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.

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