John Everson PopStops

 

 

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2002 News:

Around the Country in a Month

This spring I've seen bands in Bostin, Austin and Seattle. In my March 21st column I wrote about Austin's South By Southwest festival and in my May 9 column about visiting Kurt Cobain's house, among other itineraries.


Grammy Awards

The winners and Pop Stops picks for the 2002 Grammy Awards program are now online. More often than not, my picks lost, but then again, I would have nominated a completely different group of CDs for many of the categories to start with! You work with what you got...

SEE ALSO
Pop Stops' Grammy Picks for 2001
Pop Stops' Grammy Picks for 2000
Pop Stops' Grammy Picks for 1999
Pop Stops' Grammy Picks for 1998


The Best of 2001

The Pop Stops picks for the Top 25 Albums of 2001 are now online. Check them out - see if they agree with your favorites. Think I left the most important disc out? Wanna agree or argue? E-mail Pop Stops with your opinions.

SEE ALSO:
Pop Stops' Best of 2000
Pop Stops' Best of 1999
Pop Stops' Best of 1998
Pop Stops' Best of 1997
Pop Stops' Best of 1996


 

2001 News:

A Season of Shows

I see a lot of concerts over the course of a year, but I seem to go to and review the most "big" shows in the summer/fall. Here's an index of the live reviews that have appeared in The Star and Illinois Entertainer over the past few months.


The Best of 2001

The Pop Stops picks for the Top 25 Albums of 2001 are now online. Check them out - see if they agree with your favorites. Think I left the most important disc out? Wanna agree or argue? E-mail Pop Stops with your opinions.

SEE ALSO:
Pop Stops' Best of 2000
Pop Stops' Best of 1999

Pop Stops' Best of 1998
Pop Stops' Best of 1997
Pop Stops' Best of 1996


Past Albums of the Month:

Silverchair — Young Modern

Nina Gordon — Bleeding Heart Graffiti

Sleepthief — The Dawnseeker

Secret Machines — Ten Silver Drops

Two Tons of Steel — Vegas

Jools Holland— Friends 3

Muse — Absolution

Tony C. and the Truth — Demonophonic Blues

Los Lobos— The Ride

Zebrahead — MFZB

Kim Fox— Return to Planet Earth

Palo Alto — Heroes and Villains

The Thorns — The Thorns

Live— Birds of Pray

Chantal Kreviazuk— What If It All Means Something

Silverchair — Diorama

M2MThe Big Room

SugarbombBully

Adam Schmitt — Demolition

Glen Phillips — Abulum

Eliza Carthy — Angels & Cigarettes

Green Day — Warning

Nina Gordon — Tonight and the Rest of My Life

November Project — A Thousand Days

Apollo Four Forty — Gettin' High On Your Own Supply

Dream Theater — Scenes From A Memory

Ringo Starr — I Wanna Be Santa Claus

Live — The Distance To Here

Beth Hart — Screamin' For My Supper

Cyclefly — Cyclefly

Collective Soul — Dosage

Spy — Music to Mauzner By

Throwing Muses — In A Doghouse

Tori Amos— From the Choirgirl Hotel

Jules Shear — Between Us

Loreena McKennitt — The Book of Secrets

Lili Haydn — Lili

Sarah McLachlan — Surfacing

Nicky Holland — Sense and Sensuality

Matthew Sweet — Blue Sky on Mars

Ben Folds Five — Whatever and Ever Amen

Grey Eye Glances — Eventide

Merrill Bainbridge — The Garden

Johnny Cash — Unchained

2000 News:

Christmastime is here again!

It's holiday season again, and once again Pop Stops takes a close look a more than a dozen new Christmas releases of holiday songs both old and new. Read about this year's new carols by Rosie O'Donnell, Christina Aguilera, Lynyrd Skynyrd and more in columns for Dec. 14 and Dec. 21.

SEE ALSO:
Christmas 1999: Part 1 and Part 2
Christmas 1998: Part 1 and Part 2
Christmas 1997: Part 1 and Part 2
Christmas 1996: Complete


Survivor's Peterik takes the Stage

Survivor founder and keyboardist Jim Peterik has a new project called World Stage. My interview with Peterik for the Illinois Entertainer appears now in the Interviews section of this site as well as on the Ides of March web site.


Styx missing heart

Styx, currently profiled on VH-1's "Behind The Music" show, played Chicago for the first time on Saturday, June 3, since the release of its Brave New World CD last summer, as the headliners of the LOOP Fest, sponsored by WLUP-FM. For the full concert review, click here.


The Return of No Doubt

My interview with Gwen Stefani and Tony Kanal of No Doubt was the cover story of the May issue of Illinois Entertainer magazine. You can now read the entire article here through Pop Stops Interviews.



Grammy Awards

The winners and Pop Stops picks for the 2002 Grammy Awards program are now online. More often than not, my picks lost, but then again, I would have nominated a completely different group of CDs for many of the categories to start with! You work with what you got...

SEE ALSO:
Pop Stops' Grammy Picks for 2001
Pop Stops' Grammy Picks for 2000
Pop Stops' Grammy Picks for 1999
Pop Stops' Grammy Picks for 1998


Dennis DeYoung sings solo

The singer who gave Styx hits with "Babe," "Lady," "Mr. Roboto," "Show Me The Way," "The Grand Illusion," "Come Sail Away" and many more recently performed solo — with a little help from a 50-piece orchestra. Read the Pop Stops review of the show.


Pop Stops teams up with Audiohighway.com

Want to sit back and listen to Pop Stops reviews instead of reading them? Now you can! Pop Stops has teamed up with audiohighway.com to offer select reviews online as audio files in the audiohighway.com music section under the "music shows" category — with Pop Stops columnist John Everson at the mic. There are now 20 reviews online at audiohighway.com. You'll need the latest version of Microsoft Media Player to listen in.


1999 News:

Christmas CDs

There are a bunch of new holiday albums on the shelves for 1999, and Pop Stops' coverage of new Christmas albums started on December 2 with reviews of new CDs by Ringo Starr, Rosie O'Donnell and a new A Very Special Christmas offering. The December 16 column brings reviews of albums by Jewel, Michael Crawford, Point of Grace and Kenny G. You can also read reviews of albums from Christmases Past — See Christmas 1998 part one and part two Christmas 1997 part one and part two and Christmas 1996.


 

Styx on the road...minus two

The good news is, Chicago's Styx is back in 1999 with a new album and a new tour — not to mention a Volkswagon commercial and multiple movie soundtrack appearances (most notably in Adam Sandler's Big Daddy). The bad news is, the new album has less of the classic Styx sound than Edge of the Century (their 1990 studio disc which lacked Tommy Shaw's participation) and longtime leader Dennis DeYoung and bassist Chuck Panozzo are not on the road with the band. Read an interview with DeYoung and James Young on the current band situation. For more info on Styx and DeYoung's new "Best Of"album, check out Grand Illusion Music.



C. Gibbs Group on road with Mellencamp

If you're going to catch a John Mellencamp show in June or July of 1999, you might want to get to the venue a little early and check out new Atlantic Recording artists C. Gibbs Group who are playing sidestages (Lilith Fair style) on the early leg of the Mellencamp summer tour. Pop Stops caught up with Gibbs just before his Chicago stop; check it out in the Interviews section of this site.


 

1998 News:

Christmastime is here again!

Every year around this time, I turn into an insane Christmas Caroler as I huff and hum my way through the 20 or 30 major Christmas records of the year in Pop Stops. This year is no different. The December 10 1998 column covers Celine Dion, Kenny Loggins, Shawn Colvin and more. December 17 's column tackled The Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Donny Osmond, Cyndi Lauper and more. And if you want a refresher on some older albums, my reviews of Christmas Past — holiday albums of 1996 and 1997 part one and part two — are still available online.


Tori Amos

I talked with Tori Amos after her 1998 small club tour this summer about her new album, new marriage and current tour. The interview ran as the Illinois Entertainer magazine cover story for the September issue and is now available through the Interviews area of this site.


Big Rewind Tour 

This '80s nostalgia thing feels premature to me. Weren't the '80s just a week or so ago? OK, maybe not. Certainly the 30somethings who populated Chicago's Rosemont Horizon on August 15 were more than happy to bop to the sounds of headliners Culture Club, not to mention Howard Jones and The Human League. But the most satisfying moment of the show may have been in between the live sets — the audience was out of their seats and gyrating to the piped in music of Men Without Hats and Wang Chung, and did a frighteningly universal hands-in-the-air charade of the Village People's "YMCA" (felt like a wedding reception!). Howard Jones actually came across as the most "current"  and vital performer of the evening, peppering songs from a new album into crowd-pleasing renditions of "No One Is To Blame" and "Things Can Only Get Better." The Human League's robotic "inhuman" style, while representative of the synth new wave movement of the early '80s, didn't woo the audience nearly as much as Jones' set. The girls' background vocals were occasionally flat and the League's closing run-throughs of "Don't You Want Me" and "Fascination" seemed somehow anemic. But it was Boy George who everyone was really there to see, and the crowd was instantly on their feet for the start of Culture Club. While the band sounded practiced, the expected charisma just wasn't there. Still, the ending encore of  "Karma Chameleon" and an inspired cover of David Bowie's "Starman" made for a fitting cap to a night of retro.


 

Kansas + Orchestra = Excellent 

This summer, ‘70s progressive rock band Kansas, has been  recreating the sound of their latest disc, Always Never The Same which pairs their classic material with the London Symphony. Their August 3 show at Chicago’s Ravinia Festival teamed them with the Ravinia Symphony Orchestra and the result was an astounding show; Walsh’s typically manic stage presence never slowed as the band moved easily through hugely satisfying orchestral moments in songs like “Nobody’s Home” and “Point of No Return.” Having seen Kansas several times with and without Walsh over the past 15 years, but never with the support of an orchestra, I can easily say the Ravinia show found Kansas sounding its best instrumentally in two decades. The addition of the orchestra (a natural for Kansas, which always specialized in complex, multi-instrumental arrangements) created a rock show of rare power, depth and intensity. Walsh’s vocals are thinner than they once were, but the band remains tight and the string and timpani support on old Kansas works like “The Wall” and “Song for America” made for breathtaking moments.  


Savatage still smokes on stage

Chicago's Metro was fist-raisin' rockin' on Thursday, June 11 when Savatage returned to town to promote its new album The Wake of Magellan, its first since 1995's Dead Winter Dead. The band proved it can still pull off its wild merger of classical symphonics and fiery hard rock - not to mention its unconventionally operatic harmonies live (a fact which original lead singer and current keyboardist/writer Jon Oliva pointed out to the crowd with a grin). Zak Stevens was in fine dramatic voice and Oliva delivered some of his Gutter Ballet-era scorched earth lead vocals late in the set. This is one of the most inventive metal bands on the planet; watch for them.



Tori Amos rocks!
Loreena McKennitt weaves mood

They are two widely different singer-songwriters, but they each brought amazingly entertaining shows to Chicago over the past two weeks. On April 30, 1998, Tori Amos brought her 12-date small club "preview" tour supporting From The Choirgirl Hotel to Chicago's Park West. The last time she played that venue, on July 31, 1992, it was a laidback, intimate singer-to-seated audience type of show. This time around, it was a standing room only mob scene. A lot has changed in six years, not the least of which is, this is the first tour to feature a full band behind Amos. The result was a full rock show, with disco-ball reflected lights, pounding drums and electric guitars. What Tori lost in intimacy, she gained in energy; this tour is an exciting can't miss affair for Amos fans. My full review of the concert is available at the Illinois Entertainer magazine's web site.

Loreena McKennitt currently has scored a surprise hit with a remix of "The Mummer's Dance" from her gorgeously intricate album The Book of Secrets. She brought an 8-piece band to back her up at the Chicago Theatre on May 2. This was as much a concert as a "production." Attendees received an 8-page program when they entered the theatre with the full set list (sans encores), players' names, road crew, and available McKennitt merchandise. They were also treated to one of the most elaborate backdrops for a musical tour I've seen — a giant arch framed the band and gauzy skrims provided a setting for a variety of mood-enhancing light effects throughout the evening. But of course, the focus was McKennitt and her siren-like voice. She drew a packed crowd who cheered both old songs from The Visit and The Mask and Mirror and new material The Book of Secrets. McKennitt explained the origins of many of her songs and Celtic influences throughout the show, and wooed the crowd with a rich tapestry of rhythm and exotic instrumentation (among other things, her band played oud, hurdy-gurdy, violin and cello, while she handled piano, harp and accordion.). It was a magical evening of ancient music styles melded with modern flavor.


A3 preach to an empty house

A3 Exile coverTuesdays are never a big concert draw night, and a Tuesday after the worst snow storm of the year was not the best way, perhaps, for A3 to introduce its techno/ country/ gospel/ blues/ rock/ acid house message to Chicago. But the band, decked out variously in cowboy hats, an Elvis t-shirt, leisure suits and faux Southern drawls took the small crowd at Metro by storm anyway. If you haven't checked out their debut album Exile on Coldharbour Lane, go buy it. These guys are for real (well, actually they're not — they're from England, they used to be DJs and normally speak in a heavy Brit accent, not a religiously fervent Alabama drawl. But you know what I mean!)


1997 News:

Kim Fox & Tara MacLean
Just a couple weeks ago I missed Kim Fox when she opened for Ben Folds Five; but on Nov. 16, 1997, I had the chance to catch her in a better venue — the tiny confines of Chicago's homey Schubas, for the 2nd of three Fox shows there in November. Fox played with a full band (including violin) and won the audience over instantly with her quirky, imaginative style, humor and songs from her Moon HutCD. One of the best songs of the set however, "Vertigo" is unreleased; in talking to the personable singer after the show, she promised that it will be appearing on a future album...Tara MacLean was the headliner for this show, and her more ethereal performance (with only vocals and guitar) kept the crowd entranced. I interviewed MacLean early this summer when she and her guitarist were on the first series of dates promoting her album Silenceopening for Paula Cole; while her easy nature instantly attracted fans then, she appears even more sure of her performance now. She's wisely added the jazzy "Red" to her set and is now singing "Silence" a capella; its power at the end of set was breathtaking. Watch for both of these artists on disc and in concert.


Ben Folds Five tour rocks!

It's hard to remember what rock artist last managed to make the piano "cool." Billy Joel? Elton John? Both of them drag us all the way back to the '70s. Tori Amos doesn't count; as hip as she may be, she rarely actually "rocks" on the piano. I submit that Ben Folds is the savior of piano rock for the '90s. The trio came to Chicago's Vic Theatre on Oct. 30, 1997 in support of one of my favorite albums of the year, Whatever and Ever Amen, and for an hour and a half presented a tour de force of rockin', jazzy, loungey pop. With backup harmonies that can't help but force a smile and a sense of musical humor that slaps you on the back, this is one of the best tickets out there. And you think piano players can't touch guitarists when it comes to smashing their instruments? When Folds bounces his stool off the keyboard any self-respecting piano player will cringe. Kim Fox was also on the bill in support of her excellent Moon HutCD, but due to typical Chicago traffic and parking conditions, I sadly missed her set.


Few hands for Gladhands

The tiny confines of Chicago's Beat Kitchen appeared mammoth on Oct. 14, 1997, when Chapel Hill, N.C.'s Gladhands came to town promoting their excellent pop perfection La Di Da. Sadly, a scheduling mixup left the band playing to an enthusiastic crowd consisting of myself, a college journalist, the show's booker and a handful of others. The band played as if it were a full house anyway, offering rowsing run-throughs of La Di Da's "Kill 'em With Kindness," "Smallsville" and upcoming single "House of Mirrors." They also offered a surprise cover that illuminated the depth of their power pop roots: Pilot's 1975 hit "Magic." Singer/drummer Doug Edmunds manages to get a studio quality vocal presence from behind the drums, and singing cohort/guitarist Jeff Carlson manages a relaxed but empowering performance out front. This is a great band to see live. For concert dates in your area, check the Gladhands web page


 

Poster Kids in San Francisco

I happened to catch Champaign, Illinois' Poster Children touring for their spring release RTFM while on a trip through San Francisco last week (October, 1997). Talk about your energy explosions. The band played on the larger of Paradise Lounge's two stages (a great club set-up — they alternate acts from stage to stage so that the next band sets up while the first band plays). If you have a chance to catch the Poster Kids, don't miss it. Rose Marshack is one of the most entertaining bassists I've ever seen!


Enuff News

Enuff Z'Nuff released their seventh album in the summer of 1997, appropriately titled Seven. I caught up with bassist Chip Z'Nuff this summer to talk about the band's fall from the major labels after scoring a Top 40 hit with "Fly High Michelle" and being named by Rolling Stone as the hot band of 1991.


Of Vents & K's Choice...

I caught a great show by The Vents, Protein and K's Choice at Chicago's House of Blues on September 2. If you have a chance to see any of these bands, don't miss it. The Vents only had time for a handful of songs from one of my recent favorite discs, their debut album, Venus Again. Their heavy power pop won over most of the crowd instantly (with the exception of the annoying fans who kept holding up a K's Choice sign during the set. The same uncouth youth later terrorized the crowd by slam dancing at various unpredictable moments during K's Choice's set.) Protein showed off a harder edge (the jury's still out for me on them) and K's Choice simply blew everyone away. After performing their current late-blooming hit, "Addict," from their 1995 album Paradise In Me, singer Sarah Bettens showed her trust of the fans by stagediving — backwards!— into the audience. Other crowd favorites of the show included the band's hysterical "Something's Wrong" and "Paradise In Me."



Toad, Vaughn Interviews online

Earlier this summer, I talked with members of Toad The Wet Sprocket about their new record and tour and Ben Vaughn (who does the music these days for TV's "Third Rock From The Sun") about an album he recorded in his car. It's taken a few weeks, but I've finally uploaded those interviews, as well as caught up on updating this site with recent Pop Stops CD reviews. Enjoy!


Styx-citement: On the Road Again

I recently spoke with Dennis DeYoung of Styx about the band's 1997 tour and new double live CD. It's now posted in the Interviews section of this site.

The 1997 Styx tour came to Chicago on June 6, and found the band in fine form, opening with a grand "illusion" and a visual joke about last year's tour. The set list didn't vary largely from last year's "Greatest Hits" tour, which is not surprising, since the band is on the road in support of its double live Return to Paradise album, recorded at Chicago's Rosemont Horizon during the 1996 tour. They did play the three new studio songs from that disc, which serve as a good teaser for the next Styx studio album due to be recorded this fall. The new songs include a track lifted from DeYoung's musical version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame (a show due to open in Nashville this fall) and a Tommy Shaw tribute to late Styx drummer John Panozzo called "Dear John." Pat Benatar opened for the band and proved with a "Greatest Hits" set of her own that she still can rock! If you need more Styx or Benatar info, check out their pages on the CMC Records web site. And for a great Styx fan web site, check out Troy's Styx Museum. Talk about having a collecting overachievement syndrome...


Sign in at the door!

The latest feature on the Pop Stops site is the Guest Book. I've been logging 50-100 hits a week for the past couple months, but rarely do I get reader feedback. So Sign In. Gripe. Grovel. Let me know what's on your mind! And read what other Pop Stops readers have posted.


 

Chicago's Enuff Z'Nuff on the road

The summer concert season is gearing up fast, and once again all-day live festivals look to be the major event draws. But besides Lollapalooza (or is it Lame-O-Palookas this year?) and the Lillith Fair tour, major acts are hitting the road again. In addition to Chicago's Styx, local favorites Enuff Z'nuff are also out promoting a new disc. They rocked Chicago's House of Blues opening for Night Ranger in June, and also recently opened for R.E.O. Speedwagon. I spent three hours in Chip Z'Nuff's Blue Island home on May 13th talking with the charismatic bassist about the band's descent from the major labels of EastWest and Arista to its current indie homes of Caroline and Mayhem. The change of labels has affected the band's pocketbook, but never the quality of its songwriting. The south side Chicago act has just released its seventh album (appropriately titled Seven) on Mayhem Records. It's one of the band's strongest pop rock recordings. Stay tuned, the text of the full interview will appear here this summer.


Grey Eye Glances perform at Borders


It's an unusual experience to watch a band perform in a book store. But on May 9-10, Grey Eye Glances stopped in the north 'burbs of Chicago to play at two Borders Books stores. It's part of their continuing summer tour of Borders Books around the country, in promotion of their 4-star CD Eventide. The band's mix of warmth, emotion and harmony was a rare treat to experience in the comfortable confines of a Borders. Don't miss the debut Mercury album by this very special band, and check their home page for when their tour will bring them to a book store near you!


 

Tori Amos Site

I have to send thanks out to Michael Whitehead, who runs A Dent In The Tori Amos Net Universe, one of the sharpest music web pages (professional or fan). Mike recently dropped in an article on his site mentioning the Tori Amos interview I have uploaded here.

 

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