Happy Birthday to Cheap Trick vocalist Robin Zander. I first saw him in person at the Harlow’s lounge on Chicago’s southwest side back in the 1970s, when he was belting out irresistible classics like “Oh, Candy” while Rick Nielsen poked out ceiling tiles with a guitar. The band has kept rocking over the decades and will release a new single titled “Light Up The Fire” next Thursday. It’s available to pre-order on streaming services.
The Chicago-based indie rock label Big Blast Records has just released a various artists compilation titled The Big Singles Vol. 1 on its Bandcamp page. It features tracks by The Bishop’s Daredevil Stunt Club; The Glad Machine; Golden Richards; Mark Watson Band; The Peeves; and Phil Angotti. These names will be familiar to anyone who’s been at the Power Pop Shoppe Showcases WNUR air personality Kirk Fox books on the local club scene, or has listened to his Power Pop Shoppe radio program. Though centered around the power pop genre, there’s a good variety of approaches on this six-song album. I’m hoping to post a full review at some point.
Another addition to my in box that deserves a full review is Rotation, a collection of clever, catchy, Fountains Of Wayne style power pop tunes by the Washington, D.C. band The Airport 77s. The opening track, “Christine’s Coming Over” immediately signals these guys are going to be fun. I also hope to get something posted soon on Complete Recordings (2017 – 2020) by Heatwaves. Lead vocalist Ana Beltran swings easily from the early 1960s girl group sound of “You’ll Be Crying” to the revved-up punk rock of “Vampire.”
Chicago radio station WXRT presented its Annual Listener Poll in a virtual format this past Thursday night; raising $448 in donations for the Greater Chicago Food Depository in the process. The Listener Poll’s sponsor Tito’s Handmade Vodka had previously donated $10,000 as part of the voting process. The event opened with local favorites Tributosaurus performing a medley of top songs from 2020.
Long-time air personalities Lin Brehmer, Marty Lennartz, Terri Hemmert, Johnny Mars, Richard Milne, Ryan Arnold, Emma Mac, and Frank E. Lee presented the awards. For those of us who’ve listened to these people for years, it was great to see them, if only in video form. Brehmer, serving as MC and vodka drinker, noted that more people listened to WXRT in 2020 than in any previous year.
As for the winners, it was Black Pumas as Top Breakout Artist; Irish Times in Brookfield as Top Outdoor Patio; “How Lucky” by Kurt Vile and John Prine as Top Song; Netflix as Top Streaming Platform; Schitt’s Creek as Top TV show; Drinking (that’s actual drinking, not a TV show or song) as Top COVID-19 Pastime; Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers’ Wildflowers and All The Rest as Top Album; and Bob Marley and The Wailers at The Quiet Knight in 1975 as Top Vintage Concert Broadcast. The entire XRT Annual Listener Poll can be viewed on WXRT’s Facebook page.
The National Museum of African American Music officially opens in Nashville, TN on January 30. NMAAM visitors will find exhibits honoring B.B. King, Jimi Hendrix, Billie Holiday, Count Basie, and numerous other African American performers across multiple genres. Admission is currently limited due to COVID-19, but hopefully, 2021 will see a full-scale return to museums. The National Museum of African American Music recently announced its partnership with Sony Music Group to create the Sony Music Scholars Black Music Certification and Scholarship Program.
The Kinks’ official Instagram and Facebook sites are now offering more details after an extremely brief video teaser posted earlier this week regarding The Moneygoround film. Based on an original story by Ray Davies, and co-written by Davies and Paul Sirett, this One Man Show For One Night Only will be broadcast on The Kinks YouTube Channel at 8:00 pm GMT on January 29. A recent Facebook post notes the presentation was shot intimately and also features archive footage.
Ever since the early 1980s, I’ve created scrapbooks with articles, ads, and photos I particularly liked from various publications. Most of them pertain to rock and roll, but there are also entries related to TV, movies, theatre, and sports. One that comes to mind is a reprint of a 1957 photo of Ernie Banks from the Chicago Cubs and Hank Aaron from the Milwaukee Braves standing side by side at Wrigley Field. Aaron recently passed away and Banks left us a while ago. I like to think these two all-stars and incredible gentlemen are enjoying each other’s company again.