Friday, July 3, 2020


The Go-Go’s will release the single “Club Zero,” their first recording in 20 years, on July 31. It’s from director Alison Ellwood’s documentary The Go-Go’s, which will have its premiere on Showtime the following day. A promotional clip on the band’s social media sites features Charlotte Caffey describing “Club Zero” as “a powerful, punky, anthemic song” and Belinda Carlisle adding “it’s very much of the times but infused with The Go’Go’s sense of humor.”

DJ James Deia will be spinning records on the patio at FitzGerald’s in Berwyn tomorrow night from 9:00 to 11:00 p.m. for his “Robbed And Ridiculed” - An All Vinyl Tribute To The Traveling Wilburys. Admission is free.

Graham Nash recently performed an acoustic version of “Be Yourself” from his 1971 solo debut Songs For Beginners as part of the Pearl Works Presents series on YouTube. The company makes inlays for guitars.

Montrose Saloon has two sets of live music scheduled for its beer garden tomorrow. Handsome Man’s Gentleman’s Club performs at 3:00 p.m. and Erin Edmister and Killian Sweeney perform at 6:00 p.m.

The Chicago monthly publication New City has come out with its annual Music 45: Who Keeps Chicago In Tune issue. Those honored include Sunshine Boys, Steve Dawson, Topeka Reid, Mucca Pazza, Ohmme, The Newbury Consort, Sons Of The Never Wrong, Krewella, Patricia Barber, Jon Langford, Beach Bunny, Sir The Baptist, Twin Peaks, and coming in at number one, Jamila Woods.

A graphic novel celebrating the 50th anniversary of The Doors’ Morrison Hotel album is now available for pre-order on the band’s official website. It’s due out on October 13 in in a 144-page soft cover version for $19.99, and a deluxe hardcover in a slipcase limited edition for $99.99. The Doors website describes it as an anthology “written by Leah Moore, in collaboration with the surviving members of the legendary rock band and drawn by artists from around the comic book world.”

It doesn’t seem that long ago that Durty Nellie’s in Palatine clawed its way back from a devastating fire to begin operating as a restaurant/live music venue again. Then COVID-19 struck, forcing Durty Nellie’s to cancel its St. Patrick’s bash for the second straight year, and shutting down concerts and indoor dining. But its owners have launched another comeback, as evidenced by this weekend’s 4th Of July Social Distancing Parking Lot Party. Plus, Durty Nellie’s is now just Nellie’s, and there are new offerings on the menu. The 4th Of July event runs from 4:30 through 10:00 p.m. today, and returns tomorrow from 2:30 to 10:00 p.m. Tomorrow’s acts are Jasmine and Perona; Lara Bell; Serendipity Acoustic; and Pino Farina.

Paul Collins, who was a member of The Nerves with Peter Case and Jack Lee before leading The Paul Collins Beat, has a book coming out on the Chicago-based HoZac Records and Books. I Don’t Fit In was co-written with Chuck Nolan, and named after a track on the 1979 self-titled debut from The Paul Collins Beat. It’s now available for pre-order.

I love when fun things come in the mail. Especially when I get them by helping a worthy cause. Today, I received a poster and sticker for sending money to support the upcoming documentary Out Of Time - The Material Issue Story. The film won’t be out until 2021, but its producers have been posting some enticing previews on Facebook and Instagram. The most recent is a previously unreleased demo of the Material Issue song “Fourth Of July.” It’s a haunting recording of the late Jim Ellison singing and strumming an acoustic guitar.

Friday, June 26, 2020


The Chicago-based Sunshine Boys were one of the highlights of Hot Stove Cool Music.

Cool To Be Kind. I watched the entire Hot Stove Cool Music virtual concert last night, only taking a short break to feed the cats. Which apparently caused me to miss Nick Lowe’s performance, because I didn’t see him. It was the 20th Anniversary of Hot Stove Cool Music, but the first time it hasn’t been staged in a venue before a live audience. The format enabled big names to join in the fundraising, including Lowe, Common, James Taylor, Steven Tyler, and Robyn Hitchcock. Band Of Their Own and Ted Leo were also among the many highlights, and I was particularly proud to see local acts Sunshine Boys and The 45 sounding so impressive.

100% of the proceeds from last night will benefit Paul and Theo Epstein’s Foundation To Be Named Later and Peter Gammons’ Scholarships for urban young people. The virtual auction runs through July 3, so there’s still time to bid on some amazing sports and popular music related memorabilia. According to an email sent out today by The Foundation To be Named Later, they will be re-airing this year’s event in the near future on Facebook.

Radio Hall Of Fame inductee Terri Hemmert will host Pride In The Name of Life on WXRT this Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. The event, which will celebrate diversity, equality and the LGBT+ community, follows immediately after Hemmert’s weekly Breakfast With Beatles program.

The following livestream events were listed on the Early Warnings page in this week’s edition of the Chicago Reader: Andrew Bird on June 28 at; Dollyrots on June 28 at; Larkin Poe on June 27 at livestream at; Ramsey Lewis on June 27 at; Roots Picnic Virtual Experience on June 27 at; and Voices: A Benefit Concert for Chicago Artists featuring Taylor Mallory and more.

Tickets are now on sale for Riot Fest 2021, featuring My Chemical Romance, Smashing Pumpkins, Run The Jewels, Pixies, Circle Jerks, L7, and more. The event will run September 16 through September 19 next year.

I’m going to renew my subscription to the Chicago Reader since I’m still working from home and don’t want to miss my weekly copy. The 26 issues option looks like it might bring me through the end of 2020. Please consider supporting our local publications.

Is that the wacky neighbors playing new wave cover versions again? Chicago-based musician Mike Cohen (The Abbeys, Pop Dollys, The Everly Hillbillies) often finds fun things to post on Facebook, and I particularly like a YouTube video he just shared of Glenn Tilbrook, his wife, and sons doing a shelter-in-place cover of The Human League’s “Don’t You Want Me Baby.” I’d buy a recording of this in a minute. The people in my neighborhood just blow off fireworks.

Chicago Tribune theatre critic Chris Jones offered a heartfelt tribute to the recently closed Mercury Theater in today’s Arts and Entertainment section. I thoroughly enjoyed a production of Spamalot there last year, but was unaware of how many critically acclaimed productions the company had done. Best wishes to everyone involved for their future endeavors.

Posts have appeared on Broken Hearted Toy less frequent lately, partly because I’ve been preparing for the annual Writing Workshop Of Chicago. It’s a virtual event for 2020, but I’ll be able to SKYPE with four literary agents tomorrow about my YA Paranormal Rock and Roll Romance novel. I finished it a while back but have revised close to 130 pages. It’s hard work, but I like the results I’m seeing.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Take Me Out To The Website - Hot Stove Cool Music Goes Virtual Tonight

Tonight brings the 20th Anniversary of Hot Stove Cool Music but don’t try to find the Chicago version anywhere in Wrigleyville. The annual event organized by Chicago Cubs president Theo Epstein and journalist Peter Gammons will be virtual concert that kicks off at 8:00 p.m. EST. 100% of the proceeds will benefit Paul and Theo Epstein’s Foundation To Be Named Later and Peter Gammons Scholarships for urban young people. Check out the Hot Stove Cool Music Facebook page for details on admission and how to make a donation.

The online format has enabled some big names to participate, such as Common, James Taylor, Steven Tyler, Nick Lowe, and Robyn Hitchcock. There will also be a number of baseball stars involved. Mike O’Malley will serve as emcee and guests include Bernie Williams, Kay Hanley, Len Kasper, Tanya Donelly, Chicago Children’s Choir, and Will Dailey. The all-women/all-star Band Of Their Own will be on hand, and other special guests are likely to show up.

I attended the Hot Stove Cool Music event in Chicago last summer, and it was fantastic. Unfortunately I couldn’t stay for all the performances due to having to catch and a train back to Palatine. This year, transportation won’t be a problem.

Friday, June 19, 2020


The Hoodoo Gurus, Australia’s legendary garage rock/power pop band, has postponed all the concerts on its 2020 U.S. concert tour to next year. That includes the one at City Winery Chicago, which is now September 22, 2021. In the mean time, a Deluxe Edition of their 2004 Mach Schau album, which includes two rare B-Sides, and all the songs from the American and Australian versions, is now available on various streaming sites.

The Fest For Beatles Fans, which has already announced the cancelation of its 2020 event at Hyatt Regency O’Hare Chicago, continues the weekly All Together Now virtual concert series tonight on Facebook. New York-based singer-guitarist Kelly Sabatino kicks things off at 7:00 p.m. EDT, and Drew Hill from The Fest favorites Liverpool takes over at 8:00 p.m. EDT with his daughters Dora and Casey. Next Friday, it will be The Wag, at a time yet to be determined.

Chicago-based singer-songwriter Phil Angotti performed as part of the All Together Now virtual concert series last week, and he announced today on Facebook that he has a new album coming out on Big Blast Records. There’s no release date yet for The Best Of Phil Angotti - Top Tunes and Real Grooves, but we do know it will have two new singles. The photo shows a 1960s style LP, but it’s not clear if this will a vinyl-only release.

Michelle Obama and The Roots will co-host the 13th Annual Roots Picnic Virtual Experience when it’s shown on YouTube June 27. The actual picnic was scheduled for much earlier this month but was canceled due to the coronavirus. Guests for the online version will include Janelle Monae, Tracee Ellis Ross, Kerry Washington, Tom Hanks, and Lin-Manual Miranda. The acts performing include H.E.R., LIL Baby, Roddy Ricch, and SZA.

Alison Mosshart, half of The Kills with Jamie Hince, as well as a member of Jack White’s quartet The Dead Weather, has a solo spoken word album named Sound Wheel coming out August 7. It's part of her upcoming Car Ma book of art, short stories, photographs, and poetry.

Tickets are now on sale for Todd Rundgren at House Of Blues on January 26 and 27; and The Carole King and James Taylor Story with Phoebe Katis and Dan Clews at City Winery Chicago on June 22, 2021.

WXRT continues its Live From The Archives concert series tonight with a 1993 performance by Smashing Pumpkins a at Metro. The band had just released its Siamese Dream album around the time of the concert.

Steve Dawson and Diane Chrisiansen, co-founders of the alt-rock/Americana band Dolly Varden and a couple that could easily have its own TV show, will be doing a streaming performance this Monday, June 22, at 8:00 p.m. The Venue in Aurora. Fans can watch via The Venue’s Facebook page.

The Chicago version of the annual Hot Stove Cool Music concerts organized by Chicago Cubs president Theo Epstein and journalist Peter Gammons will be a virtual event that takes place on June 25. 100% of the proceeds benefit Paul and Theo Epstein’s Foundation To Be Named Later and its “non-profit partners working on the frontline s with the youth and families in disadvantaged neighborhoods . . . and Peter Gammons Scholarships for urban young people.”

The Hot Stove Cool Music Facebook page promises 75-minute mix of baseball and music with emcee Mike O’Malley and guests Peter Gammons, Bernie Williams, Kay Hanley, Len Kasper, Tanya Donelly, and Will Dailey. Other special guests will be named later. Tickets for the virtual event range from $25 to a VIP Package for $350.

This Sunday, June 21 is Pam Appreciation Day, the 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 11 years ago and Broken Hearted Toy could not have existed without her help. Whenever PAD falls on a Saturday or Sunday, it becomes PAW—Pam Appreciation Weekend. I always encourage everyone to use this occasion to celebrate your own significant others, and now, I’m extending that to any friend, relative, or hero you’d like to honor with gratitude and appreciation. Welcome to Partner Appreciation Weekend! Make it a good one.

Friday, June 12, 2020


If you’ve noticed people drinking champagne that tastes just like Coca Cola today it’s because this is the 50th Anniversary of The Kinks releasing their provocative and irresistibly catchy hit single “Lola.” To commemorate the occasion, the band has been posting various renditions of their own as well as ones by Crowded House and Madness on social media. Here’s a toast to Ray Davies, one of the most clever of all rock and roll songwriters.

After having to cancel its 2020 festival scheduled for July 30 – August 2 in Grant Park, Lollapalooza is moving forward with a virtual event on that same weekend. It’s going to feature live performances from around Chicago as well as never-seen-before Chicago and international footage from the Lollapalooza archives. The full schedule will be announced next month, and Lollapalooza also vows to retain its focus on community and civic engagement. In the meantime, the Perry’s Power Hour resumes tomorrow night on YouTube with a video of the band Big Gigantic performing at Lollapalooza in 2016. The weekly series benefits Crew Nation, a global relief fund for live music crews.

Tickets are now on sale for the following livestream events: Jimmy Buffett on June 20 at; Do Division Virtual Street Fest on June 26 and 27, various bands each night; Feed Chicago Virtual Summer Fest featuring Omar Sanchez Omi, Twin Peaks, Dennis DeYoung and others on June 18 to benefit the Greater Chicago Food Depository (donation required); and Millennium Park At Home Presents Blues Night on July 31, August 1, and August 2 at youtube.comChicagoDCASE.

Actual concerts now on sale include Every Shiny Thing: A Tribute To Jonie Mitchell at Maurer Hall, Old Town School Of Folk Music on January 24, 2021; The First Time Live Lit and Music Series at Martyrs’ on August 12; and Without U2 and Dead Letter Office at Martyrs’ on September 25.

The above listings are from the Early Warnings page in this week’s edition of The Chicago Reader, which had a very limited distribution but is available online via the weekly free paper’s website.

Switch Hittter. The Chicago version of the annual Hot Stove Cool Music concerts organized by Chicago Cubs president Theo Epstein and journalist Peter Gammons will be a virtual event that takes place on June 25. (As far as I can tell, the Boston version scheduled for April 3 was postponed.) 100% of the proceeds benefit Paul and Theo Epstein’s Foundation To Be Named Later and its “non-profit partners working on the frontlines with the youth and families in disadvantaged neighborhoods . . . and Peter Gammons Scholarships for urban young people.” The Hot Stove Cool Music Facebook page promises a 75-minute mix of baseball and music with emcee Mike O’Malley and guests Peter Gammons, Bernie Williams, Kay Hanley, Len Kasper, Tanya Donelly, and Will Dailey. Other special guests will be named later. Tickets for the virtual event range from $25 to a VIP Package for $350.

The Fest For Beatles Fans announced via email today that its Chicago event scheduled for August 7 – 9 at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare has been cancelled. The Fest will continue to offer its weekly virtual concert series All Together Now on Fridays via its Facebook page. Earlier tonight, there were sets by Phil Angotti and Scott Erickson. Next Friday, All Together Now will offer sets by New York-based singer-guitarist Kelly Sabatino and Drew Hill from the Beatles tribute band Liverpool, with Dora and Casey. Also, there are lots of Beatles-related items for sale on the The Fest For Beatles Fans webpage for those who love the vendor tables at the actual Fest.

It’s not everyday I receive a tea towel from England, so I was one happy Anglophile this afternoon when the postman dropped off the one I ordered from the Salford Lads Club. It’s beige with the names of The Hollies, The Smiths, The Fall, Happy Mondays, Joy Division, The Charlatans, Inspiral Carpets, and The Ting Tings printed on it. I spotted actor Christopher Eccleston, who’s known for portraying John Lennon in a biopic as well as The Doctor on Doctor Who, posing with one on Instagram a while back, and ordered my own at the Salford Lads Club website. The club provides opportunities for local young people in sports and the arts.

The 10th Anniversary Salford Music Festival was held online at the end of May, with Graham Nash, John Cooper Clarke, and Peter Hook And Light among the acts performing.

This Sunday will be Jeff Kelley’s birthday. A number of years ago, Jeff, who used to work with my wife Pam, asked if I wanted to contribute short films about my rock and roll memorabilia to his weekly internet show Sunday Morning Coffee With Jeff. I accepted his offer, with the additional touch of making up an outlandish story about each piece. With a huge boost from Pam’s filming and editing skills, my Manchester Gallery series morphed into a comic soap opera that ran through 20 two-minute episodes. We also created clips featuring an inept roving reporter, a cranky old man, and an avid Hollies fan. Later, Jeff and his coworker David Metzger invited me to perform in the zombie films they create each year for Elgin’s annual Halloween Festival Nightmare on Chicago Street. Jeff discontinued his internet show, but still does a podcast on a regular basis. So, here’s an early birthday toast to Jeff, and a hearty thank you for all the fun opportunities.

Thursday, June 11, 2020


The Fest For Beatles Fans continues its All Together Now virtual concert and event series tomorrow (Friday) night with sets by Phil Angotti and Scott Erickson. Angotti will cover Paul and Linda McCartney’s Ram album at 7:00 p.m. EST, and Erickson will serve up Beatles-related covers starting at 8:00 p.m. EST. Both have been impressive while performing live on the Apple Jam Stage at The Fest For Beatles Fans - Chicago in previous years. Next Friday, the All Together Now series will feature New York-based singer-guitarist Kelly Sabatino at 7:0 p.m. and Drew Hill from the Beatles tribute band Liverpool, along with Dora and Casey and at 8:00 p.m.

The July issue of British Vogue features 22 fashion models who are donating outfits they’ve worn for an online auction that runs through tomorrow (June 12). The event aims to raise funds for England’s NHS healthcare system and the NAACP. Anyone interested in bidding on a black dress from Lily Aldridge; a jacket from Kate Moss; a dress from Ashley Graham; a tweed flap bag from Adut Akech; or items from the other participating models, can go the Vogue Hardly Ever Worn It website. If the prices seem a bit steep for the average person’s wardrobe, prints of each model with her donated item are available for £50.

Anyone’s who’s familiar with the George Harrison and John Lennon birthday bashes hosted by Ellis Clark and Ary Paloma at the Martyrs’ venue on Lincoln Avenue knows Paloma usually has various forms of art for sale at these events. The items have included t-shirts, stickers, posters, and candles. Starting on June 15, she’ll be teaching a virtual art class every Monday at 1:00 p.m. Paloma, who’s the lead vocalist for The Amazing Heeby Jeebies rockabilly/garage band and performs with Clark in The Social Act band, notes on her Facebook page that her lessons will start with the basics. Participants will only need a sketch pad, pencil, and eraser.

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Vince Melouney Gets It Right

Vince Melouney has performed with a number of rock stars, dating back to the mid-1960s. But he’s probably best known for his guitar playing on early Bee Gees hits such as “New York Mining Disaster,” “To Love Somebody,” “Words,” “Holiday,” and “Massachusetts.” So it’s great to see him exploring his 1960s roots on the new digital single “Women (Make You Feel Alright).” Plus, Melouney had some expert help in recording and producing it.

The catchy, guitar-driven song was originally a hit for his fellow Australians The Easybeats back in the nascent garage rock days of 1966. The 2020 version recaptures that era via Melouney’s rough-hewn vocals and guitar playing, as well as the expert production by Shel Talmy (The Who, The Kinks, etc.). These 1960s vets are joined by drummer Clem Burke of Blondie and The Empty Hearts; and Jonathan Lea of The Jigsaw Seen and Dave Davies’ band. Bassist Alec Palao and backup vocalist Paul Kopf, both members of Strangers In A Strange Land and The Seeds, also helped out.

“Women (Make You Feel Alright),” and an instrumental take on the same song are available as a digital album from Burger Records on streaming services, including Bandcamp. The press release also mentions that Melouney will be featured in a documentary about The Bee Gees that’s going to be released released by Universal Music Group sometime this year.

Friday, June 5, 2020


Graphic from the Bandcamp homepage.

My favorite weekend of the year usually happens right about now. In 2017, on this blog, I dubbed it “A Cultural Cornucopia” that included The Old Town Art Fair; Wells Street Art Fair, Chicago Blues Fest, Printers Row Lit Fest; and the Andersonville Midsommarfest. A perfect time to invite out-of-town friends to Chicago and show off our city. None of that is going on this year, due to the coronavirus. There are ways to experience elements of those events, as you’ll see below. But let’s not forget how the major art fairs, concerts, and street festivals made us feel. Walking amidst people of every color and nationality, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, neighbors and tourists, almost all of them perfect strangers, we had a blast.

Depending on when you read this, you can get a serious blues fix on WXRT tonight. The long-running Chicago rock station is airing a recording of Buddy Guy and Junior Wells performing at the Biddy Mulligans venue in 1982. The show is part of the Live From The XRT Archives series, which has featured some major names (Robert Plant, Dire Straits, R.E.M., etc.) over the past few weeks. The shows run at 9:00 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday nights.

There are still a few hours left to help recording artists earn some extra money on their independent releases. Bandcamp is waiving its share of sales to support musicians impacted by the coronavirus. Several artists and indie labels are offering limited edition merchandise and donating their share of sales to worthy causes.

Tickets are now on sale for Rodney Crowell on March 27, 2021 at City Winery Chicago; Cryfest: The Cure Vs. The Smiths Dance Party on June 20, 2020 at Subterranean; Split Single on January 2, 2021 at SPACE; and the FitzGerald’s Drive-In Concert featuring The Waco Brothers and School Of Rock on July 3. The preceding listings are from the Early Warnings page of this week’s edition of the Chicago Reader. The full issue can be downloaded on the paper’s website.

The Chicago Reader is spearheading the recently established Chicago Independent Media Alliance and the Save Chicago Media campaign to help publications and radio stations affected by the coronavirus. The deadline for donating is midnight tonight.

Then June issue of the Illinois Entertainer can be viewed on the long-time rock music publication’s website. In addition to a cover story on Tim Burgess, there’s a feature on the Jay O’Rourke Band, and album reviews of Paul McCartney, Tuff Sunshine, Rush, and Daryl Hall and John Oates.

The Writing Workshop Of Chicago will present its annual Writing Day Workshop as a virtual event this year. Aspiring writers will be able to attend seminars and pitch their work to established literary agents. So if you’ve been working on your long-delayed novel while sheltering in place, or have read enough books recently to inspire you to write one of your own, the Writing Day Workshop is a great opportunity. It takes place online Saturday, June 27, from 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. See the website for admission price; a list of participating literary agents (pitching costs extra), and the full schedule.

I’ll be pitching my YA/Paranormal/Rock and Roll/Romance novel to four literary agents via SKYPE at the above-mentioned online event.

The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame has begun African American Music Appreciation Month with a week-long tribute to Aretha Franklin. She was the first woman to be inducted into the Hall, back in 1987, and is best known for her recording of Otis Redding’s “Respect” 20 years earlier. African-American Music Appreciation Month began as Black Music Month, when it was initiated by President Jimmy Carter in 1979.

The Hollies Official Facebook page has started posting clips of drummer Bobby Elliott reading excerpts from his autobiography It Ain’t Heavy, It’s My Story - My Life In The Hollies. One deals with the first time guitarist Tony Hicks performed with The Hollies at the Cavern Club. Founding members Graham Nash and Allan Clarke joked about Hicks being so young (17 at the time) and promised the crowd he would serenade them with “The Teddy Bears’s Picnic.” Elliott notes the title of the band’s 1966 album For Certain Because was a line lifted from that children’s song, and that it was one of the best albums The Hollies ever recorded. I certainly would agree with him there.

The Record Store Day website proclaimed via email today that record stores around the globe are starting to reopen, with rules for social distancing. In the Chicago area, Laurie’s Planet Of Sound on Lincoln Avenue is now open 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Sunday to Thursday; 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Masks are required, and customers must use a sanitizer station before browsing. I didn’t see any mention of opening on the Reckless Records website, although some of its stores are open for pickup. Be sure to keep tabs on your favorite record stores and be ready to support them when they return.

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Dear Sir Or Madam, Will You Read My Book?

Photo from The Writing Workshop Of Chicago Facebook page.

For the past five years, The Writing Workshop Of Chicago has staged a Writing Day Workshop toward the end of June. With so many events canceled due to the coronavirus, I was pleasantly surprised to learn via email that a 2020 version will be coming our way. It’s all online, obviously, but aspiring writers will still have an opportunity to attend seminars and pitch their work to established literary agents.

I’ve found this event to be extremely helpful in the past. Aspiring writers tend to view literary agents more as roadblocks than doorways, but getting face-to-face feedback shines an entirely different light on the process. (Granted, the faces this year will be on screens via SKYPE.) I’m currently editing my most recent novel based on the advice of an agent who told me she liked the fun, twisty plot but had issues with the dialogue and voice.* I’m amazed at how much better it reads now.

So if you’ve been working on your long-delayed novel while sheltering in place, or have read enough books recently to inspire you to write one of your own, the Writing Day Workshop is a great opportunity. It takes place online Saturday, June 27, from 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. See the website for admission price; a list of participating literary agents (pitching costs extra), and the full schedule.

*I wasn’t sure exactly what ‘voice’ meant until I read Maureen Johnson’s Truly Devious trilogy. There’s a consistent and fun tone to these novels that moves the action along while keeping the reader entertained. It’s the best example of voice I've found.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Saturday Slumgullion

Ellisong Studios is currently selling t-shirts, posters, and stickers to help fund its upcoming documentary Out Of Time - The Material Issue Story. The film concerns the power pop band, which along with Liz Phair, Smashing Pumpkins, and Urge Overkill, brought major media attention to Chicago’s vibrant music scene in the early 1990s. Out Of Time is due out in 2021.

Led Zeppelin’s 2012 concert film Celebration Day began a four-day run this afternoon on the band’s official YouTube channel. The two-hour-plus performance itself actually took place in 2007, and includes most of Led Zeppelin’s biggest hits.

On the topic of music documentaries, an article by Jon Bream in yesterday’s Chicago Tribune (picked up from the Minneapolis Star Tribune) recommends several films that can be watched on streaming services or DVDs. Bream’s list includes documentaries about Bob Dylan (Don’t Look Back), Al Green (Gospel According To Al Green), Los Angeles punk (The Decline Of Western Civilization) Sixto Rodriguez (Searching For Sugarman), Amy Winehouse (Amy), David Crosby (David Crosby: Remember My Name) and a number of others.

Dion started with The Belmonts back in the late 1950s, and these days, he’s recording with Jeff Beck, Bruce Springsteen, Joe Louis Walker, Van Morrison, Brian Setzer, Joe Bonamassa, Sonny Landreth, Steven Van Zandt, and other famous musicians. The Bonamassa-produced Blues With Friends album is available for pre-order on Amazon, and a number of the tracks are already available for purchase in digital format.

Tickets are now on sale for Sinead O’Connor at City Winery Chicago August 18 through August 21, 2021; Tom Rush at City Winery Chicago November 19, 2020; and Sunshine Boys and Bobbleheads at SPACE September 5. Sunshine Boys have just released their second album, Work And Love, and it’s a solid follow-up to their stellar 2018 debut Blue Music.

Chicago area illustrator Terry Murphy recently posted a video on YouTube documenting her process for designing a t-shirt for the Pino Farina Band. The band’s song “Ocean Deep” plays while Murphy takes viewers through the process. The shirt can be purchased online for a limited time at the Waist Up pop up store. Murphy has illustrated several children’s books and is a member of the Society Of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Full disclosure: I’m also a member of the same northwest Illinois chapter of SCBWI as her, and she has given me some essential advice about my novels over the years.

Manchester Lemon, the U.K. website that champions rock bands such as Oasis, Stone Roses, and The Smiths that have come from the city of Manchester, will open its online store tomorrow. It should be interesting to see what they have for sale.

Jimy Sohns and Jerry McGeorge from the original Shadows Of Knight have reunited and recorded a garage rock single titled “Wild Man” that’s now available on Spotify and other streaming services. It’s first time they’ve worked together since 1967. The Chicago-based Shadows Of Knight first gained national attention back in the 1960s with their cover of Them’s “Gloria.”

Friday, May 29, 2020

The Sound He Appears To Make

Peter Howarth of The Hollies

Cameos on the chorus. The Hollies have created a video for an Unlocked version of their 1974 hit single “The Air That I Breathe” featuring current members performing it in isolation. It’s a particularly good showcase for lead vocalist Peter Howarth, who was also impressive performing an acoustic version of “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother” on a clip that was previously posted on the band’s Facebook page. The bare bones arrangement serves the song’s romantic sentiments well, and there’s an additional uplifting message in these difficult times.

Fans will no doubt welcome an opportunity to see the band since it cancelled its U.K. and U.S. tours due to the coronavirus. Some fans will see themselves in the clip—literally. A while back, The Hollies sent out a request via emails and social media for people to film themselves singing the extended chorus at the end. I was one of those who responded, and can be seen on the bottom right corner of a montage that appears around the four-minute-thirteen-second mark. I’m actually more excited by the prospect of The Hollies continuing to create videos like this while fans around the world are unable to see live concerts.

Gigantosaur, the full-length debut from Tiny Bit Of Giant’s Blood is now available on a limited-edition vinyl version, as well as on CD and digital formats. The Chicago-based quartet of club scene veterans offers guitar-driven and spooky glam rock with a consistent vein of satirical humor.

Doctor Who fans of Arthur Darvill (Rory Williams AKA Mr. Pond) most likely enjoyed watching him and actress-musician Ines de Clerq performing Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain” in a living room setting recently on Instagram.

Australian power pop outfit The Jangle Band’s new Metro Hotel EP is now available on frontman Joe Algeri’s Egomaniac Bandcamp page. It’s another melodic effort, particularly on the title track and “Dusk Till Dawn,” and having five vocalists results in some terrific harmonies. Check out the acapella singing on “So Long (stax-o-trax vocal mix.)”

Sharon Lee and Karen Lynn of The Bookends showed their expertise in recreating 1960s garage rock and pop on their Far Away But Around album a few years ago, and now the duo is back with a new single titled “She’s Got It!” The new track exudes a fun espionage ambience that wouldn’t be out of place on an Austin Powers soundtrack. Lee’s bass drives the irresistible beat and both band members sing. The song is available as a digital download on Amazon and Apple music.

The Pretenders have released another song in digital format from its upcoming Hate For Sale album. “Didn’t Want To Be This Lonely,” got its first airplay yesterday on Zoe Ball’s BBC Breakfast Show. Like the previously released title track and “Turf Accountant Daddy,” this new song has the ramped-up energy and lyrical bite fans have come to expect from The Pretenders. “Didn’t Want To Be This Lonely” tackles the complicated emotions of a woman kicking her abusive mate to the curb and adjusting to being alone. Hate For Sale, comes out July 17.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Saturday Slumgullion

According to a Facebook post from Lorinda Murphy (Jeff’s wife) on the Shoes: Official Fan Page, a new seven-inch vinyl single from Shoes will be coming out on the Spanish label You Are The Cosmos June 15. “The Joke’s On You” and “Wrong Idea” previously appeared on the band’s 2012 album Ignition. The single will likely be available in America from Get Hip Recordings.

Legendary jazz performer/composer and radio personality Ramsey Lewis will celebrate his 85th birthday via a 50-minute concert (including encore) that will be live streamed next Saturday, May 30. Tickets for the intimate performance are $20 and can be purchased Stageit website. A portion of the proceeds will benefit The Jazz Foundation Of America.

Australian power pop outfit The Jangle Band will most likely live up to its name again when its new Metro Hotel EP comes out next week. Frontman Joe Algeri can be seen promoting its release with his usual offbeat humor on The Jangle Band Facebook page.

The 2020 edition of the CHIRP Record Fair and Other Delights take place on October 3, after being moved from its usual spring-time arrival. It’s still being held at the Local Plumbers Union Hall on Washington Street. Hosted by CHIRP Radio 107.1 FM, the event offers an amazing selection of rare vinyl, CDs, posters, and other memorabilia.

Tickets are now on sale for Peter Yarrow and Noel Paul Stookey of Peter, Paul and Mary GeneseeTheatre on October 4; and Chris Hillman. Herb Pedersen, and John Jorgenson at City Winery on October 25.

Yesterday’s edition of the Chicago Tribune carried Variety writer J. Kim Murphy preview of summer movies. The earlier films will show up Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, etc, but from July on, Murphy covers ones that will have a theatrical release. Of course, the one that caught my eyes was director Peter Jackson’s The Beatles Get Back, which is due out September 4.

Thursday, May 21, 2020


WXRT continues to bring on the big names in its Monday-Wednesday-Friday night series Live From The Archives. The local station has already aired vintage concerts from Blondie, Roxy Music, Robert Plant and others, and this Friday (May 22), it’s offering a 2008 performance by R.E.M. at SXSW. As noted on XRT’s website, the band had just released its Accelerate album at the time and was eager to unveil hard-edged songs such as “Man-Sized Wreath,” “Supernatural Superserious,” and the title track onstage.

WXRT has supported R.E.M. from the early 1980s. I still remember being blown away by “Wolves, Lower” the very first time I heard it on the station. When the DJ announced it was from a new band called R.E.M., I bought its Chronic Town EP within a few days. Who could have guessed back then how many great songs would emerge from R.E.M. albums in the coming years. Tomorrow night’s 90-minute concert begins at 9:00 p.m., and can be streamed via WXRT online.

A new series called Manic Mondays On Friday with Susanna Hoffs and Friends kicks off tomorrow afternoon on the We Are Hear YouTube channel at 2:00 p.m. Pacific Time. Hoffs and co-host comedian-musician-writer Tam Yajia will be joined by Fred Armisen, Cecily Strong, and Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea. So expect some comedy along with the music. We Are Hear helps raise money for musicians affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

In other Bangles news, the band is offering an autographed CD bundle deal of Ladies and Gentlemen . . . The Bangles and Sweetheart Of The Sun for $60 over the Memorial Day weekend. 

As reported by Miriam Di Nunzio in today’s edition of the Chicago Sun-Times, Dennis DeYoung of Styx and Survivor/Ides Of March frontman Jim Peterik will headline the FEED Chicago Virtual Summer Fest on June 4. Donations will definitely be welcome, with funds going to the Greater Chicago Food Depository. Longtime Chicago recording artist Michael McDermott will also be on the bill, along with popular local cover bands Sixteen Candles, Wedding Banned, and Boy Band Review. Whenever I mention Peterik on Broken Hearted Toy, I remember how he was the first musician I ever interviewed—back when I was on the staff of the Chicago Illini newspaper at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Saturday Slumgullion

If you missed John Taylor of Duran Duran interviewing Susanna Hoffs of The Bangles on social media this past Thursday, you can watch the 45-minute discussion now on YouTube. Each of them came across as engaging and down to earth, and there’s an obvious friendship between these two that dates back to the 1980s. In addition to learning how both loved music from early childhood, it was interesting to hear how Hoffs drove to the studio where Prince was recording to pick up a demo cassette of “Manic Monday.” He had been impressed with the video of The Bangles’ “The Hero Takes A Fall” and hoped they would record a song he wrote specifically for them. Hoffs still has the cassette. She also revealed she’s working on music to record once she’s able to get back to a studio, and is writing a novel. I found that last bit particularly inspiring since I’ve been polishing my rock and roll novel lately. Good luck to us both.

As mentioned by writer Abdel Jimenez in the Business section of today’s Chicago Tribune, several star athletes and entertainment celebrities will participate in a Sweet Home Chicago benefit for the Chicago Community COVID-19 Response Fund starting today (May 16) at 5:00 p.m. The event will be broadcast on NBC Sports Chicago, and streamed on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter. Comedian/actor/writer Deon Cole (Blackish, Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien) will host. Jimenez notes in his article that nationwide, the COVID-19 Response Fund has raised over $32 million.

Things I recently learned from Instagram, Part 1. According to the Legends Of Music page, Elvis Presley was a huge fan of Dean Martin, and once called him “The King Of Cool.”

The Go-Go’s have moved this summer’s tour dates to 2021, but those of us who’ve been fans from the start will be able to watch the The Go-Go’s documentary tonight on Showtime. I first saw The Go-Go’s at ChicagoFest on Navy Pier; then later in Grant Park, and a few years ago at Ravinia. They always give their fans a fun, highly active show.

The other morning while listening to WXRT, I heard DJ Richard Milne mention that rock critic Bill Wyman has created a list for New York agazine titled All 165 Pink Floyd Songs Ranked From Worst To Best. Wyman notes in his introduction that 2020 marks the 50th Anniversary of Floyd’s debut The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn. He places the title track of Wish You Were Here at number one. Six tracks from The Dark Side Of The Moon are listed in the top twenty.

Tickets are now on sale for Rock and Roll Playhouse Presents The Music Of The Grateful Dead for Kids June 14 at Thalia Hall; Rock and Roll Playhouse Presents The Music Of Bob Marley for Kids July 26 at Thalia Hall; Boz Skaggs at the North Shore Center For The Performing Arts on July 20; and the CHIRP Radio Showcase featuring Bringers, God Awful Small Affairs; and Flamingo Rodeo at GMan Tavern on November 12.

The above listings are from this week’s edition of The Reader, which had a very limited distribution but is available online via the weekly free paper’s website.

Things I recently learned from Instagram, Part 2. According to the Rock And Blues Muse page, Graham Nash recently told CBS Sunday Morning that he’s composed about six new songs while maintaining social isolation.

Tanya Donelly and The Parkington Sisters have released a bit of their Go-Go’s cover “Automatic” as a preview of a full album of them performing well-known songs by The Pretenders, Leonard Cohen, Wings, Linda Ronstadt and other artists. Their haunting take on “Automatic” suggests these new versions will be imaginative reinventions of the originals. The album is due out on the indie American Laundromat label in August.

Things I recently learned from Instagram, Part 3. Actor Christopher Eccleston, known for portraying John Lennon, as well as The Doctor on Doctor Who, posted a photo of himself holding a tea towel with the names of The Hollies, The Smiths, The Fall, Happy Mondays, Joy Division, The Charlatans, Inspiral Carpets, and The Ting Tings printed on it. The towels can be purchased at the Salford Lads Club website. The club provides opportunities for local young people in sports and arts.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020


Happy Birthday to the ultimate British Invasion troubadour, Donovan. Songs like “Sunshine Superman,” “Mellow Yellow,” “Hurdy Gurdy Man,” and “Wear Your Love Like Heaven” remain flower power classics to this day. Here’s a clip of him performing “Sunshine Superman” to help put everyone in a better mood.

Fans of the recently reunited English trio Supergrass can tune in to YouTube at 11:00 a.m. tomorrow (May 13) for a previously unseen acoustic video of “Caught By The Fuzz.” It was directed by well-known music video directors Dom and Nic (Nic Goffey and Dominic Hawley). The rollicking song is from their sterling debut album I Should Coco, which was released 25 years ago. I’ve probably mentioned this a few times here, but when my editor at the Illinois Entertainer first heard Supergrass, he told himself, “This is a Terry Flamm group if I’ve ever heard one.” And he was right.

The Zombies are offering autographed CDs of the 50th Anniversary edition of their Odyssey and Oracle album on their website. The special bonus edition has seven bonus tracks.

LiveWire Lounge on Milwaukee Avenue has created an online store to sell t-shirts with its logo or a fight Covid-19 message. It’s a fun way to support the venue until it’s back to booking live shows again.

Congratulations to producer/author Vivek J. Tiwary of the Tiwary Entertainment Group on being named to the Gold House third annual A100 List of Most Impactful Asians. I talked to Tiwary at The Fest For Beatles Fans - Chicago a few years back when I bought a copy of his graphic novel The Fifth Beatle - The Brian Epstein Story. He came across as genuinely friendly, and moments later was giving a presentation about how The Fifth Beatle would become a live action movie. Tiwary has also produced Jagged Little Pill, the successful Broadway play based on the 1995 Alanis Morissette album.

Monday, May 11, 2020


Power pop lost one of its best practitioners when Fountains Of Wayne and Ivy singer-bassist Adam Schlesinger died recently from Covid-19 complications. One of the many tributes to him came about when singer-songwriter Sharon Van Etten and FOW members Chris Collingwood, Jody Porter, and Brian Young—each working separately—recorded a new version of Schlesinger’s song “Hackensack.” It’s an easy-going version that underscores the band’s knack for crafting pleasant melodies with lyrics that combine humor with a touch of melancholy. I had the pleasure of seeing Fountains Of Wayne on a few occasions, and they were fun shows. The song is available to download on the group’s Bandcamp page, with all proceeds going to the New Jersey Pandemic Relief Fund.

Chicago Independent Media Alliance (CIMA), a new organization of independent media outlets spearheaded by publisher Tracy Baim of the Chicago Reader, is running a savechicagomedia  campaign throughout this month. Visitors to the website can choose to have their donation go to one of the outlets or have it spread across all 43 involved. As noted in a fundraising email from Baim, some members of the alliance have encountered revenue losses as high as 85 percent.

Radio station WXRT continues its Live From the XRT Concert Archives series this week with a 1990 performance by Santana at the World Music Theatre in Tinley Park airing tonight; a 2003 Joe Jackson show at The Vic airing Wednesday night; and a 2013 Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters at concert at Taste Of Chicago airing on Friday. Tune in to WXRT at 9:00 p.m. on those nights for the live rock and roll. You can also stream the concerts on the station’s website.

Friday, May 8, 2020


I heard the muse today, oh boy. The Fest For Beatles Fans - Chicago arrives on the weekend of August 7 – 9, and the rescheduled NY Metro version is set for October 9 – 11. In the meantime, The Fest continues to offer virtual events on its Facebook page to keep us entertained. Tonight, Jenny Boyd, Patty’s younger sister and the inspiration for a Donovan hit song, read from her book Jennifer Juniper - A Journey Beyond The Muse. Depending on when you see this, you can catch performers Phil Angotti (7:00 p.m. EDT) and Scott Erickson (8:00 p.m. EDT) celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the release of Let It Be. Both of these guys have been impressive on the Apple Jam Stage in the past. The Fest For Beatles Fans also continues to sell a wide variety of Beatles-related merchandise via its website.

My nephew and Season 15 Top Chef winner Joe Flamm is doing a live cooking demonstration today on the Goose Island Instagram page. He’ll be preparing Croatian style chicken wings while raising funds for the No Kid Hungry charitable foundation. Tune in to get some tips and make a donation to a worthy cause. I still have a small ceramic statue of a British beefeater guard that Joe saw in a store when he was very small and told his mother, “Uncle Terry would love that!” I guess it’s always been pretty obvious I’m an Anglophile.

With extra time on my hands, I’ve been going through boxes of vintage publications I’ve collected over the years, and tossing any that, as Marie Kondo says, don’t spark joy. Sometimes, it’s a tough call, especially for newspapers or magazines from other cities or countries. Others get an immediate thumbs up. Such was the case with the November 1979 issue of the Illinois Entertainer, with its Chicago Bands Primed For The ‘80s cover story. This was eight years before I joined the paper. Publisher Ken Voss, editor Guy C. Arnston, and the IE staff created an essential guide for then, and an amazing souvenir for decades to come.

The local acts featured included Cheap Trick, Off Broadway, Fenton Robinson, Shoes, The Hounds, Pezband, Curtis Mayfield, Yipes!, Styx, Wazmo Nariz, John Prine, Trillion, Luther Allison, Survivor, and Brian Stevens. Contributor Robert Pruter’s feature article The Soul Of Chicago - Alive And Singing honored Linda Clifford, Earth, Wind and Fire, Staple Singers, The Impressions, and others. An extended Streetwalkin’ column offered profiles on Jump ’n The Saddle, Harvey Mandel, Clox, Dadistics, Dreamer, B.B. Spin, Madfox, Bitch, Pearl Handle, Big Twist, Pin-Ups, All Star Frogs, Dick Eastman, Fayrewether, Heartsfield, Ouray, Public Enemy, Risk!, Star Trooper, and others. If the above list brings back memories, you no doubt appreciate Chicago’s wide-ranging, multi-genre history of great music. And it continues today.

Friday, May 1, 2020


They’re playing “Oh Yeah” on the radio. The Live From The XRT Concert Archives series continues tonight at 9:00 p.m. CST with a Roxy Music performance at the Cleveland Coliseum in 1979. The long-running FM station WXRT has been airing vintage concerts from its vault on Monday, Wednesday and Friday nights for those of us who miss the thrill of seeing our favorite acts in person. Tonight’s broadcast is being sponsored by The Old Town School Of Folk Music, and can be streamed online from the WXRT website. This coming Monday, it will be a Spooner show recorded at the Riviera Theatre in Chicago in 2007.

The Rolling Stones have a new six-part weekly series called Extra Licks starting on YouTube this Sunday. The band will streaming footage from some of its concerts over the years. The show is at 8:00 p.m. BST, 3:00 p.m. ET, 2:00 p.m. CT, and 12:00 p.m. PT.

It may be hard to picture now, but four Chicago area venues—Cobra Lounge, Liar’s Club, LiveWire Lounge, and Reggies—are planning an actual festival where you can watch bands perform. You’ll have to wait until the weekend of December 11–13 to do it. Ads on social media promise Save The Rock N Roll will have free bus shuttles, punk rock, live band karaoke, bingo, comedy, venue memorabilia raffles, and lots of bands. As far off as that seems, please keep in mind that we all need to behave sensibly in the coming months if we’re ever going to escape the coronavirus.

Tickets are now on sale for The Happy Together Tour featuring The Turtles, Chuck Negron from Three Dog Night, The Association, Mark Lindsay from Paul Revere and The Raiders, The Buckinghams, The Vogues, and The Cowsills at the Genesee Theatre August 8; Lilly Hiatt and Harmaleighs at Schubas on August 19; Sonny Landreth at SPACE on July 10; Over The Rhine at SPACE on June 27; Katie Toupin at Schubas on August 27; and Webb Wilder and the Beatnecks at FitzGerald’s on June 20.

The above listings are from this week’s edition of The Reader, which had a very limited distribution but is available online via the weekly free paper’s website. You can also subscribe to The Reader and have it delivered to your home.

The May issue of the Illinois Entertainer, with Tom Lanham’s cover story on Lucinda Williams, can be viewed on the publication’s website. This issue also features his interview with former Runaway Cherie Currie, and Rosalind Cumming-Yeates’ tribute to the blues icon Otis Clay.

Former Hollies lead vocalist Allan Clarke, whose impressive 2019 release Resurgence was his first solo effort in years, has just recorded a powerful new version of The Hollies hit “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother” with piano player Francis Haines that’s available for download on iTunes, Amazon, and other sites. All proceeds will go to the the NHS Covid-19 Urgent Appeal.

Work And Love, the second album from Chicago trio Sunshine Boys, was officially released today on Pravda Records. Dag Juhlin, Freda Love Smith, and Jacqueline Schimmel have returned with another batch of melodic and occasionally confrontational rock tunes in a worthy follow-up to their 2018 debut Blue Music. Juhlin will be discussing the new Sunshine Boys album and playing some live songs as a special guest on The Power Pop Shoppe - Home School Vol. 2 Facebook event next Monday, May 4 at 8:30 p.m. The program, hosted by DJ Gil and DJ BK will also feature Reinhard van Biljon from the Cape Town, South Africa power pop band The Cudas.

Outronaut, a guitar-fueled hot rod of a quartet that favors twangy instrumentals, released its fourth album, Kill The Light, on its Bandcamp page today.

Back in 2002, I was one of thousands of employees laid off by Arthur Andersen during its Enron crisis. With extra time on my hands, I strung together six parody songs based my experiences during the ordeal. After convincing Famous In The Future we could base a show on them, I sent copies of my script to various members of the media. Amazingly, some of them found the concept of a musical composed by a former Andersen employee intriguing, and asked to interview me. My story was featured in the Wall Street Journal, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Reader, and a few local papers. Damn Andersen became our biggest hit; selling out small theaters in the Chicago area.

This Sunday night at 8:00 p.m. founding member Frank Carr is posting a triple bill viewing party on the Famous In The Future Facebook page. Each show is from 2002, when I was still a member of this comedy group. Two Chicks is Frank’s parody on religious comedy strips; Damn Andersen is my musical parody; and Masters Of Anonymity is a group-created skit and song revue. If my memory serves, Two Chicks and Masters of Anonymity have graphic language, so viewer discretion is advised.

Thursday, April 30, 2020


The Road Is Closed. The many a winding turn that led us to sheltering in place and social distancing now includes The Hollies canceling their first visit to Chicago in 37 years. The band’s entire American tour (their first since a 2002 mini-tour of small cities) has been shut down due to Covid-19. The announcement came today on the official Hollies website and a video from drummer Bobby Elliott on their Facebook page. The U.K. portion of their 2020 schedule was scratched earlier. But I’m strong, strong enough to know it was the right thing to do, and believe they’ll keep their promise to visit the U.S. soon. I might feel a bit better though if Bobby Elliott told me where I can buy a Hollies t-shirt like the one he’s wearing in the video.

And don’t forget, you can buy Mr. Elliott’s new autobiography It Ain’t Heavy, It’s My Story - My Life In The Hollies from the band’s website. I’m over halfway through my copy and have found it entertaining and informative. For example, I didn’t know guitarist-harmony singer Tony Hicks once appeared as a celebrity guest on The Dating Game TV show in the mid 1960s.

The Our City Of Neighbors virtual concert kicked off tonight at 7:00 p.m. on YouTube. Jeff Tweedy, Katie Kadan, Toronzo Cannon, Mariachi Sirenas, The O’Mys, The Flat Five, Shawnee Dez, Terriers, Sandra Antongiorgi, Ric Wilson, NNAMDI, Dominizuelan, and Jon Langford are among the Chicago music acts who’ll be performing. NBC Channel 5/Telemundo personality Matthew Rodrigues will host the event, which hopes to raise emergency funds for four front-line nonprofit organizations.

Work And Love, the second album from the Chicago trio Sunshine Boys, officially comes out tomorrow on Pravda Records, but two of its tracks have already been getting considerable airplay on independent radio stations like Woody Radio and Radio One Chicago. “Infinity Girl” and “Summertime Kids” suggest band members Dag Juhlin, Freda Love Smith, and Jacqueline Schimmel will adroitly balance politically charged rock with expertly crafted pop on Work And Love, just as they did on their 2018 debut Blue Music.

Black Ensemble Theatre’s Ask Us virtual series continues this Friday evening at 6:00 p.m. with its Musical Director Rob Reddrick. The hour-long Live Facebook Chat will give attendees a chance to ask Reddrick about his 30-plus years at BE, the awards he’s been given, and his passion for directing critically acclaimed musicals celebrating iconic African American recording artists.

Outronaut, a guitar-fueled hot rod of a quartet that favors twangy instrumentals, will make its fourth album, Kill The Light, available on its Bandcamp page tomorrow. Steve Gerlach, Ryan Nelson, and Peter Muschong all play guitar while John Carpender pounds the drums. Each of these guys has a long history of performing on the local music scene. Songs on their previous releases include “Back Stabbeth,” “Six-String Massacre,” “Medieval Surf,” and “Dream Sequins.”

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

From Their Rooms To Ours

Graham Nash recently performed three songs as part of the Rolling Stone In My Room virtual concert series. The solo effort was filmed at his New York apartment, and found him playing piano for his own compositions “Our House” and “Teach Your Children.” In between those numbers, Nash switched to an acoustic guitar for his take on Stephen Stills’ “4 + 20.” As Rolling Stone noted, all three songs came from the Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young album Deja Vu. In addition to his engaging singing and playing, Nash offered heartfelt advice and comfort on how we can all make it through the coronavirus lockdown. The In My Room series also recently featured Brian Wilson, which is only fitting since the series takes its name from the song Wilson wrote with Gary Usher for The Beach Boys in 1963. Other In My Room shows have featured Nick Lowe, Joan Jett, John Fogerty, and Grace Potter.

I’ve been reading drummer Bobby Elliott’s new autobiography It Ain’t Heavy, It’s My Story - My Life In The Hollies, and have just reached the part where Graham Nash makes the difficult decision to leave the British Invasion band. “He was, perhaps, feeling torn,” Elliott speculates. “Drawn by his new-found friends in the States, and the promise of fresh musical adventures, he still valued The Hollies. The band had been his life for a long time and walking away would be hard.” Elliott goes on to say Nash was particularly dismayed by the number of cabaret gigs the band’s management was scheduling; believing it woefully out of step with what most rock bands were doing at the time. Elliott also recounts when The Hollies wowed a packed house of top notch American musicians, including Stephen Stills and David Crosby, at the Whiskey A Go Go in West Hollywood, California. I’ve read about that eventful evening before, and always wonder if there were any recordings of it.

The Miami-based indie rock band Ex Norwegian has a series of Live In Stream shows scheduled tomorrow (Wednesday, April 29) on Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram. Details can be found on the group’s Facebook page. I’ve favorably reviewed Ex Norwegian’s recent albums here on Broken Hearted Toy and have watched some videos, but have never seen them in a live performance. The band’s latest album Spotting Hues is due out June 5, and is available for pre-order on its Bandcamp page.

Also, keep checking social media for live performance videos posted by your favorite local and international music acts. The Power Pop Shoppe is doing a live broadcast on Facebook as I’m writing this. Earlier today, Chicago singer-songwriter Phil Angotti posted a stirring performance of Led Zeppelin’s “Going To California.” Other recent videos have come from John Petitt, Michael Steven Cohen, and Casey McDonough. Keep all those songs coming our way.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Saturday Slumgullion

The Fitzgerald’s music venue in Berwyn will continue its Stay-At-Home Concert Series this afternoon at 4:00 p.m. when singer-songwriter Phil Angotti hops on the back of a pickup truck armed only with a guitar and a desire to entertain. As with previous Stay-At-Home concerts by Jon Langford, Dag Juhlin, and Cathy Richardson, Angotti will perform while the truck makes pre-arranged stops based on requests from the residents of Berwyn. He’ll likely offer a mix of originals and cover versions. Residents are encouraged to come out and enjoy Phil’s songs while maintaining social distancing, and everyone can watch the entire rolling concert on the FitzGerald’s Facebook page. Chicago Sun-Times staff reporter Evan F. Moore had a nice article about the Stay-At-Home Concert Series in yesterday’s Weekend Plus section.

Phil Angotti will be inside FitzGerald’s on June 13 for an album release show. The Mark Watson Band will also be performing that night.

Chicago-based singer-guitarist Ben Vogel will be performing songs from his debut album Whistling After Midnight during a live-streaming concert from Montrose Saloon starting at 9:00 p.m. tonight. Most of the songs on Vogel’s album are guitar-driven, catchy power pop, and he also does well with the more rockabilly “I Hope Your’e Happy Now” and the soulful “Beautiful Sun.”

Tickets went on sale today for Steve Forbert at FitzGerald’s on June 5; Freddy Jones Band at SPACE on September 17; Elton John at United Center on June 19 and 20; Michael McDermott at City Winery on June 5; and Ike Reilly at SPACE on November 11. Keep in mind all live performance dates are subject to when shelter in place restrictions are lifted.

The above listings are from this week’s edition of The Reader, which had a very limited distribution but is available online via the weekly free paper’s website .

Doctors without (galactic) borders. The Big Night In BBC Comic Relief special this past Thursday night included a video tribute from nine actors who have portrayed The Doctor on the long-running sci-fi series Doctor Who expressing gratitude to England’s NHS medical professionals. Jodie Whittaker, Jo Martin, Peter Capaldi, Matt Smith, David Tennant, Paul McGann, Sylvester McCoy, Colin Baker, Peter Davison, and Tom Baker appeared in the inspirational clip.

Jeff Tweedy, Katie Kadan, Toronzo Cannon, Mariachi Sirenas, The O’Mys, The Flat Five, Shawnee Dez, Terriers, Sandra Antongiorgi, Ric Wilson, NNAMDI, Dominizuelan, and Jon Langford are among the Chicago music acts who’ll be performing this Thursday, April 30 as part of the Windy City Indie sponsored Our City Of Neighbors virtual concert onYouTube. NBC Channel 5/Telemundo personality Matthew Rodrigues will host the event, which hopes to raise emergency funds for four front-line nonprofit organizations.

Once again, I’d like to extend a big thank you to all the musicians, performers, artists, and countless creative types who’ve been posting entertaining clips on social media. Recently, Bangles drummer Debbi Peterson posted a video of herself strumming an acoustic guitar and singing “Live” from the band’s stellar 1984 LP All Over The Place. The cover of The Merry Go Round’s 1966 song was one of only two non-original tracks on All Over The Place. A lot of people (even some critics who should know better) assume The Bangles never wrote their own material, but the band actually composed most of their music.

Manchester Lemon, a website devoted to some of the best bands to emerge from the British city in recent decades, is offering a coloring book for those wanting to create crayola portraits of Oasis, The Buzzcocks, The Smiths, Happy Mondays, Joy Division, and other Manchester acts. There are 20 designs; felt pens and color pencils are included.

Frank Carr, a founding member of the Famous In The Future sketch comedy group, has been creating watch parties for vintage performances on the group’s Facebook page. Last night’s online event was the 2002 musical Chicken Soup for the Damned, which brought back memories since I was a member of the group at that time. Although I don’t see it listed yet, Carr told me this Sunday night will bring a triple bill of his religious satire Two Chicks, a skit and song revue titled Masters Of Anonymity, and a musical called Damn Andersen—all from 2002.

Back then, I was one of thousands of employees laid off by Arthur Andersen during its Enron crisis. With extra time on my hands, I strung together six parody songs based my experiences during the ordeal. After convincing Famous In The Future we could base a show on them, I sent copies of my script to various members of the media. Amazingly, some of them found the concept of a musical composed by a former Andersen employee intriguing, and asked to interview me. My story was featured in the Wall Street Journal, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Reader, and a few local papers. Damn Andersen became our biggest hit; selling out small theaters in the Chicago area.

Friday, April 24, 2020

Oh, What The Hell!

Most of the cast from Chicken Soup For The Damned

Frank Carr, a founding member of the Famous In The Future sketch comedy group, has two watch parties coming up this weekend on the group’s Facebook page. Tonight’s online event is the 2002 musical Chicken Soup for the Damned. I was in the group at that time, and when cast member Desiree Burcum first passed around her scripts and asked what we thought of it, I responded, “Well, I’m a lot more afraid of you now.” It’s definitely a dark comedy.

I got in on the act by writing the lyrics for a number called “What Could Be Worse Than Life?” I portrayed a lost soul who actually preferred eternal damnation to his miserable time of being alive. As I’ve mentioned before, I have no singing ability, so a fellow cast member hid behind a prop onstage and tapped my calf to keep me in rhythm. It sort of worked. I also offered a parody titled “Demons Are A Girl’s Best Friend,” but Burcum passed on that one. Chicken Soup for the Damned begins at 8:00 p.m. tonight. On this Sunday night, there’s a triple bill of FIF performances. More about them later.

Monday, April 20, 2020

The Sound He Appears To Make

Peter Holsapple and Chris Stamey from The dB’s have a new album that’s only available as a digital download from Omnivore Recordings. It’s part of the indie label’s double-release campaign to raise money for the MusiCares COVID19 Relief Fund. The other digital-only entry is the 12-minute song “Do The Primal Thing (Extended Version)” from NRBQ. Our Back Pages finds Holsapple and Stamey crafting sweet harmonies and new, acoustic arrangements on 11 tracks from The dB’s impressive collection of catchy and emotionally complex pop tunes. “Happenstance,” “Molly Says,” and “Picture Sleeve” are particularly enjoyable. NRBQ’s “Do The Primal Thing (Extended Version) is a live recording from a 2014 concert at the Fairfield Theatre Company in Connecticut, and features band members Terry Adams, Scott Ligon, and Casey McDonough, joined by special guest musicians.

When The Britannicas recorded their newest single “Walls and Stars” from their homes in three different countries, they weren’t experimenting with social distancing or paying homage to The Rolling Stones’ performance of “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” on this past Saturday’s One World: Together At Home Global Broadcast. It’s the way this international power pop band has been operating for years. Guitarist-backing vocalist Joe Algeri lives in Australia; guitarist Magnus Karlsson and drummer Stefan Johansson live in Sweden; and lead vocalist-bassist Herb Eimerman lives in the U.S.A. Written by Eimerman and mixed and produced by Algeri, “Walls and Stars” features the chiming Rickenbacker guitar, fluid melody, and Byrds-like harmonies we’ve come to expect from The Britannicas, with the added benefit of a bit more crunch than usual. The song is available for download at Algeri’s Egomaniac Bandcamp page.

As I read Duncan Fletcher’s review of the new 45 rpm single from The Cyrcles in the latest issue of Shindig magazine, I was immediately hooked by him comparing the U.K. sextet to Graham Nash era Hollies. Sure enough, a peek at The Cyrcles’ webpage turned up a short clip of them covering “Carrie Anne” at a live gig. As for the new single “It’s All Gonna Work Out Fine”/“Open Your Eyes,” the ringing guitars, catchy melodies, and spirited singing from lead and backing vocalist-guitarist Jon Breward, lead and backing vocalist-acoustic rhythm guitarist Adam Kelly, and rhythm guitarist-backing vocalist Mark Jones are top notch. Either of these songs could have fit right in on The Hollies’ Evolution album.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Saturday Slumgullion

Depending on when you read this, you can watch powerhouse vocalist Cathy Richardson traveling the streets of Berwyn and Oak Park on the back of a pickup truck. Her performance starts at 4:00 p.m. today and is the third round of Fitzgerald’s Stay-At- Home Concert Series. Residents are encouraged to come out and enjoy her songs while maintaining social distancing, and everyone can watch the entire rolling concert on the music venue’s Facebook page. Richardson is a veteran of the Chicago music scene, and portrayed Janis Joplin in a critically acclaimed musical. Dag Juhlin and Jon Langford performed last Saturday and the Saturday before respectively, so Stay-At-Home is off to an impressive start. Juhlin played originals and cover tunes for over 90 minutes last week, and I realized he and I like a lot of the same bands.

The One World: Together At Home Global Broadcast takes place tonight at 7:00 p.m. CST and will be hosted by Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel, and Stephen Colbert. The performers will include Lady Gaga, Paul McCartney, Taylor Swift, Elton John, Billie Eilish, Camila Cabello and Shawn Mendes, Stevie Wonder, Lizzo, Eddie Vedder, John Legend, Chris Martin, Kacey Musgraves, J Balvin, Keith Urban, Alicia Keys, Andrea Bocelli, Billie Joe Armstrong, Jennifer Lopez and the recently added Rolling Stones.

Tickets are now on sale for Every Shiny Thing: A Tribute to Joni Mitchell with Andrea Bunch at Mauer Hall, Old Town School Of Folk Music on June 12; Off Broadway and The Handcuffs at Reggies Rock Club on August 22; and Duke Tomatoe and The Power Trio and Joanna Connor Blues Band at Kingston Mines on June 10 and 11. The Off Broadway/Handcuffs gig is a newly rescheduled date postponed from earlier this year. By then, we should be familiar with the all the songs on The Handcuffs’ new album and able to sing along.

The above listings are from this week’s edition of The Reader, which had a very limited distribution but is available online. Not to sound like young George Bailey bragging to Mary Hatch about his National Geographic subscription in It’s A Wonderful Life, but I get a copy of The Reader sent to my door. You can subscribe too by going to the publication’s website.

Happy Birthday to actor David Tennant. The BBC Doctor Who Instagram site posted an eye-popping montage to its former star today. Tennant will be part of the Big Night In BBC Comic Relief special next Thursday night.

The Lost Weekend. I’ve had April 18 marked on my calendar for a couple months because it would have been day two of International Pop Overthrow - Chicago, as well as Record Store Day. The latter has been rescheduled for June 20, so I’ll hang on to my wish list of limited-edition vinyl releases and be ready to stand outside Reckless Records on that (hopefully) warm and sunny Saturday morning. As for International Pop Overthrow, which was slated for nine days at the LiveWire Lounge on Milwaukee Avenue, the picture is less clear. A message on the official IPO site states, “Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, all IPO festivals originally planned in April and May are either cancelled or possibly postponed. - - - Schedule details for all IPO 2020 cities to be announced once the current worldwide health crisis is over.” Here’s wishing IPO founder David Bash the best of luck with his traveling power pop/indie rock festival.

Record Store Day UK has launched #RSDFillTheGap to celebrate this year’s original date. “To celebrate what would have been Record Store Day on Saturday 18th April, we’re asking our community of music lovers to support their local record shop.” Noble sentiment, indeed. Let’s all buy some vinyl today from a local record store.

I’m halfway through Bobby Elliott’s fun and interesting autobiography It Ain’t Heavy, It’s My Story - My Life In The Hollies. Like me, he fancied World Wart II airplanes as a child, and still has a model of a Spitfire his uncle made from scratch decades ago. His harrowing descriptions of working in the depths of an English coal mine as a lad underscore his gratitude that he made it out alive and went on to a highly successful rock and roll career.

As I started reading about The Hollies’ first trip to Chicago in the mid-1960s, I flashed back to hearing the band being interviewed on WLS. That was right around the time I became an avid fan. Sure enough, Elliott brings up that occasion, and I love his recollection: “WLS was one of the most listened to radio stations in the Chicago area, and we were invited on for an interview with DJ Ron Riley. We liked Ron and he seemed to like us. He asked us to take turns manning the phones so that kids could call in and ask questions or chat to us. Good fun and a first for us.”

In addition to The Reader, I got my copy of the April issue of Shindig magazine in the mail today. It has an interview with Bobby Elliott about his new book, as well as a tribute to the late Neil Innes and a cover story on The Beau Brummels.

Here’s hoping everyone stays safe, healthy and sane as we follow what the medical community tells us regarding the coronavirus quarantine. We can make it though this together.

Friday, April 10, 2020


Many a time I’ve wished the FitzGerald’s venue in Berwyn wasn’t so far away from me. New owner Bill Duncan looks like a good choice to carry on the high standards and eclectic bookings maintained by Bill FitzGerald for close to four decades. And now, FitzGerald’s has a Stay At Home Concert Series that brings live music to the surrounding neighborhoods as well as on social media. Jon Langford, a founding member of The Mekons and recording artist for Bloodshot Records, kicked things off last Saturday by performing on the back of a flatbed truck as it drove around the local streets.

Tomorrow at 4:00 p.m., it will be Dag Juhlin’s turn to serenade Berwyn residents, as well as people on their phones and computers. He’s currently a member of Sunshine Boys, The 45, Poi Dog Pondering, and EXPO ’76; so he’ll have a wealth of material to choose from. He recently promised on Facebook and Instagram that he’ll concentrate on Sunshine Boys songs, including the latest single “Summertime Kids” from the band’s second release Love And Work. It’s a wistful glance back at childhood, with the kind of irresistible melody Sunshine Boys consistently create. Juhlin also hinted he might throw in a few selections by The Slugs, the punk band he formed with his brother Gregg back in 1983. The fun begins at 4:00 p.m. Saturday, April 11 in Berwyn and via live streaming.

Just a word about The 45, the band I mentioned above. Since Chicago Cubs broadcaster Len Kasper is the driving force and lead vocalist, it’s probably not likely Juhlin will perform any songs by The 45 tomorrow afternoon. But keep an eye out for this group, which also includes other Chicago music scene vets. I caught their set at Hey Nonny in Arlington Heights a few months back, and it was amazing. They’ll have an album coming out sometime hopefully in the not too distant future.

Lots of talented people continue to entertain us by posting performance videos on social media. A few recent ones I particularly liked were former Houndmouth vocalist-guitarist Katie Toupin doing the Patsy Cline standard “Crazy,” and Chicago-based singer-songwriter Phil Angotti covering Graham Nash’s “Our House.” Be sure to keep checking on your favorite artists to see if they’ve posted any live performances.

My autographed copy of Bobby Elliott’s new book It Aint Heavy, It’s My Story - My Life In The Hollies arrived in the mail yesterday, and I couldn’t wait to dig in. It’s a 316-page effort from the acclaimed drummer, starting with his birth on the day after Pearl Harbor through his career with the still active British Invasion band. In the Acknowledgements, Elliott gives a shoutout to lead guitarist/harmony vocalist Tony Hicks, who like Elliott, still tours and records with The Hollies. “Above all I must thank Tony Hicks. He and I started out as two teenagers with a passion for music and a dream that certainly came true.” Elliott was recently interviewed about the book on the ITV online site

Other fabulous recent deliveries from Mr. Postman: The Reader Coloring Book, which features 48 pages of black and white Chicago-themed art perfectly suited for embellishing with crayons. It’s part of a fundraising effort for the long-running free paper and the participating artists; you can purchase a copy on the website.  The four-CD boxed set Shoes Elektrafied - The Elektra Years 1978 – 1982. It includes Present Tense, Tongue Twister, and Boomerang; and each comes with bonus 8-Track Home Demo Versions. There’s also a booklet with a comprehensive history of the Zion, IL band. and an 18-track Rarities disc with demo versions and live performances.

Ellisong Studios recently posted on Instagram that its upcoming documentary Out Of Time: The Material Issue Story will include the band’s lead vocalist Jim Ellison joining Liz Phair for a previously unreleased cover of “Hanging On The Telephone.” The song was previously recorded by Blondie in 1978, and originally done by The Nerves in 1976. Balin Schneider’s Out Of Time film is due out some time in 2021.

According to a recent article by Associated Press film writer Jake Coyle, the recently canceled SXSW Film Festival will find new life when a good portion of its schedule will appear on Amazon Prime as part of a 10-day event coming at the end of this month. For this special occasion, it won’t be necessary to have an Amazon Prime Membership to watch the movies.
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