Friday, July 24, 2020


Fest For Beatles Fans has just announced that its massive, multi-city Virtual Fest For Beatles Fans 2020 will take place two weeks from tonight. It’s the weekend the actual Chicago version would have been held if it hadn’t been canceled due the coronavirus. Regular attendees of that event will be glad to discover WXRT DJ Terri Hemmert will be MC for the online version, and several of their favorite guests will be appearing in what The Fest people are calling BALLZOOMS. Peter Asher, Billy J. Kramer, Jeremy Clyde, Laurence Juber, Klaus Voorman, Donovan, and Freda Kelly will be taking part, along with newcomers Mary Wilson from The Supremes, Jenny Boyd, and drummer Gregg Bissonette. The Beatles tribute band Liverpool will be performing, and several Chicago-based musicians and musicians from around the country will appear as part of The Apple Jam Stage. Tickets are $44.00 for the weekend and will only be available through Eventbrite. I’m hoping to post more about this within the next few weeks.

Phil Angotti will be performing at a Beatles Brunch this Sunday afternoon at 2:00 p.m. at the Reclaimed Bar. He had a record release gig at the same venue last week for his new vinyl LP The Best Of Phil Angotti, so maybe he’ll have some copies on hand this Sunday. Reclaimed Bar is located at 3655 N. Western Avenue in Chicago.

Michael McDermott, the Chicago-based singer-songwriter whose politically charged new song “What In The Word” has been rampaging across the WXRT airwaves, has some Patio Concerts coming up August 17 – 19 at City Winery Chicago. “What In The World” is the title track of McDermott’s latest album. Other patio concerts coming up at City Winery Chicago include Al Rose and Steve Doyle on August 11; Gordon Ivanovic and Fareed Haque on August 5; Sandra Antongiorgi Trio Unplugged on August 4; Lynne Jordan on August 3 and August 10; Chicago Global All Stars on July 29; and An Evening With Neal Francis on July 28.

The Hoodoo Gurus brand new single titled “Hung Out To Dry” came out today. Like McDermott’s “What In The World,” its video features an homage to Bob Dylan’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues.”

If everything had gone according to plan, I would be having a great time in London today.
My wife Pam and I finalized our plans somewhere around early March for a dream vacation to London, Manchester, York, and Liverpool. Of course, COVID-19 put an end to that. I’m now following so many Instagram sites based in those cities I’ll be an expert on their food and entertainment scenes by the time we do go (hopefully) sometime in the spring 0f 2021.

The last few nights, I pulled out the fancy Container Store box with all the memorabilia I saved from our 2006 European trip (it’s not like we do these things every year) and relived a lot of fun memories. I have some cool U.K., French, and German papers. I always search for local publications wherever we go, whether it’s Paris or Cape May. After a few days in London back in 2006, I had collected so many free papers I decided to mail them home rather than lug them around in my backpack. A very polite gentleman at the post office weighed them and came back to the counter. “It’s going to cost you $120 American money to send a pile of free newspapers home. Do you really want to do that?” I thanked him for pointing that out, and decided to only mail my British Air Museum mug. Back at our bed and breakfast, I sorted through my stash to decide which ones I could just pull a page or two from and throw the rest of the issue away.

The publications that survived that trip in their entirety include Filter mini uk from England with Yeah Yeah Yeahs on the cover; The Skinny from Scotland with XMen The Last Stand on the cover; and Virgin! from France with Red Hot Chili Peppers, Festival de Cannes, and Bob Marley on the cover. I saved a bunch of pamphlets, flyers and postcards as well. They’ll have to hold me over for now.

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Saturday Slumgullion

By now, I hope everyone has taken part in at least a few fun activities to mark my Unofficial Hollies Celebration Day. See yesterday’s post for full details.

I’d like to send a big thank you to Chicago-based musician Phil Angotti for participating and posting a stellar rendition of “Carrie Anne” on acoustic guitar.  I was also happy to post a clip of local power pop band The Spindles covering “Bus Stop.” It’s from their recent Past and Present CD, but enhanced with a new video montage of The Hollies. Also, a big thank you to singer-guitarist Gerry Lee for posting a video of himself doing a sterling job on “I Can’t Let Go.” I have permission to share these clips on my Facebook page, so you can find them there.

Also, thanks to the Allan Clarke Appreciation Society Facebook page for allowing me to post a link to yesterday’s blog on their site. It was great seeing the responses and words of support from U.K. Hollies fans, especially on a page I've been enjoying for years.

Graham Nash will be part of the Little Kids Rock Virtual Benefit Music Will Bring Us Together taking place next Thursday, July 23. Other performers include include Elvis Costello, Warren Haynes, Christine “KINGFISH” Ingram, Joan Jett, Darlene Love, Steve Miller, Phil Lesh, Jon Secada, Keb’ Mo’, Jesse Colin Young, Judy Ho Ph.D, and celebrity chef Jeff Mauro. The event will also feature Dance Party DJs Zeke Thomas, Sam Feldt, Modern Machines, and DNMO. Little Kids Rock is a non-profit foundation dedicated to helping children play music via free lessons and instruments.

The Pretenders’ new album Hate For Sale came out yesterday and is available in CD, vinyl, and streaming formats. Chrissie Hynde and her mates generated a lot of interest for this long-awaited new effort by offering previews of some of the songs on social media. Judging from those clips, Hate For Sale looks like a definite return to the hard-hitting but melodic approach that gave us so many classic songs in the past.

Depending on when you read this, you could catch the previously mentioned Phil Angotti doing a record release show tonight at the Reclaimed Bar for his new vinyl LP The Best Of Phil Angotti. The show starts at 9:00 p.m. Reclaimed Bar is located at 3655 N. Western Avenue in Chicago. Angotti will be doing a Beatles Brunch at Reclaimed next Sunday afternoon at 2:00 p.m.

The Hoodoo Gurus have a new single titled “Hung Out To Dry” coming out next Friday.

EXPO ’76, one of the Chicago area’s best (and eclectic) cover bands will be performing on the patio at the Toadstool Pub in Highwood tomorrow afternoon. All of its members have extensive experience performing in bands that create original material.

Big Hair Big Trouble, yet another fun collaboration from Ary Paloma, lead vocalist for the rockabilly/garage rock band Amazing Heeby Jeebies and Ellis Clark from The Social Act and Epicycle, will be performing tomorrow evening from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. in the Beer Garden at Montrose Saloon. Spies Who Surf guitarist Thomas Klein will be the duo’s special guest. Big Hair Big Trouble released their second single, “Crackers In Bed,” just about a month ago.

Friday, July 17, 2020

July 18 - UNOFFICIAL Hollies Celebration Day

Tony Hicks (left) and Bobby Elliott. Come on America, let’s show them some love.

July 18 was the date The Hollies were supposed to perform at the Chicago Theatre as part of their 2020 The Road Is Long Tour. It would have been their first visit here since a ChicagoFest gig in 1983, when Graham Nash was back in the fold for a short-lived reunion. The band’s entire U.K. and U.S. tours were scratched this year due to the coronavirus. A quick scroll through the messages on the official Hollies Facebook page will reveal how many Yanks are severely disappointed by this turn of events. No amount of hand-wringing will enable The Hollies to reschedule before 2021, but I do have a plan to make us all feel a little better. And it could serve as a reminder that their American fans definitely want to see them.

I’m declaring tomorrow, July 18 as UNOFFICIAL Hollies Celebration Day in Chicago. Fans across the U.S. can choose the date the Hollies were scheduled to come to their city as their Unofficial Hollies Celebration Day. Loyal followers should have no trouble organizing several events. First, put on a Hollies t-shirt. Hopefully, you’ve purchased one online at some point, but if you haven’t, you can create one with a magic marker or just pin a photo on a t-shirt. If you live in the Chicago area and I’ve given you a custom-made Hollies button at some point, be sure to wear it. Start the morning with English tea and crumpets—you’ll find crumpets in the bread aisle at Trader Joe’s. Make out a schedule that’s a mixed bag of books, records, YouTube videos, social media, and DVDs. 

Here are a few suggestions:

DVDs: The Hollies - Look Through Any Window 1963 – 1975 - 22 Complete Performances and The Hollies Special Live Edition from 2007

CDs and Vinyl: The Hollies have released numerous greatest hits collections, but I suspect true fans will also dive into their favorite LPs, which can range from the early 1960s to almost present day. Also, check out Hollies Live Hits! - We Got The Tunes! from 2012 and The Hollies - Reunion, which was recorded at Kings Island in Cincinnati in 1983.

Books: Definitely read a few chapters from drummer Bobby Elliott’s recently released autobiography, It Ain’t Heavy, It’s My Story - My Life With The Hollies. Elliott takes us through the band’s entire history, as well as his own childhood, in an entertaining, matter-of-fact style that’s consistently engaging. If you have Volume No. 1 of critic/musician Ken Sharp’s excellent Play On! - Power Pop Heroes series, read the chapter on The Hollies. It features his interviews with Allan Clarke, Tony Hicks, and Graham Nash.

YouTube: The Hollies have their own channel, where you can watch vintage clips as well as very recent quarantine recordings of “The Air That I Breathe” and “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother.”

Social Media: In addition to the official Hollies Facebook page, there are some very good fan-created sites that offer rare clips and foster a cheery ambience. Likewise on Instagram; there’s an official site, and if you search #Hollies or # some of the band members, you’ll find amazing rare photos. Also check out the official Hollies website. It looks like they might have a store section coming back soon.

That should be enough to fill your day. Choose appropriate meals and beverages throughout the day, and concentrate on positive vibes that will help us through these difficult times, and bring The Hollies back to America next year. Cheers!

Monday, July 13, 2020

Andy Stone - Every Single Day

Andy Stone’s followup to his 2017 effort This Giant Awoke finds the Providence, Rhode Island singer-songwriter once again exploring relationships from various angles. Listening to Every Single Day, it’s easy to believe Stone is also a novelist, because he crafts believable scenes filled with heartfelt lyrics. Nothing gets too literary though, because he sets each of the 11 tracks a melodic arrangement.

The stark piano ballad “I Never Should Have Said It” gives us a guy who who tried to convince himself he was in love, only to cause pain when it turned out to be untrue. The energetic “Why” depicts a doomed relationship where neither person can pull the trigger on ending it, and the melodic “Isn’t It Funny?” suggests we all worry too much about what other people think of us. On the more romantic side, “The Man Who Could Love Only You” evokes a slow dance hit from the early 1960s, while the clever “You Are A Problem” grooves to a 1980s synth beat.

“Gonna Be Different” is a catchy and celebratory track with Stone proclaiming “I knew there was a fair tale ending from the start.” For power pop fans, “I’m Gonna Love You” is likely to be the standout track, with its high energy arrangement and a whirlwind of guitar action in the middle. Every Single Day can be purchased from Andy Stone’s Facebook page.

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Saturday Slumgullion

The Stereogum music blog is raising funds to help meet its expenses via an Indiegogo campaign. The project involves 44 recording artists donating previously unreleased cover versions of songs from 2000 to 2009. Participating artists include Death Cab For Cutie, Bethany Cosentino from Best Coast; Dirty Projectors; Sharon Van Etten; White Reaper; The New Pornographers; The National; Ty Segall; and Wye Oak. The perks for those who donate include a download of the 44 tracks for $20; the download and a t-shirt for $50; a Zoom Party, t-shirt, and download for $100; and a #1s, party, download, and a t-shirt for $1,000.

Let’s get together and feel all right. According to an item in the Arts and Entertainment section of yesterday’s Chicago Tribune, Bob Marley’s children Stephen and Cedella Marley, along with his grandson Skip Marley, recently recorded his iconic tune “One Love.” Their version is being released on July 17 and will benefit UNICEF’s Reimagine campaign to help kids affected by Covid-19. Special guest musicians are involved with the song, which will also be featured on a video.

Keep a CIVL tongue in your head. Goose Island Beer Company’s limited edition of CIVL Pale Ale became available this past Wednesday and 100% of the proceeds will go to the Chicago Independent Venue League. The brew is available at the Goose Island’s Fulton Street Brewery at 1800 W. Fulton Street. According the CIVL Facebook page, its goal is to “advocate on behalf of Chicago’s independent performance venues.” It’s a refreshing way to support those businesses and the musicians who perform at them.

Singer-guitarist Michael Steven Cohen will be performing vintage love songs from the 1930s through the 1950s from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. at the Beer Garden at Montrose Saloon tomorrow (Sunday, July 12). Cohen is probably best known for his original power pop tunes with The Abbeys and Pop Dollies, but he’s also adept at what he calls “Big Band Stuff On A Little Guitar.” There’s no cover charge; attendees are encouraged to hit the tip jar. Montrose Saloon has a full schedule of performances in its Beer Garden coming up, so fans of live music should check it out.

The interview Ralph Covert conducted with Brad Elvis this past Thursday is now available on each of their Facebook pages. It’s part of Covert’s Staycation With Friends series, and a great opportunity to hear two of Chicago’s better musicians looking back on their careers. Covert is famous for Ralph’s World and founding The Bad Examples, but as we learn in the interview, he’s also written plays and books. Brad Elvis can proudly look back at a history that includes at least four top notch bands, even if most of them fell victim to record label negligence. That includes Screams, The Elvis Brothers, Big Hello, and his present-day outfit The Handcuffs. He’s also been drumming for The Romantics for a number of years. Throughout all of it, Brad Elvis kept a diary, so it’s no surprise he’s currently working on a book. Which reminds me of Bobby Elliott, who kept a diary throughout his (still active) days with The Hollies, and recently released an autobiography.

The Chicago Reader has now switched to a biweekly format and can still be downloaded for free on the long-running publication’s website. The Early Warnings page of the July 9 issue has listings for upcoming livestreams by Beach Bunny (July 15); Guided By Voices (July 17); Jazz Record Art Collective featuring Mardra Thomas and Reggie Thomas (July 16); Jazz Record Art Collective featuring Geof Bradfield and Ryan Cohan (July 23); and Angel Olsen and Hand Habits (July 14). The Chicago Reader is seeking donations to help with expenses, and is also available in print format by subscription.

The July issue of the Illinois Entertainer, with musician/actress Jehnny Beth on the cover and features on Mike Peters from The Alarm, and House Of Lords, is available on the publication’s website. The New Releases column mentions some of this month’s most promising albums, including Paul Weller’s On Sunset and Willie Nelson’s First Rose Of Spring (July 3); Rufus Wainwright’s Unfollow The Rules and The Jawhawks’ XOXO (July 10); Gang Of Four’s Anti Hero and The Pretenders’ Hate For Sale (July 17) and Steve Howe’s Love Is (July 24). The Spins column offers reviews of Bob Dylan’s Rough And Rowdy Ways; Michael McDermott’s What In The World. . .;  More Trouble, an expanded version of Marvin Gaye’s Trouble Man soundtrack, and a Frank Zappa and The Mothers box set.

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.
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