Friday, June 28, 2019


Wish me luck. I’ll be pitching my two my rock and roll novels (and possibly a Middle Grade fantasy) to literary agents at the Writing Workshop Of Chicago tomorrow at the Congress Plaza Hotel on south Michigan Avenue. I’ve gone to this event the past two years and found it a very rewarding experience. Aspiring writers tend to think of literary agents as cold and unsympathetic, but engaging with them in a friendly, informative face-to-face meeting certainly changes that outlook.

Pete Townshend has written a novel. It’s called The Age Of Anxiety and is coming out on November 19.

Mike Skill and ’67 RiOT with Brad Elvis; The Differents; and Acoustipunks will share a triple this coming Tuesday at Montrose Saloon on Chicago’s north side. Skill and Brad Elvis are well known as members of The Romantics, and Brad Elvis is also a founding member of the Chicago-based indie rock band The Handcuffs. Show time is 8:00 p.m.

Tickets went on sale today for Black Flag at Reggies’ Rock Club on August 25; the Dave Brubeck Tribute Project at SPACE on August 28; Shemekia Copeland at SPACE on October 11; Elvis Costello and The Imposters at Chicago Theatre on November 22; Marshall Crenshaw at SPACE on December 12; Morrissey and Interpol at Ravinia on September 14; and New Pornographers and Lady Lamb at The Vic on October 2. These listings, and several others, can be found on the Early Warnings page of this week’s Reader.

Megan McDonough has a gig coming up next Saturday, July 6; at SPACE in Evanston.

Monty Python is celebrating its 50th Birthday this year and it’s going to be a (British accent) silly party. Fully restored episodes of Monty Python’s Flying Circus will be coming out on November 19, a BBC Takeover is in the works, and the group will be reissuing its books and records. Monty Python’s Flying Circus IPA will be available via Black Sheep Brewery in September and October. Drink enough and you can talk like a Monty Python Gumby character.

Former Hollies lead vocalist Allan Clarke is due to release the single “Journey Of Regret” on July 12. It’s the first taste of Clarke’s new album Resurgence, which is coming out on September 20. It will be Clarke’s eighth solo effort, but the first in almost 30 years.

The Petty Kings will be performing Tom Petty songs on July 7 at the Mount Prospect Lions Club Festival and on July 12 at the 210 Live venue in Highwood.

The Kokandy Productions presentation of Head Over Heels opens on Monday, July 1 and runs through August 25 at Theatre Wit on Belmont Avenue. The gay-centric and anachronistic musical is based on songs by The Go-Go’s.

Former Doctor Who star David Tennant and current Doctor Who star Jodie Whittaker are among the English stage and film performers taking part in the BBC Children In Need: Got It Covered CD project.  Each of them will record a cover version of a hit song. Helena Bonham Carter and Jim Broadbent will also be contributing. There will also be a 60-minute programme showing the rehearsals and recordings.

Matt Smith of Doctor Who and The Crown fame and Keira Knightley of thousands of movies fame will be co-starring in a political thriller titled Official Secrets.

Chicago-based indie/roots rock label Bloodshot Records will be celebrating its 30th Anniversary at the Square Roots Festival in the Lincoln Square area on July 13. Murder By Death, The Mekons, and The Vandoliers will take part in a tribute to the late Andre Williams. The Bloodshot All-Stars Band and other special guests will also be on hand.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

A Tribute To Terri

Photo from Terri Hemmert's Facebook page.

WXRT DJ Terri Hemmert has announced she’ll be semi-retiring; leaving her weekday mid-morning shift but continuing to host Breakfast With The Beatles each Sunday. Hemmert, a Radio Hall Of Fame inductee, has been part of the progressive rock station almost since its start in the early 1970s. With her conversational, no-hype approach to broadcasting, she was a welcoming presence when many of us decided to tiptoe away from Top 40 radio to the more adventurous landscape of the FM dial.

For the many fans she’s gained over the years, mornings just won’t be the same. But Hemmert won’t completely disappear. Like Frank E. Lee, another XRT veteran who officially retired a few years back, she’ll fill in for the station’s other on-air personalities when needed. And she’ll still be sharing all that fab gear music on Breakfast With The Beatles

On a related note, Hemmert will once again serve as the MC for The Fest For Beatles Fans - Chicago when it takes place at the Hyatt Regency O'Hare on the weekend of August 9 – 11. Her extensive knowledge of music and quick wit serve her well while interviewing celebrity guests. Hemmert has said that watching The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show gave her the idea to become a radio personality. It seemed like a great way to meet her favorite musicians. Considering that working at WXRT enabled her to interview Paul McCartney, that plan has worked out pretty well.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019


There’s an ‘80s On The Fox event coming up at the Thomas J. Weisner RiverEdge Park in Aurora this Saturday featuring The Romantics and three other well-known acts. My wife Pam and I saw a Roger Whittaker concert in Aurora when we first started dating, so you can definitely drive there from Chicago. In addition to The Romantics, the ‘80s On The Fox lineup includes Rick Springfield, Patty Smyth and Scandal, and Starship. Eddie Money was scheduled to perform but had to cancel because he’s recovering from recent heart surgery. Hope he’s well soon.

Other shows coming up at RiverEdge Park include Roger Whittaker (just kidding), The Mavericks with special guests Los Lobos on July 26, and Poi Dog Pondering on August 24.

The Posies will be coming to Aurora for a Party In The Park concert hosted by Chicago Premium Outlets (1650 Premium Outlets Road) on July 19. The event promises live music, food trucks and family fun and runs from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. According to a post from band member Ken Stringfellow on Facebook, The Posies will be playing some brand new songs.

The Lapidos Family is mailing out cards promoting its Fest For Beatles Fans – Chicago event coming up August 9 – 11 at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare in Rosemont. This year’s headliners are Denny Laine, Laurence Juber, and Steve Holley from Wings; Alan White from Yes; Jeremy Clyde from Chad and Jeremy; Liverpool, and The Weeklings. Local musicians Phil Angotti, Jay Goeppner, and School Of Rock are scheduled for sets on the Apple Jam Stage, and the card promises more Apple Jam acts will be announced.

Tomorrow (June 27) is the last day you can see Echo In The Canyon, director Andrew Slater’s critically acclaimed 2019 documentary about the fertile music scene that developed in California’s Laurel Canyon during the 1960s, at the Music Box Theatre on Southport. The film features interviews with Graham Nash, Brian Wilson, Ringo Starr, Eric Clapton, Jackson Browne and Tom Petty. Show times for Echo In The Canyon tomorrow at the Music Box are 2:00, 4:30, 7:10, and 9:15.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

The Decibels - Scene, Not Herd

Scene, Not Herd came out in 2017 but was only available in vinyl and digital formats until the Kool Kat Musik label recently released this CD version. It marks the welcome return of The Decibels, a power pop band that thrived in Sacramento, CA from 1993 to 2001. The band’s reunion resulted in 12 guitar-driven tracks that represent the more energetic side of the genre.

“It’s Not Me” demonstrates how well The Decibels set tales of troubled relationships to catchy arrangements. Having guitarist Joe Pach, bassist Brent Seavers, and drummer Brian Machado join lead singer-guitarist Dean Seavers in some spirited call-and-response vocals definitely helps. “Hey Emily” is a tale of a lonely woman living alone, and “I Need To Tell Her” depicts a guy who’s hopelessly inept at romance.

Unlike some power pop bands, The Decibels aren’t heavily influenced by 1960s pop, although there are traces of that era throughout Scene, Not Heard. “She Thinks Of Everything” incorporates chiming guitars reminiscent of The Byrds, and the slower “Misery” aims for an early ‘60s Top 40 sound. The harder-edger “All Of Your Lies” and “This Bad Dream” bristle with punk energy.

Monday, June 24, 2019

Fun With English People

Photo of Jeff Beck from his Facebook page.

Happy Birthday to Jeff Beck and Colin Blunstone. Each has been inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame and each started out as a member of a British Invasion band. Beck’s stint as a guitarist with The Yardbirds was short compared to how long Blunstone has been singing for The Zombies, but Beck achieved worldwide fame after setting out on his own. Blunstone isn’t as well known in America for his solo stuff (although he did a solo tour here a few years back) but he’s had major hits in the U.K. I had the honor of doing a telephone interview with Blunstone for the Illinois Entertainer during that U.S. solo tour, and he was amazingly friendly and engaging. He’s still touring and recording with The Zombies, and like Beck, remains at the top of his game.

Judging from reports in the media, The Rolling Stones’ No Filter Tour got off to a high energy start here in Chicago last Friday night. They’ll be back at Soldier Field tomorrow night and it’s a safe bet no one will go home disappointed. 

Paul McCartney’s official website has announced the first U.K. showing of the Linda McCartney Retrospective, will begin at the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow, Scotland on July 5 and run through January 2020. Photos for the exhibit was curated by Paul, Stella, and Mary McCartney.

Elvis Costello and The Imposters will bring their Just Trust Tour to the Chicago Theatre on November 22. Tickets are now on sale. Earlier dates of interest for Anglophiles at the Chicago Theatre are Bryan Ferry on August 1 and Squeeze on August 31.

Friday, June 21, 2019


A hearty welcome to The Rolling Stones, who are in town for a concert tonight at Soldier Field and another one there on Tuesday. In between those shows, they’ll be rehearsing on my gazebo.

Today is Pam Appreciation Day, my annual celebration of my wonderful wife Pam and all the things she does to make our life together so happy and fun. She set up this blog for me just about 10 years ago and Broken Hearted Toy could not have existed without her help. Feel free to use this occasion to celebrate your own significant other and take some time to appreciate what you have together.

There’s an amazing triple bill coming up at Montrose Saloon tomorrow night, featuring The Webstirs, The Dave Sebastian Band, and Magnaphonic. I’ve seen The Webstirs live and have thoroughly enjoyed their clever and irresistibly catchy albums. Mike Galassini and Marianne Galassini have created masterful power pop as Magnaphonic and The Valley Downs, so it’s great to see them back on the local club scene. Dave Sebastian was a founding member of the Chicago power pop band The Raine, which reunited and backed Cliff Johnson from Off Broadway in recent years. The show starts at 9:00 p.m.

This coming Monday night at Montrose Saloon, former Green On Red lead vocalist turned author/solo recording artist Dan Stuart pays an unexpected visit to Chicago. He completed an ambitious novel/album trilogy centered on the character Marlowe Billings in 2018, and is known for his extensive travels. His gig at Montrose Saloon should be intriguing, to say the least.

Tickets went on sale today for Catfish and The Bottlemen at Aragon Ballroom on October 5; Heartsfield at FitzGerald’s on August 31; Rhett Miller at City Winery Chicago on September 16; and the Phil Ochs Song Night at The Old Town School Of Folk Music on September 15. Sleater-Kinney have added a second show at The Riviera Theatre. They’ll now be there on October 18 and 19.

Some websites, such as Steve Hoffman Music Forums and Elevated Observations, are reporting that former Hollies lead vocalist Allan Clarke has recorded a new album titled Resurgence. It’s due out via BMG Worldwide on September 20, with the first single, “Journey Of Regret,” arriving July 12. It would be Clarke’s eighth solo effort, but the first in almost 30 years. I’m definitely looking forward to hearing this.

The 12th Annual A Day In The Country music festival takes place at The Hideout this Sunday from 2:00 to 11:00 p.m. 10 acts are scheduled to perform on the Backroom Stage and the Front Porch Stage, including Gethen Jenkins, Summer Dean, Bonnie Montgomery, Marian Runk, Cox’s Army, and Girls Of The Golden West. The Hideout is located at 1354 W. Wabansia on Chicago’s north side.

Echo In The Canyon, director Andrew Slater’s 2019 documentary about the fertile music scene that developed in California’s Laurel Canyon during the 1960s, opened tonight at the Music Box Theatre. The film features interviews with Graham Nash, Brian Wilson, Ringo Starr, Eric Clapton, Jackson Browne and Tom Petty. Additional show times for Echo In The Canyon at the Music Box are 2:00, 4:30, 7:10, and 9:15 each day from tomorrow through next Thursday.

Tickets are now on sale for Buddy Guy’s September 6 show at The Arcada in St. Charles. Guy was the secret special guest for the Hot Stove Cool Music event at Metro a few weeks back and he had the crowd rocking with his amazing vocals and guitar playing. Another noteworthy gig coming up at The Arcada is Chris Isaak on August 9. Isaak’s Roy Orbison style vocals and twangy guitar playing are particularly impressive on his vintage material like “Pretty Girls Don’t Cry,” “Dancin’,” and “Back On Your Side.”

Northwest suburbanites have good reason to look forward to the rebirth of the Des Plaines Theatre now that Ron Onesti, who books shows for The Arcada, has been put in charge of the entertainment.

Happy Birthday to Joey Molland of Badfinger. I’ve seen him at Fest For Beatles Fans – Chicago a few times, and he’s been energetic and engaging both off and on stage

Chicago power trio Toy Robots will perform Cream: A Tribute To Eric, Jack and Ginger on July 5 at the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre in Arlington Heights. A week later, at that same venue, Soundtracks Of A Generation will present A 50th Anniversary Tribute To The Woodstock Era.

The Regrettes are finally giving us a full-length follow-up to their impressive debut Feel Your Feeling Fool. The new effort is titled How Do You Love? and comes out August 9. The Los Angeles-based quartet has a gig coming up at Metro in Chicago on October 11, and in the meantime, has released the album’s first single "I Dare You."

Chicago-based indie/roots rock label Bloodshot Records will be celebrating its 30th Anniversary at the Square Roots Festival in the Lincoln Square area on July 13. Murder By Death, The Mekons, and The Vandoliers will take part in a tribute to the late Andre Williams. The Bloodshot All-Stars Band and other special guests will also be on hand.

Kokandy Productions will present Head Over Heels, the gay-centric and anachronistic Broadway musical based on songs by The Go-Go’s, from July 1 through August 25 at Theatre Wit on Belmont Avenue. By the way, “Head Over Heels” is one of the best songs The Go-Go’s ever recorded.

Reason number 17, 502 why I’d like to visit England again: The Clissold Arms pub in London has an entire room devoted to photos and memorabilia of The Kinks.

Scott Freiman, a composer and producer, as well as an expert on The Beatles, will present Deconstructing The Beatles’ Magical Mystery Tour on Sunday, July 7 at 11:30 a.m. and Wednesday, July 10 at 7:00 p.m. at The Music Box on Chicago’s north side.

Actress Ellie Kemper’s book My Squirrel Days comes out in paperback on July 2. Among other things, it covers her time on the TV shows The Office and The Unbreakable Kimmie Schmidt.

The Weeklings’ new single/video “I Want You Again” is now available. People who have attended Fest For Beatles Fans no doubt have fond memories of this band’s ability to mix covers of songs The Beatles wrote but never recorded, with catchy, Brit Invasion originals.

Guaranteed to break the ice at royal parties. Congratulations to Monty Python member Michael Palin on receiving knighthood from Prince William for his services to travel, culture, and geography.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Start Me Up - This Friday

It’s so great to see Mick Jagger fully recovered from his recent heart surgery and ready to kick off the No Filter Tour with The Rolling Stones. It all starts here in Chicago this Friday night at Soldier Field on the city’s lakefront. A recent photo on social media looks like guitarist Ronnie Wood is already in town and having fun. WXRT will be featuring The Stones all day on Friday and if you still have a copy of last Sunday’s Chicago Tribune, check out rock critic Greg Kot’s pictorial history of the band on the back page of the Arts and Entertainment section.

And sincere best wishes and good vibes to people everywhere who are facing or recovering from heart surgeries or other major operations.

Echo In The Canyon, director Andrew Slater’s 2019 documentary about the fertile music scene that developed in California’s Laurel Canyon during the 1960s, opens this Friday night at the Music Box Theatre on Southport. The film features interviews with Graham Nash, Brian Wilson, Ringo Starr, Eric Clapton, Jackson Browne and Tom Petty. Narrator Jakob Dylan will be on hand for opening night.

Tellin’ Tales Theatre will present Divercity – Planting the seeds of acceptance this weekend at Prop Thtr on Elston Avenue. The show offers solo performances by artists, writers, and actors with disabilities. Linda Bannon, Elizabeth Doll, Brian Heyburn. Barbara Hyler, Tom Jones, Tekki Lomnicki, Susan McKean, and Garnet Williams are the scheduled performers.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

A Pair Of British Birthday Boys

Today is Paul McCartney’s birthday, and social media is overflowing with best wishes and some really cool photos of him. My wife Pam and I had such a great time seeing him perform a high-energy, three-hour concert on my birthday a few years ago, I want to express my admiration and gratitude. You never forget seeing a show like that. A toast to you, Sir Paul, and keep up the good work.

Another British musician who’s celebrating a birthday today is Mordecai Smyth. His music isn’t as well known as McCartney’s, so by way of introduction, I’d say he fancies setting clever and occasionally creepy lyrics to catchy 1960s style arrangements. He once teased me on Facebook about listing so much local entertainment on my blog. I responded by naming him an unofficial citizen of my home town of Palatine, IL. I’m sure he cherishes that honor to this day.

Cheers, gentlemen!

Monday, June 17, 2019


Photo from the Sleater-Kinney Facebook page.

Tickets are now on sale for Sleater-Kinney at the Riviera Theatre on October 18. The critically acclaimed and sharp-edged trio’s new album The Center Won’t Hold will be available in various formats on August 16.

Other upcoming shows include the Vinyl Village Record Fair at Sleeping Village on June 30; Scott Ligon’s All-Star Freakout! Presents the Music of Rami Gabriel at FitzGerald’s on July 12; Temples at Metro on October 31; Corky Siegel and Tracy Nelson at SPACE on October 12; John Hiatt at City Winery Chicago on October 30 through November 1; Ike Reilly at FitzGerald’s on August 30; and Chely Wright and Alice Peacock at City Winery Chicago on September 11.

Deep Chicago ‘60s, the second effort by Chicago Friends and Guests, a collection of local musicians, is now available on on iTunes and Apple Music. Phil Angotti, Packy Lundholm , Mark Rogers, Gary Baker, and Britt Savage takes turns in the spotlight on a selection of Chicago band recordings originally released in the 1960s. Back in 2017, Chicago Friends and Guests recorded 9 X12, which found them expertly covering The Who, The Beatles, Them (or Shadows Of Knight), The Hollies, The Animals, The Byrds, and The Searchers.

Sounds great. The Imperial Sound and Diplomats of Solid Sound, besides both being Chicago bands with the word ‘Sound’ in their names, have also both released impressive debuts recently. They’ll share the same bill at SPACE in Evanston on June 26. On July 19, The Imperial Sound have a gig at the Hey Nonny venue in Arlington Heights.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Gee, But It’s Great To Be Back Home

My wife Pam and I spent most of this past week in Cape May, New Jersey. Pam is fond of Victorian style houses and Cape May is to Victorian architecture what Liverpool is to Beatlemania. We booked a room at the gorgeous Mainstay Inn Bed and Breakfast. Each day, we’d walk for blocks checking out colorful homes, and took a tour of one of the largest and most famous ones. Of course, Pam knows tons more about such things, but I had a fun time as well. Victorian houses are cool.

The Washington Mall on Cape May is like its own neighborhood of specialty shops. My favorite was Marlene’s, one of those pop culture stores you find here and there but with a much wider selection. The standard Beatles, Marilyn Monroe, Pink Floyd and Three Stooges merchandise was on hand, but Marlene’s also had a Janis Joplin lunchbox, a vintage concert t-shirt of The Who (which I bought) and memorabilia for Red Hot Chili Peppers, ZZ Top, Rush, and other bands. There’s no website, so all these treasures are only available to customers who walk in the door.

To paraphrase Elvis Costello, everything is Exit Zero. Another cool place in Cape May is the recently opened Exit Zero Filling Station, which in addition to being an actual gas station, is a restaurant, bar, and shop with its own branded t-shirts and glassware. The restaurant has an appealing black and white retro decor, and on the night Pam and I dropped by, 1980s new wave songs were playing on the sound system. Owner Jack Wright, a native Scotsman, also runs the Exit Zero publishing company, which puts out magazines and books overflowing with fun and local flavor.

My June 7 Slumgullion post was called on account of two baseball/rock and roll events held in close proximity to Wrigley Field. First up was the Hot Stove Cool Music VIP Jam Session at The Brickhouse venue on Thursday, June 6. The night kicked off with several local musicians joining together under the Chicago All-Stars banner to perform an hour-long tribute to The Kinks that included “Lola,” “Where Have All The Good Times Gone?,” “She’s Got Everything,” and “You Really Got Me.” The main Hot Stove Cool Music event took place on Friday night, June 7, at Metro, and featured the Chicago All-Stars; Boston All-Stars; Chicago-based rapper Taylor Bennett; BOTO (Band Of Their Own), a group of veteran women musicians; The Chicago Children’s Choir; and special guest, blues legend Buddy Guy. WXRT morning personality Lin Brehmer once again excelled as the event’s host. Everyone came through with solid performances, and a massive amount of money was raised for the Foundation To Be Named Later.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Hot Stove Cool Music Returns

The Chicago half of the charity event Hot Stove Cool Music will be held this Friday night, June 7 at Metro. (The Boston version took place earlier this year.) Presented by Google, True Value, KPMG, and Chicago Trading Company, the annual baseball/rock and roll mashup helps Chicago Cubs President of Operations Theo Epstein, along with his brother Paul and award-winning sportswriter Peter Gammons raise funds for the Foundation To Be Named Later. The Foundation is dedicated to “improving lives through education, leadership and the healthy development of youth and families.”

Theo Epstein and Chicago Cubs broadcaster Len Kasper will be rocking with the Chicago All-Stars, while Peter Gammons, Bernie Williams, Jake Peavy and Will Dailey front the Boston All-Stars. Chicago-based hip hop artist (and younger brother of Chance The Rapper) Taylor Bennett was recently announced as one of the performers. WXRT morning personality/long-time Cubs fan Lin Brehmer and former Cubs pitcher Ryan Dempster return as emcees, and attendees will also hear from the Chicago Children’s Choir. Another definite highlight will be a performance by Band Of Their Own, an all-star group with a rotating roster of women musicians.

This year’s BOTO includes members of The Bangles, Belly, Letters To Cleo, The Flat Five, and Blake Babies. Bangles vocalist-drummer Debbi Peterson co-wrote one of the band’ best songs, “Some Dreams Come True” (with W. Inglehart), and Blake Babies vocalist-drummer Freda Love Smith currently performs with one of Chicago’s best current bands, Sunshine Boys. WXRT continues to tease fans on social media about a special, as yet-to-be-named guest. Metro is located just down the street from Wrigley Field, the doors open at 7:30 p.m.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019


Chicago area power pop band Thrift Store Halo will be showcasing songs from its new EP Consolation Prize Fighter this Thursday night at the Ballydoyle Irish Pub in Downers Grove. The record’s being released on the Hi-Beam/Pravda Records/Pravda Music label and has already been getting airplay on the indie radio charts. There’s no cover charge and the music starts at 8:30 p.m.

This year’s Taste Of Des Plaines festival will have a Woodstock theme when it takes place on Friday, June 14 and Saturday, June 15. The town promises a psychedelic Ferris Wheel and a “Woodstock Revival” on that Saturday night with the cover bands Kiss The Sky and Creedence Revived. Still, looking at the Saturday, June 15 schedule, the act that jumps out at me is Backdated, and they go on at 3:00 p.m. Even if Backdated isn’t part of the Woodstock bash, frontman Jay Goeppner knows 1960s rock inside and out, and his choice in covers is always impeccable.

I recently saw director Barak Goodman’s new documentary Woodstock – Three Days That Defined A Generation with a couple of friends at the Gene Siskel Film Center and our response was three thumbs up. The film delves into the background of the guys who organized the iconic rock festival, the social upheaval that preceded it, and the multiple wonders of Woodstock itself. Major heroes who emerge in this film include the hog farmers who kept things organized as best they could under the circumstances, and Richie Havens, who was unexpectedly thrust into the opening act slot and created the song “Freedom” on the spot. Woodstock – Three Days That Defined A Generation runs through this Thursday at the Gene Siskel Film Center.
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