Friday, April 29, 2016


This Sunday at 7:00 PM CST, The Bad Examples will launch a PledgeMusic campaign to release their 1991 debut CD Bad Is Beautiful on vinyl with a live broadcast via lead vocalist-guitarist Ralph Covert’s Facebook page.

As mentioned earlier this week, the annual Chicago Zine Fest runs from 11:00 AM to 6:00 PM tomorrow at Plumbers Hall, just west of downtown. The event will feature over 250 exhibitors displaying magazines, self-published books, and comics.

Since May in Chicago will include two Graham Nash shows at City Winery, and The Zombies at The Arcada in St. Charles, I’m designating it as British Invasion Month. I’ll be looking for other events that fit this theme in the coming weeks, and if anyone has any suggestions, feel free to send them to me.

Aimee Mann will be at The Old Town School Of Folk Music on May 10; and Gary Numan has shows at Metro on May 16 and 17.

Tickets went on sale today for Jenny Lewis and The Watson Twins at Chicago Theatre on September 8; Tegan and Sara at The Riviera on October 21; KT Tunstall at Beat Kitchen on July 7; and Mudcrutch (the recently revived early Tom Petty outfit) at The Riviera on May 28.

Looks like I’m not the only one who’d like a Mary Arrchie t-shirt to honor the theatre’s 30 years of staging in-your-face productions. According to the Booster fundraising site, Mary-Arrchie has secured enough orders to print a run of shirts with its classic white logo on black t-shirt. The campaign runs for another 26 days, and all funds will go directly to Mary-Arrchie. Meanwhile, Stephen Walker’s work in Mary-Archie’s production of American Buffalo earned a nomination for a Jeff Award for Best Actor In A Principal Role - Play.

Mary-Arrchie Theatre’s will present its final Abbie Hoffman Died For Our Sins festival on the weekend of August 19 - 21 at The Den Theatre on Milwaukee Avenue.

The second annual Lake FX Summit And Expo takes place on May 13 and 14 at the Chicago Cultural Center, Gene Siskel Film Center, and Hard Rock Hotel. The event will feature panel discussions, workshops, pop-up performances, and film screenings geared toward the performing arts.

Thrift Store Halo, a Chicago-based trio whose 1998 CD World Gone Mad featured power pop gems like “Put Me Down” and “Fly Me Away,” is back in business again. The band has played a few shows in recent years, including opening for The Zombies. Hopefully, Thrift Store Halo will have some live shows and new music in the near future.

Back in November 2014 when The Bangles released their download-only Ladies And Gentlemen . . . The Bangles, fans wanted a CD version of the rarities collection. According to the band’s website, and a nicely written piece by Mike Duquette on The Second Disc website, those requests have been honored. Ladies And Gentlemen has a June 24 release date and is now available for preorder on the Omnivore Records site.

The Mighty Con Toys, Comics, and Gaming Convention will be held June 25 and 26 at the Dupage County Fairgrounds in Wheaton. The event will feature over 100 vendors, artists and guests. Admission is $8 for a day pass, and $12 for a weekend pass; kids under 12 get in free.

Today’s issue of Redeye included the Chicago free paper’s annual outdoor fest guide, with listings for music fest, art fairs, biking events, and all kinds of other outdoor fun things coming up in the next six months. It’s well worth saving if you can still pick up a copy of Redeye.

Pearl Mackie, a critically acclaimed veteran of the UK theatre scene, has been named as Peter Capaldi’s new companion for the next series of Doctor Who. She'll replace Jenna Coleman, who portrayed Clara Oswald in the long-running sci-fi series.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Taste Of Chicago Has A Touch Of Finest Rock

WXRT, which bills itself as Chicago’s Finest Rock, has presented a concert as part of the annual Taste Of Chicago festival for several years now. Possibly their most famous (notorious?) Taste concert was the one where The Replacements disintegrated on stage in the midst of a live broadcast. The 2016 lineup was recently announced, and this year, WXRT is offering The Decemberists on July 8. The Portland-based alt-rock band has racked up plenty of airtime on the FM station, although I can’t say I’m familiar with the opening act Shakey Graves.

What’s noticeable about this year’s five-day schedule is that most of the acts look like they could have been chosen by WXRT. Kongos and Elle King (July 7) are also regulars, although that show is being presented with support from 101WKQX. WXRT was one of the first U.S. stations to play Billy Idol, and he’s the headliner on July 9, along with the first-rate David Bowie tribute band Sons Of The Silent Age. The Isley Brothers (July 10, with Sheila E.) and The Roots (July 6, with Donnie Trumpet) have never been in heavy rotation on Chicago’s Finest Rock, but they they’re not total strangers either.

General admission for Taste Of Chicago is free unless you want to be in the seated area. Tickets for the seated area go on sale tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

And They Couldn’t Stop Jack From Being Classic

When the Classic Album Night series returns to the Music Joint at Reggies tomorrow night, it will have a definite English accent. Phil Angotti, joined by various other local musicians, will cover Happy Jack by The Who and Beggars Banquet by The Rolling Stones. Later, The Dirty Pigeons will be tackling Muswell Hillbillies by The Kinks.

Angotti and The Dirty Pigeons have also been part of the annual Halloweekend tribute events, so they’re well versed in this sort of thing. I’m not saying it’s Angotti’s fault, but I’ve had “Craise Finton Cook” stuck in my head since he covered The Bee Gees’ 1st album at Laurie’s Planet Of Sound as part of Record Store Day. In past tribute shows, he has honored The Zombies and The Monkees.

Bass player Charlie Short and drummer/Keith Moon fancier Brad Elvis (from The Handcuffs and The Romantics) will be joining Angotti for Happy Jack. For Beggars Banquet, he’ll be working with guitarist-vocalist John Meade, keyboards player Dan Ingenthron; and drummers John Blaha and Frank Corpus. Reggies is located at 2105 S. State Street. Admission is just $10 and the British Invasion begins at 9:00 PM.

Also at Reggies tomorrow night, Houndmouth, of “Sedona” fame, will be performing in the Rock Club.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Chicago Zine Fest

With all the recent speculation about the death of print media, it’s a pleasure to see that the annual Chicago Zine Fest will take place this weekend at Plumbers Hall, just west of downtown. That’s the same building where the CHIRP Record Fair And Other Delights was held a few weeks back. Over 250 exhibitors will be on hand; displaying magazines, self-published books, and comics that cover a wide range of subject matter. There will be workshops and activities for kids as well as adults.

The actual exhibition runs from 11:00 AM to 6:00 PM on Saturday, and there are two panel discussions on Friday night. At 6:30 PM, Monika Harris will moderate the 90-minute Permission Not Granted: Women Of Color and the Politics of Zines featuring Leila Abdelrazaq, Sarah Gonzalez, and Monika Harris. From 8:00 PM to 9:30 PM, Andi Santagata, JC, Jonas, Marnie Galloway, Rachel and Sara, Taryn Hipp, Tanja Jagernauth, and Vicky Lim will take part in a CZF Exhibitor Reading. Admission is free for Chicago Zine Fest and Plumbers Hall is wheelchair accessible.

Monday, April 25, 2016

The Smiling Eyes - Self-titled

The Smiling Eyes (not to be confused with a Canadian alt rock trio with the same name) hark back to the 1960s throughout a self-titled debut album that’s been around a few years now. Their ringing guitars and highly polished three-part harmonies are especially impressive when the arrangements are energetic and the lyrics have some bite to them. Which makes it easier to overlook the occasional detour into cheesy sentimentality.

“Coloring Book,” a well-intentioned call for universal harmony, is just too cornball to get its message across; and even though the cloying “Man’s Best Friend” is a bonus track, it still doesn’t belong here. It should be noted that lead vocalist-rhythm guitarist Todd Oliver is also a professional comedian, so maybe I’m just not getting the joke. “Only God Knows,” a salute to America’s military men and women, works better, and the believable optimism of “Sunshine”grooves to a catchy melody.

The exhilarating “Love In Motion” is a power pop gem reminiscent of The Romantics, while “Kamila” sports clever wordplay and an energetic arrangement. The satirical, hard-edged “Mr. Man” takes on corporate greed, and the boys loosen their ties on the sexy dance club romp “Shake It.” The jangling “Vision Of Her” and “Mother Nature” should appeal to fans of The Byrds. 

Friday, April 22, 2016


The Romeros will once again be the final act of International Pop Overthrow - Chicago.

Graham Parker and Brinsley Schwarz, two of England’s most influential musicians, will be sharing the stage together tonight at SPACE in Evanston. The duo performed at FitzGerald’s in Berwyn two days ago.

Tonight’s International Pop Overthrow lineup at Red Line Tap features Milwaukee power pop masters Trolley; Phil Angotti; Tommi Zender; Rich Miller from Waiflike; Too Much Saturn; and Rollo. I won’t be able to make it, but I did catch Angotti and Zender’s sets last Saturday at Laurie’s Planet Of Sound as part of its Record Store Day entertainment.

Angotti, working with Casey McDonough and John San Juan, did a fine job of performing the entire 1st album by The Bee Gees, including the more challenging tracks like “Every Christian Lion Hearted Man Will Tell You.” Zender, joined by vocalist Dina DiCostanzo and musicians Dave Sills, Matt Kerste, and Jim Barclay, paid tribute to the music of Michael Penn and Aimee Mann. One of the highlights was a haunting take on Mann’s Til Tuesday hit “Voices Carry” on which DiCostanzo sang beautifully while the atmospheric keyboards of the original were replaced by acoustic piano. I’d love to have a recording of this version.

International Pop Overthrow will wrap up its 2016 stay in Chicago with two separate showcases tomorrow. Liam Kelley; The Shake Ups; Deco Auto; Fine Subterraneans, Freetoed, and horrible/beaut will perform throughout the afternoon. The Romeros again have the honor of being the last act of the festival, preceded tomorrow night by Rob Schulz Band; The Bon Mots; Bob’s Yer Uncle; The Unswept; and Jupiter In Velvet. See the official IPO sight for times and band bios.

Johnny Marr, whose album The Messenger topped the Broken Hearted Toy Favorite Releases of 2013 list, and whose album Playland came in at number two a year later, will surely mention those achievements in his upcoming autobiography Set The Boy Free. Well, probably not. Marr will have plenty of experiences to draw upon, having formed The Smiths with Morrissey and later collaborating with some of rock’s best-known musicians. Set The Boy Free is coming out via Dey Street Books in November.

Former Chicago Tribune writer Mark Caro’s Is It Still Funny? series continues next Tuesday night, April 26 at the Music Box Theatre with a screening of The Marx Brothers’ Duck Soup. The idea behind the series is to determine if classic comedies from the past still hold up. I’m betting Groucho and the boys will get a passing grade.

Houndmouth has a gig next Thursday, April 28 at Reggies Rock Club on State Street. The band is best known for "Sedona," an infectious song with Hollies-style harmonies.

Luke, I am your librarian. The Joliet Public Library’s 7th Annual Star Wars Day will be held from 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM on June 4 at the library and Joliet Area Historical Museum. The event will offer prizes; games; lots of adults and kids in Star Wars costumes; music; artists; exhibitors; and movie props. Admission is free.

Get Crazy, a 1983 low-budget rock and roll comedy, will be screened on May 4 as part of the ongoing Northwest Chicago Film Society festival running through May at Northeastern Illinois University on Bryn Mawr Avenue in Chicago. Directed by Allan Arkush and featuring cameos by Lou Reed and other cult figures, Get Crazy centers on the ambitious efforts of the rambunctious staff of an L.A. concert promoter to save his business while he recovers from a heart attack.

Mary-Archie’s April 17 performance of David Mamet’s American Buffalo was the final production from the critically acclaimed storefront theatre. As for Mary-Archie’s annual Abbie Hoffman Died For Our Sins Festival, in the words of a song by The Bad Examples, it’s not dead yet. One more Abbie Fest will take place on the weekend of August 19-21 at The Den Theatre on Milwaukee Avenue. Mary-Archie previously utilized The Den Theatre to stage Abbie Fest 25. Having performed in the first 20 Abbie Fests (starting in 1989) It would be great to see this freewheeling, three-day celebration of drama, comedy, music, and performance art go out with a bang.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Final Days Of IPO - Chicago 2016

International Pop Overthrow continues its 2016 swing through Chicago at Red Line Tap tonight with a five-act showcase that kicked of with one of the traveling festival’s all-stars, Dave Rave. Depending on when you see this, you might still have time to catch the Aaron Williams Band at 10:15 and Jennifer Fletcher and The Reckoning at 11:00. IPO - Chicago wraps up with three shows over the weekend.

Tomorrow night’s lineup features Trolley, a power pop band from Milwaukee that just released another impressive album with along with Caught In The Darkness. Two of the Chicago music scene’s more entertaining veterans, Phil Angotti and Tommi Zender, are also on the bill, along with tried-and-true IPO regulars Rich Miller from Waiflike; Too Much Saturn; and Rollo.

The official IPO site offers loads of helpful information about its Chicago run, as well as upcoming visits to Nashville, Liverpool, and Stockholm. Founder/CFO David Bash has created profiles of most of the acts involved, along with links to their websites or Facebook pages. So even those who can’t make it over to Europe (or even the far north side of Chicago) can use this site to discover some amazing new power pop and indie rock acts.

Friday, April 15, 2016


Photo of Rich Cotovsky (far left) and the cast of American Buffalo taken from the Mary-Arrchie Theatre Facebook page.

Mary-Arrchie Theatre will be performing David Mamet’s American Buffalo five times over this weekend (one tonight and two each on Saturday and Sunday) before closing down forever. The critically acclaimed group’s Angel Island home base at Broadway and Sheridan Road is being demolished next week. It’s sad to see this cutting-edge institution leaving Chicago after 30 years. Congratulations to Artistic Director Rich Cotovsky and the numerous actors, directors, set designers, etc, on a great run.

CIMMfest (Chicago International Movies and Music Festival) will be presenting films; concerts; film/concert combos; and special presentations at venues around the city, through Sunday. The website can give you the complete rundown, and there’s also a printed guide that can be found in various place around Chicago.

International Pop Overthrow has some first-rate bands lined up for the Red Line Tape this weekend. The guitar-driven Jeremy Band and power pop masters The Abbeys will be at the afternoon showcase tomorrow, and the clever and catchy pop band The Webstirs will perform at 10:00 PM during the evening showcase. Certain Stars are one of the bands performing in the Sunday afternoon showcase, and veteran Chicago musician/humorist Larry O. Dean goes on at 8:00 PM Sunday as part of the evening showcase. Normally, I like to give a brief description of each of the acts, but I just won’t have the time tonight or tomorrow. Fortunately, IPO website has links to pretty much all the acts scheduled, so with a little research, you’re sure to find one you’d like to check out.

Vinyl Spectacular runs from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM this Sunday at Wolff’s Flea Market at 1775 N. Rand Road in Palatine. A half-page ad in the April edition of the Illinois Entertainer promises 45s, LPs, CDs, DVDs, bargain items, rarities and 2016 Record Store Day releases.

Record Store Day takes place tomorrow and your best chance of snagging those rare slabs of vinyl on your wish list is to get to your chosen record store as early as possible. That means standing outside in line for at least an hour before it opens. If you come away empty handed, at least you can console yourself with the in-store performances that come as part of the Record Store Day Festivities. For example, Laurie's Planet Of Sound on Lincoln Avenue has Ungnomes at noon; Phil Angotti And Friends performing the entire Bee Gees 1st album at 1:00 PM; Tommi Zender & Friends performing songs of Aimee Mann and Michael Penn at 2:00 PM; Sweet Figurines covering David Bowie at 3:00 PM, The Handcuffs performing at 4:00 PM; and Canadian Rifle at 6:00 PM.

Divercity, a collection of solo performances by artists, writers, and actors with disabilities, will be presented by Tellin’ Tales Theatre tonight through Sunday at Prop Thtr on Elston in Chicago. Tickets can be ordered at the Tellin’ Tales website.

Graham Nash’s solo album This Path Tonight came out today, packaged with a DVD of live performances from his 2015 tour. Nash has two shows coming up on May 11 and 12 at City Winery - Chicago.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

IPO Friday Night Preview

It will be an all-hometown feast tomorrow night as International Pop Overthrow continues its 2016 run at the Red Line Tap. Power pop is definitely on the menu, with added helpings of psychedelic and prog rock. At least five of the bands scheduled are IPO veterans.

Here’s a look at Friday’s lineup:

8:00 Sam Vicari - The singer-guitarist is in the midst of a tour across the U.S. and will likely be performing indie rock and power pop songs from his latest album Giving Up.

8:45 Aethereal - If this quartet’s name leads you to believe they’re into psychedelic and prog rock, you’re heading in the right direction. They’re on the local CAUDog label and have a new two-track single with the songs “Walking Away” and “Serenity Come Back To Me.”

9:30 Ellis Clark And The Big Parade - Clark is a veteran musician, recording artist, and producer (for the CAUDog label) on the Chicago music scene. He’s performed with Epicycle, Social Act, The Handcuffs, and on various solo projects. The Big Parade is his latest adventure with a full band, and for tomorrow night’s show, he’ll be joined by charismatic vocalist Ary Jeebie from Amazing Heeby Jeebies. Expect a few David Bowie covers and a variety of musical styles.

10:15 The Red Plastic Buddha - Led by vocalist-bassist Tim Ferguson, The Plastic Buddha has helped establish a vibrant psychedelic culture in Chicago. Their third and most adventurous album, Songs For Mara, featured mind-bending songs like “She’s An Alien” and “Stuck At Zero.”

11:00 The Velvet Cadillacs - These IPO - Chicago veterans mix revved up guitar-driven rock with a dash of Country & Western on satiric songs like “Holiday Day” and “Things I Plan To Do.” Their Wish I Was Cool CD is available on iTunes.

11:45 The Viaducts - Lead vocalist-guitarist Jimmy Rane draws from Buddy Holly on catchy songs like “Your Smiling Face (Walkin’ By In Blue Jeans),” while “Drive-Thru Girl” feels a bit more like The Ramones. Rane’s guitar playing is especially impressive live. The band has a full-length CD out titled, Mission To Destroy.

The festival runs through next Saturday night, April 23, so be sure to check out the official IPO site for the full schedule and any last-minute changes. Even if you’re not from Chicago or you can’t get to Red Line Tap, this website is a great resources for discovering new artists.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

IPO Opening Night

International Pop Overthrow returns to Chicago tomorrow night with the opening salvo of 13 multi-band showcases it will be holding through April 23 at the Red Line Tap. The IPO website has links to just about all the acts on the festival’s schedule.

Here’s tomorrow night’s lineup:

8:00 Thirsty Records recording artist Drew Neely will be performing an acoustic set.

8:45 Platform 29 will play classic rock influenced by The Beatles and The Grateful Dead, and is currently working on a followup to its debut album The Road We Walk Down.

9:30 Vinyl Skyway performs rock, pop, and folk music from its album Windfall.

10:15 Sasha’s Four Questions performs. The IPO site didn’t have a link for this act.

11:00 The nine-piece coed band Man Called Noon will close out the night with a mix of rock, soul, and Americana music.

Wolf Alice - My Love Is Cool

My Love Is Cool is the full-length debut from Wolf Alice, following a couple of EPs and singles. The English quartet’s “Bros” has been wracking up air time on alt rock stations, but that song hardly conveys the full scope of this adventurous effort. I would imagine a major benefit of seeing Wolf Alice perform live would be watching vocalist-guitarist Ellie Rowsell navigate the various genres and personas scattered throughout these 13 songs.

While “Bros” is an appealing techno tribute to joys of friendship, “You’re A Germ” bristles with punk intensity and ends with Rowsell’s homicidal laughter. Wolf Alice seems to delight in juxtapositions; the effervescent “Freazy” is followed by the much harder, guitar-driven “Giant Peach.” “Swallowtail” begins as a gentle acoustic ballad before morphing into a massive arrangement, and has an unexpected instrumental coda. “Silk” is another hybrid, mixing elements of spoken word, hip hop, and techno. Not many bands would be just as comfortable with the ethereal“Turn To Dust” as the grunge rocker “Moaning Lisa Smile,” but Wolf Alice succeeds at every twist and turn.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

April, Rock She Will

Along with showers, April usually brings the simultaneous arrival of three or more significant events on the Broken Hearted Toy calendar. This year, the month kicked off with the added bonus of Cheap Trick releasing a new album and performing at Metro. The 14th Annual CHIRP Record Fair and Other Delights was held last Saturday. Three days from now, This Path Tonight, Graham Nash’s first solo effort in years comes out, packaged with a DVD of live performances from his 2015 tour. And starting tomorrow, things get truly hectic—and fun.

Especially if your taste in music and film leads you away from the mainstream. If you’re willing to delve into the cultures of far away lands, and take pride in hunting down one-of-a-kind vinyl treasures. To experience all of it, you’ll need funds, transportation, or possibly a TARDIS from Doctor Who. This is the week of CIMMfest, International Pop Overthrow, and Record Store Day, along with a suburban newcomer called Vinyl Spectacular.

CIMMfest is once again offering a global selection of films; concerts; film/concert combos; and special presentations at venues around the city, starting tomorrow and running through Sunday. The opening night festivities, presented with WXRT at the Music Box Theatre, include a screening of The Smart Studios Story, and after-show performances by the bands Catherine and Negative Examples. The Smart Studios Story is a documentary about the legendary Madison, WI recording studio run by Butch Vig and Steve Marker that counted Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, and Vig’s own band Garbage among its clients. Check out CIMMfest website for this year’s full schedule.

International Pop Overthrow returns to Chicago on Thursday with the first of 13 multi-band showcases it will be holding through April 23 at the Red Line Tap. Several longtime Broken Hearted Toy favorites are participating, including Ellis Clark And The Big Parade; The Red Plastic Buddha; The Viaducts; The Abbeys; The Webstirs; Tommi Zender; Phil Angotti; Trolley; The Bon Mots; The Unswept; and The Romeros. Check out the IPO website (which has links to all the acts involved) and plan ahead.

Record Store Day takes place this Saturday, April 16. As usual, the selection of limited-edition releases spans across every known genre of music. This year’s crop includes rare vinyl from The Animals; Big Star; David Bowie; Johnny Cash; Cheap Trick; John Coltrane; Dave Davies; Bob Dylan; Alejandro Escovedo; The Electric Prunes; Fleetwood Mac; Buddy Guy and Junior Wells; EmmyLou Harris; Lush; The Monkees; The Move; Graham Nash; the Nuggets Hallucinations - Psychedelic Pop Nuggets double-album of Various Artists; and Warren Zevon/The Flamin’ Lips. Check out the official site for the complete list. Also, watch for in-store performances at Reckless Records; Reggies; Laurie’s Planet Of Sound; Val's Halla; and other venues.

Vinyl Spectacular runs from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM this Sunday at Wolff’s Flea Market at 1775 N. Rand Road in Palatine. A half-page ad in the April edition of the Illinois Entertainer promises 45s, LPs, CDs, DVDs, bargain items, rarities and 2016 Record Store Day releases. There will also be musical instruments and audio equipment for sale. Admission is $1, and people who dress up like their favorite rock star get in free.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Cheap Trick - Bang Zoom Crazy… Hello

It sure would have been awkward if Cheap Trick had released a clunker of an album right around the same moment they were being inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. As it is, Bang Zoom Crazy… Hello, the band’s first effort since 2009’s The Latest, is a celebration in its own right. This guitar-driven collection revels in the energetic, highly melodic rock Cheap Trick is known for, but also breaks some new ground.

“Long Time No See Ya” is a glam rock sequel to the power pop gem “So Good To See You” from Cheap Trick’s second, and for some, best-loved album In Color. The brash “Heart On The Line,” “Blood Red Lips,” and “Roll Me” give Rick Nielsen plenty of room to cut loose on guitar, while Robin Zander proves he’s still one of rock’s most versatile vocalists. “Sing My Blues Away” and “No Direction Home” find the band taking a more nuanced approach.

I wouldn’t be the first to suggest “When I Wake Up Tomorrow” was influenced by David Bowie; it’s a magnificent song with haunting keyboards and Zander’s melancholy singing. “The In Crowd,” on the other hand, is a wild take on a vintage soul hit that recalls how Cheap Trick first garnered global attention with their version of Fats Domino’s “Ain’t That A Shame.” On “The Sun Never Sets,” they combine Electric Light Orchestra and rock opera echoes of The Who into a gorgeous love song. The sun is definitely still shining on Cheap Trick.

Friday, April 8, 2016


Brad Elvis knows vinyl.

The 14th Annual CHIRP Record Fair And Other Delights, a benefit for CHIRP - Chicago Independent Radio Project, takes place tomorrow at the Local 130 Plumbers Union Hall at 1340 W. Washington in Chicago. Loads of vendors will be on hand, offering an amazing selection of records, CDs, DVDs, and posters. Admission from 10:AM to 6:00 PM is $7; early admission from 8:00 to 10:00 AM costs $25, with readmission allowed all day.

As if all those records weren’t enough, Brad Elvis and Chloe F. Orwell from the Chicago-based indie rock band The Handcuffs will play every rare, precious, and beautiful picture-sleeve seven-inch single from their massive record collection. That’s not entirely true, but they will serve as DJs starting at 5:00 PM.

Steven Wright will bring his unique and consistently funny observations to The Arcada in St. Charles tomorrow night.

Marshall Crenshaw and his frequent collaborators The Bottle Rockets will be at the Old Town School Of Folk Music tomorrow night.

Patio Theater on Irving Park Road will unleash a Sci-Fi Spectacular starting at noon tomorrow, promising “Over 14 Hours Of Sci-Fi Insanity.” Matt Wedge and Kristin Kreepkrull will serve as hosts, and the lineup includes Blade Runner; Galaxy Quest, West World, and The Man Who Fell To Earth. Tickets are $25 at the door.

Former Chicago Tribune writer Mark Caro begins his Is It Still Funny? series next Tuesday night at the Music Box Theatre on Chicago’s north side. Each week through May 3, Caro will host the screening of a popular comedy, and determine if it has stood the test of time. The chosen flicks are National Lampoon’s Animal House, Mel Brooks’ Blazing Saddles, The Marx Brothers’ Duck Soup, and the Farrelly brothers’ Something About Mary. General admission is $12, $10 for Music Box members.

In last Saturday’s Slumgullion, I mentioned former Chicago Reader rock critic Bill Wyman’s interesting article in a recent edition of New City about his coverage of the 1993 Chicago alt rock scene. Two of the biggest names from that era will share the bill next Thursday, April 14 at The Civic Opera House. The Smashing Pumpkins will perform In Plainsong: An Acoustic-Electro Evening with special guest Liz Phair.

Pssst: It’s The Posies! The Seattle-based band led by Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow is taking an unusual route in promoting and even selling its new album Solid States. The Posies will perform a series of pop-up concerts at small, non-music venues that won’t be revealed until 24 hours before showtime. Solid State will only be available at these events. A lots of the dates, including the one in Chicago, have already sold out. Auer and Stringfellow did add shows in the Los Angeles, so hopefully Chicago fans will get another shot as well. Check The Posies’ Facebook page for developments.

Divercity, a collection of solo performances by artists, writers, and actors with disabilities, will be presented by Tellin’ Tales Theatre next Friday, April 15 through Sunday, April 17, at Prop Thtr on Elston in Chicago. Tickets can be ordered at the Tellin’ Tales website.

The Graham Parker Duo (Parker and British pub rock pioneer Brinsley Schwarz) have a gig coming up at FitzGerald’s on April 20.

The 47th Annual Art Fair at North Shore Unitarian Church will take place on Saturday, April 23 from 10 to 6 and Sunday, April 24 from 11 to 5. Over 50 artists will show their work, and admission is free. The church located at 2100 Halfday Road (Route 22) in Deerfield.

Anyone who’s still in a buying frenzy after Record Store Day next Saturday can trek out to Palatine Sunday for the Vinyl Spectacular at the Wolff Flea Market.

Congratulations to Cheap Trick on being inducted into The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame tonight. The other 2016 honorees are Chicago, Deep Purple, Steve Miller, NWA, and Bert Berns.

This coming week is one of the most important on the Broken Hearted Toy calendar; with International Pop Overthrow, CIMMfest, and Record Store Day all hitting around the same time.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Especially For St. Charles

When The Smithereens first played The Arcada in St. Charles back in 2014 (as part of a Rock Of The Eighties showcase that also featured The Romantics, Marshall Crenshaw, and Tommy Tutone), Arcada owner Ron Onesti promised he would bring them back. He has proved to be a man of his word. The New Jersey-based band will join The Tubes and The Motels for another Rock Of The Eighties showcase tomorrow night at The Arcada.

Look for The Smithereens to perform “Blood And Roses,” “Strangers When We Meet,” “Alone At Midnight,” and other songs from their 1986 masterpiece Especially For You to mark the 30th Anniversary of its release. If past shows are any indication, they'll also offer power pop gems like “House We Used To Live In” and “Only A Memory,” along with rousing covers of songs originally done by The Beatles and The Who.

The Motels, a Los Angeles band led Martha Davis, struck gold in the early 1980s with “Only The Lonely” and “Suddenly Last Summer.” The musicians currently backing Davis have been performing with her for 10 years. The Tubes are easily the most outrageous act on this showcase, with songs like the satiric anthem “White Punks On Dope” and the seductive duet “Don't Touch Me There.” The charismatic Fee Waybill still leads The Tubes through their theatrical stage shows.

In other shows tomorrow night, Chris Hillman and Herb Pedersen will be at the Old Town School Of Folk Music, and The The Rolling Clones will be covering Mick Jagger and company at 27 Live in Evanston. Local alt rock band Whitewolfsonicprincess will be the opening act. Shadow Of The Marigold, the latest album from Whitewolfsonicprincess is now available on iTunes.

Monday, April 4, 2016

At The Movies.

Nothing is funny until we say it’s funny. If you’ve ever revisited a comedy you loved when it came out years earlier and not laughed even once the second time around, you might be interested in the Is It Still Funny? series that begins next Tuesday night at the Music Box Theatre on Chicago’s north side. Each week through May 3, Mark Caro, who covered a wide range of entertainment topics for several years at the Chicago Tribune, will host the screening of a popular comedy, and determine if it has stood the test of time. The chosen flicks are National Lampoon’s Animal House, Mel Brooks’ Blazing Saddles, The Marx Brothers’ Duck Soup, and the Farrelly brothers’ Something About Mary. General admission is $12, $10 for Music Box members.

There is no Sanity Clause. The Marx Brothers also show up in the Legends of Laughter 2: The Comedy Teams series that’s currently running at the Park Ridge Public Library. (A few of the films will be screened at other venues.) Laurel and Hardy; Martin and Lewis; Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, and Dorothy Lamour; and Abbott and Costello are also on tap, with Columbia College graduate Matthew C. Hoffman serving as program host. All library screenings are free and begin at 7:00 PM.

She’s a replicant, isn’t she? Patio Theater on Irving Park Road will offer The Sci-Fi Spectacular this coming Saturday, promising “Over 14 Hours Of Sci-Fi Insanity.” Matt Wedge and Kristin Kreepkrull will serve as hosts, and the lineup includes Blade Runner; Galaxy Quest, West World, and The Man Who Fell To Earth. Tickets are $25 at the door, and the insanity kicks off at noon.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Saturday Slumgullion

The 14th Annual CHIRP Record Fair And Other Delights, a benefit for CHIRP - Chicago Independent Radio Project, takes place next Saturday, April 9 at the Local 130 Plumbers Union Hall at 1340 W. Washington in Chicago. Loads of vendors will be on hand, offering an amazing selection of records, CDs, DVDs, and posters. Last year, I bought an official Graham Nash poster for his Earth And Sky album, and previous CHIRP acquisitions include an LP by the Chicago band Screams and a Hollies live performance DVD. Admission from 10:AM to 6:00 PM is $7; early admission from 8:00 to 10:00 AM costs $25, with readmission allowed all day.

So it’s time for a proper Slumgullion after yesterday’s April Fool’s post about Cheap Trick performing with The Romantics and The Bangles on the 2016 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. Some of the things I wrote yesterday were true, such as Cheap Trick having a new album out called Bang Zoom Crazy…Hello; they had a show at Metro last night; and they are being inducted into The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame next week. Also, a big thanks to International Pop Overthrow CFO/Founder David Bash for being a good sport about the entirely made-up quote I attributed to him in the post. Bash will be bringing IPO to Chicago from April 14 to April 23. Look for more IPO - Chicago coverage here as the fest gets closer.

I wasn’t able to make it out to Metro last night, but judging from the journalist Bob Gendron’s online Chicago Tribune review and Facebook posts from local musicians like Lou Galassini, Mike Mazza, and Mike Vanderbilt, it was a great show. Earlier yesterday, Cheap Trick made an in-store appearance at the Reckless Records location on Milwaukee Avenue.

Singer-songwriter Daphne Willis returns to her original hometown of Chicago next Thursday for a gig at Martyrs’ on Lincoln Avenue. Willis is now located in Nashville and recently released the quirky and engaging five-song EP Get It.

Chris Hillman and Herb Pedersen will perform together at the Old Town School Of Folk Music next Friday April 8, and Marshall Crenshaw and The Bottle Rockets will be at the same venue on Saturday.

Stones cover band The Rolling Clones will be performing next Friday, April 8 at 27 Live in Evanston. Local alt rock band Whitewolfsonicprincess will be the opening act.

Rock critic Bill Wyman has an extensive cover story about the 1993 Chicago rock scene for the April 1-15 edition of the free paper New City. Back then, he wrote a column called Hitsville in the Chicago Reader, and took some flak for a Top 10 Albums of the year list he put together. Producer Steve Albini, in particular, took exception to Wyman’s choices of Liz Phair and Urge Overkill. It’s interesting to see Wyman’s current reflections on that past conflict, and the article is augmented with vintage promo photos and posters.

The limited-edition (only 500 copies) Terry Reid + The Jigsaw Seen is now exclusively available for $10 through The Jigsaw Seen’s Big Cartel Shop. The two-song CD features a cover of Donovan’s “Young Girl Blues” and Reid’s own “Speak Now Or Forever Hold Your Peace/May Fly” and was recorded live in 1997. Each CD ordered by April 30 will include a Terry Reid + The Jigsaw Seen LIVE button/badge. All profits from the CD will go to the UK-based The Pete Quaife Foundation, which supplies iPads to children on dialysis.

Graham Nash has a European tour lined up for this spring that will bring him to venues in Copenhagen, Gothenburg, Stockholm, Oslo, and other cities. He’ll be in Chicago on May 11 and 12 for shows at City Winery. Nash’s solo album This Path Tonight is due out in a couple weeks.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Cheap Trick To Rock Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show

Photo from the Cheap Trick Facebook page.

There’s nothing unusual about Victoria’s Secret already lining up musical guests for its 2016 Fashion Show even though the televised event is still months away. For years, Victoria’s Secret has prided itself on booking pop music mega-stars like Bruno Mars and Katy Perry. What is surprising this time around is that the lingerie icon is going with a power pop theme.

“Their decision makes perfect sense,” David Bash told me via a recent email. As the CFO/Founder of International Pop Overthrow, Bash brings his traveling power pop/indie rock showcase to cities in North America and England. IPO will run from April 14 to 23 at The Red Line Tap when it makes its annual visit to Chicago. “Most power pop songs are about yearning for your dream girl, and that’s something I’m sure happens to a lot of guys watching a Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show.”

Victoria Secret Fashion Show producer Monica Mitro asked to meet with me on a recent visit she made to Chicago, since Broken Hearted Toy covers a lot of power pop artists.

“The timing just seemed right,” Mitro explained over lunch at the Spiaggia restaurant on Michigan Avenue. “We thought since Cheap Trick was being inducted into The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, why not see if they’d like to be on our show?” The Chicago-based band accepted the invitation, and will perform “So Good To See You” from its legendary In Color album and a yet to be determined song from their brand new album Bang Zoom Crazy… Hello. (Which actually sounds like a description of a VS Fashion Show.) The Romantics, The Bangles, and Taylor Swift (more on her later) are also scheduled to appear.

“From there, everything seemed to fall in place,” Mitro continued. The next band on the VS hit list was The Romantics. “Have you seen their video for ‘Talking In Your Sleep’?” Mitro asked. “They're a natural for us!” She added that other factors impacted the company’s decision, such as Boston-based filmmaker Justin Fielding’s highly anticipated documentary The Power Pop Movie. There’s no word yet on whether Fielding will be interviewing models like Adriana Lima, Alessandra Ambrosio, Lily Aldridge, or Taylor Hill for his documentary, but he has expressed an interest.

It also helped that Taylor Swift’s covers album Power Poppers Gonna Power Pop comes out May 24. Reportedly, the project was inspired by alt rocker Ryan Adams covering Swift’s entire 1989 album, and Swift’s recent discovery of the Secret Weapon program on Woody Radio. Swift and her VS BFF Karlie Kloss dropped by Spiaggia while I was having lunch with Mitro. After setting her shopping bags under the table, Swift was eager to talk about performing “Some Dreams Come True” with The Bangles on the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show.

“When I first mentioned that I was going to cover a Bangles song, people assumed it would be a hit like ‘Manic Monday’ or 'Eternal Flame’,” Swift explained. “But I wanted to go with one of those awesome power pop album cuts that I loved listening to back when I was a kid in the 1980s.”

Mitro had asked me to suggest some songs that could be played while the Victoria’s Secret models do their thing. The list I brought included “There She Goes” by The La’s; “Behind The Wall Of Sleep” by The Smithereens; “Animal Attraction” by Shoes; “Love Is For Lovers” by The dBs; and “It’s A Night For Beautiful Girls” by The Fools.

Swift brought her own list. “I’ve really been getting into all the cool bands ‘Boris’ plays on Secret Weapon,” she explained.

“We’re always dancing to those songs," Kloss added.

Mitro collected the lists and promised to give our suggestions some careful consideration. I was proud to do my part in helping bring power pop to a whole new audience.

So don’t be surprised if you see some Victoria’s Secret models scouting Cheap Trick tonight at the Metro in Chicago, and other concerts along their current tour.

Please note that the above post was done on April 1.
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