Friday, July 6, 2018


There’s a power pop explosion coming up at FitzGerald’s in Berwyn on July 21 when Cliff Johnson and The Raine open the evening, and Johnson and the original members of Off Broadway close it. The Raine (John D. Kolonel, Dave Sebastian, Bill Bickel, and Bill Kowalski) have done a great job over the past few years of backing Johnson as he performs Off Broadway tunes, but it’s also a safe bet that longtime fans will love to see the original Off Broadway back on stage again. I’m hoping to have more on this as the gig gets closer.

WESTfest kicked off today at 5:00 p.m. and will continue tomorrow from noon to 10:00 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 10:00 p.m. Presented by the popular and critically acclaimed Empty Bottle venue, the festival will offer over 30 live acts and DJs at Chicago Avenue and Damen.

The Millennium Art Festival at Lake and Michigan Avenue also started today, and will be back tomorrow and Sunday.

Congratulations to Pilsen on being chosen by Forbes as one of the world’s “coolest neighborhoods.” As reported by Katherine Rosenberg-Douglas in this past Tuesday’s Chicago Tribune, the Forbes travel writers praised the Chicago neighborhood for its, “hip galleries and walls decorated with colorful murals.” Rock fans have grown more familiar with Pilsen in recent years due to the emergence of Thalia Hall as a popular venue for indie rock shows.

The July issue of UK magazine MOJO, with the cover story The 50 Greatest Songs Of Pink Floyd cover story, also has a short interview with Chicago-based Liz Phair about her favorite records and musicians. Phair’s Girly-Sound To Guyville: The 25th Anniversary Box Set was recently released. MOJO also has a longer piece on former Doctor Who star Christopher Eccleston about his favorite releases. Oh, and the number one song on MOJO’s Pink Floyd list? “Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Part I – V).”

Last Saturday night’s birthday bash for local musicians Ellis Clark, Ary Paloma Jeebie, and Chloe F. Orwell at Montrose Saloon underscored the venue’s emergence as a viable new showcase for Chicago area bands. A number of musicians were on hand to join in the fun and watch performances by The Frantastic Sound System, The Handcuffs, and Ellis Clark’s Big Parade. Upcoming shows at Montrose Saloon include Futuristic Drago playing the music of T Rex tomorrow night, The Amazing Heebie Jeebies (fronted by Ary Paloma Jeebie) and The Dyes on July 14, and The Bon Mots and Mike Coy and Friends on July 28.

Songs from the beginning. I was excited when I read about Graham Nash’s Over The Years two-CD compilation on social media and The Second Disc website, and now that I’ve had a chance to listen to the album, it totally fulfills my expectations. Over The Years offers a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at some of his best-known songs via previously unreleased demos and alternate versions. I’m planning to post a full review in the near future. Nash will be spending the last week in July performing in England.

The Square Roots Festival being held in Lincoln Square next weekend will offer an eclectic and guaranteed entertaining selection of acts throughout its run. Matthew Sweet and The Dream Syndicate are the headliners for Friday night; The Jayhawks, The Handsome Family, Bombino, and Gato Pero headline Saturday; and Pokey Lafarge and Tossers headline on Sunday. The off-kilter but always charming singer-songwriter Dawn Landes will perform on Saturday, and other acts include Les Rodailleurs, and the Alma Afrobeat Ensemble.

Urgh! A Music War, the 1981 documentary that features performances from The Go-Go’s, X, Echo And The Bunnymen, UB40, Devo, 999, Gary Numan, Devo, Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark, and several other punk and new wave bands, will be screened at the Music Box on July 16. Admission is $10.

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