The Chicago Reader’s annual Best Of Chicago issue came out last Friday, and as with past editions, this one will be stored in my archive of favorite newspapers and magazines. The Best of Chicago honors are spread across several categories. Here’s a sample of the winners: Best Record Store - Reckless Records, runner-up Laurie’s Planet Of Sound; Best Local Label - Bloodshot Records; Best Rock Band - Wilco; Best R&B Artist - Jamila Woods; Best Punk Band - Rise Against; Best Established Theatre Company - Steppenwolf; Best Radio Station WBEZ, runner-up WXRT; Best Radio DJ Lin Brehmer; Best Outdoor Music Venue - FitzGerald’s; Best Advocacy Organization - My Block, My Hood, My City; Best Charity - Greater Chicago Food Depository; and Best Overall Best Athlete - Javier Baez. You can grab a copy of the Chicago Reader from one of the its boxes downtown and on the north side, and at assorted venues in those areas. The issue is also available online.
The TheaterMania website ran an encouraging post recently stating New York City is planning to have Broadway and off-Broadway productions up and running by this fall. Dedicated COVID-19 vaccination sites and a mobile vaccination unit are coming, along with guidelines for keeping performers and audiences safe. While I was reading the post, a song from the Mr. McGoo Christmas special came to mind.
In related news, Chicago Tribune theatre critic Chris Jones recently reported that Second City will reopen with live shows on May 7. Some of America’s best-known comedy performers got their first big break at Second City.
The English Beat has relaunched its 40th Anniversary Tour, with several dates throughout the UK, starting late June.
Mars Williams, the saxophonist known worldwide for his work with acts such as The Psychedelic Furs, Jerry Garcia, Billy Squier, and Kurt Elling, also has a long history on the Chicago music scene. He recently released Lost Soul Vol. 1, a compilation of previously unreleased live and studio recordings by his long-running band Liquid Soul. The 10 adventurous tracks highlight the group’s freestyle approach, and there’s also an irresistible ska take on Herb Alpert’s “Lonely Bull.” The live tracks were recorded at The Double Door, Abbey Pub, and The Elbo Room.
Robyn Hitchcock has shown a knack for crafting intriguing if occasionally puzzling lyrics throughout his career. He’s now chosen 73 examples to be in a book coming out July 6 titled Somewhere Apart: Selected Lyrics 1977 - 1997. There will illustrations for 34 of those lyrics. The book is available for pre-order here. So that’s what “Balloon Man” looks like.
Check out page 61 in the April edition of Chicago Magazine and you’ll find my nephew Joe Flamm serving up his recipe for Abruzzi Lamb Ragu With Bucatini. The Season 15 Top Chef Winner (as well as being my godson) is set to open his Rose Mary Italian/Croatian restaurant at some point in April, and customers will be able to make reservations starting March 31
If you haven’t seen U2: Live At Red Rocks, Denver, Colorado - USA 1983, the second installment of the four-week series U2 The Virtual Road - 4 Ground-Breaking Concert Films, you can still catch it on the U2 YouTube Channel.The two-hour show is a great opportunity experience the iconic Irish band in its youth, powering through classic songs such as “Out Of Control,” “I Will Follow,” and “New Year’s Day.” The other two remaining concerts in the series are Popmart - Live From Mexico City - Mexico 1997 on April 1; and iNNONENCE + eXPERIENCE: Live in Paris - France 2015 on April 10.
The Fest For Beatles Fans offered another one of its Fab Friday concerts featuring Chicago-based singer-guitarist Phil Angotti yesterday. You can still catch it via two posts on The Fest For Beatles Fans Facebook pages. Angotti concentrated on George Harrison this time.