Saturday, December 20, 2008

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Chicago Bluegrass and Blues - Congress Theater
Chicago Bluegrass and Blues
Wow, look at the artists lined up for this one-day festival on Sat, Nov 22nd.
The David Grisman Quintet
The Avett Brothers
Lil' Ed & the Blues Imperials
Mike Mangione
and a bunch of others that I've honestly never heard of but probably should have by now.
(At least I'm being honest!)
It's a long day from 12 noon 'til Midnight at the Congress Theater. At $31, the all-day ticket is a bargain. Click the link above for more info.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Look for the Union Label

Look for the Union Label
A song by Paula Green, music by Malcolm Dodds ©1975, UNITE
Union of Needltrades, Industrial and Textile Employees
(formerly International Ladies' Garment Workers'Union and other unions)

Look for the union label
when you are buying that coat, dress or blouse.

Remember somewhere our union's sewing,
our wages going to feed the kids, and run the house.

We work hard, but who's complaining?
Thanks to the I.L.G. we're paying our way!

So always look for the union label,
it says we're able to make it in the U.S.A.!

Play the MP3 here

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


Alex Joseph Polaski, 18, passed away on August 13, 2008, at Ivinson Memorial Hospital in Laramie, Wyoming, after a brief bout with a stomach virus that developed into pneumonia.

Alex was born in Chicago at Northwestern Hospital on November 17, 1989, and grew up in Oak Park in the Gunderson Historic District. He attended kindergarten and grades 1 through 4 at Ascension School, transferred to Beye School for 5th and 6th grades and then went on to the new Percy Julian Middle School for 7th and 8th grades, graduating in 2004.

While at Beye and Percy Julian, Alex studied clarinet. He played baseball in the Mustang and Bronco leagues during the summer, soccer in the fall and ice hockey during the winters. Alex was also a member of the Cub Scouts while at Ascension and later was in Troop 16 with the Boy Scouts, with which he attended camp-outs at Camp Shin-Go-Beek, explored the Mammoth Caves, and climbed Mt. Rainer during the summer of 2004. He spent time in the summers in Philadelphia where his grandparents lived, often vacationing at Ocean City, New Jersey.

Alex attended Oak Park River Forest High School where his interest in clarinet and saxophone led to his playing in the marching band under the direction of Mr. Scotty Jones. Alex played with the band at the Peach Bowl in 2006. He became known to his friends as "AJ" to some and "Cracker" to others.

Alex developed an interest in cars early in life and it led to his desire to attend Wyotech in Laramie, Wyoming years before his graduation from OPRF in 2008. Before learning to drive, Alex had developed an interest in RC electric and gas cars, racing them at Hobbytown before its closing and at a track in DeKalb, Illinois. He also had a tremendous interest in modern bands and "techno" music, collecting hundreds of CDs and other tunes on his iPod.

Alex had developed a close group of friends, all of whom valued his friendship as part of many close two-way friendships. Many of his friends and some of their parents considered him a great influence in their lives with his ever-present sharp wit, easy infectious smile and willingness to help wherever he was needed.

Upon graduation from OPRF, Alex reached his goal and began attending Wyotech in Laramie, Wyoming in July 2008 after a 12 day European trip that took him to London, Paris and Berlin with his parents. Once at Wyotech, he had begun to take the basic automotive courses until the illness struck him.

All through his short life Alex was known for his passion in all things he did, and he never lost his child-like exuberance and twinkle in his eye. He lived his life dancing on the white lines at the edge of the road and looking like a multi-colored skyrocket along the way! Alex is survived by his parents, Jim and Anne Polaski of Oak Park, and his grandmother, Marjorie Spencer of Westchester, and by his many friends.

Visitation will be at Drechsler Brown and Williams Funeral Home, 203 S. Marion, Oak Park, on Thursday, August 21, from 2-9 pm and the Funeral Mass will be held at Ascension Church, 815 S. East Avenue, Oak Park, on Friday August 22 at 10 am. Interment will be private.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the American Lung Association.

Alex's friends have created a Facebook memorial group on which you may write a message.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Saturday, July 26, 2008

2 Banjos, Fiddle + Cello = Mighty Fine Newgrass


Abigail Washburn and the Sparrow Quartet
Featuring Béla Fleck
With Casey Driessen and Ben Sollee

Saturday, September 13, 2008
7:30 p.m
Lund Auditorium
Dominican University

For tickets and information: (708) 488-5000 or

See a Newsweek online video feature here.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Jack Swain and Bob Lopardo are performing at 9:30PM as The Righteous Roadrunners & the Broken-Winged Angels Choir (actually, Jack and Bob are the Roadrunners, and they will be accompanied by John Milne and Dean Milano (bass and vocals), who are the Angels); while Jack's daughter is the lead singer and namesake of the 10:30PM act, Roxy Swain.

More info at And remember FitzGeralds is now smoke-free!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Mighty Fine Collection of 78s

A collector of old-time 78rpm records has digitized 3600+ titles from his collection with more than 2350 posted as MP3s. Check it out here:

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Make Your Own Guitar Exercises Online Select Your Exercise

With a simple, point-and-click menu, GuitarCardio lets you make finger exercises with tablature and diagrams you can print easily to use anytime. Select the key, choose a scale (major, minor, pentatonic, etc.), which root string to start and difficulty ... Viola! ... you've got a tablature page to print and play.

Now if somebody made one of these for the Dobro!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Skaggs Family Records :: Cadillac Sky

Click here to stream songs from Cadillac Sky's forthcoming Skagg's Family CD. I stumbled upon this new band on MySpace. They play some mighty fine bluegrass that's steeped in tradition while updating the form with unique arrangements, original harmonic ideas and just plain ol' hot pickin'.

Blogged with the Flock Browser

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Bob Huston sent word of a Sunday Jam Session in Chicago at Independence Park, corner of Irving Park and North Hamlin. See the Google Map below:

View Larger Map

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Jeremy Spencer and band

We start the month with the annual American Music Festival. Henhouse Prowlers play all night in the SideBar on Wednesday. The wonderful New Orleans-based rockabilly/bluegrass duo Jeff & Vida are in the SideBar all night Saturday.

Headliners of note include Chuck Prophet and Pat McLaughlin on Wed, Susan Cowsill, Terry Evans and Tributosaurus as The Allman Brothers on Thu, Paul Thorn on Fri, and Rosie Flores, Joe Ely with Joel Guzman and Robbie Fulks on Sat.

Now, for the rest of the month.

Tue 6/8 is Open Mic in the Club. Fri 7/11 is Jeremy Spencer (pictured above), the original Fleetwood Mac guitarist. Sat 7/12 brings the Americana singer-songwriter Tift Merritt.

Not to be missed! On Thu 7/24 there's a showcase of Spade Kitty Records artists including Roxy Swain (aka Jack's daughter) in her formal debut with their permanent 5-piece lineup.

Also on the bill is The Righteous Roadrunners and the Broken-Winged Angels Choir, featuring Jack "Gunslinger" Swain himself.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Small Time Singers

Small Time Singers
Originally uploaded by paulmcaleer
It's funny what pops up when you search Flickr for "oak" "park" and "bluegrass." Though I can't agree with the comment about Mary's facial expressions.

Tributosaurus becomes The Allman Bros.

at the Fitzgerald's American Music Festival

6615 Roosevelt Road - Berwyn IL
10:15pm - $25 festival admission
Tickets available at the gate - no advance sales
Blogged with the Flock Browser

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


Jim and Mary's son Adam is performing at Martyr's with his worldbeat ensemble Euforquestra. More info at and

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


Utah Phillips - A short jog through a long memory

U. Utah Phillips has passed away in his sleep at 11:30PM PDT on May 23, 2008. Utah has caught the westbound, and I am at a great loss. For myself and my wife Pam, to Joanna and to all Utah's family and friends we express our deepest sympathy. We have lost a truly caring man. - Chris 05/24/08
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Friday, June 13, 2008

Upcoming Tuesdays at Skrine Chops

Tuesdays at Skrine Chops:

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Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Concerts & Events | Old Town School of Folk Music

"Few bands have produced instrumental virtuosos who can follow the lead of newgrass icons like Sam Bush, Tony Rice and David Grisman. The Waybacks, on the other hand, feature hot pickers who are destined to become revered new-acousticians" - Acoustic Guitar Magazine
Concerts & Events | Old Town School of Folk Music

Friday, June 20, 2008
| 8:00 PM
Gary and Laura Maurer Concert Hall :: 4544 N Lincoln Ave.
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Saturday, May 31, 2008

Congratulations to Rachel Baiman

Write Rachel a note of post-graduate well wishes on her MySpace page.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Master Class at Val's Halla with Corky Siegel

Val's Halla :: What's New
May 31 at 3:30 pm we are honored to host a Master Class by the master of all things musical - CORKY SIEGEL. Corky has a new book out called LET YOUR MUSIC SOAR and will come to the Val's halla Stage, ready to critique your talent and help you present it to the world --- a rare opportunity for teachers and students.

Call 708 524 1004 for more info.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Oak Park Farmer's Market Opening Day Kid's Video

A nice family from Oak Park made a lovely video of the opening day that features several moments of the Farmer's Market musicians performing. Take a look.

Front Row Fanatic Sweepstakes

The Henderson Crooked Road Series guitar was meticulously handcrafted and includes stunning mother of pearl details. Route 58, the route of The Crooked Road: Virginia’s Heritage Music Trail, as well as depictions of guitars and mandolins are inlaid on the fretboard. Expect to find “Henderson” inlaid in the headstock and in the purfling on the back. Henderson guitars are typically made of Appalachian spruce, rosewood, mahogany, and ebony. Enter now for your chance to win this rare instrument!
Front Row Fanatic Sweepstakes

This sweepstakes is posted by Virginia Is For Lovers (the tourism bureau) and the top two prizes are hand-made guitars, plus a vacation package. I'd say there'd be a better chance of winning for a promotion like this because it's not universally publicized. Sure, you need to give up some private info. But you ought to look at these guitars!
Blogged with the Flock Browser

Monday, May 26, 2008

Mighty Fine Video from Opening Day 2008

Ain't we got fun?!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Swain and Lopardo, that is. They're performing this coming Tuesday night at Skrine Chops on Madison Street in Forest Park (west of Harlem, east of Circle). Sets begin at 8:30 pm. Come early for the amazing chops, steaks and sides.

Mighty Fine Concert at Old Town School

Event Detail Concerts & Events
The Sparrow Quartet features world renowned banjoist, composer Bela Fleck, Grammy-nominated fiddler Casey Driessen, roots/classical cellist Ben Sollee, and the inimitable, unstoppable Abigail Washburn from Uncle Earl. The group became the first artists to tour Tibet and China on a US government sponsored cultural mission. With one foot rooted in the fiery sounds of Appalachia and the other in the Szechuan province, The Sparrow Quartet makes music for the global citizen.

Saturday, June 07, 2008
7:00 PM & 10:00 PM
Gary and Laura Maurer Concert Hall :: 4544 N Lincoln Ave.

Abigail Washburn & The Sparrow Quartet featuring Bela Fleck, Casey Driessen and Ben Sollee

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Mighty Fine Boston Band - Crooked Still
Crooked Still
Meet Crooked Still, the hot young alternative bluegrass group on a mission to bend the boundaries of traditional music. The unlikely combination of banjo, cello, and double-bass drives this low lonesome band, whose captivating vocals and high-wire solos have enraptured audiences all over North America and Ireland since 2001.


Hey I just stumbled upon this Boston band while shopping for tunes on eMusic. Their debut album "Shaken by a Low Sound" is filled with traditional American old-time/bluegrass tunes, but the performances are wonderful -- especially the vocals. You know, I've come to the point in my life at which the vocals are everything. And this album is lovely. Comparisons to the neo-roots band Ollabelle and its blend of male-and-female harmonies are unavoidable. Crooked Still brings its own unique instrumentation (including cello) and a Celtic edge.

Hear them on MySpace --

Saturday, May 17, 2008

The Replays at Ave Ale House

the Replays

Saturday, May 24, 2008
Avenue Ale House
825 S. Oak Park Ave.
Oak Park
First set at 9:30 PM

Cheaper than the Stones and slightly younger…

Friday, May 02, 2008

Surprisingly, the Oak Park Farmer's Market is opening early this year. The first weekend will be Sat., May 24th. Save the date.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Guitarist - The iPhone Guitar

Toss that ol' pre-war Martin ... you don't need it anymore! Just pick up your iPhone and get pickin' that good ol' Mountain Dew!

Guitarist - The iPhone Guitar
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Saturday, April 19, 2008

A Songwriter Writes About Songwriting

We Are Emotional Spies - Measure for Measure - Opinion - New York Times Blog
While I was finding my way as a songwriter, a colleague of mine, Ed Sanford, told me something I’ve since found to be very true. Songwriters, he said, are “emotional spies” — little creative crazies creeping around, sneaking in and out of our own emotions, watching, listening and remembering every bit of conversation with friends, family and every stranger we meet.

(Read the rest of the article by clicking the headline link above.)

Friday, April 18, 2008

The long-lost Open Mic at Molly's has quietly restarted. It begins at 9:00 pm every Sunday Night. And it's hosted by Laura Lopardo and her partner, Jamie.

Officially, it's listed as follows on the Molly Malone's MySpace page:
Open Mic w/ Jamie and Jim
7652 W. Madison Ave., NO COVER

Blogged with the Flock Browser

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Monday, April 14, 2008

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

The American Beauty Project

Saturday, April 19 - 7:30 pm
Tickets $43 / $33
Dominican University Performing Arts Center
Box Office 708-488-5000 or
Lund Auditorium, 7900 W Division, River Forest
Hear streaming audio on their Web site.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Chatham County Line: IV: Pitchfork Record Review
"IV is the most rewarding offering from Chatham County Line to date. It's a little bit bigger and a little more elaborate than its predecessors, but it's an incremental step toward something more expansive. It still retains the best elements of the band's music-- its separation from the moment. This music isn't a product of its era, but nor is it married to a bygone one. It's essentially timeless, both in terms of era and when I find I can listen to it. That's a quality any band would be happy to claim."
- Record Review 03-18-2008

Another great album from one of the new wave of young (under-30) string bands plying the back roads of Americana. CCL are functionally a bluegrass unit - guitar, banjo, fiddle, mandolin and double bass. But their music reflects their youth and diverse musical interests, but they never veer into the "newgrass"-cum-jazzesque fusion of the 70s generation. It's hard to pin a label on 'em. But the music's mighty fine!


For further festival information, VISIT THE WEB SITE call 217-243-3159 or email

Special Saturday Morning Open Stage & Showcase - 10:30 a.m.

Saturday Afternoon 1:00 - 5:00 p.m.
Separate Area - Workshops for acoustic Instruments - Adults & Youth.

Weekend Jamming Rooms - $5.00 Pass or Concert Ticket Required

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Mighty Fine Fiddler Alert! St. Pat's Day at FitzGerald's!

April Verch

April Verch - When you see
twenty-seven year old April Verch perform, the first thing that strikes
you is the pure energy that infuses her fiddle playing and stepdancing.
Infused with both Canadian and Appalachian influences, her fiddle
playing and vocals are a sweet mix of old and new. Award-winning
fiddler, step dancing expert and vocalist April Verch brings new
meaning to the word multi-tasking. A winner of both the Canadian Grand
Masters Fiddle and Open Fiddle Championships.

• In the Club: 8pm and
10pm (2 sets)

St. Patrick's Day Festival at FitzGerald's
On Monday, March 17th, when most clubs, bars and restaurants have had their fill of Irish partying from the weekend before, FitzGerald’s will open its backyard tent and club to host its own “féile” (festival) with non-stop music, food and dancing beginning at 2pm.

Next Gen of Chicago Singer-Songwriters

Where and when will we meet (and hear) the next Steve Goodman? Obviously, never. But there are new singers and songwriters cropping up among the under-30 generation who are carrying on. Many of them are mighty fine. To wit, Chicago Farmer. Check out his song "The Village" on his MySpace page. Mighty fine indeed.

album cover - Chicago Farmer - CHICAGO, Illinois - Folk -
About Chicago Farmer Cody is a folk-singers folk-singer and a poets poet. He was born and bred in Delavan IL, population 25, surrounded by the endless skies of the American Midwest. Before moving to Chicago in 2003, Cody tried his hand at sessions in Nashville and carefully hewed and tested his art in college town bars and honky-tonks around the Midwest.

He now plays regularly in the city and its not uncommon to see whole rooms full of strangers erupt and sing along to the choruses of his songs on their first listen (Ive seen it happen). Codys voice is powerful and gritty, emotionally piercing while subtly imbuing additional layers of meaning and poignancy in his lyrical delivery. His song-writing is deeply rooted in the American Folk tradition and all of its grit but with a post Dylan sense of wit, perspicacity and that certain savior-faire.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Black and white photo of old fiddlers

The Fiddle Club of the World (Chicago Chapter) : Fiddle Club of the World
The Fiddle Club of the World (Chicago Chapter) kicks off its inaugural season with a series of three monthly meetings that will each offer an unplugged concert by a featured guest musician. The concert will be followed by a jam session for club members with the featured guest. Several tunes from the upcoming meeting’s guest will be posted a month ahead of time on this website ( under the category “Tunes” linked on the right sidebar.

Monday, March 10, 2008

St Patrick's Day Gig

An Evening of Traditional Irish Music
featuring Devin Shepherd, Theresa Shine and Bob Locke
with special guests including Mary K and Bob Lopardo, Mary and Jim Grosso plus Jack Swain

Sat., March 15, 8:00 pm
1110 Pleasant Street, Oak Park
In the Carleton Hotel

Saturday, March 08, 2008

World Music Festival
To benefit the Music for Life Foundation providing instrumental music scholarships to needy students in Chicago and the Western Suburbs -

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Indian, Balkan and American Folk Music by
  • Sandalwood Sitar Ensemble (Sitar)
  • Cavatina Duo (Guitar and Flute)
  • Farmer's Market Band (American Folk)
  • and more!

with Guest MC Scott Thomas, WFMT radio personality

Saturday, March 15th
First United Church, 848 Lake Street, Oak Park (click for Google Map)
7:00 - 9:30 pm
Tickets available at the door: $15/person and $45/family
Information - 708 488 9280

Last Minute Concert Notice

Event Detail Concerts & Events
Carrie Newcomer is a multi-faceted singer-songwriter, storyteller, and activist who does not believe in having any one label stuck on her artistry. "Carrie is a touchstone of authenticity in an image-driven, media-defined musical world. She is a beautiful singer and songwriter, and deeply refreshing." –Rosanne Cash

Sunday, March 9th at 7:00pm in the Maurer Concert Hall of the Old Town School of Folk Music, 4544 N Lincoln Ave. $20 ($18 for OTS members); $16 seniors and kids. Box Office: 773-728-6000 or

Lincoln Elementary School's PTO is raising money to plant an inner-courtyard garden in honor of Marie Fegan, the longtime kindergarten teacher who passed away last year. OPFMB washboard, Dobro and kitchen sink picker Miguel Gonzalez is playing drums and singing with THE MEN FROM DAD. Food is by WISHBONE. Fitzgerald's is smoke free. And the cause is worthy.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Banjo + Orchestra Concert

Concert With Northside
College Prep Orchestra


This a very special concert featuring the
Chamber Orchestra
of Chicago's premier fine arts high school
performing a selection of Miles' works for banjo and

Program will include the Firefly
, Movements 1 and 3, as well as the Prelude to the
Yellowird Concerto.

North Side College Prep High School, 5501
N. Kedzie, Chicago.
Orchestra is under the direction of Leo Park.
Orchestration by Margaret James.


Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Long Gone Lonesome Boys at FitzGerald's - Long Gone Lonesome Boys
The LONG GONE LONESOME BOYS are John Milne, a California native, and Patrick Penney, a Georgia boy. They sound like brothers when they sing their beautiful alt-country songs together. If you like drinkin' songs, cheatin' songs, and great harmony singing you'll love these guys. Backing them up on mandolin/steel guitar are Chicago native Pat Keiner who also chimes in with wonderful tenor harmonies, Chicagoan Leslie Walle-Santos on drums, and Wisconsinite Jesse Woelfel on upright and electric bass.

Some friends from the FitzGerald's scene are playing there this Thursday, FEB 21. If you're not otherwise occupied, please try to stop by. FitzGerald's is now Smoke Free!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Borders Live at 01: Patty Griffin
"A distillation of bare-bones vocals and delicately sketched musical accompaniment, Patty Griffin's Children Running Through bears witness to a child's clear-eyed joy."

This is very nice. A live in-store performance from Borders Store #01 in Ann Arbor, MI. It's part of a series featuring acoustic and un-plugged songwriters; and it's free on the Web.
Borders Live at 01: Patty Griffin

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Monday, February 11, 2008

Group-Singing - Pete Seeger - Rise Up Singing - New York Times

Amateur group-singing has been around forever, of course, at bars, churches, schools, camps and stadiums. Community sings like the one in East Lansing are pitched halfway between the ritual of the campfire singalong and the self-conscious American folk-music movement of the 20th century.
Group-Singing - Pete Seeger - Rise Up Singing - New York Times

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Monday, February 04, 2008

Heather writes in - "On the afternoon of Sunday Feb 17th, Sunny Side Up will be playing at Fitzgerald's. Come out and support bluegrass music in the west suburbs. Kids are welcome. Bring the whole family, it will be a great show!"

And I say, "Mighty fine!"

Saturday, February 02, 2008
Bandits, Burglars, Outlaws
Greg Reish - Old Time Strings
A concert of American crime songs, including songs about some of America’s most notorious bad guys (and gals). Friday, February 15, 2008, 7:30 p.m., in Roosevelt University's historic Ganz Hall, 430 S. Michigan Ave, Chicago (in the Auditorum Theatre Building). Free admission.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Mighty Fine Jam Session ...

Old Town School of Folk Music, 4544 N Lincoln Ave | 909 W Armitage Ave, Chicago, IL – 773-728-6000

Friday, January 25, 2008 6:30 PM at the Gary and Laura Maurer Concert Hall, 4544 N Lincoln Ave.

Trad Fest Open House with Foghorn Stringband, Carolina Chocolate Drops and Garry Harrison & The New Mules. Foghorn Stringband, Carolina Chocolate Drops, and Garry Harrison &
The New Mules will host banjo and fiddle round-robins, square dancing
in two rooms, and open jam sessions throughout the School.

Tickets $5 Box Office: 773.728.6000 Tickets available online at

Sunday, January 06, 2008