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Thursday, August 14, 2014

John Condron & the Old Gang Orchestra perform Aug. 23 at Hopstring Fest

By Ted Slowik

Veteran Joliet-area performers John Condron & the Old Gang Orchestra will play a set on Hopstring Fest’s mainstage from 5:10 to 5:55 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 23, in Joliet’s Silver Cross Field.

Tickets for the 12 and a half-hour celebration of live music, food and craft beer are $20/presale, $30 at the door and are available through and at Chicago Street Pub, 75 N. Chicago St., Joliet.

Condron, 41, will be joined by Old Gang Orchestra members Tom Maslowski on bass, Doneco Nudi on drums and multi-instrumentalist Pat Otto on mandolin and mandola.

Condron has released five albums since moving to Joliet from Philadelphia in 1997: “If Any Or At All,” (2012),  “Eleventh Hour Grace” (2010), “Loud As Silence” (2006), “Down To Dorsey” (2004) and “My Own Device” (2001). The most recent was a solo album, with others released by the band he formerly fronted, John Condron & the benefit.

“If Any Or At All” marked Condron’s debut on the Flipside Works label. Flipside Works is managing Hopstring Fest’s mainstage lineup this year, which is headlined by Cracker. Condron also manages the label’s Midwestern artists, which include Hopstring Fest performer Allison Flood.

Connections abound among Condron and Joliet’s independent, original music community. He’s a former co-owner of Chicago Street Pub with Mike Trizna, who organizes and presents Hopstring Fest.

“Mike and Kathy Trizna are huge fans of music and have done incredible things for the local music scene,” Condron says. “Hopstring Fest is like hearing in one place on one day the 20 best sets of all the bands that come through Chicago Street Pub in a year.”

When he moved to Joliet 17 years ago, Condron was playing rhythm guitar in the New York-based band Poets and Slaves. The band was looking to relocate to the Midwest and took up residency on the floor above the restaurant, then known as Chicago Street Bar & Grill.

“I’m in awe of what Triz and Kathy have accomplished,” Condron says. “We planted seeds together years ago to create a music community but they’re responsible for what it has become.”

Condron started working at the restaurant as a bartender then as manager, and brought Trizna on board. The pair took over operation of the business and eventually ownership on Jan. 1, 2005. Condron sold his share to Kathy Trizna when his son Liam was born in 2009.

Condron also credits disc jockey Mike Tomano for helping establish his name by playing songs from “My Own Device” on WYKT-FM.

These days, Condron continues to perform regularly and is writing new material. He also produces works for other artists, including a debut by Flood being recording at Third City Sound, a studio located above Chicago Street Pub.

Condron also has produced, arranged and performed on a full-length studio recording for multi -latinum Irish singer songwriter Mickey Harte and collaborated with legendary songwriter Paul Brady, for whom he opened a show at Old Town School of Folk Music last year.

He’s toured across the United States, in Ireland and throughout Europe in support of his original material. Visit to learn more.

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