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The sudden death last Friday of Bad Examples bassist Tom “Pickles” Piekarski, age 61, shocked and saddened the Chicagoland music community which he had been a part of since 1972.

He was born May 31, 1952 in Humboldt Park and spent his childhood there, moving to McHenry, Ill. in 1997 to care for his parents.

A heart attack at his McHenry home took the life of this much respected and beloved veteran player recognized as much for his dark sunglasses and beret, as for laying down the groove for such famous regional groups as Mike Jordan & The Rockamatics and The Bad Examples.

Other groups who benefitted from his musical skills, include Betsy & The Boneshakers, The Blue Balls, JP & The Cats, Bucky Halker, and globally famous children’s music group, Ralph's World.

Although a cornerstone of The Bad Examples’ hook-heavy sound and energetic live shows from 1988 until his untimely death last week, Mr. Piekarski may best be remembered by those outside of the Midwest for his time with Chicago folk-rock icon, John Prine, whose band came to be called The Famous Potatoes.

My own relationship with Mr. Piekarski was casual and consisted mostly of handshakes and warm hellos when our paths crossed but like so many others I was a huge fan of his playing and held him in high esteem.

A gifted player and a consummate professional who added much color and soul to the Chicagoland music scene, Pickles will be greatly missed by the many friends and fans he leaves behind, many of who gathered Wednesday for a musical celebration of his life at Fitzgerald’s in Berwyn.


• “The Man Behind The Music” benefit concert at the Lake County Fairgrounds (Pavilions 4 and 5) from 2 to 8 p.m. Sunday is to honor, thank and raise funds for Calvin Belt.

Mr. Belt, who is undergoing chemo treatments for leukemia, has been part of the Northwest Indiana music community since the late 1960s as a top musical equipment repairman. He began his career 33 years ago at Karnes Music in Hammond, before moving to Foster’s Music and Glen Park Music, before finally setting up shop at Music Lab in Lansing.

Scheduled to perform are: The Kinsey Report, The Robots, The Wolverine Brothers, Nick Danger Band, Steepwater, Short Cuts and The Hillside Twanglers. A variety of food, beer, soft drinks, hourly raffles and a silent auction will also be featured. Donation $10. 21 and older only.

Monetary donations are being taken at all locations of Citizens Financial, payable to: “Benefit For Calvin Belt.” For bank location and address information:

• Folks blues it up Saturday (Noon to 10 p.m.) at “The 7th Annual LaPorte County Blues Fest.” The fest at Fox Memorial Park is sponsored by the LaPorte Police FOP to raise funds for Drug Awareness and other county programs. Featured artists are: Elwood Splinters Blues Band, The Little Frank Blues Imperials, Southside Denny & The Snyders, Studebaker John, Andrew Junior Boy Jones, Joanna Connors, and Eddie Shaw & The Wolf Gang. Food, games and fun for the whole family is offered along with the music. Admission: $15. More info: (219) 326-0595 or

• “The 22nd Annual Hobart Lakefront Festival” features live music at dusk from top area bands this weekend. Tonight is classic rock group The Crawpuppies coupled with a Laser Light Show, Saturday features the pop/dance music of Nawty with a Laser Light Show, and wraps up with rock band The Difference on Sunday. More: (219) 942-2987 or

• The Hobart City Improvement Committee’s summer concert series on Thursday evenings (7-10pm) at Revelli Band Shell in Festival Park (111 E. Old Ridge Road) continues with Samuel Lozada & The Mo’ Town Blues Band on August 22, followed by a Fab Four tribute show presented by Meet The Beatles on August 29. For the last concert of the season on September 5, The Piano Man: Bob Heckler performs. More: or (219) 406-1938.

The opinions expressed are solely the writer's. Reach him at


Entertainment Editor/Features Reporter

Eloise is A&E Editor and a food, entertainment and features writer for The Times, subjects she has covered for over two decades in and around the Region. She was the youngest of eight in a Chicago household filled with fantastic cooks and artists.