When “The Local Scene” column spotlighted the ongoing Big Band music series at Fitzgerald’s Night Club (6615 West Roosevelt Road) in Berwyn, the email response from readers was strong. It seems quite a few folks were in search of a venue that offered up such vintage sounds.
I expect such will be the case once again as this week’s column reports on how the same popular South Side music haunt has started - “The Side Bar Sessions” - a new weekly series at 8 p.m. Wednesdays featuring acoustic performances by top regional jazz musicians. Cover for each of the 21 and older shows is $5.
The series successfully kicked off this week with a very well-received performance by The New Standard Quintet and will continue throughout the rest of the month with the following groups:
The Peter Lerner Quartet (Feb. 13) is fronted by namesake guitarist Lerner who composed his first tune at the age of eight. Lerner has gone on to perform with The Chicago Jazz Ensemble, Gladys Knight, Ramsey Lewis, Bootsy Collins, Tito Puente, Pattie LaBelle and other top names. The PLQ has released three albums.
The Jarod Bufe Quartet (Feb. 20) is a relatively new project anchored by Bufe, who is best known for playing Big Band music with Bill O’Connell's Chicago Skylines and The Paul Windsor Orchestra.
Bakerzmillion (Feb.27) is an all-star sextet co-led by trombonist Steve Baker and pianist Steve Million. The group plays old-school jazz in the tradition of the Blue Note groups of the 1960s and have been crowd-pleasing regulars at such popular downtown venues as The Jazz Showcase and The Green Mill.
For more information on Fitzgerald's new series, the continuing Big Band series and the venue's full entertainment schedule, log on at: www.fitzgeraldsnightclub.com.
• Classic rock teen group, Gerhart, unplug their amps to perform a special two-hour, all-ages acoustic concert Saturday (8-10 p.m. at The Jelly Pancake House in Dyer. While the local breakfast eatery has been hosting a monthly open stage night for all ages of local music lovers and players since December, this is the first "concert" being presented. Admission: $5.
• Congrats to Capitol Records group The Decemberists for landing at #26 on the 2012 year end “Hits Media Base” triple-A radio charts with their single, “Calamity Song.” The internationally famous band features multi-instrumentalist Chris Funk, a native of Valparaiso and graduate of Valparaiso High School. Funk has also enjoyed success with his side project, Black Prairie, who record for the Sugar Hill Records label.
• Early Warning! A “one night only reunion concert”is set to take place on March 15 at The Abbey Pub (3420 W. Grace) in Chicago featuring the original members of The Drovers – multi-instrumentalist Kathleen Keane, guitarist/vocalist Mike Kirkpatrick, and drummer Jackie Moran, bassist/vocalist Dave Callahan. The four founders will be joined on stage by latter day member, Irish fiddler Chris Bain. The Drovers play a tasty and stylish blend of rock and Irish music and released a handful of albums during the 1990s produced by Windy City studio wiz Steve Albini. The group formed on St. Patrick’s Day 1988 and ceased performing in 2002.
• Blues pianist/singer/songwriter/guitarist Ann Rabson died Jan. 30 after a long battle with cancer. She was 67. Co-founder of the hugely successful trio Saffire – The Uppity Blues Women, Rabson recorded eight albums with Saffire and one solo CD for Chicago-based Alligator Records.
Alligator founder and president Bruce Iglauer, who also produced Rasbson had this to say -- "Our dear friend Ann Rabson was an extraordinary blues singer, pianist and guitarist and a delightful, smart and funny person. She brought her talent, intelligence and intense love for the blues tradition to every piece of music she played and sang. Ann never gave her music or the rest of her life less than 100 percent of her commitment. She was a loyal friend, a dedicated champion of the blues, a loving partner to her husband George, and an unforgettable woman. We were blessed to have known her." More: www.Alligator.com.