Changes coming to Starry Nights outdoor concert series
By Don Snider June 6, 2012 3:28PM
Maggie Speaks will kick off the Starry Nights concert series in Homewood on June 14.
◆ H-F Community Band opens at 6:15 p.m., followed by
Maggie Speaks around 7 p.m. June 14, the Neverly Brothers around 7 p.m. June 28 and
R-Gang around 7 p.m. July 19
◆ Irwin Park Bandshell,
18120 Highland Ave., Homewood
◆ Admission, free
◆ (708) 957-7275; hfparks.com
Updated: July 9, 2012 6:04AM
“Stars belong to everyone” and “The best things in life, they’re free.”
Sam Cooke, the rhythm and blues and pop star of the late 1950s and early ’60s, sang those lyrics in 1964.
Among his 29 top 40 hits also would be more memorable tunes such as “Only Sixteen,” “Twistin’ the Night Away” and “Chain Gang.”
But his “The Best Things in Life are Free” song is most fitting for this summer’s Starry Nights series in Homewood.
For the first time in Starry Night’s 26-year history, the concerts will move from Fridays to Thursday nights and will be free.
“We wanted to do things differently this year,” said LeeAnn Fisk, Homewood-Flossmoor Park District’s events coordinator.
“We wanted to make summers nonstop music in the park on Thursdays. The H-F Community Band also will play free concerts on the other Thursday nights from June through August.”
Also breaking from tradition, the three Starry Nights acts will include strictly Chicago-area groups that are classified neither “oldies” nor “tributes.”
Above all, the groups are known as entertainers.
“These groups cover a lot of different genres,” Fisk said. “There’s something for everyone.”
The three Starry Nights include:
◆ June 14: Maggie Speaks.
◆ June 28: The Neverly Brothers.
◆ July 19: R-Gang.
Other Starry Nights changes include having the H-F Community Band open for the headliners at 6:15 p.m., with the featured groups coming on around 7 p.m.
The H-F Community Band, which includes 65 members, will choose a theme for each night and play in a separate area offstage so there will be an almost seamless transition to the featured groups.
“For the sake of the family, the concerts will start and end earlier,” Fisk said. “And we will continue to have vendors such as Aurelio’s, Cilantro and Mitchell’s.”
With no tickets required and no gates or fences, patrons can come and go as they wish from any direction at Irwin Park, Ridge Road and Highland Avenue.
And they may even hear a Cooke song or two. Among R-Gang’s repertoire is a medley of Cooke’s greatest hits.
Don Snider is a local freelance writer.
MAGGIE SPEAKS (June 14): Since 1997, when Maggie Speaks, the Chicago area listens. The band’s repertoire includes a range of pop songs from the 1950s to the 2000s.
The band has shared the stage with stars such as Earth, Wind & Fire, the Doobie Brothers, 38 Special and Jay Leno. Maggie Speaks has covered hits by groups as diverse as Steely Dan, Eric Clapton, Goo Goo Dolls and Kid Rock.
Vocalist Dave Calzaretta, an Indiana University graduated, formed the band with two brothers who play the guitar and drums and a third member, a guitarist. Through the years, they added female vocalists and created a replica band, Spoken Four.
The musicians have performed some 170 concerts a year, mostly in the Chicago area., but they also have done gigs in Europe and the Bahamas.
THE NEVERLY BROTHERS (June 28): There’s no coincidence that this band’s name is a takeoff of 1950s legends the Everly Brothers. But the Neverly Brothers are much more than the singing duet since the group features brothers Kevin and Kegham Giragosian plus Craig Gigstad.
For almost 20 years they have taken audiences through a musical tour of rock ’n’ roll history. Dressed in period-perfect matching outfits from various eras, the Neverly Brothers perform the early hits of Jerry Lee Lewis, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Buddy Holly and, of course, the Everly Brothers.
R-GANG (July 19): Specializing in rhythm and blues, rock and blues sounds, R-Gang has performed in the Chicago area since 1989.
When the band performed in Frankfort recently, Pam Griffith of the Frankfort Chamber of Commerce said, “Frankfort loves R-Gang, and they get better every year. They are musicians, performers and gentlemen.”
With Robert Davis leading the way on vocals and keyboards, R-Gang performs lengthy song lists that include hits by the likes of the Four Tops, the Drifters, Santana, Stevie Wonder, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Sam Cooke.