member band whose Facebook page lists its genre as ambient synthetic horror pop, will be performing songs from its Zontar, the Thing From Venus album. The Need And The Night and Funky Hot Grits will also be on hand. Admission is $10

Halloweekend: The Return is an annual celebration in which a number of local bands each perform a short set of songs by a famous artist. There will be five bands each night starting at 9:00 PM on October 30th and October 31st in the live performance space at Wall To Wall Recording at 676 N. LaSalle, at the corner of LaSalle and Huron in Chicago. The Halloweekend Facebook page promises there will be a full bar. I scouted this address and discovered there is nothing on the building to indicate that Wall To Wall Recording is located there. If you scroll through the directory/buzzer by the front door, you’ll find Wall To Wall Recording listed, along with a number to call to be let inside. I’m not sure if there will be another system for getting people inside while the event is taking place. Previously, this event has been held at The Abbey Pub and Martyrs’, and based on those showcases, I can attest to the talent and imagination these musicians put into their tributes.

Once again the choices are eclectic and inspired. Phil Angotti, who has covered The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Squeeze, and The Doors, will be taking on Tom Petty this time around. He will also be portraying Johnny Marr to John Aselin’s Morrissey when Johnny And The Creeps perform as The Smiths. Androgynous Mustache, which does tribute shows on a regular basis under the Soundtrack Serenade banner, are doing The J. Geils Band for this event.

Metropolly is fronted by Holly Senchak, a versatile singer-guitarist who impressed in previous shows as Courtney Love and Liz Phair, and helped out The Webstirs when they portrayed ABBA two years ago. As a techno band, Metropolly should be right at home covering Blondie on this Halloween night. Will Phalen was right on the mark as Beck last year, so there’s good reason to have high hopes for his Johnny Cash W/ June Carter set with Anna Phalen this time around. The Bon Mots are Halloweekend veterans who relish stepping out of their indie pop mode, so it will be fun watching them play that old time rock and roll of Bob Seger. The other acts on board for Halloweekend 2014 are Neal Alger And Co. as King Crimson; Dirty Pigeons as Queen; Falldown as Uncle Tupelo; and Chris Dorf And Friends as The Cars. As usual, some of these oddball band names are nom de plumes for the musicians involved. Admission for each night is $10.

On a theatrical note, The Mammals will offer an evening of female-created horror with its All Girl Edgar Allan Poe revue on Halloween night at Zoo Studios. The show features pieces adapted from The Raven, The Tell-Tale Heart, The Black Cat, The Pit And The Pendulum, The Imp Of The Perverse, and The Masque Of Red Death. All Girl Edgar Allan Poe runs on Friday and Saturday nights through 8th. Tickets are $20.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Various Artists - Postcards From The Deep

Today’s post is a combination Halloween playlist suggestion and a various artists album review. Postcards From The Deep is from the English indie label Fruits de Mer, although this time out it’s not on colored vinyl. Even though none of the songs has a holiday theme, this new release is being billed as a Christmas 2014 limited-pressing, and consists of 10 flexi-discs, 10 postcards created by artist Mick Dillingham (one postcard for each flexi-disc) a poster, and a CD with all 10 songs. There will only be 700 copies released to the entire world.

According to the rather self-effacing but funny press release (“yes, it’s another case of the same old, same old from Fruits de Mer”), the CD version is necessary because while flexi-discs make cool collectors items, their audio quality leaves a bit to be desired. As on a number of previous Fruits de Mer efforts, the mission here is to have modern bands cover songs (major hits as well as rarities) from the late 1960s and early 1970s. Far from being a “same old” thing, this approach has yielded adventurous results, and that’s certainly the case with Postcards From The Deep.

The entire CD is consistently wild enough for any party, and some tracks would be particularly well-suited for Halloween. The Loons’ cover of “Celestial Empire,” originally done by Dragonfly, is an energetic tale of a magical woman, and when The Crawlin’ Hex delves into “I’m A Living Sickness” by Calico Wall, it becomes a harrowing ride through a winding tunnel. The mind-altering “Brainticket,” originally recorded by the band Brainticket and done here by Astralasia, opens with distorted vocals and otherworldly synth noises. Fruits de Mer stalwart Icarus Peel electrifies the Laurie Johnson-composed theme from the 1960s Brit TV show The Avengers, transforming it into something Jeff Beck might have recorded.

The Chicago-based band The Luck Of Eden Hall delivers a thundering yet authentic take on Count Five’s classic “Psychotic Reaction,” while the always-enchanting Crystal Jacqueline succeeds with the catchy garage rock of “You Just Gotta Know My Mind” (previously been recorded by Donovan and Dana Gillespie.) The Thanes blast through “LSD” by The Pretty Things, while Schizo Fun Addict adds some indie rock style male-female vocal interplay to their haunting version of The Sorrows’ “Take A Heart.”

Note: According to the Fruits de Mer press release, some of the tracks on the Postcards From The Deep CD were re-recorded by the bands and are different from the flexi-disc versions, as well as from versions on the promotional CD.

Friday, October 24, 2014


A hearty Broken Hearted Toy welcome to Dum Dum Girls, who are in town for a show tonight at Metro. The band will be showcasing its Too True album, which came out earlier this year. Like on earlier releases from the Dum Dum Girls, vocalist-guitarist and songwriter Dee Dee Penny did a great job on Too True of setting angst to irresistible melodies, with the added allure of 1960s style twanging guitar.

Tickets went on sale today for the Sleater-Kinney gig coming up on February 17th at the Riviera Theatre. The recently reunited trio is also rumored to have a full length album coming out next year.

The Psychedelic Furs will be coming to City Winery in Chicago on January 5th and 6th, 2015. Tickets went on sale yesterday. On January 8th, Marshall Crenshaw and Bottle Rockets will be at the venue.

Last Rites is presenting an odd and imaginative lineup at Subterranean tomorrow night that will likely involve loud music, sci-fi, and comedy. Captured! by Robots are the headliners; the other acts on the bill are I Love Rich; The Luck Of Eden Hall; and Beast Warrior. Tickets are $12 to $14, showtime is 8:30 PM.

Fun with pasta. SOPRO will present the all-original lineup of popular Chicago club band The Dancing Noodles tomorrow night at Sullivan’s Irish Pub in Midlothian, IL.

Elgin will hold its fourth annual Nightmare On Chicago Street, an ambitious Halloween celebration in the downtown area, tomorrow, October 25th. There will be special guests, live rock bands, and a costume contest. Part of the entertainment will be a store front theater showing Zombie Grandma, an original sitcom created by Jeff Kelley and David Metzger. I had the pleasure of performing in some of the scenes of Zombie Grandma. Admission for Nightmare On Chicago Street is $10.

Hushdrops, the Chicago-based power pop/psychedelic band, will be performing songs from its long-awaited full-length effort Tomorrow at the Reckless Records store at 3126 N. Broadway tomorrow (October 25th) at 3:00PM.

Halloweekend: The Return takes places on Thursday, October 30th and Friday, October 31st at Wall To Wall Recording at 676 N. LaSalle. The lineup includes Phil Angotti as Tom Petty; Androgynous Mustache as The J. Geils Band; Metropolly as Blondie; Will Phalen and Anna Phalen as Johnny Cash W/ June Carter; The Bon Mots as Bob Seger; Neal Alger And Co. as King Crimson; Johnny And The Creeps (featuring John Aselin and Phil Angotti) as The Smiths; Dirty Pigeons as Queen; Falldown as Uncle Tupelo; and Chris Dorf And Friends as The Cars. Admission for each night is $10.

Bands across the water. The British Invasion: How 1960s Beat Groups Conquered America is a new exhibit that opened at The Beatles Story Museum in Liverpool on October 16th. It’s being curated by the Los Angeles-based GRAMMY Museum in a joint effort by the two institutions, and features artifacts from various English groups from the 1960s. Bobby Elliott, longtime drummer with The Hollies, has lent some interesting items to the exhibit, including a life-size cutout of himself, his Ludwig 400 snare drum, and a suit once worn by Hollies guitarist Tony Hicks. It sure would be nice to see The British Invasion come to Chicago. After all, we have done quite nicely with the David Bowie Is exhibit, which runs through January at the Museum Of Contemporary Art. 

Mac’s On Slade in Palatine will present A Tribute To The Beatles next Thursday, October 30th.

Learn several languages in just over two minutes. There are 10 catchy power pop/indie rock songs on the recently released CD Record Heat by The Safes, and the Chicago band is promoting one of them using an internationally flavored video. Directed by Mickey Mangan, “I Would Love To” features footage of The Safes performing live, along with scenes of fans in different countries holding up signs with a line from the song written on it in their native language. The clip recently premiered on the Yahoo Music site. 

Mooner, the Chicago-based band whose latest effort was favorably reviewed here on BHT, has a show coming up next Monday, October 27th at the Township club in Chicago, at 2200 - 2202 N. California. The Iowa power pop band TWINS will also be on the bill, most likely playing songs from their new Tomboys On Parade album. The experimental rock trio The Thons will also be on hand.

Pride Before A Fall by The Church made its debut earlier this week by way of a video on the official Rolling Stone website. The atmospheric ballad is from Further/Deeper, the full length effort the Australian band plans to release on February 3rd, 2015. It will be the 25th album by The Church but the first without guitarist Marty Wilson-Piper on board. Ian Haug from the band Powderfinger joined founding member Peter Koppes on guitar for this effort. There is talk of The Church embarking on a U.S. tour at some point next year.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

David Bierman Overdrive - Standard Skies

Detroit-based singer-guitarist David Bierman had been away from the music scene for 20 years before returning to the studio to record Standard Skies under the clever moniker of David Bierman Overdrive. In the early 1990s, he fronted Junk Monkeys, a band that garnered rave reviews for its energetic power pop. Backed by a number of veterans of Midwest area bands, Bierman returned to those power pop roots while simultaneously driving full force into Country And Western music.

“Unmade Things” and “Fountain” are appealing mid-tempo songs augmented by David Feeny’s pedal steel guitar playing, and “Swept Away” is a touching, acoustic love song. “You Make Me Feel” is actually Bierman’s reinterpretation of the Aretha Franklin classic “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” and he gives it an inviting treatment that’s equal parts roots rock and soul music.

Bierman’s rough hewn vocals evoke Joe Strummer of The Clash and Mike Peters of The Alarm. That approach adds authenticity to more intimate material like “Waltz Of The Spilled Drinks,” and lets him soar on the high energy winners “Superhuman” and “Marking Days.” “This Is The Chorus” is one of those songs that’s about the making of a song, but Bierman avoids the usual pitfalls via his clever lyrics and irresistible power pop arrangement.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Rick Hromadka - Trippin’ Dinosaurs

Singer-guitarist Rick Hromadka has recorded four albums with the Los Angeles-based power pop band Maple Mars, and prior to that he fronted the Double Naught Spies. In 2012, he embarked on a side project dubbed Ruby Free with his wife, singer Lisa Cavaliere. Hromadka does all the vocals and plays all the instruments on the recently released Trippin’ Dinosaurs. He has jokingly promoted the CD as a the product of an over-inflated ego, but in reality it serves as an impressive solo debut.

The CD is bookended by high-energy songs that deal with communication breakdowns. “Conversation” is more politically inclined, as Hromadka uses a guitar-driven arrangement to drive home the point that we can’t simply sit back and let the world degenerate into violence and injustice. On “Listen I’m Waiting To Sleep,” he describes the destructive power silence can have on personal relationships. “Unveil all your emotions,” he advises, “before they all disappear.” The song is more elaborate than “Conversation,” with a distinct tempo change set in the middle. Trippin’ Dinosaurs also deals with tangled relationships on “There She Goes,” which finds Hromadka really breaking loose on guitar toward the end, and on the slower but still engaging “Tough Letter Bomb.”

Some of the other songs here are more fun-oriented, like the funky “It’s All In Your Head,” which takes a satiric swipe as facile celebrities. “Dreams Of A Hippie Summer” lives up to its name with a succession of picturesque images set to a breezy, 1960s style arrangement. The mysterious “Face On” slinks along to guitar and percussion, and includes an imaginative instrumental passage. All 10 tracks on Trippin’ Dinosaurs feature Hromadka crafting catchy melodies and creating enticing layers of vocals.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Halloween Song: Crystal Jacqueline And The Honey Pot - "Tick Tock"

“Tick Tock” was originally recorded by The Fleur de Lys, an English band that went through numerous lineup changes in the 1960s without ever scoring a hit with any of their psychedelically inclined singles. Several years later, Crystal Jacqueline And The Honey Pot included it on a double seven-inch single of cover songs they recorded for the UK all-vinyl Fruits de Mer label. (See BHT Archives, February 14, 2014.) Crystal Jacqueline, a vocalist who specializes in folk, prog rock, and psychedelia, often sounds like she’s conjuring something mysterious, and along with members of The Honey Pot (guitarist Icarus Peel, bassist Tom Brown, and drummer Wayne Fraquet), she makes “Tick Tock” a perfect choice for a Halloween rock playlist.

Set to a driving, bluesy arrangement that’s a bit like Led Zeppelin’s “How Many More Times,” “Tick Tock” concerns a witch who’s about to fly off at the stroke of midnight to haunt the bedrooms of little boys and girls. “You better watch out, I’m on my way,” the witch taunts, “and I’ve made my witch’s brew.” She also has plans to turn people into mice. Toward the end, there’s an instrumental passage fueled by sinister organ playing. By targeting bedrooms, the song taps into the primal childhood fears of a monster under the bed, a ghost in the closet, or a creepy face peeking in the window. I mentioned in my original review that this song might be too scary for younger kids. Still, considering the song’s catchy beat, the witch of “Tick Tock” might be too busy dancing to cast any evil spells.

Want more Halloween fun? Check out October, 2009 in the BHT archives. I did 31 Halloween song posts that year. I’ve done a few more during the month of October in the years since then. 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Mothboxer - Sand And The Rain

Before moving on to the review, just a quick note that there will be a Yoga For Recovery Benefit Concert this Thursday night at the Lincoln Tap Room at 3010 N. Lincoln Avenue. The $20 admission will help support Yoga For Recovery’s mission to empower women in prison. Entertainment will be provided by the gritty duo Razorhouse, The Lucky 3 Blues Band, and Laura Boton. 

Releasing a new album or EP has been an annual tradition for the UK band Mothboxer since it formed in 2010. Sand And The Rain, which came out this past August, is a collection of 10 smooth-as-silk Brit pop songs that should click with fans of Squeeze and XTC. Mothboxer can’t match the satiric bite of those groups but does offer infectious melodies augmented by the gorgeous harmonies of Dave Ody and Robbie Burley, both of whom also play guitar and keyboards. 

The fun and quirky “We’re All Out Of Our Minds,” with its airy tune and driving beat by drummer Phil Davies, is the song that most resembles XTC. Like much of Sand And The Rain, it features fluid piano playing. “Everything’s Changed” and “Looking For Summer” breeze by, and Mothboxer embarks on a change of direction with the harder-hitting “Stop” and “Take Me Down.” The album opens with the atmospheric and acoustic-based “All That I Want,” which provides an immediate showcase for Ody and Burley’s highly compatible voices. 

Friday, October 17, 2014


The Foo Fighters will be performing a rare small-venue gig at the Cubby Bear tonight but unless you already have a ticket, you can’t go. Those who’d like to see the sold-out show can watch a live stream of it tonight on HBO’s Facebook page, following the premiere of the cable network’s Foo Fighters: Sonic Highway series. The band just wrapped up a week-long residency on Late Show With David Letterman that included performing “Kick It Out” with Heart.

I would have included this in my Wednesday post about tribute bands had I known about it. Tributosaurus is going back to the 1980s for a show of one-hit wonders tonight at the Copernicus Center in Chicago’s Jefferson Park neighborhood.

Clash with Zombies. Speaking of tribute band shows, I dropped by The Abbey Pub last night for a lineup that featured Get Back as The Beatles; Phil Angotti and Beachwood Park as The Zombies; Guns And Ammunition as The Clash; and Frank Canino as Roy Orbison. I wasn’t able to stay for the entire event, but I did catch Guns and Ammunition and Phil Angotti. Guns And Ammunition nailed the urgency and power of The Clash with an impressive song selection that included “Police And Thieves,” “London Calling,” Julie’s Been Working On The Drug Squad,” and “Spanish Bombs.” Angotti, a master at doing these types of shows, created gorgeous three-part harmonies with keyboards player-vocalist John San Juan from Hushdrops and bassist-vocalist Casey McDonough on Zombies classics like “Tell Her No” and “She’s Not There,” along with deep cuts from Odessey And Oracle.

Bash with zombies. Elgin will hold its fourth annual Nightmare On Chicago Street, an ambitious Halloween celebration that envelopes the downtown area in spooky fun, next Saturday, October 25th. There will be special guests, live rock bands, and a costume contest. Part of the entertainment will be a store front theater showing Grandma Zombie, a sitcom created by Jeff Kelley and David Metzger especially for the event. I was involved with the filming of Grandma Zombie for the past few weeks, playing a government agent on the lookout for zombies. It should be interesting to see the final result.

Rock critic/Sound Opinions radio show host Jim DeRogatis will be operating in a humorous vein when he hosts Chicago Comedy Film Festival Featuring W.C. Fields and Ernie Kovacs  at 6:00 PM tonight at the ShowPlace ICON in Chicago at 1011 South Delano. The event will include screenings of The Ernie Kovacs Show from 1956, The Ernie Kovacs Special from 1961, and the W.C. Fields Straight Up documentary hosted by Dudley Moore. There will also be a Q and A session with members of the Kovacs and Fields families.

Penthouse Sweets, a fun and energetic Chicago-based band with a few CDs out, are going to be part triple bill tomorrow night at Phyllis’ Musical Inn on Irving Park Road in Chicago. Pittsburgh indie rock trio The Lampshades, and Red Lions are the other acts.

Rockabilly in a classy setting. The Neverly Brothers will be bringing their oldies/rock music history show to the Raue Center For The Arts in Crystal Lake tomorrow night.

Dann Morr is having a record release party for his solo debut Shouting Into The Wind next Thursday, October 23rd at Hideout Inn on Wabansia in Chicago. The Terriers and the Phil Angotti Band will also be performing that night. Shouting Into The Wind received a favorable review here on BHT about a week ago.

Also, on October 23rd, Roxy Swain, a local pop band that has had two CDs favorably reviewed here on BHT, will be at Beat Kitchen, along with The Erratics and Jimmy Gills.

Hushdrops have an in-store appearance at the Reckless Records location on Broadway coming up next Saturday afternoon. The band will be promoting its new Tomorrow album. 

The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame recently announced the nominees for its 2015 induction. They are Green Day, Lou Reed, Sting, War, The Spinners, Joan Jett And The Blackhearts, Bill Withers, N.W.A.,The Smiths, The Marvelettes, The Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Kraftwerk, Chic, Nine Inch Nails, and Stevie Ray Vaughn. 

The Bangles will be honored as part of The Women’s International Music Network’s 2015 She Rocks Awards on January 23 next year, as part the NAMM Show at the Anaheim Hotel. Guitarist Orianthi, a previous honoree, and Women’s International Music Network founder/journalist Laura B. Whitmore will serve as co-hosts of the event, which will also honor saxophonist-vocalist Mindi Abair. The She Rocks Award comes just The Bangles will be celebrating the 30th Anniversary of the release of their major label debut All Over The Place. In other Bangles news, the band will present ‘Rocky’s Revival,” an all ages show at the Troubadour in Los Angeles on November 1st.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Tributes And Treats

The Abbey Pub on Chicago’s northwest side will offer an evening of tribute bands tomorrow night, starting at 9:00 PM. Get Back will play a set of music by The Beatles; singer-guitarist Phil Angotti and his band Beachwood Park will cover The Zombies; Guns And Ammunition will take on The Clash; and Frank J. Canino will travel further back in time than any of the other three acts to impersonate Roy Orbison. As far as I know, this is the first time The Abbey has done a show like this in some time, so it would be great if a lot of people came to show their support. Admission is $8.00. 

Also on tomorrow night, Soundtrack Serenade will perform the entire soundtrack from Pulp Fiction at the High Hat Club on Irving Park Road in Chicago. Pulp Fiction cast member/Saturday Night Live veteran Julia Sweeney will be on hand for a Q & A session. The show starts at 9:00 PM, admission is $7.

In other tribute shows news, Halloweekend: The Return is scheduled for October 30th and October 31st at Wall To Wall Recording at 676 N. LaSalle, just north of downtown in Chicago. The Halloweekend Facebook  page promises a bar and a full lineup of bands. This annual event offers five sets each night, and was the inspiration for my It’s All Party Of My Rock And Roll Fantasy post (August 18th, 2014) in which I suggested a number of famous acts for the participating local bands to cover. Once again, no one took my advice. That heartbreak aside, there are a number of reasons to celebrate this year’s edition.

First, Halloweekend is back to two nights, after having been cut down to one at Martyrs’ in 2013. Plus, a number of its best performers from over the years (it has been at The Abbey Pub as well as Martyrs’) are on board for 2014, and their choices are eclectic and inspired. Phil Angotti, who has successfully honored The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Squeeze, and The Doors, will be taking on Tom Petty this time around. Androgynous Mustache, a group that does tribute shows year ‘round and nailed The Replacements at a previous Halloweekend gig, are doing The J. Geils Band.

Metropolly is fronted by Holly Senchak, a versatile singer-guitarist who impressed in previous shows as Courtney Love, Liz Phair, and the female half of ABBA. She’ll be leading Metropolly through a series of Blondie hits on Halloween night. Will Phalen was so good covering Beck last year, I’m looking forward to his Johnny Cash W/ June Carter set with Anna Phalen this time around. The Bon Mots have offered several entertaining impersonations in the past, and this time they’ll be playing that old time rock and roll of Bob Seger. 

The other acts on board for Halloweekend 2014 are Neal Alger And Co. as King Crimson; Johnny And The Creeps as 2015 Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame nominees The Smiths; Dirty Pigeons as Queen; Falldown as Uncle Tupelo; and Chris Dorf And Friends as The Cars. As usual, I suspect some of these band names are nom de plumes for the musicians involved. Admission for each night is $10.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Game Theory - Blaze Of Glory

Game Theory’s 1982 debut Blaze Of Glory is the first of the critically acclaimed pop band’s LPs and EPs to be remastered and newly packaged with additional tracks and extensive liner notes. The re-released album, pressed on grapefruit pink vinyl, features the original 12 tracks and includes a download card for live performances, music from lead vocalist-guitarist Scott Miller’s earlier band Alternate Learning, and some of his solo efforts. At 27 tracks, this version of Blaze Of Glory is a lot to digest, but ultimately augments the late musician’s legacy. 

For those of us who discovered Game Theory via the group’s later efforts like The Big Shot Chronicles or Two Steps From The Middle Ages, the songs on Blaze Of Glory might initially seem jarring. Nothing is as exquisite as “Where You Going, Northern” or “Wyoming,” but given a chance, these adventurous cuts win over the listener. Miller always seemed fascinated by abrupt tempo changes and oddball intros, and that approach can be found on catchy songs like “Something To Show,” “Bad Year At UCLA,” and “Date With An Angel.” 

“The Girls Are Ready” and “White Blues” are rapid-fire New Wave tunes fueled by Nan Becker’s keyboards playing, while the funk overtones of “Sleeping Through Heaven” are reminiscent of Prince. Miller was equally adept at injecting vulnerability or venom into his lyrics; asking, “Is it okay that I don’t know what to do?” on the acoustic-based “It Gives Me Chills,” and noting “You thought you knew what was right and wrong/But you’ve been breaking the law all along” on the rebellious “The Young Drug.”

The best of the bonus tracks include the primitive punk of Alternate Learning’s “What’s The Matter” and “Beach State Rocking,” a live version of “Bad Year At UCLA” that has an extended instrumental intro, and Miller’s touching solo effort “She’s A Woman Of The Wind.” Judging from this new take on Blaze Of Glory, fans can expect more treats from the other remastered Game Theory efforts. 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Retro/Active: 1980s Acts Serve Up Old And New Material At The Arcada

Best wishes to Pat DiNizio and Brad Elvis, whose birthdays were yesterday and today, respectively.

It was no surprise that singer Tommy Heath of Tommy Tutone was the first to perform at the Rock Of The 80s Tour that stopped by the Arcada in St. Charles last Friday night. His band had only one hit and the other acts on the bill —Marshall Crenshaw, The Smithereens, and The Romantics—have maintained higher profiles, at least in the Midwest. But Heath set the tone for this enjoyable event by opening with an impressive rock song called “Red Wire,” taken from his upcoming Slow Learner CD. All four acts have released new material in recent years. Heath also offered a hard-hitting take on “Operator,” correctly describing it as a mashup of Jim Croce and The Clash. The audience rose to its feet for some spirited dancing and singing when Heath closed his short set with a rollicking “867-5309 /Jenny.”

Marshall Crenshaw followed immediately afterward, and surprisingly, he was also limited to only five songs. The singer-guitarist has a lot fans who would contend that he’s just as relevant as The Smithereens and The Romantics, who performed twice as long that night. Crenshaw showed no signs of resentment as he opened with a cover of Buddy Holly’s “Crying, Waiting, Hoping.” He was ably assisted by drummer Mark Ortmann and bassist-backup vocalist Keith Voegele from Bottle Rockets, who had also backed Heath. Crenshaw slowed the tempo on “There She Goes Again,” just as he did on I Don’t See You Laughing Now, one of a series of three-song EPs he released in 2012. “Cynical Girl” and “Someday Someway” were closer to the original versions. A great set, but it would have been nice to hear some of Crenshaw’s other classics, like “Maryanne” and “I’m Sorry (But So Is Brenda Lee).” 
New Jersey natives The Smithereens have a loyal following in the Chicago area, so the audience was primed for the band’s performance. Regular members singer-guitarist Pat DiNizio, guitarist-vocalist Jim Babjak, and drummer-vocalist Dennis Diken were joined this time out by Derrick Anderson, a veteran bassist who’s been playing with The Bangles for quite a while now. Anderson fit right in as The Smithereens blasted through power pop classic like “Behind The Wall Of Sleep,” “Time And Time Again,” and “Only A Memory.” They also played “Sorry” from 2011, their top notch CD from that year, and paid tribute to John Lennon by performing “Please Please Me” and “It’s Only Love.” In addition to their own material, The Smithereens have recorded three Beatles tribute albums. “This is some fun tonight,” DiNizio, always the consummate showman, mused at one point. “Blood And Roses” was once again a show-stopping number, and the band expertly worked in bits of Free’s “All Right Now” and The Who’s “Behind Blue Eyes” into the final number “A Girl Like You.”
The Smithereens ended on such a high note, it might have seemed likely to the uninitiated that The Romantics would have a difficult time matching that energy level. And indeed, “When I Look In Your Eyes,” the catchy opener from The Romantics’ 1979 self-titled debut, did sound almost sedate by comparison. But there were obviously a lot of Romantics fans in the house, and the audience soon embraced the Detroit-based band. Lead vocalist-guitarist Wally Palmar, guitarist-vocalist Mike Skill, and bassist-vocalist Rich Cole have been with the band from the start, and drummer Brad Elvis, who’s also in The Handcuffs, and has played in Big Hello, The Elvis Brothers, and Screams, joined in 2004. On Friday night, The Romantics performed a number of high-speed songs, including “Tomboy,” “Tell It To Carrie,” and a cover of The Kinks’ “She Got Everything.” Toward the end of their set, they delivered a muscle-bound version of The Animals’ “We Gotta Get Out Of this Place,” and it was good to hear from the band members after the show that this cover will be included on a soon-to-be-released CD. The Romantics brought this festive night of old and new material to a crowd-pleasing finish with an energetic version of their timeless hit, “What I Like About You.” 

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Saturday Slumgullion

Slumgullion was delayed this week due to a series of fun complications. I had to adjust my freelance schedule on Friday so I could see The Smithereens, The Romantics, Marshall Crenshaw, and Tommy Tutone rocking the walls down at The Arcada in St. Charles. Then I spent this afternoon with Jeff Kelley and Dave Metzger as they filmed scenes for the Zombie Grandma sitcom they’re creating for this year’s Nightmare On Chicago Street Halloween Fest in Elgin. 

Squeeze fans in the Chicago area will have a rare opportunity to see founding member Glenn Tilbrook perform a solo show at City Winery next Wednesday, October 15th. The show starts at 8:00 PM, with Jefferson Grizzard serving as the opening act.

On the following night, Temples, the UK neo-psychedelic band that’s been getting a lot of media attention these days, will be playing “Shelter Song” and other mind-bending tunes from their Sun Structures album at the Park West. The Districts, a young indie rock band from Pennsylvania, will be opening for them.

Also on Thursday night, The Beatles tribute band Get Back will headline an evening of copy tunes at The Abbey Pub that will include the Phil Angotti-led Beechwood Park (The Zombies); Guns And Ammunition (The Clash); and Frank Canino (Roy Orbison). 

Heavy Manners, one of Chicago’s best-known ska bands, is putting together a line-up for an evening of ska music at Mayne Stage on the city’s north side on November 29th. A recent post on the band’s Facebook page promised details will be announced soon.

More and more big names are being added to the  I’ll Take You There - Celebrating 75 Years Of Mavis Staples event coming up on November 19th at the Auditorium Theatre in Chicago. Gregg Allman, Aaron Neville, Widespread Panic, Jeff and Spencer Tweedy, Emmylou Harris, Grace Potter, and Taj Mahal are among the artists scheduled to perform.

The Handcuffs will be part of a triple bill at the Kryptonite club in Rockford next Saturday night, along with Sexy Ester and Mono In Stereo.

Jeremy Clyde of Chad And Jeremy fame, has released a new solo effort titled The Bottom Drawer Sessions on iTunes and other digital sites. According to a post on the Chad And Jeremy Facebook page, it’s the result of several years of work.

The Telepaths will be performing November 8th at The Mutiny Chicago, at 2428 N. Western Avenue.

Condolences to the family and countless musician friends of producer/bassist Lou Whitney, who passed away from kidney cancer earlier this week. Whitney was a member of the critically acclaimed garage rock bands The Morells and The Skeletons.

Here’s an early suggestion for your New Year’s Eve entertainment: multi-talented Chicago rock veteran Ellis Clark and his new band The Big Parade will be performing at Mayne Stage, along with the unbridled rockabilly group Heeby Jeebies, and the infectious funk group Liquid Soul.

Get well wishes go out to John Wicks of The Records, who is recovering from a prostate procedure. Wicks recently posted a video of “Charmed Life,” a song he recorded with Debbi Peterson of The Bangles on his website. Works In Progress, a collection of demos, rare, and unreleased tracks by The Records, is now available on CDBaby.

Save The Clocktower, the Chicago-based and innovative indie rock band has upcoming gigs at The Frequency in Madison, Wisconsin on November 6th, and then back in its home town at Beat Kitchen on November 15th.

The Australian indie label Zero Hour continues its flow of fascinating compilations (Power Pop Unplugged, tributes to Cheap Trick and Dwight Twilley) with the release of Pop Power From The Garage. The album features 22 tracks from lesser-known but energetic Aussie bands during the years 1974–1986. It sells for $9.99 via the Zero Hour online store. 

Mac’s On Slade in Palatine will present A Tribute To The Beatles on October 30th.
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