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


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


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


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.

Friday, December 20, 2019


As noted in a recent post on the Slicing Up Eyeballs website, the Hoodoo Gurus have a new single titled “Answered Prayers” that’s available to download on Amazon, iTunes, and other sites. The Australian power pop/garage rock band will kick off a U.S. tour next fall, and tickets for its City Winery Chicago gig on November 3 are already on sale. “Answered Prayers,” with its guitar-driven beat and Dave Faulkner’s snide vocals, is a good fit for the Gurus’ impressive repertoire, which dates back to 1981.

Tickets are also now on sale for Dave Alvin and The Guilty Ones at FitzGerald’s on January 25; the For Frankie! A Celebration Of Frankie Knuckles bash at Metro on January 19; Sarah Harmer at the Old Town School Of Folk Music on May 15; and Los Lobos and Paul Cebar Tomorrow Sound at FitzGerald’s on January 17.

The Smithereens kicked off an east coast tour today in Scituate, MA, and it will continue with seven more dates in Virginia, New York, Connecticut, and the band’s home state of New Jersey. The shows will feature guest vocalists in place of the late Pat DiNizio, including Marshall Crenshaw, Robin Wilson, Ted Leo, and Susan Cowsill.

I have it on good authority that The Spindles will be performing “Bus Stop” by The Hollies as part of their show tomorrow night at the Friendly Tap in Berwyn. The band included an authentic take on The Hollies’ chiming early hit “Look Through Any Window” on its Past And Present album, so there’s every reason to believe their version of “Bus Stop” will be another gem.

The Spindles are part of an impressive holiday double bill at Friendly Tap with The Unswept. Both of these Chicago-based acts create tunes that sound like they could have sprung from the original British Invasion, and were very impressive when I saw them on the same bill at International Pop Overthrow - Chicago earlier this year.

She didn’t read the news today, oh boy. Those of us who’ve listened to progressive rock station WXRT’s morning show for decades were dealt a one-two punch earlier this week with the announcement that news anchor Mary Dixon had been let go and air personality Lin Brehmer will be moving to the mid-day shift early next year. Brehmer and Dixon have a fun, easy-going chemistry, and their in-person contact with fans at events over the years have forged genuine friendships.

The choice of Richard Milne to take over the morning show helps ease the pain; he’s also a long-time WXRT personality who’s earned the respect of listeners. But the complete absence of any news on this station, which used to win awards for its reporting in the morning, at noon, and 6:00 p.m., is a sad development. Dixon has sounded upbeat and confident on social media, as well she should be considering her talent. And Brehmer will continue to be “our best friend in the whole world” in his new time slot.

Fathom Events is bringing the Season 12 Premiere of Doctor Who to select movie theaters across America on January 5. After the screening at the Paley Center in New York, there will be a live interview with Jodi Whittaker and other cast members. The interview will be broadcast from the Paley Center to other theaters showing the episode.

If you live in New York City, you’ve got two more days to check out a pop-up version of The Beatles Store located at 163 Mercer Street. It’s a joint venture with The Thread Shop to celebrate a new partnership for the two companies. The pop-up shop will sell Beatles related clothing, toys, and loads of other branded stuff through December 22.

The Cortland Garage on Vail Street in Arlington Heights has been transformed into a Christmas-themed pop-up bar that will be open through December 31. Patrons will find tropical style drinks, along with the holiday ambience.
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