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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Lockport’s Chris and Allison Flood to perform Aug. 23 at Hopstring Fest


By Ted Slowik

Chris and Allison Flood of Lockport are both musicians who write and perform their own material, though they choose to perform separately.

Both will appear on the Red Betty IPA Stage at Hopstring Fest Aug. 23 at Silver Cross Field in Joliet.  Chris performs from 5:55 to 6:20 p.m., followed by Allison from 7:05 to 7:30 p.m. Chris also is managing the lineup on the Red Betty IPA Stage, which showcases 10 acts this year.

This year’s festival is headlined by the band Cracker, known for such hits as “Get Off This,” “Low,” “Teen Angst,” “Happy Birthday To Me” and “Euro-Trash Girl.” Tickets for the 12-hour celebration of live music, food and craft beer are $20 presale and $30 at the door and available through hopstringfest.com.

This is the second year Chris is managing the entertainment on one of Hopstring’s side stages. He started Flood Management Group about four years ago and previously worked with the artists John Condron and Alex Hoffer, booking gigs, securing sponsorships and promoting them.

About two years ago the Orland Park native decided to cut back on artist management to develop his own songwriting and performing. “I love the management side but I love being a musician as well. Writing is an outlet, and I enjoy the art,” he says. “There are only so many hours in a day.”

Chris, 40, also is a firefighter/paramedic in Lemont and Homer Glen. “One of the biggest things I’ve learned from performing is confidence,” he says. “It’s helped me as a firefighter/paramedic, to be able to walk in and help calm down a situation.” He’s also performed previously at Hopstring Fest.

Zoran Orlic photo
Allison, 34, recently decided to resume her music career though she remains a full-time mom to sons Gabe, 14 and Aiden, 4 and daughter Rowan, 2. She’s been singing since she was a child and grew up in a musical family. She began performing while attending Andrew High School in Tinley Park and in 2002 began singing with the Joliet-based country rock band The Stone City Stragglers. The group performed extensively, recorded three albums and disbanded in 2008.

“After that there was nothing for me to do musically except by myself,” she says. She set aside her songwriting and guitar playing for a time while raising her kids. “I made a choice to pull back when we had children,” she says. Allison and Chris married in 2011.

But since deciding to resume her music career Allison has reconnected with artist friends and made many new ones. She’s also been recording her solo studio debut, a six-song EP of acoustic originals produced by John Condron and engineered by Bill Aldridge at Third City Sound in Joliet. It’s due for a fall release by Flipside Works.

“Opportunities like getting signed to a record label don’t come along every day, so whether I felt ready or not I decided it was time to go for it,” she says. “As a songwriter, what you do is very precious and very personal. It’s a whole other world than being an entertainer performing other people’s songs.”


If You Go
What: Hopstring Fest
When: Saturday, Aug. 23, 11 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.
Where: Silver Cross Field, 1 Mayor Art Schultz Drive, Joliet
Who: Local talent and headline bands like Cracker
How much: Tickets are $20 presale, $30 at the door

Learn more about Flipside Works at www.flipsideworks.com and Allison Flood at www.allisonfloodmusic.com.
            

Sunday, July 20, 2014

The Righteous Hillbillies return to Hopstring Fest Aug. 23 in Joliet


By Ted Slowik


We're just over a month away from this year's Hopstring Fest celebration of music, craft beer and family fun Aug. 23 in Joliet's Silver Cross Field. In the time we have together I'll be profiling some of the more than 30 artists performing at this year's festival.

The Righteous Hillbillies will make their third straight appearance at Hopstring Fest Aug. 23 at Silver Cross Field in Joliet.  The band will play from 8:40 to 9:25 p.m. on the Main Stage, just before this year’s headliners, Cracker, known for such hits as “Get Off This,” “Low,” “Teen Angst,” “Happy Birthday To Me” and “Euro-Trash Girl.”

Tickets for the 12-hour celebration of live music, food and craft beer are $20 presale and $30 at the door and available through hopstringfest.com.

The Righteous Hillbillies formed in 2007 when Kev Wright joined forces with lead singer/guitarist Brent James to create a band hailed for capturing the energy of blues, the soul of country and the rebel attitude of Southern rock. Drummer Barret Harvey and bassist Jeff Bella round out the lineup.

David Neesley photo/Naperville Ribfest 2014
The band has played hundreds of shows, usually for their large, loyal following of fans. They’ve released two albums, a self-titled debut in 2008 and “Trece Diablos” in 2012. In October, the band heads to Muscle Shoals, Ala., to record their third album at legendary Fame Studios.

Wright says the Hillbillies look forward to playing Joliet’s Hopstring Fest.

“We play a lot of festivals, and Hopstring is one of the best. It’s executed so well,” he says.

In addition to being the band’s lead guitarist, Wright composes about half the band’s original material. In addition to songwriting, he’s been teaching guitar lessons for about eight years. Two of his students—John Narcissi, 17, of Mokena and Chase Walsh, 15, of Frankfort—will perform at Hopstring Fest for the first time this year.

“They’re both very talented musicians,” Wright says.


If You Go
What: Hopstring Fest
When: Saturday, Aug. 23, 11 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.
Where: Silver Cross Field, 1 Mayor Art Schultz Drive, Joliet
Who: Local talent and headline bands like Cracker
How much: Tickets are $20 presale, $30 at the door

Learn more about the band at righteoushillbillies.com           

Saturday, July 19, 2014

A great time at the best ever Shindig At The Shanty!

By Ted Slowik

Tim Placher is a great musician and friend. We've performed together several times at the 30 Buck in Joliet. He teaches music to middle schoolers in Plainfield, but when I met him many years ago he was an attorney for the City of Joliet.

Tim has remained close with the friends he grew up with. A few years ago he organized and presented a reunion performance of classmates from the Cathedral of St. Raymond School who were in musicals like "Oliver" together. Many members of the 1975 class of St. Ray's turned out last Saturday for a great day of music, food and company in an idyllic setting.

Some years ago Tim and friends Scott Kinsella and Dan Wilson acquired a small "vacation" property overlooking the Kankakee River in Wilmington. The house isn't much but the setting on a bluff offers a beautiful vista. It's a great scene for a party, and for nine years Tim has staged a festival he calls the Shindig At The Shanty. There's a great deal of work involved with an event like this, and Dan and Scott and others do a tremendous job with food, drinks, preparations and cleanup.

The last couple Shindigs have been stormy, and the day of this year's fest started with heavy rain. The Taste of Chicago had to be canceled that day. But by the afternoon Wilmington was sunny and for the most part dry, though a bit on the humid side. Storms didn't return until after 10 p.m.

Tim first invited me to play the Shindig in 2012. I've come to know many of his friends, and they're great people! Very fun, welcoming and appreciative. In 2012 Tim introduced me to Cristina Seaborn, a professional violinist from Minnesota he'd met at a concert in Iowa honoring the 50th anniversary of "The Day the Music Died." She's fantastic, and the three of us performed together and separately that day.

Last year Cristina couldn't make it but Tim upped the stakes by booking The Michael Heaton Band. Michael's a very gifted songwriter, a wonderful performer and a real joy to hear. After my first Shindig I could tell I'd have to up my game too, so last year good friend Rich Westrick joined in on keyboards. Rich was unavailable this year, but drummer Ron Kostka was and played brilliantly.

Since Shanty co-owner Scott and I are neighbors, we see each other quite a bit. One day he expressed interest in playing guitar together sometime, so I took him up on that and invited him to perform a couple songs together at this year's Shindig. We rehearsed a couple times and he ended up setting aside the guitar and singing an old standard covered by Lyle Lovett called "Long Tall Texan" and a fun Toby Keith number called "The Taliban Song." Some of Scott's family were there and really enjoyed his performance! He's gifted with a sweet voice.

Opening the music at this year's Shindig was a great band from the area called Safe Haven. Tim had heard them at Chicago Street Pub and fortunately they were able to come down and play a while. Guitarist Patrick Lyons and drummer Tony Tabor are both great musicians and really nice guys, and they make excellent original music together and with various other musician friends. On Saturday they were joined by bassist extraordinaire Tom Maslowski!

It was a great time spent with well over 100 great people--the biggest turnout yet for a Shindig! It's fun to think about how next year's 10th annual could possibly be better!





Monday, July 14, 2014

Musician John Narcissi of Mokena looks forward to Hopstring Fest appearance


By Ted Slowik

Mokena’s John Narcissi is building a name for himself as a talented young musician and budding songwriter who delivers entertaining live performances.

Now the 17-year-old Providence Catholic High School senior is poised to make one of his most high-profile performances to date at the third annual Hopstring Fest Aug. 23 at Silver Cross Field in Joliet. Narcissi is set to play from 1:40 to 2 p.m. on the Deschutes Brewery Stage, one of two side stages showcasing local talent at this year’s festival.

Narcissi studies guitar with Kev Wright of New Lenox, guitarist for The Righteous Hillbillies, one of Hopstring’s mainstage performers. Hopstring is headlined this year by rock band Cracker, known for such hits as “Get Off This,” “Low,” “Teen Angst,” “Happy Birthday To Me” and “Euro-Trash Girl.”

Tickets for the 12-hour celebration of live music, food and craft beer are $20 and available through hopstringfest.com.

Narcissi says he’s always been interested in music and that his parents, John and Jane, played music around the house since he was a baby.  He discovered guitar at Axes Music in Mokena, which led to taking lessons there.

“The owner Clyde put a guitar in my hand and I said, ‘This is me,’” John says.

He remains a multi-instrumentalist who can play violin, cello, bagpipes and other instruments. He plays percussion with the Providence band and he was a finalist in the 2011 and 2012 Rialto Idol Jr., singing competition.

He often performs cover versions of songs by The Beatles and such other artists as Elvis Presley, Hank Williams, Coldplay, Mumford and Sons, Jason Mraz, Tom Petty and Blake Shelton.

Last year during a visit to Tennessee Narcissi performed at the legendary Blue Bird Cafe in Nashville, sharing a stage with singer/songwriters Scotty Emerick and Marc Beeson. When the Breidert Green stage in Frankfort was torn down and replaced in 2013, Narcissi was the last to perform on the old stage and the first to perform on the new one.

Though he often performs covers Narcissi writes his own poetry, has been studying composition and has written a half dozen or so originals, including one called "Thank You." He’s also performed on several occasions with The Righteous Hillbillies.

“John’s a brilliant young musician,” Wright says. “He’s got so much going on musically as a multi-instrumentalist. And he’s very passionate about making music.”


If You Go
What: Hopstring Fest
When: Saturday, Aug. 23, 11 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.
Where: Silver Cross Field, 1 Mayor Art Schultz Drive, Joliet
Who: Local talent and headline bands like Cracker
How much: Tickets are $20 presale/$30 at the door

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Musician Chase Walsh of Frankfort looks ahead to Hopstring Fest appearance

By Ted Slowik


Frankfort’s Chase Walsh may only be 15, but he’s already an accomplished songwriter and performer who has just released his first collection of original studio recordings.

The Lincoln-Way East High School sophomore is set to make one of his most high-profile performances to date at the third annual Hopstring Fest Aug. 23 at Silver Cross Field in Joliet. Walsh is set to play from 2:45 to 3:05 p.m. on the Deschutes Brewery Stage, one of two side stages showcasing local talent at this year’s festival.

Walsh studies guitar with Kev Wright of New Lenox, guitarist for The Righteous Hillbillies, one of Hopstring’s mainstage performers. Hopstring is headlined this year by rock band Cracker, known for such hits as “Get Off This,” “Low,” “Teen Angst,” “Happy Birthday To Me” and “Euro-Trash Girl.”

Tickets for the 12-hour celebration of live music, food and craft beer are $20 in advance and available through hopstringfest.com. Tickets will be $30 at the door, but the fest could sell out and there is no guarantee tickets will be available on the day of the event.

Walsh’s discovered music at age 5 when his late uncle, Kevin Walsh, introduced him to guitar.  He wrote his first song at age 10 after his uncle passed away unexpectedly.

“While my life is full of positive influences, inspiring teachers, good friends and family, this was the first loss of someone so close and the emotions I experienced at that point of my life encouraged me to create a lasting melody in his honor,” Chase says. “From that point on, I used everyday life experiences to craft my ideas for my lyrics and music.”

Wright and fellow Righteous Hillbilly Brent James helped Walsh record his debut studio EP, “Your Friend the Robber.” The just-released collection of six originals showcases Chase’s accomplished guitar playing and earnest vocals and songwriting. The collection is available on iTunes, Amazon, Spotify and more. Learn more at chasepatrickwalsh.com.

“Chase is a very talented young musician and songwriter,” Wright says. “We’ve been working together for more than three years and he’s shown real growth as an artist. His singing, playing and songwriting have come a long way.”

About Kev, Chase says, “Not only is he a talented musician, he is my friend, and my mentor. He believes in my abilities and my message. He is a true inspiration.” 

In addition to playing acoustic and electric guitar, Chase has learned to play mandolin, ukulele, banjo, piano and drums. With the Lincoln-Way East Strings Orchestra he is now studying violin, cello, and upright string bass under director Michelle Freeland.

“Training with the orchestra has opened my eyes to the fascinating world of classical music and now I try to find ways to adopt those unique sounds into my more core contemporary melodies,” Chase says.

Chase already has an amazing fan base both locally and throughout the world, with more than 37,000 followers on the popular video app, Vine. You can also find him on social media outlets like Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

Chase’s vision for his own original tunes stem from classic songwriters like Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan and Jimi Hendrix while incorporating the pop-punk acoustic styles of Never Shout Never, The Maine and Jack White. He has performed live to large audiences at Chicago Street Pub in Joliet, The Barn in Manhattan, Tribes Alehouse in Mokena and other venues.

In addition to his musical endeavors, Chase is also active in sports at Lincoln-Way East. He cherishes his time with family and friends and never passes up an opportunity to get their input on his latest songs and ideas. He also loves drawing, designing his own album covers, and writes poetry and short stories.

If You Go
What: Hopstring Fest
When: Saturday, Aug. 23, 11 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.
Where: Silver Cross Field, 1 Mayor Art Schultz Drive, Joliet
Who: Local talent and headline bands like Cracker
How much: Tickets are $20/presale, $30/door

Friday, July 4, 2014

Local talent to shine alongside headliners at Joliet's Hopstring Fest Aug. 23

John Narcissi, left and Chase Walsh
By Ted Slowik


I'm starting to get really excited about this year's third annual Hopstring Fest on Saturday, Aug. 23 at Silver Cross Field in downtown Joliet! In addition to the headlining national touring acts, Hopstring is a great showcase of local original music talent.

This year, a couple fellow students of my guitar teacher, Kev Wright of The Righteous Hillbillies,  will be performing at Hopstring. Mokena's John Narcissi and Frankfort's Chase Walsh are both talented young performers who have been receiving expert guidance from Kev. You'll be hearing more about John and Chase and other local Hopstring performers soon!

Tickets for the 12-hour celebration of live music, food and craft beer are $20 and available through hopstringfest.com and at Chicago Street Pub, 75 N. Chicago St., Joliet. Hopstring Fest is presented by Chicago Street Pub owner Mike Trizna.

Hopstring Fest 2014 is headlined by rock band Cracker and features mainstage performers The Righteous Hillbillies, The Steepwater BandMiles Nielsen and the Rusted Hearts, John Condron & the Old Gang Orchestra, Ed Anderson, Chicago Farmer, The Regressors, Alex Hoffer, Leadfoot and The Prairie Ghosts. The mainstage lineup is presented by Flipside Works. 

I'll be performing first, at 11:35 a.m., on the 2014 Red Betty IPA Side Stage. The lineup is managed by Chris Flood and features Dan Dougherty and the Tone Bone, Rebecca Rego and the Trainmen, Allison Flood, Chris Flood, the Matt Biskie Trio, Tom & Becky, Ernie Hendrickson, J Ross Green and Scott McNeil. 

This year there's a second side stage, the Deschutes Brewery Side Stage. The lineup is managed by Kristin Barry and features Charlie Champene and ERic Totherow, Brian Barry, John Narcissi, Chase Walsh, Ryan Olsson, Molly McKenna Batozech, Tim Streit, CottonHeaded Ninny Muggins, John Till and Pete Jive.

So save the date Aug. 23, tell your friends and buy your tickets now!





Saturday, June 28, 2014

A great time Rollin' on the River in Naperville!

Jodi Wartenberg photo
By Ted Slowik

Wow, what a fun show! Last night's two-hour free concert at the Free Speech Pavilion on the Naperville Riverwalk was a big blast!

I was humbled and grateful to feel the love and support of so many family and friends who came out to listen. Slowiks were well-represented with son Noah, brothers Bud and Mike, sister Liz, nieces and nephew Sarah, Rachel and Jonathan and Sarah's kids--the next generation!

Jodi Wartenberg photo
Good friend Ron Kostka was amazing on the drums! He really brought the songs to life and powered them along with his inimitable brand of transformative energy. We had one rehearsal, on Tuesday night, and I could tell then by the way he was hitting the skins that this would be a special performance.

Jodi Wartenberg photo
And it was! I felt really good about the way I sang and played 22 originals and five covers on three different guitars in four different tunings, with a little slide at times and a loop pedal to play a lead over a rhythm track. That worked OK but Ron and I have to practice the timing of that a little more, so I kept it to a minimum.

Mostly I just barreled through the 27 songs with a small amount of talk in between. The set went exactly as we rehearsed and planned with the exception of two audibles: I included the tune "Lies" because we were more efficient than expected and had time for more songs than planned, and when I had the Epiphone in open E tuning and slide I added Robert Johnson's "If I Had Possession Over Judgment Day." I gotta work on that--not being afraid to have a little pause between songs here and there.

Jodi Wartenberg photo
I was pretty drenched with sweat by the end of the night. Even though I felt great I appreciate the concern of friends who thought I might have overdone it a bit, given I just had heart surgery three weeks ago. But I've been doing cardio rehab and sweating like that every day so I wasn't worried. It was a great workout!

Selfie with Janet Pimentel!
I truly appreciated seeing so many friends including Chuck, Donna and Rachel Pelkie; Dave and Mary Jacque; Cean and Anne Magosky; Judy Brodhead and Gary Smith; Janet Pimentel; Jodi Wartenberg and Greg Vershay; Kathy Millen; Lois Mayer and Maria Rocco; Dr. Jim and Kelly; Clarence Goodman; Meg Dedolph; Hank Beckman and more. Special thanks to Nancy Thompson and Brett Lindahl from the Naperville Park District for the opportunity to play such a wonderful setting as part of the Rollin' on the River free concert series. Cheers to Debbie Mossburg of Bike Bald--I donated all the tips from the night to aid their cause of helping people affected by cancer.

Hank's story
Hank wrote a really great article that was published in The Naperville Sun the day of the show. We spoke for about 20 minutes on Monday and then again for few minutes on Tuesday, and his story was published online Wednesday and appeared in print Friday. He really did his homework--you could tell he listened to songs and read the blog and knew my story well. I greatly appreciate his excellent work!

Jodi Wartenberg photo
Aside from being a whole lot of fun, I'm extremely happy with the progress I'm making as a performer. I switched from playing bass to guitar just three years ago and now I know I can play two hours of originals and keep a big crowd entertained and engaged! That's really gratifying.

Judy Brodhead photo
But I know I can get a lot better. I owe a deep debt of thanks to my friend and guitar teacher Kev Wright of The Righteous Hillbillies, who puts a tremendous amount of time into planning lessons for all his students. He knows what your strengths are and what you need to work on, and with his wonderful bedside manner he's a tremendous boost to one's overall confidence. I very much look forward to learning a lot more from Kev!



Ted setlist Rollin’ on the River Naperville 6-27-14
1. Hurt (Johnny Cash cover)
2. More (loop pedal for solo)
3. Slowiks (capo 2)
4. Hinsdale
5. Record Store
6. Springfield
7. Rockville (REM cover)
8. These Walls (dropped D)
9. Red Rover (loop pedal)
10. Well, Well, Well (John Lennon cover, electric)
11. Low (electric)
12. Hit Somebody (acoustic, Warren Zevon/Mitch Albom cover)
13. Dream So Hard
14. Support Joe Hosey
15. New Way Home
16. Kick the Can
17. Refugee Blues (W.H. Auden poem)
18. Years Go By
19. Lies
20. Don’t Wanna Fight (electric, slide)
21. If I Had Possession (slide electric, Robert Johnson cover)
22. Back To You (Acoustic, open C)
23. Stand Your Ground (Trayvon Martin tribute)
24. ‘Merica/Never Been Any Reason
25. Dear Editor
26. King of the Mountain
27. The Cave  (Open D) (Mumford and Sons cover)