In 2000, Chicago Street Theatre tried something different. My wife Sheri and I, tired of seeing singer/songwriters performing in noisy nightclubs where often the background chatter is louder than the artist, invited legendary folk duo Lowen & Navarro to perform in our auditorium. Our goal was to make them comfortable, share our passion for their music with our patrons, and provide an environment that respected the artist and the music. That first show was a rousing success, and it gave us and CST the confidence to continue.
One Night Jam, as the series was known, ran until 2007 and brought some of the finest singer/songwriters from across the country, spanning genres from folk to blues to country to rock. We've had Grammy(tm) winners, international stars, local homegrown talent. Artists and audiences alike loved the vibe and the experience of seeing world-class talent in such an intimate space.
We were the first to bring Grammy(tm)-winning rocker Jim Peterik to Valpo. And Chicago legend Michael McDermott. And Grammy(tm)-winning country/folk songwriter Gretchen Peters.
But, since taking a break after 2007, I came to realize just how much I missed it. And I kept getting emails and requests from former fans and artists who I ran into to bring it back. So, I discussed it with the board and last October, One Night Jam returned.
The series is much more flexible now. Since 2007, CST has remodeled the former rehearsal/storage room upstairs into the Edith Wood Theatre, a smaller space with seating for 49 that allows us to book some of the lesser-known artists that may not draw like the bigger names, but in a "coffee house" - style atmosphere like the Wood, make for a very up-close and entertaining evening. Thus was born the "Edie's Attic" series, starting with Russian-born singer/songwriter Marina V this past October, and continuing with Chicago country/folk singer/songwriter Mike Aquino this coming Sunday.
And our mainstage series has also returned, starting with the Dan Navarro show last month. I'm talking to a number of artists right now, some of which have graced our stage before, some who are new. But all are good. And all mainstage shows are performed on the set of the play currently in production, so they're always visually interesting as well.
Those of you who only know us for dramatic presentations may wonder why we have a concert series. To me, it's all art. A concert is, really, no different from a dramatic performance. A play is about words and music (the rythmn of the words, the portrayal of the character) and it's meant to make you think, to carry you away, to touch your emotions.
A concert is also about words and music that are meant to make you think, to carry you away, to touch your emotions. It's just a slightly different form of the art.
During the first run of ONJ, we brought in artists from all over the country, and brought in fans from all over the world. But, we've been away for five years. We understand that we need to build momentum again, to let people know that this wonderful talent is once again available on our stages. LIke anything worth doing, it will take some effort to get that awareness back.
Watch the website. Take a chance on an artist you may not know. The Edie's Attic shows are priced very reasonably so, for the cost of a Latte' and a muffin at the local eatery, you can enjoy an evening of some of the finest live music in the region. And the mainstage shows are still priced very reasonably, and you'll be amazed at the artists we have in store for you.
We need your help. If you had been to any of the original shows. or have recently been to one of our new shows, please spread the word. Tell your friends what they're missing. Get on Facebook and share this page. One Night Jam is a vibrant part of the region's arts community. Artists love to play here because we respect the music. And our audiences respect the music. I've heard that over and over from artists and fans alike. It's a good feeling, as that was my original goal when I set out on the journey in 2000. And it remains my goal as we re-launch now. Come, share my passion for good music. I'll see you at the theatre. Please, come up to me and say hello.
As we say, One Night Jam is Huge talent in small spaces.
Paul Braun, Director
One Night Jam Concert Series.