Tuesday, March 31, 2015

An Ex-Wave Hits Chicago

Singer-guitarist Katrina Leskanich, who once led Katrina And The Waves, has a gig at Reggies in Chicago this Thursday night, along with The Handcuffs and The Injured Parties. Those who only know Katrina And The Waves for “Walking On Sunshine” and “Going Down To Liverpool” (both composed by fellow band member and former Soft Boy Kimberley Rew) have missed out on a bunch of other fun songs this band recorded in the mid-1980s. Some of the highlights on their first two LPs include the irresistible driving beat and clever wordplay of “Lovely Lindsey,” “Sun Street,” a deceptively bouncy look at addiction, the 1960s-fueled “Game Of Love,” and rollicking “Mexico.”

Katrina didn’t write as many tunes as Rew and bassist-backup vocalist Vince de la Cruz, but her efforts—particularly “Tears For Me” and “Riding Shotgun”—were also impressive. These days, she performs songs like “Que te Quiero” and (in a bluesy take) “Walking On Sunshine” from her days with The Waves, along with material from her first solo effort in 10 years, Blisland. She’s backed on this tour by Kevin Tooley, along with former Joan Jett and The Blackhearts members Jimi K Bones and Sean Koos.

The Handcuffs, founded by vocalist-guitarist Chloe F. Orwell and drummer Brad Elvis, have drawn considerable praise here on Broken Hearted Toy for their CDs and live performances. Their songs are often used on TV shows and they’ve opened for Blondie. Brad Elvis also tours with The Romantics. The Injured Parties, featuring the prolific power pop and indie rock singer-guitarist Larry O. Dean, are International Pop Overthrow veterans who adroitly mix catchy arrangements with funny subject matter.

Friday, March 27, 2015


Record Store Day and The 13th Annual CHIRP Record Fair And Other Delights are coming up next month, but in the meantime, vinyl fanatics can mingle with local vendors and collectors at Beat Swap Meet this Sunday afternoon at The Empty Bottle. Admission is $5 or you can bring some canned goods for a local food pantry. The event promises a wide ranges of musical formats, including some rare (and more expensive) releases. Beat Swap Meet will run from noon until 6:00 PM, and is for all ages as long as those under 21 are accompanied by an adult.

You better sit down, kids. The full schedule for Paulpalooza was announced earlier this week, and in addition to Mr. McCartney, the massive lineup includes Florence + The Machine, Tame Impala, Django Django, and Delta Spirit. As usual, Lollapalooza sold out before it was known which acts would be appearing, so it’s likely a lot of McCartney fans were left at the starting gate. Of course, any parents who gave their kids money for tickets could now just claim those tickets as their own.

In other ex-Beatle-related news, Paul McCartney will give a speech as part of Ringo Starr’s induction into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame on April 18th in Cleveland. The ceremony will be broadcast on HBO on May 30th.

The young but authentically psychedelic foursome Secret Colours will be bending minds at the Cobra Lounge in Chicago tonight. The Kickback, Born Cages, and American Wolf are also on the bill. Music starts at 8:00 PM.

If you follow musicians on Facebook, you’ve probably noticed a lot of them have pets. So it’s no surprise that a lineup of bands will be performing tonight at the A Cause for Paws benefit at the Underground Lounge at 952 W, Newport in Chicago. Alder Kings, Skull Fogger, Magatha Trysty, and Polarizer will be rocking to help the West Suburban Humane Society. The music starts at 7:00 PM. Magatha Trysty, by the way, promises to have a new album out some time this year.

Echoes Of Chicago is celebrating the city’s 178th birthday tomorrow night, March 28th, by bringing over 50 artists, three bands, and a marketplace to the 3rd floor of the Block Thirty Seven - Shops On State space at 108 N. State Street.

The Red Line Tap will present a two-hour variety show this Sunday, starting at 4:00 PM. Standup comedian Elizabeth Gomez will kick things off, followed by dance troupe The Revelettes; and the alternative rock bands The Darkroom Men, Gunnelpumpers, and Whitewolfsonicprincess.

Squeeze has announced that it will embark on its first UK tour in three years. The performances start on September 25th and run through October 24th. Tickets go on sale March 27th.

Those of us who remember watching The Monkees TV show on a school night can relive part of that experience by watching New Candy Store Prophets perform the band’s Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn and Jones album in its entirety at Martyrs’ on Lincoln Avenue this coming Monday, March 30th.

Archie Powell and The Exports, the Chicago-based power pop band that tapped into a darker, speed metal place on its latest release Back in Black, are doing a free show at Empty Bottle this coming Monday night. 

The Smithereens return to The Arcada Theatre in St. Charles next Friday, April 3rd. Their last performance there was in October 2014 as part of a very fun 1980s showcase that also included The Romantics, Marshall Crenshaw, and Tommy Tutone. The format dictated that each act do a short set, but this time around, hopefully St. Charles will experience The Smithereens in all their power pop glory. 

Speaking of power pop icons, Paul Collins recently noted on Facebook that he’s honored that part of his European tour will include sharing a bill with John O’Neill of the legendary Irish punk group The Undertones, next Friday at the Sandinos Cafe - Bar in Ireland. O’Neill will be performing with artist Locky Morris as the duo Red Flare.

Four Doctors, no waiting. Doctor Who has been back on the air for 10 years now. Congratulations to Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant, Matt Smith, and Peter Capaldi for bringing the time-traveling alien from the planet Galifrey back to life and helping him thrive on our modern airwaves. Also, a round of applause for all the performers who have made The Doctor’s companions so much fun. The Doctor Who Facebook page has put together a montage of some of the show’s most shared clips during that time.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Who’s Who And Who’s New In The Hoodoo Gurus

To use the title of one of their numerous garage rock gems, May 23rd will be “Bittersweet” for the Hoodoo Gurus. That’s when the long-time Australian band will reprise the Be My Guru: The Evolution Revolution reunion concert they pulled off in their homeland last November. This time out, it will be part of Sydney’s annual Vivid Festival, within an alternative universe of psychedelic swirling lights and projected images. According to the Vivid website “Be My Guru: The Evolution Revolution will finally climax with all of the band’s current and past members on stage together, performing a mammoth tribal version of the band’s first single, ‘Leilani.’” But it will be the final show for drummer Mark Kingsmill, who has been onboard for 30 years. According to a post on the Hoodoo Gurus Facebook page, Kingsmill has been such an integral part of their sound, they considered breaking up. Eventually, they did find a replacement; naming Nik Rieth, formerly with The Celibate Rifles, as their new drummer.

Since a trip to Sydney is not currently feasible for me, and The Hoodoo Gurus haven’t visited the States for some time now, I’ll just have to cherish my memories of seeing their dynamic live shows at Metro and The Abbey Pub in Chicago. To help celebrate the Hoodoo Gurus’ heritage, here’s a review I did of their Purity Of Essence CD for the Illinois Entertainer back in 2010.

Back in the 1980’s, the imaginative garage rock of Australia’s Hoodoo Gurus evoked images of wild frat parties, but the recently released Purity Of Essence feels more like hanging out at the corner bar with an highly opinionated drunk. Lead vocalist and chief songwriter Dave Faulkner has been coming across as bitter and frustrated for some time now, as if the entire world has it in for him. Somehow, this results in a lot of fun on Purity Of Essence, which like its eight predecessors, is packed with irresistible melodies and rampaging guitars.

“Somebody Take Me Home,” a southern flavored rock song, finds Faulkner seeking salvation at his favorite watering hole, and on “Let Me In,” the pick-up lines turn progressively ugly as he notes, “If you’re looking for perfection, I aint the one.” “What’s In It For Me?” is a rollicking slam at panhandlers that evokes The Rolling Stones, while the first single, “Crackin’ Up” sets a defiant attitude to a supercharged arrangement. Faulkner’s best satire come on “I Hope You’re Happy,” a faux gospel number that skewers plastic surgery and trendy spirituality, and the funky “Only In America,” which takes another swipe at organized religion, as well as the treatment of migrant workers. There are a few misfires on this 16-song set, but for the most part, Purity Of Essence is a pure joy. 

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Ex Hex - Rips

Ex Hex has been building a loyal following and collecting rave reviews since releasing its aptly named debut CD Rips last October. The Washington D.C. trio is comprised of alt rock veterans vocalist-guitarist Mary Timony (formerly with Wild Flag), drummer Laura Harris, and bassist Betsy Wright. Their high-energy songs hark back to the dawn of punk and new wave with hard-edged but irresistibly fun arrangements. 

“When you count on nothing, nothing comes along,” Timony warns on”Beast,” a high-speed romp that could have fit in perfectly on a Ramones LP. “How You Got That Girl,” which echoes The Cars’ “My Best Friend’s Girl” is a sobering look at a love/hate relationship. “You Fell Apart” throws several barbs in the direction of a creepy guy, and there’s also relationship trouble on the garage rock gem “Don’t Wanna Lose.” Ex Hex continues its authentic punk approach on “Waterfall,”  “New Kid,” and “War Paint,” while on the less manic “Waste Your Time,” Timony sings, “I just want to dance now.”

Friday, March 20, 2015


Photo from the Lloyd Cole and The Commotions Facebook page.

Lloyd Cole, who gave the world noir classics like “Perfect Skin” and “Rattlesnakes,” will be performing at the Old Town School of Folk Music tonight. Cole also recorded the exquisite classic pop tune “Jennifer, She Said.” 

The Everly Hillbillies, a Phil and Don inspired side project from Mike Cohen and Jeff Janulis of the esteemed power pop band The Abbeys, has a gig tonight at the Salt Creek Pizza Pub in Elk Grove Village.

Mooner, an indie rock band whose “Making Americans” single and Unpronounceable Name EP drew favorable reviews here on BHT, will be part of a free evening of rock dubbed SUXS Fest 2015 at Cole’s Bar tonight on Milwaukee Avenue. Band member Lee Ketch promises Mooner will be debuting some new material. Singer-songwriter Dann Morr, Post Child, and Arts and Letters are also on the bill. 

Singer-guitarist Gerry O’Keefe has a return engagement at Tannins Wine Bar in Elmhurst tonight.

Amazing Heeby Jeebies, a rollicking and fun rockabilly band, fronted by the charismatic Ary Paloma Jeebie, will be performing tomorrow night in the Green Room at Abbey Pub on Chicago’s northwest side.

There will be no cover charge for the two sets of honky-tonk originals and cover tunes by Decoy Prayer Meeting this Sunday night at Simon’s Tavern on Clark Street. The music starts at 8:30 PM.

The Public House Theatre at 3914 N. Clark is hosting a Sing With Bilbo! charity event for Chicago Loot Drop  this Sunday night. There will be a special screening of the 1977 Rankin-Bass animated film The Hobbit, and plenty of ale from the Arcade Brewery. Chicago Loot Drop’s mission is to bring together Chicago’s “gaming and nerd communities” to socialize and do good deeds, like providing toys and games for children at the University of Chicago’s Medicine’s Comer Children’s Hospital. The fun starts at 7:30 PM.

I’ve mentioned this before on BHT, but it’s worth a shout out every now and then. Powerpop fans can find old favorites and discover new gems by listening to The Secret Weapon on the online station Woody Radio. The songs (by Cheap Trick, The Dollyrots, Love Nut, The Replacements, and Salvation Army on a recent afternoon) spring from iPod of “Boris,” a well-known connoisseur of the genre, and are introduced by the fun and hip DJ Gidet. 

Dot Dash,  a Washington, DC band whose songs consistently exude a genuine punk aesthetic, just released its fourth effort. Earthquakes and Tidal Waves was produced by Mitch Easter of Let’s Active fame, and is available on the Beautiful Music website. 

The multi-faceted Dan Pavelich (musician/journalist/label honcho) has a new compilation coming out called Lost Hits Of The ‘80s. The fun concept behind this project is to have assorted musicians join together under fictitious band names and record new songs that tap into the fun and adventurous ambience of the 1980s. Pavelich is seeking support for Lost Hits Of The ‘80s on the Indiegogo funding site. 

Squeeze fans will want to check the band’s official Facebook page this coming Monday, March 23rd. A “very exciting announcement” has been promised by the band.

The young but authentically psychedelic foursome Secret Colours will be bending minds at the Cobra Lounge in Chicago next Friday night, March 27th. The Kickback, Born Cages, and American Wolf are also on the bill. Music starts at 8:00 PM.

There will be a Jack Bruce Tribute Concert in London in October, according to a post on the WXRT radio station’s website. Ginger Baker, Joss Stone, Phil Manzanera, Ian Anderson, Vernon Reid, Mark King, Liam Nailey, Fiona Bevan, and Jack Bruce’s Big Band have already agreed to take part, and more participants are expected to sign on in the coming months.

In addition to several Facebook posts from fans about what a nice guy David Tennant was while signing autographs at the Wizard World Raleigh Comic Con (no surprise), there was another fun Doctor -related item on social media recently. The Official Doctor Who page had a link to the Anglophenia website  concerning a film made by fan who works under the name nereusmedia  showing how the sci-fi series would look if it had been filmed in 1899. As for Tennant, here’s hoping he’ll come to Chicago for C2E2 and/or Wizard World Chicago Comic Con.

Those of us who remember watching The Monkees TV show on a school night can relive part of that experience by watching New Candy Store Prophets perform the band’s Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn and Jones album in its entirety at Martyrs’ on Lincoln Avenue on Monday, March 30th.

Echoes Of Chicago is celebrating the city’s 178th birthday next Saturday, March 28th by bringing over 50 artists, three bands, and a marketplace to the 3rd floor of the Block Thirty Seven - Shops On State space at 108 N. State Street.

A lineup of Chicago bands, including Alder Kings, Skull Fogger, Magatha Trysty, and Polarizer, will join forces for the A Cause for Paws benefit for the West Suburban Humane Society next Friday at the Underground Lounge at 952 W, Newport in Chicago. The music startsat 7:00 PM.

I’ve been helping out with the proofreading and copyediting of this year’s CIMMfest (Chicago Movies and Music Festival) official program. I don’t want to steal their thunder before the program gets distributed, so let me just say CIMMfest will be presenting a global selection of exciting flicks; concerts; flick/concert combos; and special presentations at venues around the city from Thursday, April 16th through Sunday, April 19th. That’s going to be a hot weekend in town, with CIMMfest, International Pop Overthrow, and Record Store Day all taking place. I’d also like to commend the determination, dedication, and creativity of the CIMMfest staff members I’ve been working with these past few week. They’re amazing.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

It’s Time To Fund What’s Lost

Last Friday’s Slumgullion had a mention of the WFMU digital fundraising album Even More Superhits of the Seventiesin which current power pop and cutting-edge acts like Mitch Easter, Green, and Marshall Crenshaw cover top-selling songs from that particular era. Today’s post moves up a decade, to the Lost Hits Of The 80’s album put out by musician/journalist/comic artist/indie label founder Dan Pavelich. He’s seeking support for this project on the Indiegogo funding site.

Pavelich has released compilations in the past—often with a holiday theme—but this time out, he’s aiming for a sort of faux nostalgia. With the exception of a cover of The Romantics’ “Talking In Your Sleep,” these are all new songs that tap into the fun and adventurous ambience of the 1980s. Or as the Indiegogo pitch states, “Chock-full of icy-cool synthesizers and shotgun snare drums, these twelve songs are guaranteed to conjure up images of time-traveling DeLoreans, Pong and checkered Vans.”

The lineup includes Lisa Mychols, Andrea Perry, Vince Nededog, and members of  The Well Wishers, The Waking Hours, The Bradburys, The Click Beetles, Too Much Saturn, The Good, 89 Mojo, October Elsewhere, and Down The Line; performing under some very 80s-sounding pseudonyms. With 13 days left, Lost Hits Of The 80’s has raised $165 of its $500 goal. Donations can be as little as $1, but for a $15 pledge, you’ll get a copy of the CD, and for $30, you’ll get the CD, a cassette, 80s-related goodies, and a digital download of The Click Beetles Wake Up To Music.

Monday, March 16, 2015

The Power Cords - Stray Comets

Even those of us who are only now discovering The Power Cords can believe their website when it claims Stray Comets continues the band’s “evolution from the straight-ahead power pop of their debut Modern Day Noise.” This third effort from the Los Angeles-based quartet features a variety of approaches from songwriters guitarist-vocalist Jeff Rosenfeld and basist-vocalist Ezra Siegel, who compose separately and are both proficient. Rosenfeld and Siegel also takes turns on lead vocals, which results in some intricate interplay and harmonies.

The single-named guitarist MASA!! adds fuel to the more energetic tracks like “Panic,” with its ironic take on the perils of relationships, and the ecologically minded “Megafauna.” The Power Cords also connect on slower material like The Beatles-inspired “Surface Of The Moon” and the acoustic “Cleaner” by crafting engaging melodies and arrangements. “Luxetine Dreams” recalls The Shins with its shimmering guitars, while “Dead Bolt” is propelled by drummer Patrick Nagy. “Stuck Here Again” is both punchy and playful, as the band adds a harder edge to a show tune ambience.

Friday, March 13, 2015

A Feast For Your Smiling Eyes

Photo from WXRT’s Facebook page.

Slumgullion was posted earlier today. This is a bonus Friday post.

Here’s hoping everyone stays safe and happy during the various St. Patrick’s Day celebrations starting tomorrow and running through Tuesday. Chicago has its official parade tomorrow, and the South Side version takes place on Sunday. WXRT’s afternoon drive-time air personality Jason Thomas is hosting an after parade party on the south side from 1:00 to 3:00 PM on Sunday at the Horse Thief Hollow bar at 10426 S. Western. The radio station will feature Irish rock and roll on the air all day Tuesday, and will host the XRT Miller Lite Sham Rock and Roll Live Broadcast with the Freddy Jones Band at Mystic Celt on Southport from 7:00 to 9:00 PM Tuesday night.

There will be a full day’s worth of festivities in my hometown of Palatine tomorrow, including a parade, and live entertainment at Durty Nellie’s that includes Scottish bagpipes, the Trinity Irish Dancers and five rock bands. There’s no cover charge at the bar/restaurant up until 3:00 PM.

The Abbey Pub on Chicago’s northwest side has a series of St. Patrick’s Day related events coming up. Laurence Nugent, Frank Quinn, Fitz and The Celts, Kevin Flynn and The Avondale Ramblers, Bag Pipers (I’m assuming that’s a band), and Fonn Morr will be on hand tomorrow, March 14th, and there will be a traditional Irish jam session on Sunday. Laurence Nugent and Frank Quinn return for the festivities on the actual St. Patrick’s Day; joining Mulligan Stew, The Great Whiskey Project, and the O’Hare Irish Dancers.

Martyrs’ on Lincoln Avenue will have a St. Patrick’s Day Bash tomorrow, with Tin Lynott and Paddy Melt. On Tuesday, March 17th, the club will present Muck Bros.

St. Patrick’s Day is a good time to lift a toast to all the bands that have sprung from the Emerald Isle. Acts like U2, Rory Gallagher, Van Morrison, Them, Snow Patrol, The Frames, Damien Rice, The Undertones, Little Green Cars, Stiff Little Fingers, Hothouse Flowers, The Urges, Horslips, Thin Lizzy, The Boomtown Rats, The Pogues, The Cranberries, Dexy’s Midnight Runners, Sinead O’Connor, My Bloody Valentine, and probably a lot of others I’m forgetting.

If you’re looking for more traditional Celtic music, I would recommend a mix of Irish and American acts, including Cherish The Ladies, Rising Gael, Aoife Clancy, Navan, Baal Tinne, The Chieftans, James Galway and Robbie O’Connell.


I was going to begin with some bits on St. Patrick’s Day festivities, but they ran a little long so I moved them to a separate post that will appear shortly after this one.

Several musical guests, including Ted Aliota, Jay Goeppner, Mike Bruccoleri, and Patti Pendergast will be joining vocalist Jimy Sohns at The Blues Bar in Mt. Prospect tomorrow night, March 14th for the 50th Anniversary Shadows Of Knight bash. Former Shadows Of Knight members Danny Baughman, Norm Gotsch, and Bob Bostanche will also be helping commemorate the Chicago-based garage rock band, which spun a take on Them’s “Gloria” into gold back in 1965.

Echoes Of Chicago is celebrating the city’s 178th birthday on March 28th by bringing over 50 artists, three bands, and a marketplace to the 3rd floor of the Block Thirty Seven - Shops On State space at 108 N. State Street. The hip-hop band Prelude To A Million will serves as Masters Of Ceremony. Artists interested in submitting work can find info on the Echoes Of Chicago website. Vendors and artisans are also being encouraged to participate. I was at the Chicago Birthday celebration Echoes Of Chicago held last year on Damen Avenue, and it was a lot of fun.

Mooner, an indie rock band whose “Making Americans” single and Unpronounceable Name EP drew favorable reviews here on BHT, will be part of a free evening of rock dubbed SUXS Fest 2015 at Cole’s Bar on Milwaukee Avenue next Friday, March 20th. Band member Lee Ketch informed me via an email that Mooner will be “debuting a new song or two.” Singer-songwriter Dann Morr, Post Child, and Arts and Letters are also on the bill.

The Record Store Day website revealed its list of one-day-only releases for 2015’s event earlier this week. Once again, it offers exciting choices in just about every genre you could imagine. Some of the bigger names involved include Bruce Springsteen, David Bowie, Jeff Beck, The Kinks, Paul McCartney, Frank Sinatra, Air, Gregg Allman, Chet Atkins, Black Star (Mos Def and Talib Kweli), Blitzen Trapper,  Blue Oyster Cult, Buzzcocks, Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band, Cypress Hill, Deep Purple, The Dixie Cups, The Doors, The Flaming Lips, Foo Fighters, Florence + The Machine, Gerry Garcia, Marvin Gaye, Dolly Parton, Stan Getz and Joao Gilberto, Jimi Hendrix, Herman’s Hermits, Robyn Hitchcock and Emma Swift, Joan Jett, Justin Townes Earle, and many others.

Speaking of rare and really cool vinyl: The Seventh Ring Of Saturn the neo-psychedelic band whose engaging and atmospheric cover of “All The World Is Love” was one of the many highlights on the Fruits de Mer indie label’s Hollies tribute album Re-Evolution, plans to release that song, along with a “bubblegum rock” cover of the Grateful Dead’s “Mountains Of The Moon” on a seven-inch glow-in-the-dark vinyl 45 sometime around May. In the meantime, The Seventh Ring Of Saturn is ready to release its second album Ormythology.

Lloyd Cole will be performing at the Old Town School of Folk Music next Friday, March 20th.

The Church continues to tour America in support of its new Further/Deeper release, with a concert tonight at the Bowery Ballroom in New York, and upcoming dates in Brooklyn, Raleigh, Atlanta, and Austin. The Australian band will be busy at this year’s SXSW, with an interview conducted by Rolling Stone’s David Fricke; an Official Showcase, a Waterloo Records Day Party; a hotel performance; and a free showcase.
We may not have Wild Honey’s all-star Beatles tributes here in Chicago but we do have the always reliable Tributosaurus. Having run through The Beatles’ entire catalog with album showcases over the past few years, Tributosaurus will return to Rubber Soul and Revolver for a special WXRT sponsored all ages show on April 12th at the Copernicus Center. Partial proceeds will benefit the Betty Hemmert Music Scholarship Fund.

Singer-guitarist Gerry O’Keefe has a return engagement at Tannins Wine Bar in Elmhurst next Friday, Narch 20th.

The Bangles have announced a series of live performances coming up this spring, including ones at West Hollywood, San Juan Capistrano, and Solana Beach in California; Nashville, and Atlanta.

Chicago’s critically acclaimed alt rock/country band Dolly Varden will celebrate its 20th Anniversary with a special concert at the Old Town School of Folk Music on May 2nd. The official Facebook announcement from Dolly Varden, which is led by the husband and wife team of vocalist-guitarist Steve Dawson and vocalist-guitarist Diane Christiansen, promises “We’ll play selections from all of our albums, in order!”

The 2nd Annual Chicago Nightlife Awards will be held on June 2nd at Concord Music Hall on Milwaukee Avenue. Thus year’s event will be co-hosted by Jeremy Scheurch (Do312) and a Special Guest to be named later. Local residents can cast their votes for Best Live Music Venue, Best Dive Bar, Best Festival, Nightclub Of The Year and other categories at the Chicago Nightlife Awards website.

Hearin’ of the Green. Green, an eccentric but beloved Chicago-based alt rock/power pop band, has contributed a new track for WFMU’s digital fundraising album Even More Superhits of the Seventies.  Their recording of Leon Russell’s “Superstar” can be downloaded for $2.99 on CDBaby. You’ll need to shell out at least a $75 donation to WFMU in order to get the entire album, which also includes Marshall Crenshaw doing “I Just Want To Celebrate,” Mitch Easter doing “Fox On The Run,” Sam Phillips doing “(Last Night) I Didn’t Get To Sleep At All,” and They Might Be Giants doing “Starry Eyes.”

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

And They’re Off! At 33 and 45 RPM Speed

When the official Record Store Day website revealed its list of this year’s one-day-only vinyl releases, you could almost see the audiophiles and collectors lining up at the starting gate like runners at a marathon. Any RSD veteran knows the best way to snag these limited-edition treasures is to rise early on Saturday, April 18th and be in line long before your chosen record store opens. It’s a ritual that even some diehard music fans have no interest in, particularly if they’re more than happy getting their fix from digital sources.

There are benefits for those of us who do participate in RSD that go beyond the thrill of the hunt. There’s the camaraderie among those waiting in line; the in-store performances of local bands; and the assorted freebies that the music industry and stores themselves give out. It will be a while before we hear about which bands will be performing where, so for now, well just carefully peruse that list. As usual, there are exciting options across every genre, but here are a few releases that caught my eye. 

The Animals: We’re Gonna Howl Tonight live album.

Syd Barrett/R.E.M.: “Dark Globe” from RSD Side By Side Singles Series, where two acts perform the same song. On gold, white, red, and black mixed vinyl.

The Baseball Project/The Minus 5: Redeyed In Austin album with live performances. On red swirl vinyl.

The Buzzcocks: “The Way” single, with an unreleased track on the B-Side. On colored vinyl.

The Kinks: 50th anniversary celebration Kinksize Hits seven-inch EP that was originally released in 1965, with “You Really Got Me,” “It's Alright,” “All Day and All of the Night,” and “I Gotta Move.”

The Kinks: 50th anniversary celebration single with live versions of “You Really Got Me” and “Milk Cow Blues.” 

The Replacements: Self-titled ten-inch EP with “Alex Chilton,” “Nightclub Jitters,” “Election Day,” and “Route 66.

Simon and Garfunkel: “Homeward Bound”/“Leaves That Are Green” single.

Shoes: Primal Vinyl album with a previously unreleased live track and songs released on vinyl for the first time.

Supergrass:  Sofa of My Lethargy/I Believe In Love single on colored vinyl.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Crystal Jacqueline - Rainflower

Crystal Jacqueline sort of magically floats through the English psych and prog rock scene as a vocalist for the bands The Honey Pot and The Green Question Mark, while her solo work has been released on the Mega Dodo and Fruits de Mer indie labels. She sings about fairies and witches within arrangements that vary from medieval to space age. On her latest release Rainflower, which will be released as a limited-edition180g LP and as limited edition digi-pack CD by Mega Dodo on May 25th, Crystal Jacqueline performs a mix of covers and originals produced by her fellow Honey Pot member and bona fide eccentric Icarus Peel.

Most of the tracks on Rainflower feature poetic lyrics by Peel that describe both the enchantment and dangers existing within nature. “Strange, the darkness never bothered me before,” Crystal Jacqueline sings on the slow and ominous “Again... Dragonfly,” and later asks “Can’t you see I yearn to drift away from all of this?” “Mary Waiting” opens with nothing more than her pristine vocals and the buzz of flying insects before morphing into a shimmering, orchestral arrangement. A cover of Pink Floyd’s “Grantchester Meadows” is steeped in pastoral folk music but features percolating synthesizers along with acoustic guitar.

The title track, “Water Hyacinth,” and the epic finale “Winter Deep/Dress Of White Lace,” find Crystal Jacqueline and Peel opting for a more delicate approach that still exudes an air of mystery. A version of Status Quo’s “In My Chair,” which only appears on the CD, and “Daisy Chains” are fueled by energetic guitar and synthesizer instrumentation. Throughout all the tempo and style changes on Rainflower, the lure of Crystal Jacqueline’s ethereal and often layered vocals remains consistent.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Britannia Rules A Wave Of Nostalgia

Over 50 years have passed since the original British Invasion arrived in America, but it still resonates as a sort of cultural and musical Camelot. For some, it coincided with the dawn of adolescence, adding a dash of moptop and miniskirt spice to a sudden awareness of sexual urges. And the songs, although inspired by American rhythm and blues artists (and in many cases, covers of those artists), sounded exotic and new. All of which might explain how The British Invasion 2015 Tour—Peter Asher, Terry Sylvester, Mike Pender, Chad and Jeremy, Denny Laine, and Billy J. Kramer—sold out its show at City Winery - Chicago this past Saturday. One backup band, comprised of first-rate musicians, performed with each of the acts throughout the night.

“I can’t believe after 50 years you guys still want to hear this music,” Pender, a founding member of The Searchers teased the audience. He and the other lads readily and humorously conceded that they’ve aged quite a bit since the days when their infectious 45 RPM records topped the charts. But these musicians still have plenty of spirit. Asher served as the event’s host, giving it a friendly and familiar face, especially for those of us who have seen his recent multi-media shows at Fest For Beatles Fans - Chicago and The Old Town School of Folk Music.

While introducing Terry Sylvester, Asher noted that the singer-guitarist was a member of three important UK bands; The Escorts, The Swinging Blue Jeans, and The Hollies. Sylvester peppered his set with deliberately cornball jokes, but he might have gotten his biggest laugh when he told the audience, “I replaced Graham Nash in The Hollies. I don’t know if he’s doing anything these days, but I’m still out there.” Sylvester’s enjoyable set included “You’re No Good” (which was later a hit by Linda Ronstadt) and “Hippy Hippy Shake” by The Swinging Blue Jeans; and “I Can’t Let Go,” “Bus Stop,” and “Just One Look” by The Hollies.

Mike Pender also cracked his share of jokes, mostly about being old, but he offered vibrant renditions of The Searchers’ “Needles And Pins,” “Sweets For The Sweet,” and “Love Potion Number 9.” He explained that “When You Walk Into The Room” was the first song on which the band used a 12-string guitar. Billy J. Kramer, like The Beatles, was managed in the 1960s by Brian Epstein. At City Winery, he performed the hits Lennon and McCartney wrote for him—“Bad To Me,” “From A Window,” “I Call Your Name,” and “I’ll Keep You Satisfied”— along with “Little Children,” and “Trains Boats And Planes.” He also offered a more recent effort of his own, the heartfelt tribute to Epstein “To Liverpool With Love.”
Chad and Jeremy opened with an a cappella version of “You Are She” and continued to showcase those impressive harmonies through a set that included “Distant Shores,” “Willow Weep For Me,”  “Summer Song,” and “Yesterday’s Gone.” The duo has long been known for its humor, having appeared on The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Patty Duke Show, and Batman, and they shared anecdotes at City Winery about meeting Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, and Lucille Ball. Their performance included a lot of good-natured ribbing, with Chad playing the rough-hewn, Americanized dude to Jeremy’s more elite, still-living-in-England dandy. 

After a short intermission, Denny Laine steered the show in a hard-hitting new direction as he delved into songs like James Brown’s “I’ll Go Crazy” and “Lose Your Money But Don’t Lose Your Mind,” an original written by The Moody Blues’ own Mike Pinder. The show’s consistently impressive supporting musicians especially shone here, providing spirited backup vocals throughout the set. Although Laine was The Moody Blues’ original singer, he was long gone by the time they became prog-rock superstars. At City Winery, he wondered aloud how “Nights In White Satin” might have sounded in The Moodies’ original format, and was by encouraged by the audience to give it a shot. The resulting bluesy version was just a snippet but a lot of fun. Laine finished with a rousing take on The Moody Blues’ first major hit, “Go Now!”

Having served as official MC for The British Invasion show all evening, Peter Asher performed some of the hits he recorded with the late Gordon Waller. Like Billy J. Kramer, Peter and Gordon had the great fortune of having Beatles write material for them. Asher explained that came about partly because Lennon hated McCartney’s “World Without Love” and wanted no part of it. Similarly, The Searchers had taken a pass on Del Shannon’s “I Go To Pieces” before Peter and Gordon took it to the top of the charts. Asher recalled his own reluctance to the sexy and silly “Lady Godiva,” and how Waller convinced him it would be a hit. There was a touching tribute to Waller that featured Asher singing “True Love Ways” along with a video clip of his former musical partner.

For the encore, Denny Laine returned and launched into “Band On The Run” from his days of being with Paul McCartney and Wings. The other performers drifted on stage one by one, until the entire  lineup was belting out the song for a rousing finale. They gathered in the lobby immediately after the show for a very gracious meet and greet with a long line of fans who have never lost their love of British Invasion.

Thursday, March 5, 2015


Welcome to our writers group, Ms. Hynde. Photo from Chrissie Hynde’s Facebook page.

The forecast calls for a chance of some hefty freelance work this weekend, so I’m doing Slumgullion a day early this week.

A few years ago while I was watching a performance by The Pretenders in Chicago, a woman in the audience yelled, “I’d love to be you for just one day” to Chrissie Hynde. Looking none too flattered, the ever unpredictable Hynde shot back, “Yeah, what you think that would be like?” Now we’ll know. According to the Associated Press, Hynde has signed a deal with Penguin Random House to tell her life story. She joins Kim Gordon from Sonic Youth (Girl In A Band) and Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart (Kicking And Dreaming) as legendary women rockers looking back at their careers in a male-dominated occupation.

According to the blurb in the Chicago Tribune, Hynde has benevolent aspirations for her book and hopes people will find it fun and inspiring. There’s no doubt it will be both of those things, but here’s betting it also packs a few mean punches. At any rate, Ms. Hynde is welcome to drop in on the writers group I belong to if she wants to run a few chapters by us.

The congregation will now sing “Under The Milky Way.” Broken Hearted Toy welcomes The Church back to Chicago and offers congratulations on selling out its gig tomorrow night at Double Door on Damen Avenue. The Australian band recently released Further/Deeper, its 25th album, but the first without guitarist Martin Wilson-Piper, and is embarking on an American tour. “Pride Before A Fall” is the first single from the new CD. The Sharp Things will be the opening act Double Door.

Garage rockers The Telepaths will be part of a triple bill at Phyliss' Musical Inn tomorrow night, along with The Rut and The Teskederos.

Wizard World Fan Fest - Chicago takes place this Saturday and Sunday at the Donald E. Stephens Center in suburban Rosemont. The guests include Karen Gillan from Doctor Who and Guardians Of Galaxy; Lee Arenberg from the Once Upon A Time and The Pirates Of The Caribbean; Caity Lotz from Arrow; and Norman Reedus and Andrew J. West from The Walking Dead.

The British Invasion 2015 Tour, featuring Peter Asher from Peter and Gordon; Chad and Jeremy; Billy J. Kramer; Mike Pender’s Searchers; Denny Laine from Wings and The Moody Blues; and Terry Sylvester from The Hollies, has sold out its show at City Winery this Saturday night. It could be because of the preview I wrote for the online Illinois Entertainer but I doubt it.

All of the acts on the British Invasion Tour have also been guests at Fest For Beatles Fans - Chicago in recent years. And I’m pretty sure that most, if not all of them have performed at The Fest, backed by the first-rate Beatles tribute band Liverpool. Two of the members of Liverpool—vocalist-bassist Glen Burtnik and vocalist guitarist John Merjave—have formed a new band called The Weeklings with veteran musicians Bob Burger and David Anthony. Their debut album, Meet The Weeklings, is a mix of Beatles songs that were never officially released and original compositions. There will be an official release party on March 13th at The Wonder Bar in New Jersey. Hopefully, The Weeklings and Liverpool will be at this year’s Fest For Beatles Fans - Chicago.

Self-proclaimed psychobilly performer Reverend Horton Heat will be burning down the house at  Durty Nellie’s in Palatine on Saturday, March 7th, backed by Jimbo Wallace and Scott Churilla. Indie rock stars Ha Ha Tonka will be his special guests.

Pssst! This will be last weekend for Music On Stage’s staging of the musical Hairspray at Cutting Hall in Palatine. 

Chicago native Linda Marie Smith’s recent performance of her musical tale Mearra - Selkie from the Sea at the Irish American Heritage Center can be seen this Saturday night, March 7th on the local PBS station WYCC at 7:00 PM.

There will a free evening of Chicago rock at Cole’s Bar on Milwaukee Avenue on March 20th featuring singer-songwriter Dann Morr, Post Child, and Mooner.

The fun garage rock band Summer Cannibals released their second full length album Show Us Your Mind earlier this week. It’s available on iTunes.
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