Category Archives: Music
There’s no better gift than laughter. So, this holiday season treat all your loved ones to comfy seats at Studio5 in Evanston for “Vic & Paul & Dana’s Post-Pandemic Revue”. Tickets are available at: http://www.studio5.dance/calendar
Ho! Ho! Ho! And then some!
Here’s where you can reserve your seats for any of our 7 shows at Studio5 in Evanston: https://www.tickettailor.com/events/studio5performingartscenter/790733/
Shows are December 29, 30 & 31 — and January 4, 5, 6 & 7.
Go to http://www.studio5.dance to procure your tickets to the funniest year-end party of this malevolent, maddening year. We’ll be having great fun for 5 nights in Evanston — and we hope you’ll join us! The cast is Covid-free, socially-distanced — and ready to entertain as if they wanted to erase all the bulls*it of the past 20-something months! (And they certainly do!)
See you all at Studio5. It’s going to be an event to remember.
It’s time again for classic improvisational sketch comedy! Time to get out of the house and gather in a comfortable cabaret with fellow human beings for a memorable evening of laughter, music, and adult beverages.
The Practical Theatre returns to the Chicago area with the latest in a series of hit holiday shows, Vic & Paul & Dana’s Post-Pandemic Revue, starring writer-actors Victoria Zielinski, Dana Olsen, and PTC co-founder, Paul Barrosse.
Great, groovy music is provided by PTC musical director and Studio5 impresario Steve Rashid and his Studio5 All-Stars: Rockin’ Ronny Crawford on drums, Jim Cox on bass, and Don Stiernberg on every stringed instrument known to man.
Vic & Paul & Dana’s Post-Pandemic Revue is a smart comedy cocktail, mixing sex, music, variety and vaudeville — while stirring in everything from marriage to quarantine to cancel culture, conspiracy, climate change, Olympian gods, William Shakespeare, Rod McKuen, Looney Tunes — and the fragility of major appliances. It’s an intoxicating comic combination!
There’s no better place to enjoy a comedy revue with your favorite friends than Evanston’s own Studio5, which has a cash bar, comfortable, socially distanced seating, state of the art sound and lights, and acres of free parking.
PROOF OF VACCINE REQUIRED: All Studio5 attendees will be required to show an ID and proof of a COVID vaccine. Photos of CDC cards are acceptable provided they are legible. Studio5 will be following local masking guidance at the time of performances. Tickets are non-refundable and non-exchangeable. Please be certain you can and are willing to comply with our policies prior to making your purchase.
Seating is intentionally limited to accommodate social distancing.
Studio5 Performing Arts Center, 60202
So, here are the folks who will be enshrined in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame class of 2020:
- Depeche Mode
- The Doobie Brothers
- Whitney Houston
- Nine Inch Nails
- The Notorious B.I.G.
- T. Rex
I’ve argued for the The Doobie Brothers in the past — so, right on! Go, Doobie Brothers! And I love Nine Inch Nails (for inspiring Johnny Cash alone), the Notorious B.I.G. (a seminal hip-hop godfather) and T. Tex (so much love for Marc Bolan’s groovy, grungy, proto-New Wave guitar sound) “Get It On”, etc., though he had only a few giant Top-40 hits.
But Whitney Houston and Depeche Mode? Really? Rock & Roll?
Did Whitney Houston — as prodigious a vocal instrument as she possessed — record a single rock and roll track? Did she chart a single rock & roll single? Did she ever rock?
How in the hell is Whitney Houston a member of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame?
Let’s put it this way. Is Ella Fitzgerald in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame? Ella won 13 Grammy awards and sold over 40 million albums — but she was a jazz singer — not a rock & roll singer. She’s not in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
Soulful, bluesy, risk-taking jazz singer Billie Holiday is in the Hall as a bold and fearless, raw and soulful early influence — but slick, pop-oriented Whitney Houston hardly qualifies. Especially when more deserving rockers have been, once again, overlooked.
There is a national shame and outrage that I must address here and now…
I’m a Cleveland boy, and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is a shining jewel on my hometown lakefront — but that only makes such an injustice a more personal matter.
Tommy James & The Shondells have been waiting since 1991 to get a call from the Hall. For 29 years, they’ve had to endure the enshrinement of acts like Abba, Kiss and Whitney in an institution supposedly devoted to rock and roll – while the band that gave garage bands worldwide rock classics like “Mony Mony” and “Hanky Panky” is continually and criminally passed over.
How can it be that overproduced purveyors of techno pop-rock (Depeche Mode) and pure, chart-topping pop (Whitney Houston) win out over the inspired 60’s rockers who put “I Think We’re Alone Now” and “Crimson and Clover” down on vinyl?
At the 2014 Hall of Fame induction ceremony, Rage Against the Machine’s lead guitarist Tom Morello – a man whose shredding virtuosity and politics I admire – made a convincing case for why Kiss had a rightful place in the Rock Hall. But while Kiss may have blazed a trail for visual and musical bombast and pyro in arena rock – their sound and fury signify nothing like the string of hits that Tommy James and his band delivered in the late 1960s.
Besides their two #1 hit single in the U.S. – “Hanky Panky” in ’66 and “Crimson and Clover” in ’69 — Tommy James & The Shondells charted twelve other Top 40 hits, including five in the top ten. Remember a platter entitled “Crystal Blue Persuasion”?
How about 14 Top 40 hits during the greatest period in rock and roll radio history? All while competing with The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Who, The Kinks, Creedence Clearwater Revival, James Brown, Sly & The Family Stone – and those Motown artists cranking out classics in Hitsville, USA.
All of those great rockers are in the Hall of Fame — so, why not Tommy James & The Shondells?
And I don’t want to hear that Tommy James was “bubblegum”. Please. When was the last time you listened to “Mony Mony” or “Draggin the Line”? Guitars. Groove. Harmony. Drive. Horns. Hooks. Lots and lots of classic rock and roll hooks.
Tommy James & The Shondells should go into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fames very next class or the whole institution is a sham.
I can wait no longer.
I’m just going to enshrine Tommy James & The Shondells here and now.
I’m announcing The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Class of 2021 must include Tommy James & The Shondells — Eligible since 1991. And now about…
The Monkees — Eligible since 1991
The Monkees should be in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Hell, The Beatles respected The Monkees – so why should anyone else deny their undeniable greatness?
Morons who I have little patience for say The Monkees were a fabricated band – “The Pre-Fab Four” — surrounded by studio musicians. I know for a fact that The Beach Boys, The Mamas & The Papas, and others in the Hall of Fame were backed by the very same group of studio cats: the Wrecking Crew. So, what? I said I wasn’t gonna argue.
At their peak in ‘67, The Monkees outsold The Beatles and Rolling Stones combined. 12 Top-40 hits, three #1 hits — and a TV show that brought melodic, witty, well-written and beautifully sung rock and roll music (and surprisingly subversive comedy) into homes across America.
“Last Train to Clarksville,” “I’m a Believer,” “Daydream Believer,” “Pleasant Valley Sunday” and “(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone”. That’s just five.
And now I’m really not gonna argue any more.
The Rock N Roll Trio — Eligible since 1981
“Rock Billy Boogie”, “Rock Therapy”, “Train Kept A-Rollin”, “Honey Hush”, “Tear It Up” – Johnny Burnette and the Rock & Roll Trio served up fundamental, elemental, essential rock and roll.
Sorry, Depeche Mode, this is rock and roll with real, gritty, driving heart and soul. I don’t give a damn what hits they had or where they charted. When I need rock therapy — they give it to me.
They should be in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
When I first wrote the history of The Practical Theatre for this blog, I finished by saying, “The Practical Theatre in Chicago in the 1980’s — that was Brigadoon: a magical place that existed for a brief time and vanished. And I got the girl.”
That was true. I did get the girl. And because I emerged from that life-changing experience with Victoria Zielinski as my wife and collaborator, the Practical Theatre was ultimately due for a renaissance.
Alas, the PTC revival would take more than two decades.
The PTC had to wait as Vic and I raised our three wonderful daughters: Maura, Emilia and Eva. But by 2010, the year of our 20th wedding anniversary, with our girls old enough to spare their parents for a few hours a day — Vic and I began to consider whether we were still comedians who had something to say.
We decided it was time to bring the Practical Theatre back. Thus was born “The Vic & Paul Show.”
Inspired by the classic work of Mike Nichols and Elaine May, Vic and I began improvising extended comic scenes in our kitchen, including…
- A dull, dispirited married couple that die in a car wreck and wind up stranded in Limbo.
- A sad sack single guy from Cleveland trying to pick up a Chicago cougar in a hotel lounge.
- A frontier bartender serving a whiskey tasting to a dusty California cowpoke.
There were times when our improvisations were so lively, so passionate, and so LOUD – that our girls would rush downstairs to see if we were okay. Were we really fighting? Arguing? Drunk?
They’d never seen us performing comedy sketches.
We polished our routines, edited our scripts, and wrote some songs. A Practical Theatre revue had to include music. That meant involving our long-time music director, Steve Rashid. We booked a series of shows in a tiny local bar called Push Lounge in Woodland Hills, California.
That leap of faith launched a tour that took “The Vic & Paul Show” to Chicago’s Prop Theatre and Mayne Stage in Rogers Park, to Cleveland’s 14thStreet Theatre — and iO West in Hollywood.
After that, we renewed a collaboration with our fellow Northwestern graduate and Mee-Ow Show alum, Dana Olsen, starting with Mr. Olsen’s Neighborhood at The Wilmette Theatre in 2012 — followed by “Mr. Olsen’s New Year’s Rockin’ Neighborhood” at 27 Live in 2013.
Then, Vic and Dana and I spent a solid year writing new material for “The Vic & Paul & Dana Show.” We were delighted that Steve Rashid and Rockin’ Ronny Crawford joined us for a Hollywood run at iO West in November 2015.
That show in LA revived a PTC comedy tradition that launched North Shore runs of “Mr. Olsen’s Holiday Party” in 2016, “Mr. Olsen’s Champagne Celebration” the following year and “PTC Radio Theatre On The Air” in 2018 – all staged at Bea and Steve Rashid’s fabulous Studio5 theatre in Evanston.
The Practical Theatre is alive and well at Studio5.
The PTC’s “Big Holiday Bag O’ Fun!” is the latest comedic chapter in a very funny history.
“Big Holiday Bag O’ Fun!” is a compendium of The Practical Theatre’s funniest sketches, dating from our “Mee-Ow Show” days at Northwestern University to “Bag O’ Fun” – our first improvisational comedy revue staged in the summer of 1980 at Evanston’s Noyes Cultural Arts Center – through “The Vic & Paul & Dana Show”.
Plus a few new bits written right up to opening night.
Brigadoon is back.
See you at Studio5!
If you haven’t gotten your tickets yet for The Practical Theatre Company’s Big Holiday Bag O’ Fun at Studio5 in Evanston, Illinois — now’s the time!
Tickets are going fast — so don’t delay.
It’s going to be the best party of the year. After an arduous political and social slog like we’ve all experienced in the past 12 months — we can all use a big, blow-out party with great music, free-spirited laughs, and a great big, bag o’ fun!
Get your tickets now at: http://www.studio5dance/calendar