Being a college town and known for its support of the arts, Valparaiso has become quite a destination point in recent years for those with eclectic musical tastes. Along with the many shows at the historic Memorial Opera House covered in these pages recently, are the many Sunday evening shows presented on the other side of the downtown square at Chicago Street Theatre by local producer Paul Braun.
“The concert series is called ‘One Night Jam’ and I’ve been doing these shows for many years,” said Braun. “But this is the first time ever that I’m going into a new season with eight shows already booked. There are also several more in the works, with schedules and details being worked out.”
Braun is bringing back some of the artists who have proven to be popular in the past and slipping in some fresh faces and sounds as well.
The first “One Night Jam” of 2015 fits both descriptions. New York singer/songwriter Sarah Dooley makes her first appearance for Braun at 7:30 p.m. Sunday but at the same time is revisiting the stage where she performed as a child in community theater while growing up in Valparaiso.
“Sarah went through our theater classes here as CST and this past year has released her album ‘Stupid Things’ and brings her upbeat and quirky pop songs to share with hometown friends and fans.” “This is ‘An Evening With…’ kind of show, with no opening act. It’s all Sarah all night,” noted Braun. More: SarahDooleyMusic.com.
Among those national performers returning to the One Night Jam series in 2015 by popular demand are Dan Navarro, Callaghan, Acoustic Eidolon, Jim Peterik, and Derek St. Holmes.
“Dan (Navarro) has the distinction of being our longest running One Night Jam artist,” Braun said of the man best known as half of the famous songwriting/performing duo Lowen & Navarro. “After Eric Lowen retired and passed away, Dan forged ahead. While always paying tribute to the Lowen & Navarro legacy by performing songs like ‘We Belong,’ ‘Walking on a Wire’ and ‘Broken Moon,” Dan’s live set also includes new songs like ‘Bulletproof’ and ‘Let Her Ride’.” Navarro performs at 7:30 p.m. Feb 15. Opening for Navarro is regional folk trio SongSisters (Patti Shaffner, Sue Fink and Amy Dixon-Kolar) who offer up harmonies reminiscent of the classic folk vocal groups of the 1960s. More: DanNavarro.com.
British-born singer/songwriter Callaghan hangs her hat in Nashville these days, making it easier for her to tour America now that her star is rising. “Callaghan returns to CST on March 15 for a 7:30 p.m. performance celebrating the release of her newest album, “A History of Now.” ‘Her first show here sold out and this one is already 2/3 sold, so I’m very excited to have her coming back to us,” said Braun. More: CallaghanSongs.com.
"On March 29, we are bringing back one of my favorite artists, Acoustic Eidolon, for a 7:30 p.m. show,” Braun said. “Guitarist Joe Scott and his cellist wife Hannah Alkire are truly two positive, lovely people to work with and listen to. My wife and I saw this duo years ago at a house concert. It’s really hard to put their music in a box, which is what makes it fascinating. It’s a blend of folk, classical, Celtic and Flamenco, or as Joe describes it -- ‘World Music For The Soul’.” More: AcousticEidolon.com.
New to the CST stage this season is Switchback, a Celtic-Americana act who sell out all over the country. “It’s taken awhile to get a date with them, but we have finally made it happen,” said Braun. “We’re getting the ‘duo version’ featuring Brian Fitzgerald and Martin McCormack. This is a chance to hear two master storytellers.” Performance is April 19 at 7:30 p.m. More: waygoodmusic.com.
The next two shows on the schedule – Jim Peterik and Derek St. Holmes -- are personal favorites of Braun, who is a major fan of classic rock.
Jim Peterik (performing at 7 p.m. April 26) co-founded both The Ides of March in the 1960s and Survivor in the late 1970s. A guitarist/keyboardist and vocalist, Peterik is the guy who wrote or co-wrote more than a dozen Top 40 hits for a variety of musical groups besides his own. More: jimpeterik.com.
Derek St. Holmes is the lead singer of the Ted Nugent Band whose voice is heard on such Nuge hits as “Stranglehold,” “Cat Scratch Fever,” “Snakeskin Cowboys,” “Great White Buffalo,” and others.
“Last year when we had Derek at CST, nobody was sure how songs like those would work on a Gibson acoustic in this kind of intimate venue, but Derek proved that great songs can rock in any kind of format and situation,” said Braun, clearly thrilled to be having St. Holmes returning May 31 for a 7 p.m. show. More: derekstholmes.net.
The last of the currently scheduled “One Night Jam” series concerts features another newcomer to the stage – Claude Bourbon – who performs at 7 p.m. Oct. 4. “Bourbon is a French-born, Swiss guitarist who heard about Chicago Street Theatre after seeing it listed on Acoustic Eidolon’s web site,” said Braun. More: claudebourbon.org.
Braun said at least a few more shows will be added for the fall portion of the season, along with a few summer shows for the CST’s upper level “Edith’s Attic” living room stage. More: ChicagoStreet.org/concerts or (219) 464-8778.