Friday, July 31, 2015


A hearty Broken Hearted Toy welcome to all those who have traveled to Chicago for Lollapalooza. If you’re not sure which act to choose from the mammoth and eclectic lineup, or have any questions about the festival, rest assured this city’s media has your back. WXRT once again has air personality/adroit interviewer Marty Lennartz doing live reports from Lollapalooza. You can stream the station via its website.

Local free papers The Reader, New City, Red Eye, and Innerview Magazine have special issues devoted to Lollapalooza. You can find Red Eye in its thermometer-top boxes all over downtown; New City and The Reader also have their own boxes; Reckless Records—on Madison, between State and Wabash—carries New City, The Reader, and Innerview. Today’s issues of the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times also offer their choices for the best acts to check out.

If you’re a teenager (and that would be a majority of Lolla attendees), please be respectful toward the older folks who are coming this year to see Paul McCartney. Even though you know they’re using tickets they originally bought for their kids. And a personal suggestion for Sir Paul: Native Foods on south Clark Street has great vegan and vegetarian food. Tell them Broken Hearted Toy sent you.

There’s a five-dollar Lollapalooza Aftershow at Liar’s Club starting at 9:30 tonight with Captain Wails And The Harpoons; The Handcuffs (who did a fine show despite the oppressive heat last Saturday at Taste Of Lincoln Avenue); and Springa Sonic Droogs. Liar’s Club is located at 1665 W. Fullerton. You must be over 21 to attend. 

He blew his mind out in a bar. Tomorrow The Moon is having a record release party for its brand new Blow, Mind, Blow—the full-length follow-up to its impressive EP a full years back—at Martyrs’ on Chicago’s north side tomorrow night. Artist/film director Tom McKeon has created dazzling videos for the high-energy songs “Miles Of Jenny” and “There’s No Place,” which can be viewed on the band’s Facebook page. Psychedelic/garage rock band The Red Plastic Buddha, whose masterful Songs For Mara came in fourth on my favorite releases of 2014 list, and Razorhouse, a quartet that describes its sound as swampy, eclectic, dirty, and clever,  are also on the bill.

The Viaducts will be celebrating the summer season with songs like “Drive-Thru Girl” and “Your Smiling Face (Walkin’ By In Blue Jeans)” at the Red Line Tap tomorrow night. Show time is 10:00 PM.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

He Came To Chicago . . . And Rocked

The main event in A Hollies Summer In Chicago took place last night.

Actually, the most recent stop on Graham Nash’s summer tour was in St. Charles, but that’s close enough to be considered part of the Chicago area. Delivered in two separate sets at The Arcada, the show was a well-crafted retrospective guaranteed to make the iconic musician’s fans very happy. Nash was accompanied by the impressive guitarist-vocalist Shane Fontayne, who has toured with Crosby, Stills and Nash, as well as with Bruce Springsteen, Sting, Paul Simon, and Rod Stewart. Nash and Fontayne began writing songs together after the 2014 CSN tour ended last October, and they’ve already recorded an album’s worth of material. Their newly formed bond was evident in their harmony vocals and musicianship throughout last night’s performance.

Dressed in a denim shirt and jeans, Nash jokingly compared himself to a vintage car show that was taking place just down the street from the Arcada; saying he was “old and polished.” He exuded a casual, friendly presence, and introduced a number of songs with interesting and funny anecdotes. He explained that “Our House” was written after a shopping trip with Joni Mitchell back when he lived with her, and added the good news that she is currently recuperating after recent health issues. His tale of the Canadian border incident that sparked “Immigration Man” included a good-natured jab at Neil Young; and before performing “Wasted On The Way,” he noted that Crosby, Stills and Nash could have created more music together if they hadn’t indulged so heavily in drugs.

The wide-ranging song selection began with an appealing and acoustic take on The Hollies’ “Bus Stop.” Nash drew an interesting connection between “King Midas In Reverse” from the final album he recorded with the British Invasion band and “I Used To Be A King” from his solo debut Songs For Beginners. He also performed “Just A Song Before I Go,” “Military Madness,” and “Simple Man,” and went with the deep cut “Marguerita” from his Whistling Down The Wire album with David Crosby. The recorded portion of Crosby’s a cappella “Critical Mass” preceded a live performance of “Wind On The Water,” in which Nash played piano and the consistently inventive Fontayne conjured mournful whale sounds via his guitar. 

“Wind On The Water,” with its condemnation of animal abuse (“It’s not that we don’t know/It’s just that we don’t want to care”) is a prime example of Nash’s long-running passion for delving into political and social issues. He was at full power belting out the provocative lyrics of “Fieldworker” and “Cathedral,” as well as the rousing finale “Chicago.” After stating he believes the majority of America’s cops do an amazing job, Nash raged through an energetic, brand new composition co-written with Fontayne that protests the recent deaths of African-Americans who had confrontations with police officers.

Two other Nash-Fontayne compositions, the optimistic “Golden Days” and the soul-searching “Myself At Last,” bode well for the album they’ll be releasing next spring. The duo harmonized perfectly on a breathtaking version of Paul McCartney’s “Blackbird” as their first encore. “You might as well stay standing,” Nash said after the audience had risen to its feet in approval. “We’re going to sing this for all the teachers around the world.” A spirited version of “Teach Your Children,” with the audience taking over on some of the verses, was a fitting end for a performance that showed Graham Nash remains an essential force on the current music scene.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Quite An Evening With A Simple Man

According to the Facebook page for The Arcada in St. Charles, the Graham Nash solo show taking place there tonight is almost sold out. And as I’ve mentioned previously here on Broken Hearted Toy, the Graham Nash Facebook page has a number of links to articles about his current tour. These shows offer a rare opportunity to catch one of rock’s most influential artists in an intimate setting, performing songs from his entire career. Which includes The Hollies; Crosby, Stills and Nash, (and sometimes Young) and his solo albums. That’s a wealth of material to enjoy in a live setting.

I’m not sure when Nash last came through Chicago as a solo act, but it might have been as far back as a 1980 show at the Park West. I still have the review of that gig that I wrote for the University of Illinois paper Chicago Illini. Back then, he opened with “Military Madness,” and went on to perform favorites like “Teach Your Children,” “Our House,” “Wind On The Water,” and “Chicago.” He also did a few tracks form his latest LP at that time, Earth & Sky. I noted in my review that Nash mentioned The Hollies but didn’t touch on any of his work with them.

From the articles I’ve read, and a few video clips I’ve seen, that won’t be the case tonight. I think we can count on at least an acoustic take on “King Midas In Reverse,” the ambitious and magnificent single that somehow failed to top the charts, and played a role in Nash’s decision to leave The Hollies. His current rendition of the song showcases its emotional power and proves he was right about its value as a pop song. When a rock and roll veteran does a solo show, those kind of moments make the experience particularly worthwhile. For the performer and the audience.

Monday, July 27, 2015

ZX+ - Don’t Drink The Water

ZX+ is for most part the work of Stephen Evans, a Manchester, England-based indie rock veteran who has previously performed with Twisted Wheel, The Planets, and I Win I Drive. On the extremely eccentric Don’t Drink The Water, (available from Play And Record Records) he’s helped on a few tracks by backup vocalist Mary Joanna Coogan, and throughout the album by drummer Mark Coupe. The frequent tempo changes and genre hopping might come across as pretentious in other hands, but Evans seems to be having so much fun, and has such a knack for fetching melodies, that most listeners will find the trip invigorating.

The energetic and whimsical “Pet Sematary” kicks off with Winston Churchill being run down by a truck, and like the opening track “The Crazies,” proves Evans wasn’t kidding when he named Syd Barrett as a major influence. “Up And Down The Stairs” mixes a marching band rhythm with brash vocals and “The Raven” sounds like it could have sprung from The Who’s rock opera Tommy. Evans isn’t as engaging when he experiments with the waltz on “Just Like That” and “For Him Or Her,” but those slight misfires are easily forgiven considering Don’t Drink The Water also offers the irresistible punk of “Mud And Rubble” and “The Desert.”

Friday, July 24, 2015


Animal Cracker. David Lowrey will be leading Cracker through a performance of hits like “Teen Angst,” “Get Off This,” and “Low,” as well as tunes from the band’s new double album Berkeley To Bakersfield at 7:00 PM at the Brookfield Zoo tonight.

The crown jewel of A Hollies Summer In Chicago arrives this coming Tuesday, July 28th when Graham Nash brings his solo show to The Arcada in St. Charles. According to an interview with Nash that Jedd Beaudoin posted on the KMUW Wichita Public Radio website, Nash will be performing songs from his days with The Hollies; Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young; and from his own efforts. Beaudoin also noted that Nash collaborated on a number of new songs with Shane Fontaine, a guitarist who toured with Crosby, Stills and Nash in 2014, for a new album that will be released later this year or in early 2016. There’s a link to the KMUW post, as well as links to other recent articles about Nash, on his Facebook page. 

Tomorrow is my birthday, and if the weather is okay (a big “if” this summer), I plan to spend the afternoon watching one of Chicago’s best indie rock bands perform at the Taste Of Lincoln Avenue.  The Handcuffs are currently working on their fourth CD, and have opened for Blondie and Katrina from Katrina And The Waves. Other acts scheduled include The Samples, Freddy Jones Band, Catfight, Big Paraid (not to be confused with Ellis Clark And The Big Parade), and Archie Powell And The Exports. I’ll be giving out Broken Hearted Toy buttons to anyone who wants them.
The recently reunited Chicago coed band Veruca Salt will be performing at 8:30 PM this Sunday night as one of the final acts of this yearWicker Park Fest.

The 6th Annual Blue Whiskey Independent Film Festival has two more sessions at Cutting Hall in Palatine tomorrow before wrapping up its 2015 run with the Blue Glass Awards Ceremony and Blue Whiskey Chaser at the Star Cinema Grill in Arlington Heights on Sunday evening. Director Marty Madden’s drama Cotton will be screened at 4:00 PM tomorrow, and Swedish director Rouz Behnoori’s drama The Philosopher King will be shown in a later screening that begins at 7:00 PM. The Philospher King will be preceded by Falling To Pieces, a drama directed by Chris Connelly and Vivian Connelly; and Todd And Anne: Water In The Pot, a dramatic series pilot directed by Jeffery Engelson. Several awards will be given out at the Blue Glass Awards Ceremony on Sunday, and that event will be followed by a screening of director Brian Reisberg’s drama/comedy Big Significant Things. Be sure to check out the Blue Whiskey Facebook page for updates and photos. 

Colin Blunstone and Rod Argent have performed as The Zombies around America in recent years (I saw them at Durty Nellie’s in Palatine when they were headlining a Little Steven’s Underground Garage-sponsored multi-band show) but their upcoming tour will be different for a couple of reasons. Original members Chris White and Hugh Grundy will be joining Blunstone and Argent as The Zombies perform their entire 1968 album Odessey And Oracle for the first time ever in the States. They’ll be at Star Plaza Theatre in Merrillville, Indiana on October 16th. Other dates on the tour include Boston; Washington, DC; Pittsburgh; Milwaukee, and Denver.

A new indie pop label called Out of Map has sprung up in France. It’s a joint venture from the band Nevski and Marie-agnès Hallé, a journalist/manager who also writes the Piggledly Pop blog. The label is still getting its act together but Nevski has a catchy new single called “Alligator” that’s now available for download on its Bandcamp page.

Legendary surf guitarist Dick Dale returns to Durty Nellie’s in Palatine on July 28th.

The new seven-inch single “The End Of The Lane” from Chicago psychedelic band The Luck Of Eden Hall literally has a story behind it. According to a video posted on KickStarter, band member Greg Curvey was inspired to compose the song after reading noted author Neil Gaiman’s book The Ocean at the End of the Lane. He was able to inform Gaiman of his idea via a mutual friend, and the author created original art to be used for the record cover. “The End Of The Lane” is now available for pre-order for $25. 

Sci-fi rock band Tomorrow The Moon, the band Razorhouse, and psychedelic/garage rock band The Red Plastic Buddha will share a triple bill at Martyrs next Saturday, August 1st. It will be a release party for Tomorrow The Moon’s new Blow, Mind, Blow album. Artist/film director Tom McKeon has created a dazzling video for the the band’s new high-energy song “Miles Of Jenny” that can be viewed on the band’s Facebook page. Musician/photographer Thomas Braam (from the band Braam) took the cover photo for Blow, Mind Blow.

I’m not sure if this is an annual event, but The Viaducts are calling their gig next Saturday, August 1st at the Red Line Tap “our famous summer show.” Songs like “Drive-Thru Girl” and “Your Smiling Face (Walkin’ By In Blue Jeans)” from the hard-edged power pop band’s Mission To Destroy CD would be well-suited for such a seasonal occasion. Show time is 10:00 PM.

The Steely Dan concert tomorrow night at Ravinia has sold out but there are still some lawn only tickets left for tonight’s show. On a related note, the Steely Dan tribute band Deacon Blues will be performing at Durty Nellie’s in Palatine tomorrow night.

And remember, hipsters, you have to smirk at him when he does these things. Bono from U2 has joined forces with the Revo eyeglass company to create the “Buy Vision, Give Sight” campaign, which is projected to help prevent blindness and vision issues in around five million people by the year 2020. Bono, who was able to overcome glaucoma, said that he wants to help people who would otherwise not be able to afford the treatment they need.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Two Shots Of Whiskey On Friday

(All films listed for tomorrow are from the USA unless otherwise noted.)

The Blue Whiskey Independent Film Festival will offer an extra feature film at Cutting Hall in Palatine tomorrow, in the form of the 4:00 PM screening of director Nick Cavalier’s 97-minute documentary Forced Perspective. Critically acclaimed Cleveland-based artist Derek Hess is the subject of this hard-edged study of a gifted man’s struggle against alcoholism and bipolar disorder. Cavalier also explores the positive impact Hess has had on other artists and the art scene. Admission is $8.00.

Later tomorrow, Blue Whiskey will present the Midwest Premiere of Terrible Love, a drama from director Christopher Thomas about an Iraq war veteran determined to keep Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome from destroying his marriage. Terrible Love, which was the Audience Award Winner at the 2014 Austin Film Festival, will be preceded by four short films. Admission is $10,

Fixed is a seven-minute comedy from Australia about a little girl who wants her dog to have puppies; Yikes is an 11-minute comedy about an actor who is suddenly able to see into the immediate future. The 14-minute drama A Game On The Line concerns a former high school football star who needs to prove he’s capable of providing for his family; and Lay In Wait is a 26-minute drama about a married woman who loses her wedding ring during an affair, and desperately wants to find it.

The Blue Whiskey Independent Film Festival continues through the weekend, with afternoon and evening features on Saturday, and the Blue Whiskey Awards Ceremony and Chaser on Sunday.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Oui, We’ll Rock You

Photo from the Bob Et Les Sex Pastiches official website.

As the Blue Whiskey Independent Film Festival continues to bounce between the Star Cinema Grill in Arlington Heights and Cutting Hall in Palatine, I can’t help feeling disappointed that there won’t be a Festival Centerpiece Concert this year. Especially when I look back at how much I enjoyed Dennis Florine, Chris Petlak, Band Called Catch, and Big Paraid; the acts that performed at Blue Whiskey in the past. (Murley performed in 2013, but I wasn’t able to see that show.)

Still, there will be rock music at BWiFF 2015, in the form of the film Bob Et Les Sex Pastiches.  Directed and written by Yves Mattheny, the 2013 French musical comedy will be shown as the World Cinema Centerpiece tomorrow night at Star Cinema Grill. The story concerns a musician who achieves his goal of international success but quickly finds himself overwhelmed by all the hassles that come with mega-fame. I’ve never seen this film, but it looks like it could involve punk rock, satire, and funny scenes, and that seems promising.

Bob Et Les Sex Pastiches will be preceded by the short films Good Hands, The Acerb, Greenland, and Blue Eyed Boy. Admission is $12, show time is 7:00 PM. Be sure to check out Blue Whiskey Independent Film Festival on Facebook for updates, information about the films, and photos.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Painting Palatine Blue

(I posted a review of Caddy’s The Better End album earlier today.)

The Sixth Annual Blue Whiskey Independent Film Festival has now moved to Palatine after staging its Blue Carpet Opening Night at the Star Grill in Arlington Heights last night. Red Dot On The Ocean,  a documentary that follows sailing legend Matt Rutherfold as he takes a forbidding solo journey around the Americas in 2011, will be screened at Cutting Hall this evening at 7:00 PM. It will be preceded by the short films In Dark, Tik Tak (Tick Tock), Marathon, and Cerne de gaviota. As noted on the Blue Whiskey Facebook page, there will be an after party at Durty Nellies

The BWiFFF action continues at Cutting Hall tomorrow with the screening of Truth Cocktail,  director/writer Chris Goodwin’s comedy/drama about a woman who secretly gives the guests at her dinner party a truth serum as they share tales of their days in college together. Truth Cocktail will be preceded by the short films The Fallen Phoenix, Batman and Jimbo, The After Party, Makeover, and A King’s Betrayal. I’m not sure if there’s going to be an after party at Durty Nellie’s on each night there’s a screening at Cutting Hall, but the Blue Whiskey Independent Film Festival will probably keep people posted on its Facebook page. 

Caddy - The Better End

Caddy is actually one-man band Tom Dahl, and while neither of those names would ring a bell with most Americans, he’s been creating music in his native Norway since 2004. Occasionally, these do-it-yourself guys get carried away with how much they can accomplish in the studio, and that does mar some of the songs on The Better End. (Available from Kool Kat Musik.) Still there’s enough here to please power pop fans or anyone who’s into guitar-driven love songs with infectious melodies.

Caddy opens the album with the long, slow “Here It Comes Again” and while his Brian Wilson homage is ambitiously crafted with layers of vocals, a casual listener could still tune it out. Especially when it’s followed by the very similar “Fanglebenny.” The title track and “Saint-Cyr-Sur-Mer” find him using that same approach, and his ornate keyboards drift into a new age ambience at times.

On “Miss Radio,” Caddy uses his layered vocals much more effectively; perfectly timing them to exuberant bursts of energy. Imaginative lyrics like, “She talks like a beautiful symphony” compare listening to a favorite station to romance, while shimmering guitars push the catchy arrangement. Caddy also scores with the energetic “No Sudden Moves,” “Wherever You Go,” and “Chasing Clouds,” while on “Beautiful Strange,” a song about the excitement of a new relationship, he adroitly mixes in acoustic guitar and a shuffling beat. The mid-tempo “Bring It Back” evokes some of the more intricate work from Shoes, while “Into The Sun” could have been a hit back in the 1980s.

Friday, July 17, 2015


This sure looks like our cat Junie.

Welcome to all the people in town for the Pitchfork Music Festival being held in Union Park this weekend. The multifaceted schedule includes Ex Hex (who will also be at The Empty Bottle tonight), Sleater-Kinney, The New Pornographers, and Jessica Pratt. Be sure to pick up a copy of The Reader (free at venues and in boxes around downtown) for a handy guide, as well as recommendations from its staff writers. The Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times also offer Pitchfork coverage. 

One of the acts guaranteed to be high on a lot of people’s must-see lists at Pitchfork is Wilco. The Chicago-based band just surprised fans and the media by releasing Star Wars, a brand new album and making it available for free. I heard about it on WXRT, and the station’s website has a link to the download site. WXRT has been featuring Wilco, along with The Cure, on the air all day today.

See for yourselves if I was right. Two local bands that recently notched glowing reviews here on BHT for their most recent releases have shows these weekend. The alt rock trio All The Wine will be at Silvie’s Lounge tonight, and power pop band The Bishops’s Daredevil Stunt Club will be part of a multi-act lineup at the Bottom Lounge tomorrow night. 

Indie rockers Save The Clock Tower will be performing at 4:30 PM this Sunday as part of the live entertainment at the Taste Of River North festival. 

Musician/comedy performer Dave Drazin will be playing keyboards for The Chuck Lofrano Trio jazz band at the Alley 64 bar/restaurant in Palatine this Sunday, from 4:30 to 7:30 PM. Like me, Drazin was a founding member of the Famous In The Future comedy group, and still composes music for their shows on occasion. He also has extensive experience playing piano accompaniment for silent films at the Gene Siskel Film Center and other venues.

Kate Pierson of The B-52’s has a solo gig next Tuesday at City Winery - Chicago. Later this month, Los Angeles-bred punk pioneers X will be at the same venue Sunday, the 26th through Tuesday the 28th.

When I say eclectic in this case, I really mean eclectic. The Celebrate Clark Street Festival celebrates its 10th Anniversary this weekend with a dazzling selection of musical artists from around the world.

The Blue Whiskey Independent Film Festival returns to the northwest suburbs for its sixth year, starting this Sunday. The Blue Carpet Opening Night at the Star Cinema Grill in Arlington Heights will present the romantic drama Learning To Ride, in which two ex-lovers struggle to rekindle their relationship. It will be preceded by the short films C.T.R. L., To Have And Withhold, and Sugarhiccup. The fest continues through July 26, with screenings at Star Cinema Grill and Cutting Hall in Palatine.

What the world needs now is a power pop band playing near exotic creatures. Cracker, led by co-founder David Lowrey, will  be performing acerbic and catchy songs like “Teen Angst,” “Get Off This,” and “Low” next Friday at the Brookfield Zoo. The band will also be showcasing tunes from its new Berkeley To Bakersfield album.

Graham Nash will bring his show to The Arcada in St. Charles in 11 days. If you check out his Facebook page, you’ll see articles from publications in the various cities on the tour, describing the legacy he has created over a career that has included The Hollies; Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, and his solo efforts.

Speaking of The Hollies, a new page devoted to the band’s lead guitarist, Tony Hicks... The Music, The Memories, The Man, has quickly established itself, along with the Hollies Appreciation Area and Allan Clarke Appreciation Society, as a hotbed of info, rare photos, videos, and even heated debates about the British Invasion act. You’ll need to be accepted by the administrators to participate, though.

Over The Rhine, the Cincinnati-based folk/alt rock duo of Karin Bergquist and Linford Detweiler, will be doing a show next Friday, July 24 at SPACE in Evanston.

Legendary surf guitarist Dick Dale returns to Durty Nellie’s in Palatine on July 28th.

Drifting back together again. New Orleans club Tipitina’s has announced that it will host The Continental Drifters: In The Beginning And Beyond Reunion on September 12. Every musician who has been involved in the roots rock band—including Vicki Peterson, Peter Holsapple, Susan Cowsill, Carlo Nuccio, and Russ Broussard—is coming, along with some special guests. The $130 VIP package includes the new double CD Drifted: In The Beginning And Beyond; a color silk screen t-shirt; and a Meet And Greet.

Christopher David from Magatha Trysty plans to release a solo EP titled The Houdini Tapes, Vol. 1 in the near future. Two songs from that effort, “When Cynthia Told Us You Came” and “Penny Arcade,” find him taking a more low-key approach than he does with Magatha Trysty, and are now available to download on his Bandcamp page. David also contributed an extensive review of U2’s five-day stay in Chicago for the new In The Loop Chicago magazine.

Tickets went on sale today for Denny Laine at The Abbey Pub on September 6th, The Cribs at Thalia Hall on September 16th, Grace Potter at The Chicago Theatre on October 23rd, Joe Jackson at Thalia Hall on November 2nd and 3rd, and Colin Hay at The Vic on November 6th.

Phil Angotti and Friends will perform Simon and Garfunkel songs next Saturday, July 25th (my birthday) at the Old Town School Of Folk Music. Angotti and his band will present a George Harrison Tribute at City Winery on August 4th.

As reported earlier this week in the Chicago Tribune, Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder performed Bruce Springsteen’s “Rosalita” and The Who’s “I Can’t Explain” with the Chicago-based cover band EXPO ‘76 during a fundraising-related bash at the Freedom Boat Club last Friday night.  

Next Saturday, July 25, is my birthday, and if the weather is okay (a big “if” this summer), I plan to spend the afternoon watching one of Chicago’s best indie rock bands perform at the Taste Of Lincoln Avenue. The Handcuffs are currently working on their fourth CD, and have opened for Blondie and Katrina from Katrina And The Waves. Other acts scheduled include The Samples, Freddy Jones Band, Catfight, Big Paraid (not to be confused with Ellis Clark And The Big Parade), and Archie Powell And The Exports. I’ll be giving out Broken Hearted Toy buttons to anyone who wants one.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Ready For Another Round?

The Blue Whiskey Independent Film Festival returns July 19 and runs through July 26; once again offering an eclectic and international selection of short and feature-length films. The festival’s bookend events—The Blue Carpet Opening Night and the Blue Glass Awards Dinner/Blue Whiskey Chaser—will be held at the Star Cinema Grill in Arlington Heights. Unlike previous years, there won’t be a  Festival Centerpiece Concert with live bands. Rock music does play a role in Bob Et Les Sex Pastiches, the 2013 French musical comedy being shown as the World Cinema Centerpiece on Wednesday night at Star Cinema Grill.

Independent films will be screened at Cutting Hall in Palatine on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. This theatre has now played an essential roll in all six of the Blue Whiskey Independent Film Festivals. Each night will be anchored by a feature-length film, preceded by three to five shorts. There will be additional Matinee Official Selection Screenings, which will offer a single feature film at 4:00 PM on Friday and on Saturday. This year’s lineup encompasses adventure, horror, documentary, drama, comedy, and romance. Ticket prices range from $8 to $12, and a complete festival pass is also available.

The Blue Whiskey Independent Film Festival gives people from Chicago and the surrounding suburbs a legitimate reason to come out to Palatine. I’d love to see more of this kind of entertainment happen here and I’m hoping to give this event more coverage as it unfolds throughout the coming week. The full schedule is available on the official website.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Live Rock In Chicago: Eddie Vedder, Matthew Sweet, And The Smithereens

Photo from the EXPO ‘76 Facebook page.

Chicago Tribune About Last Night columnist Luis Gomez had an item in yesterday’s edition about Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder joining the Chicago-based cover band EXPO ‘76 during a fundraising-related bash at the Freedom Boat Club last Friday night. Gomez reported that the occasion was a follow-up to Thursday night’s Hot Stove Cool Music benefit, in which Vedder and a number of other musicians helped reel in more that $300,000 to help urban kids and their families. On Friday, Vedder performed Bruce Springsteen’s “Rosalita” and The Who’s “I Can’t Explain” with EXPO ‘76. The video can be seen on can be seen on the EXPO ‘76 Facebook page. 

It should be noted that EXPO ‘76 is not some wet behind the ears copy band. The members are veterans of other groups that play original material. Guitarist-vocalist Dag Juhlin, in particular, has logged time with The Slugs and Poi Dog Pondering. EXPO ‘76 will be doing a free Fan Appreciation Night show at FitzGerald’s in Berwyn on July 31.

Fear of being blown into Lake Michigan kept me from taking the train into downtown Chicago to see Matthew Sweet’s outdoor show at the Millennium Park last night. Some local weather forecasters were saying they had never seen such strong potential for tornadoes, hail, and general weather-related mayhem. Sweet bravely went on, backed by a band that included former Chicago area resident and power pop veteran Ric Menck on drums. Apparently, the Jay Pritzger Pavilion in Millennium Park was spared the baseball-sized hail and torrential downpour that fell elsewhere, but judging from a photo Menck posted on Facebook, the sky looked pretty threatening. Sweet has an indoor show tomorrow night at SPACE in Evanston. 

The weather threatened to wash away a number of Chicago’s outdoor events last Saturday, including the Roscoe Village Burger Fest on the north side. Fortunately, there was no rain falling when The Smithereens took the stage, and unlike the above mentioned events, I was able to make this one. Having seen The Smithereens perform several times over the years, the term that continually comes to mind is master craftsmen. “Behind The Wall Of Sleep,” “Girl Like You,” and “Blood And Roses” were among the power pop gems they performed on Saturday. There’s also an element of honesty in their approach. After delivering the goods, The Smithereens go out to meet the meet the audience, making sure the customers are satisfied.

Smithereens lead vocalist-guitarist Pat DiNizio will be performing The British Invasion Tribute show at the Crossroads venue in Garwood, New Jersey tomorrow night. Not to be confused with the Chad and Jeremy/Peter Asher tour, this event will feature DiNizio and some of his friends performing English pop hits from the 1960s, including “Needles And Pins,” “World Without Love,” “She’s Not There,” “Glad All Over,” “Ferry Cross The Mersey,” “She Loves You,” and perhaps because I have proclaimed this a Hollies Summer, “Bus Stop.” I’d love to see DiNizio bring this show to Chicago. 

Monday, July 13, 2015

The Bishop’s Daredevil Stunt Club - Rock And Roll Motorcycle Dinosaur

This Chicago-based quintet with a name straight out of a Monty Python skit brightened the holiday season last December with its catchy and clever single “Bad Sweater Christmas Party.” The nonseasonal B-Side “Never Be Big Stars,” which showed a knack for satiric power pop that evoked Cheap Trick, can now also be found on Rock And Roll Motorcycle Dinosaur. The latest full-length release from The Bishop’s Daredevil Stunt Club is an adventurous album that finds the band veering off in numerous directions while maintaining an emphasis on irresistible melodies and elaborate vocals. Lead guitarist Bill Giricz, bassist Dan Passarelli, and guitarist-keyboards player Paulette Bertrand are all listed as lead singers.
“Come On Down,” “Goldilocks,” and “Three Stage Rocket” have energetic arrangements sparked by the guitar playing of Giricz and Darin Gregg, while “You Are Starkiss” taps into vintage T-Rex glam rock. The darker “Hustle” grooves to Luke Smith’s steady drumbeat, and the techno-oriented “I Saw A Ghost” is an eerie but enticing mix of keyboards, bass, and echo-laden vocals. A lot of these songs are longer that what you’d expect to find in power pop, particularly the experimental “We’ve Got This Thing” and the stark and acoustic “Darkroom Photo.”

The Bishop’s Daredevil Stunt Club will celebrate the release of Rock And Roll Motorcycle Dinosaur with a show this Saturday night at Bottom Lounge.

Friday, July 10, 2015


Photo of Spoon from the WXRT website.

Taste Of Chicago continues in Grant Park tomorrow with the WXRT-sponsored triple lineup of Spoon, Houndmouth, and Madisen Ward and The Mama Bear, starting at 4:30, at the Petrillo Band Shell. This coming Monday at 6:30 PM, Matthew Sweet and the Chicago band In Tall Buildings, will be performing at the Jay Pritzger Pavilion at Millennium Park.

The Smithereens will be serving up classic power pop from their numerous albums when they perform tomorrow night around 7:00 PM on the Main Stage at the Roscoe Village Burger Fest on Belmont between Damen and Oakley. The Handcuffs and The Fabulous Thunderbirds are also playing. Catfight is among the bands slated to perform on Sunday.

The very first Artfest Michigan Avenue takes place this weekend just outside the Chicago Tribune building, overlooking the Chicago River. Over 100 juried artists will be displaying their work, and admission is free.

Guitar-driven power pop band The Bishops’s Daredevil Stunt Club has a record release show for their full-length album Rock N Roll Motorcycle Dinosaur at the Bottom Lounge July 18th. I’ll be reviewing their 12-song effort in the near future.

Singer-guitarist Danny Cozzi of the local indie rock trio All The Wine has a free acoustic show coming up at Mutiny in Logan Square tomorrow night, and there will be a full-band show at Silvie’s Lounge next Friday, July 17. 

The Irish American Heritage Fest starts tonight and runs through Sunday at the Irish American Heritage Center on Chicago’s northwest side.

Andrea Perry, Scott McPherson, Kirk Adams, and KC Bowman, four musicians from around the USA, have recorded an album under the band name Pop 4 without having actually met each other. Fans of the international power pop trio The Britannicas could tell you this is done by trading music over the internet. I’m guessing that the genre will be power pop here as well, sconsidering International Pop Overthrow founder David Bash and Justin Fielding, the filmmaker behind The Power Pop Movie are involved.

Chicago Acoustic Underground (CAU) is sponsoring a lineup of local acts this Saturday and Sunday at the Club Lucky restaurant/cocktail lounge on Wabansia as part of the Bucktown Garden Walk. Ellis Clark And The Big Parade, Hannah Frank Trio, Whitewolfsonicprincess, Kurt Michaels Continuum featuring Alain Quinn, Greg Jackson Combs, Matthew Morgan and The Family Band, Dann Morr, Waning Faith, Brooke Bartlett And The Blue Lines, Jeff Brown and The New Black, Nancy Connelly, and Aaron Williams are the scheduled performers. When I went last year, the shows were being held outside.

When Steve Barton from Translator plays a gig at Molly Malone’s as part of International Pop Overthrow in Los Angeles on July 25th, he’ll be showcasing songs from his upcoming Projector album. Dave Scheff, Willie Aron, Marvin Etzioni, and Derrick Anderson—the musicians who helped Barton record the album—will be joining him for the show.

International Pop Overthrow returns to its birthplace Los Angeles on July 24 and runs through August 2 at five different clubs. In addition to the above-mentioned Steve Barton, this year’s acts include Maple Mars, The Tearaways, Linus Of Hollywood, The Jeremy Band, Adam Marsland, and The Cherry Bluestorms. 

Citizen’s Relief, a quirky and engaging duo that has entertained audiences at the Mary-Arrchie Theatre’s Abbie Hoffman Died For Our Sins festivals over the years, will be performing Harold Pinter’s Ashes To Ashes at Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art from August 22 to September 20 on Saturdays at 8:00 PM and Sundays at 4:00 PM. There will be a special opening night on August 20th.

Over The Rhine has just announced they will be doing a show on July 24 at SPACE in Evanston.

Christopher David from Chicago alt rock band Magatha Trysty has a solo EP titled When Cynthia Told Us You Came that’s available to download on his Bandcamp page.

Photographer Tom McKeon has created an eye-popping video for the new song "Miles Of Jenny" from Chicago sci-fi rock band Tomorrow The Moon.

The August issue of Record Collector will have a cover story on The Monkees, as well as articles about Doctor Who on vinyl; The Seeds, The Hollies, Joy Division, Pretty Things, and Polyphonic Spree. It goes on sale July 16th, Elsewhere on the magazine beat, Ugly Things has a cover story on the definitely non-ugly 1960s four-woman band The Clingers. Ugly Things can be hard to find but I have seen copies for sale at Reckless Records in downtown Chicago.

Dot Dash, a Washington, DC based quartet that has drawn inspiration from The Clash as well as Translator on four impressive releases (all reviewed here on BHT) will be opening for power pop master Tommy Keene for three of his dates in September. 

It’s great to see Veruca Salt on the cover of this month’s Illinois Entertainer. The recently reunited Chicago band talked to writer Jaime Black about its history and new release Ghost Notes. The current issue also has my review of the self-titled third release from Birds Of Night.

If I was the type who spent a lot of time reading on the beach, I would have the perfect book for doing that. It’s the second volume in rock critic Ken Sharp’s Play On! Power Pop Heroes trilogy, has 755 pages, and just arrived in my mail today. Any astute pop fans passing by on the beach, seeing me reclining on a Beatles towel and reading a book with an illustration of Rick Nielsen on the cover, would surely stop and strike up a conversation. I could entertain them with wise quotes from Dwight Twilley; Mimi Betinis from Pezband; John and Jeff Murphy and Gary Klebe from Shoes; Bun E. Carlos from Cheap Trick; Marky Ramone; Glenn Tilbrook and Chris Difford from Squeeze; Todd Rundgren, and many others just by paging through Sharp’s extensive interviews. I’ll be devoting more time to this book in the near future.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Going To Bat For Disadvantaged Kids

There may be no crying in baseball but there will be a lot of rocking connected with the sport tomorrow night when the  Hot Stove VIP Party And Concert returns to Metro in Chicago’s Wrigleyville neighborhood. Presented by The Foundation To Be Named Later, the annual event raises funds by bringing together several musicians under the HSCM All Stars banner. Pearl Jam frontman and Cubs fanatic Eddie Vedder was a last-minute addition to a lineup that also includes Jimmy Chamberlin from Smashing Pumpkins; Freda Love Smith from The Blake Babies; John Stirratt from Wilco; Jason Narducy from Split Single; Max Spiegel and Curt Morrison from Tributosaurus, and Cheap Trick drummer/Rick Nielsen offspring Daxx Nielsen.

Current President of Baseball Operations for the Chicago Cubs Theo Epstein and his brother Paul created The Foundation To Be Named Later 10 years ago when they were still based in Boston. Theo will be on hand for the HSCM festivities tomorrow night, along with Cubs broadcaster/musician Len Kasper, and noted sportswriter Peter Gammons. WXRT morning man Lin Brehmer will share hosting duties with Mike O’Malley and Joel Murray. Tickets for The Hot Stove Cool Music VIP Party are now sold out, but anyone interested in helping The Foundation To Be Named Later in its work can contact the organization through the official website. Len Kasper does a short bit called Len And Lin on Brehmer’s show every Monday and Friday throughout the baseball season, so it’s a safe bet they’ll have a lot to say about this concert/fundraiser on the morning after.
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