Friday, February 21, 2020

Slumgullion

Tomorrow night (February 22), several Chicago area musicians will gather at Martyrs’ on Lincoln Avenue for the annual George Harrison Birthday Tribute Concert. The event will once again be hosted by Ellis Clark and Ary Paloma Jeebie, with bluegrass impresario Ken Mottet serving as MC. Clark was a founding member of Epicycle, one of Chicago’s first punk acts, as well as Social Act. He’s also a successful solo recording artist and producer. Ary Paloma Jeebie is the lead vocalist for Amazing Heeby Jeebies, a garage/rockabilly band.

Returning performers include Sandalwood Sitar; singer-guitarist Phil Angotti; singer-guitarist Chloe F. Orwell from The Handcuffs; Phoenix; Frankie B; and Soulkeeper Gerald McClendon. If previous years are any indication, the selection of Harrison material performed will range from hit singles to deep tracks and rarities. It’s also fun seeing musicians from different groups join together on stage. The music starts at 8:00 p.m. The George Harrison Birthday Tribute Concert will benefit uninsured musicians and the MusiCares nonprofit charity organization.

Depending on when you read this, you could still catch an evening of local power pop tonight at Montrose Saloon with Phil Yates and The Affiliates, whose name alone will tell you they approach the genre with humor and wordplay. The Spindles and singer-songwriter Brother Derek are also on the bill. I haven’t seen the latter, but I know The Spindles have performed “Look Through Any Window” and “Bus Stop” by The Hollies at their live shows. Their latest album Past and Present includes “Look Through Any Window,” along with a batch of catchy originals.

Temple Of Geekdom – An Improvised Adventure opens on February 24 at The Second City and will run on Monday nights.

Tickets went on sale today for Nielsen Trust featuring Rick Nielsen and Scott Lucas at Chop Shop on April 3; Al Jardine at City Winery Chicago on March 31; Flat Five at FitzGerald’s on March 27; Shellac and Loki’s Folly at Lincoln Hall on March 10 and 11; Corky Siegel’s Chamber Blues featuring Ernie Watts and Goran Ivanovic at City Winery on March 1; Bad Examples at FitzGerald’s on May 29; and Jeff Tweedy at The Vic on May 15 and 16.

Last Friday night’s double bill of Tommi Zender and The 45 at Hey Nonny was another example of how the Arlington Heights venue is bringing acts normally associated with Chicago’s north side music scene to the usually tribute-band-obsessed northwest suburbs. Each of the artists I’ve seen perform at Hey Nonny has made a point to thank the owners and the audience for supporting original music. Zender, backed by a talented band performed songs from his impressive latest album More Songs About Time and earlier releases. The 45, led by Chicago Cubs broadcaster Len Kasper on bass (he also composed all the songs), is a new band on the local scene. Kasper’s bandmates—Dag Juhlin, Matt Spiegel, Liam Davis, and Gerald Dowd—have extensive experience in other groups. Like Juhlin’s Sunshine Boys, the songs by The 45 resonate musically and emotionally even when heard for the first time. I'm looking forward to when their debut album comes out later this year.

The Chicago premiere of director Danielle Beverly’s film Dusty Groove: The Sound Of Transition takes place at the Chicago Cultural Center next Friday, February 28 at 7:00 p.m. Described as “a documentary about love, loss, and our deep personal connection,” it will be available for streaming and on DVD in June.

Be a celluloid hero. The Chicago International Film Festival is accepting entries for its 2020 event, which runs from October 14 through 25. The Early Bird Deadline is April 6; Regular Deadline is June 15; and the Late Deadline is July 6. Best of luck to all the aspiring filmmakers out there.

Music Box Theatre on Southport is hosting its annual Cat Video Fest tomorrow and Sunday. In addition to celebrating the endless ways cats find to amuse, challenge, and astound their humans, another benefit is that the festival supports local animal shelters. Chicago Tribune columnist Nina Metz has a full article about it in today’s edition. The Cat Video Fest admission price ranges from $8 to $12.

You can sense the winter season is in its death throes when info on Record Store Day and International Pop Overthrow – Chicago starts trickling out in emails and on social media.

The Second Disc website—always an essential resource for keeping up on upcoming album releases—recently posted writer Sam Stone’s preview of the David Bowie I’m Only Dancing double live album that will be part of this year’s RSD vinyl treasures. It features songs recorded at concerts in Detroit and Nashville in 1974. This year’s Record Store Day is on April 18.

As for IPO - Chicago, singer-guitarist Michael Mazza’s band The Walkdown has announced it will be offering free CDs of a new single titled “The Distance (Gets In The Way)” at its performance at the annual festival in April. The song is on the upcoming EP Future Tense. This year’s International Pop Overthrow - Chicago takes place at the Live Wire venue on Milwaukee Avenue from April 17 through April 25.

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Saturday Slumgullion

Page spread from Beacon Arts Centre brochure.

Excuses, excuses. I wasn’t able to post Slumgullion last night because my wife Pam and I went out for a Valentine dinner at the Seasons 52 restaurant in Schaumburg. Good food and friendly service. It’s worth mentioning again that I would have never been able to have this blog without my wife Pam setting it up for me over 10 years ago.

Tickets are now on sale for Decemberists and Fruit Bats at the Auditorium Theatre on August 11; Steve Dawson and Funeral Bonsai Wedding with Quartet Parapluie and Louis Bardales at the Old Town School Of Folk Music on May 8; Struts and The Regrettes at the Riviera Theatre on May 29; Heartsfield at FitzGerald’s on April 11; and Portland Cello Project Presents Purple Reign at SPACE on April 2. Yep, that last one is a mix of classical and Prince music, and from the clips I saw on the PCP website, it’s pretty amazing.

I Love Jennifer Eccles – The Hollies Story was performed tonight at the Beacon Arts Centre in Greenock, Scotland. Presented by Treble Clef Productions, it covered the British Invasion band’s entire career, starting with Graham Nash and Allan Clarke meeting as schoolboys. The Beacon website states, “This highly entertaining show for all ages is packed with hit after hit, performed by a talented young band and hosted by a seasoned narrator.” If the talented young band doesn’t mind flying to Chicago to perform Jennifer Eccles, I could be the seasoned narrator.

Tommi Zender, a singer-guitarist who’s performed with several musicians on the Chicago club scene, will be at Hey Nonny in Arlington Heights tomorrow, February 16. He’ll no doubt be showcasing songs from his new album More Songs About Time, an engaging mix of introspective acoustic ballads like “Learn To Be Alone” and more energetic fare like “Echo Chambers In The Hall Of Mirror.” “No Good For Your Health” is a clever message to a woman about the guy she’s dating. Chicago Cubs broadcaster/musician Len Kasper will also be performing at Hey Nonny that night with his band The 45. A recent social media post from Kasper indicates his original tunes will be hard-edged and energetic.

Next Saturday night, several Chicago area musicians will gather at Martyrs’ on Lincoln Avenue for the annual George Harrison Birthday Tribute Concert hosted by Ellis Clark and The Big Parade with Ary Paloma Jeebie. A number of favorites are returning, and there will be some interesting newcomers. If previous years are any indication, the selection of Harrison material will range from hit singles to deep tracks and rarities.

Hello, Cruel World. Several well-known new wave, alt rock, and punk acts will perform on May 2 at the Cruel World Festival on the grounds at Dignity Health Sports Park in Los Angeles. The lineup includes Morrissey; Bauhaus; Blondie; Devo; Psychedelic Furs; Echo and The Bunnymen, Violent Femmes; The Church; The English Beat; Publice Image Ltd.; Gary Numan; Missing Persons; Berlin; and Marc Almond from Soft Cell. Fans can register for presale tickets on the festival’s website.

Temple Of Geekdom – An Improvised Adventure opens on February 24 at The Second City and will run on Monday nights. According to the post card I picked up at Reckless Records downtown, there will be extra shows during this year’s C2E2 run at McCormick Place on February 28 and 29. Now why they would connect geeks with C2E2?

Actor Matt Smith is catching some flak on social media for cancelling a scheduled appearance at C2E2 for the second year in a row, due to a scheduling conflict. I met Smith at an autograph session at the Ace Comic Con on Navy Pier a few years back (shortly before meeting his Doctor Who co-star Karen Gillan for an autograph—an epic afternoon) and I give him the benefit of the doubt. He called me ‘mate’ and was very open and friendly with the people coming up to his booth. Still, I can relate to the disappointment of those who were looking forward to meeting him at C2E2 these past two years.

It will be a rollicking evening of bluesy and Americana rock and roll tomorrow night (February 16) when Marcia Ball and Sonny Landreth join together for a double bill at FitzGerald’s.

WXRT is bringing another live music event to the Tivoli Theatre in Downers Grove. This time out, the station is co-sponsoring (with Classic Cinemas) a Poi Dog Pondering concert on February 20.

The Right Tidys were absent from the Chicago club scene for a while, but now they’ve reunited under the abbreviated name Tidy and have a live gig coming up. They’ll be at Montrose Saloon on Monday, March 30, with Erica Loftus in her familiar lead vocalist role.

The House Theater Of Chicago’s production of Verboten continues its run at the Chopin Theatre through March 8. Written by Brett Neveu with original songs by Jason Narducy, Verboten is set in 1983 and concerns a teenage punk band aiming to rock out the Cubby Bear venue. Nathan Allen is the director.

The extremely clever magicians Penn and Teller will host an Aids Walk and Run in Las Vegas on March 20. The event will include a run, a walk, and a festival featuring various acts. Anyone interested in taking part can find info a AFANLV.org.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Incoming

The Who is celebrating the 50th anniversary of its iconic Live At Leeds album with a show tonight at the PRYZM venue in Kingston upon Thames in England. Congratulations, lads!

I wasn’t able to post a Slumgullion column last Friday due to my being at the Hey Nonny venue in Arlington Heights to catch Rachel Drew and Rob Newhouse followed by The Imperial Sound. Singer-songwriter Drew and former Elvis Brothers member Newhouse combined for terrific harmony vocals on set of original tunes (and few covers) as well rollicking versions of the Elvis Brothers songs “Hey Tina” and “Santa Fe.”

Considering Drew’s versatile singing, it was no surprise when she announced she would return as a guest vocalist with The Imperial Sound. Her style was perfectly suited to the mixed bag of soul, rock, and jazz from their 2018 debut The New AM. Drew and lead vocalist-guitarist Rick Mosher combined on songs like “Ain’t Crawling Back,” a clever take on a guy not quite over his ex, and the film noir inspired “The Quarry.” A three-piece horn section and Kenn Goodman’s keyboards also keep things lively.

Tickets are now on sale for Rhett Miller from The Old 97s at SPACE in Evanston on May 15; Bauhaus at the Aragon Ballroom on July 25; Heaven 17 at Park West on May 8; Todd Snider at Park West on April 10; House Of Love at Subterranean on May 11; Ike Reilly Assassination at FitzGerald’s on March 20; and NRBQ at SPACE on May 2.

NRBQ member Casey McDonough will be doing a Valentine’s Day show this Friday at Honky Tonk BBQ. It's located at 1800 S. Racine in the Pilsen neighborhood.

The Psychedelic Furs will kick off a tour of southern U.S. states on April 13 in Key West, Florida and finish up in Scottsdale, Arizona on April 30. They’ll be in London on May 14 for a concert in the Albert Hall. The Furs have new material to showcase at these gigs, to go along with past hits like “The Ghost In You,” “Heartbreak Beat,” and “Love My Way.” A brand new album titled Made Of Rain is due out in May and a video of their single “Don’t Believe” is now available to watch on The Psychedelic Furs website. The duo Elettrodmestico, which features Jane Wiedlin from The Go-Go’s and Pietro Stracci, will open for The Psychedelic Furs on the April tour dates.

The Right Tidys were absent from the Chicago club scene for a while, but now they’ve reunited under the abbreviated name Tidy and have a live gig coming up. They’ll be at Montrose Saloon on Monday, March 30, with Erica Loftus in her familiar lead vocalist role.

FitzGerald’s has an International Women’s Day Festival planned for March 7 that will include performances by Sandra Antongiorgi; Naomi Ashley; Cathie Van Wert; and Katie Todd. The Festival will also feature Cathy Richardson’s Goddesses Of Rock. In addition to her own music, Richardson is also known for her critically acclaimed portrayal of Janis Joplin.

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Hey Nonny Brings The Imperial Sound

The Imperial Sound, a relatively new band made up of Chicago music scene veterans, will be back at Hey Nonny in Arlington Heights tomorrow night, February 7. Their 2018 debut album The New AM offered a consistently engaging mix of soul, jazz, blues, and rock, with a dash of supper club ambience. Songs like “Ain’t Crawling Back” and “Yesterday” featured guest female vocalists so it should be interesting to see how those are performed at Hey Nonny. The Imperial Sound has been known to have special guests at its live shows. Singer-songwriter Rachel Drew and former Elvis Brothers member Rob Newhouse will be the opening act. The music starts at 7:30 pm.

It was nice seeing Hey Nonny get some press last Thursday via Selena Fragassi’s interview with Chip Brooks in the Chicago Sun-Times. Brooks’ comments affirmed my belief that he and co-owner Chris Dungan are aiming for a northwest suburban version of popular Chicago clubs like Schubas and Evanston’s SPACE. Booking bands like The Imperial Sound is definitely a move that direction. Singer-guitarist Tommi Zender with The 45 (featuring Chicago Cubs Len Kasper) will be coming to Hey Nonny on Sunday, February 16.

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Hot Stove, Cool Music Returns To Boston

Spring training kicks off later this month, but baseball fans in Boston can celebrate the sport and help a worthy cause this Saturday, February 8 at the Paradise Rock Club. That’s when The Foundation To Be Named Later will host its annual Hot Stove, Cool Music charitable event. Formed by Theo Epstein and his brother Paul shortly after he led the Red Sox to their first World Series since 1918, TFTBNL combines baseball and rock music in a uniquely fun way to raise funds to help disadvantaged youth in Boston. Epstein established a Chicago version of The Foundation after he moved here to bring the Cubs a World Series Championship.

The indie rock band Letters To Cleo will be performing at the Paradise this Friday, along Tanya Donnelly and Gail Greenwood from Belly, Peter Gammons, and The Hot Stove All-Stars. Fans can also check out Band Of Their Own, a rotating group of well-known women musicians that’s become a regular Hot Stove feature. Saturday’s lineup includes former Runaway Cherrie Currie; Donnelly, Greenwood, and nine other perfrormers. Limited edition BOTO t-shirts will be available for sale at this gig only. The music starts at 7:30 p.m.

As in past years, there will be a Chicago version of Hot Stove, Cool Music taking place in Wrigleyville sometime in June. I caught last year’s bash at Metro and it was a night of positive vibes and great rock and roll.

Friday, January 31, 2020

Slumgullion

A recent post on The Hollies’ official Facebook page promises information in the next few days about how to pre-order drummer Bobby Elliott’s long-awaited autobiography It Ain’t Heavy, It’s My Story - My Life In The Hollies. Elliott has been with the iconic British Invasion band almost from the very start, and along with founding member guitarist-vocalist Tony Hicks, leads the current version of The Hollies.

Glancing though the comments regarding that Facebook post, I was surprised someone mentioned The Hollies being part of a Flower Power Cruise that sets sail from Miami, FL on March 28. Other 1960s acts who’ll be onboard include The Zombies; Herman’s Hermits starring Peter Noone; Peter Asher; The Turtles; Arlo Guthrie; The Outsiders; The Buckinghams; and The Grassroots. I wish I had known about this earlier; it’s already sold out. Maybe The Hollies can squeeze in a few on-land American gigs after they finish up the Flower Power Cruise. I've been waiting for them to return to the U.S.A. for 16 years.

The Hey Nonny venue in Arlington Heights has been open for a little over year, and has already established a reputation from bringing some of Chicago best local acts to the northwest suburb. Hey Nonny has an ambitious event going on this weekend—a three-day blues festival that incorporating four separate stage areas.

The Imperial Sound will be at Hey Nonny next Friday, February 7; and Tommi Zender with The 45 (featuring Chicago Cubs broadcaster/musician Len Kasper) have a gig there on February 16.

Outronaut and fellow instrumental bands Los Gringos and Tony Richards Trio are performing tomorrow night at Martyrs’ on Lincoln Avenue. The bands will rotate their performances in 15-minutes sets over the course of three hours.

The Social Act will be performing at the Live Wire Lounge on Milwaukee Avenue next Friday, February 7.

Tickets went on sale today for Steely Dan and Steve Winwood on June 26 at The Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre; James Taylor with His All-Star Band and Jackson Browne on June 10 at the United Center; Bishop’s Daredevil Stunt Club, Draft Week, Bambiraptor, and Kachi The Band on February 7 at Lincoln Hall; and Jay O’Rourke and Spies Who Surf on February 14 at Reggie’s Music Joint.

The above listings are from the Early Warnings page in this week’s edition of the Chicago Reader, which features the cover story The Best Chicago Albums of The 2010s. Wilco; Wild Belle; Mavis Staples; Dolly Varden; Dreezy; The Autumn Defense; Twin Peaks; Ric Wilson; Rempis Percussion Quartet; Sin Orden; Beat Drun Juel; Fee Lion; Judson Claiborne; Sonny Falls; and Immortal Bird are among the chosen. I’d be lying if I said I’m familiar with all these acts.

The Go-Go’s have an 11-city tour coming up this summer and can also be seen on film. Alison Ellwood’s documentary The Go-Go’s is currently having its world premiere at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, UT. Band member have expressed an appreciation that Ellwood concentrated on the fun and camaraderie The Go-Go’s have shared throughout their career. They were definitely exuding a fun attitude when I first saw them on the Rock Stage at ChicagoFest on Navy Pier back in the early 1980s. 

Next Friday, February 7 will bring the new albums Father Of All. . . by Green Day; A Simple Trick To Happiness by Lisa Loeb; and Perdida by Stone Temple Pilots. We’ll get The Slow Rush by Tame Impala on February 14; Surrender Your Poppy Field by Guide By Voices on February 21; and The Main Thing by Real Estate on February 28. This news comes via the February issue of the Illinois Entertainer. You’ll also find Jeff Elbel’s 9-out-of-10 rated review of the Supergrass Super Deluxe Box Set The Strange Ones in this month’s I.E. He sure makes it sound like it’s worth the money, and he also offers hope that the U.K. trio’s upcoming tour might include a Chicago date. Nothing definite on that yet.

The House Theater Of Chicago’s production of Verboten continues its runs at the Chopin Theatre through March 8. Written by Brett Neveu with original songs by Jason Narducy, Verboten is set in 1983 and concerns a teenage punk band aiming to rock out the Cubby Bear venue. Nathan Allen is the director.

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Now Maybe He'll Get At Least Six Hours Of Sleep Each Night

After tomorrow morning, Lin Brehmer’s loyal listeners will have to find him elsewhere. WXRT’s popular morning host isn’t going away but he is moving to the station’s mid-afternoon (10:00 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.) shift. That’s bound to be disorienting for those who are used to encountering their “best friend in the whole world” along with their first cup of coffee. And then there’s the question of whether Brehmer’s approach will change in his new time slot. His long-time on-air partner news anchor Mary Dixon had been let go—thankfully she’s landed at WBEZ AM—so he’s already had to adjust to that. My guess is Brehmer already has some tricks up his sleeve that will become new traditions for his followers. But please keep giving us Lin’s Bin.

Speaking of tradition, let’s raise our cups of coffee (or tea) in tribute to the guy who made us laugh and feel like family even on those mornings when he had been out late at a concert or watching a west coast Cubs game on TV. Brehmer has never gone for the cheap humor that’s the bread and butter of so many morning jocks. He can be bawdy at times, but the bulk of his appeal is based on clever observations and self-deprecating jokes. Plus, he loves to rock. There’s not a doubt he’ll still be blasting The Rolling Stones over the airwaves or assuring us the next tune coming up is “the best song in the whole world.”

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Incoming

Seeing the Chicago-based, reunited band Spies Who Surf at the Hey Nonny venue in Arlington Heights earlier this month was a pleasant reminder that instrumental rock can be a blast. That fun could be tripled when Outronaut and fellow instrumental bands Los Gringos and Tony Richards Trio perform at Martyrs’ this Saturday on Lincoln Avenue. And to make things even more fun, the bands will rotate their performances in 15-minutes sets over the course of three hours. Outronaut describes its approach as “surf-noir-crime-jazz,” and jazz/bebop guitarist Tony Richards will be joined this time out by bassist John Tate and drummer Larry Beers. The four-man Los Gringos promises “vocal-less renditions of b-sides, deep cuts and originals that could help you ponder your very existence!”

Best of luck to Jason Thomas, who’s no longer with WXRT after a 13-year run. Even with that much time at the station, Thomas was probably still viewed by fans as part of a newer generation of XRT DJs. He hosted the weekly cutting-edge program The Big Beat, as well as doing his regular weekday shift. A Facebook post from him today announced he’ll be taking over the afternoon drive shift at public radio station KVOQ (Indie 102.3) in Denver.

The Yardbirds have a concert coming up on October 3 at The Arcada Theatre in St. Charles. The current lineup features founding member vocalist-drummer Jim McCarty; guitarist Godfrey Townshend; bassist Kenny Aaronson; vocalist-harpist-percussionist Myke Scsavone, and vocalist-guitarist John Idan. All the musicians involved have extensive experience working with well-known artists. Seeing this gig scheduled for The Arcada raises hopes that similar events will be coming the Des Plaines Theater in suburban Des Plaines after it’s been fully remodeled and open for business. Both venues are run by concert promoter Ron Onesti.

Look for an evening of 1960s-influenced power pop as well as decades of cover versions when The Spindles share a double bill with The Last Generation at Danny’s On Douglas in Elgin this Friday night. The Spindles’ most recent release Past And Present includes a cover of The Hollies’ jangling hit “Look Through Any Window” along with catchy originals and a take on The Elvis Brothers’ fun 1980s track “Santa Fe.” The four members of The Last Generation range from 17 to 20 years old but in addition to their own material, play songs from The Beatles, Green Day, Beastie Boys, and Poison.

Friday, January 24, 2020

Slumgullion

Wild Honey, the west coast organization that’s so nice in putting on all-star concerts to benefit worthy causes like The Autism Think Tank, has unveiled the lineup for its tribute to The Lovin’ Spoonful at The Alex Theatre in Glendale, CA on February 29. The event will feature original band members John Sebastian, Steve Boone and Joe Butler. Participating musicians include Micky Dolenz, Dave Alvin, Carnie Wilson, Dennis Diken, Susan Cowsill, Marshall Crenshaw, Don Dixon, Marti Jones, Elliot Easton, Darian Sahanaja, The Three O’Clock, Carla Olson, Wednesday Week, and Annette Zilinskas.

In related news, I bought a copy of The Lovin’ Spoonful’s "You Didn't Have To Be So Nice" 45 RPM single at the Reckless Records in downtown Chicago yesterday. The store always has an amazing selection of picture sleeve records for sale.

Squeeze and KT Tunstall shared a splendid gig at the Chicago Theatre last year and they’ll join forces again—along with Daryl Hall and John Oates—on July 18. That show will be at the far less convenient (for me at least) Hollywood Casino Amphitheater in Tinley Park.

Other concerts that went on sale today include Robin Trower at the Copernicus Center (just outside the Jefferson Park Blue Line station) on September 24; the Girls Rock! 10th Annual Auction at Parson’s Chicken and Fish on February 5; Motels, Bow Wow Wow, When In Rome II at House Of Blues on February 3; and the Chi-Town Sings: British Invasion at City Winery on February 10.

Mark your calendar. The 18th Annual CHIRP Record Fair and Other Delights will be held Saturday, May 2 at the Local 130 Plumbers Union Hall in Chicago.

I’m raising a pint in tribute to Monty Python member Terry Jones, who passed away earlier this week. He was a versatile actor who made each of his characters believable and funny, whether it was a middle-class housewife with a new artificial brain or a somber office clerk who unintentionally made his co-workers laugh every time he spoke. Several years back, my fellow Famous In The Future cast member Frank Carr and I went to an in-store appearance featuring Jones and Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy author Douglas Adams at the Borders Book Store in Lincoln Park. They were two very clever gentlemen who have left us but won’t be forgotten.

Katrina and The Waves have been back on the concert trail for a while now, and the band just announced on social media that it will have a new album coming out later this year.

Congratulations to actress Jodie Whittaker on signing up for a third season of the title role on the long-running British sci-fi show Doctor Who. She’s been doing a bang-up job.

The current issue of Streetwise has a five-page feature on musical acts coming to Chicago this winter. There are profiles on Tedeschi Trucks Band; GZA; The Wailin’ Jennys; Bob Weir and Wolf Bros.; Lil Wayne; Thom Yorke; Kurt Vile and Cate Le Bon; and others. Be sure to pick up a copy for $2 from a vendor in the downtown area.

There’s a Celebrate The Life Of Kim Shattuck event coming up on March 15 at the El Rey Theatre in Los Angeles. Performers honoring the late power pop/alt rock sensation include Vicki Peterson; Kathy Valentine; Veruca Salt; and The Coolies. Tickets are $50, with all proceeds going to the ALS Association Golden West Chapter in honor of Shattuck.

Scottish musician Midge Ure, who performed with Ultravox and Visage, as well as participating in Band Aid, is coming to City Winery Chicago next Wednesday, January 29.

Sunshine Boys, who are currently on tour with Juliana Hatfield, have announced an IndieGoGo pre-order campaign for a vinyl version their upcoming album Work And Love. Their Facebook page has the link.

The Andy Warhol exhibition at The Art Institute of Chicago closes this Sunday.

The House Theater Of Chicago’s production of Verboten continues its run at the Chopin Theatre through March 8. Written by Brett Neveu with original songs by Jason Narducy, Verboten is set in 1983 and concerns a teenage punk band aiming to rock out the Cubby Bear venue. Nathan Allen is the director.

How To Defend Yourself, Liliana Padilla’s new play concerning college students taking a self-defense class in the wake of an on-campus assault, opened today at Victory Garden Theater, and runs through February 23. It won the 2019 Yale Drama Series Prize.

An email newsletter from Pop Geek Heaven arrived in my inbox today proclaiming that the fifth and final volume of author/musician Ken Sharp’s expansive and informative Power Pop Heroes book series will come out toward the end of this year.

The Chicago European Union Film Festival will bring 60 premieres from Europe to the Gene Siskel Film Center in March.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Saturday Slumgullion

Todd Rundgren is coming to Athenaeum Theatre in Chicago.

Slumgullion is late and once again it’s due to a Friday night booking at the Hey Nonny venue in Arlington Heights. Steve Dawson and Diane Christiansen from the Chicago-based alt-rock/roots rock band Dolly Varden offered a rare duo performance that was funny, entertaining, and showcased their amazing harmony vocals. Singer-songwriter Chris Rawlins opened with a set of off-kilter but engaging love songs sung with Gordon Lightfoot type vocals. His new album Bring On The Rain was produced by Steve Dawson.

Tickets are now on sale for Todd Rundgren at Athenaeum Theatre on May 10 and 11; Graham Parker at Old Town School Of Folk Music on April 10; Jeff Lescher with Green and Joy Poppers at GMan Tavern on March 7; J. Davis Trio and Prismatic at Chop Shop on January 25; Brit Floyd at Chicago Theatre on March 28; and Alejandro Escobedo with Antonio Gramentieri and Alex Ruiz at City Winery on March 18 and 19.

WXRT has shown an affection for bringing events to the Tivoli Theatre in Downers Grove over the years, and they’ll be back there on February 20. This time out, the station is co-sponsoring (with Classic Cinemas) a Poi Dog Pondering concert. Tickets went on sale yesterday at 9:00 a.m.

Chrissie Hynde performs as a guest vocalist on the track “You Can’t Let Go” on the upcoming The Hands Of Time album by The Picturebooks. It’s a slow, bluesy number in line with her work on the Valve Bone Woe album with The Valve Bone Bone Woe. “You Can’t Let Go” should not be confused with The Hollies’ “I Can’t Let Go” although I’d love to hear Hynde perform that as well.

The House Theater Of Chicago’s production of Verboten continues its run at the Chopin Theatre through March 8. Written by Brett Neveu with original songs by Jason Narducy, Verboten is set in 1983 and concerns a teenage punk band aiming to rock out the Cubby Bear venue. Nathan Allen is the director.

The Spy Who Loves Indie. Singer-songwriter Billie Eilish, who’s generated quite a buzz in recent years, composed and recorded the title song of the next James Bond movie No Time To Die.

Mark your calendar and start saving your money. This year’s Record Store Day is coming on April 18, although it will be a while before we learn which vinyl treasures will be available. I’m also looking forward to the in-store performances by local bands that usually take place on RSD.

The Regrettes will kick off their 2020 European tour with a gig in Dublin on March 12 and move on Glasgow, Liverpool, London, Hamburg, and Paris. On How Do You Love?, the full-length follow-up to their well-received debut Feel Your Feelings Fool, the Los Angeles-based quartet continues to mix authentic punk with the 1960s girl group sound. Lead vocalist/chief songwriter Lydia Night come across a bit more introspective this time out, but she can still spit venom when the occasion calls for it.

The Social Act will be performing with Nicholas Baron and The Hurtin' Kind at the Live Wire Lounge on Milwaukee Avenue on February 7. The band is led by singer-guitarist Ellis Clark, and it looks like vocalist Ary Paloma Jeeby from The Amazing Heeby Jeebies joins in sometimes, judging from the photos I’ve seen on social media.

Speaking of Live Wire, it will be the home of International Pop Overthrow – Chicago again this year. David Bash’s annual festival of power pop and indie rock will run at the venue from April 17 through 25. The full schedule of performers will be available on the IPO website at some point in the future.

The Taste section in this past Wednesday’s Chicago Sun-Times includes the article 2020’s New Chicago Hot Spots. My nephew and Top Chef winner Joe Flamm’s soon-to-be-named debut restaurant in the Fulton Market area is included on the list, and the Sun-Times notes “Flamm, a South Side native, is eager to show off more of what he did at Spiaggia, along with some Croatian influences.” Best of luck, Joe. Hope to see you at the grand opening later this year.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Incoming

The Hollies Spring 2020 U.K. tour starts on April 16 in Aberdeen, Scotland and wraps up on May 9 at Symphony Hall in Birmingham, England. Original members guitarist-harmony vocalist Tony Hicks and drummer Bobby Elliott are still onboard, and their current mates have been with them quite a while. It seems futile to suggest the band should return to America for the first time since 2001, but I’ll extend an invitation anyway.

Meanwhile, American Hollies fans will be able to buy Elliott’s autobiography It Ain’t Heavy, It’s My Story - My Life And The Hollies when it comes out on April 2. Graham Nash continues to tour extensively in the States, and in more recent years, he’s added a few Hollies tunes to his concerts. Now that former Hollies vocalist Allan Clarke has made an impressive comeback with his latest solo album Resurgence, it would be great to see Nash and Clarke perform as duo, like when they were teenagers.

If you’re still hoping to check out the Andy Warhol exhibition at The Art Institute of Chicago, you’ve got less than two weeks to do it. Andy Warhol - From A To B And Back Again closes on January 26.

Just a reminder: Martyrs’ on Lincoln Avenue has a psychedelic triple bill tomorrow (Wednesday) night with whitewolfsonicprincess, Ovadya, and Baby Noname. Decoy Prayer Meeting will be doing a tribute to The Byrds and Buffalo Springfield at Montrose Saloon this Friday, with special guest Josh Chico. Steve Dawson and Diane Christiansen of the critically acclaimed alt rock/roots band Dolly Varden (and before that Stump The Host) will be at Hey Nonny in Arlington Heights this Friday night.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Saturday Slumgullion

Tickets are now on sale for Rod Stewart and Cheap Trick at the Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre on September 5; Mark Caro’s Talking In Space series featuring Jon Langford at SPACE on January 21; Terry Reid and Railheart at SPACE on April 25; Man Or Astro-Man? and Wray at Sleeping Village on February 26; and Ides Of March featuring Jim Peterik at City Winery on March 4.

Scottish musician Midge Ure, who performed with Ultravox and Visage, as well as participating in Band Aid, is coming to City Winery Chicago on January 29. The City Winery ad in this week’s Reader promises he’ll offer songs, questions, and answers. So you can do your best Chris Farley, and say, “Remember when you were in Ultravox and recorded ‘Reap The Wild Wind’? That was awesome!”

Garage/rockabilly band Amazing Heeby Jeebies turned in a great performance last night as the opening act for Spies Who Surf at the Hey Nonny venue in Arlington Heights, and they’ll continue their Second Sundays residency at Montrose Saloon tomorrow with special guests The Handcuffs. It’s a great opportunity to catch two of Chicago’s best bands on the same bill.

The reunited Spies Who Surf were also fantastic, and seemed genuinely thrilled with the wildly appreciative audience at Hey Nonny. These guys create adventurous instrumental songs while simultaneously exuding the suave persona of James Bond.

Martyrs’ on Lincoln Avenue has a psychedelic triple bill coming up next Wednesday, January 15 with whitewolfsonicprincess, Ovadiya, and Baby Noname. I first met vocalist Carla Hayden and guitarist-vocalist James Moeller of whitewolfsonicprincess when they performed with their theatre group Black Forest at the annual Abbie Fests at Mary-Arrchie Theatre. The music of their band exhibits a similar off-kilter charm to Black Forest’s avant garde theatrical pieces.

There will be a bit of a reunion when Sunshine Boys open for Juliana Hatfield at SPACE in Evanston next Thursday, January 16. Drummer Freda Love Smith was a member of Blake Babies with Hatfield long before she joined forces with Dag Juhlin from The Slugs and Jacqueline Schimmel in Sunshine Boys. Hatfield just released a fun video for her cover of The Police’s “Can’t Stand Losing You” which features her performing as Sting, Andy, and Stewart. It’s a prime example of how she brought her own approach to all the songs on her recent tribute album to The Police.

Chicago Tribune theater critic Chris Jones recently mentioned The House Theater Of Chicago’s upcoming production of Verboten as one of his recommendations for local shows this winter. Written by Brett Neveu with original songs by Jason Narducy, Verboten is set in 1983 and concerns a teenage punk band aiming to rock out the Cubby Bear venue. Nathan Allen is the director. The promo postcard I picked up at the Gene Siskel Film Center states the play is based on Narducy’s own experiences when he started a punk band when he was 11 years old. It runs at the Chopin Theatre January 16 through March 8.

Crosby, Stills, and - - - . Decoy Prayer Meeting will be performing the music of Buffalo Springfield and The Byrds next Friday at Montrose Saloon. That’s two-thirds of the history just prior to CSN, so I’m not sure why they wouldn’t throw some Hollies songs in there as well. Nevertheless, it’s bound to be a good show.

Annoyance Theatre will a hold Food, Tunes and Booze event at the Cubby Bear on January 15. Founding member Mick Napier and Executive Director Jennifer Estlin will serve as hosts.

Mean Girls, the musical based on Tina Fey’s film of that same name, runs through January 26 at the James M. Nederlander Theatre. The book is by Fey, and the songs were created by lyricist Nell Benjamin and composer (and Fey’s husband) Jeff Richmond.

I just finished reading The Vanishing Stair, the second novel in Maureen Johnson’s Truly Devious YA mystery trilogy. I’ve been told by literary agents that I need to find popular books that are similar to the novel I’ve written so they have an idea of what I’m pitching to them. Johnson’s ability to mix tension, romantic attraction, and humor; all the while dropping fascinating clues is something I strive for, and there are similarities between her story and my latest YA novel. Mine is still waiting to get published someday, but you can enjoy Truly Devious already. The final book of the trilogy is due out in a couple weeks. Note: Each of the first two books ends with a cliffhanger, so you're pretty much forced to read all three.

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Oh, You Bowie Fans Have Pretty Many Things To Enjoy This Weekend


Social media was overflowing yesterday with tributes to David Bowie on his birthday, and if you’re still in the mood to celebrate, Sons Of The Silent Age are returning to Metro this Saturday night. Lead vocalist Chris Connelly has performed with Ministry and Revolting Cocks, and the other eight band members are also veterans of the Chicago music scene. They bring every aspect of Bowie’s mind-bending catalog—from intergalactic adventures to irresistible funk to life, and they’ll be concentrating on his The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust and Station To Station albums on Saturday. Chicago-based actor Michael Shannon, most recently seen in The Current War and Knives Out films, will be back again as a special guest. The six woman/one man Queen tribute band The Ready Freddies will be the opening act.

Tomorrow night, January 10, Late Bar is presenting the Oh, You Pretty Things – Bowie and Friends Birthday and Memorial Bash with DJ Sonic Marchesa and DJ Carrie MonStar. The concept is to spins records and screen videos of Bowie and the numerous musicians he collaborated with or who were inspired by him. The bar also promises a raffle featuring Bowie-related items. Late Bar is located at 3534 W. Belmont.

My copy of the Bowie - Stardust, Rayguns and Moonage Daydreams graphic novel arrived today; a day late for Bowie’s birthday and a belated Christmas present from my wife Pam. (I knew it wasn’t coming out until early January but it still seemed like such a perfect gift.) Written by Steve Horton and illustrated by Michael Allred and Laura Allred, it’s a wildly ambitious and totally successful hardcover bio. In addition to Bowie, there are full color illustrations of Elton John, Freddie Mercury, Iggy Pop, Roxy Music, The Who, The Monkees, T Rex, Pink Floyd, and other of his musical contemporaries. It’s available on Amazon.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Incoming

It will be a night of double fun this Friday at the Hey Nonny venue in Arlington Heights when rockabilly/garage rock band The Amazing Heeby Jeebies opens for surf rock instrumentalists Spies Who Surf. I have fond memories of seeing each of these guitar-driven acts, although it’s been much longer since I watched Spies Who Surf. (Probably at a Taste Of Lincoln Avenue outdoor festival.) The Amazing Heeby Jeebies have a charismatic lead vocalist in Ary Paloma Jeeby, who also keeps active in other music projects. It’s likely Spies Who Surf and The Amazing Heeby Jeebies will have CDs for sale at Hey Nonny, so if you like their shows, be sure to buy some albums.

The above-mentioned double bill is yet another example of Hey Nonny booking popular bands from Chicago’s club scene. Already the new year will bring gigs by Steve Dawson and Diane Christiansen from Dolly Varden, with special guest Chris Rawlins on January 17; guitarist Joel Paterson and The Modern Sounds on January 22; The Imperial Sound on February 7; and Tommi Zender with The 45 (featuring Chicago Cubs broadcaster/musician Len Kasper) on February 16. Hey Nonny will also host a Winter Blues Summit from January 31 through February 2.




Friday, January 3, 2020

Slumgullion

The arrival of this particular year presents a perfect opportunity to blast some tunes from 20/20. Formed in 1977, the Hollywood, CA power pop band was led by vocalist-guitarist Steve Allen and vocalist-bassist Ron Flynt. Anyone unfamiliar with 20/20 should check out its self-titled debut for gems such as “Remember The Lightning” and “Yellow Pills.”

Congratulations to Mary Dixon on bouncing back so quickly after losing her long-time news anchor gig at WXRT. She’s been named as the new Morning Edition host on public radio station WBEZ, and will start work there in February.

Reason number 3,765 why I want to visit England again. Sunny Afternoon, a musical based on the music of The Kinks, kicks off a new round of performances on August 7 at the Manchester Opera House, and will be staged at various UK venues through December 1.

There will be a bit of a reunion when Sunshine Boys open for Juliana Hatfield at SPACE in Evanston on January 16. Drummer Freda Love Smith was a member of Blake Babies with Hatfield long before she joined forces with Dag Juhlin from The Slugs and Jacqueline Schimmel in Sunshine Boys. 2020 looks to be a big year for Sunshine Boys, with their second album on the way, and the perfect timing of one of its tracks, “Infinity Girl.” The single officially comes out January 10, and a week later, we’ll see a video for it created by acclaimed director Jennifer Reeder.

Garage/rockabilly band Amazing Heeby Jeebies continue their Second Sundays residency at Montrose Saloon on January 12 with special guests The Handcuffs. It’s a great opportunity to catch two of Chicago’s best bands on the same bill.

The new season of Doctor Who kicked off this past Wednesday on BBC America with part one of the epic adventure Spyfall. The similarity to the title of the James Bond flick Skyfall was intentional, as evidenced by a social media post featuring Jodi Whittaker spoofing the intro to the Bond films. Whittaker continues to impress as the 13th version of The Doctor, tapping into the iconic character’s winning combination of superior intelligence, humor, courage, and compassion. The second half of Spyfall airs on BBC America this Sunday, and you can also see the entire episode Sunday in select movie theaters, as part of a Fathom event. After the screening at the Paley Center in New York, there will be a live interview with Jodi Whitaker and other cast members. The interview will be broadcast from the Paley Center to other theaters showing the episode.


Matt Smith—who was splendid during his tenure as The Doctor—will reunite with Claire Foy, his for co-star on the Netflix series The Crown, for a run of the Duncan Macmillan play Lungs. When it opens at the Brooklyn Academy of Music on March 25, it will mark the American stage debut for both performers.

The sad news earlier this week that the eccentric and multi-faceted British performer Neil Innes had passed away brought back a fond memory of when I talked to him at Fest For Beatles Fans - Chicago back in 2008. As he was autographing a poster of his movie The Seventh Python, I mentioned that his work inspired me as a member of a local comedy group. At first, he seemed to have no reaction to my comment but as he handed me the poster he said, “Good luck with the comedy. Put a smile on the world’s face.”

Local musicians Ellis Clark and Ary Paloma Jeebie will be hosting their annual George Harrison birthday celebration at Martyrs’ on Saturday, February 22. Clark’s extensive resume includes performing with Epicycle, Social Act, and The Handcuffs, as well as being a solo artist. He also produces records for Chicago area acts. Paloma Jeebie fronts the garage/rockabilly band The Amazing Heebie Jeebies. They’ve already lined up Phil Angotti, Gerald McClendon, vocalist Phoenix, for their 2020 Harrison bash, with other guests sure to follow. Martyrs’ is located at Lincoln Avenue.

Reason number 3,766 why I want to visit England again. The Museum Of London is presenting a free exhibit titled The Clash: London Calling that offers a “go behind the scenes” look at the ground-breaking double album from the English punk band. Items on display include what’s left of the bass guitar Paul Simonon smashed onstage at New York’s The Palladium in 1979 and a notebook Joe Strummer used during the recording sessions. The exhibit runs through April.

Mean Girls, the musical based on Tina Fey’s film of that same name, runs through January 26 at the James M. Nederlander Theatre. The book is by Fey, and the songs were created by lyricist Nell Benjamin and composer (and Fey’s husband) Jeff Richmond.
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