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Sunday, November 30, 2014

Next stop on the Farewell Tour: "Tribute to Shirley Kostka"

George Barnes Project, circa 1990
By Ted Slowik

Drummer Ron Kostka and I have been friends for a long time. We met at Lyons Township High School in 1982. He used to call the radio station, WLTL-FM 88.1, when I was DJing and request "Love To Love" by UFO for his girlfriend.

The first time I got together with other friends to make music, in my parents' garage in the summer of 1982, Ron was there. I remember playing "House of the Rising Sun" on electric guitar. That was in the band Suspended Animation. A short time later, the bassist left the group and I started playing bass, which I kept up for nearly 30 years.

In the late 1980s Suspended Animation morphed into Nobody Knows, and Ron eventually played drums in that band as well. (Ron also played drums for nine of the 11 years I played bass in the Big Eddy Springs Blues Band 2000-2011). In the early 1990s, Ron and I were in a band together initially called Pegasus but later known as the George Barnes Project. It was a loud, heavy sound fueled by George's guitar playing. Ron was front man and sang lead vocals and various other players backed us up on drums.

We played a lot of our own songs. In most cases, George wrote the music and Ron's sister, Shirley, wrote the lyrics. Shirley B. Kostka was born June 12, 1954 and died March 6, 2014. She had moved to Kentucky when she became sick, and Ron was in the process of having her transported to the Joliet Area Community Hospice when she passed away.

There was a small memorial service after she passed, and sometime later Ron asked if I'd play a tribute show to honor his sister's memory. Of course I agreed, and though it's taken a while to pull together the show will take place at 9 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 13, at 2-Fer's Pizza and Pub, 106 N. Ridge Road in Minooka, I'll be playing bass with Ron on vocals, his friend Jay on drums and George Barnes on guitar.

In addition to the originals that Shirley co-wrote, we'll be playing some old rockers we used to play by bands like Deep Purple, Cream, The Rolling Stones, Steppenwolf and Jimi Hendrix. This won't be the first time since the early 1990s that George, Ron and I have performed together. We reunited in 2010 for a small tour that included Seneca and Rockford.

George and Ron will also be part of the Farewell Show Dec. 20 at Chicago Street Pub, the last billed public show before I take time off from performing to write and spend time as a hospice volunteer.
GBP in Seneca, 2010