When Gossip Wolf last checked in with sprawling local collective Names Divine, they’d gotten into a bit of trouble with the Chicago five-oh while shooting a video in Pilsen. We’re not sure what side of the law they’re on these days, but judging by the contents of their surprisingly smooth new album, Thankful, they’ve turned a corner musically, moving away from their usual bake-freak drones and toward tuneful, bombastic desert rock a la Giant Sand. They even do a shockingly faithful cover of American Idol/Bonnie Raitt fave “I Can’t Make You Love Me.” This wolf is speechless! The band celebrates the release of the CD with a show at Empty Bottle on Thu 8/29, then heads out on a month-plus tour of the south and west coast in September.

Gossip Wolf readers should be well acquainted with local artist “Crazy” Keith Herzik. After all, he’s not just the devastatingly handsome guitarist in Galactic Inmate, he’s also the guy who created this column’s rascally cartoon mascot! He’s also screen printed a bazillion mind-boggling posters for Chicago shows, and in September a large selection of those hand-drawn gonzo-style prints will adorn the walls of Logan Square record store Saki. Herzik’s show, entitled “Threw My Hands Outta’ My Head!,” opens with a reception on Fri 9/6 that features live choral cover songs from the Blue Ribbon Glee Club.

Looking for a way to observe Frankenstein Day this August 30? Gossip Wolf suggests heading to Cafe Mustache in Logan Square, where Chicago MC Jams Dean is throwing a party for Brian Wharton, aka Sharkula, aka Thigahmahjiggee, aka the birthday boy. This wolf has always thought Sharkula was ageless, but it’s billed as his 40th birthday bash. With any luck there will be some birthday cake to play with while Mr. Wharton drops his surreal raps. The party starts at 9 PM, and you’d better go early if you don’t want to miss anything weird!

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