Thursday, April 21, 2022

International Pop Overthrow festival to open Friday at Montrose Saloon in Chicago


Chicago band Material Issue released songs with highly infectious melodies that would sink deep into your brain.
Those who attend the International Pop Overthrow festival – the festival's name being a reference to Material Issue's debut album, "International Pop Overthrow" – will no doubt find much to smile about. More than 60 acts from both near and far will perform as part of the festival, which will be held from April 22-30 at Montrose Saloon, 2933 W. Montrose Ave. in Chicago. A schedule for the festival is at

I had the chance to talk to International Pop Overthrow founder and CEO David Bash about the upcoming festival.

Q – The name "International Pop Overthrow" is a reference to Chicago band Material Issue’s debut album, International Pop Overthrow. That band helped introduce many people to power pop. Did you pick the name in tribute to Jim Ellison and to recognize the band's impact?

I absolutely did. Tragically, Jim Ellison had taken his own life not long before I decided to do the festival, and I wanted to pay tribute to Material Issue and their debut album, which was certainly a paragon in power pop circles. It was gratifying that the surviving members of the band, Ted Ansani and Mike Zelenko, embraced the name and when we came to Chicago for the first time, in 2002, their current band played the festival. I felt honored.

Q – Of course, Material Re-Issue played at the festival in 2011 and Phil Angotti is performing at this year’s festival. Is it important the keep the band’s memory alive and perhaps introduce the band’s music to new fans?

Without a doubt it is. Having Material Re-Issue at the festival in 2011 for the 20th Anniversary of International Pop Overthrow was perhaps my biggest thrill at any IPO we’ve done, anywhere.
Jim’s family was in attendance, and I was so nervous introducing the band from the stage, but somehow the right words came to mind. I remember looking up and saying "Jim Ellison, this one’s for you," and the crowd went wild!
Material Re-Issue’s performance was magical, and it was as if Jim’s spirit had been imbued in Phil Angotti that night, as he sang and played Jim’s parts almost exactly as Jim likely would have.

Material Issue’s music, like that of all the other great power pop bands, must be kept alive and hopefully more and more fans of the genre will hear about them.  If I’ve done even a small bit in helping that to happen, I’m grateful.
Q – What made you want to start the International Pop Overthrow Music Festival in the first place? Has the festival lived up to your vision?

I began the festival in 1998 in my home base of Los Angeles. I had been writing reviews for several pop music fanzines, and in doing so got to know all kinds of great bands from all around the world, many of whom expressed their desire to play in Los Angeles.
I thought, "Why don’t I create an environment for them to be able to all play under one roof, and galvanize the pop scene?" At that time, International Pop Overthrow had a second meaning, which was to "overthrow" that which was being played on mainstream radio at the time, which was music like Korn and Limp Bizkit, totally un-melodic.
I wanted to bring melody and hooks back to mainstream radio, and hoped to do this with the festival. Unfortunately it hasn’t happened, but my vision of giving pop artists a place to play has sustained since then, in several cities around the world.

Q – Has the festival expanded to include other genres besides just power pop? How do you go about choosing the acts that will be part of the festival?

It has, yes. As we progressed, several bands who weren’t doing power pop would contact me and say, "Why haven’t we been invited to play the festival?  We’re pop!" and some of our fans would express the same feelings about non-power pop bands they liked.
I agreed that they were right, and around 2005 I started making a concerted effort to expand our parameters. I’m proud to say that I believe we have done that, without sacrificing an ounce of what makes IPO what it always has been: about melody.

My wife, Rina Bardfield, and I do a lot of searching online to find bands who we feel are right for the festival. Ironically, because of social media, bands are less proactive in reaching out to venues and events like ours, because they feel as if they're more likely to be seen than they would have been before the internet.
Of course that’s not true, because with the huge proliferation of bands, it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle. We realized this a long time ago, so we decided to be more proactive in searching for bands, and it’s really paid off! Of course, some bands do reach out to us as well, and we find several good ones that way.
Q – Of course, in the early days of the festival, Kara’s Flowers played at the festival and then a few years later achieved great success as Maroon 5. At the time, did you think the band would go on to achieve the success that it did?

Kara’s Flowers had already gained a strong following in Los Angeles by the time IPO had begun. They’d released an album on a major label (Reprise Records), and had played some huge venues in town.
We were very fortunate to have them for our first three years! By year three, they had added a fifth member, and did songs that would ultimately become Maroon 5 songs.
We were all shocked because their new sound was so different, but obviously it was the right direction for them. I don’t think anyone could have predicted just how successful they would become, but it was obvious to everyone that they had extraordinary talent.
I’m really happy for them!

Q – Where do you see the festival going from here?

With all the changes happening in the music business in the past 20 years, including closures of venues and record labels, we’re really grateful to still be here. Certainly I hope we become better known, but not at the cost of changing our ethos, which I will never do.

I see us going to some different cities, particularly some new international cities; in fact, I just heard back from a venue in The Netherlands who have potential interest in hosting us next year, so let’s keep our fingers crossed.

No matter what, I plan to continue to do the festival as long as my health permits me to do so, and as long as there are people who want to play and hear this music

Saturday, April 9, 2022

Singer-songwriters Dan Tedesco and Emma Butterworth provide musically adventurous night at The Venue in Aurora


Photo by Eric Schelkopf

Photo by Eric Schelkopf


For better or for worse, human beings are emotional creatures.

Great songwriters know how to tap into and share those emotions. Such was the case when singer-songwriters Dan Tedesco and Emma Butterworth took the stage Friday night at The Venue in Aurora.

As Tedesco, a St. Charles native, related during the show, he would sneak his way into Chord on Blues in St. Charles while he was in high school. With renowned artists as Koko Taylor and Lonnie Brooks having performed at Chord on Blues, one can imagine the experience served him well.

His songs talk about issues that most of us deal with at one point or another, making them easily relatable. Tedesco’s riveting guitar work is only matched by his sometimes haunting melodies.

Those two elements come together in glorious fashion on his song “Firecrackers at Dawn” a song off his latest EP, “Morning Bells.”

Butterworth’s powerful vocals and introspective lyrics started the evening off on a high note. In fact, her stage presence is already so strong that one wouldn’t even think that she is a college student.

And there is no doubt that her musical presence will continue to grow.

 Dan Tedesco performs his song "The Truce" April 8 at The Venue in Aurora.


 Dan Tedesco performs his song "Firecrackers at Dawn" April 8 at The Venue in Aurora.

Emma Butterworth performs her song "Wild Life" April 8 at The Venue in Aurora.

 Emma Butterworth performs her song "Take A Little Weight" April 8 at The Venue in Aurora.

Sunday, April 3, 2022

Chicago musician Gerald McClendon brings his soul party to The Venue in Aurora

Photo by Eric Schelkopf



Chicago musician Gerald McClendon, aptly called "The Soulkeeper," energized the crowd at The Venue in Aurora on April 1 with his powerful vocal delivery of soul classics and original songs.

Chicago musician Gerald "The Soulkeeper" McClendon performs his song "Let's Have a Party" April 1 at The Venue in Aurora.

Chicago musician Gerald "The Soulkeeper" McClendon performs the Albert King song "I'll Play the Blues for You" April 1 at The Venue in Aurora.


Chicago musician Gerald "The Soulkeeper" McClendon performs a "Sweet Soul Music"/"Land of 1000 Dances" medley April 1 at The Venue in Aurora.