IS SUE 15
S PRING 2014
CULTURE Etha Max Benson CattleProd! Chanson du Chat Andrea Dawn The Employees Empty Can Band HOSS J.D. Klatt Kevin Presbrey Kevin Trudo The New Folk Noah’s Arcade The Peachtree Ben Thomas
Music Issue art • calendar • comic • recipe
INSIDE John Heinz Art Sheridan + more
Downtown Auroran www.downtownauroran.wordpress.com Publisher and Editor Marissa Amoni
In the late spring of 2009, I attended the first
Songwriters’ Showcase at Backthird Audio in downtown Aurora. I sort of knew some of the folks from being involved in downtown Aurora, but it wasn’t until that night that I met Kevin Trudo and saw Andrea Dawn perform. It was a game changer for me. Backthird Audio was celebrating six years; I was putting out the first issue of Downtown Auroran Magazine. I had heard a bit about the local music scene, but it wasn’t until Benjie Hughes invited them into Backthird Audio, the studio he owns at 67 S. Stolp Ave., that I saw the dynamic between the artists and the possibilities that existed among the intimate, local music scene. When creative people get together, something usually brews and it wasn’t long before Hughes and Steve Warrenfeltz, of Kiss the Sky, collaborated on bringing over a dozen local musicians together for the Made in Aurora albums in 2011. Warrenfeltz continues the tradition of live, local music with Live at Kiss the Sky on the last Sunday of the month. Warrenfeltz and Hughes – both of Aurora – keep their dreams big for the local music scene, and local musicians are grateful for the support and opportunities the two have provided them. We look at mostly singer-songwriters in this special Music Issue, but the Aurora area is alive with many genres of music including heavy metal, hip-hop, and more. Aurora-based Smokem Records and Savage Pen Productions both have a big hand in the local scene – and it doesn’t stop there – local talent can be found in local schools, churches, and in studios, like Gremlen Studios at 130 W. Downer. Familiar venues like Ballydoyle and Two Brothers Roundhouse provide local musicians with a welcoming stage – others like Mike and Denise’s, Black Door Pub and La Quinta de los Reyes frequently open up their businesses to local bands. In Batavia, The Office provides an intimate space for musicians and in Geneva, EvenFlow Music and Spirits is a fun venue with a variety of events for all tastes. We couldn’t cover all of the great, local talent that is out there – but we introduce you to 15 artists, who either solo or with a band, own the local music scene right now. They’re the ones who are filling up the tavern at the Roundhouse, playing outdoor festivals, recording studio albums and calling Aurora “home.” See you downtown!
Graphic Design and Printing Kelmscott Communications Copy Editors Tony Scott Max Balding Contributors Tony Scott Frank Patterson Chris Evans Kate Purl Advertising and Submissions: E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Summer Issue deadline: June 13. On the Cover: Chad Watson by Chris Evans Downtown Auroran (DTA) is a local, independent operation. We focus on the downtown and its success – especially the growing arts and culture movement. Opinions are encouraged and expressed, but they are not necessarily those of DTA. Downtown Auroran magazine is published three times a year, and over 2,000 copies are distributed free of charge throughout downtown and select locations in the Aurora area. Share it and recycle it, or add it to your collection. Join us on Facebook! Summer 2014 issue is available in July. Please support the businesses that support us. Keep it local! Copyrighted 2014
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OUR SERVICES STRATEGY GRAPHIC DESIGN E-BUSINESS DATA MANAGEMENT PRINTING WIDE FORMAT PRINTING MAILING AND FULFILLMENT PROMOTIONAL PRODUCTS
Art Sheridan Tony Scott
Table of Contents 4 comic
11 artist profile
5 locust report
6 cover story
13 culture shock
9 downtown voices
15 historical notes
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The L o c u st Rep o r t Reporting the News and Gossip in Downtown Aurora •T he Yetee is celebrating one year at its new warehouse space on Cross and River Streets. All grown up, The Yetee is now printing t-shirts in-house. The Yetee presses occupy the second floor where resident artist Don Picton now works screen printing tees. The Yetee Gallery on the first floor opens up on select evenings for art shows, and is sometimes part of First Fridays in Downtown Aurora. Owner Mike Mancuso grew the business from the ground up in downtown Aurora. Buy a t-shirt today. theyetee.com •R estaurant Row update: Aliano’s Ristorante? A farm to table restaurant? The row at the West end of New York Street has been stagnant for the last year, but the city assures that “it continues to move forward.” Old, but-new-again landlord on the row Vernon LaVia said there is nothing to report at this time. What we do know is that there are major infrastructure issues, and the city and the landlords say they are working to fix them. •T aco Grill took the spot of Hot Pechugas at 31 N. Broadway over the winter. In a case of “he said, she said,” Hot Pechugas quickly fled after not being able to secure a beer license from the city for the location. Taco Grill – with over a dozen salsas at their fresh salsa bar – seems more promising since their original location in Westmont is a hit with the locals. • At the speed of OnLight, downtown Aurora is becoming more and more attractive to businesses that rely on fast online services. Metropolitan Business College, better known as the building where River’s Edge Café resides, is now hooked up to the 60-mile fiber optic underground network. New tenant JJX Packaging saw the building’s connectivity as a plus both speed-wise and cost-wise. Backthird Audio has also gone OnLight, and so far, so good, says owner Benjie Hughes. •S eize the Future is off to a good start this year. After hiring a new team and eliciting Requests for Proposals (RFPs) for the Elks Club building at Stolp Avenue and Benton Street, the city’s partner in development is busy seeing what they can accomplish in downtown Aurora. The Elks Club is currently being used by the Paramount Theatre for its second-story grand
Fun! Spring 2014
ballroom, which they have repurposed into rehearsal space. Ballet Folklorico also practices on the building’s ground floor. The historic, city-owned building could have a future in it yet. •T he little hope that the old Waubonsee Community College campus on Galena Boulevard and Stolp Avenue would turn into artist lofts was crushed when Gorman & Company backed out of the deal. The city said that the development company couldn’t close some financial gaps in their plan. •L aSalle Street update: Gravity Building is going up, up and away with lots of momentum thanks to Jimi Allen and Chris Rud. They’re thinking that the beginning of summer could bring open doors for the four-story coworking center, but they are grounded enough to not make any promises. Across the street, Milwaukee-based Dryhootch is currently fundraising so that they can make their dream of turning the old Elks Club building at 59 S. LaSalle St. into a coffee shop, social healing space, and resource center for veterans. dryhootch.org •P aramount Theatre’s 2014/2015 season: Cats, Mary Poppins, Tommy, Les Miserables. • A list to like on Facebook: Simply Destinee, L.U.V.E.M., M.U.S.I.C., Backthird Audio
By Jason DeLancey DeLancey, of Aurora, dabbles in photography and graphic design, and is a frequent contributor to The ArtBar.
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15 bands taking the local music scene by storm Max Benson – Roots Rock
Max Benson is the cool, laid back dude who plays local gigs and festivals with style. His long hair, hat and ease make him likeable. His penchant for classic rock and alt-country gives his music a Gram Parsons quality. Benson, of North Aurora, plays solo as well as with other talented musicians when he fronts Uncle Cracker Barrel, and previously Broken Neon. He’ll be in the studio soon recording with guitarist Mike Bowen, and he hopes to follow up his 2013 effort Six String Guillotine with another solo recording later this year. maxbenson3.bandcamp.com
Chanson du Chat – Gypsy Jazz
If you’ve had the pleasure of listening to Chanson du Chat – a gypsy jazz quartet featuring John Papadolias, Dave Bowers, Chad Watson, and Jim LeFager – you’d agree that Django Reinhardt would be proud. The group has been playing together for years and shares a love for jazz. John, an offspring of the famous Meg Papadolias who taught music and drama at West High and Washington for years, studies classical guitar every morning before working his day job as a harp technician for Lyon and Healy Harps in Chicago. His musical prowess could be traced back to Rick Cremer’s guitar shop in North Aurora; John, of Aurora, recalls hanging out there as a kid and then rewiring his Fender upon returning home. Teaching, playing and recording are always part of the plan, but first, he needs to tend to that Debussy piece he’s working out. chansonduchat.com
Andrea Dawn – Indie Rock
For the last several years, Andrea Dawn has been downtown Aurora’s Indie pop darling. As Dawn performed at places like River’s Edge Cafe and Backthird Audio, she also called downtown Aurora home. Since releasing a couple of popular records – including 2012’s Theories of How We Can Be Friends, Dawn has hit the larger stages of Two Brothers Roundhouse and Aurora’s RiverEdge Park. Her jazzy take on Indie Rock, strong piano playing and sultry vocals have captured audiences across the states. Dawn, who is largely inspired by Fiona Apple, revisited the studio a few months ago to record Doll, her latest effort being released by the new Murmur Entertainment Group out of St. Charles. Doll is set to debut on Record Store Day at Kiss the Sky in Batavia. andreadawnmusic.com
The Employees – Alternative Rock
The Employees are made up of Ryan Bobowiec (guitar), Henry Norris (bass), Steve Ortiz (drums), and Eric Barr (percussion). They’re a great, live jam band that likes to have fun on stage. A prodigy of the ‘90s, Ryan, along with his bandmates, grew up in the age of grunge and was heavily influenced by classic rock legends. Then attending music festivals like Bonnaroo and others gave the band inspiration and encouragement – seeing the progressive improvisation band Umphrey’s Mcgee changed his life musically, Ryan says. “It showed me that anything is possible with music, there is no right or wrong way to play or structure your own music.” In 2012, The Employees recorded Unemployed and they hope to record again this year. theemployeesband.com
Etha – Hip Hop
Savage Pen Productions artist Etha is often compared to the likes of Lupe Fiasco, Jay-Z, Fabolous, B.o.B., J. Cole, and a few others. Fortunately, he says, those are all artists he admires. Born as Ryan Davis, Etha made his first mixtape with his brothers in 2006. “The project was horrible, yet great for being our first and not knowing what we were doing,” said Etha, of Aurora. Etha is now a solo artist who aims to “show so many people that not all hip-hop is the ill-mannered, trouble making, violent, gangbanger music that most perceive it as.” He sells jewelry at Kay Jewelers now, but his hard work and dedication will soon make it possible for us to say we knew him when. iametha.com
Greg Boerner of CattleProd! – Blues Rock
Greg Boerner (pronounced “Burner”) is the epitome of a working musician. Boerner, of Aurora, has been playing lunchtime gigs at Potbelly Sandwich Shop for years; he performs at local markets and festivals, and takes the stage or gelato shop floor every weekend either solo or with CattleProd! – a supergroup featuring Chad Watson (bass, harp, vocals), Justin O’Connell (drums) and Dave Nelson (guitar). Boerner has recorded four solo albums, which he sells at his performances; Cattleprod released a seven-inch vinyl last year. Originally from Augusta, Georgia, Boerner is a fan of the blues greats and that appreciation shows in his own songs from “Southbound Train” to “Wishing Well.” His finger picking and Southern style make him an Aurora original. gregboerner.com, cattleprodmusic.com
Ben Thomas – Spiritual and Indie Folk
Since the age of 7, Ben Thomas, of Naperville, has been creating and writing music. After taking a five-year break from recording and taking a spiritual journey along the way, Thomas is once again in the studio recording two very different albums. One is a take on old hymns: “super-obscure spiritual songs I’ve discovered,” Thomas explains. The other is “like a film or a painting documenting the inner workings of this journey I’ve been on.” Thomas, who works on staff at Orchard Community Church, is a musician who makes beautiful music; you’ll want to take this journey with him. benthomasonline.com
Kevin Trudo – Folk Rock
Local singer-songwriter Kevin Trudo crafts songs so well that it’s surprising they haven’t shown up in television commercials yet. Maybe that’s because Trudo, of Aurora, still doesn’t consider himself a musician. “It’s way more about trying to get the sounds out of my head than any kind of career goals at this point in my life,” he says. But he continues to surround himself with talented musicians in efforts like Small Shiny Things, The Kevin Trudo plus Meathawk and St. Malarkey (with Ron Donavon, Chad Watson and Jake Mack). “Very simply, I want to write the best song I can and play it in a way that feels authentic and comes from the gut or the balls or the heart depending on what it was written to say,” he explains. Currently, Trudo is working on recording songs he’s written over the past decade. He enlisted plenty of friends and said he is at the halfway point on Water Bears Vol. 1. “I’d like my kids to be able to hate it,” he says. thekevintrudo.com
Dave Glynn of the Empty Can Band – Blues Rock
For the last 15 years, Dave Glynn, of Sugar Grove, has been the front man of the Empty Can Band. The band features Glynn on lead vocals and rhythm guitar, Johnny Mack on vocals and lead guitar, Rich Van Ham on harmonica and percussion, Todd Moffett on drums and vocals, Ray Rehberg on guitar and mandolin, and Jim ‘Chevy’ Chevalier on bass. A software developer by day, Glynn has immersed himself in the local music scene during his off hours. He emcees at Blues on the Fox at RiverEdge Park, frequently performs solo, and recorded on the Made in Aurora albums. He’s working on releasing a “Dave Glynn Live at Culture Stock” CD soon. emptycanband.com
HOSS – Southern Rock
The Made in Aurora albums brought many local musicians together; they also gave local attention to a band called “HOSS” that features Karl Holzl, Peter Lindenmeyer, Bob Lisberg, Brad Schieber, and Jason Waggoner, among others. The band, however, goes back 12 years. “We were friends before starting a band and the relationships go as far back as college and high school,” said Lindenmeyer, of Geneva. “We started out with more of a whiskey-fueled bluegrass approach, but have gotten more soul along the way and have matured into more of a southern-influenced rock band… I see us continuing to write, record and play.” gethoss.com
Noah’s Arcade – Rock
When you open for Robert Randolph and the Family Band, it might be a sign that you’re going somewhere. Noah’s Arcade is definitely a rising star in the world of local music acts, and with a debut album on the way, Noah Gabriel (vocals and guitar), Justin O’Connell (drums) and Chad Watson (bass) will be shining bright this year. When Gabriel, of Aurora, takes the stage, he channels the energy of those who have inspired him musically like Jimi Hendrix and Ben Harper. “I’m influenced by the world around me, I try to keep my mind open and look for the songs in everything,” he says. The trio has a great chemistry, which will be highlighted soon in a documentary filmed over three days by Rob Hale, who co-owns Murmur Entertainment Group. thenoahsarcade.com
Chris Bauler of the New Folk – Folk Pop
If you were around in the late ‘90s and considered Holy Angel’s Connor Hall to be the happening music scene, then you might know Chris Bauler. Bauler, of Aurora, has since transferred that booking talent to Two Brothers Roundhouse – and has completely re-energized and revitalized the stage at the Roundhouse. In his own right, Bauler is a cellist – an instrument he picked up before his formative school years. He is part of Todd Kessler and the New Folk (Kessler received national attention when he appeared on NBC’s The Voice) and performs throughout Chicagoland. The band is following up its debut album Sea Fever with a release out this August. thenewfolk.net
John “J.D.” Klatt of the Town Band – Big Brass
John and his wife, Lori, make a lot of noise when they sit among Kristin Kalleja, Sarah Sommer, George Dzuricsko, Tony Scandora, Rob Robbins, and Mike Johnson. The eight members of the Town Band equally entertain and impress when they get their brass instruments together. Aside from the tuba, Klatt, of Aurora, also plays guitar and has fun writing his own songs. He performs solo gigs at a variety of venues – one being the Rush Copley Cancer Center – and his large repertoire is a crowd pleaser. He released Time for Me to Face the Music in 2012, available on iTunes. jdklatt.com
Kevin Presbrey & the Midwest – Americana
Kevin Presbrey made an impression on the local music scene a handful of years ago with the heavy rock stylings of his band Painkiller Hotel. Presbrey has since redefined his musical style as more acoustic and ukulele-driven, and his image is more down-to-earth than the rock star of yesteryear. Presbrey, of Aurora, took a break from teaching ukulele last year and traveled to Seattle to collaborate with producer Ryan Hadlock (The Lumineers, Ra Ra Riot). The result is Dust unto Dust, “a marriage of the catchy hook and the rootsy americana track you might hear on an early 1970s record,” which is out on vinyl this spring. With plans for more recording and overseas tours, Presbrey appears to have the motivation to match his talents. kevinpresbrey.com
The Peachtree – Latin Rock
Before the live band came together in 2008, the Peachtree was a hip-hop group composed of the two current founding members, Jesus Diaz and Carlos Jacobo. Diaz and Jacobo are now joined by Cristian Saenz (drums), Alex Williams (guitar), Josh Byrd (bass). The name, “The Peachtree” serves as an ode to Diaz’ deceased grandfather. The Peachtree has been involved in the local music scene since the late ‘90s when Jacobo’s brother, Marcos “Maker” Jacobo, a well-established producer, had a huge role in introducing them to the local scene. Ever since, the Peachtree has remained active and involved, establishing themselves as a household name in the Aurora music scene. thepeachtreemusic.com
Editor’s note: Due to space constraints we were unable to feature the full interviews. Please visit www.downtownauroran.wordpress.com for additional online-only content.
D ow n t o w n V o ic e s Extended Play with Chris Evans
What are you listening to now? I have been trying to listen to all the new releases that are coming out, but I have not found one album that really grabs me yet. I enjoyed new singles from Broken Bells and Silversun Pickups. The new Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings record, Give the People What They Want, is really solid. There are lots of spring releases and still so much to get to. What are you excited about at the moment? I am excited to get my hands on the upcoming releases by Eli “Paperboy” Reed (4/29), Eels (4/21), Manchester Orchestra (4/1). “Paperboy” Reed is making his Warner Brothers debut and hopes to have a big pop crossover like all the other neo-soul acts. I am interested in the new Ray LaMontagne album Supernova. Although I am not a huge LaMontagne fan, this album was produced by Dan Auerbach (Black Keys), and Dan makes great records. Other new albums that I am getting into more are: Quilt, Real Estate, and Lily Allen. Also, Spoon is releasing a new studio album sometime this year. The best news is that Outkast has reunited and will probably headline every major music festival this year. Maybe they’ll take that momentum into the studio to work on a new album.
What are the upcoming shows to hit? Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings at The Vic Theater on 4/11 The National at Chicago Theater on 4/15- 4/18 Neko Case at Chicago Theater on 5/13 Also, nearly every Monday night at 7 p.m., Robbie Fulks plays at The Hideout in Chicago. What new releases do you recommend? Robbie Fulks: Gone Away Backward. He is a Chicago treasure and brings the true country music you won’t hear on the local “country” radio stations. Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings: Give The People What They Want. Sharon Jones makes fresh music in the style of the great soul artists from the past. Her live shows are full of energy and so much fun. I also really enjoy the new Haim album Days Are Gone. These sisters have a lot of catchy songs that remind you of the best parts of your favorite 80’s pop songs. What’s your vintage pick? I choose Aretha Franklin’s I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You. Aretha is the best. On this album she covers Otis Redding’s “Respect” and now her version is the only version we remember. The album could serve as a “greatest hits” with so many songs we have all heard and know. “Baby, Baby, Baby,“ “Do Right Woman,” and “I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You” are all classics.
I’ll Light Your Way By Desireé Franklin
Franklin is a self-taught artist who loves to create bright, unique pieces, mostly of animals and the cosmos. dezeflow.weebly.com
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A rt is t P r o file DTA Profile: John Heinz Interview by Marissa Amoni
Sometimes you don’t really know
someone until you’ve been invited into their basement workshop. That’s what happened when I met with local artist John Heinz, whom I’ve known since the inaugural Alley Art Festival in 2010. I walked down the half a dozen steps into his accidentally retro and purposefully cluttered hobby room and met face to face with Heinz’s true love: a hand-detailed, wood model ship of the SS Eastland. The SS Eastland, a passenger ship out of Chicago, met with disaster in July 1915 when it rolled over in the Chicago River and 844 on board perished. Heinz fell in love with woodworking and model ships when he lived in Hyannis, Mass. for a couple of years in the mid-1970s. He learned the art of wooden boat building while there, and Heinz has been crafting model ships ever since. “I’ve sold a lot of them,” Heinz said. “I follow my own interests. I was fascinated with ships and boats.” Maybe it was the allure of sailors in old movies, like “Sinbad the Sailor,” but Heinz said that he finds inspiration from life at sea. “Ships are endlessly absorbing. The travel and sweat and escape from women. It sounds like a good life,” he said. “A gentlemen’s life.” At home and on land, Heinz, who is approaching 80, admits that his life has been a self-indulgent one. After handing over a lengthy resume, he said, “I’m not very practical. I’ve never taken anything with a career in mind. I took fun jobs.” Heinz’s fun included a stint as an archeologist, a 15-year gig as an academic librarian at the Art Institute of Chicago, a one-year assignment as a cinema instructor at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts, and a year as a carpenter at the Grebe Shipyard in Chicago. He met his second wife, Lisa, while living on a houseboat and working as an architectural model builder for Helmut Jahn in Chicago. The couple then moved to Aurora in 1989 and quickly became involved with the local arts community. Heinz took art courses at Waubonsee Community College, and started the Aurora Writers and Artists, a group of about two dozen that met in local living rooms for a couple of years. Then in 2000, Heinz accepted the call to join a Citizens Commission to look over the restoration of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) Memorial Hall on Downer Place.
Heinz was again inspired to create art after looking through historic photographs and meeting with others under the roughhewn beams overhead in the GAR landmark building. He created a series of paintings based off of images in the Aurora Historical Society’s collection, and combined them with his fascination of cavalry and the avant-garde. “I believe in service and the Greek ideal,” he said of his volunteerism and his art. That ideal could go back to the positive experience he had after being drafted in the late 1950s into the Army Medical Corps and serving at Heidelberg Hospital in Germany. It was his GAR series, in which he combines acrylic paint with spray paint, that helped him to gain the attention of local leaders. Heinz’s depiction of Aurora Mayor Weisner was quickly purchased at Alley Art Festival as a gift to the mayor. Later, Heinz received some local notoriety for his painting of President Obama. Two of Heinz’s paintings are on display at the David L. Pierce Art and History Center on Downer Place. Heinz says he is currently on a plateau and has a lot of blank canvases waiting for inspiration.
“It’s been an eventful life. I like to be relevant somehow.” — JOHN HEINZ Spring 2014
Contributed by The Reluctant Hippie Aurora-style giardiniera from the Black Market Pickle, a hyper-local, urban nano farm, is described as “a unique blend, combining influences of Chicago style, Italian style and Mexican style giardinieras. It’s DIY, unpretentious, and delicious – just like Aurora.” This mildly addictive concoction pairs perfectly with Prisco’s Italian sausage. Throw them together in a bed of cheese and pizza dough, turn up the heat, and be prepared to savor the local deliciousness. The recipe makes four stombolis. Look for the Black Market Pickle (blackmarketpickle.com) at local markets this summer. Ingredients:
Directions: Preheat oven to 365 degrees. Spray a fine mist of vegetable oil onto a cookie sheet to prevent sticking.
• 1/2 batch of super dough (recipe online at thereluctanthippie.wordpress.com)
• A good marinara sauce, for dipping
Divide dough into four equal portions. Roll each into a rectangle about 9-10” x 5” – the dough should be 1/8 inch thick. Mix the cheeses, sausage, and giardiniera, and then divide the filling mix into four equal portions. Mentally section each dough rectangle into four columns. Place toppings on the middle two sections. Wrap the outer sections of dough up over the sides of the toppings and pinch the seam closed. Place seam-side down onto prepared pan. Repeat with remaining dough and fillings.
Kate Purl whips up creative and healthful recipes for her family of four on a regular basis and chronicles the fun on her blog: thereluctanthippie.wordpress.com.
Lightly brush the tops and sides with olive oil, and then make three slits across each roll to allow steam to escape. Bake until golden brown, about 18-20 minutes. Allow strombolis to cool slightly before slicing. Serve with marinara.
• 3 cups shredded whole-milk mozzarella cheese • 3 T grated Parmigiano-Reggiano • 1 1/3 cups Aurora-style giardiniera • 2/3 cup cooked Prisco’s bulk Italian sausage (optional, but recommended) • Olive oil
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C u l tu r e S h o c k MARCH STORYTIME AT THE CAFE Mon March 17 at 11 The Aurora Public Library hosts an off-site storytime for children with books, dancing, and fun, plus a free cookie. Free. River’s Edge Cafe, 18 W. Downer. No reg. needed. aurorapubliclibrary.org CHANSON DU CHAT Thurs March 20 at 7:30 Catch a great, local gypsy jazz trio live. Free. Aurora University, Crimi Auditorium, 407 S. Calumet. CATTLEPROD! Fri March 21 at 8 It’s blues, it’s rock, it’s soul, it’s CattleProd! No cover. Two Brothers Roundhouse, 205 N. Broadway. twobrothersroundhouse.com THE EMPLOYEES Fri March 28 at 8 The Employees perform a live, three-hour set. No cover. Two Brothers Roundhouse, 205 N. Broadway. twobrothersroundhouse.com
APRIL RECORD STORE DAY Sat April 19 from 8 to 8 A great day to support musicians and a local record store. Kiss the Sky, 180 First St., Batavia. kissthesky.net STORYTIME AT THE CAFE Mon April 21 at 11 The Aurora Public Library hosts an off-site storytime for children with books, dancing, and fun, plus a free cookie. Free. River’s Edge Cafe, 18 W. Downer Pl. EL DIA DE LOS NINOS Sat April 26 from 1 to 5 Celebrate children at this day-long festival. Free. Spring Street Parking Lot at Lincoln Avenue. 2ND 2 NONE 5K RUN/WALK Sun April 27 at 8 Race through the historic streets of downtown Aurora. Sponsored by the Aurora Food Pantry and Communities in Schools and benefitting the Food for Thought initiative. RiverEdge Park, 360 N. Broadway. 2nd2none5k.com
MAY DOWNTOWN AURORA TASTE Tue May 13 from 5 to 9 Several tasty downtown eateries participate in the annual Taste hosted by the Exchange Club of Aurora. To purchase tickets call (630) 415-1263. auroraexchange.org FOX VALLEY GARDEN CLUB PLANT SALE Sat May 17 from 8 to noon Buy native plants from local gardeners. Aurora Transportation Center, 233 N. Broadway. STORYTIME AT THE CAFE Mon May 19 at 11 The Aurora Public Library hosts an off-site storytime for children with books, dancing, and fun, plus a free cookie. Free. River’s Edge Cafe, 18 W. Downer.
MEMORIAL DAY PARADE Mon May 26 at noon Step off at Benton and River streets. Pre-parade ceremony starts at 11:15. aurora-il.org
JUNE MID-AMERICAN CANOE & KAYAK RACE Sun June 1 from 8 to 5 Canoe down the Fox River from St. Charles or Batavia to Aurora. Ends at McCullough Park at Illinois Ave. and Lake St. (630) 859-8606. foxvalleyparkdistrict.org AURORA FARMERS MARKET Sat June 14 from 8 to noon Fresh produce, food demonstrations, crafts, music and more. Aurora Transportation Center, 233 N. Broadway. aurora-il.org LOUCHE PUCE FLEA MARKET Sat June 14 from 9 to 4 Second Saturdays bring vendors of all things cool to the pedestrian brick alley known as Water Street Mall. Peruse antiques, collectibles, and more. Water Street Mall between Downer and Galena. firstname.lastname@example.org GREEN FEST Sat June 14 from 10 to 3 Aurora’s ecocentric celebration brings music, education, activities, and more to the people. Prisco Community Center, 150 W. Illinois Ave. auroragreenlights.org TWO BROTHERS SUMMER FESTIVAL Fri June 20 thru 22 Three days of live music and great beer along with promotional and festival activities. Two Brothers Roundhouse, 205 N. Broadway. hopjuicefestival.com BLUES ON THE FOX WEEKEND Fri June 27 from 7 to 10:30 and Sat June 28 from 3 to 10:30 Enjoy two days of the Blues at Aurora’s new outdoor amphitheater and park. RiverEdge Park on Broadway. riveredgeaurora.com
LIMITED RUNS & SHOWINGS WOMEN Thru April 11 Rotten Apple Studios and the Aurora Public Art Commission present a show featuring the works of over a dozen female artists on the third floor of The DLP. Open Wed-Fri, noon to 4. Free. David L. Pierce Art & History Center, 20 E.Downer Pl. (630) 906-0650. aurora-il.org THE AURORA STORY Continuing The Aurora Historical Society exhibit on the 2nd floor of The DLP tells the history of Aurora with vintage treasures and more. Open Wed-Fri, noon to 4. Free. David L. Pierce Art & History Center, 20 E.Downer Pl. (630) 906-0650. aurorahistory.net
Need more art and culture?
Visit downtownauroran.wordpress.com and click on MARISSA’S CALENDAR for an updated list of events.
ART AT CITY HALL: GREATER GENEVA ART GUILD Thru April 26 Aurora’s City Hall features works of art on every floor. Open Mon-Fri, 8-5. City Hall, 44 E. Downer Pl. aurora-il.org RIVERFRONT PLAYHOUSE Call for current schedule. Riverfront Playhouse, 11-13 Water Street Mall, is a 90-seat, not-for-profit theatre located next to City Hall on the Water Street Mall in downtown Aurora. $12-$15. (630) 897-9496. Reservations recommended. riverfrontplayhouse.com
ONGOING EVENTS DAMES Every Monday from 9:30 to 11 Join other Downtown Aurora Moms Engaged in Society with or without kids. Drink coffee and chat while the kids have fun in the play corner. River’s Edge Cafe, 14 W. Downer Pl. Suite 18. M.U.S.I.C. MONDAYS Mondays from 6 to 7 Local musicians perform in the bookstore. Free. Culture Stock, 43 E. Galena Blvd. M.U.S.I.C. on Facebook. CLASSIC MOVIE MONDAYS Mondays at 7 Great, classic movies every Monday. $1. Paramount Theatre, 23 E. Galena Blvd. paramountaurora.com AURORA LANGUAGE TABLE Wednesdays from 6 to 7 Practice English and Spanish in an informal setting. Free. Culture Stock, 43 E. Galena Blvd. Culture Stock on Facebook. STORYTIME Thursdays at 10:30 Stories for little ones and a craft, too. Free. Culture Stock, 43 E. Galena Blvd. Culture Stock on Facebook. DAAM! First Thursday of the month at 7:30 Join artists of all kinds at the informal Downtown Aurora Arts Mixers. Chef Amaury at 33 West, 33 W. New York St. Sponsored by Downtown Auroran Magazine. downtownauroran.wordpress.com FIRST FRIDAYS IN DOWNTOWN AURORA: MARCH 7, APRIL 4, MAY 2, JUNE 6 First Friday of the month at 6 Art is alive in downtown Aurora. Enjoy several art openings in one glorious night. Various venues in downtown, including If These Walls Could Talk, Paramount’s Grand Gallery, VARA Design & Studio, The Yetee Gallery, Allen and Pepa Architects, The DLP, and The ArtBar at Two Brothers Roundhouse. auroradowntown.com DTA MUSIC VENUES Ballydoyle Irish Pub 28 W. New York St.
Two Brothers Roundhouse 205 N. Broadway
La Quinta de los Reyes 36 E. New York St.
RiverEdge Park 360 N. Broadway
Culture Stock 43 E. Galena Blvd.
Paramount Theatre 23 E. Galena Blvd.
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Hi s t ori c a l N o t e s
Art Sheridan and the Beatles By Tony Scott
Next time you’re listening to a Beatles record, know that an
Aurora resident had a hand in their career. Art Sheridan, 88, a resident since 2001, has spent the last several decades as a developer and investor, but from the early 1950s until the early 1960s, he was involved in the music business. Sheridan ran the rhythm and blues label Chance Records in Chicago in the early 1950s, along with a second label, Sabre Records. But he also was a silent partner in the legendary VeeJay Records label, which is where his connection to the Fab Four comes in. In January 1963, after being rejected by what ultimately would be their permanent label – Capitol Records – the Beatles signed a limited contract with Vee-Jay. Sitting in the West Side home he shares with his wife, Barbara, Sheridan recalled a meeting at the Rank Organization, affiliated with EMI, in England about a guitar-based band. But Sheridan said the label was actually looking for another artist, and the Beatles were a second thought. “We went to England to begin establishing distribution for Vee-Jay,” he said. “We were looking for some kind of an artist out of Australia – I don’t remember why – and the issue came up that ‘We have a young group who’s beginning to make noise in England, and if you want this (Australian) artist, we’d like you to take on this group.’ Keep in mind, at that time we had very good distribution across the United States through Vee-Jay and Chance. So we WHERE IT’S said, OK, and that happened to be the Beatles. So we had their first release.” Vee-Jay ended up releasing some of the band’s first singles – including “Please Please Me” and “From Me To You” – in 1963, as well as the band’s first full-length LP, called “Introducing the Beatles,” in January 1964. However, Sheridan said the band’s early singles and the first LP sold slowly.
“So we apparently weren’t promoting them well enough; From the Vee-Jay days: (L-R) that’s before they Art Sheridan, Ewart Abner and came over and played Jimmy Bracken, three of the five the Ed Sullivan owners of Vee-Jay Records, shown Show,” he recalled. in the company’s early days. “So Rank took our exclusive away – it didn’t work out. And of course, they came over, were on the Ed Sullivan Show, became a big hit, and there it is.” Sheridan said he and his Vee-Jay partners met the band “when they came to the states, very briefly,” but said they didn’t leave a particular impression or memory. “You know, acts were acts. A nice bunch of people,” he said. Sheridan grew up in Chicago, attending Senn High School. His father ran a factory that made small electrical appliances on South State Street, near what was then the Armour Institute of Technology – now known as the Illinois Institute of Technology. His dad wanted him to be an electrical engineer. “I wasn’t particularly thrilled with that, but in order to satisfy him, when I graduated high school, I went to the Armour Institute of Technology,” he said. “And I hated it. So after a few weeks or months, I went to my father and asked if I could enlist in the Army. I was 17, so I had to ask him.” Sheridan served in Europe during World War II in the Army’s 20th Armored Division, one of the divisions credited with liberating the Dachau concentration camp in Nazi Germany. After the war, Sheridan moved back to Chicago and worked for his father in his factory, eventually becoming its sales manager. It was outside of the factory in a “barn-like” building that Sheridan started out with his own Chance Records and also pressed records for labels like Aristocrat, a forerunner to Chess Records led by Chuck and Evelyn Aron with Leonard Chess as an early investor. Chance Records signed doo-wop pioneers the Flamingos and the Moonglows, although those acts did not have their biggest successes until after they left the label. The Flamingos would go on to have massive hits like “I Only Have Eyes for You,” while the Moonglows found success on nearby Chess Records with “Sincerely” in 1954. It was in the early ‘50s while running Chance that Sheridan met and became friends with Vee-Jay founders Vivian Carter and James Bracken. Ultimately, Sheridan became a partner in the firm, a fact not publicly advertised as Vee-Jay was considered the biggest African-American-owned record label with an all-AfricanAmerican roster of artists. “I was kind of the silent partner, adviser, all those kinds of things,” he said.
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