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Monday, May 27, 2013

Joliet's musical variety and remembering a fallen friend

By Ted Slowik

We're so fortunate in the Joliet area to have opportunities to experience great live music of multiple genres. This weekend alone I saw great blues, rock, Americana, bluegrass and Irish music at different venues in town. 

(There's also 65,000 people in town for the Electric Daisy Carnival electronic dance music festival at Chicagoland Speedway) 

Friday night I watched Charlie Champene and Alex Hoffer perform at Paddy's on Theodore Street. It was a nice small room and the crowd was very appreciative. They both sounded great. Eric Totherow ran sound. Charlie sounded good playing a set of Irish music and later some other songs, and Alex expertly mixes up originals and covers. 

It's been just a month since I quit cigarettes, so it's still a bit tough just sitting in a bar listening to and watching music being performed. I lasted a couple hours, though, with breaks. (I go for walks now when I crave a smoke.) It was a beautiful night--a full moon--and there was a nice path through woods right across from the bar.

Later I made it down to Chicago Street Pub. I missed Jack Avery's Kin but I caught a set by Pat Otto and Steve Haberichter. They traded guitar and mandolin back and forth. John Condron stopped by after rehearsal with his Old Gang Orchestra bandmates Tom Maslowski and Don Nudi. They're performing at Chicago Street at 2 p.m. Sunday, June 2, with Cutthroat Shamrock, another artist in Eric Johnson's Flipside Works stable of talent.

Sunday night I saw T-Bird Huckstep's band perform its weekly Joliet Heritage Blues Jam set at Kegler's on Theodore Street. T-Bird was recently inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame, and he sounds better than ever.

Joliet actually has a robust blues scene--you don't need to go into Chicago proper (or even far-away places like Harlem Avenue Lounge in Berwyn) to hear great, authentic live blues. There are world-class bands like Chicago Blues Angels that play in the area regularly, and jams at various venues that feature many great players.

On a somber note, in honor of Memorial Day T-Bird's son Dustin played "Taps" on trumpet at the jam. It was a very moving and respectful moment. That reminds me that I recently learned of the passing of Steve Petrusich, a talented classical guitarist who was a regular on the acoustic open mic circuit. Steve, who performed as Spetrus, left us all too soon. He wrote a book called "Fig Tree Economics," and I understand he leaves a young child and other family. It's very sad, and a reminder that our time here is short and we should make the most of it.