Friday, October 23, 2015


Hordes of zombies will descend upon downtown Elgin tomorrow night as part of the fifth annual Nightmare On Chicago Street Halloween festival. The horrific scenes are all the more realistic because local officials actively participate in the fun. Visitors will encounter police barricades, designated safe zones, overturned cars, and if last year's event was any indication, a low-flying helicopter. There are also stages with live music, the Something Wicked III Gallery Exhibition, vendors, a costume contest, and Guest Of Honor Svengoolie.

Each year, artist David Metzger, along with Jeff Kelley from the Sunday Morning Coffee With Jeff internet show, gathers local performers for a series of filmed bits. There will be a screening at the Apocalypse Theater at 166 E. Chicago Street tomorrow night of the Zombie Grandma sitcom they created last year. I played a government agent in that sitcom, but unfortunately, incompatible schedules kept me from joining Metzger and Kelley for this year's Ed And Rebecca skits.

The Guild Theater in Des Plaines will continue to give people the chills with its production of Stories Of The Macabre, a selection of scary tales from Edgar Allan Poe, Washington Irving, Saki, and W.W. Jacobs. The show runs through Halloween night at the Leela Arts Center .

There's been a slight lineup change (see boldface type) for the 10th annual Halloweekend festival going on October 30 and 31 at the High Hat Club on Irving Park Road in Chicago. The Friday lineup has Ellis Clark as Velvet Underground; The Webstirs as Devo; The Fiction Romantics as The Buzzcocks; I Lost Control as The Cramps; and Josh Lava as Rufus Wainwright. On Halloween night, you'll find Joel Patterson masquerading as ZZ Top; Decoy Prayer Meeting as Echo And The Bunnymen; Charlie Short as Big Star; Phil Angotti as The Turtles; and Androgynous Mustache as Joan Jett.

Phil Angotti will be performing the classic and murky R.E.M. full-length debut Murmur in its entirety with Mike Mackin, Niko Stavropoulos, Jim Barclay, and Bobby Lynch at Reggie's on State Street next Thursday night, October 29. Also on the bill, Unknown Pleasures will be covering Joy Division, and Guns And Ammunition will be covering The Clash.

Those who prefer to listen to copy songs in the comfort of their own home can buy Completely Under The Covers, the new boxed set from Matthew Sweet and Susanna Hoffs. It includes all three previously released volumes (devoted to the 1960s, '70s, and '80s, respectively) of their Under The Covers albums, plus some bonus material. The boxed set is available on CD or vinyl from Amazon, and the songs are available on iTunes.

The Go Fund Me site to help Smithereens vocalist-guitarist Pat DiNizio pay medical bills from recent emergency surgery on his right arm and hand has now raised over $14,000 of its $30,000 goal. DiNizio and The Smithereens always play their hearts out onstage and interact with fans afterward. This would be a great opportunity for those fans to give something back.

Tom Petty is the latest rock star who started in the late 1970s to have his life story told in a book. Unlike Chrissie Hynde's Reckless: My Life As A Pretender and Elvis Costello's Unfaithful Music and Disappearing Ink, Petty: The Biography isn't a literary self portrait. It was written by Warren Zanes from The Del Fuegos, the underrated Boston band that Juliana Hatfield sang about in "My Sister."

Someday we'll find it, the Colbert connection. The new musical comedy The Story Of A Story (The Untold Story) is being staged by the Underscore Theatre Company through November 8 at The Chopin Theatre, at 1543 W. Division. The show was created by Peter Gwinn, who snagged an Emmy Award for his writing work on The Colbert Report, and Jody Shelton, composer of the erotic fantasy 50 Shades! The Musical. Tickets for the show start at $10.

Chicagoans looking for a Halloween-appropriate theatrical production should consider The Tempest at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater on Navy Pier. My wife Pam and I saw it this past Tuesday, and it was literally spellbinding. Co-directors Aaron Posner and Teller bring an emphasis on magic to their adaptation of The Bard's classic, and the original songs by Tom Waits and Kathleen Brennan spring to life via an onstage rock band with two knockout vocalists. The choreography by Matt Kent from Pilobolus is eerie and imaginative, and Larry Yando as Prospero heads a first-rate cast.

Best wishes for a full recovery to Jonathan Lea from The Jigsaw Seen. Lea, who also performs with Dave Davies of The Kinks, has mentioned his bouts with kidney stones in the past on Facebook. But apparently, a more recent incident was life threatening. Luckily, he's feeling better now.

If pop hits suddenly feel a little more heavenly, is might be because The Chills released Silver Bullets, today. It's the New Zealand band's first new album in at least 10 years.   

Cool Apocalypse, Chicago-based filmmaker's Michael Glover Smith's black-and-white study of romantic entanglements, will be shown on November 21 and 23 at the The Gene Siskel Film Center. Smith, producer Clare Kosinski, and a few cast members will be on hand at both screenings.

I'd like to join the chorus of voices wishing musician/artist Graham Elvis (The Elvis Brothers, Sgt. Popgrass) a full recovery after he experienced complications during a recent surgery. He's doing better but still has a rough time ahead, according to updates posted by his wife on Facebook. A Go Fund Me page has already raised over 2,500 to help pay his medial bills, and is still accepting donations. 

We have a century-old tradition around the end of October in Chicago, as Cubs fans survey the wreckage of another season, and sigh, "Maybe next year." Often it's, "Maybe never." But after 2015's team of promising rookies took two surprising steps into the post-season before evaporating, there are a lot of fans who can't wait for next year. Congratulations, Chicago Cubs. May you continue to thrill us for years to come.  

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