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Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Your guide to weekly Joliet-area open mics and blues jams

William Alexander Wine Studio
By Ted Slowik

If you're a musician itching to get out and perform at an open mic or blues jam in Joliet, Ill., you can find a place nearby to play every weeknight.

Jam sessions and open mics tend to come and go and move around, but as 2016 dawns here's a rundown of current weekly performance opportunities.
Gustos Bar & Grill

Sunday
Sunday Sessions open mic starts at 7 p.m. at William Alexander Wine Studio, 900 S. State St., Lockport (815-834-9463). "All musical talent welcome, please bring your own cords. Keyboard, PA and electric drums provided."

Not sure where T-Bird Huck's band is jamming these days but for many years you could catch his band hosting an open blues jam on Sundays at various venues around Will County. If anybody knows--leave a comment!

Monday
Alex Hoffer hosts acoustic open mic at 8 p.m. at Chicago Street Pub, 75 N. Chicago St., Joliet. (815-727-7171). Predominantly acoustic but the occasional electric player who brings an amp isn't turned away.

If bluegrass is your thing, grab your guitar, banjo, mandolin, upright bass or other acoustic instrument and head to Tribes Alehouse, 9501-R West 171st St., Tinley Park (708-966-2051) for the Weekly Monday Bluegrass Jam, 7 to 10 p.m., hosted by Steve Haberichter of Down Home Guitars in Frankfort. (Note: no jam on Jan. 4 but will resume Jan. 11).


Tuesday
Billy Osman hosts a free electric jam from 7 to 11 p.m. every Tuesday at Gustos Bar & Grill, 2115 Plainfield Road, Crest Hill (815-744-4159). Typically the house band includes Doug Horan on bass and Ted Matichak on drums.  


Also, The Tree of Joliet (formerly Mojoes) hosts an open jam at 22 W. Cass St. in downtown Joliet (815-666-8079). Sign-up starts at 7 p.m., music starts at 8 p.m. "Open jams at the Tree of Joliet on Tuesday nights are available to all musicians, just get up on the big stage (with a sound tech) and rock!! It's that's simple and awesome! Drum kit, guitar amp, bass amp, plug in for acoustic, and mics are all available for use."

Wednesday
Electric Wednesday Open Mic takes place every week at The Drunken Donut, aka The Joliet Bakery,
The Drunken Donut
821 Plainfield Road, Joliet (815-723-8210). Sign up at 8 p.m. with music starting at 8:30. A showcase for the area's exceptional young, original talent. The occasional stand-up comic and acoustic act rounds out what typically is an evening of good, loud rock music with lots of hip-hop, prerecorded beats and jams. It's a donut shop by day, bar/live music venue by night, and Stan the owner/bartender will take good care of you. The jam is expertly hosted by Alex Ziech, and sign up is first come, first choice, so you might want to get there as early as 6:30 to choose your slot. Also demand is so great performance slots are limited to 15 at most, so there's a rule that performers may not play two consecutive weeks.


Also on Wednesdays there's an open mic from 8-11 p.m. at Jenny's Southside Tap (also known as 191 South or Jenny's Steakhouse), 10160 W. 191st St., Mokena 8-11 (708-479-6873).

Thursday
The place to be is the 8 p.m. blues jam every Thursday at Grubens Uptown Tap, 24035 Lockport St., Plainfield. (815-436-9395). Full back line provided with regular appearances by Tut and the Blues Kings and many others. Hosted on alternate weeks by The Billy Osman Band and the Hip Shakin' Party.

It's not a weekly gathering, but it's worth noting that on the third Thursday of each month Kevin Krauss typically hosts an open mic at Chicago Street Pub. 

And on the first Thursday of every month Brian Barry hosts New Lenox's longest-running acoustic open mic at JBD White Horse Inn, 348 W. Maple St. (815-485-4848). Gets underway at 9 p.m.

If you know of other open mics and blues jams in the Joliet area, leave a comment!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

University offends abuse survivors by honoring Joliet bishop



By Ted Slowik

I went to see the movie "Spotlight" about the Boston Globe's groundbreaking coverage of priests who sexually abused children and the bishops and cardinals who covered it up. Had Catholic Church leaders acted differently, predator clergy wouldn't have had access to children. Many people who were harmed would have been spared.

As a reporter for the Joliet Herald News in 2002, I spoke with more than 50 people who were sexually abused as children by Joliet priests. The Joliet Diocese lists on its website 35 priests linked to sexual abuse of children. Hundreds of children were horrifically abused in DuPage, Will and five other counties.

The guy in charge of the Joliet Diocese from 1979 to 2006, when a great number of cases were reported, was Bishop Joseph Imesch. Based on my first-hand interviews with abuse survivors, their parents and diocesan insiders, I firmly believe Joe Imesch cared more about protecting his priests and the reputation of the Church than protecting children from harm.

He'd say, in interviews and in depositions, that he relied on the advice of therapists who assured him the sexual deviants could be treated and returned to service. At other times Joe would say there was a lack of evidence that a crime occurred, or some other lame excuse. I call bullshit on all that.

Joe knew a large number of his priests were doing very bad things with kids. And rather than react with shock and anger that his men were capable of such deeds, he attacked those who came forward to report the crimes. He berated survivors of abuse and their family members. He attempted to discredit them and media who reported on the cases. He used every legal tool at his disposal to make the abuse seem somehow less serious and widespread than it was.

Like "Spotlight" shows, there were a lot of good Catholics in the community who went along with the broken system in a misguided belief that it was for the good of the Church. They were told by guys like Joe Imesch that there were a few bad apples, and they were assured there was no way they'd be able to harm another child.

Then Joe went and placed his bad priests in different parishes where they abused again. And when he ran out of parishes in his seven-county diocese he shipped his bad priests off to other dioceses around the country, to Kentucky, or California. He'd take in bad priests, too, from Michigan and elsewhere. It was a sick system, and Joe was one of the best at it.

Let me make this clear: there is an abundance of indisputable evidence that the actions of Joe Imesch resulted in children being sexually abused by priests that Imesch knew had molested other children. And he's never owned up to that. In no way should Joe Imesch be honored as a good bishop or even a good person.

Which is why it's baffling that Joliet's University of St. Francis honors an educator every year with the Bishop Joseph L. Imesch Award for "Excellence in Teaching." Of all things, to attach Joe's name to an honor bestowed upon someone who works with children defies decency.

I hope University of St. Francis leaders realize that continuing to honor Joe Imesch in this manner offends and insults survivors of childhood sexual abuse.