Gigs with Dad

May 27, 2011 § Leave a comment

My father is a bass player. He first stepped onstage with me in 1984, to fill in for an absent band member. Earlier this month he and I took the stage at Gallery Cabaret to play a few Beatles songs. We had a great time, and we’ll be back at Gallery Cabaret for Fathers’ Night on June 3. We hope to see you there!


Me and Dad at Beatle Night


Chicago Studio Club

May 25, 2011 § Leave a comment

Chicago Studio Club is a fantastic bunch, promoting live music around the city on their site and on Facebook. Much thanks for the plug they gave me for Monday’s show at Uncommon Ground!

Uncommon Ground show

May 24, 2011 § Leave a comment

Last night’s show at Uncommon Ground was great fun–John T. and I were joined on a few numbers by my brother Tim, who played harmonica and auxiliary percussion. We debuted a new song, “My Cartoon Mind,” which may turn up on a future record, and we also dug out some songs I haven’t played in years!

Thanks to everyone who came to hear us play. And of course, a big thanks to Allison and Brian from Tiny Magnets for inviting us, and Uncommon Ground for being such fine hosts.

Joe and John. photo: Jodi Brown

Tim, Joe and John. Photo: Jodi Brown

Here’s another clue for you all

March 13, 2011 § Leave a comment

There’s a movie out on NetFlix called Paul McCartney is Really Dead. It purports to be a documentary about the “Last Testament of George Harrison,” a couple of micro-cassette tapes that Harrison supposedly recorded while in the hospital after being stabbed in 1999. On the tapes, “George” tells the story of Paul McCartney’s untimely death in 1966 and the subsequent cover-up by the band and MI5. He goes into great detail about all of the “clues” the band put into song lyrics and album cover art over the next four years, reveals John Lennon’s growing obsession with creating the clues, and suggests that Lennon’s murder in 1980 and his own stabbing in 1999 were perpetrated by MI5 in retaliation for the two former Beatles deciding to finally come forward with the truth…

The “Paul Is Dead” myth is a strange part of Beatle history, and it certainly captured my attention when I was getting into the band as a kid. I remember being amazed at the number, depth and specificity of the “clues” that fans/conspiracy theorists came up with. Mind you, I’ve never bought into the myth, but I’m still fascinated by it. So I approached this movie with a “let’s see where they go with this” attitude.

The movie disappoints on a couple of very basic levels. The narration, supposedly from the aforementioned microcassette tapes, is performed by what sounds like an American actor doing a pretty bad George Harrison impression. And the quality of the recording is far too good to be a microcassette (sorry, I’m a sound guy). And several of the early “clues” are in songs that were actually recorded and released prior to the date that “George” claims Paul died–these are factual errors that are easily debunked by even casual Beatle fans, let alone the sort of rabid enthusiasts that would be this movie’s target audience. That’s just the tip of the iceberg; if anything, the movie points up what a shaky mess the “Paul is Dead” theory really is once you construct enough clues and “facts” to fill a 97-minute movie (one of my favorites is the revelation that Heather Mills is revealed to have been a major player in the original cover-up…two years before she was born!).

But the film did get me thinking–see, here’s the fun bit: In real life, the band was aware of the “Paul is Dead” theory, and responded to it. Paul phoned journalists to explain that yes, he really was alive. The lyric “Here’s another clue for you all/The Walrus was Paul” is generally understood to be John having a bit of fun with the conspiracy theorists. But was that the only time he decided to yank their chains on record? To me, shoehorning a bunch of Beatle lyrics and album cover images into false clues is much less interesting than the idea that there is, somewhere, a list of deliberate “clues” the Beatles put in, just to mess with the heads of the conspiracy-theory folks.

Turn me on, dead man!


Just for the record

March 7, 2011 § Leave a comment

“Koo koo kachoo” is Mrs. Robinson by Simon and Garfunkel.

“Goo goo g’joob” is I Am the Walrus by the Beatles.

Please use this information wisely.


Johnny and June Tribute night

March 1, 2011 § Leave a comment

This Friday, March 4, is the Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash tribute show at Gallery Cabaret. Organized by Julie Jurgens, the night will feature over a dozen Chicago artists performing songs written and/or made famous by Johnny and June. I’ll be playing three songs. Which ones? Come out and see!

Gallery Cabaret is located at 2020 N. Oakley in Chicago. See you there!