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Sunday, November 9, 2014

Enjoying every moment of the Farewell Tour!

Joliet Area Community Hospice grounds
By Ted Slowik

It feels like a whirlwind now that the Farewell Tour has kicked off! The next couple months will be quite busy with shows before I take a break from live performances during 2015 to spend time writing songs and working as a hospice volunteer. Today I'm happy to announce two additional shows on the Farewell Tour, with details below!

Volunteer training went great Oct. 25-26 at Joliet Area Community Hospice. It turns out their greatest need is getting word out to people that hospice care is available when someone is expected to have six months to live. Too often, families only take advantage of hospice services for the final week or so of a loved one's life. One of the great benefits of hospice is that staff and volunteers are there to assist patients and families while there's still time to fulfill dreams, get affairs in order, resolve issues and make arrangements.

I've still got to pass a physical and background check and undergo an interview, but it's looking like I'll be a sort of freelance writer who will help share the stories of families who want to relate the positive experiences they had with hospice. Quite likely I'll collect testimonials for publication on the hospice's website that can be shared on social media and pitched to traditional media to help get out the word about the excellent services hospice provides.

Ted and Allison Flood at Lewis University. (Eric Johnson photo)
With all the time spent practicing, rehearsing, coordinating schedules with other musicians and promoting upcoming performances I'm reminded why I decided to suspend performances for a year or more. It's great fun but it doesn't leave much time for songwriting.

The Farewell Tour kicked off Nov. 1 with a great show in the Studio Theatre at Lewis University's Philip Lynch Theatre, as a benefit for the Heritage Theatre Company. Much thanks to my wife Jo, who manages the theatre at Lewis, for creating a spectacular set and publicizing the show, and to Andrew Nelsen for doing a great job on sound and lighting.

John Condron at Lewis University. (Eric Johnson photo)
It was a fantastic evening of acoustic originals. I shared the bill with Flipside Works recording artists Allison Flood and John Condron, who both performed beautifully! The audience was attentive during songs and erupted with applause after each number, and it's a great venue to really listen to the music.

I'm continuing as best I'm able to perform weekly at the Wednesday night acoustic open mic that John hosts at Tribes Alehouse in Mokena. The exciting news about Tribes is that the Mokena location is expanding, and will being brewing its own line of beers! The food, service and company at Tribes Alehouses in Mokena and Tinley Park are fantastic, and you should check them out.

Last night an unannounced date was added to the Farewell Tour when a date at Chicago Street Pub in Joliet opened up on short notice. John stepped in as headliner and invited J Ross Green and I to play opening sets. J Ross (or John) Green is one of my favorite performers and I greatly admire how he writes about local people and places in his songs. Regular readers may recall I wrote about Green's new album earlier this year.

I played a set of originals and acoustic blues in open tuning and slide. I'm definitely showing the influence of having taken guitar lessons from Kev Wright of The Righteous Hillbillies since last Christmas. Unfortunately I don't have any pictures or video from the show last night because my phone was full and I've spent the morning uploading a ton of pictures and videos to the cloud to free up storage space.

The Farewell Tour is incredibly fun because no two shows are alike! Not only are the venues different, but each show features a different mix of material tailored for the performance. I'm playing different songs on different instruments with different musicians at each show! Let's walk you through the details of each upcoming performance, including the two new shows:

Nov. 16: This Sunday, Nov. 16, at 2 p.m. at Chicago Street Pub is the CD release show for "Your Friend the Robber," the debut by Chase Patrick Walsh. Chase is another student of Kev's and a very talented young singer/songwriter with unlimited potential. I wrote about Chase leading up to this year's Hopstring Fest. I'll open with a set of acoustic originals and some blues with good friend Ron Kostka backing up on drums, and Kev will join us for a couple songs in our first appearance on stage together! At the conclusion of Chase's set, I'll play keyboards with Chase and Kev on guitar, Ron on drums and a bassist for a finale rendition of "Take Me Dancing" by The Maine.

Nov. 22: Saturday, 8 p.m. to 1 a.m., I'll join great friend and piano man Tim Placher for one of our tag-team shows at Thirty Buck, located at Six Corners in Joliet. It's five hours of nonstop music, mostly covers, in a friendly, fun environment.

Nov. 29: Saturday, 9 p.m., I'll perform an opening set of acoustic originals at Chicago Street Pub for the debut performance of On the Off Chance. This new project features Steve Ashum, Anthony Bartkowiak, Dan Dougherty, Jason Parks and Rebekah Rakow. Dan's been in other bands including The Tone Bone, which performed at Hopstring. Back in February when I had my heart attack on a Monday, I was supposed to open for Dan's band the following Saturday at a show. I wasn't able to make it but Allison Flood filled in for me, and she and Dan performed "Red Rover" together. There's no greater honor for a songwriter than hearing other artists perform your material.

Dec. 13: Saturday, 9 p.m. at 2-Fer's Pizza and Pub, 106 N. Ridge Road in Minooka, I'll be playing bass with Ron Kostka on vocals, a friend of his on drums and George Barnes on guitar as The George Barnes Project performs a very special "Tribute to Shirley Kostka" show. Ron's sister Shirley, who passed away earlier this year, wrote lyrics to many of the songs The George Barnes Project performed together in the early 1990s.

Dec. 20: Saturday, 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. at Chicago Street Pub, will be a blowout spectacular and my final billed public performance for a while. Plans are still coming together, but the evening will feature some of my favorite songs on acoustic to open the evening, with some blues on electric. I'll close out the night on bass with Ron on drums and George on guitar for a set by The George Barnes Project. I'm hoping to announce some other special guests during the course of the evening and the evening is bound to include a few surprises too, so you won't want to miss this one!

Cheers!