Friday, November 27, 2020


Can’t wait to blast this baby on my stereo. 

In keeping with my annual tradition, I took the Metra train into downtown Chicago this morning so I could be waiting outside Reckless Records the moment they opened. I was able to purchase five of the six choices on my Black Friday Record Store Day wish list, with only the seven-inch single “Beatles Vs. Stones” by Los Straitjackets being MIA. So, the latest additions to my vinyl collection are: U2’s 40th Anniversary Edition of Boy; Fountains Of Wayne’s Welcome Interstate Managers; The Bangles’ Doll Revolution; George Harrison’s “My Sweet Lord” seven-inch single, and The Vince Guaraldi Trio’s “Christmas Time Is Here” seven-inch single. The staff at Reckless was once again friendly and efficient, though a little more cautious now that COVID-19 has surged again.

Episode One of the Chicago Independent Venue League’s CIVLIZATION virtual concert series kicked off tonight at 8:00 p.m. with performances by local acts Dos Santos, Beats y Bateria, Half Gringa and ÉSSO. In addition to giving music fans the opportunity to enjoy shows, the series aims to cast a spotlight on the CIVL Emergency Relief Fund. Working in conjunction with the Giving Back Fund, CIVL supports Chicago artists and venues. Donations are being accepted at the CIVL website.

The Chicago venue Metro has a decades-long reputation for booking some of rock and roll’s best and ground-breaking acts. I interviewed vocalist-guitarist Jimme O’Neill from The Silencers there for the Illinois Entertainer in 1987, and caught shows by The Hoodoo Gurus, Material Issue, The 360s, The Bad Examples, and several other acts. Metro has just launched a special sale at its online store with an intriguing Facebook post that reads, “The vault is open. Curious as to what’s been hiding in the haunted fourth floor all these years? We’ve got you covered for t-shirts, hoodies, posters, and bundles! Keep an eye out for more drops as we go deeper.”  Right now, visitors to the site will find Metro and Smart Bar t-shirts, gig posters, and accessories. I saw Metro’s impressive 30th Anniversary exhibition of gig posters a while back, so as these drops continue, things could get very interesting.

The virtual Black Harvest Film Festival wraps on Monday, November 30 with a tribute Chadwick Boseman. All of the Festival’s films are streaming via the Gene Siskel Film Center.

Here are a few websites I could have included in the Rock And Roll Holiday Gift Guide I posted yesterday: The Beatles Store website  has clothing, holiday items, toys, and recorded music. Actor David Tennant’s official website has t-shirts, mugs, and tote bags related to his performance as the 10th Doctor on the long-running BBC sci-fi program Doctor Who.

If you’re looking for rock and roll biographies for gifts, check out Bobby Elliott’s It Ain’t Heavy, It’s My Story - My Life In The Hollies; and Remain In Love - Talking Heads - Tom Tom Club - Tina by Talking Heads drummer Chris Frantz. Another suggestion would be Harold Bronson’s My British Invasion, which features the Rhino Records cofounder interviewing members of The Yardbirds, The Hollies, Herman’s Hermits, The Troggs, and other UK groups.

While roaming downtown this morning, I picked up a copy of The Reader even though I have a subscription to it. The long-running Chicago free weekly paper is embarking on a new direction, and is looking for donations to help it stay afloat in these troubled times. I’ve donated to The Reader a few times in the past year, and was happy to do so again just now.

I also picked up the November issue of the Chicago free monthly magazine Newcity, which features its annual Best Of Chicago list. For 2020, the emphasis is on the Black community, and the issue was guest edited by sports journalist Robert “Scoop” Jackson and poet Tara Betts.

Graham Nash, Elvis Costello, Angelique Kidjo, Sting, Jim James, Kesha, and the Brooklyn Youth Choir will perform when the David Lynch Foundation presents Meditate America on December 3. Katy Perry, Hugh Jackman, Debora Lee Furness, Robin Roberts, George Stephanopoulos, and Jennifer Ashton, MD will serve as hosts. The free virtual event aims to raise awareness of transcendental meditation, which is believed to help control stress and lessen the risks of stroke, heart disease, and depression. Viewers are encouraged to donate.

CoCo and Blu, a hip and classy cafe in Arlington Heights, has a Christkindlmarket going that will run through December 23. The venue promises, “Fabulous Holiday Mug Keepsakes, Shopping, Food Cocktails, and Coffee Creations.”

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Annual Rock and Roll Gift Guide

This seven-inch single by George Harrison will be available tomorrow only.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone who reads my blog. Even if you’re not located in the U.S., it’s never a bad idea to take a few moments to consider the things you’re grateful for. Even in 2020.

It’s also the time of year when indie newspapers and major publications offer holiday gift guides. Their choices usually align with their readership, and highlight unique items you might want for yourself or to give someone. Options range from brick and mortar stores to websites. The goal is to find something that’s a cut above the usual necktie or a box of candy. With that in mind, here’s the somewhat annual (I’ve missed a few years) Broken Hearted Toy Rock And Roll Holiday Gift Guide.

For the vinyl fanatics in your life, choose from the limited-edition releases coming to record stores tomorrow only for Black Friday Record Store Day. It’s not as massive as the April version, but there are lots of choices in every imaginable genre. Black Friday Record Store Day is still on for 2020, but you should check with your local record store to see if it’s participating. The official RSD site has a very helpful Store Status spreadsheet with state-by-state listings of which stores will be open to foot traffic; offering curbside pickup; local delivery; online sales with shipping; or appointment shopping.

The Retro Rockstar and Lemon Music Store websites are definitely worth a look for anyone into the current music scene in Manchester, England. Both focus on acts like Oasis, Happy Mondays, Joy Division, and The Smiths, with merchandise that’s truly unique.


The Fest For Beatles Fans online shop offers a massive selection of Beatles group and solo recordings, books, t-shirts, toys, and all kinds of other merchandise.

For fans of clever, heartfelt, and at times frightening YA paranormal novels, I recommend the works of author Maureen Johnson. I just finished The Name Of The Star, which is the first of four books in her Shades Of London series. I previously enjoyed her Truly Devious trilogy.

The Winter Made In Chicago Market takes place in virtual format on December 5, with shoppers joining via Instagram. A half-page ad in yesterday’s Chicago Sun-Times promises visitors can connect with local artists and get special deals and giveaways. 

Don’t forget to support local bands, music venues, and restaurants when choosing gifts. With a resurgence of COVID-19, there aren’t many options for live entertainment, so check out Bandcamp, as well as individual websites to download music, order a CD, vinyl record, t-shirt, poster, or button. 

Support restaurants and cafes by purchasing gift cards now to use when things are back to normal. Have dinners delivered to your home or those of friends or relatives.

The Chicago Independent Venue League (CIVL) website has several gifts options, and the proceeds go to support local musicians and the places where they perform. You can make a straight-up donation or purchase t-shirts and prints to help the cause.

Most websites for popular recording artists have online shops. Just the other day, I bought over $50 worth of stuff from The Smithereens website, including a customized COVID-19 mask, a retro t-shirt celebrating the band’s 40th Anniversary, and a CD by The BAR, a power pop trio featuring Smithereens guitarist Jim Babjak, along with Danny Adlerman and Kurt Reil from The Grip Weeds.

The Rolling Stones’ No. 9 Carnaby store is now open in London, and fans can also order clothing and memorabilia online. 

The official website for The Doors offers the new Morrison Hotel graphic novel, which combines Leah Moore’s writing with a global selection of illustrators.  

Rolling Stone: The Illustrated Portraits book taps into the iconic magazine’s long history of rock star, celebrity, and politician illustrations.

The Franklin Mint has a massive selection of miniature, authentic replicas of the guitars used by Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Brian May, Jerry Garcia, Prince, Eddie Van Halen, Joe Satriani, and many other famous musicians. The selection is unbelievable—think of one of those display boxes of Matchbox cars at Mariano’s grocery stores, but filled with really cool little guitars instead.

Actually, Matchbox cars make good stocking stuffers as well. I’m guessing younger kids prefer the more cartoonish vehicles while older collectors go for vintage sports cars like Mustangs and Stingrays. There are also TV, movie, and rock band cars.

As noted in a recent article by Chicago Sun-Times business and labor reporter David Roeder, there’s a new campaign called Black Shop Friday that encourages Chicagoans to support Black-owned businesses. The website provides informations about stores, salons, art galleries, restaurants, and gift shops.

Record label websites like Bloodshot, Yep Roc, Mega Dodo, American Laundromat, Kool Kat Musik; and Fruits de Mer are always worth shopping, and The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame website has lots of inductee and exhibit memorabilia. Pledge Music, Go Fund Me, Indiegogo, and other crowd funding sites are a good way to support your favorite artists and pick up autographed items. And you never know what rare treasures you’ll discover on eBay.

Friday, November 20, 2020


Some houses in my neighborhood are already decked out in holiday lighting, which is probably meant to lift people’s mood in these troubled times. It certainly can’t hurt. Hopefully, it will also inspire donations to worthy causes.

The Fest For Beatles Fans is making spirits bright by bringing back its Fab Friday virtual concert series now that we've returned to a lockdown. New Yorker Andrew Weiss performs at 8:00 pm ET tonight, followed by Chicago-based singer-guitarist Phil Angotti at 9:00 pm. Check the Fest For Beatles Fans Facebook page for info on upcoming concerts.

Episode One of the Chicago Independent Venue League’s CIVLIZATION virtual concert series takes place on November 27. See the CIVL website for the list of performers and venues involved, as well as information on how to support independent venues and the musicians who make their living in them.

The Go-Go’s posted a video on YouTube for their hard-hitting and impossibly catchy new song “Club Zero.” I bought The Go-Go’s Beauty And The Beat debut immediately after seeing them perform at ChicagoFest back in the ‘80s, and it’s great to see them still in action.

The 27th Chicago Underground Film Festival is underway, and as mentioned by Chicago Sun-Times movie critic Richard Roeper in this past Wednesday’s issue, it will include director Danielle Beverly’s documentary Dusty Groove: The Sound Of Transition. The 85-minute film centers on Rick Wojcik and J.P. Schauer, owners of the Dusty Groove record store in Wicker Park, and their customers. A pass can be purchased on the website for $30.

For some funny and interesting insight on the art of standup comedy, check out the interview Nina Metz conducted with comedian/actor Deon Cole in today’s Chicago Tribune about his Workin’ It Out’ special on Netflix.

The 2021 She Rocks Awards will take place in a virtual format this Sunday, January 22. This year’s honorees represent all sectors of the entertainment industry and include The Go-Go’s, Cherie Curie, Cindy Blackman Santana, Amy Lee, Margaret Cho, Starr Parodi, Ann Mincieli, Sharon Hennessey, and Gwen Riley. Singer-Guitarist LZZY HALE, from the band Halestorm and a previous honoree, will serve as host. The ceremony is open to the general public, and will include a silent auction.

This year’s Black Harvest Film Festival, which went virtual due to COVID-19, wraps up November 30. All the films are streaming at via the Gene Siskel Film Center. 

Graham Nash, Elvis Costello, Angelique Kidjo, Sting, Jim James, Kesha, and the Brooklyn Youth Choir will perform when the David Lynch Foundation presents Meditate America on December 3. Katy Perry, Hugh Jackman, Debora Lee Furness, Robin Roberts, George Stephanopoulos, and Jennifer Ashton, MD will serve as hosts. The free virtual event aims to raise awareness of transcendental meditation, which is believed to help control stress and lessen the risks of stroke, heart disease, and depression. Viewers are encouraged to donate.


CoCo and Blu, a hip and classy cafe in Arlington Heights, has a Christkindlmarket going that will run through December 23. The venue promises, “Fabulous Holiday Mug Keepsakes, Shopping, Food Cocktails, and Coffee Creations.”

The Black Friday Record Store Day is still on, but you’ll need to check with your local record store to see if it’s participating. The official RSD site has a very helpful Store Status spreadsheet with state-by-state listings of which stores will be open to foot traffic; offering curbside pickup; local delivery; online sales with shipping; or appointment shopping.

The recent news that Wrigley Field has been designated as a National Historic Landmark brought back a flood of pleasant memories. The first being my Dad taking us kids and some of our friends there to see the Chicago Cubs play. More recent memories center on being outside the ballpark, like when I walked there from my Lincoln Park studio apartment in 1988 to witness the first time Wrigley Field had lights. The game was rained out. I couldn’t afford a ticket to a Paul McCartney concert so I based a Broken Hearted Toy review on what I could hear standing at the corner of Clark and Addison. I later covered a Bruce Springsteen show in the same fashion for a post I titled When I’m Out On The Street. By the time the Cubs finally returned to the World Series in 2016, I had moved to Palatine. But watching those games on TV was still the best memory of all. 

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Saturday Slumgullion

The Go-Go’s will be among the honorees at the 2021 She Rocks Awards.

Just a quick note regarding any performances mentioned in this post. With the continuing rise of COVID-19 cases and the stricter regulations that have come with that unfortunate development, it would a good idea to double check before heading out to see something. In the meantime, wear your mask, social distance, and support the entertainment and restaurant industries in any ways you can.

Montrose Saloon on Chicago’s north side has just announced it will be closing for an undisclosed amount of time. The venue had been doing well with live performances in its outdoor beer garden, but the colder weather has brought that approach to an end. Best wishes to Montrose Saloon for a quick return.

As reported on the Broadway World website, The 2021 She Rocks Awards will take place in a virtual format on January 22. This year’s honorees represent all sectors of the entertainment industry and include The Go-Go’s, Cherie Curie, Cindy Blackman Santana, Amy Lee, Margaret Cho, Starr Parodi, Ann Mincieli, Sharon Hennessey, and Gwen Riley. Singer-Guitarist LZZY HALE, from the band Halestorm and a previous honoree, will serve as host. Other entertainers who’ve been previously recognized include The Bangles, Pat Benatar, Suzie Quatro, Melissa Etheridge, Gloria Gaynor, Sheila E., The B-52’s, Chaka Khan, Orianthi, and Ronnie Spector. The ceremony is open to the general public, and will include a silent auction.

Congratulations to writer/director Seth Savoy on his action adventure film Echo Boomers opening at the Music Box Theatre on Chicago’s north side on November 13. Savoy, a graduate of Columbia College, was able to snag Oscar nominee and fellow Chicagoan Michael Shannon to join the cast. Chicago Sun-Times writer Selena Fragassi had an interesting interview with Shannon in last Sunday’s issue regarding Chicago’s filmmaking scene. Fragassi noted one of Shannon’s first film roles was in Groundhog Day.


The virtual Black Harvest Film Festival is going on now and will run through the end of November. All of the Festival’s films are streaming via the Gene Siskel Film Center.

The Arlington Heights cafe CoCo and Blu, opened a Christkindlmarket this week and it will run through December 23. The venue promises, “Fabulous Holiday Mug Keepsakes, Shopping, Food Cocktails, and Coffee Creations.”

The Long Dream, a new exhibition that opened this week at the Museum Of Contemporary Art in Chicago, brings more than 70 local artists together to explore ways to achieve a “more equitable and interconnected world.” The exhibition is named after Richard Wright’s 1958 novel. Artist-musician Diane Christiansen’s “inflatable opera” BirthDeathBreath is part of The Long Dream, and features music by her husband Steve Dawson and other musicians.

Congratulations to the Pacific Northwest based Cat Adoption Team on exceeding its $60,000 fundraising goal yesterday via its entertaining and successful Virtual Whisker Wonderland Gala.

As a result of increased online shopping during the pandemic, some holiday deliveries could be delayed. Be sure to do your gift buying early. And throw something in the cart for yourself as well. A few days ago, I received the Syd Barrett coffee mug I ordered from his official website, but I’ve set it aside as sort of a Christmas present for myself. I also have a button of original Bee Gees member Vince Melouney that I bought on his Bandcamp page coming my way. I liked the way an email from the Rolling Stones No9 Official Store noted my order of a Tinned Plectrum Set “has been dispatched.”

Speaking of Melouney, he has another single on the way, to follow up the garage rock number “Women (Make You Feel Alright)” he released earlier this year. Jonathan Lea, lead guitarist for The Jigsaw Seen, helped out with the recording. Lea has also performed with Dave Davies from The Kinks.

As mentioned by writer Ashok Selvam from Eater Chicago in a piece in this past Wednesday’s Chicago Sun-Times, restaurant owner Stephanie Izard has opened a bakery shop called Sugarcoat within her Little Goat Diner. Izard also owns the Girl And The Goat and Duck Duck Goat restaurants, and was the winner of the Bravo Channel’s Top Chef series in Season 4. She’s also the former boss of my nephew Joe Flamm, who won Top Chef in Season 15. 

Tuesday, November 10, 2020


The Dirty Knobs, the new band led by former Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers vocalist-guitarist Mike Campbell, will celebrate the release of their debut album Reckless Abandon with a livestream performance that was recorded at The Troubadour in Los Angeles. There’s no admission charge, and it will be available to view through November 30. For those who want to ensure we’ll have live performances in the future, The Dirty Knobs have also designated this as a benefit for NIVA, the National Independent Venue Association. Fans can make donations to support music venues around the country. The Dirty Knobs garnered a lot of attention with a pre-lease of the album’s title track, and are scheduled to perform at Park West in Chicago in October 2021.

CIVL, The Chicago Independent Venue League, recently promised on Instagram that it will have an announcement this Friday regarding CIVLIZATION, A Virtual Festival Celebrating Chicago’s Independent Venues. The League was formed earlier this year as a means to help local entertainment venues and bars cope with the loss of revenue due to COVID-19.

The Pacific Northwest based Cat Adoption Team is holding a Virtual Whisker Wonderland Gala fundraiser this Friday, November 13, starting at 7:00 p.m. PST. There’s a pre-show starting at 6:30. Donations can be texted to WHISKER at 44321. Cat Adoption Team has already collected over $19,000 of its $60,000 goal. Chicago improv fans might catch a glimpse of CAT volunteer Heather Svoboda, who performed on numerous stages here around the turn of the century.

CoCo and Blu, the cool new Arlington Heights Cafe that serves coffee, tea, soup, sandwiches, and— during its later hours—cocktails, has a Christkindlmarket planned for this year. It opens on November 12 and runs through December 23. The venue’s Facebook page promises, Fabulous Holiday Mug Keepsakes, Shopping, Food, Cocktails, and Coffee Creations. I’ve been a regular at CoCo and Blu for a while now and I’m looking forward to what they’ll be cooking up for this event.

Saturday, November 7, 2020

Saturday Slumgullion

It would be great if unseasonably warm November days were also unseasonably light, with the sunset coming somewhere around 8:30 p.m. I recently posted this observation on Facebook, where it drew an unusually large amount of responses for one of my posts. Which is to say, ten.

The point though, is that we should really take advantage of the great weather we're having today in the Chicago area and do some fun things outside. Like going to dinner or seeing some live music on the patio or beer garden area of your favorite venue. Particularly when we can’t do those things inside at the moment, and we won't be able to do them outside as winter approaches. 

Hey Nonny in Arlington Heights has one more outdoor live show tonight before a self-imposed hibernation through March 10, 2021. Its Last Call event features live music by Paulo Apuli and runs from 5:00 to 9:00 p.m. The venue has done a great job of bringing a north side Chicago vibe to the northwest suburbs, and I’m looking forward to them booking some great entertainment when they return.

Black Harvest Film Festival is going virtual this year, with all the films streaming at via the Gene Siskel Film Center. The Festival kicked off yesterday and will run through the end of this month. 

AJ Rosales has just released a catchy and thought-provoking song titled “If Not Today” on his Bandcamp page. It’s the first single from his upcoming album Manifestations, which will be the fifth effort overall from the Chicago-based singer-guitarist. “If Not Today” should connect with fans of Sunshine Boys, with its easy-going, acoustic guitar based arrangement and socially conscious lyrics. Manifestations is due on November 27.

Tuesday, November 3, 2020


Another World
, the second album from critically acclaimed Chicago-based band The Flat Five is now available for pre-order on Bandcamp. It will be released in CD, digital and vinyl formats on November 13, and includes the single “Drip a Drop.” The Flat Five is an all-star collective of musicians known for inventive vocal interplay and a playful, often vintage approach to pop music. 

As reported by Miriam De Nunzio in last Friday’s Chicago Sun-Times, this year’s Black Harvest Film Festival will present a tribute to the late actor Chadwick Boseman on its final night. The event will be virtual this year, with all the films streaming at via the Gene Siskel Film Center. It runs from this Friday, November 6 through the rest of the month. Di Nunzio also noted that Black Harvest will be selling festival branded merchandise for the first time, including masks, coffee mugs, and clothing.

On a related note, Chicago Tribune theater critic Chris Jones recently noted that Chadwick Boseman wrote a play titled Deep Azure in 2004 that was performed by the Congo Square Theatre Company in Chicago. The actor flew into Chicago to see it and loved the production.

Phil Angotti will be performing in the Beer Garden at Montrose Saloon from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. this Thursday, November 5. There’s no cover charge, but it’s recommended you hit the tip jar. I don’t see any mention of this on Angotti’s Facebook page yet, so I’m not sure if he's doing a tribute show or if he’ll be performing his own material. Either way, it will be entertaining.

The Consequence Of Sound Instagram site reported today that New Yorkers waiting in line to vote were treated to a live performance on the street by Patti Smith and Lenny Kaye. Consequence noted Smith only took off her mask to sing, and stayed a safe distance away from all of the voters.


Hey Nonny in Arlington Heights has announced that it’s going to “hibernate” rather than try to keep operating under the current pandemic restrictions. The venue did a great job of offering outside dining and music over the summer, but obviously that can’t continue through a Chicago area winter. Hey Nonny has a Last Call event scheduled for this Saturday, November 7, featuring Paulo Apuli. Prior to that, there will be shows by Rob Anderlik on Thursday and Eric Quigley on Friday. Hey Nonny is looking to return at some point in 2021. Like many live music venues and restaurants, Hey Nonny has created a fund to help its workers. If you can spare the cash, try to help as many of your favorite establishments as possible.

Saturday, October 31, 2020

From The Haunted Vault: David Bowie - “Cat People (Putting Out The Fire”)

One last Halloween song post from all the way back in 2009. I did 31 scary posts that October, and have added some new ones over the years. Check out the month of October for each year in the BHT Archives.

Few songs have made a more eerie entrance than “Cat People (Putting Out Fire),” the theme from director Paul Schrader’s 1982 horror film, Cat People. After a slow drum beat and a swirl of synthesizers, David Bowie emerges, singing, “See these eyes so green/I can stare for a thousand years.” His voice is so dark and deep you have no trouble believing him, and when he adds, “I’ve been putting out fire with gasoline,” you know there’s danger afoot.

Set to a guitar-driven arrangement crafted by veteran film composer Giorgio Moroder (Flashdance, Midnight Express) Bowie’s lyrics evoke the doomed characters from the movie. Irena and her brother Paul, played by Natassia Kinski and Malcolm McDowell respectively, are descendants of humans who mated with leopards. This causes them to turn into panthers whenever they have sex with people, and they can’t return to their human forms without killing somebody.

Bowie has created several of his own fascinating characters through his music over the years, and he’s just as adept in conveying Irena and Paul’s tortured emotions. “Still this pulsing night/A plague I call a heartbeat/Just be still with me/Ya wouldn’t believe what I’ve been through.” The movie Cat People successfully tapped into the superstitions we’ve had about felines for centuries. Even today, it’s a good idea to make sure black house cats are kept indoors on Halloween to prevent deranged people from hurting them. And steer clear of panthers as well.

Friday, October 30, 2020

Witch’s Cauldron

Damn right, I’m going with a vintage photo

Fans of The Bee Gees fall into two categories: Those of us who liked them much better before they went disco, and those who didn’t even know The Bee Gees existed before they went disco. We’ll have to see if the makers of the upcoming HBO documentary The Bee Gees - How Can You Mend A Broken Heart documentary concentrate on one of those eras more than the other. I’m hoping it’s the former. A synopsis on the HBO website describes the film as, “an intimate exploration of the Gibb story, featuring revealing interviews with oldest brother Barry and archival interviews with late twin brothers Robin and Maurice.” A number of current music stars are also interviewed, including Eric Clapton, Noel Gallagher, and Chris Martin. How Can You Mend A Broken Heart debuts on December 12.

Halloween night will find Tim Curry, Barry Bostwick, and Nell Campbell returning to their cinematic haunts in a livestream version of Rocky Horror Picture Show. Jason Alexander of Seinfeld will join them, along with with Connie Britton, Wilmer Valderrama, Lance Bass, Rosario Dawson, Jason George, Seth Green, and David Arquette. Several other performers are slated to join in the fun, including punk duo The Dresden Dolls. It’s a fundraising event for the Democratic Party.

I’m not sure about other cities, but it’s long been a Halloween tradition for Chicago area venues to feature local bands paying tribute to famous music acts. The pandemic has no doubt drastically reduced that number, but the rockabilly/garage rock band Amazing Heeby Jeebies will be performing as The Cramps tomorrow night in the beer garden at Montrose Saloon. If you’ve seen Amazing Heeby Jeebies live or heard their Bad Feeling album, I’m sure you’d agree they’re a good choice for honoring The Cramps. Covid-preventing face masks, social distancing, and costumes are required, capacity is limited. The fun starts at 6:00 pm.

She’s a kick-ass lead vocalist and an accomplished painter. The Chrissie Hynde Painting Calendar is now available on her official website. You’ll also find t-shirts, posters, and other cool memorabilia from her solo career as well as with The Pretenders.


Congratulations to Henry Diltz, who’s receiving the International Photography Hall Of Fame Lifetime Achievement Award tonight. If you follow Diltz on Instagram, you’ll see amazing photos of rock stars, particularly those on the west coast in the late 1960s. He created iconic album covers for Crosby, Stills and Nash and The Doors, but some of his most fascinating shots were taken at parties or from when he would follow a band around and improvise. I’m particularly fond of his Hollies work.

The October issue of Record Collector is currently available, with a cover story titled The 200 Rarest Records Today!, along with features on the 1960s Brit TV programme Ready Steady Go!, Peter Green, and Mike Scott. Coming in at number one on the rare records list is a 10-inch acetate of “That’ll Be The Day”/In Spite Of All The Danger” from The Quarrymen. The other 199 entries are evenly divided between David Bowie and Pink Floyd. Not really, but it seems that way. There are records by The Beatles, The Sex Pistols, Queen, Jimi Hendrix, T. Rex, Madonna, Bruce Springsteen, and a number of artists I’ve never heard of.

I hope everyone has a safe and fun Halloween. As I’ve mentioned a few times this week, there are a number of Halloween songs scattered throughout my 10-plus years of over 2,000 posts here on Broken Hearted Toy. If you’ve got some time to search through Octobers in the BHT archives, you’ll find a variety of songs from chilling to fun. Here’s one I did back in 2013 about a song from Chicago-based singer songwriter Phil Angotti’s Life And Rhymes CD.

I See Spaceships” might be the only rock song that simultaneously evokes The Byrds and The Who while spinning a tale of intergalactic visitors who love to party. Amazingly, this whirlwind of vintage rock from Phil Angotti’s recent Life And Rhymes CD was conjured by just three musicians: Angotti on guitars; Casey McDonough on bass; and Brad Elvis on drums. If you’re looking to create a Halloween playlist, you might want to sandwich this Roger McGuinn/Keith Moon homage between the lighthearted “Mr. Spaceman” by The Byrds and the more ominous “They Are Among Us” by The Redwalls.

“I’ll tell you my story but you won’t believe me,” Angotti predicts as the song kicks off. He goes on to describe how the little green men who crash-landed their saucer in his garden are now driving his car, and staying up late to party. Angotti, a 1960s fanatic, specifies that these Martians are listening to LPs (as opposed to iPods) and watching movies. They’re also often intoxicated, which might explain why their calls for help to their planet have gone unanswered. Maybe they keep dialing the wrong number. With all the rowdy behavior going on, it’s tempting to think Angotti’s homeowner is near-sighted and is really watching the neighborhood teenagers.

Whoever they are, this guy isn’t about to do a Clint Eastwood and tell them to get off his lawn. “I hope that they stay here, at least until Sunday,” Angotti sings. “I See Spaceships” has a rousing instrumental coda, along with a snippet of Orson Welles from his notorious War Of The Worlds radio broadcast layered on top.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

From The Haunted Vault: Bohemia - “Hydrogenic”

I’ve posted a few Halloween songs each October over the years, so there’s quite a collection for anyone who cares to scroll through my archives. 

The 2007 documentary You Weren’t There: A History Of Chicago Punk showcased a music scene that was tragically overlooked by the rest of the country back in the early 1980s. Bohemia’s high energy assault, led by vocalist/keyboards player Carla Evonne, prompted a Chicago Sun-Times critic to proclaim Bohemia was every bit as good as X from Los Angeles. Following the 1980 release of a self-titled, three-song 10 inch EP in 1980, Bohemia struck again a year later with their impressive debut LP, Deviations. The album’s title reflected an obsession with offbeat and disturbing subject matter on songs like “Plastic Doll,” “Standard Deviations,” “Empty Room,” and “Dr. Werner.”

“Hydrogenic” was dark in a fun, highly melodic way. A punk rock masterpiece that offers a girl-meets-mutant love story with an underlying jab at nuclear energy, “Hydrogenic” kicks off with the single-named bassist Zirbel’s fueling an extended instrumental intro. Carla Evonne sets the romantic tale in motion, singing, “Since I met you baby/I haven’t been the same/You hit me like an H-bomb and now I hardly know my name.”

Her lover’s appearance has been drastically changed by exposure to massive doses of radiation. “Momma says you’re different/With your long green hair/You got webs between your fingers/But I don’t even care.” Carla Evonne celebrates her unique beau with lines such as “I can see you glowing in the dark/In my life you really caused a spark,” and the song features an overjoyed chorus of, “Ooh, our love is new/Our love is new . . . nuclear.”

On a personal level, Bohemia was the inspiration for a novel I wrote and am looking to get published.

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Halloween Songs: “The Mummy” and “Loup Garou”

I try to profile at least a couple Halloween-related songs each October. You can find more by searching the Broken Hearted Toy archives for October in previous years.

You’d expect a band named Amazing Heeby Jeebies to throw a few chills your way, and the Chicago-based quintet comes through on its 2018 Bad Feeling album. Led by vocalist Ary Jeeby and propelled by guitarists Bob Hyatt and Tom “Boss X” Klein, Amazing Heeby Jeebies combine garage rock and rockabilly while spinning tales of werewolves, mummies, and cannibals. They don’t always aim for the dark side, but when they do, listeners are more likely to dance than cringe.

“The Mummy” is filled with quick rhymes like “King Tut’s got nothing on this guy/When he left, Cleopatra cried,” and depicts its Egyptian hero as a recording artist and television personality. Bassist Earl “Wolfdaddy” Carter and drummer Jerry King join Ary Jeebie, Hyatt, and Klein in crafting hard-edged but catchy music that evokes a 1960s discotheque. “Loup Garou” is another guitar-fueled party song, kicking off with the line, “I felt a little strange when I saw the moon.” It’s delivered from a bewildered, first person point of view of someone vaguely remembering, “I ate something or someone last night.”   

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Saturday Slumgullion

Heart guitarist-vocalist Nancy Wilson’s new single, a cover of  Bruce Springsteen’s “The Rising,” came out yesterday and it’s available to stream or buy on various sites. Its a preview of a solo album she plans to release in early 2021 on her own Carry On Music label. 

I dropped by the Reckless Records in downtown Chicago this morning and was able to buy all three of my top choices for RSD Drop 3. I was so thrilled I’ve spent the entire day bar-hopping to celebrate. Not really, but I am happy to add Out To Get You! Live 1977 by Cheap Trick; Metamorphosis by The Rolling Stones; and A Quick Live One by The Who to my limited-edition vinyl collection. The Cheap Trick double LP came with an MP3 download card, which is always a great bonus. I wish all the Record Store Day releases had those.

On a non-RSD note, I also picked up the new Made Of Rain CD by The Psychedelic Furs at Reckless Records. Always be sure to support your local record store.

Chicago’s critically acclaimed venue The Hideout continues its popular series of livestream events with a record release show by Mooner next Thursday, October 29 at 8:00 pm. Dogs At Large will also on the bill. Mooner will be showcasing The Alternate Universe Of Love, and their first single from it, “Happily” is the subject of  funny video on You Tube. Tickets can be purchased online for $15. 

Other upcoming livestream events at The Hideout include Josh Caterer on October 28; LP’s Happy Hour and Cosmic Country Showcase on October 30; Walter Salas-Humara on November 6; and BandWith’s 5th Annual Funky Brunch 5K and Watch Party on November 7.

Beach Bunny has a Live From The Lot outdoor, stay-in-your car concert coming up next Friday, October 30 in the West Lot at the Schaumburg Boomers Stadium. Bad Bad Hats will also be on the bill. The Stadium is located at 1999 Springinsguth Road, gates open at 6:00 pm.

As reported on the Yahoo Entertainment and Consequence Of Sound websites, Tegan and Sara’s popular memoir High School is being developed into a television series. It will be set in the 1990s.

Congratulations are in order for Henry Diltz. He’ll receive the International Photography Hall Of Fame Lifetime Achievement Award on October 30. Graham Nash, who was first photographed by Diltz as a member of The Hollies and quite a few times later as part of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, will offer a special introduction. Diltz created some of rock and roll’s iconic album cover images, including the Crosby, Stills and Nash debut and Morrison Hotel for The Doors. His limited-edition, 344-page California Dreaming from Genesis Publications Ltd. is by far the most expensive book in my library.

Syd Barrett fans will want to check out a new book titled Barrett - The Definitive Visual Companion, which is now available for pre-order from Rocket 88 Publishing. According to the website, this will be the only official Syd Barrett book and will offer previously unseen and rare images, as well as art and photographs by the musician himself.

Bravo recently announced it will air a spin-off of its long-running Top Chef series called Top Chef Amateurs starting in 2021. Each episode will pit two nonprofessional cooks against each other as they recreate a challenge that was first used on the original series. Top Chef judge Gail Simmons will serve as host, and previous competitors, including Eric Adjepong. Richard Blais, Kwame Onwuachi, Melissa King, and my nephew/godson/Season 15 Top Chef winner Joe Flamm will also be featured. 

Thursday, October 22, 2020

From The Haunted Vault: “Jacksie”

Back in 2009, the year I started Broken Hearted Toy, I embarked on a month-long quest to post a different Halloween-appropriate song for each day of October. Some were fun, some were scary, and they came from different genres. I was unemployed and had a lot more time on my hands.

I’ve posted a few Halloween songs each October over the years, so there’s quite a collection for anyone who cares to scroll through my archives. My very first Halloween post was a song by Over The Rhine. Led by vocalist/guitarist Karin Bergquist and bassist/keyboards player Linford Detweiler, the Cincinnati-based band is still very active in 2020 and often comes to Chicago to perform. I did an interview with them for the Illinois Entertainer several years ago, and they were every bit as cool as their music would lead one to believe. They’ve garnered critical acclaim for weaving elements of folk, country, and indie rock behind thought-provoking lyrics.

“Jacksie,” the haunting opening track from Over The Rhine’s 1992 Patience CD, was inspired by the book, A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis. It deals with the loss of a loved one. Still, a casual listener could be forgiven for thinking this is a classic ghost story, especially with lyrics like, “They laid her in the ground./She still comes around./A love that never dies takes you by surprise.” Bergquist’s ethereal vocals, set to a slow, enticing arrangement, sends chills up your spine, especially the way her “la la la la la la la” echoes like you’re traveling through a dark forest.

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