Friday, November 20, 2020


Some houses in my neighborhood are already decked out in holiday lighting, which is probably meant to lift people’s mood in these troubled times. It certainly can’t hurt. Hopefully, it will also inspire donations to worthy causes.

The Fest For Beatles Fans is making spirits bright by bringing back its Fab Friday virtual concert series now that we've returned to a lockdown. New Yorker Andrew Weiss performs at 8:00 pm ET tonight, followed by Chicago-based singer-guitarist Phil Angotti at 9:00 pm. Check the Fest For Beatles Fans Facebook page for info on upcoming concerts.

Episode One of the Chicago Independent Venue League’s CIVLIZATION virtual concert series takes place on November 27. See the CIVL website for the list of performers and venues involved, as well as information on how to support independent venues and the musicians who make their living in them.

The Go-Go’s posted a video on YouTube for their hard-hitting and impossibly catchy new song “Club Zero.” I bought The Go-Go’s Beauty And The Beat debut immediately after seeing them perform at ChicagoFest back in the ‘80s, and it’s great to see them still in action.

The 27th Chicago Underground Film Festival is underway, and as mentioned by Chicago Sun-Times movie critic Richard Roeper in this past Wednesday’s issue, it will include director Danielle Beverly’s documentary Dusty Groove: The Sound Of Transition. The 85-minute film centers on Rick Wojcik and J.P. Schauer, owners of the Dusty Groove record store in Wicker Park, and their customers. A pass can be purchased on the website for $30.

For some funny and interesting insight on the art of standup comedy, check out the interview Nina Metz conducted with comedian/actor Deon Cole in today’s Chicago Tribune about his Workin’ It Out’ special on Netflix.

The 2021 She Rocks Awards will take place in a virtual format this Sunday, January 22. This year’s honorees represent all sectors of the entertainment industry and include The Go-Go’s, Cherie Curie, Cindy Blackman Santana, Amy Lee, Margaret Cho, Starr Parodi, Ann Mincieli, Sharon Hennessey, and Gwen Riley. Singer-Guitarist LZZY HALE, from the band Halestorm and a previous honoree, will serve as host. The ceremony is open to the general public, and will include a silent auction.

This year’s Black Harvest Film Festival, which went virtual due to COVID-19, wraps up November 30. All the films are streaming at via the Gene Siskel Film Center. 

Graham Nash, Elvis Costello, Angelique Kidjo, Sting, Jim James, Kesha, and the Brooklyn Youth Choir will perform when the David Lynch Foundation presents Meditate America on December 3. Katy Perry, Hugh Jackman, Debora Lee Furness, Robin Roberts, George Stephanopoulos, and Jennifer Ashton, MD will serve as hosts. The free virtual event aims to raise awareness of transcendental meditation, which is believed to help control stress and lessen the risks of stroke, heart disease, and depression. Viewers are encouraged to donate.


CoCo and Blu, a hip and classy cafe in Arlington Heights, has a Christkindlmarket going that will run through December 23. The venue promises, “Fabulous Holiday Mug Keepsakes, Shopping, Food Cocktails, and Coffee Creations.”

The Black Friday Record Store Day is still on, but you’ll need to check with your local record store to see if it’s participating. The official RSD site has a very helpful Store Status spreadsheet with state-by-state listings of which stores will be open to foot traffic; offering curbside pickup; local delivery; online sales with shipping; or appointment shopping.

The recent news that Wrigley Field has been designated as a National Historic Landmark brought back a flood of pleasant memories. The first being my Dad taking us kids and some of our friends there to see the Chicago Cubs play. More recent memories center on being outside the ballpark, like when I walked there from my Lincoln Park studio apartment in 1988 to witness the first time Wrigley Field had lights. The game was rained out. I couldn’t afford a ticket to a Paul McCartney concert so I based a Broken Hearted Toy review on what I could hear standing at the corner of Clark and Addison. I later covered a Bruce Springsteen show in the same fashion for a post I titled When I’m Out On The Street. By the time the Cubs finally returned to the World Series in 2016, I had moved to Palatine. But watching those games on TV was still the best memory of all. 

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Saturday Slumgullion

The Go-Go’s will be among the honorees at the 2021 She Rocks Awards.

Just a quick note regarding any performances mentioned in this post. With the continuing rise of COVID-19 cases and the stricter regulations that have come with that unfortunate development, it would a good idea to double check before heading out to see something. In the meantime, wear your mask, social distance, and support the entertainment and restaurant industries in any ways you can.

Montrose Saloon on Chicago’s north side has just announced it will be closing for an undisclosed amount of time. The venue had been doing well with live performances in its outdoor beer garden, but the colder weather has brought that approach to an end. Best wishes to Montrose Saloon for a quick return.

As reported on the Broadway World website, The 2021 She Rocks Awards will take place in a virtual format on January 22. This year’s honorees represent all sectors of the entertainment industry and include The Go-Go’s, Cherie Curie, Cindy Blackman Santana, Amy Lee, Margaret Cho, Starr Parodi, Ann Mincieli, Sharon Hennessey, and Gwen Riley. Singer-Guitarist LZZY HALE, from the band Halestorm and a previous honoree, will serve as host. Other entertainers who’ve been previously recognized include The Bangles, Pat Benatar, Suzie Quatro, Melissa Etheridge, Gloria Gaynor, Sheila E., The B-52’s, Chaka Khan, Orianthi, and Ronnie Spector. The ceremony is open to the general public, and will include a silent auction.

Congratulations to writer/director Seth Savoy on his action adventure film Echo Boomers opening at the Music Box Theatre on Chicago’s north side on November 13. Savoy, a graduate of Columbia College, was able to snag Oscar nominee and fellow Chicagoan Michael Shannon to join the cast. Chicago Sun-Times writer Selena Fragassi had an interesting interview with Shannon in last Sunday’s issue regarding Chicago’s filmmaking scene. Fragassi noted one of Shannon’s first film roles was in Groundhog Day.


The virtual Black Harvest Film Festival is going on now and will run through the end of November. All of the Festival’s films are streaming via the Gene Siskel Film Center.

The Arlington Heights cafe CoCo and Blu, opened a Christkindlmarket this week and it will run through December 23. The venue promises, “Fabulous Holiday Mug Keepsakes, Shopping, Food Cocktails, and Coffee Creations.”

The Long Dream, a new exhibition that opened this week at the Museum Of Contemporary Art in Chicago, brings more than 70 local artists together to explore ways to achieve a “more equitable and interconnected world.” The exhibition is named after Richard Wright’s 1958 novel. Artist-musician Diane Christiansen’s “inflatable opera” BirthDeathBreath is part of The Long Dream, and features music by her husband Steve Dawson and other musicians.

Congratulations to the Pacific Northwest based Cat Adoption Team on exceeding its $60,000 fundraising goal yesterday via its entertaining and successful Virtual Whisker Wonderland Gala.

As a result of increased online shopping during the pandemic, some holiday deliveries could be delayed. Be sure to do your gift buying early. And throw something in the cart for yourself as well. A few days ago, I received the Syd Barrett coffee mug I ordered from his official website, but I’ve set it aside as sort of a Christmas present for myself. I also have a button of original Bee Gees member Vince Melouney that I bought on his Bandcamp page coming my way. I liked the way an email from the Rolling Stones No9 Official Store noted my order of a Tinned Plectrum Set “has been dispatched.”

Speaking of Melouney, he has another single on the way, to follow up the garage rock number “Women (Make You Feel Alright)” he released earlier this year. Jonathan Lea, lead guitarist for The Jigsaw Seen, helped out with the recording. Lea has also performed with Dave Davies from The Kinks.

As mentioned by writer Ashok Selvam from Eater Chicago in a piece in this past Wednesday’s Chicago Sun-Times, restaurant owner Stephanie Izard has opened a bakery shop called Sugarcoat within her Little Goat Diner. Izard also owns the Girl And The Goat and Duck Duck Goat restaurants, and was the winner of the Bravo Channel’s Top Chef series in Season 4. She’s also the former boss of my nephew Joe Flamm, who won Top Chef in Season 15. 

Tuesday, November 10, 2020


The Dirty Knobs, the new band led by former Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers vocalist-guitarist Mike Campbell, will celebrate the release of their debut album Reckless Abandon with a livestream performance that was recorded at The Troubadour in Los Angeles. There’s no admission charge, and it will be available to view through November 30. For those who want to ensure we’ll have live performances in the future, The Dirty Knobs have also designated this as a benefit for NIVA, the National Independent Venue Association. Fans can make donations to support music venues around the country. The Dirty Knobs garnered a lot of attention with a pre-lease of the album’s title track, and are scheduled to perform at Park West in Chicago in October 2021.

CIVL, The Chicago Independent Venue League, recently promised on Instagram that it will have an announcement this Friday regarding CIVLIZATION, A Virtual Festival Celebrating Chicago’s Independent Venues. The League was formed earlier this year as a means to help local entertainment venues and bars cope with the loss of revenue due to COVID-19.

The Pacific Northwest based Cat Adoption Team is holding a Virtual Whisker Wonderland Gala fundraiser this Friday, November 13, starting at 7:00 p.m. PST. There’s a pre-show starting at 6:30. Donations can be texted to WHISKER at 44321. Cat Adoption Team has already collected over $19,000 of its $60,000 goal. Chicago improv fans might catch a glimpse of CAT volunteer Heather Svoboda, who performed on numerous stages here around the turn of the century.

CoCo and Blu, the cool new Arlington Heights Cafe that serves coffee, tea, soup, sandwiches, and— during its later hours—cocktails, has a Christkindlmarket planned for this year. It opens on November 12 and runs through December 23. The venue’s Facebook page promises, Fabulous Holiday Mug Keepsakes, Shopping, Food, Cocktails, and Coffee Creations. I’ve been a regular at CoCo and Blu for a while now and I’m looking forward to what they’ll be cooking up for this event.

Saturday, November 7, 2020

Saturday Slumgullion

It would be great if unseasonably warm November days were also unseasonably light, with the sunset coming somewhere around 8:30 p.m. I recently posted this observation on Facebook, where it drew an unusually large amount of responses for one of my posts. Which is to say, ten.

The point though, is that we should really take advantage of the great weather we're having today in the Chicago area and do some fun things outside. Like going to dinner or seeing some live music on the patio or beer garden area of your favorite venue. Particularly when we can’t do those things inside at the moment, and we won't be able to do them outside as winter approaches. 

Hey Nonny in Arlington Heights has one more outdoor live show tonight before a self-imposed hibernation through March 10, 2021. Its Last Call event features live music by Paulo Apuli and runs from 5:00 to 9:00 p.m. The venue has done a great job of bringing a north side Chicago vibe to the northwest suburbs, and I’m looking forward to them booking some great entertainment when they return.

Black Harvest Film Festival is going virtual this year, with all the films streaming at via the Gene Siskel Film Center. The Festival kicked off yesterday and will run through the end of this month. 

AJ Rosales has just released a catchy and thought-provoking song titled “If Not Today” on his Bandcamp page. It’s the first single from his upcoming album Manifestations, which will be the fifth effort overall from the Chicago-based singer-guitarist. “If Not Today” should connect with fans of Sunshine Boys, with its easy-going, acoustic guitar based arrangement and socially conscious lyrics. Manifestations is due on November 27.

Tuesday, November 3, 2020


Another World
, the second album from critically acclaimed Chicago-based band The Flat Five is now available for pre-order on Bandcamp. It will be released in CD, digital and vinyl formats on November 13, and includes the single “Drip a Drop.” The Flat Five is an all-star collective of musicians known for inventive vocal interplay and a playful, often vintage approach to pop music. 

As reported by Miriam De Nunzio in last Friday’s Chicago Sun-Times, this year’s Black Harvest Film Festival will present a tribute to the late actor Chadwick Boseman on its final night. The event will be virtual this year, with all the films streaming at via the Gene Siskel Film Center. It runs from this Friday, November 6 through the rest of the month. Di Nunzio also noted that Black Harvest will be selling festival branded merchandise for the first time, including masks, coffee mugs, and clothing.

On a related note, Chicago Tribune theater critic Chris Jones recently noted that Chadwick Boseman wrote a play titled Deep Azure in 2004 that was performed by the Congo Square Theatre Company in Chicago. The actor flew into Chicago to see it and loved the production.

Phil Angotti will be performing in the Beer Garden at Montrose Saloon from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. this Thursday, November 5. There’s no cover charge, but it’s recommended you hit the tip jar. I don’t see any mention of this on Angotti’s Facebook page yet, so I’m not sure if he's doing a tribute show or if he’ll be performing his own material. Either way, it will be entertaining.

The Consequence Of Sound Instagram site reported today that New Yorkers waiting in line to vote were treated to a live performance on the street by Patti Smith and Lenny Kaye. Consequence noted Smith only took off her mask to sing, and stayed a safe distance away from all of the voters.


Hey Nonny in Arlington Heights has announced that it’s going to “hibernate” rather than try to keep operating under the current pandemic restrictions. The venue did a great job of offering outside dining and music over the summer, but obviously that can’t continue through a Chicago area winter. Hey Nonny has a Last Call event scheduled for this Saturday, November 7, featuring Paulo Apuli. Prior to that, there will be shows by Rob Anderlik on Thursday and Eric Quigley on Friday. Hey Nonny is looking to return at some point in 2021. Like many live music venues and restaurants, Hey Nonny has created a fund to help its workers. If you can spare the cash, try to help as many of your favorite establishments as possible.

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