33rd go-round for American Music Festival

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By Ken Trainor

Staff writer

Starting next Wednesday, FitzGerald's Nightclub, 93XRT and Miller Lite present the 33rd Annual American Music Festival, July 2-5, with more than 50 acts. 

The four-day event down on the Berwyn side of Roosevelt Road is the oldest festival of its kind in the Chicago area. This year, for the first time, they will be selling advance tickets for each day in addition to the usual festival four-day pass.

The lineup includes Billy Joe Shaver, the Holmes Brothers, C.J. Chenier, the Bottle Rockets, The Iguanas, Robbie Fulks, and Marcia Ball as well as up-and-coming artists, such as Hurray for the Riff Raff, Pokey LaFarge, Jarekus Singleton, the Black Lillies, John Fullbright, the Warren Hood Band, Colin Gilmore and the Howlin' Brothers. 

There will be three special performances: 

1) A tribute to Lowell George with the New Orleans Suspects and Paul Barrere and Fred Tackett of Little Feat; 

2) Texas troubadour Joe Ely with Reckless Kelly as his backing band and 

3) The supergroup Split Squad, featuring guitarist Keith Streng (The Fleshtones), guitarist Eddie Munoz (The Plimsouls), bassist Michael Giblin (Parallax Project) and French drummer Florian Barbier.  

Tom "Festival" Cimms' food offerings remain a festival highlight. An old friend of FitzGerald's and former restaurateur, his specialties include classic American BBQ and vegetarian options with Louisiana favorites like Cochon de Lait, andouille sausage po' boys, gumbo and jambalaya.

FitzGerald's American Music Festival takes place rain or shine on three stages — club, tent and SideBar. Hours are 4:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. on July 2; 4:30 p.m. to 2 a.m. on July 3; and 1 p.m.-3 a.m., July 4 and 5.

Advance tickets cost $30 per day at TicketWeb and in person at FitzGerald's. A 4-day pass for $100 is available at TicketWeb only (lanyard picked up at will call on July 2). The TicketWeb link: http://www.ticketweb.com/snl/VenueListings.action?venueId=32814&pl=

Children 12 and under are welcome with parents until 10 p.m. Tickets are $5; no children's tickets will be sold in advance.

For the full lineup, go to http://www.fitzgeraldsnightclub.com. FitzGerald's is located at 6615 W. Roosevelt Road. Call 708-788-2118 for more information. 

Keberlein wins a Jeff 

As we reported earlier, Oak Park resident John Fournier won a Jeff Non-Equity Award earlier this month (Artistic Specialization) for his music and lyrics in The Life and Death of Madam Barker

But we overlooked another local talent who won a coveted Jeff Award. River Forest resident Katherine Keberlein won for "Actress in a Principal Role – Play" for the title role in The Mother at Oracle Theatre.

 Keberlein's husband teaches history at Dominican University, said Galen Gockel, former managing director of Festival Theatre, who gave us the tip. Gockel got to know Keberlein because she performed is two of Festival's past productions, playing the deceased wife in Blithe Spirit at Pleasant Home, and as Rosaline in Cyrano de Bergerac at Austin Gardens, as well as one of the Shakespeare productions.

Congratulations to Keberlein and let's hope she returns to Festival Theatre sometime soon. 

Mamet and Macy send their best

Festival Theatre has launched its 40th season of outdoor productions with Hamlet. Most have taken place in Austin Gardens, but the first stage was set up on Westgate, just west of Marion Street, in the little Tudor-style cul-de-sac. To celebrate four decades, Festival held a fundraiser there on June 8 and several original cast members attended, plus Festival Theatre's founder, Marion Karczmar (shown here with current Artistic Director Jack Hickey).

That first production in 1975, A Midsummer Night's Dream, included playwright and screenwriter David Mamet (who played Oberon) and film actor William Macy (Fargo), who played Puck. Both got their start in Chicago theater in the 1970s and ended up in Hollywood. And both sent messages of support on the occasion of Festival's 40th, including Mamet's letter below:

"Thank you for Hemingway and for giving a group of young actors a place to perform. I recall it was in the days just after the earth had cooled, and the sea creatures grew legs and learned to breathe air. The air, specifically, of Oak Park. It was the summer of something-or-other and me, and Macy and Kimbrough and the great Patty Cox, and Rokko and Steve Schachter and Elliot Delman et al were having a 'summer of fun.' We got up at 5 a.m., and traveled to Gurnee or somewhere and performed all day in the sun at a 'Renaissance Fair.' We then got into our car and drove to Oak Park where we put on A Midsummer Night's Dream at 8 p.m. and then we got in our car and drove to Hull House to do children's theater at midnight. It was the most fun anyone ever had with (or, judging from my daughter's show Girls) without their clothes on.

"It was good of Oak Park to let us work there. Perhaps everyone, whether Chekhov or the St. Nicholas Theatre or Einstein, starts (if fortunate) as a garage band. I know we did, and I know we all are grateful to you."

Hamlet, by the way, runs Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 7 p.m. through July 19. There will be no performance on Friday, July 4 (for obvious reasons), but they're adding one on Wednesday, July 2 (also on Wednesday, July 16). After Hamlet closes, they shift over to Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest, beginning July 24. Visit www.oakparkfestival.com or call 445-4440 for tickets or more information.

Contact:
Email: ktrainor@wjinc.com

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