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Sunday, May 1, 2016

Former Yes frontman to perform in St. Charles as part of AndersonPonty Band



By ERIC SCHELKOPF

The members of the band Yes were heralded as musical innovators in the 1970s for fusing rock with classical music. 

Former Yes frontman Jon Anderson continues to seek out new musical adventures, recently teaming up with pioneering violinist Jean Luc Ponty to form the AndersonPonty Band.

The band is touring in support of its CD/DVD "Better Late Than Never," and will perform at 7:30 p.m. May 11 at the Arcada Theatre, 105 E. Main St., St. Charles.

Tickets start at $39, and can be purchased at the Arcada's website, www.arcadalive.com.

I had the chance to talk to Anderson about the upcoming show.


Q - I know that you had approached Jean-Luc back in the '80s wanting to do something with him. Why did it take so long to finally do something together?

There's always something else to do. I was on the road with Yes for 35 years, so that took up all my life.

We're both in our 70s, and we're more excited about life and music than ever.

Q - What is it about what Jean-Luc has done in the past that made you want to work with him? 

He's worked with the best. He worked with [people like] Frank Zappa and Al Di Meola. He performed with all these great musicians.




Q - I know that "Better Late Than Never" features performances from your September 2014 show at the Wheeler Opera House in Aspen, Colorado. The CD features new versions of Yes songs along with new songs and some of Jean-Luc's songs as well.

As far was what you tried to do with the Yes songs, what was your idea in re-working them? To me, "Time and a Word" kind of has a Jamaican feel to it.

To just enjoy them. There's no point in trying to sound like Yes...I wanted to do the songs in a new way and a fun way.


I've being doing a reggae version of "Time and a Word" in my solo shows. People enjoy it.

Q - What was the chemistry like working with Jean-Luc compared with working with members of Yes?

He's an incredible musician. We're brilliant friends together. He's like my brother.

I used to have that connection with Chris Squire and I used to have that with Steve Howe. But times change. Life moves on.


Q - Speaking of Chris, everybody was shocked upon hearing of his death. I imagine it must have been shocking for you as well.

When I heard he was really sick, I got in touch with him and thanked him for a lifetime of making music together. And we both agreed that without each other, we wouldn't be doing what we are doing.



I was so blessed with having him in my life.

Q - I know you reunited with Rick Wakeman in 2011. How was that experience?

It was incredible. I was working with a friend and we were just having a good time and having a good laugh on stage. And we were very, very good together musically, because we're professionals.

Q - Do you see yourself reuniting with any other members of Yes in the near future?

No, just Trevor (Rabin) and Rick. That's enough.

Q - I know you will be teaming up with Roine Stolt for the album "The Invention Of Knowledge," which will come out in June. How did that collaboration happen?

Well, we met two years ago on a progressive rock boat trip out of Miami to the Bahamas. I went to see this band called Transatlantic, a very, very good band. And I met the guitar player, Roine.

Last year, we started working on the music. I really knew what I wanted to do, and we just finished mixing it, and it is sounding very, very special.

We only met once two and one-half years ago, and we met just four days ago in L.A. to do a photo shoot. So we did everything through the Internet. Oh, the wonders of modern technology.

A lot of people are really, really excited about the album. There are 17-minute and 23- minute songs on the album, as the way music sometimes should be.

The songs shouldn't always be just three- or four-minute songs just for the radio. People who have heard it say, "This is so Yes."

Q - So you like being able to expand a little, not just feel like you have to put out a three-minute hit?

I was always interested in long pieces of music, like "Close to the Edge" and "Tales from Topographic Oceans."




Music is a journey.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Chicago band Furious Frank releases new album, will play at The Cubby Bear


By ERIC SCHELKOPF

Chicago band Furious Frank has been described as "Frank Zappa meets Herb Alpert in Texas."

The eclectic group releases its third album, "A Series of Accidents," on April 22. To celebrate the release of the album, the band will perform at The Cubby Bear, 1059 W. Addison St., Chicago.

Doors open at 7:30 p.m. and tickets are available at www.ticketweb.com.

I had the chance to interview Furious Frank frontman Mason Payne, mandolin player Jay Stanek and trumpet player Nate Niesen about the new album.


Q - Great talking to you again. Of course, the group's third album, "A Series of Accidents," will be released on April 22. In sitting down to make the album, what were your goals and do you think you accomplished them?

Mason - Thanks for having us back, Eric. Since the last album, we made some changes to the band to put more focus on the rhythm section.

We added Gregorio Guadalupe (aka Mandingo) as a percussionist. His Caribbean and reggae chops are well known around Chicago, and he's really helped move us toward a more complex and interesting sound.



After losing our longtime drummer and pal Kevin Garcia to downstate Illinois, we brought on Ivan Sosa (from Pinto and the Bean), who has really bonded well with Mandingo, drummer-wise.

We've been called "Mexi-Americana" before. I think we were always after a sort of Caribbean Mexi-Americana concept--heavy, danceable rhythms, melodic horns and a sing-along Americana/folk song structure.

That's where we're headed, I think. The goal was to move more in that direction while remaining honest in our playing - not imitating, not mimicking - I think we are finding our collective middle.

Q - Were you trying to build off your two previous efforts? Is there a story behind the name of the album?

Mason - Maybe parts of them. We had a lot of variety in those first two albums - a lot of different ideas: murder ballads, philosophical dirges, horror folk, vaudeville punk, carnival ska, space adventure - eh...calypso?...some rock songs, I guess.

We tried not to enforce any style rules or templates. Doesn't make booking easy, by the way.

But it keeps the band interested and, hopefully, interesting. That said, we've found ourselves in front of some confused audiences over the years. They see the mandolin, they overlook the Gwar shirt.

These are songs that could be read as fate, or as providence, or as karmic injustice. They can seem kind of sad and hopeless in that regard.

I don't think we mean them that way at all, though. "A Series of Accidents" implies randomness, not inevitability.

A series of cosmic accidents sparked life on Earth, so, you know, you'll get over your ex-boyfriend. That's a hopeful message. 

Q - The second song is "Giles Cory." Is that a reference to the Giles Cory accused of witchcraft along with his wife during the Salem Witch Trials? How did his story inspire the band to write the song?

Jay - Yes, it's one of the weirder moments in history.  Madness in individuals is rare, but in groups it can often be the rule.

I think America is generally a tolerant place, but we just seem to have these moments of intolerance where a group mentality can take over and things go off the rails. In the summer of 1692, dozens of people, mostly women, were executed on suspicion of witchcraft.

Giles Cory was unique in that he was male, and that he was pressed to death with stones rather than being hanged as the others were. Supposedly when he was asked to confess to witchcraft with stones applied gradually to his chest, all he replied was "more weight!"


It is a rather unique way to tell judgmental fanatics where to go. To me, it's a great story about individual resistance to intolerance and oppression.

This old man who could have probably escaped death preferred to die rather than contribute to the collective insanity and myopia of a paranoid and fanatical society. That by itself makes him a bad ass deserving of his own song.

I believe there is a Swedish or Norwegian black metal band that did a song about him a while back, but I can't say I've heard it.

Q - As far as writing is concerned, is it a collaborative effort between the members? With such a large group, is it ever hard getting everybody on the same page?

Mason - Well, if everyone isn't on the same page, that usually means we move on to the next song idea. Our best songs are the ones where everyone contributes ideas, changes things up a bit.

I don't think we have any that are driven by one songwriter. That does, oddly, tend to lead to some variation in style.

I think we've tamed some the genre-hopping from the last album, but a lot of that is in picking songs for this album that work together.

Q - Which do you like better, working in the studio or playing live?

Mason - Given the time and the money, I think we'd really like the studio experience. There are eight of us, and all of us play different instruments. 

Several of us have production and recording studio engineering experience, so to have the opportunity to really dive into an album and develop the songs slowly is a lovely idea. But that's not reality for most musicians. 

The album is not really a profitable item, especially if you take a big chunk of a year spending money in a studio developing it. That's a year you haven't been onstage.


It's a product people are streaming online for a fraction of a penny. So, you're forced to do your best as quickly as possible.

We were lucky this time. We worked with a studio that was tireless, that really pulled strong performances out of us.

I'm very proud of this album, but I'm not sure that experience was really fun. It's like flying- it used to be luxurious and they'd serve you chicken cordon bleu.. now my knees hurt and they want eight dollars for some Go-gurt.

Playing live will always be fun. Playing live is like sex. Sex used to be fun, sex is still fun.

Have sex, see Furious Frank. And visa versa.

Q - What do you think of the Chicago music scene and how do you think the band fits into it?

Nate - I think the Chicago music scene has always had a come-as-you-are attitude, which could be why we've seen the germs of so many musical movements start here. House, punk, hip-hop, indie rock - Chicago musicians are innovators, and they're not afraid to push their fans in singular and potentially alienating directions.

It's cliché to say that your band struggles to fit into a specific genre, but we incorporate elements of folk, punk, country, zydeco, funk, and rock 'n roll. I don't think music fans in Chicago care about labels.

They just want to hear something that moves them, inspires them, or makes them think. I hope that with this new record, we can accomplish all three.

Q - What does the rest of the year hold for the band?

Mason - Good weather. Baseball. Outside music. Time at the beach. Some grilled meats. Some time on the road. And an election. Looking like a pretty good year.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

The Bad Examples celebrating 25th anniversary of landmark album "Bad Is Beautiful"




By ERIC SCHELKOPF

With its strong songwriting and indelible melodies that sink deep into your brain, it's no wonder that after 25 years, The Bad Examples' landmark album, "Bad Is Beautiful," sounds as fresh as ever today.

In celebration of the 25th anniversary of "Bad Is Beautiful," The Bad Examples recently performed the album in its entirety at Two Brothers Roundhouse in Aurora. As part of a FaceBook live streaming concert, the band will present a live acoustic performance of "Bad Is Beautiful" in sequence from Waterdog Records at 8 p.m. April 21 to help celebrate the launch of the PledgeMusic campaign to re-release "Bad Is Beautiful" on vinyl.

I had the chance to talk to The Bad Examples frontman Ralph Covert about the band's activities.




Q - Great talking to you again. Of course, this year is the 25th anniversary of the album "Bad Is Beautiful" in 1991. How do you think the album has held up over the years?

I’m thrilled that "Bad Is Beautiful" will finally be available on vinyl, as I think the album has held up well – at its heart it was all about having great songs. "Bad Is Beautiful" was very much a document of the band we were at the time.

We were reacting against some of the cheesy sounds of the '80s, and tried to make a record that hearkened back to our heroes while remaining fresh and contemporary. The album has a rich, polished sound to it, but remains at its heart organic and soulful.



We didn’t anticipate the whole grunge sound and scene, and that was not our vibe at all, so when Nirvana hit and noisy, angry music became all the rage our music became by contrast less commercially viable. The Europeans were still hungry for the kind of music we made, and we were well appreciated over there. 

Q - In sitting down to make the album, what were your goals and do you think you accomplished them?

Our philosophy when we made the album was: “There are no good albums, only great albums and forgettable albums; every good album is forgettable.” I listen to "Bad Is Beautiful" now and I feel we succeeded in our mission and made a great album.

"Goldmine Magazine" picked it as one of the 100 best rock albums, and almost ever other album on the list was a major label blockbuster.

Q - What were the delays in the album's release?


The initial plan was to release the album in 1990, and so in late ’89 we quit our jobs and hit the road to begin touring in support of the album. We were self-releasing in the U.S,. but were planning our release in tandem with our Dutch label’s European release.



The Dutch had various changes they wanted made, and as one thing led to another, the album wasn’t released until 1991. By that time, we were a fine-tuned live band, and well-prepared for the surge of attention we received here and abroad. 

Q - The album's "Not Dead Yet" became a big hit for you, and "One Perfect Moment" also received a lot of airplay. Did you expect both songs to get as much attention as they did?

Why do you think the songs connected so well with people?

"Not Dead Yet" ended up being the big single, but was only re-recorded to be put on "Bad Is Beautiful" because Styx had released a cover version on their "Edge Of The Century" album.

"Not Dead Yet" had originally appeared on our "MEAT: The Bad Examples album," available only on cassette.

We included it so people would realize it was one of our songs, not one of theirs. Lucky we did!

"One Perfect Moment" was the first song to get heavy airplay in Chicago, and was played on WXRT and WLUP. In Europe, "Promises In The Dark" and "Ashes Of My Heart" were the first two singles. 



"Ashes" blew up as a single in a number of isolated regional markets in the U.S., including Springfield, Illinois.

I think people connected well with the songs because the lyrics expressed ideas they could relate to, the melodies were strong and catchy, and the band had a high energy, but melodic sound with a lot of soul and authenticity to it.

That sounds very appealing when I write it, but as I mentioned before the “flavor of the day” of popular music went in a different direction when grunge/alternative broke big.

Q - The music industry has changed drastically since the band first formed. How have you tried to keep up with the changes?

I don’t feel we’ve ever really tried to keep up with the changes of fashion in the music biz – our goal has always been to make great recordings of great songs, and perform them with energy and passion. Maybe someday that will be the new craze - if so, we’ll be sitting on top of the heap!

Q - How do you go about balancing The Bad Examples with your Ralph's World project? Do you need both in your life?


Some years Ralph’s World demands more of my time and attention, and some years I can afford to spend a little more energy on The Bad Examples and on my Ralph Covert projects.

I’m always writing for all facets of my music, and always in the studio working on new material. I probably have 60 to 100 songs either completed or in the works, between all the different projects.




We try to release them in ways that will appeal to the fans while moving things forward for my career.

Q - The Bad Examples released "Smash Record" in 2011. Are you guys working on new music? What does the rest of the year hold for The Bad Examples?

On April 21, we’re launching a PledgeMusic campaign. In a first ever FaceBook live streaming concert, we will be presenting a live acoustic performance of "Bad Is Beautiful" in sequence from Waterdog Records at 8 p.m. April 21 to help celebrate the launch of the PledgeMusic campaign to re-release "Bad Is Beautiful" on vinyl.

The campaign will feature lots great bonus items, including vintage posters, and European CD singles form the album. In addition, I will be sharing short videos in which I will tell the stories behind different songs and have acoustic performances of those songs.

Other upcoming releases include the July release of a Ralph’s World album and a new Ralph Covert solo record to be released early next year. The Ralph’s World album is called "Time Machine Guitar," and features songs from the "Ralph’s World: Time Machine Guitar" TV series.

We’ve shot the pilot for the show, and are hoping to produce a full season in the next year or so. I will be performing a lot of solo house concert shows, and hope to fit in several more shows with The Bad Examples to highlight the PledgeMusic campaign.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Los Lobos, Melissa Etheridge among those taking the stage this summer at Aurora's RiverEdge Park


It's going to be a summer of music and fun at RiverEdge Park in Aurora. 

Los Lobos, Melissa Etheridge and "Weird Al" Yankovic are among those set to take the stage this summer at RiverEdge Park. Listed below is the full schedule for RiverEdge's summer concert season. 

More information is available at RiverEdge's website, riveredgeaurora.com.






Blues on the Fox Festival - 20th Anniversary featuring Los Lobos, The Robert Cray Band, Marcia Ball, Leland, Larry McCray and Tedeschi Trucks Band

Friday and Saturday, June 17 and 18


Friday: Gates Open at 6 p.m. Show starts at 7 p.m.


Saturday: Gates Open at 2 p.m. Show starts at 3 p.m.


Tickets: Friday - $10 through May 31; $20 starting June 1


Tickets: Saturday - $30 through May 31; $40 starting June 1 

What started as a street fair in 1996 exploded into a colorful, world-renowned festival, drawing blues fanatics from around the globe to appreciate the genre's soul, grit and power.

This summer, the Blues on the Fox Festival celebrates 20 years of red-hot blues legends like BB King, Buddy Guy and Mavis Staples rockin' in Aurora. This year, it's more than just a two-day-long party. It's a celebration of where the blues have been, where the blues are, and where the hell the blues are going.

It's all happening just down the Fox River from the place that put Aurora's blues scene on the map: the famous Leland Bluebird studios.

Marcia Ball brings her musical gumbo of Tex-Mex flavor, swampy Louisiana beats and wild piano playing to kick off the Blues on the Fox double bill Friday, June 17 at 7 p.m. The sexy, soulful blues rockers The Robert Cray Band take the stage at 9 p.m.

Saturday, June 18 kicks off at 3 p.m. with Leland, a band literally created to pay tribute to the Fox Valley's blues roots and the blues staples recorded in downtown Aurora's Leland Hotel in the 1930s.

Blues guitar master Larry McCray plays at 5 p.m., with East L.A. rockers Los Lobos at 7 p.m. Festival closers blues rock supergroup Tedeschi Trucks Band, close the fest starting at 9 p.m.






Kool and The Gang with Thomas McClary of the Commodores

Friday, June 24 

Gates open at 6 p.m. Show starts at 7:30 p.m. 

Tickets: $30 through May 31; $45 starting June 1 

In over four decades, Kool and the Gang has sold more than 70 million albums worldwide, won two Grammys and seven AMAs, racked up 31 gold and platinum albums and scored a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. You won't be able to stay in your seat when these music royals rock the Fox with hits including "Celebration," "Jungle Boogie" and "Get Down On It." 

To add to the good times, Motown icon and founder of the Commodores Thomas McClary is bringing his legendary Motown sound along. With writing partner Lionel Richie, McClary is responsible for some of the biggest dance hits ever, including "Brickhouse" and "Too Hot to Trot" and ballads like "Easy."

Sponsored by Clear Perspective Advisors, Heartland Recycling and Aurora Sign Co. Official radio station is K-Hits 104.3 FM.



Willie Nelson and Family with Special Guest Kris Kristofferson
 
Saturday, June 25
 
Gates open at 6:30 p.m. Show starts at 8 p.m.
 
Tickets: $40 through May 31; $50 starting June 1

Get set for a show filled with old favorites, deep cuts and maybe even a few surprises when the two remaining members of country super group the Highwaymen are reunited on RiverEdge's outdoor stage for one of Chicagoland's coolest summer concerts.


Willie Nelson might have been inducted into the Country Hall of Fame 23 years ago, but he's been considered a living legend for decades longer. It's no surprise; with a 60-year career, 200+ albums and more tours than we can count under his brass belt buckle, Nelson is the outlaw country king.                                                        

It takes a special kind of country artist for Jerry Lee Lewis, Janis Joplin and literally hundreds of others to cover your songs. Kris Kristofferson, who wrote "Me and Bobby McGee," "Sunday Mornin' Comin' Down" and "For the Good Times," is that artist.

He is also a Country Music Hall of Famer, a Golden Gloves boxer, a Rhodes scholar, a college football player, a movie star, a military officer, a helicopter pilot, a Grammy-winner, a self-professed screw-up and an icon. 

Sponsored by the Dunham Fund and Holiday Inn Express and Suites Aurora-Naperville. Official radio station is WCCQ 98.3 FM.



"Weird Al" Yankovic - The Mandatory World Tour 

Saturday, July 2 

Gates open at 6:30 p.m. Show starts at 8 p.m. 

Tickets: $25 through May 31; $40 starting June 1 

Call your brother, your sister, your high school buddies and your coworkers, because when the King of Parody hits the RiverEdge stage in all his curly-haired, accordion-playing glory, it's going be one big party at the Park.

"Weird Al" Yankovic is the best-selling comedy recording artist in history. His mind-blowing ability to parody world-famous musicians like Michael Jackson, Billy Joel, U2 and Madonna launched Al into superstardom himself. After almost 40 years of leaving millions of fans of every age in stitches, he's still going strong. His 2015 studio album "Mandatory Fun" debuted on Billboard's Top 200 at #1, marking the first time a comedy album debuted with top marks in Billboard history.

But Weird Al's fame doesn't solely spawn from his hilarious and wildly popular musical style. From chart-topping albums to Comedy Central, MTV and VH1 specials to perpetually viral videos (his 2006 "White and Nerdy" garnered over 150 million YouTube hits) to becoming a New York Times Bestselling Author, "Weird Al" is a true pop culture icon.



KC & The Sunshine Band 

Sunday, July 3 

Gates open at 6 p.m. Show starts at 7:30 p.m. 

Tickets: $25 through May 31; $40 starting June 1
                                                                                                 
Find those bell bottoms and strap on your boogie shoes, because when these "Kings of Disco" hit the stage, we're getting down tonight. Named for the band leader's home state of sunny Florida, KC and The Sunshine Band has been getting people up and dancing for 43+ years. Their eponymous 1975 album, containing dance-party-inducing #1 hits "Get Down Tonight," "That's The Way (I Like It)" and "Rock Your Baby," went triple platinum and scored KC an American Music Award for Best R&B Artist. 


In 1977, John Travolta got his groove on to their single "Boogie Shoes" in the movie Saturday Night Fever, furthering KC's role as the "Founder of the Dance Revolution." And in 2002, Sunshine Band founder Harry Wayne Casey cemented his role in show business with a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. 


Sponsored by Gerald Subaru.



The Hollywood Vampires with Joe Perry, Alice Cooper and Johnny Depp
 
Thursday, July 7
 
Gates open at 6:30 p.m. Show starts at 8 p.m.
 
Tickets: $55 through May 31; $65 starting June 1 

After their spectacular worldwide TV debut on the 58th Annual GRAMMY Awards,® The Hollywood Vampires with Alice Cooper, Johnny Depp and Joe Perry will stop at Aurora's RiverEdge Park, offering Chicago fans a non-stop, energetic rock concert like no other, performing their new single "Bad As I Am" from their new album, plus renditions of popular classics including "My Generation, "Whole Lotta Love" and a "School's Out/"Another Brick in the Wall" medley.

In 1969 on the Sunset Strip at a club called the Rainbow Bar and Grill, the Hollywood Vampires were born in the upstairs bar. It was a gathering place for the rock stars living in or passing through L.A.

"To join the club, one simply had to out drink all of the members," says founding member Alice Cooper. Cooper and good friend Johnny Depp decided the spirit of the Hollywood Vampires should live again (minus the drinking).

Cooper and Depp were joined by Joe Perry, who is an old friend of both, and the recording began: a tribute to the original Hollywood Vampires.

Sponsored by Gerald Subaru. Official radio station is 95.9 FM The River.


 
 
Air Supply with Blood, Sweat and Tears featuring Bo Bice
 
Saturday, July 16
 
Gates open at 6 p.m. Show starts at 7 p.m.
 
Tickets: $25 through May 31; $40 starting June 1 

Take a trip down memory lane and sing along with Air Supply and Blood, Sweat and Tears, live at the Park. By the end of this show, these bands will have run through those 70's and 80's hits that soundtracked your favorite moments of years past.
New York's Blood, Sweat and Tears, inspired by The Buckingham's newly-coined "brass-rock," started off as a jazz experiment group. After releasing a few albums that incorporated R&B, psychedelic rock and pop elements, the band smoothed out their approach and recorded their 1969 self-titled album.

Chock-full of hits like "Spinning Wheel," "You Made Me So Very Happy," "And When I Die" and more, Blood, Sweat and Tears would go on to win Album of the Year in 1970 and sell 3 million copies. While the band's line-up has changed many times since that record's release, the original group's heavy-on-the-horns and pop-rock- fusion sound still rings loud and clear.

Now fronting the band is popular balladeer Bo Bice, the American Idol standout vocalist and runner-up to Carrie Underwood.

When Australian songwriter/guitarist Graham Russell and vocalist Russell Hitchcock met in the orchestra pit of Sydney's "Jesus Christ Superstar," they became fast friends. After the show closed, Air Supply was born.

Their sweet harmonies and pared-down style earned them an opening spot on Rod Stewart's North American tour and the attention of record executive Clive Davis, who, after hearing their single "Lost in Love," signed the group immediately.

The song would go on to become the fastest selling single of all time and earned 1980's "Song of the Year" title. From there, the group recorded six more Top Five singles, toured the world and dominated the airwaves with soft-rock ballads like "All Out of Love," "Every Woman in the World" and "Sweet Dreams." 


Official radio station is K-Hits 104.3 FM.



Melissa Etheridge with Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo
 
Friday, July 22
 
Gates open at 6 p.m. Show starts at 7:30 p.m.
 
Tickets: $30 through May 31; $45 starting June 1                                               

Somebody bring me some water, because RiverEdge Park is presenting one of Chicagoland's hottest summer concerts: Melissa Etheridge with Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo. You better run to get your tickets to two of rock music's most iconic female legends, one paired opposite her talented, tatted rock star hub. 

After joining the NYC nightclub circuit, landing a gig on Broadway and making spandex a household clothing item, Pat Benatar was introduced to Neil Giraldo, a guitarist from the Rick Derringer Band. It was game over, musically AND romantically. 

The rock-n-roll powerhouse duo used their fire-power chemistry to record "In the Heat of the Night" "Crimes of Passion," which included the million-copy- selling "Hit Me With Your Best Shot," hit singles "We Belong," "Invincible" and "Love is a Battlefield" and many more. 

Along the way, the pair collected nine Grammy nominations, and ten gold and multi-platinum albums and singles. 

After dropping out of Berklee College of Music to follow her L.A. music dreams, Melissa Etheridge's self-titled 1988 album went gold, leading critics to praise her Bruce Springsteen- and John Mellencamp-like vocals. But when the Grammy-winning "Yes I Am" - featuring smash hits "Come to My Window" and "I'm the Only One" - hit the airwaves in 1994, this folk-rock star created a league of her own.

Since then, Etheridge's raspy vocals, honest lyrics and grounded personality became synonymous with feminism and perseverance, with her ground-shattering performance of Janis Joplin's "Piece of My Heart" at the 2005 Grammy Awards sealing the deal.

Sponsored by KelmScott Communications. Official radio station is Star 96.7 FM.




The Beach Boys and The Temptations - The Surf and Soul Tour 
Friday, August 5 

Gates open at 5:30 p.m. Show starts at 7 p.m. 

Tickets: $30 through May 31; $45 starting June 1 

There's no better way to celebrate summer than experiencing the band that literally created the beach rock sound live. Their multi-layered harmonies, unmistakable 1960s surf rock sound and laid-back style launched The Beach Boys into worldwide fame, while simultaneously shaping the future of pop music forever.
Fifty years, 100 million albums sold and an induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame later, The Beach Boys are the top-selling American band of all time. With musical masterpieces like "Surfin' USA," "Pet Sounds" and "Kokomo," it's no surprise The Beach Boys took home the Recording Academy's Lifetime Achievement Grammy.

RiverEdge fans like their surf with a side of soul, so joining the bill are the smooth, soulful, funky Temptations. Known for their Motown smash hits "Ain't Too Proud to Beg," "My Girl" and "Papa Was a Rollin' Stone," The Temptations, with the help of writer/producer Smokey Robinson, embody the heart and soul of Motor City USA. 
Not only are their Grammy-winning voices golden, but their slick dance moves and classic charm led The Temptations to become the cultural icons they still are today. 


Sponsored by the Dunham Fund, Progressive Energy Group and Globe Management. Official radio station is The Drive 97.1 FM.



Alan Jackson with Lauren Alaina 

Saturday, August 6 

Gates open at 6 p.m. Show starts at 7:30 p.m. 

Tickets:  $40 through May 31; $55 starting June 1 

Tonight, we're gonna party like "It's 5 O'Clock Somewhere." The man from rural Newnan, GA, who claims he is just a "singer of simple songs," has sold nearly 60 million albums worldwide and ranks as one of the 10 best-selling male vocalists of all-time in all genres. He has released more than 60 singles - registering 50 Top Ten hits and 35 #1s (including 26 Billboard chart-toppers).

He has earned more than 150 music industry awards - including 18 Academy of Country Music Awards, 16 CMA Awards, a pair of Grammys and ASCAP's Founders and Golden Note Awards. Jackson received the first-ever ASCAP Heritage Award in 2014 having earned the title of most-performed country music songwriter-artist of ASCAP's first 100 years.

He is a member of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Grand Ole Opry.
Opening for Jackson is Georgia native Lauren Alaina, who captured America's hearts when she appeared on Season 10 of "American Idol." Recently Lauren released a self-titled five-song EP, the highly anticipated follow-up to her No. 1 debuting first album "Wildflower."

Sponsored by Jake's Inc. and WBK Engineering. Official radio station is WCCQ 98.3 FM. 



Boz Scaggs and America 

Saturday, August 20 

Gates open at 6 p.m. Show starts at 7:30 p.m. 

Tickets:  $30 through May 31; $45 starting June 1 

Blues-soul rocker Boz Scaggs started off as the Steve Miller Band's guitarist, but his fame as a solo artist exploded farther than anyone could have imagined. When his 1976 album "Silk Degrees" hit record store shelves, the songs "Lido Shuffle" and "Lowdown" were smash hits, carrying the album to #2 on the Billboard 200.
1977's "Down Two Then Left" hit #11, and the follow-up "Middle Man" reached a Top 10 spot with singles "Breakdown Dead Ahead" and "Jo Jo."

His most recent release, "A Fool to Care," is a culmination of everywhere this dude has been, showcasing soulful originals, country covers and heartfelt features by fellow stars Bonnie Raitt and Lucinda Williams.
                                                       
The sons of Air Force officials based in England, Gerry Beckley and Dewey Bunnell met at their London high school. After discovering a mutual obsession with folk music, the two formed a band with a name that would honor their dads' service: America.

After rocking the U.K. charts with their 1971 single "Horse With No Name," the boys brought the song to the U.S., where it debuted at #1. In 1974, America joined forces with Beatles producer Sir George Martin.

This dream team of musical talent recorded honest ballads, folk jams and even some trippy numbers, releasing seven albums and timeless singles like "Sister Golden Hair" and "Tin Man." Today, Beckley and Bunnell are still touring together, bringing their classic sound to forever fans and newcomers alike.

Sponsored by Dolan & Murphy and Unilock. Official radio station is 95.9 FM The River. 



Get The Led Out: The American Led Zeppelin 

Friday, August 26 

Gates Open at 7 p.m. Show starts at 8 p.m. 

Tickets: $5 through May 31; $15 starting June 1 

Last summer, these talented rockers lit up RiverEdge Park with shredding guitar, piercing vocals and a head-banging drum solo that made us feel like we were seeing Jimmy, John, Robert and John Paul back on stage. This year, they're bringing it all back, and then some.

Get the Led Out's mission is to perform songs from Zeppelin's legendary albums like "Led Zeppelin I-IV," "Physical Graffiti" and "In Through the Out Door" with the explosive energy the guys were known for. Lead singer Paul Sinclair was even asked to provide singing vocals for the Robert Plant character on HBO's new series "Vinyl." Put it this way: rock journalists say Get the Led Out "didn't just pass Zeppelin 101 with flying colors - they're working on their Ph.D. They didn't just do their Zep homework - they're teaching the class."

Sponsored by RC Wegman Construction. Official radio station is 95.9 The River. 

DOWNTOWN ALIVE! CONCERT SERIES 

If you hear the word "weekend" and think kicking back in a lawn chair, grabbing a cold one and jamming to your favorite tunes with family and friends, then you've got to be at RiverEdge for Downtown Alive!

Aurora's concert series has become a summer highlight in the City of Lights, and this year's musical acts keep the tradition going. Tickets are just $1 if purchased through May 31. Children 12 and under free when accompanied by an adult 18 years or older.

 

Downtown Alive! with American English 

Friday, July 29 

Gates open at 7 p.m. Show starts at 8 p.m. 

Tickets: $1 through May 31; $3 starting June 1 

It's the end of the week, you've spent the last 5 days working your tail off and you need to start your weekend right. Head out to Aurora with some friends, grab a cold beer and kick back with the Fab Four... or, at least four guys who look, sound and act just like Paul, John, George and Ringo. There's a reason Sam Leach, the Beatles' former manager, calls these guys "The Beatles Incarnate!" From that very first song on the "Ed Sullivan Show" to "Abbey Road," it's a night of hit after bloody hit from Chicago's very own American English.


Downtown Alive! with 7th Heaven
Friday, August 19
Gates open at 7 p.m. Show starts at 8 p.m.
Tickets: $1 through May 31; $3 starting June 1 

Chicago's 7th Heaven has been a Chicagoland staple for three decades, playing over 250 dates every year. In addition to being kings of the Midwest's cover band circuit, they've opened for Bon Jovi, Kid Rock and Styx with their original material and classic favorites. 

If you've never experienced 7th Heaven's world-famous "30 Songs in 30 Minutes" medley, get ready to be knocked off your feet. 

Set up your lawn chair, crack that cold one and get ready to sing along to your favorite hits from yesterday, today and maybe even the future. Official radio station is Star 96.7 FM. 

Downtown Alive! is sponsored by Old Second Bank, BMO Harris Bank, Gerald Subaru, Rush-Copley Medical Center, Waubonsee Community College, Fox Valley Park District, The Supporting Companies, Pepsi, Sikich, Paramount Fence, All Around Pumping, Banana Split, EarthMover Credit Union, Advanced Disposal, Subway Fox Valley and Kane County Chronicle.

COMMUNITY FESTIVALS AND SPECIAL EVENTS



Color Vibe 5K Race
Sunday, May 29, 7:30 a.m.

Online registration: $55 team runner; $65 individual runner; free kids 1-15 

Online registration deadline is May 28 at http://www.thecolorvibe.com/aurora.php

In-person registration: $65 team runner; $70 individual; $15 kids 1-15 

The Color Vibe 5K isn't just about crossing the finish line - it's about how colorful you get along the way. As you run through scenic Downtown Aurora, along the gorgeous Fox River and end up in RiverEdge Park, you'll be blasted with vibrant color powders that will make your happy levels skyrocket. Families welcome.


Two Brothers Summer Festival with Cold War Kids, Lord Huron, The Lone Bellow and Phox 

Friday and Saturday, June 3 and 4 

Friday: Gates open 5 p.m.; Local talent starts at 5:30 p.m.; The Lone Bellow starts at 7 p.m.; Lord Huron at 8:45 p.m. 

Saturday: Gates open at 3 p.m.; Local talent starts at 4 p.m., Phox at 7 p.m.; Cold War Kids at 9 p.m. 

Tickets: $25/day; $75 VIP Tent/day; $200 SkyDeck/day 

This event is produced by Two Brothers Brewing Company 

The Best Beer, The Best Bands, For the Best Cause. Two Brothers Summer Festival is an annual music and beer festival with the ultimate goal of raising money for charity and providing a great experience for beer and music fans alike.

This marks the eighth year for this ever-growing event with this year's set to be the best and biggest yet with headliners Cold War Kids, Lord Huron, The Lone Bellow and PHOX. It will be the official release event for Two Brothers Hop Centric Double IPA and Hop Centric Black IPA, with a full lineup of Two Brothers beer and guest beers from breweries across the U.S. Proceeds benefit local charities including Make-A-Wish Illinois. 

2016 Chicagoland Tour de Cure Ride and Music Festival 

Sunday, June 12  Breakfast and registration begin at 5:30 a.m.

100 mile and 65 mile rides begin at 6:30 a.m.; 40 mile ride begins at 8:30 a.m.

20 mile ride begins at 9:30 a.m.; 10 mile ride begins at 10 a.m.

Register at http://main.diabetes.org/site/TR/TourdeCure/TourAdmin?fr_id=11077&pg=entry 

This event is produced by Tour de Cure by American Diabetes Association 

The 25th Chicagoland Tour de Cure Ride and Music Festival is more than just a cycling event. It's a day packed with excitement and energy where riders of all levels join forces in the fight to Stop Diabetes® and raise critical funds for diabetes research, education and advocacy in support of the American Diabetes Association.

Chicagoland Tour de Cure Ride and Music Festival is a ride, not a race, with routes designed for everyone: occasional riders, families and experienced cyclists. Route distances range from 10, 20, 40, 65 and 100 miles through the scenic Illinois Prairie Path and some of the best roads of Kane and DuPage counties.

Afterwards, join the post-ride festival at RiverEdge Park filled with delicious food, sponsor giveaways, live entertainment, kids activities and more. 



Aurora's July 4th Celebration 

Monday, July 4

Park opens at 3 p.m. American Legion Band at 6:15 p.m. Fox Valley Orchestra at 7:45 p.m. 

Aurora City Fireworks at approximately 9:30 p.m.

Free

Bring your Fourth of July celebration to downtown Aurora this year. With patriotic music, a cool breeze off the Fox River and free admission for the whole family, RiverEdge Park is the place to be this Independence Day. After all, we say that the Park is "your backyard away from home," and we mean it.

The full Aurora American Legion Band starts off this day of United States pride. Founded over 75 years ago, this band of fun-loving patriotic players are local favorites, playing American standards, heart-pounding marches, contemporary tunes and more. Then, the Fox Valley Orchestra takes the stage. 

With more than 60 members, this talented group plays everything from Top 40 hits to classic songs to your favorite movie scores, with some surprises thrown in the mix.

After the orchestra's last note rings through the warm summer air, the Aurora sky bursts with a spectacular fireworks show that's sure to light up the eyes of adults and kids alike.

 

Aurora Puerto Rican Heritage Festival

Saturday and Sunday, July 23 and 24 

Performers and tickets TBA 

Tickets only available at the gate on the days of the festival 

This event is produced with the Aurora Puerto Rican Cultural Council 

It's a two-day festival celebrating the rich heritage of Puerto Rico. Put on by the Aurora Puerto Rican Cultural Council, the weekend features endless food vendors offering wonderful cuisine, domino competitions, traditional folk music, Puerto Rican bands, a kids' play area, novelty vendors, Puerto Rican craftsmanship vendors and non-stop fun.

And don't forget to take in the sights and sounds of the Puerto Rican Day Parade on Sunday, July 24. The Parade starts at Noon from Benton and Broadway Street.

Sacred Heart Annual Festival and Concert

Sunday, August 7 

Details to be announced 

It's a full day of family fun, food and music celebrating the rich culture of Latin America, and it all benefits Aurora's own Sacred Heart Parish.

This year's fest will feature tons of vendors offering traditional Hispanic items and clothes, endless authentic Latin-American food options and great games for the kids. When the afternoon rolls around, the RiverEdge Park stage fills with some of the area's biggest and brightest Hispanic bands.