Friday, August 30, 2019


Taste Of Polonia returns to Chicago’s Jefferson Park neighborhood today and will run through Monday. Over 35 music acts will perform on four stages; including Tributosaurus tonight as Led Zeppelin; The Neverly Brothers; School Of Rock; and the Beatles tribute band Kaleidoscope Eyes. See the official website for the full schedule.

Tickets went on sale today for the 15th Annual Alex Chilton Birthday Bash at Empty Bottle on December 28; Moody Blues member John Lodge at City Winery Chicago on November 12; Julia Nunes and Elizabeth and The Catapult at Subterranean on November 23; and Screaming Females and Dusk at Schubas on October 23.

EXPO ’76 will be cracking wise and reaching into its bottomless bag of cover versions tonight at the classy Arlington Heights venue Hey Nonny.

Welcome to everyone’s who’s come to Chicago for our acclaimed Jazz Festival. The event began yesterday with shows at Millennium Park and the Chicago Cultural Center; and runs today through Sunday at Millennium Park. Performers include The Art Ensemble Of Chicago; the Metropolitan Jazz Octet with Dee Alexander; Eddie Palmieri Sextet; and Ben Sidran. Chicago Tribune music critic Howard Reich offered a critical guide in yesterday’s issue, and the Chicago Sun-Times has the full schedule. This week’s edition of The Reader has a special section on the Jazz Festival.

The Reader was one of the many publications I picked up on my weekly after-work trip downtown yesterday. Chicago Innerview has released its annual guide to Riot Fest (coming to Douglas Park September 13 – 15), and you can pick up a free copy at the Reckless Records on Madison Street. Just down the street, I dropped by Graham Cracker Comics to buy the September Previews - The Comic Shop's Catalogue. The September issue of New City has the magazine’s Art 50 list of Chicago’s most influential members of the art community, and it’s being bundled with the EXPO Chicago (coming to Navy Pier September 19 – 22) program. The entire latest issue of Streetwise is a Fall Festival Guide that actually runs through the rest of the year. You can buy one from one of the many vendors around downtown and help the homeless while getting some helpful entertainment information.

Squeeze, led by founding members Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook, performs at the elegant Chicago Theater tomorrow night in what has to be considered a perfect match of venue and band. In addition to older classics like “Tempted,” “Hourglass,” and “Black Coffee In Bed,” hopefully Squeeze will perform songs from its masterful 2018 effort The Knowledge.

Marvel Comics will mark its 80 birthday tomorrow, and several local comic book stores will participate in the celebration. Customers at the participating stores will have the opportunity to see the new Marvel Comics #1000 and copies of the Marvel Universe Magazine will be available for free. 

Country rock band Heartsfield has a gig tomorrow night at FitzGerald’s in Berwyn.

There’s an Irish Days festival in Long Grove tomorrow through Monday that will offer live music, dance troupes, and competitions for dogs and men in kilts. Long Grove, which was once a major destination for antiques and crafts lovers, is currently in a rebuilding mode. The emphasis is mainly on restaurants, but since some of these new venues are doing well, maybe new shops will follow. As for this weekend’s event, people who’ve been to Irish Fest on Chicago’s northwest side should enjoy this event in Long Grove. Academy Of Irish Music, carrying on the legacy of instructor Noel Rice, performs at 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, and is highly recommended. The McNulty School Of Dance and the Irish Trinity Dancers will performing; as are Shannon Rovers, the rowdy but surprisingly talented Larkin/Moran Brothers, and Dooley Brothers and Jimmy Moore.

Mercury Theater’s production of Spamalot opens tonight and will run through November 3. The production is being directed by L. Walter Stearns; Eugene Dizon is the Musical Director. Performances will be at 8:00 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday each week, with an additional show at 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, and a 3:00 p.m. show on Sunday.

In last Friday’s Slumgullion, I mentioned Professor Moptop’s Wednesday, October 2 50 Years of Abbey Road lecture at the Palatine Library but left readers hanging as to his other Abbey Road library appearances. Here they are: September 18 at the Bridgeview Public Library, September 23 at the Arlington Heights Memorial Library, and October 10 at the Evergreen Park Library. Professor Moptop is a regular contributor to Terri Hemmert’s Breakfast With The Beatles show each Sunday on WXRT, and will be releasing his Textbook Beatles Volume 2 Beatlemania 1963 – 1964 in the near future. If it’s anything like Textbook Beatles Volume 1, it will be packed with all kinds of recording information and interesting and sometimes little-known stories about the band.

Karen Gillan and I have something in common in addition to having both conversed with Matt Smith. The Doctor Who, Guardians Of The Galaxy, and Jumanji actress still fancies making her own films, and recently posted on Instagram that she’s finishing up a short horror flick. My wife Pam and I created several two-minute episodes of a comedy series titled Manchester Gallery that was shown on Jeff Kelley’s Sunday Morning Coffee With Jeff internet show. Kelley and graphic design artist Dave Metzger also create zombie films for Elgin’s annual Nightmare on Chicago Street Halloween festival, and I’ve acted in a number of those. I recently took a meeting with them to appear in two new films. This year’s Nightmare On Chicago Street festival takes place on Saturday, October 19.

Billie Piper is another former Doctor Who cast member going the indie film route. Rare Beasts, which Piper directed, wrote, and acted in, will be screened at the BFI London Film Festival in October. It’s a drama/comedy about relationships that also stars David Thewlis, Kerry Fox, and Bill Leo. It would be nice to see the Gene Siskel Film Center in Chicago hold a Karen Gillan/Billie Piper indie film festival.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

The Champagne Of Pop Music

When Squeeze performs at the elegant Chicago Theater this Saturday night, it will be perfect match of venue and band. Founded by Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook back in the mid-1970s, Squeeze has continually exuded sophistication while combining clever wordplay and irresistible melodies. Almost from the start, Difford and Tilbrook’s songwriting skills drew comparisons to John Lennon and Paul McCartney, particularly on gems like “Tempted,” “Pulling Mussels (From The Shell),” “Is That Love?” and “Goodbye Girl.” Other highlights over the years included “Black Coffee In Bed,” “Messed Around,” and “Hourglass.”

When Squeeze released The Knowledge in 2018, it was one of the best albums of the year. Here’s a sample of my Broken Hearted Toy review: “Like wisdom, The Knowledge seems to have come with age, as Tilbrook and Difford reflect on the later stages of life; for themselves and the people they encounter. Their observations can be poignant, as on the energetic “Innocence In Paradise” and the acoustic “Departure Lounge,” or laced with wry humor, like on the viagra-themed “Please Be Upstanding” and “Albatross,” a short and funny portrait of a vinyl junkie.”

The Knowledge is definitely worth picking up if there are any for sale on the merch table at the Chicago Theater concert. Watch for special demo CDs as well. I bought one when Squeeze performed on Northerly Island a few years ago. The band’s lineup has changed over the years—Jools Holland and Paul Carrack are long gone—but Difford and Tilbrook remain comfortably at the helm with the current members.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019


Veteran Chicago music scene trio The Locals  have an album release party for its latest effort Minutes, Seconds, Degrees coming up at The Burlington on Saturday, September 7. A limited-edition vinyl version will be available at the show, and a video for the catchy and aggressive “Eyes Wide Open” can now be viewed on the band’s website. Baby Magic, Doomerang, and Deep Fake will also perform that night. The Burlington is located at 3425 W. Fullerton in the Lincoln Park area.

Lead vocalist-guitarist Yvonne Doll is also an accomplished solo artist, and she’s well matched in The Locals with bassist Joe Bates and drummer Aaron Coleman. When I reviewed the band’s Salt EP for the Illinois Entertainer somewhere around 2009, I compared the hard-hitting, melodic song “Sound It Out” to Melissa Etheridge, but with more of a Midwestern power pop feel. The lineup has changed over the years but the approach sounds as focused as ever.

EXPO ’76 will be reaching into its bottomless bag of cover versions this Friday night at Hey Nonny, the classy Arlington Heights venue that’s previously shown impeccable taste by booking The Imperial Sound and The Flat Five. The Bad Examples will be there on September 12. Hey Nonny is looking more and more like an essential rock entertainment venue for the northwest suburbs.

The Phil Angotti Band, The Hushdrops, and The Plastic Macs will share a triple bill tomorrow night at Martyrs’ on Lincoln Avenue. Angotti is fresh from some impressive tribute shows on the Apple Jam Stage at the Fest For Beatles Fans – Chicago. The Hushdrops are led by vocalist-guitarist John San Juan, who also did Chicago proud on the Apple Jam Stage. The music starts at 8:00 p.m.

Return Of The Killer Rabbit And Other Nonsense

Just as the official celebration for the 50th anniversary of the Monty Python’s Flying Circus TV show is heating up, we’ve got some Python-related fun starting this week in Chicago. Spamalot opens this Friday, August 30 at the Mercury Theater and runs through November 3. The production is being directed by L. Walter Stearns; Eugene Dizon is the Musical Director. Performances will be at 8:00 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday each week, with an additional show at 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, and a 3:00 p.m. show on Sunday.

My wife Pam and I loved Spamalot when it first came to Chicago around 2004, with its all-star cast of Tim Curry, Hank Azaria, and David Hyde Pierce. Eric Idle had created a musical “lovingly ripped off from the motion picture Monty Python And The Holy Grail” by setting clever lyrics to music composed by himself and John Du Prez. We caught a second production downtown a few years later with a different cast and enjoyed the very silly Knights of the Round Table all over again.

As to whether a local company can do this hilarious musical justice, Theatre Nebula proved it’s possible with their production at Cutting Hall in Palatine in 2014. We’re looking forward to seeing how Mercury Theater goes about chopping off limbs, searching for shrubbery, and saying “Ni!”while wearing extra tall knight costumes. The Mercury Theater is located at 3745 N. Southport.

Friday, August 23, 2019


Fantastic guests and where to find them. Dan Fogler, John Travolta, Jeff Goldblum, Melissa Joan Hart, Chris Sarandon, Kelly Hu, George Wendt, and Henry Winkler are among the celebrities who’ll be on hand for the Wizard World Chicago Comic Con going on at the Donald E. Stephenson Convention Center in Rosemont this weekend. The annual event brings together self-professed nerds, sci-fi devotees, graphic novels readers, art lovers, TV fans, and anyone who embraces the more adventurous paths of modern culture. Prices for a four-day pass and single day tickets vary, so check out the website for schedule and ticket information.

Hitsville: The Making Of Motown premieres tomorrow night at 8:00 p.m. on Showtime. The world-changing soul music label is now in its 60th year.

Here’s a request for all those going to see The Smithereens and Material Reissue at Skokie’s Backlot Bash tonight: At some point, raise a toast to Pat DiNizio and Jim Ellison, and all the amazing power pop songs they gave us. DiNizio was a founding member of The Smithereens, and the band wisely decided to carry on his legacy after his passing. Well-known power pop singer-guitarist Marshall Crenshall will be fronting the band tonight. Likewise, Material Issue’s surviving members Ted Ansani and Mike Zelenko realized Ellison’s songs deserve to be performed live, and brought in Chicago music scene veteran Phil Angotti as the lead vocalist-guitarist for Material Reissue  So here’s to Pat and Jim: The music lives on.

Skokie’s Backlot Bash runs through Sunday on Oakton between Lincoln and Laramie Avenues. The Imperial Sound, Tributosaurus, and War are among the acts scheduled to appear. The fest also includes a carnival and a vintage car show.

Ravinia will become a field of gold tonight when Sting performs his solo hits and mostly likely, some well-chosen selections by The Police.

Hairpin Arts Center at 2810 N. Milwaukee Avenue is the place for the Labyrinth Arts Performance Collective’s Catzilla 7 tonight and tomorrow night. The event aims to make the world a better place for cats and will feature music, performance art, artwork and photography. Admission is $20.

Cheers To Beers 19 will be held tomorrow starting at 6:00 p.m. at 3159 N. Elston. In addition to presenting the work of 19 artists, the event will feature live performances by Soultree and Remey Le Flow, along with DJ Bobby. Admission is $5.

Tickets went on sale today for Lenny Kravitz at Ravinia on September 7; Bush Tetras at Old Town School Of Folk Music on September 19; glam rock pioneers Sweet with special guests House Of Lords at The Arcada on September 5; Violent Femmes at Concord Music Hall on September 13; and A Tribute to Buddy Holly and The Crickets with Zachary Stevenson and more at FitzGerlad’s on September 9.

Jazzin’ At The Shedd wraps up its 2019 summertime run at the Shedd Aquarium next Wednesday, from 5:00 to 10:00 p.m.. Expect jazz, drinks, fireworks, and “the chance to look nature in the eye.”

The 25th Annual Black Harvest Film Festival wraps up next Thursday, August 29 at the Gene Siskel Film Center.

Squeeze, one of England’s finest bands, will be at the Chicago Theatre next Saturday night.

According to the WXRT website, Neil Young will soon release the first album he’s recorded with Crazy Horse in seven years.

In a year when we’re celebrating 50 years of Monty Python’s Flying Circus silliness, Eric Idle will release an autographed, limited edition of his memoir Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life, via the very classy Genesis Publications. And keep in mind Monty Python’s quest to stage the world’s largest gathering of people dressed like its Gumby character takes place on October 5. The program’s animator/director Terry Gilliam will serves as master of ceremonies.

Long-time country-rock band Heartsfield will be at FitzGerald’s in Berwyn next Saturday, August 31

The Tanita Tikaram anthology To Drink A Rainbow is now available for preorder from the Needle Mythology indie label.

The Dave Brubeck Tribute Project at performs SPACE in Evanston next Wednesday, August 28.

Two of Chicago’s better acts, The Phil Angotti Band and The Hushdrops, will share a double bill at Martyrs’ next Thursday, August 29.

EXPO ’76 will be delighting spectators with its unpredictable but always enticing blend of cover versions next Friday night at Hey Nonny in Arlington Heights.

Professor Moptop, whose ongoing reports on Beatles recordings are one of the many highlights on Terri Hemmert’s Breakfast With The Beatles show each Sunday morning, is coming to my humble village. He’ll be presenting The Beatles’ Abbey Road 50th Anniversary at the Palatine Library on Wednesday, October 2. He also has upcoming lectures at

Also coming up at Palatine Library is London tour guide John Gowing’s All Things British discussion on October 22.

God only knows, it is what we would choose to do. Pink Floyd fans should mark October 2 and 6 on their calendars because those are the days when the new documentary US + Them will be screened in movie theatres. It was filmed in Amsterdam during Roger Waters’ 2018 Us + Them Tour, and created by Waters and director Sean Evans. Pink Floyd’s politically charged masterpiece “Us And Them” was written by Waters and keyboards player Rick Wright for Floyd’s iconic The Dark Side Of The Moon album in 1973.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Double Dose Of Classic Power Pop In Skokie

Skokie's Backlot Bash kicks off tomorrow night with a dream double bill of Material Reissue and The Smithereens with Marshall Crenshaw. Material Reissue must feel pretty comfortable sharing stages with power pop royalty; they’ve been paired with Matthew Sweet and The Posies in previous concert events. The Smithereens and Material Reissue have given use numerous classics of the genre—“Blood And Roses,” “Behind The Wall Of Sleep,” and “A Girl Like You” from the former and “Valerie Loves Me,” “Renee Remains The Same,” and “Diane” from the latter.

Other impressive acts at Skokie's Backlot Bash include Chicago-based The Imperial Sound, whose debut album The New AM is filled with authentic rhythm and blues, soul, and jazz; Tributosaurus, who will no doubt excel at becoming The Rolling Stones; and War, the iconic soul band that gave us “Cisco Kid,” “Why Can’t We Be Friends,” and “Low Rider.” There will also be a carnival and classic car show. Skokie’s Backlot Bash runs through Sunday on Oakton between Lincoln and Laramie Avenues.

Friday, August 16, 2019


The third annual YippieFest, a weekend celebration of theatre, comedy, short film, music, puppets, and other forms of offbeat entertainment, opened tonight and runs through Sunday at Prop Thtr on Chicago’s north side. The people behind the event—Frank Carr and Desiree Burcum from Famous In The Future, Carla Hayden and James Moeller from Black Forest Theatre—are veterans of the Abbie Hoffman Died For Our Sins festival that Mary-Arrchie Theatre hosted for 30 years.

Performers at this year’s YippieFest include !Ex Maquina!, Black Forest; Citizens’ Relief; Famous In The Future; whitewolfsonicprincess; David Drazin; Trained Monkey Productions; Rush Pearson; Michael Steven Cohen; The Rut; and The Telepaths. The previous two YippieFests have carried on the tie-dyed, rebellious spirit Mary-Arrchie brought to its annual event, so this year is likely to do the same. Prop Thtr is located at 3502 N. Elston. Ticket prices range from $15 to $20.

Chicago-based power pop band The Lilacs released their the first album in 25 years today. The Lilacs Endure was produced by Richard Lloyd and is on the indie label Pravda Records. The songs include “Monica,” “I Saw Her First,” “Shadow Of Doubt,” and “Blue Spark.

Saturday Evening Flashback. Tomorrow night’s Tutu And The Pirates gig at Montrose Saloon will no doubt bring visions of slam dancing and twisted humor to those of us who still remember their frantic songs like “Dead In Our Beds” and “Wham Bam Son Of Sam” from the late 1970s. Back then, I interviewed the band for the now long-forgotten free paper Metro Calendar. “We felt that the punk label was too limiting,” lead vocalist Rich Speck told me. “That’s how we came up with the term Sub Urban Insult Rock.” No doubt they’ll insulting and rocking tomorrow night, and the crowd will be having a great time.

Sleater-Kinney’s latest album The Center Won’t Hold came out today.

The 11th Annual I Am Fest, an event that combines live music, performance art, and artwork, kicks off at 2:00 p.m. tomorrow at the House Of Blues  in downtown Chicago. Curious Grace and Black Rabbit and three School Of Rock locations are among the bands; visual performers include CODA (Chicago Onyx Dance Alliance) and ImagiNation Dance Crew UICC; and artists include Morgan Rose Murphy and Benjamin May. Admission for this all ages show is $25.

Edison Park Fest ’19 takes place this weekend. Live performances include the Tom Petty tribute band Petty Kings at 5:45 on Saturday; and Kevin Lee And The Kings at 5:45 on Sunday. The Ripleys, a band that covers U2, The Beatles, Cheap Trick, and others, will be performing a free Edison Park Fest after show at Curragh at 10:00 p.m. on Saturday.

The Backlot Bash in Skokie kicks off next Friday, August 23 with a power pop fan’s dream double bill of Material Reissue and The Smithereens with Marshall Crenshaw. Other impressive acts at the Skokie Bash include The Imperial Sound, Tributosaurus becomes The Rolling Stones; and the iconic soul band War.

The Alarm (“The Stand”, “Marching On”) will share a bill with Modern English (“I’ll Stop The World And Melt With You”) tonight and tomorrow night at House Of Blues in downtown Chicago.

The Louder Than Words – Rock Politics Power exhibit, which originated at The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, continues its run at the Museum of Broadcast Communications here in Chicago through the end of August.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

I’ve Just Seen A Fest

Photo from Jeremy Clydes Facebook page.

The Fest For Beatles Fans - Chicago returned to the Hyatt Regency O’Hare in suburban Rosemont last weekend for its annual celebration of the most famous band in rock history. I’ve found it increasingly difficult in recent years to pack everything I want to experience at The Fest in a single day. So for 2019, I opted for a double dose. Avid Beatles followers could easily spend the entire weekend there and never get bored.

The Apple Jam Stage at The Fest For Beatles Fans has resulted in some tough choices for me. Even with all the other performances and events going on, how can I pass up the opportunity to catch some of Chicago’s best musicians strutting their Beatlesque expertise? This year, the Apple Jam Stage offered Phil Angotti and Friends doing an amazing job of covering John Lennon on Saturday and Paul McCartney on Sunday. Ellis Clark and Ary Jeebie also enlisted some local all stars to help as they honored George Harrison. Their set offered a taste of the George Harrison Birthday Bash Clark and Jeebie throw each February at Martyrs’ on Lincoln Avenue. I didn’t catch Jay Goeppner’s set on Friday, but I’ve seen him enough to know it was highly entertaining.

Another Fest highlight was WXRT air personality Terri Hemmert interviewing former Wings members Denny Laine, Steve Holley, and Laurence Juber in the hotel’s Grand Ballroom. The format resembled the musicians forums held by Martin Lewis and Mark Hudson in the past, where the participants augment their discussion with some instructive jamming. I was glad to have a chance later to congratulate Hemmert on her long tenure at WXRT. She’s semi-retired now; keeping her weekly Breakfast With The Beatles show and filling in occasionally for the other DJs.

Also in the Grand Ballroom, Jeremy Clyde, one half of Chad and Jeremy (and more recently Peter and Jeremy), brought his Bottom Drawer Band to play songs from his Bottom Drawer CD series. Clyde was in fine voice, and these rarely heard songs were consistently engaging. Drummer Alan White talked with Hemmert about his days with Yes, as well as his work on John Lennon and George Harrison solo projects. The Weeklings played a catchy mix of originals and obscure Beatles compositions on Sunday.

I spent a few hours on Saturday sorting through all the music-related memorabilia in The Fest’s expansive marketplace, and found more treasures, including a “Paperback Writer” picture sleeve import seven-inch single, on Sunday. The Marketplace is also the place to meet noted Beatles authors like Bruce Spizer, Jude S. Kessler, Professor Moptop, and Kit O’Toole. Lesser known authors were selling their books as well.

The Beatles tribute band Liverpool was on hand all three nights. After an impressive set of Beatles tunes on Saturday, they they invited Alan White, Jeremy Clyde, Denny Laine, Steve Holley, and Laurence Juber to join them. As always, it was one of the highlights of The Fest For Beatles Fans - Chicago and served as a Grand Finale.

Friday, August 9, 2019


Welcome to everyone who’s in town for The Fest For Beatles Fans - Chicago running this weekend at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare in Rosemont. If you’re staying at the Hyatt or one of the other nearby hotels and are wondering if you could make a quick visit to Chicago, the CTA Blue Line stop is a short walk away. It can get you downtown in about 40 minutes. For a preview of this year’s Fest For Beatles Fans event, check out August 5 post.

A recent post on The Second Disc website has all the details about the various versions of Abbey Road Apple will be releasing in honor of the 50th anniversary of the The Beatles’ finale. In addition to a CD/Blu Ray/hard cover book boxed set, a three LP vinyl set, a two CD set, and a single CD release; Apple is also putting out an EP version of George Harrison’s “Something.”

The Jay O’Rourke Band is having a CD Release Party Party for Cover Tracks tonight at SPACE in Evanston. The album features renditions of classic rock and blues songs. It’s a safe bet the band will also be selling copies of its earlier 2019 release Sumpthin Good. The Dick Dale influenced instrumental act Spies Who Surf will be the opening act.

How Do You Love?, the long-awaited second album from the Los Angeles punk band The Regrettes, was released today. After downloading it and giving the 15 tracks a quick listen (my CD is on its way from Amazon), I can already tell it’s another successful blend of vintage punk and 1960s girl band sound, with clever lyrics that bite and amuse.

The first batch of special guests for The Chicago TARDIS convention being held November 29 – December 1 in Lombard has been announced. It includes Paul McGann, who played The Doctor in an American TV movie version of the U.K. sci-fi series, and had a pivotal cameo the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary short clips. Tosin Cole, Greg Austin, Vivian Oparah, and Sophie Hopkins will also be there, along with other Doctor Who related guests to be announced later.

No Holiday, The Muffs’ first album in five years, will be coming out on October 18 via Omnivore Recordings. The 18 new tracks will be available on CD or on two vinyl LPs, with the fourth side being laser-etched. Band member Kim Shattuck is also part of the newly formed trio The Coolies (with Palmyra Delran and Melanie Vammen), who just released their debut EP, Uh Oh, It’s. . . The Coolies.

Stray Cats bassist Lee Rocker has a solo album titled The Low Road coming out this Friday. Earlier this year, The Stray Cats released 40, their first album in 40 years.

Back when I did my August, Rock She Must post on July 30, I knew I would miss some worthy events, and here’s a prime example. This year’s Backlot Bash in Skokie kicks off on Friday, August 23 with the highly potent double bill of Material Reissue and The Smithereens with Marshall Crenshaw. In previous shows, Material Reissue has opened for Matthew Sweet and The Posies, and here they are with another great power pop act. Other must-see acts at the Backlot Bash include The Imperial Sound, Tributosaurus becomes The Rolling Stones; and the iconic soul band War.

Ex Norwegian, the Miami-based trio whose albums have consistently met with extensive praise here on Broken Hearted Toy, have a 15-track vinyl LP titled Something Unreal: The Best Of Ex Norwegian coming out on September 20.

The Alarm (“The Stand”, “Marching On”) will share a bill with Modern English (“I’ll Stop The World And Melt With You”) on August 16 and 17 at House Of Blues in downtown Chicago.

The Louder Than Words – Rock Politics Power exhibit, which originated at The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, continues its run at the Museum of Broadcast Communications here in Chicago through the end of August.

Jazzin’ At The Shedd continues its summertime run tomorrow night at the Shedd Aquarium. The night-time event is being held every Wednesday from 5:00 to 10:00 p.m. through August 28. The Shedd promises jazz, drinks, fireworks, and “the chance to look nature in the eye.”

Tuesday, August 6, 2019


Indie rock veterans The Figgs have a gig coming up this Sunday night at Montrose Saloon on  Chicago’s north side. Adept at crafting catchy, guitar-driven songs like “On The Side,” “Your Smile Is A Deadly Thing,” and “Wealthy Women,” the Saratoga, NY trio got its start back in 1987. The Figgs have recorded 13 albums and are about to wrap up their latest.

The Sonic Assault EP vocalist-guitarist Johnny Weathers and former Sex Pistols drummer Paul Cook released last year will soon be available as a limited edition, numbered vinyl-only picture disc. “Man From The Orleans,” the hard-hitting opening track on that EP, was one of the very best songs of 2018.

Give the drummer some pages. Goldmine magazine recently posted on Instagram about a new book by Mike Edison titled Sympathy For Drummer: Why Charlie Watts Matters. It’s due out in October. Edison is the former editor/publisher of High Times magazine, and was a drummer with Sonic Youth, Sound Garden, and The Ramones, so he certainly seems qualified to cover The Rolling Stones.

Former Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr will release a new single titled “The Bright Parade” this Thursday. Marr’s albums The Messenger, Playland, and Call The Comet all drew high praise here on Broken Hearted Toy, and he’s also collaborated with Modest Mouse, The Pretenders, and The Cribs.

Monday, August 5, 2019

For The Benefit Of Beatles Fans

The annual Fest For Beatles Fans Chicago takes place at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare in suburban Rosemont this weekend, August 9–11. The event presents musicians, authors, artists, photographers, and music biz people who have some connection to the most famous band in rock history. Many are accessible to fans in the general sense of watching them being interviewed in the Grand Ballroom, and in face-to-face conversations at the autograph tables. It’s not unusual to spot these famous people walking through the crowd or chatting with fans.

There will be special appearances in the Grand Ballroom by Denny Laine, Steve Holley, and Laurence Juber of Wings; Jeremy Clyde (of Chad and Jeremy, and more recently Peter and Jeremy) with his Bottom Drawer Band; Alan White from Yes (and John Lennon and George Harrison projects); and Len Mansfield, former manager of Apple Records. The exceptional Beatles tribute band Liverpool will perform all three nights; and The Weeklings, an offshoot of Liverpool that plays originals and obscure Beatles compositions, will perform on Sunday.

Terri Hemmert, the Radio Hall Of Fame inductee and Breakfast With The Beatles host at radio station WXRT, will notch another year in her decades-long role of The Fest’s MC in Chicago. Hemmert recently left her mid-morning shift at XRT but her semi-retirement involves occasionally filling in for the station’s other air personalities as well continuing with Breakfast With The Beatles. The Apple Jam Stage will offer live performances of Beatles material by Jay Goeppner; Phil Angotti and Friends; and Ellis Clark and Ary Paloma Jeebie; Scott Erickson; and others.

The Fest For Beatles Fans has a few marketplace areas with loads of music-related memorabilia. The marketplace is also the place to meet noted Beatles authors like Bruce Spizer, Vivek Tiwary, Jude S. Kessler, Professor Moptop, and Kit O’Toole. Attendees can join in the fun by competing in Beatles sound-alike concerts and an art competition, and you’re welcome to jam with the musicians and singers who hang out for hours around the stairs in the lower level.

Friday, August 2, 2019


New album out next Friday.

Welcome to all those in town for Lollapalooza, as well as everyone who’s here for Ringo Starr and His Allstar Band at Ravinia. Enjoy your stay and be sure to check out lots of other fun things Chicago has to offer.

Sunshine Boys, whose 2018 Blue Music debut was an absolute masterpiece, will return to The Wine Goddess venue in Evanston tomorrow night to perform songs from a brand new album.

Tickets went on sale today for Peter Case at FitzGerald’s on October 26; Michael Franti and Spearhead at Concord Music Hall on October 24; The Phil Angotti Band and The Hushdrops at Martyrs’ on August 29; Justin Hayward and Mike Dawes at the Athenaeum Theatre on August 9; Los Lobos at City Winery Chicago on December 8 through 12; Thurston Moore Group at the Empty Bottle on December 12; and Tom Morello at The Vic on October 22.

When I’m out on the streets trick or treating. Tickets are also now on sale for Halloweensteen, a Bruce Springsteen tribute show by The Duke Street Kings featuring Michael McDermott, at Park West on October 26.

Cherrie Currie of The Runaways and Brie Darling of Fanny join together on a new album titled The Motivator that was released today. Next Friday will bring How Do You Love?, the long-awaited second album the Los Angeles punk band The Regrettes, and on August 16, Sleater-Kinney will release their latest effort The Center Won’t Hold. The above information comes from the August issue of the Illinois Entertainer.

Santana and The Doobie Brothers will be performing at Hollywood Casino this Sunday.

They made up their minds and they started recording. Fastball (of “The Way” fame) has a new album titled The Help Machine featuring guest musicians Bruce Hughes from Cracker and Charlie Sexton coming out in October.

I was sad to see the Instagram post from Dave Davies stating Ian Gibbons, keyboards player for The Kinks, has passed away. Rock In Paradise, Ian.

Christopher Eccleston, the actor who was great putting Doctor Who back on the telly again in 2005, has a book titled I Love The Bones Of You coming out on September 19.

All the way to Seattle. According to the online sites for Rolling Stone and Best Classic Bands, the Mott The Hoople 1974 Tour will return for 11 new U.S. dates in the fall. The lucky cities include Washington, D.C.; Atlanta; Nashville; Dallas; Los Angeles; and Seattle.

Sweet C’s Bakery in Palatine has expanded its space at 10 N. Bothwell to include a cafĂ© area. The bakery is known for its cookies, cakes, and cupcakes, which it also sells at the Palatine Farmers Market.

The Chicago Film Society continues its Oh My, It’s Pre Code Cinema series on August 7 at Northeastern University with a screening of Merrily We Go To Hell. Director Dorothy Arzner’s 1938 film stars Sylvia Sydney and Frederic March in a tale of booze, journalism, and marital infidelity. Northeastern University is located at 3701 W. Bryn Mawr in Chicago.

Across the pond, The 17th Dream Of Dr Sardonicus Festival 2019 is being held at the Cellar Bar in Cardigan, U.K. Several psychedelic and prog rock acts who’ll be familiar to frequent customers of the vinyl-only indie label Fruits de Mer are scheduled to perform. The lineup includes The Bevis Frond; Nick Nicely; The Chemistry Set; SENDELICA; and Alan Pire Experience.

The 22nd Annual Jeff Buckley Tribute event will take place at Uncommon Ground’s Edgewater location at 1401 W. Devon Avenue in Chicago on November 17 and 18. Musicians interested in participating can contact to get submission information.

The Morning Line will be performing at Hotel Utah on August 16 as part of the International Pop Overthrow - San Francisco festival. To celebrate this hometown gig, the band is offering its new album North for a free download on Bandcamp. When I reviewed the Smoke EP by The Morning Line in 2017, I praised its emotionally charged indie rock songs set to exquisite melodies. North continues in that vein, especially on tracks like “Anhedonia,” “No Love Lost,” and “Nostradamus.”

The Louder Than Words – Rock Politics Power exhibit, which originated at The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, continues its run at the Museum of Broadcast Communications here in Chicago through the end of August.

Well-known character actor and voiceover specialist Sam Elliott celebrates his 75th birthday on August 9. According to the Sunday newspaper supplement Parade, Elliott has provided the voice of Smokey The Bear for 10 years. In a bit of lesser-known trivia, he was the inspiration for successful studio musician in my latest (yet to be published) rock and roll YA novel.

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Louder Than Words: Another Hit For The Museum Of Broadcast Communications

The politically minded Joe Strummer.

One week ago today, part of my birthday activities was a visit to the Louder Than Words: Rock, Power and Politics exhibit at the Museum Of Broadcast Communications. Originally developed by The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, it’s a fascinating collection of archival footage, rock videos, documents, clothing, and musical instruments that illustrates how often political themes—liberal and conservative—have surfaced in rock and roll. The Clash, Green Day, U2, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, and Dead Kennedys are some of the artists featured.

Among the 175 artifacts are handwritten lyrics to songs by Bob Dylan, Neil Young, James Brown, and others. Being just inches away from the battered Fender Telecaster Joe Strummer played at countless gigs was worth the price of admission alone. According to a recent article by Steve Johnson in the Chicago Tribune, the Louder Than Words exhibit will be followed by a very promising new one in October titled Stay Tuned: Rock On TV.

The Museum also scored a major hit with its Saturday Night Live: The Experience exhibit about a year ago. In his article, Johnson noted that long-time journalist Susy Schultz was recently named as the Museum Of Broadcast Communication’s executive director. Congratulations, Susy. Keep those fun and provocative pop culture exhibits coming. Louder Than Words: Rock, Power and Politics runs through the end of August. The Museum Of Broadcast Communications is located in downtown Chicago at 360 N. State Street.
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