The South Side’s most eclectic music club -- FitzGerald’s at 6615 W. Roosevelt in
Berwyn -- continues to celebrate its 33rd anniversary by bringing two favorite artists back for consecutive nights of great music hot enough to melt away all memories of recent snow storms and frigid weather.
The Marcia Ball Band will fire up the venue’s “20th Annual Jambalaya Cook-Off” first on March 3. Next up is C. J. Chenier and the Red Hot Louisiana Band to give Fat Tuesday on March 4 a true Louisiana flavor.
Marcia Ball was FitzGerald's first national touring act back in 1981. Since then, the raucous piano great has returned year after year, bringing her brand of rollicking Golf Coast R&B, soulful ballads and Texas stomp. Ball has been nominated for several Grammys and has garnered scores of other awards during her career. Ball’s first set is 8pm with a second set after the “cook off” judging is completed and the winner crowned at 9pm. Tickets are $20.
Truth be known, it was actually Marcia during her four-night stand in 1981 who convinced club owner Bill FitzGerald to book in more Louisiana music in his venue. One performer in particular she suggested was Zydeco great Clifton Chenier who created a lot of excitement when brought to Berwyn for a four-night stand a few months later.
Clifton Chenier, who received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the recent Grammy ceremony, returned to FitzGerald’s many times until his death in 1987. Since then, his son C.J. Chenier has carried on the tradition with the Red Hot Louisiana Band. The night begins with a traditional jazz set by Roy Rubenstein’s Chicago Hot 6 at 5:30pm, followed two sets by Chenier at 8:30 pm. Tickets are $20.
“On Fat Tuesday, we will unveil a large framed photograph of Clifton Chenier taken by Chicago photographer Marc PoKempner during the Zydeco master’s first gig at FitzGerald’s, which will then hang in the club permanently,” reported Fitzgerald.
FitzGerald’s celebrates Lundi Gras with the “20th Annual Jambalaya Cook-off Grand Finale,” featuring a competition between 10 past champions. Owner Fitzgerald is quick to note, “This will be the final year for jambalaya; gumbo is on the menu for next year.” As usual, free tastings will be offered of all entries. Louisiana cuisine will be featured fair on both nights. More: www.fitzgeraldsnightclub.com.
• Portage native and keytar god Jeff Abbott – long recognized and hailed and as a stellar and gifted talent by international legit music media outlets (i.e. “Keyboard Magazine,” “Musician Magazine,” etc.) has made it to the heights of modern pop culture glory alongside the likes of Miley, Gaga and The Kardashians, by landing favorably in the show biz ramblings of the hugely popular celebrity blog site - www.BuzzFeed.com. T ype Jeff Abbott in the “search” box to see a variety of photos and performance videos of the Hoosier Keytarman kickin’ up dust.
• One of the region’s most veteran bands – FOX -- who date back to the early 1970s and still boast an all original line-up hit a local stage this weekend. Shouts of “Tally Ho!’ will be heard as old school rockers hunt down the FOX boys at The Croatian Center (8550 Taft/SR 55) in Merrillville on Saturday, March 1. The “Rock With Fox” party begins at 7pm and is a fundraiser for the non-profit organization Midwest Musicians Foundation, Inc. $5 Donation /18 & Over. More: (219) 738-2400.
• Chicago metal group I Decline’s latest recording, "The Force Within Us," is the theme song for critically-acclaimed “Star Wars” fan documentary of the same name which focuses on the obsession “Star Wars” fans have with collectibles and costumes, while exploring why the fictional space saga affects some lives so deeply. The I Decline tune was mixed by studio wiz Tadpole (of Disturbed fame). Download it at: www.theforceamongus.com. More on the band: www.i-decline.com.
• Northwest Indiana singer/songwriter Jef Sarver has scored a weekly 8-11pm house gig on Thursdays during March at The Rusty Nail (2420 Dombey Road) in Portage. Sarver will mix classic covers with originals and will likely use this acoustic rock platform to spotlight tunes from his latest CD, “Eight.” Sarver’s disc made aptly enough to the #8 spot on this columnist’s “Annual Top 10 Regional Albums” list for 2013. More: www.jefsarver.com or (219) 850-4675.
• Crown Point troubadour and modern folk-rocker – Robert Rolfe Feddersen – has been tapped to open the show on Sunday for the rare solo acoustic concert by Derek St. Holmes, vocalist and guitarist of The Ted Nugent Band at The Chicago Street Theatre (154 W. Chicago Street) in Valparaiso. Feddersen takes stage at 7pm.
The former front man/vocalist of mid-‘90s rock band Loudmouth (Hollywood Records), has been heavily promoting his latest album, "American Loser” (produced by Steve Albini), through live performances around the Midwest and a massive online video assault via YouTube. Feddersen has amassed a large and loyal online following through his lyrics addressing working class issues and common man feelings. He sings the things most people think in these uncertain times. More: www.robertrolfefeddersen.com.
Email Tom Lounges at email@example.com