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Local Scene: Thanksgiving is a time to reflect and give thanks
Local Scene

Local Scene: Thanksgiving is a time to reflect and give thanks

As this is Thanksgiving and this week also marks the 40th anniversary since my first column appeared in the pages of The Times way back in November of 1982, I wanted to take a reflective moment and a few inches of column space to say "THANK YOU!" to a few of the countless people who have contributed to my four decades as a print journalist, radio host/producer and music promoter.

We all learn from the many people whose paths cross with ours over the years, and some of those who most impacted me professionally include:

My Highland High school communications teacher Joe Fetty, a young educator who cared enough to set a wayward kid on the path to a career that has been fruitful and filled with adventure. Mr. Fetty started me on a journey that prevented me from falling victim to what easily could have been a misspent youth.

Joe Sotiros of Hegewisch Records gave me my first chance at being a writer and I learned much about the record industry and music business while serving as editor of the Hegewisch-produced, "Night Rock News." Chicago photographer Linda Matlow and her company PIX International enlisted me as the writing half of what became a hugely successful entertainment journalism team that put my byline into many national magazines and got me a gig writing liner notes for CBS Special Products for a spell.

On the radio side -- Thanks to newsman Morris Wayne (aka Morris Cochran) who gave me that valuable first job in radio. I worked overnights as a board engineer and put my toe in the water as a news writer for WLNR-106FM in Lansing, Illinois.

Thanks also to Scott Rosenberg (X-Rock 103.9 FM) who enticed me back to doing radio after I had stepped away for a while, and to Don Clark who made me afternoon drive host at the "X." Thank you to Tavis Buchan and Tom Maloney at Lakeshore Public Radio who in 2012 brought me in as a National Public Radio show host/producer. Thanks to WIMS-AM/FM General Manager Ric Federighi for the opportunity last year to return to doing "free-form" radio, as I now do every Sunday from 6-9 p.m. via my "Needle Drop" program.

I would be remiss to not also thank the many editors I have worked under at numerous national and local publications since the late 1970s, including the dozen or so editors I have had here at The Times in the four decades since I started covering the NWI/Chicago music scene in these pages.

Thank you to my father, Ernest Lounges, who instilled in me a tireless work ethic and the belief that one must always work hard to be the best they can be, and to always go for the brass ring, no matter how far out of reach it may seem. Thanks to my wife Alice Lounges for always being supportive and letting me continue to chase that brass ring.

Last but not least, THANK YOU to the many readers, listeners, entertainers and music fans who have been along with me on a wonderful journey that I hope will continue for many more years to come. HAPPY THANKSGIVING TO ALL!


• The enormous log cabin sitting empty at 8101 Wicker Ave. in St. John, once a hub for dining, drinking and rocking to live music has been shuttered since 2013. After nearly a decade of being shuttered, the 15,000-square foot venue once known as Northwoods, reopens this week under the new name of Northwood Falls by new owners Jeff and Dana Conti, the husband/wife team behind the popular chain of regional coffee shops, Coffee Cabin. The buzz has been growing steadily louder as such area bands such as Nawty, Crawpuppies, Jessi & The Fizz and Mr. Funnyman have been booked for performances. More: or 219-351-5148.

• Hobart Art Theater (230 Main St.) in Hobart hosts the Friday night return of "Midgets With Attitude Wrestling" ( Showtime: 7 p.m. Tickets start at $20 with VIP seating available. A "Saturday Night Dance Party" features DJ Bad Boy Bill of the iconic Chicago radio mix posse, The Hot Mix 5. The show starts at 9 p.m. Tickets start at $25. The rescheduled date for last weekend's postponed concert by Central Indiana rising national recording artist, Colton Chapman, has been set for March 18. More:

• Party rock group The Spazzmatics returns to Hard Rock Casino Northern Indiana (5400 W. 29th Ave.) in Gary for a 9 p.m. performance at the Hard Rock Cafe Stage. On Saturday, the Cafe stage welcomes Gary's own first family of the blues, The Kinsey Report. More: 219-228-2383.

• Leroy's Hot Stuff (333 West U.S. 20) in Porter features two of the region's best dance-rock groups to shake things up for Thanksgiving weekend as The High Street Band takes the stage on Friday, followed Saturday by the sensational R&B/funk group, Together. Music starts both nights at 8 p.m. The weekly Sunday "Blues Jam" (7 to 11 p.m.) is hosted by Corey Dennison. More: or 219-926-6211.

• Friday finds NWI acoustic music duo Chris & Lou at Elements Wine Bar (23 Washington St.) in Valparaiso. On Saturday Dead To Rights returns to Elements for a night of Grateful Dead and jam band tunes. Music at 7 p.m. nightly. More:

• The vibrant young band of Regionites -- Apollo Selene -- returns home for the holiday weekend from their Bloomington base to rock their NWI fan base on Friday at 313 Tap Room (313 Ridge Road) in Munster from 8 to 11 p.m. and again on Saturday at White Rhino (101 Joliet St.) in Dyer from 9 p.m. to midnight. The indie-rock group hit this writer's radar earlier this year after its vocalist -- Tatum Hernandez -- began popping up at area "open mics." Watch for the band to release its debut digital single, "Times of Never," on Dec. 17. More:

• The Jessi & Michael duo (of Jessi & The Fizz) performs 7-10 p.m. Friday at The Luna Kitchen (600 Gateway Blvd.) in Chesterton. More:

• Musicians of all ages are welcome at the family-friendly 6-9 p.m. "Monday Open Mic Night" at The Record Bin (1601 Franklin St.) in Michigan City, which features rotating guest hosts each week, with most backline provided. This Monday's host Jack Whittle. More: 219-210-3813.

• Blues-rock guitarist/vocalist Jack Whittle also steps in as the guest DJ for this Sunday's 6-9 p.m. WIMS-AM/FM radio program, "Needle Drop," which spins only vinyl records. The various visiting DJs bring in LPs from their own collections, so the style and groove of the program shifts a bit from week to week. Tune in at AM1420, 95.1FM, 106.7FM and via the tune-in app --

• Various songs from Northwest Indiana singer/songwriter/guitarist Eric Lambert's latest album, "Beating The Odds," continue to land on radio and podcast playlists around the globe. One of the most powerful tunes on the John Carpenter-produced collection is Lambert's moving homage to late civil rights leader John Lewis. View the powerfully visual, newsreel-style music video Lambert, Carpenter and Mindi Monroe Productions have created for the song  which is now catching fire on social media at:

Opinions are solely those of the writer. Reach him at


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