Just want to let you about these two DON'T MISS shows.

First off, one of my favorite singer-songwriters, Eleni Mandell, is making a rare Central Illinois appearance this Sunday, October 7, 8:00 p.m.  She will be playing at the Courtyard Cafe.  Also checkout her latest album, which I would venture to say is her very best to date.  It's warm, romantic, soothing, sensual, and it's quite good with a nice glass of red.  I highly recommend it.

And the other show you absolutely must know about is Von Frickle at the Elbo Room in Chicago on Friday, October 12th at midnight.  These guys are friends of mine, and have generously contributed to our 100 Year Picnic project.  All four guys are amazingly prolific and talented, but more importantly, their live show is a force to be reckoned with.  Go and you will see what I mean.   

One last item of fun and education.  My good friend, Tony San Filippo, producer and engineer at Oxide Lounge Recording, is blogging about his latest project recording touring artists, Backyard Tire Fire.  He's posting the blog entries on the tapeop.com message boards, so expect plenty of geeky technical wizardry about mics, effects, EQs, and day-by-day recording approaches used to record the new BTF record.  His blog is here.  Enjoy. 

For Christmas this year, a very kind and thoughtful family (my in-laws) gave me a subscription to my new favorite monthly music rag, Paste Magazine

I just received my second issue of the year, and pretty much read it front to back while on the road with the fam this past weekend.  In each issue is a CD full of new music, and sometimes there is DVD full of fresh music videos and short independent films.

This month I open to the center CD only to find a track from the local boys, Backyard Tire Fire.  It's a fun Zeppy throwback tune called Downtime, complete with bluesy rock guitars and backwards reverbs... and I think that's my 26" 70s Ludwig kick...   

BTF is now on tour in support of their new CD, Vagabonds and Hooligans, which was co-produced by the band and my good friend Tony San Filippo at his analog studio, Oxide Lounge.  This is a great band getting some good, well-deserved industry buzz, so don't miss them on tour this year.  Sample their new stuff at their site or on their myspace page

Also in this month's Paste, are good stories with The Shins, Lucinda Williams, and one of my favorite singer-songwriters, Eleni Mandell--all sporting new CDs.  I personally have Eleni's new CD, Miracle Of Five, which is a consistently good collection of late-night sultry tunes.  I'm a fan and always recommend her to my music friends.  Here's an extended version of her Paste interview.

It's still darn cold here in Central Illinois, but come on out to the NV Lounge (107 East Beaufort, Downtown Normal) to hear some great local songwriters on February 8.  For 50 minutes or so I will once again share the stage with my friends Chris Chambers and Tom Neal.  Guess I better work up a few numbers.  I'm guessing we go on somewhere around 8:00 PM.

For those of you here in Central Illinois, come on out to the NV Lounge (107 East Beaufort, Downtown Normal) to hear some great local songwriters.  I don't know who all will be there, but I know my friends Chris Chambers and Tom Neal have asked me to share the stage with them to do a few songs.  Should be fun.  We go on somewhere around 7:00 PM. 

It is always a pleasure to spread some good news, and this is pretty darn cool.   My friends over in the punky power pop trio, Frankenpony, will have their Happy Birthday song aired on the ABC show Help Me Help You starring Ted Danson.  The show will air Tuesday, December 12, 2006, at 8:30 central time. 

Happy Birthday is a track from their newest CD, Hideous Creatures, which I reviewed here on 100yearpicnic.com.  They also have a cool feature on their website that makes it easy for you to send an online birthday card with the song

Be sure to tune in to hear the local boys on the TV, and send them a note to celebrate their big news!!!

Hey kids, check out the latest Frankenpony release, Hideous Creatures, which by the way is album NUMBER FOUR for the boys. 

That's a lot of punky power pop songs crammed into a few years.  Not too shabby for regular guys with day jobs and mortgages, not to mention a 130 mile commute to Chicago for one of the band members, Mr. Rick Bennett, who lives right here in Bloomington, Illinois.  (Yes, I'm talking about THE Rick Bennett from Electric Tuba fame...)

Besides being packed with 16 catchy tunes, Hideous Creatures happens to feature a couple of my now all-time favorite Frankenpony tunes: one called Come Down and another called Immersing

Come Down somehow gets away with being both deadly serious and seriously deadpan at the same time.  It's "come down from your ledge" followed by "think of all the things you'd leave behind...like cookies and pizza..."  Oh yeah, and the stinger: "just one more thing, at the top of the list, you just think of us, cause we would miss you."  So take heed from a rock and roll parent, and come on down.

Anyway, this is a fun yet sincere track with the best chorus hook of the record, a groovy laid-back reggae feel, excellent orchestration, and a perfectly tasty guitar solo played by John Griffin. 

The song Immersing is a classic Frankenpony brew of garage rock meets prog rock meets 80s pop song.  It's a fun, energetic arrangement with catchy hooks all over the place.  Fun bass lines and tasty drums, and again a wicked guitar solo.  At the moment, you can sample and download this awesome track out on the band's myspace page

Other standout tracks for me include Rotting, Hood, Looking, and Trash.  Overall, the record proves to be an adventurous modern take on underground 80s pop. With reference points from 80s era XTC to The Tubes to Joe Jackson to The Producers, it's definitely reminiscent of some of those sounds, but heavier and quirkier. 

Lyrically, this is probably the zaniest and silliest of Frankenpony records (with songs like Ketchup Vs. Catsup and The Importance Of Eating Breakfast).  Musically, it's the band's tightest with excellent vocals throughout, and arguably Johnny Flamini's best drumming.  Hideous Creatures is yet another milestone for the band, adding to an already prolific body of work. 

If you are in Chicagoland, you get to see the boys in person at 9:00 P.M. at Gunther Murphy's on November 3, 2006.  The rest of the world can sample tracks on cdbaby or itunes.  If you like, buy your favorite tracks and help Rick pay for his gas to Chicago rehearsals...

In my "spare" time for the past 9 months or so, I've been playing drums with a great little jazz group: The Brian Choban Quintet.  We play our own improvised versions of great jazz standards from the Real Book. 

All you locals really out to check us out sometime.  Here's the cast of characters:

  • Brian Choban: Trumpet and flugelhorn
  • Jeff Greeneberg: Drums
  • Randy Huberman: Baritone sax
  • Bruce Lane: Piano and bass trumpet
  • Collin Stokes: Upright bass

I feel lucky to be able play with these talented guys. Brian just put up a brand spankin' new website, brianchoban.com, complete with mp3s of recent shows.  This is cool.  Check out our last show at the pizzeria

We play twice a month.  Typically, it's the 2nd Thursday at TC Buzz (next to Parkway Cinemas and Best Buy) and the 4th Thursday at Chicago Style Pizzeria (across from K-Mart).  Our next show is at Chicago Style Pizzeria on August 24, from 7 - 8:30 p.m.  These are both great places to chill-out, hook-up with some great friends and family, and of course, hear some great jazz.  And it's free.

Also, expect to hear some of these guys on new 100YP material coming out this year.  Collin's already played on 3 tunes and Brian played on our last CD, plus he contributed the swanky muted trumpet solo for the Unharshed Mellow Theme Song

Anyway, I'm having a blast, and this has been a really great way for me to keep my drumming alive in the midst of the singing, songwriting, and recording for 100YP.  I'm loving it, thanks all for your support.

For those of you in the area, I'm doing a free, all-ages show on Saturday, May 20, at TC Buzz, Bloomington, next to Best Buy and Parkway Cinemas. 

I'm doing a half-hour solo set from 9:00 - 9:30, plus I'll be sittin' in (on drums) with the David Berchtold trio for the rest of the evening, which starts at 7:30.  David is the area's premier acoustic fingerpicker, and TC Buzz is an awesome little coffeehouse with a great sounding room and a spirited audience.  It will be a fun experience, so I hope to see you there.

Speaking of David, check out his recent success with garageband.com.  David's song, Serenity, is in round 3 of the ongoing contest with a 4.5 (out of 5) star rating, which by the way is near to impossible to get from the fickle reviewers at garageband.com.  In the process, he's snagged some impressive awards from the site, including:

  • #25 Best Guitars overall, all-time
  • #8 Best Guitars in Acoustic, all-time
  • #9 Feel Good Track in Acoustic, all-time

Now, would you like to know something even better?  Serenity was chosen by a beautiful bride last weekend to be played live at her wedding as she walked down the isle.  Wow.

Come hear David play this great song, plus many more this Saturday...  If you have any requests for songs for me to sing, send 'em my way.

PS: Did you know David played on the 100 Year Picnic song About Everything But You?  It's one of my favorites on the record, and we are going to do this one together this weekend.

Here in Bloomington, Illinois, there is this best kept secret called the Blue Moon Coffeehouse (Illinois Wesleyan University's Memorial Center turns into a coffeehouse once in a blue moon, hence the name). 

It's really no secret actually, as you will notice if you come out this weekend to see Jill Sobule play a standing room only show for free.  How do I know it will be a standing room only crowd?  Because it is always like that, especially for artists like Jill Sobule and Susan Werner, who is another favorite of mine.  People cross state lines to come to see these shows, and for good reason.  This is a dream gig with a dream audience that actually listens to the songs, the words, and interacts with the artist to create the best show in the midwest on a given night.  The shows are usually at 8:00, but doors open earlier at 7:30. 

Anyway, Jill is awesome.  Come out to see a great singer-songwriter at this great venue, Saturday, April 15, 2006. 

It's an early show, in a non-smoking venue where people listen and love music performed by national touring acts, and it's free.  What more can you ask for?  If you get there before me and my wife, save us a seat!