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.

Friday, July 24, 2020


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Saturday Slumgullion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, July 17, 2020

July 18 - UNOFFICIAL Hollies Celebration Day

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

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

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

Here are a few suggestions:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, July 13, 2020

Andy Stone - Every Single Day

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

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

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

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Saturday Slumgullion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, July 3, 2020


The Go-Go’s will release the single “Club Zero,” their first recording in 20 years, on July 31. It’s from director Alison Ellwood’s documentary The Go-Go’s, which will have its premiere on Showtime the following day. A promotional clip on the band’s social media sites features Charlotte Caffey describing “Club Zero” as “a powerful, punky, anthemic song” and Belinda Carlisle adding “it’s very much of the times but infused with The Go’Go’s sense of humor.”

DJ James Deia will be spinning records on the patio at FitzGerald’s in Berwyn tomorrow night from 9:00 to 11:00 p.m. for his “Robbed And Ridiculed” - An All Vinyl Tribute To The Traveling Wilburys. Admission is free.

Graham Nash recently performed an acoustic version of “Be Yourself” from his 1971 solo debut Songs For Beginners as part of the Pearl Works Presents series on YouTube. The company makes inlays for guitars.

Montrose Saloon has two sets of live music scheduled for its beer garden tomorrow. Handsome Man’s Gentleman’s Club performs at 3:00 p.m. and Erin Edmister and Killian Sweeney perform at 6:00 p.m.

The Chicago monthly publication New City has come out with its annual Music 45: Who Keeps Chicago In Tune issue. Those honored include Sunshine Boys, Steve Dawson, Topeka Reid, Mucca Pazza, Ohmme, The Newbury Consort, Sons Of The Never Wrong, Krewella, Patricia Barber, Jon Langford, Beach Bunny, Sir The Baptist, Twin Peaks, and coming in at number one, Jamila Woods.

A graphic novel celebrating the 50th anniversary of The Doors’ Morrison Hotel album is now available for pre-order on the band’s official website. It’s due out on October 13 in in a 144-page soft cover version for $19.99, and a deluxe hardcover in a slipcase limited edition for $99.99. The Doors website describes it as an anthology “written by Leah Moore, in collaboration with the surviving members of the legendary rock band and drawn by artists from around the comic book world.”

It doesn’t seem that long ago that Durty Nellie’s in Palatine clawed its way back from a devastating fire to begin operating as a restaurant/live music venue again. Then COVID-19 struck, forcing Durty Nellie’s to cancel its St. Patrick’s bash for the second straight year, and shutting down concerts and indoor dining. But its owners have launched another comeback, as evidenced by this weekend’s 4th Of July Social Distancing Parking Lot Party. Plus, Durty Nellie’s is now just Nellie’s, and there are new offerings on the menu. The 4th Of July event runs from 4:30 through 10:00 p.m. today, and returns tomorrow from 2:30 to 10:00 p.m. Tomorrow’s acts are Jasmine and Perona; Lara Bell; Serendipity Acoustic; and Pino Farina.

Paul Collins, who was a member of The Nerves with Peter Case and Jack Lee before leading The Paul Collins Beat, has a book coming out on the Chicago-based HoZac Records and Books. I Don’t Fit In was co-written with Chuck Nolan, and named after a track on the 1979 self-titled debut from The Paul Collins Beat. It’s now available for pre-order.

I love when fun things come in the mail. Especially when I get them by helping a worthy cause. Today, I received a poster and sticker for sending money to support the upcoming documentary Out Of Time - The Material Issue Story. The film won’t be out until 2021, but its producers have been posting some enticing previews on Facebook and Instagram. The most recent is a previously unreleased demo of the Material Issue song “Fourth Of July.” It’s a haunting recording of the late Jim Ellison singing and strumming an acoustic guitar.

Friday, June 26, 2020


The Chicago-based Sunshine Boys were one of the highlights of Hot Stove Cool Music.

Cool To Be Kind. I watched the entire Hot Stove Cool Music virtual concert last night, only taking a short break to feed the cats. Which apparently caused me to miss Nick Lowe’s performance, because I didn’t see him. It was the 20th Anniversary of Hot Stove Cool Music, but the first time it hasn’t been staged in a venue before a live audience. The format enabled big names to join in the fundraising, including Lowe, Common, James Taylor, Steven Tyler, and Robyn Hitchcock. Band Of Their Own and Ted Leo were also among the many highlights, and I was particularly proud to see local acts Sunshine Boys and The 45 sounding so impressive.

100% of the proceeds from last night will benefit Paul and Theo Epstein’s Foundation To Be Named Later and Peter Gammons’ Scholarships for urban young people. The virtual auction runs through July 3, so there’s still time to bid on some amazing sports and popular music related memorabilia. According to an email sent out today by The Foundation To be Named Later, they will be re-airing this year’s event in the near future on Facebook.

Radio Hall Of Fame inductee Terri Hemmert will host Pride In The Name of Life on WXRT this Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. The event, which will celebrate diversity, equality and the LGBT+ community, follows immediately after Hemmert’s weekly Breakfast With Beatles program.

The following livestream events were listed on the Early Warnings page in this week’s edition of the Chicago Reader: Andrew Bird on June 28 at; Dollyrots on June 28 at; Larkin Poe on June 27 at livestream at; Ramsey Lewis on June 27 at; Roots Picnic Virtual Experience on June 27 at; and Voices: A Benefit Concert for Chicago Artists featuring Taylor Mallory and more.

Tickets are now on sale for Riot Fest 2021, featuring My Chemical Romance, Smashing Pumpkins, Run The Jewels, Pixies, Circle Jerks, L7, and more. The event will run September 16 through September 19 next year.

I’m going to renew my subscription to the Chicago Reader since I’m still working from home and don’t want to miss my weekly copy. The 26 issues option looks like it might bring me through the end of 2020. Please consider supporting our local publications.

Is that the wacky neighbors playing new wave cover versions again? Chicago-based musician Mike Cohen (The Abbeys, Pop Dollys, The Everly Hillbillies) often finds fun things to post on Facebook, and I particularly like a YouTube video he just shared of Glenn Tilbrook, his wife, and sons doing a shelter-in-place cover of The Human League’s “Don’t You Want Me Baby.” I’d buy a recording of this in a minute. The people in my neighborhood just blow off fireworks.

Chicago Tribune theatre critic Chris Jones offered a heartfelt tribute to the recently closed Mercury Theater in today’s Arts and Entertainment section. I thoroughly enjoyed a production of Spamalot there last year, but was unaware of how many critically acclaimed productions the company had done. Best wishes to everyone involved for their future endeavors.

Posts have appeared on Broken Hearted Toy less frequent lately, partly because I’ve been preparing for the annual Writing Workshop Of Chicago. It’s a virtual event for 2020, but I’ll be able to SKYPE with four literary agents tomorrow about my YA Paranormal Rock and Roll Romance novel. I finished it a while back but have revised close to 130 pages. It’s hard work, but I like the results I’m seeing.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Take Me Out To The Website - Hot Stove Cool Music Goes Virtual Tonight

Tonight brings the 20th Anniversary of Hot Stove Cool Music but don’t try to find the Chicago version anywhere in Wrigleyville. The annual event organized by Chicago Cubs president Theo Epstein and journalist Peter Gammons will be virtual concert that kicks off at 8:00 p.m. EST. 100% of the proceeds will benefit Paul and Theo Epstein’s Foundation To Be Named Later and Peter Gammons Scholarships for urban young people. Check out the Hot Stove Cool Music Facebook page for details on admission and how to make a donation.

The online format has enabled some big names to participate, such as Common, James Taylor, Steven Tyler, Nick Lowe, and Robyn Hitchcock. There will also be a number of baseball stars involved. Mike O’Malley will serve as emcee and guests include Bernie Williams, Kay Hanley, Len Kasper, Tanya Donelly, Chicago Children’s Choir, and Will Dailey. The all-women/all-star Band Of Their Own will be on hand, and other special guests are likely to show up.

I attended the Hot Stove Cool Music event in Chicago last summer, and it was fantastic. Unfortunately I couldn’t stay for all the performances due to having to catch and a train back to Palatine. This year, transportation won’t be a problem.

Friday, June 19, 2020


The Hoodoo Gurus, Australia’s legendary garage rock/power pop band, has postponed all the concerts on its 2020 U.S. concert tour to next year. That includes the one at City Winery Chicago, which is now September 22, 2021. In the mean time, a Deluxe Edition of their 2004 Mach Schau album, which includes two rare B-Sides, and all the songs from the American and Australian versions, is now available on various streaming sites.

The Fest For Beatles Fans, which has already announced the cancelation of its 2020 event at Hyatt Regency O’Hare Chicago, continues the weekly All Together Now virtual concert series tonight on Facebook. New York-based singer-guitarist Kelly Sabatino kicks things off at 7:00 p.m. EDT, and Drew Hill from The Fest favorites Liverpool takes over at 8:00 p.m. EDT with his daughters Dora and Casey. Next Friday, it will be The Wag, at a time yet to be determined.

Chicago-based singer-songwriter Phil Angotti performed as part of the All Together Now virtual concert series last week, and he announced today on Facebook that he has a new album coming out on Big Blast Records. There’s no release date yet for The Best Of Phil Angotti - Top Tunes and Real Grooves, but we do know it will have two new singles. The photo shows a 1960s style LP, but it’s not clear if this will a vinyl-only release.

Michelle Obama and The Roots will co-host the 13th Annual Roots Picnic Virtual Experience when it’s shown on YouTube June 27. The actual picnic was scheduled for much earlier this month but was canceled due to the coronavirus. Guests for the online version will include Janelle Monae, Tracee Ellis Ross, Kerry Washington, Tom Hanks, and Lin-Manual Miranda. The acts performing include H.E.R., LIL Baby, Roddy Ricch, and SZA.

Alison Mosshart, half of The Kills with Jamie Hince, as well as a member of Jack White’s quartet The Dead Weather, has a solo spoken word album named Sound Wheel coming out August 7. It's part of her upcoming Car Ma book of art, short stories, photographs, and poetry.

Tickets are now on sale for Todd Rundgren at House Of Blues on January 26 and 27; and The Carole King and James Taylor Story with Phoebe Katis and Dan Clews at City Winery Chicago on June 22, 2021.

WXRT continues its Live From The Archives concert series tonight with a 1993 performance by Smashing Pumpkins a at Metro. The band had just released its Siamese Dream album around the time of the concert.

Steve Dawson and Diane Chrisiansen, co-founders of the alt-rock/Americana band Dolly Varden and a couple that could easily have its own TV show, will be doing a streaming performance this Monday, June 22, at 8:00 p.m. The Venue in Aurora. Fans can watch via The Venue’s Facebook page.

The Chicago version of the annual Hot Stove Cool Music concerts organized by Chicago Cubs president Theo Epstein and journalist Peter Gammons will be a virtual event that takes place on June 25. 100% of the proceeds benefit Paul and Theo Epstein’s Foundation To Be Named Later and its “non-profit partners working on the frontline s with the youth and families in disadvantaged neighborhoods . . . and Peter Gammons Scholarships for urban young people.”

The Hot Stove Cool Music Facebook page promises 75-minute mix of baseball and music with emcee Mike O’Malley and guests Peter Gammons, Bernie Williams, Kay Hanley, Len Kasper, Tanya Donelly, and Will Dailey. Other special guests will be named later. Tickets for the virtual event range from $25 to a VIP Package for $350.

This Sunday, June 21 is Pam Appreciation Day, the annual celebration of my wonderful wife Pam and all the things she does to make our life together so happy and fun. She set up this blog for me just about 11 years ago and Broken Hearted Toy could not have existed without her help. Whenever PAD falls on a Saturday or Sunday, it becomes PAW—Pam Appreciation Weekend. I always encourage everyone to use this occasion to celebrate your own significant others, and now, I’m extending that to any friend, relative, or hero you’d like to honor with gratitude and appreciation. Welcome to Partner Appreciation Weekend! Make it a good one.

Friday, June 12, 2020


If you’ve noticed people drinking champagne that tastes just like Coca Cola today it’s because this is the 50th Anniversary of The Kinks releasing their provocative and irresistibly catchy hit single “Lola.” To commemorate the occasion, the band has been posting various renditions of their own as well as ones by Crowded House and Madness on social media. Here’s a toast to Ray Davies, one of the most clever of all rock and roll songwriters.

After having to cancel its 2020 festival scheduled for July 30 – August 2 in Grant Park, Lollapalooza is moving forward with a virtual event on that same weekend. It’s going to feature live performances from around Chicago as well as never-seen-before Chicago and international footage from the Lollapalooza archives. The full schedule will be announced next month, and Lollapalooza also vows to retain its focus on community and civic engagement. In the meantime, the Perry’s Power Hour resumes tomorrow night on YouTube with a video of the band Big Gigantic performing at Lollapalooza in 2016. The weekly series benefits Crew Nation, a global relief fund for live music crews.

Tickets are now on sale for the following livestream events: Jimmy Buffett on June 20 at; Do Division Virtual Street Fest on June 26 and 27, various bands each night; Feed Chicago Virtual Summer Fest featuring Omar Sanchez Omi, Twin Peaks, Dennis DeYoung and others on June 18 to benefit the Greater Chicago Food Depository (donation required); and Millennium Park At Home Presents Blues Night on July 31, August 1, and August 2 at youtube.comChicagoDCASE.

Actual concerts now on sale include Every Shiny Thing: A Tribute To Jonie Mitchell at Maurer Hall, Old Town School Of Folk Music on January 24, 2021; The First Time Live Lit and Music Series at Martyrs’ on August 12; and Without U2 and Dead Letter Office at Martyrs’ on September 25.

The above listings are from the Early Warnings page in this week’s edition of The Chicago Reader, which had a very limited distribution but is available online via the weekly free paper’s website.

Switch Hittter. The Chicago version of the annual Hot Stove Cool Music concerts organized by Chicago Cubs president Theo Epstein and journalist Peter Gammons will be a virtual event that takes place on June 25. (As far as I can tell, the Boston version scheduled for April 3 was postponed.) 100% of the proceeds benefit Paul and Theo Epstein’s Foundation To Be Named Later and its “non-profit partners working on the frontlines with the youth and families in disadvantaged neighborhoods . . . and Peter Gammons Scholarships for urban young people.” The Hot Stove Cool Music Facebook page promises a 75-minute mix of baseball and music with emcee Mike O’Malley and guests Peter Gammons, Bernie Williams, Kay Hanley, Len Kasper, Tanya Donelly, and Will Dailey. Other special guests will be named later. Tickets for the virtual event range from $25 to a VIP Package for $350.

The Fest For Beatles Fans announced via email today that its Chicago event scheduled for August 7 – 9 at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare has been cancelled. The Fest will continue to offer its weekly virtual concert series All Together Now on Fridays via its Facebook page. Earlier tonight, there were sets by Phil Angotti and Scott Erickson. Next Friday, All Together Now will offer sets by New York-based singer-guitarist Kelly Sabatino and Drew Hill from the Beatles tribute band Liverpool, with Dora and Casey. Also, there are lots of Beatles-related items for sale on the The Fest For Beatles Fans webpage for those who love the vendor tables at the actual Fest.

It’s not everyday I receive a tea towel from England, so I was one happy Anglophile this afternoon when the postman dropped off the one I ordered from the Salford Lads Club. It’s beige with the names of The Hollies, The Smiths, The Fall, Happy Mondays, Joy Division, The Charlatans, Inspiral Carpets, and The Ting Tings printed on it. I spotted actor Christopher Eccleston, who’s known for portraying John Lennon in a biopic as well as The Doctor on Doctor Who, posing with one on Instagram a while back, and ordered my own at the Salford Lads Club website. The club provides opportunities for local young people in sports and the arts.

The 10th Anniversary Salford Music Festival was held online at the end of May, with Graham Nash, John Cooper Clarke, and Peter Hook And Light among the acts performing.

This Sunday will be Jeff Kelley’s birthday. A number of years ago, Jeff, who used to work with my wife Pam, asked if I wanted to contribute short films about my rock and roll memorabilia to his weekly internet show Sunday Morning Coffee With Jeff. I accepted his offer, with the additional touch of making up an outlandish story about each piece. With a huge boost from Pam’s filming and editing skills, my Manchester Gallery series morphed into a comic soap opera that ran through 20 two-minute episodes. We also created clips featuring an inept roving reporter, a cranky old man, and an avid Hollies fan. Later, Jeff and his coworker David Metzger invited me to perform in the zombie films they create each year for Elgin’s annual Halloween Festival Nightmare on Chicago Street. Jeff discontinued his internet show, but still does a podcast on a regular basis. So, here’s an early birthday toast to Jeff, and a hearty thank you for all the fun opportunities.

Thursday, June 11, 2020


The Fest For Beatles Fans continues its All Together Now virtual concert and event series tomorrow (Friday) night with sets by Phil Angotti and Scott Erickson. Angotti will cover Paul and Linda McCartney’s Ram album at 7:00 p.m. EST, and Erickson will serve up Beatles-related covers starting at 8:00 p.m. EST. Both have been impressive while performing live on the Apple Jam Stage at The Fest For Beatles Fans - Chicago in previous years. Next Friday, the All Together Now series will feature New York-based singer-guitarist Kelly Sabatino at 7:0 p.m. and Drew Hill from the Beatles tribute band Liverpool, along with Dora and Casey and at 8:00 p.m.

The July issue of British Vogue features 22 fashion models who are donating outfits they’ve worn for an online auction that runs through tomorrow (June 12). The event aims to raise funds for England’s NHS healthcare system and the NAACP. Anyone interested in bidding on a black dress from Lily Aldridge; a jacket from Kate Moss; a dress from Ashley Graham; a tweed flap bag from Adut Akech; or items from the other participating models, can go the Vogue Hardly Ever Worn It website. If the prices seem a bit steep for the average person’s wardrobe, prints of each model with her donated item are available for £50.

Anyone’s who’s familiar with the George Harrison and John Lennon birthday bashes hosted by Ellis Clark and Ary Paloma at the Martyrs’ venue on Lincoln Avenue knows Paloma usually has various forms of art for sale at these events. The items have included t-shirts, stickers, posters, and candles. Starting on June 15, she’ll be teaching a virtual art class every Monday at 1:00 p.m. Paloma, who’s the lead vocalist for The Amazing Heeby Jeebies rockabilly/garage band and performs with Clark in The Social Act band, notes on her Facebook page that her lessons will start with the basics. Participants will only need a sketch pad, pencil, and eraser.

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Vince Melouney Gets It Right

Vince Melouney has performed with a number of rock stars, dating back to the mid-1960s. But he’s probably best known for his guitar playing on early Bee Gees hits such as “New York Mining Disaster,” “To Love Somebody,” “Words,” “Holiday,” and “Massachusetts.” So it’s great to see him exploring his 1960s roots on the new digital single “Women (Make You Feel Alright).” Plus, Melouney had some expert help in recording and producing it.

The catchy, guitar-driven song was originally a hit for his fellow Australians The Easybeats back in the nascent garage rock days of 1966. The 2020 version recaptures that era via Melouney’s rough-hewn vocals and guitar playing, as well as the expert production by Shel Talmy (The Who, The Kinks, etc.). These 1960s vets are joined by drummer Clem Burke of Blondie and The Empty Hearts; and Jonathan Lea of The Jigsaw Seen and Dave Davies’ band. Bassist Alec Palao and backup vocalist Paul Kopf, both members of Strangers In A Strange Land and The Seeds, also helped out.

“Women (Make You Feel Alright),” and an instrumental take on the same song are available as a digital album from Burger Records on streaming services, including Bandcamp. The press release also mentions that Melouney will be featured in a documentary about The Bee Gees that’s going to be released released by Universal Music Group sometime this year.

Friday, June 5, 2020


Graphic from the Bandcamp homepage.

My favorite weekend of the year usually happens right about now. In 2017, on this blog, I dubbed it “A Cultural Cornucopia” that included The Old Town Art Fair; Wells Street Art Fair, Chicago Blues Fest, Printers Row Lit Fest; and the Andersonville Midsommarfest. A perfect time to invite out-of-town friends to Chicago and show off our city. None of that is going on this year, due to the coronavirus. There are ways to experience elements of those events, as you’ll see below. But let’s not forget how the major art fairs, concerts, and street festivals made us feel. Walking amidst people of every color and nationality, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, neighbors and tourists, almost all of them perfect strangers, we had a blast.

Depending on when you read this, you can get a serious blues fix on WXRT tonight. The long-running Chicago rock station is airing a recording of Buddy Guy and Junior Wells performing at the Biddy Mulligans venue in 1982. The show is part of the Live From The XRT Archives series, which has featured some major names (Robert Plant, Dire Straits, R.E.M., etc.) over the past few weeks. The shows run at 9:00 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday nights.

There are still a few hours left to help recording artists earn some extra money on their independent releases. Bandcamp is waiving its share of sales to support musicians impacted by the coronavirus. Several artists and indie labels are offering limited edition merchandise and donating their share of sales to worthy causes.

Tickets are now on sale for Rodney Crowell on March 27, 2021 at City Winery Chicago; Cryfest: The Cure Vs. The Smiths Dance Party on June 20, 2020 at Subterranean; Split Single on January 2, 2021 at SPACE; and the FitzGerald’s Drive-In Concert featuring The Waco Brothers and School Of Rock on July 3. The preceding listings are from the Early Warnings page of this week’s edition of the Chicago Reader. The full issue can be downloaded on the paper’s website.

The Chicago Reader is spearheading the recently established Chicago Independent Media Alliance and the Save Chicago Media campaign to help publications and radio stations affected by the coronavirus. The deadline for donating is midnight tonight.

Then June issue of the Illinois Entertainer can be viewed on the long-time rock music publication’s website. In addition to a cover story on Tim Burgess, there’s a feature on the Jay O’Rourke Band, and album reviews of Paul McCartney, Tuff Sunshine, Rush, and Daryl Hall and John Oates.

The Writing Workshop Of Chicago will present its annual Writing Day Workshop as a virtual event this year. Aspiring writers will be able to attend seminars and pitch their work to established literary agents. So if you’ve been working on your long-delayed novel while sheltering in place, or have read enough books recently to inspire you to write one of your own, the Writing Day Workshop is a great opportunity. It takes place online Saturday, June 27, from 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. See the website for admission price; a list of participating literary agents (pitching costs extra), and the full schedule.

I’ll be pitching my YA/Paranormal/Rock and Roll/Romance novel to four literary agents via SKYPE at the above-mentioned online event.

The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame has begun African American Music Appreciation Month with a week-long tribute to Aretha Franklin. She was the first woman to be inducted into the Hall, back in 1987, and is best known for her recording of Otis Redding’s “Respect” 20 years earlier. African-American Music Appreciation Month began as Black Music Month, when it was initiated by President Jimmy Carter in 1979.

The Hollies Official Facebook page has started posting clips of drummer Bobby Elliott reading excerpts from his autobiography It Ain’t Heavy, It’s My Story - My Life In The Hollies. One deals with the first time guitarist Tony Hicks performed with The Hollies at the Cavern Club. Founding members Graham Nash and Allan Clarke joked about Hicks being so young (17 at the time) and promised the crowd he would serenade them with “The Teddy Bears’s Picnic.” Elliott notes the title of the band’s 1966 album For Certain Because was a line lifted from that children’s song, and that it was one of the best albums The Hollies ever recorded. I certainly would agree with him there.

The Record Store Day website proclaimed via email today that record stores around the globe are starting to reopen, with rules for social distancing. In the Chicago area, Laurie’s Planet Of Sound on Lincoln Avenue is now open 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Sunday to Thursday; 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Masks are required, and customers must use a sanitizer station before browsing. I didn’t see any mention of opening on the Reckless Records website, although some of its stores are open for pickup. Be sure to keep tabs on your favorite record stores and be ready to support them when they return.

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Dear Sir Or Madam, Will You Read My Book?

Photo from The Writing Workshop Of Chicago Facebook page.

For the past five years, The Writing Workshop Of Chicago has staged a Writing Day Workshop toward the end of June. With so many events canceled due to the coronavirus, I was pleasantly surprised to learn via email that a 2020 version will be coming our way. It’s all online, obviously, but aspiring writers will still have an opportunity to attend seminars and pitch their work to established literary agents.

I’ve found this event to be extremely helpful in the past. Aspiring writers tend to view literary agents more as roadblocks than doorways, but getting face-to-face feedback shines an entirely different light on the process. (Granted, the faces this year will be on screens via SKYPE.) I’m currently editing my most recent novel based on the advice of an agent who told me she liked the fun, twisty plot but had issues with the dialogue and voice.* I’m amazed at how much better it reads now.

So if you’ve been working on your long-delayed novel while sheltering in place, or have read enough books recently to inspire you to write one of your own, the Writing Day Workshop is a great opportunity. It takes place online Saturday, June 27, from 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. See the website for admission price; a list of participating literary agents (pitching costs extra), and the full schedule.

*I wasn’t sure exactly what ‘voice’ meant until I read Maureen Johnson’s Truly Devious trilogy. There’s a consistent and fun tone to these novels that moves the action along while keeping the reader entertained. It’s the best example of voice I've found.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Saturday Slumgullion

Ellisong Studios is currently selling t-shirts, posters, and stickers to help fund its upcoming documentary Out Of Time - The Material Issue Story. The film concerns the power pop band, which along with Liz Phair, Smashing Pumpkins, and Urge Overkill, brought major media attention to Chicago’s vibrant music scene in the early 1990s. Out Of Time is due out in 2021.

Led Zeppelin’s 2012 concert film Celebration Day began a four-day run this afternoon on the band’s official YouTube channel. The two-hour-plus performance itself actually took place in 2007, and includes most of Led Zeppelin’s biggest hits.

On the topic of music documentaries, an article by Jon Bream in yesterday’s Chicago Tribune (picked up from the Minneapolis Star Tribune) recommends several films that can be watched on streaming services or DVDs. Bream’s list includes documentaries about Bob Dylan (Don’t Look Back), Al Green (Gospel According To Al Green), Los Angeles punk (The Decline Of Western Civilization) Sixto Rodriguez (Searching For Sugarman), Amy Winehouse (Amy), David Crosby (David Crosby: Remember My Name) and a number of others.

Dion started with The Belmonts back in the late 1950s, and these days, he’s recording with Jeff Beck, Bruce Springsteen, Joe Louis Walker, Van Morrison, Brian Setzer, Joe Bonamassa, Sonny Landreth, Steven Van Zandt, and other famous musicians. The Bonamassa-produced Blues With Friends album is available for pre-order on Amazon, and a number of the tracks are already available for purchase in digital format.

Tickets are now on sale for Sinead O’Connor at City Winery Chicago August 18 through August 21, 2021; Tom Rush at City Winery Chicago November 19, 2020; and Sunshine Boys and Bobbleheads at SPACE September 5. Sunshine Boys have just released their second album, Work And Love, and it’s a solid follow-up to their stellar 2018 debut Blue Music.

Chicago area illustrator Terry Murphy recently posted a video on YouTube documenting her process for designing a t-shirt for the Pino Farina Band. The band’s song “Ocean Deep” plays while Murphy takes viewers through the process. The shirt can be purchased online for a limited time at the Waist Up pop up store. Murphy has illustrated several children’s books and is a member of the Society Of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Full disclosure: I’m also a member of the same northwest Illinois chapter of SCBWI as her, and she has given me some essential advice about my novels over the years.

Manchester Lemon, the U.K. website that champions rock bands such as Oasis, Stone Roses, and The Smiths that have come from the city of Manchester, will open its online store tomorrow. It should be interesting to see what they have for sale.

Jimy Sohns and Jerry McGeorge from the original Shadows Of Knight have reunited and recorded a garage rock single titled “Wild Man” that’s now available on Spotify and other streaming services. It’s first time they’ve worked together since 1967. The Chicago-based Shadows Of Knight first gained national attention back in the 1960s with their cover of Them’s “Gloria.”

Friday, May 29, 2020

The Sound He Appears To Make

Peter Howarth of The Hollies

Cameos on the chorus. The Hollies have created a video for an Unlocked version of their 1974 hit single “The Air That I Breathe” featuring current members performing it in isolation. It’s a particularly good showcase for lead vocalist Peter Howarth, who was also impressive performing an acoustic version of “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother” on a clip that was previously posted on the band’s Facebook page. The bare bones arrangement serves the song’s romantic sentiments well, and there’s an additional uplifting message in these difficult times.

Fans will no doubt welcome an opportunity to see the band since it cancelled its U.K. and U.S. tours due to the coronavirus. Some fans will see themselves in the clip—literally. A while back, The Hollies sent out a request via emails and social media for people to film themselves singing the extended chorus at the end. I was one of those who responded, and can be seen on the bottom right corner of a montage that appears around the four-minute-thirteen-second mark. I’m actually more excited by the prospect of The Hollies continuing to create videos like this while fans around the world are unable to see live concerts.

Gigantosaur, the full-length debut from Tiny Bit Of Giant’s Blood is now available on a limited-edition vinyl version, as well as on CD and digital formats. The Chicago-based quartet of club scene veterans offers guitar-driven and spooky glam rock with a consistent vein of satirical humor.

Doctor Who fans of Arthur Darvill (Rory Williams AKA Mr. Pond) most likely enjoyed watching him and actress-musician Ines de Clerq performing Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain” in a living room setting recently on Instagram.

Australian power pop outfit The Jangle Band’s new Metro Hotel EP is now available on frontman Joe Algeri’s Egomaniac Bandcamp page. It’s another melodic effort, particularly on the title track and “Dusk Till Dawn,” and having five vocalists results in some terrific harmonies. Check out the acapella singing on “So Long (stax-o-trax vocal mix.)”

Sharon Lee and Karen Lynn of The Bookends showed their expertise in recreating 1960s garage rock and pop on their Far Away But Around album a few years ago, and now the duo is back with a new single titled “She’s Got It!” The new track exudes a fun espionage ambience that wouldn’t be out of place on an Austin Powers soundtrack. Lee’s bass drives the irresistible beat and both band members sing. The song is available as a digital download on Amazon and Apple music.

The Pretenders have released another song in digital format from its upcoming Hate For Sale album. “Didn’t Want To Be This Lonely,” got its first airplay yesterday on Zoe Ball’s BBC Breakfast Show. Like the previously released title track and “Turf Accountant Daddy,” this new song has the ramped-up energy and lyrical bite fans have come to expect from The Pretenders. “Didn’t Want To Be This Lonely” tackles the complicated emotions of a woman kicking her abusive mate to the curb and adjusting to being alone. Hate For Sale, comes out July 17.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Saturday Slumgullion

According to a Facebook post from Lorinda Murphy (Jeff’s wife) on the Shoes: Official Fan Page, a new seven-inch vinyl single from Shoes will be coming out on the Spanish label You Are The Cosmos June 15. “The Joke’s On You” and “Wrong Idea” previously appeared on the band’s 2012 album Ignition. The single will likely be available in America from Get Hip Recordings.

Legendary jazz performer/composer and radio personality Ramsey Lewis will celebrate his 85th birthday via a 50-minute concert (including encore) that will be live streamed next Saturday, May 30. Tickets for the intimate performance are $20 and can be purchased Stageit website. A portion of the proceeds will benefit The Jazz Foundation Of America.

Australian power pop outfit The Jangle Band will most likely live up to its name again when its new Metro Hotel EP comes out next week. Frontman Joe Algeri can be seen promoting its release with his usual offbeat humor on The Jangle Band Facebook page.

The 2020 edition of the CHIRP Record Fair and Other Delights take place on October 3, after being moved from its usual spring-time arrival. It’s still being held at the Local Plumbers Union Hall on Washington Street. Hosted by CHIRP Radio 107.1 FM, the event offers an amazing selection of rare vinyl, CDs, posters, and other memorabilia.

Tickets are now on sale for Peter Yarrow and Noel Paul Stookey of Peter, Paul and Mary GeneseeTheatre on October 4; and Chris Hillman. Herb Pedersen, and John Jorgenson at City Winery on October 25.

Yesterday’s edition of the Chicago Tribune carried Variety writer J. Kim Murphy preview of summer movies. The earlier films will show up Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, etc, but from July on, Murphy covers ones that will have a theatrical release. Of course, the one that caught my eyes was director Peter Jackson’s The Beatles Get Back, which is due out September 4.

Thursday, May 21, 2020


WXRT continues to bring on the big names in its Monday-Wednesday-Friday night series Live From The Archives. The local station has already aired vintage concerts from Blondie, Roxy Music, Robert Plant and others, and this Friday (May 22), it’s offering a 2008 performance by R.E.M. at SXSW. As noted on XRT’s website, the band had just released its Accelerate album at the time and was eager to unveil hard-edged songs such as “Man-Sized Wreath,” “Supernatural Superserious,” and the title track onstage.

WXRT has supported R.E.M. from the early 1980s. I still remember being blown away by “Wolves, Lower” the very first time I heard it on the station. When the DJ announced it was from a new band called R.E.M., I bought its Chronic Town EP within a few days. Who could have guessed back then how many great songs would emerge from R.E.M. albums in the coming years. Tomorrow night’s 90-minute concert begins at 9:00 p.m., and can be streamed via WXRT online.

A new series called Manic Mondays On Friday with Susanna Hoffs and Friends kicks off tomorrow afternoon on the We Are Hear YouTube channel at 2:00 p.m. Pacific Time. Hoffs and co-host comedian-musician-writer Tam Yajia will be joined by Fred Armisen, Cecily Strong, and Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea. So expect some comedy along with the music. We Are Hear helps raise money for musicians affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

In other Bangles news, the band is offering an autographed CD bundle deal of Ladies and Gentlemen . . . The Bangles and Sweetheart Of The Sun for $60 over the Memorial Day weekend. 

As reported by Miriam Di Nunzio in today’s edition of the Chicago Sun-Times, Dennis DeYoung of Styx and Survivor/Ides Of March frontman Jim Peterik will headline the FEED Chicago Virtual Summer Fest on June 4. Donations will definitely be welcome, with funds going to the Greater Chicago Food Depository. Longtime Chicago recording artist Michael McDermott will also be on the bill, along with popular local cover bands Sixteen Candles, Wedding Banned, and Boy Band Review. Whenever I mention Peterik on Broken Hearted Toy, I remember how he was the first musician I ever interviewed—back when I was on the staff of the Chicago Illini newspaper at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Saturday Slumgullion

If you missed John Taylor of Duran Duran interviewing Susanna Hoffs of The Bangles on social media this past Thursday, you can watch the 45-minute discussion now on YouTube. Each of them came across as engaging and down to earth, and there’s an obvious friendship between these two that dates back to the 1980s. In addition to learning how both loved music from early childhood, it was interesting to hear how Hoffs drove to the studio where Prince was recording to pick up a demo cassette of “Manic Monday.” He had been impressed with the video of The Bangles’ “The Hero Takes A Fall” and hoped they would record a song he wrote specifically for them. Hoffs still has the cassette. She also revealed she’s working on music to record once she’s able to get back to a studio, and is writing a novel. I found that last bit particularly inspiring since I’ve been polishing my rock and roll novel lately. Good luck to us both.

As mentioned by writer Abdel Jimenez in the Business section of today’s Chicago Tribune, several star athletes and entertainment celebrities will participate in a Sweet Home Chicago benefit for the Chicago Community COVID-19 Response Fund starting today (May 16) at 5:00 p.m. The event will be broadcast on NBC Sports Chicago, and streamed on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter. Comedian/actor/writer Deon Cole (Blackish, Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien) will host. Jimenez notes in his article that nationwide, the COVID-19 Response Fund has raised over $32 million.

Things I recently learned from Instagram, Part 1. According to the Legends Of Music page, Elvis Presley was a huge fan of Dean Martin, and once called him “The King Of Cool.”

The Go-Go’s have moved this summer’s tour dates to 2021, but those of us who’ve been fans from the start will be able to watch the The Go-Go’s documentary tonight on Showtime. I first saw The Go-Go’s at ChicagoFest on Navy Pier; then later in Grant Park, and a few years ago at Ravinia. They always give their fans a fun, highly active show.

The other morning while listening to WXRT, I heard DJ Richard Milne mention that rock critic Bill Wyman has created a list for New York agazine titled All 165 Pink Floyd Songs Ranked From Worst To Best. Wyman notes in his introduction that 2020 marks the 50th Anniversary of Floyd’s debut The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn. He places the title track of Wish You Were Here at number one. Six tracks from The Dark Side Of The Moon are listed in the top twenty.

Tickets are now on sale for Rock and Roll Playhouse Presents The Music Of The Grateful Dead for Kids June 14 at Thalia Hall; Rock and Roll Playhouse Presents The Music Of Bob Marley for Kids July 26 at Thalia Hall; Boz Skaggs at the North Shore Center For The Performing Arts on July 20; and the CHIRP Radio Showcase featuring Bringers, God Awful Small Affairs; and Flamingo Rodeo at GMan Tavern on November 12.

The above listings are from this week’s edition of The Reader, which had a very limited distribution but is available online via the weekly free paper’s website.

Things I recently learned from Instagram, Part 2. According to the Rock And Blues Muse page, Graham Nash recently told CBS Sunday Morning that he’s composed about six new songs while maintaining social isolation.

Tanya Donelly and The Parkington Sisters have released a bit of their Go-Go’s cover “Automatic” as a preview of a full album of them performing well-known songs by The Pretenders, Leonard Cohen, Wings, Linda Ronstadt and other artists. Their haunting take on “Automatic” suggests these new versions will be imaginative reinventions of the originals. The album is due out on the indie American Laundromat label in August.

Things I recently learned from Instagram, Part 3. Actor Christopher Eccleston, known for portraying John Lennon, as well as The Doctor on Doctor Who, posted a photo of himself holding a tea towel with the names of The Hollies, The Smiths, The Fall, Happy Mondays, Joy Division, The Charlatans, Inspiral Carpets, and The Ting Tings printed on it. The towels can be purchased at the Salford Lads Club website. The club provides opportunities for local young people in sports and arts.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020


Happy Birthday to the ultimate British Invasion troubadour, Donovan. Songs like “Sunshine Superman,” “Mellow Yellow,” “Hurdy Gurdy Man,” and “Wear Your Love Like Heaven” remain flower power classics to this day. Here’s a clip of him performing “Sunshine Superman” to help put everyone in a better mood.

Fans of the recently reunited English trio Supergrass can tune in to YouTube at 11:00 a.m. tomorrow (May 13) for a previously unseen acoustic video of “Caught By The Fuzz.” It was directed by well-known music video directors Dom and Nic (Nic Goffey and Dominic Hawley). The rollicking song is from their sterling debut album I Should Coco, which was released 25 years ago. I’ve probably mentioned this a few times here, but when my editor at the Illinois Entertainer first heard Supergrass, he told himself, “This is a Terry Flamm group if I’ve ever heard one.” And he was right.

The Zombies are offering autographed CDs of the 50th Anniversary edition of their Odyssey and Oracle album on their website. The special bonus edition has seven bonus tracks.

LiveWire Lounge on Milwaukee Avenue has created an online store to sell t-shirts with its logo or a fight Covid-19 message. It’s a fun way to support the venue until it’s back to booking live shows again.

Congratulations to producer/author Vivek J. Tiwary of the Tiwary Entertainment Group on being named to the Gold House third annual A100 List of Most Impactful Asians. I talked to Tiwary at The Fest For Beatles Fans - Chicago a few years back when I bought a copy of his graphic novel The Fifth Beatle - The Brian Epstein Story. He came across as genuinely friendly, and moments later was giving a presentation about how The Fifth Beatle would become a live action movie. Tiwary has also produced Jagged Little Pill, the successful Broadway play based on the 1995 Alanis Morissette album.

Monday, May 11, 2020


Power pop lost one of its best practitioners when Fountains Of Wayne and Ivy singer-bassist Adam Schlesinger died recently from Covid-19 complications. One of the many tributes to him came about when singer-songwriter Sharon Van Etten and FOW members Chris Collingwood, Jody Porter, and Brian Young—each working separately—recorded a new version of Schlesinger’s song “Hackensack.” It’s an easy-going version that underscores the band’s knack for crafting pleasant melodies with lyrics that combine humor with a touch of melancholy. I had the pleasure of seeing Fountains Of Wayne on a few occasions, and they were fun shows. The song is available to download on the group’s Bandcamp page, with all proceeds going to the New Jersey Pandemic Relief Fund.

Chicago Independent Media Alliance (CIMA), a new organization of independent media outlets spearheaded by publisher Tracy Baim of the Chicago Reader, is running a savechicagomedia  campaign throughout this month. Visitors to the website can choose to have their donation go to one of the outlets or have it spread across all 43 involved. As noted in a fundraising email from Baim, some members of the alliance have encountered revenue losses as high as 85 percent.

Radio station WXRT continues its Live From the XRT Concert Archives series this week with a 1990 performance by Santana at the World Music Theatre in Tinley Park airing tonight; a 2003 Joe Jackson show at The Vic airing Wednesday night; and a 2013 Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters at concert at Taste Of Chicago airing on Friday. Tune in to WXRT at 9:00 p.m. on those nights for the live rock and roll. You can also stream the concerts on the station’s website.
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