Saturday, September 26, 2020

Saturday Slumgullion

The Fairport Convention Era
, the next installment of Richard Thompson’s Live From London - A Lifestream Concert Series, takes place tomorrow,  Sunday, September 27. It’s being presented by the Chicago area venues The Old Town School and SPACE, with tickets on the website for The Old Town School of Folk Music

The Rachel Drew Quartet has a 6:00 p.m. gig tomorrow, Sunday night at Montrose Saloon on Chicago’s north side. Amazing Heeby Jeebies will be there on October 4, and Van Go will be performing on October 23. All of these shows will be outdoors in a socially-distanced setting.

Fans of high-caliber, melodic rock and roll received two gifts this weekend with the release of Cheap Trick’s “Rebel Rebel” and The Posies’ “Sideways.” Cheap Trick has always crafted splendid cover versions, whether it’s material originally recorded by The Beatles, The Move,  Fats Domino, or Terry Reid. They score again with David Bowie’s “Rebel Rebel,” opening with a drum volley similar to the one on their rendition of “Ain’t That A Shame.” This is pure fun and it’s available to download on various sites. The Posies are masters of exquisite pop and lush harmonies, starting with the very Hollies like Dear 23 and moving on the more energetic but always catchy songs of their later albums. “Sideways, ” which is also now available for download, carries on that tradition. I hadn’t thought of it before today, but there’s a certain similarity between them and the Chicago-based Sunshine Boys.

Dag Juhlin, who formed Sunshine Boys with Freda Love Smith and Jacqueline Schimmel a few years back, has a solo gig coming up at Hey Nonny in Arlington Heights on October 13. He’ll have a decades-long career to choose material from, ranging from the 1980s punk band The Slugs through two superb Sunshine Boys albums. He also performs with Poi Dog Pondering and the tribute band Expo ’76.

Hey Nonny is on a roll with its live shows again, with upcoming gigs by The Bad Examples and Jon Langford. The venue’s goal has been to bring a Chicago style live music ambience to the northwest suburbs.

Another fairly new and very cool addition to downtown Arlington Heights is Coco and Blu, which serves beverages, cocktails, and plates. My wife Pam and I have become regulars. It’s a fairly large space that looks like it could hold events at some time in the future when it’s safe to have bigger crowds.  

A new Smashing Pumpkins song titled “Cyr” hit the airwaves this weekend, and it features the band experimenting in a more synth rock style. Billy Corgan’s vocals are still immediately recognizable though. “Cyr” and a second new song, titled “Colour Of Love,” will be on the next Smashing Pumpkins album. As noted in the Chicago Sun-Times and at the Chicago Eater website, Corgan and fashion designer Chloe Mendel have brought their Madame ZuZu’s tea shop back to Highland Park. It had been closed since 2018.

Writer/director Aaron Sorkin’s The Trial Of The Chicago 7 comes to Netflix on October 16 and it’s already snagged positive reviews from Richard Roeper in the Chicago Sun-Times and Michael Phillips in the Chicago Tribune. The cast includes Eddie Redmayne, Jeremy Strong, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Sacha Baron Cohen, Mark Rylance, Michael Keaton, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Frank Langella. Having performed for 20 years at the Mary-Arrchie Theatre’s annual Abbie Hoffman Died For Our Sins festival with the Famous In The Future comedy group, I’ll always think of Mary-Arrchie Artistic Director Rich Cotovsky whenever I hear the name Abbie Hoffman. Cotovsky did a fabulous job of portraying the Yippie leader at the opening and closing ceremonies.

Friday, September 25, 2020

Fall For Limited-Edition Vinyl

As many vinyl fanatics already know, the second of this year’s three RSD Drops takes place tomorrow (Saturday, September 26) around the globe. Usually, the main Record Store Day is held on the third Saturday in April, and the less popular but still worthwhile 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 last Drop will be on 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 September 26th section when putting together your wish list. Otherwise, you might show up a month too early for the record you want. The list spans every imaginable genre, including jazz, blues, hard rock, prog 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 might 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: Fleetwood Mac - The Alternate Rumours LP; The Hot Rats - Turn Ons: 10th Anniversary Edition 2 x 10-inch; Various Artists - This Are Two-Tone LP; Various Artists - Dance Craze LP; Matt Watt + The Secondmen “In Quintessence” seven-inch; Yardbirds -  Roger The Engineer Stereo and Mono LP. The Hot Rats are Gaz Coombes and Danny Goffey of Supergrass doing covers of some of their favorite songs; Mike Watt is a founding member of The Minutemen and is covering an early Squeeze hit, This Are Two Tone is a SKA hits collection, and Dance Craze is a movie soundtrack with live versions of SKA hits.

There a lot more RSD Drop 2 releases I’d love to buy, but I only have so much money and shelf space. As in previous years, I’ve made the Reckless Records in downtown Chicago my go-to stop for Record Store Day. They came through again for the first RSD Drop in August, so that’s where I’ll be tomorrow.

While I’m in the record buying mood, I might drop by Target to see if they have the exclusive lemonade vinyl R.E.M Out Of Time release that was advertised in their flyer last Sunday. Inventory varies per store, but I was told a while back by an employee at the suburban Target that didn't have The Go-Go’s Greatest Hits I wanted, that the records can be ordered online at Target. 

Thursday, September 24, 2020

It’s Johnny’ Birthday

The Fest For Beatles Fans
continues to add special guests for the Our Virtual 80th Birthday Salute To John Lennon event, which takes place on Zoom from 5:00 to 11:00 p.m. EST on October 9. Tickets—$16 through September 30, $20 after that—are available through Eventbrite. The lineup now boasts artist/musician Klaus Voormann; Peter Asher from Peter and Gordon; producer Alan Parsons; Jeremy Clyde from Chad and Jeremy; Joey Molland from Badfinger; Terry Sylvester from The Hollies and Swinging Blue Jeans; Billy Kinsley from The Merseybeats; Rod Davis from The Quarrymen; pianist Jon Cobert; Beatles Fan Club secretary Freda Kelly; Paul’s step mum and step sister Angie and Ruth McCartney; photographers Bob Gruen and Brian Hamill, and journalists Larry Kane and Ivor Davis.

Other Birthday Salute festivities include Brit Invasion crooner Billy J. Kramer joining members of the Liverpool tribute band for a live concert, as well as a live concert featuring acts who contributed Beatles and John Lennon covers to the JEM Records Celebrates John Lennon album coming out on the indie label October 9. Beatles book authors Ken Womack and Jude Southerland Kessler will each offer a special presentation. The Fest For Beatles Fans also promises, “Music, Stories, From Stars And Friends Who Knew Him All Over The World.” 

If you fancy the concept of current power pop covering classic John Lennon material from Beatles albums and his solo stuff, you can pre-order JEM Records Celebrates John Lennon on Amazon in digital, vinyl, or CD format. Tracks include “The Word” by The Weeklings; “I Found Out” by The Anderson Council; a mash-up of “Revolution” and “Power To The People” by Bongos lead vocalist Richard Barone; “No Reply” by The Golden Needles; “Strawberry Fields Forever” by The Grip Weeds; “(Just Like) Starting Over” by Jonathan Pushkar; and “Jealous Guy” by The Midnight Callers.

On the local scene, Phil Angotti and Friends will be celebrating John Lennon’s birthday on October 9 at Martyrs. The socially distanced event kicks off at 3:00 p.m. on the Lincoln Avenue rock club’s patio. Angotti, who’s a frequent performer on the Apple Jam Stage at The Fest For Beatles Fans - Chicago, is vowing to perform 80 songs—one for each of the years Lennon should been with us. A splendid reason for cutting out from work early on a Friday.

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Saturday Slumgullion

Suzanne Vega has a new live album out titled New York Songs And Stories. It includes her better -known material and deep cuts, as well as a cover of Lou Reed’s “Walk On The Wild Side.” Vega has a livestream concert coming up on October 7 at A. 

The Today Show recently featured The Go-Go’s performing a rousing live-at-home version of “We Got The Beat.” Each band member was filmed from a different location, and the song sounded just as fun and vital as when I bought the Stiff Records import 45 at Wax Trax on Lincoln Avenue in 1980.


Indie label JEM Records will mark what would have been John Lennon’s 80th birthday on October 9 with the release of a tribute album featuring seven of its artists. JEM Records Celebrates John Lennon is a mix of Beatles and Lennon solo material that includes Fest For Beatles Fans regulars The Weeklings covering “The Word,” The Anderson Council doing “I Found Out,” and Bongos lead vocalist Richard Barone combining “Revolution” with “Power To The People.” Other contributions include “No Reply” by The Golden Needles, “Strawberry Fields Forever” by The Grip Weeds, “(Just Like) Starting Over” by Jonathan Pushkar, and “Jealous Guy” by The Midnight Callers. The album is available for preorder on Amazon in download, CD, and vinyl formats. 

A JEM Records Celebrates John Lennon: Premiere Concert will be part of the fun when The Fest For Beatles Fans presents Our Virtual 80th Birthday Salute To John Lennon on October 9. The event will be streaming live from Daryl’s House and also feature the tribute band Liverpool and Billy J. Kramer. The Fest promises, “Music, Stories From Stars And Friends Who Knew Him All Over The World.” Check The Fest For Beatles Fans Facebook page for ticket information.

If you can leave work a bit early on Friday, October 9, Phil Angotti and Friends will be celebrating Lennon’s birthday at Martyrs on Lincoln Avenue. The socially distanced event on the venue’s patio starts at 3:00 p.m. Angotti vows to perform 80 songs—one for each of the years Lennon would be if he was still with us.

The second of this year’s three RSD Drops takes place next Saturday, September 26. The trilogy is pretty much the main Record Store Day chopped into separate dates to keep stores from getting too crowded in the midst of the pandemic. The last Drop will be held on 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 September 26th releases when putting together your wish list. Otherwise, you might show up a month early for the record you want. Check with your favorite record store to see if they’re participating.

Chicago Drive-In has a multi-act, socially distanced live show coming on October 17 at the Seat Geek Stadium in Bridgeview. Long-time Chicago punk band PEGBOY will celebrate its 30th anniversary at the event, and will be joined by fellow hometown acts Local H and The Bollweevils, as well as Jake Burns from acclaimed Irish punk band Stiff Little Fingers. The show starts at 5:00 p.m, and $89.99 General Admission/per car tickets are available at Infinity Ticket Solutions

Artist Michael O’Briant has created a striking and colorful tribute to local country music artists titled Chicago Country, 2020 that combines 20 separate portraits in a single piece. O’Briant plans to hang a 49 inch by 41 inch version at Montrose Saloon at some point in the near future. Montrose Saloon boss Eric Chial is one of the musicians immortalized in the piece, and he has a gig there on October 12.

If you’re the owner of a music venue, restaurant, record store, or any type of retail operation, the makers of an upcoming power pop documentary are looking for your help. Director Balin Schneider’s film Out Of Time - The Material Issue Story is due out in 2021, and establishments are needed to give out Material Issue postcards and freebies. This isn’t limited to the Chicago area, and those interested in taking part can contact the filmmakers through a DM on the official Out Of Time - The Material Issue Story Facebook page.

Fashion model and all-around good-hearted individual Lily Aldridge is among the celebrities helping St. Jude’s Hospital in its current goal to raise $100,000 to battle childhood cancer. Aldridge and her husband Caleb Followill from the band Kings Of Leon are longtime supporters of St. Jude’s. The 30 Days #for St. Jude event is going on now, with donations being accepted via the St. Jude website. 

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Saturday Slumgullion

So where was I? It’s hard to believe this is my first post of September 2020, but the triple whammy of being away for a week’s vacation, trying to catch up with work, and getting my novel ready to send to the three literary agents to who agreed to take a look at it, has kept me away from BHT

The Fairport Convention Era, the next installment of Richard Thompson’s Live From London - A Lifestream Concert Series, takes place on September 27. The final edition of Thompson’s three-part series comes on October 11 and will be a Total Request Live event. Tickets can be purchased on the website for The Old Town School of Folk Music, which is a co-presenter, along with SPACE in Evanston.

Jon Langford, the Welsh-born/current Chicago resident who’s garnered acclaim for his artwork and music career (The Mekons, The Three Johns, Waco Brothers, etc.) will be coming to Arlington Heights on October 11 for the Jon Langford, (Solo) Art Song performance at Hey Nonny. Tickets are going fast. October 2 marks the return of The Bad Examples to Hey Nonny.

One of the many well-deserved tributes to the late Chadwick Boseman came from Chicago Tribune critic Chris Jones, and was of particular interest to those of us who follow local theatre productions. Jones described how he met Boseman back in 2004 when the Congo Square Theatre Company staged Boseman’s play Deep Azure. The actor flew to Chicago to see a performance and loved Congo Square’s production. Jones noted that many people might not know the Black Panther star was also a playwright, but added, “I imagine all kinds of theater programmers now are reading Deep Azure and readying new productions, or miniseries or movies.”

The Ronnie Wood documentary Somebody Up There Likes Me will be on screens starting September 18 at virtual cinemas in 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.

Tickets are now on sale for 1960s soft rock bands The Association and Classic IV at The Arcada Theatre on November 29; Chicago Philharmonic Chamber String Quartet at North Shore Center For The Performing Arts on September 13; Chicago Symphony Orchestra Orchestra with Martin Helmchen at Orchestra Hall Symphony Center on January 7, 8, 9, and 12; Jetbeats at Reggies’ Rooftop Deck on October 3; Jon Langford and John Szymanski at City Winery on September 24; Lil’ Ed and the Blues Imperials at City Winery on October 2; Cathy Richardson and Anne Harris at City Winery on September 25 and 26; and Tributosaurus Becomes Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young at North Shore Center For Performing Arts on October 1.

The above listings are taken from the Early Warnings page in the latest edition of the Chicago Reader. The long-running Chicago monthly now comes out every other week, and is available for subscription.

The September issue of the Illinois Entertainer, with the New York-based garage rock band The Bobby Lees on the front cover, is now up on the monthly publication’s website. There’s also an interview of Deep Purple vocalist Ian Gillian, and album reviews of The Jayhawks’ XOXO and The Flaming Lips’ American Head. That same issue of IE has Jeff Elbel’s review of a recently released seven-inch single by The Smithereens that features updated takes on two songs from the band’s 2008 tribute album B-Sides Of The Beatles. As Elbel notes, the “Love Me Do” bw “P.S. I Love You” single comes in a classy vintage picture sleeve and is available on The Smithereens’ official website.

As mentioned by restaurant critic Phil Vettel for the online Chicago Tribune and by Miriam Di Nunzio is this past Wednesday’s Chicago Sun-Times, my nephew and Top Chef winner Joe Flamm has decided on a name for the new Italian/Croatian restaurant he’ll be opening in Chicago’s Fulton Market area next year. It will be called Rose Mary, which relates to the spice rosemary, as well as the names of both his grandmothers. (One of whom was my mother, Mary Rose Flamm.) Joe recently promoted a new Miller High Life t-shirt on his Instagram page. Each shirt sold contributes to Miller’s Virtual Tip Jar, which supports the service industry. I just got mine in the mail yesterday.

Keep a CIVL tongue in your head. Goose Island Beer Company’s limited edition of CIVL Pale Ale is now available 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.” Goose Island is also now selling cans of its Women Of The House pale ale, which celebrates women brewers as well as the 100 Anniversary of women gaining the right to vote.
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