The year was 1981, and Bill FitzGerald, owner of FitzGerald’s Nightclub had less than a year under his belt with his fledgling new business at 6615 W. Roosevelt Road in Berwyn.
FitzGerald, a longtime Oak Park resident, began planning a special show for what would become his first American Music Festival — the headline act was a young guitar wunderkind making a name for himself out of Austin, Texas.
Stevie Ray Vaughn and his band Double Trouble had yet to release their first album, but they entertained locals as the headline act on the Friday of that Fourth of July weekend.
“He was on the verge of putting out his first album,” FitzGerald recalled, noting that the club had already booked him in May and then brought him back for the festival.
The popular nightclub is at it again this year for its 35th annual Fourth of July celebration.
The show will feature Americana, roots, jazz, rock, pop, zydeco, soul, funk, folk and country music and Los Lobos’ key members Cesar Rosas and David Hidalgo will perform under the name Dos Lobos.
Other well-known performers include Willie Niles, James McMurtry, Eric Lindell, Reckless Kelly, Terrance Simien, Donna the Buffalo, Robbie Fulks, Sarah Borges, Jon Dee Graham, John Fullbright and Toronzo Cannon, to name a few.
“Every year we try to get a few big names, and we like to introduce new talent,” FitzGerald said.
He noted that the event also will feature a variety of food at the outdoor food tent, including Cajun and American-style BBQ, poor boy sandwiches, Wisconsin brats, gumbo and Jambalaya.
The 2016 line-up includes:
June 30 (doors open at 4:30 p.m.)
Tent: Webb Wilder (9 p.m.), Sarah Borges & the Broken Singles (7:15 p.m.), Billy Prine Band (5:30 p.m.).
Club: Donna the Buffalo (10 p.m.), Parker Millsap (8:15 p.m.), Dead Winter Carpenters (6:30 p.m.).
Sidebar: Cannonball (10 p.m.), Bunkertown/Lonesome Organist (8:15 p.m.), Jodi and Dave Walker (6:45 p.m.).
July 1 (doors open at 4:30 p.m.)
Tent: Eric Lindell with Anson Funderburgh (10:30 p.m.), Nelson Street Revival with Cathy Richardson (8:45 p.m.), The Lee Boys (7 p.m.), Mississippi Mudpuppies (5 p.m.).
Club: Banditos (11:15 p.m.), Willie Nile (9:15 p.m.), The Wild Reeds (7:30 p.m.), The Roosevelts (6 p.m.).
Sidebar: Dead Freddie (11:30 p.m.), Tory-P Lopez & the Beta Males (10 p.m.), Girls of the Golden West (8:30 p.m.), The Giving Trio (7 p.m.).
July 2 (doors open at 1 p.m.)
Tent: Willie Nile (10:15 p.m.), The Zimmermen with Robbie Fulks and John Fullbright (8:15 p.m.), Alanna Royale (6:30 p.m.), Terrance Simien & the Zydeco Experience (4:30 p.m.), R&B Cadets (2:30 p.m.), Salty Dogs (1:30 p.m.).
Club: Robbie Fulks (11:15 p.m.), John Fullbright (9:30 p.m.), Jon Dee Graham & the Fighting Cocks (7:45 p.m.), Kevin Gordon Band (6 p.m.), Dylan LeBlanc (4:30 p.m.), Brad Cole (3 p.m.), Choctaw Wildfire (1:30 p.m.).
Sidebar: Kevin Gordan Band (10:30 p.m.), Gerald Dowd (9 p.m.), Curtis McMurtry (7:30 p.m.), Moonrise Nation (5:30 p.m.), Christine Melody Remedy (4 p.m.).
July 3 (doors open at 1 p.m.)
Tent: Dos Lobos featuring Cesar Rosas and David Hidalgo of Los Lobos and special guests (9:45 p.m.), James McMurtry (7:30 p.m.), Tributosaurus becomes James Brown (5:45 p.m.), Toronzo Cannon (3:45 p.m.), Rico (2 p.m.).
Club: Reckless Kelly (11:30 p.m.), Cactus Blossoms (9 p.m.), Choctaw Wildfire (7 p.m.), Sam Lewis (5 p.m.), The Claudettes (3:15 p.m.), Salty Dogs (1:30 p.m.).
Sidebar: Expo ’76 (11:30 p.m.), The Belvederes (9:45 p.m.), Charlie Parr (8 p.m.), Matt the Electrician (6:30 p.m.), Lonesome Still (5 p.m.).