It is with much sadness that I write about Mike Dykes, age 57, a beloved member of the regional music community who passed away Feb. 25. Very involved in the local music scene for many years, Mike was the dedicated manager and promoter for The Highway Band, a blues-rock group who under Mike’s guiding hand released four solid albums and rose to become a top drawing musical attraction in Northwest Indiana during the decade of the 2000s.
Mike Dykes was relentless when it came to promoting “his boys” as he often referred to the band. The phone calls and emails to this columnist were many over the years because he was the kind of band manager who broke a sweat, stayed up late and gave his best for his band.
More than just a hard worker with a persistent nature, Mike was always quick to step up and help with fundraising and benefit events, especially those aiding local musicians. Mike Dykes was simply a sweetheart of a guy whose smile lit up a room and whose presence always made an event more enjoyable. Mike was laid to rest March 2 at Salem Cemetery in Hebron. My condolences to his wife Becky Dykes, their children and all others in his family. Mike will be missed by all of us whose lives intersected with his over the years.
• Tom Paxton traded his Oklahoma home for New York’s Greenwich Village in the early 1960s just in time to join Bob Dylan’s posse along with Joan Baez, Dave Von Ronk, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott and other coffeehouse troubadours. He later became a fixture in Chicago’s Old Town music venues. On March 21 and 22, the 77-year-old Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award winner will perform his final concerts at The Old Town School of Folk Music (4544 N. Lincoln Ave.) on what he is calling his “retirement tour.” Sharing the bill for Paxton’s farewell shuffle through his favorite old haunts is Janis Ian.
Paxton’s latest album “Redemption Road” – his 63rd career album - was released this week on his own Pax Records. The folk legend plans to continue writing and releasing music, but has grown weary of the road. Showtime: 7 p.m. Cost: $38. More: (773) 728-6000, oldtownschool.org or tompaxton.com.
•Classic rock trio – 3 Peace – will be busting out tunes on March 14 to help the family of Tara Conley-Main keep up with their monthly living expenses and mounting medical costs. The 5 to 11 p.m. event happens at the Lowell VFW Post 6841 (17401 Morse Street) in Lowell. $8 donation includes a pot luck buffet. More: Sandra (219) 251-0010.
• Chicago guitar virtuoso Kevin M. Buck is now pulling double duty. No stranger to replicating the riffs of some of rock’s greatest six-stringers as band leader of the Ozzy Osbourne/Black Sabbath tribute group, Blizzard of Ozz, Buck officially joined the ranks as the lead guitarist for Metallica tribute act, Blackened. He debuted with the band last Saturday at the Cubby Bear on West Addison in Chicago. Buck also has some mighty tasty original albums under his belt that guitar aficionados would be advised to check out via his web site: kevinmbuck.com.
• Chicago alt-popsters Plain White T’s return to rock their hometown peeps with an 8 p.m. show at House of Blues (329 N. Dearborn) on April 8, for fans 17 and older. Cost: $25. More (312) 923-2000 or houseofblues.com/chicago.
• Springing ahead on our clocks last weekend was the first indication, but there is no doubt spring is upon us once that first announcement of the year is made about the latest M&R Rush “tour,” because the veteran Windy City rockers only do warm weather shows.
• Fans who appeased M&R with drawls with repeat viewings of the band’s recently released DVD, “An Evening with M&R RUSH: Live at The Beverly Arts Center,” can slip the disc back in the box on May 9 when the boys kick off another season of live dates at the newly remodeled Bourbon Street (3359 W. 115th St.) in Merrionette Park, Ill. More: mandrrush.com.
• Brit progressive rock icon Michael Rutherford of Genesis will guest at 6 p.m. on 89.1FM-LakeShore Public Radio’s “Midwest BEAT with Tom Lounges” program. Rutherford is back on the road celebrating the 30th anniversary of his other famous band, Mike & The Mechanics. He stops in Chicago for a double-nighter March 20 and 21 at Chicago’s Park West (322 W. Armitage). More: jamusa.com/park-west or (773) 929-1322.
• On March 19, Dan Ward – the owner of DC’s Country Junction (3599 W. 161st Ave.) in Lowell - will guest on a special edition of “Midwest BEAT” to talk about Northwest Indiana’s oldest country music venue celebrating its 40th Anniversary, its history and the special party planned on March 21 at DC’s. More: (219) 696-4955 or facebook.com/dcscountryjunction. LakeShore radio programs stream live at: lakeshorepublicmedia.org