All American music stars at FitzGerald’s
Garland Jeffreys. | Danny Clinch Photo
FitzGerald’s Night Club, 6615 Roosevelt Road, Berwyn
June 29, June 30, July 1, July 3; doors open 4:30 p.m. Friday and Tuesday, 1 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
Cover charge is $30 per day, no advance single-day tickets sold. 4-Day passes available for $100 at Ticketweb (savings of $20). EARLY BIRD DISCOUNT: $5 off daily cover for the first hour after doors open
Children 12 & under $5, and can stay until 9 p.m.
(708) 788-2118 or see www.fitzgeraldsnightclub.com
Updated: June 26, 2012 9:25PM
Stars from Chicago, artists on tour from all over the country — musical acts of all stripes are heading to the stages for Fitzgerald’s 32nd Annual American Music Festival in Berwyn.
The festival has become a much-anticipated, pre-Fourth of July tradition. This year’s eclectic entertainment, signature barbecue and hot summer fun takes place June 29, June 30, July 1 and July 3 (the club is closed July 2).
“We have lots of acts that are playing the fest for the first time,” said club owner Bill Fitzgerald. “Like Otis Taylor, his first time ever performing at the club, and Garland Jeffreys, also Elephant Revival, but with regular favorites returning, like Marcia Ball and Robbie Fulks, Brave Combo and the Special Consensus Bluegrass Band.”
The festival takes place on 3 Stages: The Tent, The Club and The SideBar. The full line up and schedule is on line at www.fitzgeraldsnightclub.com.
“I’ll be rockin’ the place, you can count on it. I’ll play full out with my band, will play a full range of my repertoire, will definitely do ‘Wild in the Street,’” said Garland Jeffreys, a Brooklyn artist who returns to Fitzgerald’s June 29 in his first festival concert.
Making a big comeback these days, Jeffreys, 68, rose to fame in the early ’70s with a self-titled debut album on Atlantic in 1973. The album was followed by the Atlantic single,“Wild in the Streets,” a song influenced by a pre-teen rape and murder that occurred in the Bronx.
Part African-American and also Puerto Rican, Jeffreys’ music covers topics like racial consciousness and social justice, delivered via blues, reggae, soul, and rock. His newest release is the acclaimed “The King of In Between” (2011). He recently performed with Bruce Springsteen in Holland, while on tour in Europe, and is on the roster for the upcoming Montreaux Jazz Festival, among many other concerts and festivals.
So what prompts Jeffreys’ often provocative songwriting?
“You know, when I look into desperate eyes, it affects me, and I’m not turning away from it,” he said. “Specific cases don’t necessarily get me going — because I’m already ‘going’! Songs about racial consciousness are still a very strong part of me, and I almost see it as a responsibility to write them, but as a positive thing, because I know I can add something to the story.”
Elephant Revival is big on playing outdoors, so the Fitzgerald’s fest suits them.
“Playing outside is the greatest thing, so much fun,” said Dango Rose, a Chicago native and member of Colorado-based indie acoustic quintet, Elephant Revival. “We’re always present to our immediate surroundings, and we like the added element of the earth, whether it’s a rooftop, concrete, or on the grass by the side of a river — and when there’s water, we’ll jump in or kayak at some point.”
A connection to and reverence for nature permeates the music of this talented young group. Elephant Revival’s fresh progressive sound seamlessly incorporates traditional folk elements and singer-songwriter with alt-country, Celtic, rock, and gypsy grooves in a “new” genre they call “Transcendental Folk.” The group performs June 29 in The Tent at Fitzgerald’s.
Each member of the Elephant Revival is a multi-instrumentalist: Sage Cook (banjo, guitar, mandolin, tenor banjo, bass and fiddle); Bridget Law (fiddle, octave fiddle); Bonnie Paine (washboard, djembe, musical saw, stompbox); Daniel Rodriguez (guitar, banjo, bass); and Rose (double-bass, mandolin, banjo).
The quintet has released two well-received CDs, and will soon be releasing a new EP, a third full-length CD, and an Elephant Revival Songbook.
Rose recalls going to Fitzgerald’s in his teens to see Cornmeal play, and also The Duhks. “I remember being really inspired, and liked the inside and outside stages. We’re excited to be part of the festival this year.”
Food, like the festival music line-up, will as usual, be all American. Fitzgerald raved about it. “Once again, Tom Sims will be back doing his Cajun-American BBQ. He’s been smoking pork for three weeks now. We’ll also have great gumbo and jambalaya, Cajun sausage, killer bratwurst, and Capri Ristorante next door will also have Italian favorites.
“We’re getting excited. Every year we ramp it up, and it’s quite a lot to do in four days,” said Fitzgerald.