Friday, August 28, 2020


The Pretenders, The Bangles, The Go-Go’s, The Muffs, The Runaways, Julianna Hatfield, The Pandoras, The Photos, Letters To Cleo, Eve’s Plum, Holly And The Italians, Josie Cotten, The Primitives, Textones, The Darling Buds, The Rebel Pebbles, and nine other women bands are featured on a new CD titled Girls Go Power Pop! on the Ace Records label. The energy level remains high throughout, and there are a few fun cover versions along with the originals. It’s an extensive collection, although I immediately thought of The Aquanettas as being missing, and there are probably several other women or woman-fronted groups who deserved to be honored. Perhaps a Volume 2 is in order. Girls Go Power Pop! is available for pre-order on the Ace Records website or on Amazon.  

The Cavern Club in Liverpool is open again after five months of being shuttered due to the pandemic. Those of us who aren’t able to fly to England, can enjoy the 200-plus videos the iconic venue has put together for the Virtually International BeatleWeek event on its Facebook page. It began yesterday and runs through Tuesday. The U.S.-based Blac Rabbit, Jay Goeppner Band, The Fab Four, Beat-Lele, Rachel Sage, Chad Clifford, and Hard Days Night are among the many acts participating. Most of the shows are Beatles-related, but it looks like The Who, The Kinks, and Small Faces will get some love too. The full schedule is available on The Cavern Club Facebook page, but keep in mind the listings are in England time.

Depending on what time you read this, you can catch a vintage concert of  The Clash on WXRT tonight at 9:00 pm. It’s another impressive edition of the Chicago FM station’s ongoing Live From The XRT Concert Archives series. The show was recorded when The Clash performed at the Aragon Ballroom in September of 1979, shortly before the release of London Calling.


The first of three 2020 RSD Drops takes place around the globe tomorrow. Participating Chicago area stores include Reckless Records, Laurie’s Planet Of Sound, Dusty Groove, Vintage Vinyl, and Val’s Halla. The official RSD site has the entire list of limited-edition releases coming out this year, so make sure you’re looking at the Aug 29th section when putting together your wish list. The now-customary social distancing and mask-wearing rules will apply, and some stores will be selling official RSD face masks. This year, more than ever, it will be important to have a written or printed list ready to hand over; store employees won’t want to look at your phone. The remaining Drops will be on September 26 and October 24. 

Limited spaces are still available for the My Sweet George George Harrison Tribute at the Post42 Patio in Evanston next Friday, September 4. This good-hearted event, organized by Ary Paloma from Amazing Heeby Jeebies and Ellis Clark from Social Act and Epicycle, has been a blast each time I’ve seen it at Martyrs’ or The Fest For Beatles Fans - Chicago. Past My Sweet George shows have featured various guest musicians, but I’m not sure how this one will play out. Tickets are available at Post42.

The online music magazine Rock Cellar has added a new section devoted to new releases by independent artists. The current batch is a mixed bag covering various genres. Independent artists hoping to snag a review in Rock Cellar’s new section can download a form and send it to

The Ronnie Wood documentary Somebody Up There Likes Me will be on screens starting September 18 at virtual cinemas across America, and will available on DVD October 9. Directed by Mike Figgis, the film covers Wood’s successful career as a musician and artist, with clips that include Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Imelda May, and Rod Stewart. 

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Hot Wax In The SummerTime

Vinyl fanatics will finally get their 2020 day in the sun when the first of three RSD Drops takes place this Saturday. Usually, the main Record Store Day is held on the third Saturday in April, and the less popular Black Friday version comes in November. This year’s trilogy is pretty much the main RSD chopped into separate dates to keep stores from getting too crowded in the midst of a pandemic. The remaining Drops will be on September 26 and October 24. 

The official RSD site has the entire list of limited-edition releases coming out this year, so make sure you’re looking at the Aug 29th section when putting together your wish list. Otherwise, you might show up two months too early for the record you want. The list spans every imaginable genre, including jazz, blues, hard rock, prog rock, classic rock, techno, punk, country, and hip hop; and includes artists from several decades.

Check with your favorite record store to see if they’re participating. Chicago area stores involved include Reckless Records, Laurie’s Planet Of Sound, Dusty Groove, Vintage Vinyl, and Val’s Halla. RSD regulars have proven to be pretty level-headed over the years so it’s likely we’ll all be following the now-customary social distancing and mask-wearing rules. Some stores will be selling official RSD face masks. This year, more than ever, it will be important to have a written or printed list ready to hand over; store employees won’t want to look at your phone.

As for my own list, I’ll be aiming for The Pretenders - Live! At The Paradise, Boston LP; The Soft Boys - “I Wanna Destroy You”/Near The Soft Boys 2 X 7-inch; U2 - “11 O’Clock Tick Tock” 12-inch; The Kinks - The Kink Kronikles 2 X LP; Pink Floyd - “Arnold Layne Live 2007” 7-inch; and Various Artists - Girls In The Garage Vol. 8 LP. 

In previous years, I’ve waited outside the Reckless Records downtown in April and November—months when the morning air can have a definite chill. This will be the first Record Store Day where I could actually work on getting a tan.

Friday, August 21, 2020


September 9 will definitely be a celebratory day for Rolling Stones fans in the U.K., as the band opens what’s being described as a “world-first flagship store” on London’s iconic Carnaby Street. RS No.9 will carry Rolling Stones merchandise and music in various forms, and serve as a hub for exclusive collaborations. It’s also being billed as a “fully immersive experience for fans.” The term 'flagship store' makes me wonder if there other locations will eventually spring up around the globe, but I couldn't find anything about that in the announcement. The band promises updates will be posted at #rollingstonescarnaby on Instagram.

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, the fourth annual YippieFest will take place this weekend as a virtual event, due to the coronavirus virus. The schedule once again mixes local theatre, music, film and performance art, all of which will be available to stream on Twitch.TV (having an account isn’t necessary). The fun kicked tonight off  at 7:00 p.m.; see for more information.

New York-based singer-guitarist Jerry Lee is performing live tonight on Facebook. I’m listening to him doing some cool cover versions as I’m putting the finishing touches on this blog.

The first of three Record Store Day 2020 Drops takes place next Saturday, August 29, and yes, it will happen in actual record stores. Social distancing and face masks will be mandatory, and official RSD face masks will be available for sale at these stores. Of course, it’s up to individual stores if they want to participate. As always, limited-edition vinyl releases will cover various genres.

The participating artist include: Black Crowes; Tommy Bolin; Bone Thugs-N-Harmony; David Bowie; The Charlatans UK; Charli XCX; Gary Clark Jr.; Collective Soul; The Cure; Dave Davies; Def Leppard; Drive-By-Truckers; Steve Earle; Billie Eilish; Emerson, Lake and Palmer; Brian Eno; Ace Frehley; Dizzy Gillespie/Charlie Parker; Gorillaz; Al Green; Guided By Voices; Terry Hall; John Wesley Harding; Hawkwind; Bob James; Bert Jansch; Jethro Tull, Elton John; The Kinks; k.d. Lang; Lennon/Ono With The Plastic Ono Band; Lisa Loeb; Bob Marley and The Wailers; Nick Mason’s Saucerful Of Secrets; Thelonious Monk; Ennio Morricone; Motorhead; New Order; New Riders Of The Purple Sage; Charlie Parker; Pink Floyd; The Pogues; Iggy Pop; The Pretenders; John Prine; Roxy Music; The Soft Boys; Spoon; Sun Ra; Tangerine Dream; THE THE; Throwing Muses; Tom Tom Club; Tones On Tail; U2; and Ultravox. There are also a number of various artists compilations.

Dennis Diken is hosting a new program called Denny’s Den each Wednesday on WFMU’s Rock ’n’ Soul Radio Stream, but don’t expect The Smithereens’ drummer to focus solely on power pop tunes. The playlist for his first show included jazz, vintage rock, 1960s Girl Groups, British Invasion and well-chosen hits from other genres.

Artist/musician Ronnie Wood’s new exhibition at the posh venue Ashridge House in Berkhamsted in the UK will include his latest piece, “The Show.” It’s a colorful collage of him and fellow Rolling Stones performing amidst angels and a few nudes. Numbered and signed limited editions are available at Wood’s online art store.

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Hippie Days Are Here Again

The fourth annual YippieFest, a freewheeling weekend of theatre, music, film, and performance art, will be a virtual event due to the coronavirus virus. Its organizer, Frank Carr of the Famous In The Future comedy group and rock band The Rut, posted an update on Facebook with a link to the schedule. YippieFest  2020 will be available to stream on Twitch.TV (having an account isn’t necessary) starting tomorrow (Friday, August 21) at 7:00 p.m. and running through Sunday. Check the YippieFest Facebook page for more information.

Viewers will be able to check out pre-recorded material from various performers. Here’s the line-up: Mike Felten; Steve Evans from Trained Monkey Productions; The Myths Of Suburbia; David Drazin; Uber Films; Citizens’ Relief; whitewolfsonicprincess; Amy Crider; Camilo Restrepo; Dark Room Men; The Rut; Eileen Tull; Famous In The Future; Collage Productions with Mobilewave Films; Ovadya; Shitter Critters; Jason Midas; Michael Bratta; Industrial Gardens; Flower Shop Bangers; Ross Childs; and Pigasus Project. This year’s entertainment leans more toward music than in past, but a quick look at the show descriptions reveals this will be an eclectic virtual celebration.

Full disclosure: Carr and I were founding members of Famous In The Future—along with David Drazin and Lake Sirmon—back in 1988. FIF participated in the first Abbie Hoffman Died For Our Sins festival at Mary-Arrchie Theatre in 1989 and went on the become the only act (other than Mary-Arrchie itself) to appear at each Abbie Fest through its 30-year run. I left the group somewhere around the 20-year mark, which leaves Carr as the only human being who's performed in every Abbie Fest and YippieFest. I’ve attended all of them, but only as an audience member in recent t years.

Carr mentioned in his Facebook post that this will be the first time in 31 years he won’t be performing in the middle of August. That brought back a lot of happy memories of performing with Famous In The Future at Abbie Fest and other venues around Chicago for over 20 years. Abbie Fest gave us opportunities to perform before large crowds, and it was always a thrill to hear so many people laughing at the lines we wrote and performed. 

Saturday, August 15, 2020

Saturday Slumgullion

Anyone’s who’s been on the fence about buying the new Chris Franz memoir Remain In Love - Talking Heads: Tom Tom Club: Tina should check out an interview he did with journalist Scott Mervis at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (picked up by the Chicago Tribune for last Sunday’s Arts + Entertainment section). In the the article, Franz describes the dynamics of how Talking Heads created songs; the excitement of the band's first gig—opening for The Ramones at CBGB; and that bass player Tina Weymouth was the only band member who could read music. Mervis notes that Joe Strummer, David Bowie, and Andy Warhol are also mentioned in the book. As an added incentive, fans can order an autographed copy of Remain In Love from Premiere Collectibles via the official Tom Tom Club Facebook page. I’m expecting my copy to arrive in the mail any day now.

Congratulations to the staff of Fest For Beatles Fans on pulling off its first virtual edition last weekend. Credit also goes to MC Terri Hemmert, the celebrity guests, and all the musicians who participated. Understandably, the event had its glitches, but everyone pulled together with patience (and humor) as Fest For Beatles Fans was able to project the same peace and love vibe of its live events. I’ve never been able to sit for hours watching anything on a screen, so I didn’t experience all the benefits the Virtual Fest had to offer. Luckily, Fest For Beatles Fans made the entire event available to watch again for all of those of us who paid the admission.

The Flat Five will deliver their second full-length album Another World on November 13. In the meantime, fans (and several music critics) who loved this all-star, vocally dynamic quintet’s 2016 debut It’s A World Of Love And Hope, can download a new single. The playful “Drip A Drop” became available on the Flat Five Bandcamp page yesterday.

Sunshine Boys, the Chicago trio that released its stellar lull-length debut Blue Music in 2018 and came back with another impressive effort (Work And Love) earlier this year, will be performing live at SPACE in Evanston on September 5. They’ll be sharing the bill with The Bobbleheads. Love and Work is filled with more melodic songs with lyrics that can paint wistful memories or deliver a call to action.

Ary Paloma and Ellis Clark will follow their recent My Sweet George performance at the Virtual Fest For Beatles Fans with a limited-seating, social-distanced gig at Post 42 Patio in Evanston on September 4 at 7:00 p.m. As with the Fest gig and the annual My Sweet George events they stage each February, Paloma and Clark’s expertly rendered George Harrison songs will backed by a talented group of local musicians.


Paloma is also the lead vocalist for the garage rock/rockabilly band Amazing Heeby Jeebies. They celebrated their 10th anniversary today with a performance at the Glenwood Avenue (Mobile) Arts Fest earlier today. The event, which meets social-distancing requirements by having live bands perform on trucks that cruise though the neighborhood, continues tomorrow. There will also be video trucks showcasing local artists.

The Old 97’s have a new song titled “Bottle Rocket Baby” available to stream or buy on various sites. It’s another preview from the band’s full-length effort Twelfth, which is coming out on August 21.


It’s nice to see Long Grove’s downtown area continue to mount a successful comeback amidst current pandemic limitations. Once known for its antique and craft shops, the area fell on hard times but is now being led by new restaurants and cafes, such as Chatterbox, Buffalo Creek Brewing, Long Grove Coffee, and Covered Bridge Creamery. Older venues like Village Inn and Enzo and Lucia continue to maintain their popularity, along with a variety of stores. My wife Pam and I have become regulars at Long Grove Coffee, and Covered Bridge Creamery in particular. A new promotion called Long Grove Live is bringing musicians to perform at various locations throughout the downtown area.

Saturday, August 8, 2020

Virtual Fest For Beatles Fans Rolls On

As The Virtual Fest For Beatles Fans continues its weekend run, the major highlight tonight for many will be Liverpool’s performance with special guest former Wings member Steve Holley. Liverpool is a top-notch tribute band that skips the costumes and concentrates on authentic renditions of classic Beatles material from the early days through Abbey Road. Liverpool’s live performance starts at 9:00 p.m. Prior to that, there will be a Soundalike Contest hosted by Byrd at 8:00 p.m. The evening’s festivities conclude with a screening of Good Ol’Freda, a cheerful and fascinating documentary about the charming woman who ran The Beatles Fan Club for several years.

Tomorrow, there’s a full line-up for the Apple Jam Stage, kicking off with Phil Angotti performing John Lennon songs at noon. Abby Slocum; Olivia Van Goor; Chad Clifford; Scott Erickson; Cellophane Flowers; Kelly Sabatino; and Daniel Phillips are also scheduled. The MarketPlace Zoom Room will offer collectibles from various vendors throughout the day, and a star-studded Main Stage lineup includes Freda Kelly, Billy J. Kramer, Klaus Voorman, Jenny Boyd, Laurence Juber, Betty Lavette, and Denny Laine.

Last night’s Apple Jam Stage highlights included Blac Rabbit;  Phil Angotti, Carol Engelemann, and Casey McDonough covering Paul McCartney; and My Sweet George, a George Harrison celebration featuring Ary Paloma, Ellis Clark, and a full band.

Check The Fest For Beatles Fans Facebook page for information on how to sign up for this virtual celebration, and to watch clips from the various Apple Jam Stage performers.

Friday, August 7, 2020


Happy Friday Night! As I’m writing this, I’m bouncing back and forth between the Ravinia Festival YouTube TV tribute to Janis Joplin with guests Cathy Richardson, Terry Talbot from Mason Proffit, and WXRT DJ Lin Brehmer; and a set by the New York duo Blac Rabbit on the Virtual Fest For Beatles Fans. Critically acclaimed Chicago musician Steve Dawson from Dolly Varden and other bands just started a live watch party on Facebook. 

I hope lots of people are enjoying these presentations, as well as other online opportunities for entertainment. And be sure to support live music venues like Montrose Saloon, Hey Nonny, and FitzGerald’s who are offering great music in safe outdoor settings.

Virtual Fest  For Beatles Fans will present Phil Angotti with Casey and Carolyn at 9:35; and Ellis and Ary’s My Sweet George at 10:35. These are acts I’ve enjoyed seeing at live Fests in the past, and I’m looking forward to tuning in tonight. The Virtual Fest For Beatles Fans has great stuff going on all weekend so be sure to check out their page on Facebook for info on how to sign up.

Angotti’s new vinyl LP The Best Of  Phil Angotti - Top Tunes And Real Grooves on Big Blast Records is now available on his website. It’s a collection of previously released material and a few new songs. He’ll likely have some some copies for sale when he’s back on the outdoor patio at Reclaimed Bar on August 23 for the monthly Beatle Brunch. I love the “I Saw Her Standing There 6 Feet Away” graphic on Facebook.

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.

Another way to support artists, musicians, stage performers, and various creative types is to buy stuff from their websites. CHIRP RADIO.ORG is celebrating its 10th Anniversary by selling limited edition t-shirts through August 10.

The John San Juan-led Chicago-based psych band Hushdrops released the four-song EP Endless Summer today, giving us the first new music from these guys in six years. 

The September issue of MOJO magazine will have an 18-page special on David Bowie, along with feature stories on The Clash, P.J. Harvey, X, Deep Purple, Jonathan Richman, Warren Zevon, and Joni Mitchell discussing David Blue. The U.K. rock magazine is also offering Part One of its Neil Young edition from The Collectors’ Series. I’ve decided to take out a year’s subscription to MOJO with the some of the money I received for my birthday.

The Pretenders’ new CD Hate For Sale arrived on my doorstep this afternoon, and it’s a another highlight in the band’s career. Since I’m light years behind on posting album reviews (again, my sincere apologies to everyone who has sent stuff) I’ll just say here that Chrissie Hynde continues to pick her targets, chew them up and spit them out. The music is hard-edged, guitar-driven, and consistently melodic.

The documentary Creem: America’s Only Rock ’N’ Roll Magazine is now showing at theaters and virtual cinemas.  

Thursday, August 6, 2020


Several independent local music venues will benefit from the sales of a new various artists compilation titled Situation Chicago that’s available in various formats on Bandcamp. Quiet Pterodactyl, an organization devoted to enjoyment, education, and entry into the arts and music, brought together 25 acts that reflect the amazing diversity of Chicago’s music scene. Dee Alexander, Poi Dog Pondering, Jeff Tweedy, and OK Go are probably the best-known of the bunch, but a quick spin through these tracks reveals solid efforts from everyone involved. A digital download is priced at $25; a double vinyl LP (as well as the download) costs $45;  and their are special limited editions that run for $150 and $300. The full list of venues benefitting from Situation Chicago can be found on the Bandcamp page.

August 7 marks the 50th Anniversary of Janis Joplin’s one and only performance at the annual Ravinia Festival and the festival’s YouTube Channel will celebrate tomorrow (Friday, August 7) at 7:00 p.m. The Chicago-based band Mason Proffit opened for the Joplin that night, and former member Terry Talbot will share his memories of being backstage. Vocalist Cathy Richardson, who portrayed Joplin in the off Broadway play Love, Janis, will also be on hand, and WXRT radio personality and everyone's best friend Lin Brehmer will present a “TOPical 5” countdown of iconic rock stars died at the age of 27.

The documentary Creem: America’s Only Rock ’N’ Roll Magazine is coming to theaters and virtual cinemas this Friday. A post on the CREEM Magazine Facebook page says the flick will explain how it went from an underground newspaper to national acclaim within six years.

When Hushdrops release the four-song EP Endless Summer tomorrow (Friday, August 7), it will be the first new music from the Chicago-based psych band in six years. Founding member John San Juan has kept busy recording solo material, and before the pandemic shut things down, you could often find him performing with other musicians on the local club scene.
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