Story By: G.H. Harding

Bob Weir

SWEET CAKE --- I’ve always loved Jennifer Aniston. I mean, her Rachel on Friends was so wacky, so flighty, but oh so cute. Her movie career post-Friends has been somewhat spotty; Horrible Bosses 1 was great, 2 not so great. Her much talked about new movie Cake, which opens this Friday, is a complete turn-around. Playing a victim of a horrific car accident, wherein she lost her daughter and is now addicted to pain medication, is certainly something to behold. Safe to say you never saw her like this before.

The movie is solid, although there are a few continuity errors, like her husband (Chris Messina) who shows up for one brilliant scene then mysteriously disappears and William H. Macy as the driver of the other car who shows up to apologize and mayhem ensues.

It’s a bold, strong performance and the awards she’s been nominated for are well deserved. Anna Kendrick is spot on as an acquaintance Nina (from a pain-support group), who has taken her own life, giving Aniston’s character, Claire, pause for thought. This is the one constant theme that runs throughout: should she end her life to end her suffering? Sam Worthington as a possible new suitor is superb too.

Adriana Barraza as her loyal housekeeper Silvana is standout as well. Putting her own life on hold to take care of Claire, her performance is award-worthy for sure.

It’s a tough movie no question, but is exemplary. Her uncle Telly Savalas (Kojak) would be super-proud. The direction by Daniel Barnz is serviceable and straightforward. Without question, the first true artistic and critical his of 2015.

SHINING ON --- If you asked Frank Shiner his favorite song, he just might say “Georgia On My Mind,” although he says it’s usually the one he’s working on at the time. Shiner’s debut album, The Real Me, which was release late-last year has received just terrific praise for the new artist.

Shiner explored some overlooked classics by the likes of Elvis Costello, Tom Waits and the album’s first single, Randy Newman’s “The Real Me” that went Top 5.

The L. A. Examiner said, "Just when you thought that Josh Groban and Michael Bublé held the patent on amazing voices, along comes Frank Shiner to shatter those preconceived notions."

The album was produced by the studio-wizard Gary Katz: most notable for his work with Steely Dan. Says Shiner of the Katz-collaboration, “He was like an uncle that really cared for my well being. He makes you feel good about the project and make you want to be even better than you think you can be. He has this unique ability to make you want to please him. He brings total comfort to the studio...this is very important for a vocalist.”

Frank’s manager Ken Levy, from Clive Davis’ legendary Arista Records, says, “Plain and simple this is a pop adult standards album. Frank's audience are fans of adult pop music.”

With a date soon at Steve Walter’s Cutting Room, check Frank out … you will not be disappointed.

DEAD AGAIN --- The four remaining members of the Grateful Dead are coming back together for three shows in Chicago this July and they are bringing along Phish guitarist Trey Anastasio.

Founding member Bob Weir said "These will be the last shows with the four of us together."

Weir, Anastasio, Phil Lesh, Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann will play at Chicago's Soldier Field on July 3, 4 and 5 in shows that are sure to sell out in minutes. Also joining them is keyboardists Bruce Hornsby and Jeff Chimenti of Dead-spin off group RatDog.

Tickets will first be available via a mail in system, beginning tomorrow, followed by a fan club members sale from February 9 to 11, a local pre-sale on February 12 and 13 and (if there are any left) general public on February 14.

The official announcement from

FARE THEE WELL -- We are thrilled to announce “Fare Thee Well – Celebrating 50 Years of the Grateful Dead” – to the Dead community.

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Grateful Dead, Mickey Hart, Bill Kreutzmann, Phil Lesh, and Bob Weir will reunite at Chicago’s Soldier Field, nearly 20 years to the day of the last-ever Grateful Dead concert, which took place at the same venue. “Fare Thee Well: Celebrating 50 Years of Grateful Dead” will take place over three nights – July 3rd, 4th, and 5th, 2015 – and mark the original members’ last-ever performance together. The band will be joined by Trey Anastasio (Guitar), Jeff Chimenti (Keyboards) and Bruce Hornsby (Piano), and will perform two sets of music each night.

In the tradition of the original Grateful Dead Ticketing Service, tickets will be available via a first come first serve mail order system starting on January 20th, followed by an online pre-sale through Dead Online Ticketing February 12th and will be available online to the general public on February 14th via Ticketmaster.

Soldiers Field in Chicago was the site of the last Grateful Dead concert in 1995.

CLOSING NOTES --- As I emerged from a downtown subway on 23rd street and made my way to the exit, I heard a subway musician play America’s “Sister Golden Hair” and Bread’s “Make It With You.” Great choices to say the least. Sign him up …

Were those SNL/Justin Bieber skits not the funniest thing you've seen in ages? SNL’s Kate McKinnon and Cecily Strong just brilliant ripping the Biebs-Calvin Klein ads.. Take a look:

I saw Chevy Chase on the Today Show last Friday, tub thumpping SNL's upcoming 40 year anniversary, and was devastated by how awful he looked and sounded. Raspy, way overweight and moving unsteadily ... it was horrible.

Saw Big Eyes this weekend and just adored it. Amy Adams and Christoph Walz just off the charts. And, it was the second Tim Burton movie I watched from the second row .... the first was Big Fish. More Wednesday.