Saturday, December 18, 2010

Don Van Vliet is dead. Long live Captain Beefheart!

Don Van Vliet
Don Van Vliet  1941 - 2010

Composer / Recording Artist / Painter / Iconoclast / Inspiration / Don Van Vliet is dead. Long live Captain Beefheart!

When people ask me the name of my band, and I tell them "Chicago Mike's InterGalactic Brother & Sisterhood of Big Eyed Beans", they're usually caught by surprise and occasionally inquire where the name comes from. The long answer can be found below. The short answer is Don Van Vliet.

Mr. Van Vliet (née Donald Glen Vliet), along with members of his aptly named "Magic Band", made some amazing records under the name Captain Beefheart, recorded a few exciting collaborations with Frank Zappa, and succeeded magnificently in blowing my musical mind. His album "Clear Spot" was a constant soundtrack during frequent road trips with Todd Freeman from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale to my very first "real" recording sessions in Paducah, Kentucky in the late '80s. Deepest thanks to Todd for turning me on to Captain Beefheart. You changed my life.

On "Clear Spot" appears a song entitled "Big Eyed Beans From Venus". When I began performing in Illinois with Little Red Babyface Kaplan in 1999, we adopted this song title as the name of our little acoustic duo. Since then, the band has grown into a world-wide rock'n'soul orchestra boasting 69 members scattered across the globe, divided up into regional franchises: Big Eyed Beans From Venus in Chicago, Big Eyed Beans From FUFMO in Utah, Big Eyed Beans From Fryslân in the north of Holland, and Big Eyed Beans From Veneto in northern Italy. Collectively, they comprise Chicago Mike's InterGalactic Brother & Sisterhood of Big Eyed Beans.

You can hear a short clip of our chosen theme song at and learn more about invidividual Beans.

Thank you Don Van Vliet for living your life walking the path of an artist, sharing your unique vision with the world, and inspiring me in so many ways. You didn't just push the envelope, you deconstructed it and folded it into an origami tsuru! The world is not quite as colorful today.

Wikipedia - Don Van Vliet / Captain Beefheart - Don Van Vliet's obituary

Sunday, December 5, 2010

John Lennon Exhibit at Lake County Discovery Museum

"Give Peace A Chance: John Lennon and Yoko Ono's Bed-in for Peace" is an exhibit of amazing photos and recollections from their 1969 Bed-in for Peace in Montreal.

Legendary Chicago radio DJ and world-renown Beatles fan and expert Terri Hemmert was on hand to share stories about her lifetime of dedicated Beatles fandom and first-hand encounters and conversations with members of the Beatles and those connected to them.

Terri engaged the standing-room-only crowd for a couple hours, and after an extensive Q&A session, graciously stuck around to sign autographs and take photos with fans -- including this one with me and Heather!

An incredibly interesting afternoon, capped by a beautiful drive through Lake County, Illinois, freshly blanketed in snow.

Terri DJs weekdays 10am - 1pm on WXRT 93FM "Chicago's Finest Rock" and hosts "Breakfast with The Beatles" broadcast on 'XRT from 8am to 10am every Sunday morning.

This was a great bookend to my encounter with Dutch photographer Claude Vanheye at the Amsterdam Hilton during a 40th anniversary exhibition of "John & Yoko Bed-in" photos (Amazingly, brought about by a completely random hotel assignment while my band was on tour in Europe in Spring 2009 -- Thank you Priceline!). Check out to see photos shot at the Amsterdam Hilton.

"Give Peace A Chance: John Lennon and Yoko Ono's Bed-in for Peace"
Tour with Terri
Sunday, December 5, 2010
Lake County Discovery Museum
Wauconda, Illinois USA