Friday, February 21, 2020

Slumgullion

Tomorrow night (February 22), several Chicago area musicians will gather at Martyrs’ on Lincoln Avenue for the annual George Harrison Birthday Tribute Concert. The event will once again be hosted by Ellis Clark and Ary Paloma Jeebie, with bluegrass impresario Ken Mottet serving as MC. Clark was a founding member of Epicycle, one of Chicago’s first punk acts, as well as Social Act. He’s also a successful solo recording artist and producer. Ary Paloma Jeebie is the lead vocalist for Amazing Heeby Jeebies, a garage/rockabilly band.

Returning performers include Sandalwood Sitar; singer-guitarist Phil Angotti; singer-guitarist Chloe F. Orwell from The Handcuffs; Phoenix; Frankie B; and Soulkeeper Gerald McClendon. If previous years are any indication, the selection of Harrison material performed will range from hit singles to deep tracks and rarities. It’s also fun seeing musicians from different groups join together on stage. The music starts at 8:00 p.m. The George Harrison Birthday Tribute Concert will benefit uninsured musicians and the MusiCares nonprofit charity organization.

Depending on when you read this, you could still catch an evening of local power pop tonight at Montrose Saloon with Phil Yates and The Affiliates, whose name alone will tell you they approach the genre with humor and wordplay. The Spindles and singer-songwriter Brother Derek are also on the bill. I haven’t seen the latter, but I know The Spindles have performed “Look Through Any Window” and “Bus Stop” by The Hollies at their live shows. Their latest album Past and Present includes “Look Through Any Window,” along with a batch of catchy originals.

Temple Of Geekdom – An Improvised Adventure opens on February 24 at The Second City and will run on Monday nights.

Tickets went on sale today for Nielsen Trust featuring Rick Nielsen and Scott Lucas at Chop Shop on April 3; Al Jardine at City Winery Chicago on March 31; Flat Five at FitzGerald’s on March 27; Shellac and Loki’s Folly at Lincoln Hall on March 10 and 11; Corky Siegel’s Chamber Blues featuring Ernie Watts and Goran Ivanovic at City Winery on March 1; Bad Examples at FitzGerald’s on May 29; and Jeff Tweedy at The Vic on May 15 and 16.

Last Friday night’s double bill of Tommi Zender and The 45 at Hey Nonny was another example of how the Arlington Heights venue is bringing acts normally associated with Chicago’s north side music scene to the usually tribute-band-obsessed northwest suburbs. Each of the artists I’ve seen perform at Hey Nonny has made a point to thank the owners and the audience for supporting original music. Zender, backed by a talented band performed songs from his impressive latest album More Songs About Time and earlier releases. The 45, led by Chicago Cubs broadcaster Len Kasper on bass (he also composed all the songs), is a new band on the local scene. Kasper’s bandmates—Dag Juhlin, Matt Spiegel, Liam Davis, and Gerald Dowd—have extensive experience in other groups. Like Juhlin’s Sunshine Boys, the songs by The 45 resonate musically and emotionally even when heard for the first time. I'm looking forward to when their debut album comes out later this year.

The Chicago premiere of director Danielle Beverly’s film Dusty Groove: The Sound Of Transition takes place at the Chicago Cultural Center next Friday, February 28 at 7:00 p.m. Described as “a documentary about love, loss, and our deep personal connection,” it will be available for streaming and on DVD in June.

Be a celluloid hero. The Chicago International Film Festival is accepting entries for its 2020 event, which runs from October 14 through 25. The Early Bird Deadline is April 6; Regular Deadline is June 15; and the Late Deadline is July 6. Best of luck to all the aspiring filmmakers out there.

Music Box Theatre on Southport is hosting its annual Cat Video Fest tomorrow and Sunday. In addition to celebrating the endless ways cats find to amuse, challenge, and astound their humans, another benefit is that the festival supports local animal shelters. Chicago Tribune columnist Nina Metz has a full article about it in today’s edition. The Cat Video Fest admission price ranges from $8 to $12.

You can sense the winter season is in its death throes when info on Record Store Day and International Pop Overthrow – Chicago starts trickling out in emails and on social media.

The Second Disc website—always an essential resource for keeping up on upcoming album releases—recently posted writer Sam Stone’s preview of the David Bowie I’m Only Dancing double live album that will be part of this year’s RSD vinyl treasures. It features songs recorded at concerts in Detroit and Nashville in 1974. This year’s Record Store Day is on April 18.

As for IPO - Chicago, singer-guitarist Michael Mazza’s band The Walkdown has announced it will be offering free CDs of a new single titled “The Distance (Gets In The Way)” at its performance at the annual festival in April. The song is on the upcoming EP Future Tense. This year’s International Pop Overthrow - Chicago takes place at the Live Wire venue on Milwaukee Avenue from April 17 through April 25.

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Saturday Slumgullion

Page spread from Beacon Arts Centre brochure.

Excuses, excuses. I wasn’t able to post Slumgullion last night because my wife Pam and I went out for a Valentine dinner at the Seasons 52 restaurant in Schaumburg. Good food and friendly service. It’s worth mentioning again that I would have never been able to have this blog without my wife Pam setting it up for me over 10 years ago.

Tickets are now on sale for Decemberists and Fruit Bats at the Auditorium Theatre on August 11; Steve Dawson and Funeral Bonsai Wedding with Quartet Parapluie and Louis Bardales at the Old Town School Of Folk Music on May 8; Struts and The Regrettes at the Riviera Theatre on May 29; Heartsfield at FitzGerald’s on April 11; and Portland Cello Project Presents Purple Reign at SPACE on April 2. Yep, that last one is a mix of classical and Prince music, and from the clips I saw on the PCP website, it’s pretty amazing.

I Love Jennifer Eccles – The Hollies Story was performed tonight at the Beacon Arts Centre in Greenock, Scotland. Presented by Treble Clef Productions, it covered the British Invasion band’s entire career, starting with Graham Nash and Allan Clarke meeting as schoolboys. The Beacon website states, “This highly entertaining show for all ages is packed with hit after hit, performed by a talented young band and hosted by a seasoned narrator.” If the talented young band doesn’t mind flying to Chicago to perform Jennifer Eccles, I could be the seasoned narrator.

Tommi Zender, a singer-guitarist who’s performed with several musicians on the Chicago club scene, will be at Hey Nonny in Arlington Heights tomorrow, February 16. He’ll no doubt be showcasing songs from his new album More Songs About Time, an engaging mix of introspective acoustic ballads like “Learn To Be Alone” and more energetic fare like “Echo Chambers In The Hall Of Mirror.” “No Good For Your Health” is a clever message to a woman about the guy she’s dating. Chicago Cubs broadcaster/musician Len Kasper will also be performing at Hey Nonny that night with his band The 45. A recent social media post from Kasper indicates his original tunes will be hard-edged and energetic.

Next Saturday night, several Chicago area musicians will gather at Martyrs’ on Lincoln Avenue for the annual George Harrison Birthday Tribute Concert hosted by Ellis Clark and The Big Parade with Ary Paloma Jeebie. A number of favorites are returning, and there will be some interesting newcomers. If previous years are any indication, the selection of Harrison material will range from hit singles to deep tracks and rarities.

Hello, Cruel World. Several well-known new wave, alt rock, and punk acts will perform on May 2 at the Cruel World Festival on the grounds at Dignity Health Sports Park in Los Angeles. The lineup includes Morrissey; Bauhaus; Blondie; Devo; Psychedelic Furs; Echo and The Bunnymen, Violent Femmes; The Church; The English Beat; Publice Image Ltd.; Gary Numan; Missing Persons; Berlin; and Marc Almond from Soft Cell. Fans can register for presale tickets on the festival’s website.

Temple Of Geekdom – An Improvised Adventure opens on February 24 at The Second City and will run on Monday nights. According to the post card I picked up at Reckless Records downtown, there will be extra shows during this year’s C2E2 run at McCormick Place on February 28 and 29. Now why they would connect geeks with C2E2?

Actor Matt Smith is catching some flak on social media for cancelling a scheduled appearance at C2E2 for the second year in a row, due to a scheduling conflict. I met Smith at an autograph session at the Ace Comic Con on Navy Pier a few years back (shortly before meeting his Doctor Who co-star Karen Gillan for an autograph—an epic afternoon) and I give him the benefit of the doubt. He called me ‘mate’ and was very open and friendly with the people coming up to his booth. Still, I can relate to the disappointment of those who were looking forward to meeting him at C2E2 these past two years.

It will be a rollicking evening of bluesy and Americana rock and roll tomorrow night (February 16) when Marcia Ball and Sonny Landreth join together for a double bill at FitzGerald’s.

WXRT is bringing another live music event to the Tivoli Theatre in Downers Grove. This time out, the station is co-sponsoring (with Classic Cinemas) a Poi Dog Pondering concert on February 20.

The Right Tidys were absent from the Chicago club scene for a while, but now they’ve reunited under the abbreviated name Tidy and have a live gig coming up. They’ll be at Montrose Saloon on Monday, March 30, with Erica Loftus in her familiar lead vocalist role.

The House Theater Of Chicago’s production of Verboten continues its run at the Chopin Theatre through March 8. Written by Brett Neveu with original songs by Jason Narducy, Verboten is set in 1983 and concerns a teenage punk band aiming to rock out the Cubby Bear venue. Nathan Allen is the director.

The extremely clever magicians Penn and Teller will host an Aids Walk and Run in Las Vegas on March 20. The event will include a run, a walk, and a festival featuring various acts. Anyone interested in taking part can find info a AFANLV.org.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Incoming

The Who is celebrating the 50th anniversary of its iconic Live At Leeds album with a show tonight at the PRYZM venue in Kingston upon Thames in England. Congratulations, lads!

I wasn’t able to post a Slumgullion column last Friday due to my being at the Hey Nonny venue in Arlington Heights to catch Rachel Drew and Rob Newhouse followed by The Imperial Sound. Singer-songwriter Drew and former Elvis Brothers member Newhouse combined for terrific harmony vocals on set of original tunes (and few covers) as well rollicking versions of the Elvis Brothers songs “Hey Tina” and “Santa Fe.”

Considering Drew’s versatile singing, it was no surprise when she announced she would return as a guest vocalist with The Imperial Sound. Her style was perfectly suited to the mixed bag of soul, rock, and jazz from their 2018 debut The New AM. Drew and lead vocalist-guitarist Rick Mosher combined on songs like “Ain’t Crawling Back,” a clever take on a guy not quite over his ex, and the film noir inspired “The Quarry.” A three-piece horn section and Kenn Goodman’s keyboards also keep things lively.

Tickets are now on sale for Rhett Miller from The Old 97s at SPACE in Evanston on May 15; Bauhaus at the Aragon Ballroom on July 25; Heaven 17 at Park West on May 8; Todd Snider at Park West on April 10; House Of Love at Subterranean on May 11; Ike Reilly Assassination at FitzGerald’s on March 20; and NRBQ at SPACE on May 2.

NRBQ member Casey McDonough will be doing a Valentine’s Day show this Friday at Honky Tonk BBQ. It's located at 1800 S. Racine in the Pilsen neighborhood.

The Psychedelic Furs will kick off a tour of southern U.S. states on April 13 in Key West, Florida and finish up in Scottsdale, Arizona on April 30. They’ll be in London on May 14 for a concert in the Albert Hall. The Furs have new material to showcase at these gigs, to go along with past hits like “The Ghost In You,” “Heartbreak Beat,” and “Love My Way.” A brand new album titled Made Of Rain is due out in May and a video of their single “Don’t Believe” is now available to watch on The Psychedelic Furs website. The duo Elettrodmestico, which features Jane Wiedlin from The Go-Go’s and Pietro Stracci, will open for The Psychedelic Furs on the April tour dates.

The Right Tidys were absent from the Chicago club scene for a while, but now they’ve reunited under the abbreviated name Tidy and have a live gig coming up. They’ll be at Montrose Saloon on Monday, March 30, with Erica Loftus in her familiar lead vocalist role.

FitzGerald’s has an International Women’s Day Festival planned for March 7 that will include performances by Sandra Antongiorgi; Naomi Ashley; Cathie Van Wert; and Katie Todd. The Festival will also feature Cathy Richardson’s Goddesses Of Rock. In addition to her own music, Richardson is also known for her critically acclaimed portrayal of Janis Joplin.

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Hey Nonny Brings The Imperial Sound

The Imperial Sound, a relatively new band made up of Chicago music scene veterans, will be back at Hey Nonny in Arlington Heights tomorrow night, February 7. Their 2018 debut album The New AM offered a consistently engaging mix of soul, jazz, blues, and rock, with a dash of supper club ambience. Songs like “Ain’t Crawling Back” and “Yesterday” featured guest female vocalists so it should be interesting to see how those are performed at Hey Nonny. The Imperial Sound has been known to have special guests at its live shows. Singer-songwriter Rachel Drew and former Elvis Brothers member Rob Newhouse will be the opening act. The music starts at 7:30 pm.

It was nice seeing Hey Nonny get some press last Thursday via Selena Fragassi’s interview with Chip Brooks in the Chicago Sun-Times. Brooks’ comments affirmed my belief that he and co-owner Chris Dungan are aiming for a northwest suburban version of popular Chicago clubs like Schubas and Evanston’s SPACE. Booking bands like The Imperial Sound is definitely a move that direction. Singer-guitarist Tommi Zender with The 45 (featuring Chicago Cubs Len Kasper) will be coming to Hey Nonny on Sunday, February 16.

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Hot Stove, Cool Music Returns To Boston

Spring training kicks off later this month, but baseball fans in Boston can celebrate the sport and help a worthy cause this Saturday, February 8 at the Paradise Rock Club. That’s when The Foundation To Be Named Later will host its annual Hot Stove, Cool Music charitable event. Formed by Theo Epstein and his brother Paul shortly after he led the Red Sox to their first World Series since 1918, TFTBNL combines baseball and rock music in a uniquely fun way to raise funds to help disadvantaged youth in Boston. Epstein established a Chicago version of The Foundation after he moved here to bring the Cubs a World Series Championship.

The indie rock band Letters To Cleo will be performing at the Paradise this Friday, along Tanya Donnelly and Gail Greenwood from Belly, Peter Gammons, and The Hot Stove All-Stars. Fans can also check out Band Of Their Own, a rotating group of well-known women musicians that’s become a regular Hot Stove feature. Saturday’s lineup includes former Runaway Cherrie Currie; Donnelly, Greenwood, and nine other perfrormers. Limited edition BOTO t-shirts will be available for sale at this gig only. The music starts at 7:30 p.m.

As in past years, there will be a Chicago version of Hot Stove, Cool Music taking place in Wrigleyville sometime in June. I caught last year’s bash at Metro and it was a night of positive vibes and great rock and roll.
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