Friday, November 30, 2018


Comic artist Heather McAdams is once again hosting a bash with various local musicians covering the famous rock and roll acts that will be featured via her drawings in an upcoming calendar. She and Chris Ligon will be at FitzGerald’s in Berwyn tomorrow night, along with The Flat Five (The Association); Jodee Lewis (Bill Monroe); Phil Angotti (The Dave Clark Five); Robbie Fulks (George Jones); Joshlyn Lomax (Sarah Vaughan); The Jim Becker Group (The Grateful Dead); Dave Drazin (Jess Stacy) Matt Miller (Richie Havens); and others. There will also be a merchandise table with CDs, postcards and calendfars. Doors open at 7:00 p.m., admission is $20.00.

The Rolling Stones have added another Chicago date to their 2019 No Filter U.S. tour. In addition to June 21, they’ll also be at Soldier Field on June 25. Maybe that gives them five days to spend in town. I just hope they know that Broken Hearted Toy is the best way for famous British musicians to find out what’s happening on the Chicago club scene. Tickets for both concerts went on sale this morning.

Colin Blunstone, lead vocalist and founding member of The Zombies, has a tour of America’s East Coast coming up next year. Dates include Pawling, NY; Philadelphia; Portland, MN; Boston; Washington, D.C.; and New York.

The Dyes; Baby Money and Down Payments; and Willow Canyon will take turns rocking the stage at Montrose Saloon tomorrow night. August Forte will be spinning rock, punk. garage, and surf records. The show starts at 9:00 p.m.

The Waco Brothers will be at the new Hey Nonny club in Arlington Heights tomorrow night.

If you’re an avid follower of the Chicago rock scene, you’ve probably heard the concerns being raised about how the proposed $6 billion Lincoln Yards project might affect clubs like The Hideout that are located in that area. Long-time rock critic Greg Kot recently raised the issue in the Chicago Tribune, and other venues, like Beat Kitchen and Subterranean have joined forces with The Hideout as The Chicago Independent Venues League. Representatives from Lincoln Yards developer Sterling Bay met with music venue owners and people from the community to discuss the project at a meeting last night hosted by Alderman Brian Hopkins. Chicago Sun-Times reporter Rachel Hinton has a story about that meeting in today’s issue.

Jeff Tweedy the frontman for Wilco, now has a new a solo album—titled WARM—to go with his new memoir Let’s Go (So We Can Get Back). The album was released today.

Bryan Ferry’s latest album, Bitter-Sweet, also came out today.

Chicago alt rock band whitewolfsonicprincess is planning to have its third album, The Alternate Boot, out in time for the holiday shopping season. Their last two efforts were favorably reviewed here on Broken Hearted Toy. The band will be hosting its annual Rock For Tots event on December 8 at The Store on Chicago’s north side. They’ll be joined be Dark Room Men; The Rut (a musical offshoot of the Famous In The Future comedy group); Lady Stardust; Parallelicopter; Ex Maquina; @Portman-towzone; and comedian Trevor Gertonson.

The David Bowie tribute act Sons Of The Silent Age will be joined by special guest, acclaimed actor Michael Shannon when it performs Bowie’s Scary Monsters (and Supercreeps) at Metro on January 12. A portion of the proceeds will benefit cancer patients at NorthShore University HealthSystems’s Integrative Medicine Program.

The 3 X 4 double LP I picked up at the downtown Reckless Records on Black Friday Record Store Day sounds like it’s going to be one of my favorite albums of 2018.  It features original Paisley Underground members The Bangles, Dream Syndicate, The Rain Parade, and The Three O’Clock covering each other’s songs. Hopefully, I’ll be posting a review in the near future.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018


Tickets for The Rolling Stones’ June 21 2019 concert at Soldier Field go on sale this Friday morning. The band had been teasing fans about its U.S. Unfiltered Tour with a short video on social media, but a new, longer version offers a montage of live performance footage and fun graphics. I still have fond memories of attending the band’s Exhibitionism exhibit at Navy Pier a few years back.

The Zombies’ lead vocalist Colin Blunstone, another member of Brit rock royalty, has announced an East Coast tour of the U.S. starting in Pawling, NY on January 31. Other stops include Philadelphia; Portland, MN; Boston; Washington, D.C.; and New York. I saw Blunstone at City Winery Chicago a few years back and it was a superb show. Also, don’t forget to cast a vote for The Zombies to be included in the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame 2019 Inductees.

Montrose Saloon on Chicago’s north side will be packed with music this Saturday night with The Dyes; Baby Money and Down Payments; and Willow Canyon scheduled to perform. Plus, August Forte will be spinning records, with an emphasis on rock, punk. garage, and surf. The show starts at 9:00 p.m.

The Imperial Sound has a gig coming up at Hey Nonny in Arlington Heights on January 26. So far, this new club has been doing an impressive job of moving beyond the suburban blueprint of booking the same handful of cover bands by bringing in acts that play original songs. The Waco Brothers will be there this Saturday, December 1 and upcoming gigs include jazz, folk, soul, bluegrass, classical, and blues acts.

Finally, Happy Birthday to Karen Gillan—Amy Pond of Doctor Who, Nebula of Guardians Of The Galaxy, and writer, director and star of the indie film The Party’s Just Beginning.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Johnny Marr - Call The Comet

For someone who’s performed so well within groups (The Smiths, Modest Mouse, The Cribs, etc.), Johnny Marr might be even more impressive when he records as a solo artist. On his first two efforts, The Messenger (2013) and Playland (2014), Marr combined his signature guitar strumming with irresistible synth arrangements. It took him four years to record another, but on the recently released Call The Comet, Marr once again breathes new life into a distinctively 1980s format.

On Call The Comet, he sets imaginative and often cryptic lyrics to atmospheric rock to evoke sci-fi film noir. “It’s the dawn of the dogs,” Marr warns on the opening track “Rise,” and adds “They hound they howl/They never let up.” An ominous message likewise lurks within the percolating synth rhythms of “New Dominions,” while the funky “Bug” depicts a widespread virus that leaves the population “sick and shaking.”

“Hi Hello,” which sounds a bit like Patti Smith’s “Dancing Barefoot,” offers a consoling message to someone who feels overcome and lost. The shimmering “Spiral Cities” describes an urban landscape that includes vertical streets, and “Tracers” urges us to “Make your way to the edge of the world.” “My Eternal” deals with confusion and possibly, a disdain for religious beliefs, but it moves with such exhilarating high speed, it’s impossible not to enjoy the ride.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Rock And Roll Holiday Gift Guide

First of all, Happy Thanksgiving to all the readers of this blog. Even if you’re not located in the U.S., it’s never a bad idea to take a few moments to consider the things you’re grateful for.

It’s also that time of year when indie newspapers and major publications offer holiday gift guides for their readers. Their choices are usually aimed at those with special interests or hobbies. It’s a great way to discover items you won’t encounter in your local department store. With that goal in mind, here’s the somewhat annual (I’ve missed a few years) Broken Hearted Toy Rock And Roll Gift Guide.

For the vinyl lovers in your life, choose from the limited-edition releases coming to record stores tomorrow only for Black Friday Record Store Day. It’s not as massive as the April version, but there are lots of choices in every imaginable genre. Keep in mind, the earlier you get there, the better the selection.

The Beatles’ White album is now available in various 50th Anniversary editions that include previously unreleased tracks and other bonus stuff, depending on how much you want to spend.

The Rolling Stones put together a collection of vintage songs by their favorite blues artists, titled Confessin The Blues. It’s available as a two-CD set; a Volume 1 and Volume 2 LP set, or a special 5x 10 vinyl bookpack + six art card prints. Stones guitarist Ron Wood created the art for the cover.

And don’t forget to support your local bands. If you’ve seen one you really like in a club, chances are they have stuff you can download or order on their website.

You can treat the comedy fans on your list to tickets to the Saturday Night Live: The Experience exhibit at the Chicago Museum of Broadcast Communications on State Street. Walking through the costumes, artifacts, and reconstructed sets kept me smiling, and occasionally laughing out loud. It runs through December 31.

The Stern Pinball company plans to market a new pinball machine based on the early days of Beatlemania. According to an article by Ryan Smith in the Chicago Sun-Times, there will be 1,964 machines in the line, including a 100-run Diamond Edition that could rake in mega dollars from ultimate pinball machine fanatics.

Rock and roll books are always a great choice, and since they’re often visually oriented, you’ll want to give the real thing and not a Kindle version. Here are a few recommendations;

Artist/writer Bill Morrison of Mad Magazine fame has crafted a fun graphic novel treatment of The Beatles’ animated movie Yellow Submarine. It’s published by Titan Comics.

Unstrung Heroes: Fifty Guitar Greats You Should Know by author Pete Braidis casts a spotlight on musicians who aren’t as well known as Eric Clapton or Jimi Hendrix but are still noteworthy. Profiles include Pat Travers, Steve Hackett, Tony Hicks, Martin Barre, Bruce Cockburn, and Richie Furay.

Classic Rock Photographs From Yesterday And Today combines Jim Summaria’s photographs with Mark Plotnick’s copy. According to Amazon, the book compares famous artists in their prime to how they’re performing now.

It Must Be Art: Big O Poster Artists of the 1960s and 70s finds authors Michael Fishel and Nigel Suckling honoring the gig posters created by the Big O Posters company in swinging London. As you can tell by the cover, this is some eye-popping work.

Monty Python member and Spamalot co-creator Eric Idle has a new book out titled Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life – A Sortabiography. Guaranteed to break the ice at naughty parties. Nudge, nudge, know what I mean?

Also, be sure to check out the Facebook pages and websites of your favorite artists for exclusive music, apparel, and other items. Record label websites like Bloodshot, Yep Roc, and Fruits de Mer are always worth shopping, and The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame website has lots of inductee and exhibit memorabilia. Pledge Music, Go Fund Me, and other crowd funding sites are a good way to support your favorite artists and pick up autographed items. And you never know what rare treasures you’ll discover on eBay.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Thanksgiving Weekend Stuff

We’ve arrived at the most appreciated Wednesday night in America; the gateway to a four-day weekend anchored by Thanksgiving. Here are a few suggestions on how to spend some of that extra leisure time.

Depending on when you see this, there might still be time to catch The Safes hosting their 15th Annual Black Wednesday Show at Schubas on Chicago’s north side. The Safes, whose albums have garnered praise here on Broken Hearted Toy, will be joined by The Differents, Baby Money, The Down Payments, and The Marcatos. You could also pick up a copy of The Safes’ new Juliana Hatfield tribute seven-inch single.

Chicago musicians Ellis Clark (Epicycle, The Social Act, The Handcuffs) and Ary Jeebie (The Amazing Heeby Jeebies) will host a Black Friday bash this Friday from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. at the Val’s Record Store in Oak Park. Acts scheduled to perform include psychedelic rockers Constantine; vocalist Phoenix; Big Hair Trouble (a Clark/Jeebie side project); Country Doctors; and Black Friars Club.

Chicago TARDIS takes place this Friday through Sunday at the Westin Lombard Yorktown Center. Billed as “The Midwest’s Largest Doctor Who Event,” it will feature Pearl Mackie, who did a fantastic job as The Doctor’s companion Bill Potts; Tony Curran, who portrayed Vincent Van Gogh on an episode; Nicholas Briggs, the voice of the Daleks, Cybermen, and Ice Warriors; and other celebrity guests. Note: according to the Chicago TARDIS website, actress Jenna Coleman, who played Clara Oswald, has had to cancel her appearance due to filming obligations.

Dave Drazin, a founding member of the Famous In The Future comedy group along with Lake Sirmon, Frank Carr, and myself, will be providing piano accompaniment for Buster Keaton’s 1927 classic silent film The General this Saturday at the Gene Siskel Film Center downtown. He does this sort of thing on a regular basis and is quite good at it.

Sunshine Boys, the recently formed trio of music scene vets Dag Juhlin, Freda Love Jones, and Jacqueline Schimmel, have a vinyl release show this Saturday night at Montrose Saloon on Chicago’s north side. Their debut album Blue Music, stands as one of the year’s best releases. Gerald Dowd is also on the bill.

Damn right, I’ve got the drumstick. Sopro Music’s 36th Annual Thanksgiving Blues Revue Concert Event takes place this Saturday night at the Cheers live music venue/restaurant in Midlothian. Sopro,  an independent music promoter with decades of booking experience in the Chicago area, has once again assembled an impressive list of blues and jazz musicians. Critically acclaimed trombone/saxophone quartet The Chicago Horns will headline, and other guests include guitarist-vocalist Joey Drada; vocalist Deb Seitz; bassist John Falstrom; guitarist vocalist Billy King; drummer Grant Niebergall; and guitarist-vocalist Chainsaw Dupont. Showtime is 9:00 p.m., and there will be prize giveaways in addition to the blues.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

When Black Friday Comes

Maybe it’s due to the holiday season competition, but Black Friday Record Store Day has yet to match the fanatical devotion the April version continues to generate. Still, there are enough vinyl treasures in a variety of genres to make a wintry trip to your favorite record store this Friday morning worthwhile.

The artists involved include Brian Auger And The Trinity; The B-52’s; Taylor Swift; Hank Williams; Blue Oyster Cult; John Coltrane; The Breeders; Roy Buchanan; The Byrds; Garbage with John Doe and Exene Cervenka; Robert Johnson; Outkast; Sheryl Crow; U2; Tangerine Dream; Eric Clapton; Jim Morrison & The Doors; Devo; Alice Cooper; Ella FitzGerald; Bobby Gentry; Talking Heads; Flamin Groovies; Dexter Gordon; Iggy & The Stooges; Soul Asylum; Herbie Hancock; The Jimi Hendrix Experience; Lone Justice; Bob Marley And The Wailers; The Mamas & The Papas; Matthew Sweet; Rage Against The Machine; Ramones; Keith Richards; Rosie Thomas; Todd Rundgren; The Smithereens; and The Smashing Pumpkins.

Number one on my wish list is the 3 X 4 double LP from The Bangles, The Three O’Clock; The Dream Syndicate, and Rain Parade on which they cover each other’s Paisley Underground songs. Here are a few of the other records I’m hoping to snag this time around: The Epic Archive Volume 2 (1980–1983) by Cheap Trick; “Take Me I’m Yours” seven-inch single by Difford & Tilbrook with ?uestlove and Robert Glasper; and “I Don’t Know”/“Come On To Me” seven-inch single by Paul McCartney.

Even though the colder weather and already established tradition of shopping department stores may cut down on your competition for RSD limited editions, it’s still advisable to get out there early. Afterwards, you can celebrate your successful hunt over a hot beverage (in my case, a chai tea latte) at a nearby Starbucks, Argo, or Dunkin Donuts.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

That’s Sarcasm

Photo from The Regrettes’ Facebook page.

One of the reasons The Regrettes’ 2017 debut Feel Your Feelings Fool! drew critical raves was way the Los Angeles-based punk band brought social commentary to its energetic songs. Lead vocalist-guitarist Lydia Night’s satirical lyrics took deadly aim at the limitations society places on women, using catchy arrangements that often evoked the 1960s girl group sound. “You’re talking to me like I’m hurt,” she sang on “Seashore” but quickly added, “And I’ll still kick your ass even in my skirt.”
So it’s no surprise The Regrettes’new single “Poor Boy” mocks the “men are under attack” backlash against the #MeTooMovement with a driving beat and a simple animated video that depicts a man with streams of tears gushing from his eyes. “We’re releasing this song because we are done with letting abusers walk free,” the band explains on its Facebook page. Viewers of the clip are being asked to make a donation to RAINN, a foundation that helps sexual assault and rape victims.

Friday, November 16, 2018


Maybe I’m Omazed. Two lucky Paul McCartney fans could win tickets to see him perform at the Echo Arena in Liverpool, as well as free airfare, hotel accommodations, and a chance to join him onstage. It’s all part of a current campaign on the Omaze fundraising site to support the not-for-profit Meat Free Monday campaign, which Paul and his daughters Mary and Stella started in 2009. Omaze specializes in matching popular celebrities to worthwhile causes.

Depending on when you read this tonight, you might still have time to catch EXPO ’76 at Mac’s On Slade in Palatine; The Sting Police tribute act at the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre in Arlington Heights; Big Brother’s Vinyl at Countryside Saloon in Des Plaines; the WNUR Showcase at Montrose Saloon in Chicago featuring The Idea, Love Punch and The Dry Look; or The Vanessa Davis Band at FitzGerald’s in Berwyn.

Tickets went on sale today for Frank Orrall from Poi Dog Pondering at SPACE on November 16; Meshell Ndegeocello at Thalia Hall on November 16; Flat Five at SPACE on February 14; celtic band Cherish The Ladies at The Old Town School Of Folk Music on March 24; Coathangers at Empty Bottle on April 9; Billy Bragg at Lincoln Hall on April 25 – 27; and Dido at The Vic on June 13.

Shiny and Oh So Bright . . ., the latest release from The Smashing Pumpkins, arrived today. Next Friday brings The Bela Session by Bauhaus; and on November 30, we’ll see Bitter-Sweet from Bryan Ferry and WARM from Jeff Tweedy.

Long-time Lincoln Park store The Book Cellar will host An Evening With Jeff Tweedy at The Music Box on Southport this Sunday at 7:00 p.m. Tweedy, well-known frontman for Wilco, will be discussing his new memoir Let’s Go (So We Can Get Back).

Black Friday Record Store Day is next Friday. Do you know where your wish list is?

The Safes are holding their 15th Annual Black Wednesday Show at Schubas, so be sure to have all your Thanksgiving meal preparation done early. This year, they’ll be joined by The Differents, Baby Money, The Down Payments, and The Marcatos.

David Crosby has a gig coming up on Monday, November 19 at the North Shore Center For The Performing Arts in Skokie.

Second City is already known for live shows that have launched the careers of several big time comic performers, as well as for its training facilities. It’s now also the home of the Harold Ramis Film School, which is being billed as The World’s Only Film School Dedicated To Comedy. The program is divided into three segments—Comedy Theory, Storytelling, and Filmmaking. Anyone interested in enrolling can contact Second City at

The BoDeans have three shows coming up next weekend at City Winery Chicago; a 7:00 p.m. and a 10:00 p.m. on Saturday, and a 7:00 p.m. on Sunday.

Congratulations to long-time Chicago Tribune theater critic Chris Jones on his brand new book Rise Up! Broadway and American Society from Angels in America to Hamilton. Last Sunday’s edition of the Chicago Tribune had an extensive excerpt describing Barack and Michelle Obama attending a Broadway production of Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun back in 2014.

The Sunshine Boys will celebrate the vinyl release of their superb album Blue Music with a show on November 24 at Montrose Saloon.

The 20th Annual Animation Show Of Shows comes to the Gene Siskel Film for a two-week run starting on December 14.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

We Get The Idea

The Chicago-based band The Idea returns to action tomorrow night at Montrose Saloon for a triple bill of power pop being sponsored by local radio station WNUR. Kirk Fox, host of The Power Pop Shoppe, has done an impressive job of bringing his radio show to venues like Montrose Saloon and The Elbo Room. Singer-guitarist Phil Angotti of The Idea was featured as a solo act in one of those live shows, and he’s released a trio of albums in recent years that have drawn praise here on Broken Hearted Toy.

Angotti was performing with The Idea when it was one of three Chicago bands (The Critics and 92 Degrees being the others) to perform at the very first International Pop Overthrow festival in Los Angeles in 1977. The band also contributed “It’s About That Time,” one of the best Christmas pop songs ever to Yuletunes, one of the best holiday compilations ever. It might be a bit early for The Idea to play “It’s About That Time” tomorrow night, but I doubt anyone at Montrose Saloon would mind.

The music starts at 9:00 p.m. tomorrow. Love Punch and The Dry Look are also on the bill.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018


Photo from the EXPO ’76 Facebook page.

EXPO ’76 returns to Mac’s On Slade in Palatine for an 8:45 p.m. gig this Friday night. The band members are music scene veterans, and their experience is evident in the decades-spanning and impeccable cover versions they perform. Unique treats, like a “James Bond Theme”/”Sunny” by Bobby Hebb mashup, and song segues not many bands would have the knowledge to craft, are part of every show. Note: Mac’s is a small venue so get there early if you want a place to sit. Also, it will cost $3 to see this gig (I think Mac’s generally doesn’t have a cover charge) but as the band humbly noted on social media, it’s worth at least twice that much.

Singer-guitarist Dag Juhlin, who’s one of those EXPO ’76 band members, has a show titled Solo Recital #2 coming up on November 30 at the Friendly Tap in Berwyn. I have no idea what songs he’ll be playing, but it would be fun to hear a mix of material from The Slugs, Poi Dog Pondering, Sunshine Boys and other bands he’s performed with over the years. Dave Sebastian, a member of The Raine—the band that backed Off Broadway vocalist Cliff Johnson on a number of occasions—will be the opening act.

Tributosaurus, one of Chicago’s most successful tribute acts, will be performing a One Hit Wonders of the 1980s show when it return to the Copernicus Center in Chicago’s Jefferson Park neighborhood on January 20.

The Sting Police, a tribute act that specializes in the music by The Police and Sting, have a 7:30 p.m. show coming up this Friday at the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre For The in Arlington Heights.

Big Brother’s Vinyl will be playing guitar-driven, classic rock hits and deep album cuts at the Countryside Saloon in Des Plaines this Friday night, and at the Arlington Ale House in Arlington Heights on December 8.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Dot Dash - Proto Retro

Proto Retro finds Dot Dash experimenting with Beach Boys style backup vocals and jangling guitars. It’s a new but not surprising approach from a band that has pretty much employed a different game plan for each of the six full-length albums it’s released since 2011. Based in Washington, D.C., Dot Dash has previously given us authentic punk, as well as guitar-driven alt rock inspired by 1980s masters like Translator and Red Rockers. The impressive journey continues with the recently released Proto Retro.

Dot Dash brings a sharper edge and cryptic lyrics to their jangling, catchy arrangements, particularly on “Unfair Weather” and “Sun + Moon = Disguise.” Much of the album evokes the way R.E.M. updated The Byrds, with “It’s The End Of The World As We Know It” often serving as a template. Vocalist-guitarist Terry Banks adroitly navigates quick rhymes and off-kilter phrases like “I made a hat of a Texas map” on the defiant “Green On Red” and “I’ve gone back in time, please remain on the line” on “World’s Last Payphone.”

“Dead Letter Rays” and “Parachute Powerline” are melodic tracks in a more traditional power pop vein, while the slower and romantic “Triple Rainbow” has a psychedelic feel. At times, it’s even fun to hear Banks contradict himself within the same song. “Tamed A Wild Beast” offers uplifting sentiments like “If you moved a mountain” and “If you rose above,” only to snap back with, “Keep it to yourself.”

Friday, November 9, 2018


Black Friday arrives in exactly two weeks, but for people looking to find gifts for the rock and roll fans on their lists, today is White Album Friday. The Beatles’ 1968 two-record set, a ground breaking and band breaking up affair, becomes available today in a variety of versions. The $138.74 option on Amazon comprises six CDs, including one with 27 tracks from the now legendary Esher demo tapes that were recorded at George Harrison’s home back in the day. The $22.97 three-CD set also has that disc.

The new documentary Horn From The Heart: The Paul Butterfield Story will be screened tonight at the Gene Siskel Film Center and run through November 15. Director John Anderson, along with special guests, will be on hand tonight, tomorrow, and Sunday for a discussion with the audience. Jeff Johnson in the Chicago Sun-Times and Greg Kot in the Chicago Tribune each gave Horn From The Heart a three-star rating in their reviews today.

Tickets went on sale today for Dave Davies at SPACE on April 20 and at City Winery Chicago on April 21; Herb Alpert and Lani Hall at City Winery Chicago on May 4 and 5; Fleetwood Mac at the United Center on are March 1; and Nick Mason’s Saucerful Of Secrets at the Chicago Theatre on on April 4. You can always find an extensive list of concerts that have just gone on sale on the second to last page of Chicago free paper The Reader.

This week’s Reader has a particularly good edition of The Secret History Of Chicago Music by artist/musician Plastic Crime Wave. The comic is a regular feature in the paper, and the latest installment focuses on the band The Service and the Pravda indie label they founded. It’s a detailed look at how these musicians have kept active in the local music scene, with three of them—Rick Mosher, Kenn Goodman, and Gary Schepers—currently performing with The Imperial Sound.

As noted in The Mix column of today’s Chicago Sun-Times, the 30th Annual Polish Film Festival is currently running at Facets Cinematheque; AMC Rosemont; and The Gallery Theatre. The Mix also noted that the Green Line Performing Arts Centre, which plans to collaborate with south side theatre groups, is inviting the public to check out its space at 329 E. Garfield tomorrow from 2 :00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

David Crosby has a gig coming up on November 19 at the North Shore Center For The Performing Arts in Skokie. The Richard Thompson Electric Trio will be at Thalia Hall on December 7 and 8.

The Zombies have a special concert coming up to honor the late Jim Rodford, who played bass guitar for them, Argent, and The Kinks. The event will be held on January 20 at The Alban Arena in St. Albans in the U.K.

Long-time Lincoln Park store The Book Cellar will host An Evening With Jeff Tweedy at The Music Box on Southport next Sunday, November 18 at 7:00 p.m. Tweedy, well-known frontman for Wilco, will be discussing his new memoir Let’s Go (So We Can Get Back).

There will be plenty of merriment when EXPO ’76 returns to my sleepy hometown of Palatine next Friday night for a gig at Mac’s On Slade. Trees are being decorated all over town, although that might have more to do with the holiday season than the band’s imaginative and always fun selection of cover versions. The music starts at 8:45 but since Mac’s is a small joint, you’ll have to get there much earlier if you want a place to sit.

Long-time Chicago guitar slinger Lorrie Kountz will bring her band to Mac’s on November 28 for a 7:30 p.m. show.

The Safes are holding their 15th Annual Black Wednesday Show at Schubas so be sure to have all your Thanksgiving meal preparation done early. This year, they’ll be joined by The Differents, Baby Money, The Down Payments, and The Marcatos.

The Sunshine Boys will celebrate the vinyl release of their superb album Blue Music with a show on November 24 at Montrose Saloon.

Private Peaceful, the play based on Michael Morpurgo’s 2003 critically acclaimed children’s novel, wraps up its run at the Greenhouse Theater on Lincoln Avenue tomorrow night.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Graham Nash - Over The Years . . .

The first disc of Over The Years . . . offers 15 classic songs recorded by Graham Nash throughout his post-Hollies career. “Our House,” “Wasted On The Way,” and “Teach Your Children” represent his Crosby, Stills, Nash and sometimes Young tenure, while “Immigration Man”is a Crosby/Nash highlight. The solo material reaches back to “Military Madness” from his Songs For Beginners solo debut up to “Myself At Last” from his 2016 effort This Path Tonight. But the real treasure for Nash fans can be found on disc two, which uncovers several previously unreleased demos.

For rock and roll archaeologists, the major find here is a demo of “Marrakesh Express” Nash recorded for The Hollies back in 1968. It’s easy to recognize the song’s exotic charms even via this bare-bones arrangement, and the band’s inexplicable rejection of it helped push Nash toward his new friends in America. The simple beauty of Nash’s songwriting is also evident as his sings and strums an acoustic guitar on “Simple Man,” “Right Between The Eyes,” and the Everly Brothers flavored “You’ll Never Be The Same.”

A stark rendition of “Chicago” featuring Nash alone at his piano makes it an even more emphatic call to action that the 1971 studio version. “Wind On The Water,” originally augmented with Crosby’s gorgeous harmonies, is still impressive in this earlier solo take. “Wasted On The Way” is the only track on Disc 2 with additional vocals, as Nash joins Timothy B. Schmidt of Poco and The Eagles fame and Stephen Stills on this heartfelt plea to make the most of life.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

The Imperial Sound – The New AM

The Imperial Sound creates music that fits the neo-soul genre but goes beyond it in adventurous ways. The songs on the Chicago-based sextet’s debut effort The New AM also incorporate jazz, blues, and rock, with a dash of vintage supper club ambience for extra flavor. Although these guys are music scene veterans, this is a new approach for them, and they do wonders with it.

Special guests add to the fun, especially vocalists Nora O’Connor, Kathy Ruestow, Kelly Hogan, Peter Himmelman, Robert Cornelius, and Dag Juhlin. The Imperial Sound’s lead singer Rick Mosher does well with all of them; creating duets with O’Connor on the soulful “Yesterday,” a tale of a relationship gone sour, and Kathy Ruestow on the sexy tale “The Quarry.” Himmelman and Hogan bring sass to “Ain’t Crawling Back,” a clever take on a guy who’s not quite as over his ex as he claims.

Cornelius helps give “A Man Like You” a combination movie theme/hit single appeal as the band breaks loose behind him. Juhlin, a frequent collaborator with some of these guys on other projects, adds energetic back-up vocals to the more rocking numbers “You’ve Been A Fool” and “Get Along!” Throughout the 12 tracks, The New AM suggests The Imperial Sound would be a blast to see in a live performance.

Monday, November 5, 2018


I’d to extend a warm welcome to Steven Van Zandt, who’s in town with his Disciples Of Soul band for a WXRT Holiday Concert tonight at The Copernicus Center on the northwest side. (It’s a short walk from the Jefferson Park Metra/CTA hub.) He dropped by the FM radio station earlier today for a visit with morning DJ Lin Brehmer. Van Zandt is a long-time member of Bruce Springsteen’s E-Street Band, a successful solo artist, actor, radio show host, and more recently, a champion of educators.

There was an interesting article about him by writer Jeff Elbel in last Friday’s Chicago Sun-Times. In addition to Van Zandt’s current Soulfire Teacher Solidarity Tour, it focused on his initiative. The idea is for teachers to use music to reach students who might otherwise drop out. Each concert on the tour offers free tickets to teachers who contact the TeachRock website.

The Bad Examples have a special event coming up this Saturday, November 10 at Two Brothers Roundhouse in Aurora to celebrate the life of Donna Heaney. An early supporter of the Chicago-based band who helped with the creation of buttons and flyers, Heaney passed away recently. I still have one of the Bad Examples buttons lead vocalist Ralph Covert was giving out at an Illinois Entertainer event at Metro several years ago, but I’m not sure if it was one of the originals.

Love, Gilda, director Lisa Apolito’s 2018 documentary about Saturday Night Live pioneer Gilda Radner, is currently running at the Gene Siskel Center. The 90-minute film will be screened each night through this Thursday, November 8.

The Sting Police, a tribute band that covers the music of Sting and The Police, has a gig coming up on November 16 at the Metropolitan Arts Centre in Arlington Heights. Looking ahead to early 2019, that same venue will present Marrakesh Express – A Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young Experience on January 18.

According to a UK organization called The Official Charts Co., the honor for recording the most popular British album ever goes to The Beatles for their 1967 masterpiece Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Friday, November 2, 2018


Tickets went on sale today for the following 2019 shows: Mark Knopfler at the Chicago Theatre on September 1; Robbie Fulks and Linda Gail Lewis at Lincoln Hall on February 23; Guster and Saintseneca at The Riviera Theatre on April 13; Peter Himmelman at The Old Town School Of Folk Music on March 30; The Kooks at The Riviera Theatre on February 21; John McCutcheon at The Old Town School Of Folk Music on February 5; Peter Murphy of Bauhaus fame at the Rockefeller Memorial Chapel on February 22; and Bob Mould Band at Metro on February 22 and 23.

Mark Knopfler has a new album titled Down The Road Forever coming out November 9, and The Kooks recently released Let’s Go Sunshine, which finds them moving back to more familiar territory than their more techno-oriented 2015 effort Listen.

Other albums due out this month include Negative Capability by Marianne Faithful today; Shiny And Oh So Bright. . . by Smashing Pumpkins on November 16; The Bela Session by Bauhaus on November 23; and Bitter-Sweet by Brian Ferry and WARM by Jeff Tweedy on November 30.

Speaking of releases, don’t forget Black Friday Record Day will offer several one-day only vinyl treasures. Check the official RSD website for the complete list.

The SOFA Expo, which bills itself as “The World’s Foremost Fair of Contemporary Decorative Arts and Design,” opened on Navy Pier yesterday and will run through Sunday.

Little Steven and The Disciples Of Soul will be performing at Copernicus Center this Monday, November 5. The concert is part of WXRT 2018 Holiday Concert series.

Singer-guitarist Michael Steven Cohen, who founded the local power pop bands The Abbeys and The Pop Dollys, will host a Saturday Morning Open Stage at KaffeStube in Schaumburg tomorrow morning.

Chicago-based filmmaker Lance Eliot Adams is about to start work on his first feature-length film. Adams, a familiar face to regular attendees of the Mary-Arrchie Theater’s annual Abbie Fest, has made 40 short films over the past 10 years.

The Safes are holding their 15th Annual Black Wednesday Show at Schubas so be sure to have all your Thanksgiving meal preparation done early. This year, they’ll be joined by The Differents, Baby Money, The Down Payments, and The Marcatos. The party will also celebrate the release of a very cool Juliana Hatfield tribute seven-inch single by The Safes on the American Laundromat label. “Universal Heart-Beat” and “I See You” were recorded with help from Material Issue’s Ted Ansani and Mike Zelenko and produced by Steve Albini.

The American Laundromat site is also where you can pre-order a new album titled Weird from Juliana Hatfield herself. It’s due out January 18 and is available in various formats—including colored vinyl.

The Stern Pinball company plans to market a new pinball machine based on the early days of Beatlemania. According to an article by Ryan Smith in the Chicago Sun-Times, there will be 1,964 machines in the line, including a 100-run Diamond Edition that could rake in mega dollars from ultimate pinball machine fanatics.

The Sunshine Boys will celebrate the vinyl release of their superb album Blue Music with a show on November 24 at Montrose Saloon. When I reviewed the CD/download version here last May, I noted the material ranged from romantic entanglements to urgent calls for political action, with well-crafted lyrics set to arrangements that combine alt rock with guitar-driven 1960s pop. Five months later, I would still say “Only A Million Miles” ranks as the best rock song any artist has recorded in 2018.

Chicago-based rock critic Jessica Hopper will be promoting her new memoir book Night Moves as she joins José Olivarez this Sunday at Chicago Athletic Association - Stagg Court as part of the 2018 Chicago Humanities Festival.

Peter Asher and Jeremy Clyde—that’s one half of Peter and Gordon and one half of Chad and Jeremy—have a gig coming up next Tuesday, November 6 at City Winery Chicago.

Film director (and one-time Cleaning Ladys band member) John Anderson will be at the Gene Siskel Film Center November 9, 10, and 11 for screenings of his new documentary Horn From The Heart: The Paul Butterfield Story. There will be a discussion with the audience on each of those occasions, as well as special guests to be announced later. Horn From The Heart will run at The Gene Siskel Center through November 15.

Private Peaceful, the play based on Michael Morpurgo’s 2003 critically acclaimed novel, runs through November 11 at the Greenhouse Theater on Lincoln Avenue. Lead actor Shane O’Regan was an Irish Times Best Actor nominee when Private Peaceful was staged in Ireland.
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