One Night Jam: SongSisters

The SongSisters--Amy Dixon-Kolar, Patti Shaffner, and Sue Fink--are singer/songwriter friends who discovered that their own distinctive songs and styles worked very well together, like contrasting spices that somehow blend to make one very tasty stew. They perform like a writer's round, taking turns and adding harmonies to each other’s songs and favorite cover songs. 

They also have direct ties to Chicago Street Theatre. Patti Shaffner is a longtime member and has appeared on our stage in various roles through the years.  This will be their third appearance at CST, and as always, beautiful harmonies, fun stories, a lot of humour will be enjoyed.

Music is usually improved when shared with friends, both on the stage and in the audience.  Here's your chance to share the music of one of our friends with several of yours.  

Join us upstairs in the intimate Edith B. Wood Studio Theatre on Sunday, August 16 at 7pm. All tickets are $15. Please note: The Wood Studio Theatre is upstairs at Chicago Street Theatre so you must climb a significant number of stairs. We apologize for the inconvenience and hope to one day have the funds for an elevator.

--Paul Braun, Director/Production Manager, One Night Jam Concert Series

You can find out more about SongSisters at their website:

Find SongSisters on Facebook at:


All of you are familiar with our dramatic offerings, be it plays or the occasional musical.  But how many of you know that we've been hosting the second-longest-running live concert series in Valparaiso?  That's correct.

Since our first "One Night Jam" concert with the legendary folk duo Lowen & Navarro in 2000, we've been bringing a diverse assortment of artists to our two stages, from folk to rock to blues to country, Americana to world music and jazz.

Almost all of the One Night Jam concerts are presented in a very intimate acoustic format, with a very enthusiastic, appreciative audience that also knows when to be quiet and appreciate the sublety of the stories being told or the softer songs.  My wife Sheri and I started ONJ because we were tired of going to a club to see an artist and not being able to hear the show because of all of the talking and noise going on in the audience.  I was determined that our series would be different, would be all about respect for the artists and their music.

This Sunday evening, after the matinee for "The Beauty Queen of Leenane," we get to bring back one of our favorite artists, one who has been with us since 2001.  Rocker Jim Peterik is not only a friend of the theatre's but also a dear friend of mine and my wife's. Oh, and he also wrote a few songs.  As co-founder of The Ides of March, he was responsible for writing the smash hit with one of the most famous horn riffs in history - "Vehicle".  And he did that when he was only 19.  And the Ides are still playing together today, still with the original 4 members, 50 years after then started out.

He then went on to found the rock band Survivor, and wrote or co-wrote "The Search is Over," "High On You," "Summer Nights," "I Can't Hold Back," "Rebel Girl," and the iconic inspirational rock anthem "Eye Of The Tiger."

Along the way he also wrote or co-wrote 38 Special's biggest hits including "Rocking Into The Night," "Hold On Loosely," "Wild-Eyed Southern Boys," and "Caught Up In You."

Oh, and he's got a Grammy on the shelf for "Tiger".

He's constantly working, constantly writing.  He's written songs for a truckful of bands including REO Speedwagon and The Beach Boys.  He's got songs that have been recorded by Reba McEntire and Trick Pony.  Buddy Guy.  Tom Keifer of Cinderella.  The list goes on and on...

Best of all, he loves to play at CST.   Through the years, the shows have always been very loose, relaxed, and extremely fun.  Sunday's show will be no different.  While the show will be mostly just Jim solo, he will occasionally be joined by Bob Bergland of The Ides of March on bass.  And Larry Millas, founder of the Ides of March, will be the sound engineer for the evening.  It's very much a family thing.

Not only is Jim a prolific songwriter, accomplished keyboardist, guitarist and vocalist, but he's also a very kind and generous soul.  He offered to donate an autographed guitar to raffle off for a local charity, and asked if I knew of one who would benefit.  Since my longtime friend Tom Lounges, the man who actually introduced me to JP, is on the board of the Humane Society of Northwest Indiana, and since both Sheri and I are big animal people, I suggested HSNI.  Jim readily agreed, and this past month at his annual World Stage all-star jam got the guitar autographed by The Ides, Kelly Keagy of Night Ranger, Mike Reno of Loverboy, David Pack of Ambrosia, and Keith Burns of Trick Pony.  HSNI will have volunteers in the lobby, selling raffle tickets and discussing the work of the shelter.  At the end of the evening, all proceeds of the raffle will go to HSNI and one lucky audience member will get to take home a fantastic souvenir.

And because we're a theatre, and the concert will be on the set of "Beauty Queen", and because Sunday night is historically significant, Jim, Bob, Larry and cooked up a very special surprise for everyone.  Trust me, you're going to love it.

Call the box office today and get your tickets.  There are a few left, but they are going.  Come see another side of CST that you may not have known about.


-- Paul Braun, Director
One Night Jam acoustic concert series 

Studio Theatre Concert May 3rd

Chicago Street Theatre's acclaimed One Night Jam concert series is bringing Colorado-based artists Acoustic Eidolon to the intimate Edith B. Wood Studio Theatre on Friday, May 3.

"My wife and I have been fans of theirs for years," said series producer Paul Braun.  "We've just always loved their music and their personalities, and I'm glad that a date finally worked out to bring them to Valparaiso."

Joe Scott and his wife Hannah Alkire, also known as Acoustic Eidolon, have played a number of times in the Chicago area, but this is their first time in Northwest Indiana.

What kind of music do they perform?  Well, it's hard to classify. It's part Celtic, part Flamenco, part folk...with a few vocals thrown in for good measure.  "How about 'World music for the soul'?" said Braun.

Joe plays a number of instruments, but the one he plays the most is a custom design of his own, called a double-necked Guitjo.  One neck is strung like a regular guitar with an extra bass string, and the other neck is strung like a banjo but with two extra treble strings.  He plays both necks, and the effect is beautiful, often harp-like.

Hannah's instrument has only 4 strings and one neck, as Joe likes to point out, but she is a trained, world-class cellist. Together, they make incredibly rich, uplifting, beautiful music.

Joe and Hannah started out as musical partners, fell in love, and got married.  The music that they make is truly out of shared respect and love, and it simply flows.  Powerful, moving, spiritual, relaxing, uplifting.  It's really very unique.

The Edith B. Wood Studio Theatre (or Edie's Attic as Paul refers to it) has a very casual, living-room or coffeehouse feel. It's simply a fantastic room to get intimate with the music.  "Joe and I have been working on this show for quite a while, and we are both truly looking forward to it," Paul said.

Tickets for the Edie's Attic shows are extremely limited.  Don't miss out on this musical gem - order yours today. This is a show you will long remember. 

or call (219) 464-1636 x1 

One Night Jam Brings a Taste of Moscow to Valpo

In October of 2011, we re-started our "One Night Jam" concert series by bringing Russian/American singer/songwriter Marina V to our newly-remodeled Edith Wood studio theatre. It was a great experience, both for the audience and for Moscow-born Marina and her husband Nick.  

On Sunday, April 14th Marina and Nick will be returning, only this time to the main stage downstairs, touring in support of her brand-new album, "Inner Superhero." 

"We're both really excited to be coming back to CST," Marina told me.  "You've been so supportive of our music, we look forward to playing there again."

Marina's voice ranges from quiet and introspective to soaring and powerful, just like her songs.  If you need someone to compare her to, think of either Tori Amos or Amy Lee of Evanescence, but with a much more melodic, pop-oriented flavor.  Verenikina (her actual last name) is a classically-trained pianist, and the show would be worth the ticket price simply to hear her play.

But it's her voice and the songs she writes with Nick that are the real shining stars of any performance.  So much so that her fans have completely funded her last two albums, and they do it gladly.  I know my wife and I kicked in twice - we love her music that much.

She's played concerts around the globe to critical acclaim. and we're lucky enough to have her stop at our theatre again.  Check the concert page for more information and videos of Marina.

One Night Jam is another side of Chicago Street Theatre.  Roughly once a month throughout the year, we bring some of the finest singer/songwriters in the world to our comfortable, intimate little theatre.  ONJ is all about respect.   Respect for the songs, respect for the artist, respect for the audience.  It's very different than the club scene - people aren't milling around, talking, often louder than the band.  This is a chance to truly appreciate what the artist is bringing, and, believe me, they appreciate you right back.

If you saw Marina in 2011, please tell all your friends about what they missed.  If you've never seen her before, please trust me on this.  Marina is as talented as she is charming, and you will come away a new fan.  Live music is just another form of theatre - come experience this other side of Chicago Street Theatre.


--  Paul Braun, Production Manager
One Night Jam Concert Series

Grammy-winning Rocker Jim Peterik Returns to One Night Jam Stage

Yep.  I'm excited about this show.  Jim Peterik, a legend in the music world, finally gets to come back to Chicago Street Theatre for another One Night Jam.

Except this time, instead of the big "County Stage" production, we're trying something much different.  It will be an intimate acoustic evening with a master songwriter and storyteller.  You'll get to hear JP tell the stories behind his biggest hits, and then play them.   Stripped down, just a man and his guitar.

Personally, I can't wait.  Jim's first appearance on our stage back in 2001 proved to be one of our most popular shows, as did his five return appearances right up through the final ONJ in February of 2007.  So, when I decided to start things up again, JP was a natural.  Not to mention that first gig in 2001 paved the way for what has become a great friendship with Jim and his wife, Karen.  And that friendship has blossomed into many other musical friendships over the years, including many artists who have graced our stage including Larry Millas of The Ides Of March, Toby Hitchcock, Lisa McClowry, Jeff Boyle, Cathy Richardson and Kevin Chalfant.  And Mike Aquino, who I had the distinct pleasure of booking into our Edie's Attic series this year so he could strut his own material.  And then I introduced Mike to Dan Navarro, another musical partnership that's working out beyond our expectations.  And several new ones who I hope to see on our stage in the coming year.

That's why I can't wait.  It's more than just the music - and what music it is! - it's about family, about friends.  I was a fan of Peterik's music long before I became his friend.  And that is something that has never changed. I can listen to "Eye Of The Tiger" over and over again and never get tired of it.  Or "Vehicle." Or the 38 Special songs.  Or Pride of Lions.  It's all good. 

Come see why everyone wants to play music at CST.  It's a great room, full of respect for the artist, respect for the songs.  The performers love us, and we love them.

---Paul Braun, Director/Production Manager
One Night Jam Concert Series 

International Star Cathy Richardson Kicks Off New ONJ Season

One thing we've learned this past year is that a lot of you are new to CST, and aren't aware that we ran a successful concert series from 2000 - 2007, or that we've recently started One Night Jam back up.

Well, now is the time to change all that.

On Friday, September 21st Chicago native Cathy Richardson returns to our stage for an evening of some of the most powerful, clever songwriting you've ever heard.

Oh, and did we mention that she's also the lead singer of the iconic rock band The Jefferson Starship?  Or that she portrayed Janis Joplin to critical acclaim in the Off-Broadway hit "Love, Janis" in Chicago, New York, Arizona and San Francisco? Or that her amazing performance earned her a spot on tour with Joplin's former band, Big Brother And The Holding Company?

Oops.  Looks like we just did.

Critics have claimed that Cathy has the most powerful female voice in rock today.   We won't argue with them.

Discovered by rock legend Jim Peterik, who produced Cathy's first two albums and also has co-written a number of her songs, Richardson has built a rabid following through years of playing the Chicago music scene and relentlessly touring the country.  And now, as a member of Jefferson Starship (filling the role the iconic Grace Slick vacated when she retired), Cathy has toured the world.  In fact, she just returned from Rome yesterday!

Cathy's won a Grammy for her solo work.  Her songs are powerful, emotional, quirky, fun.... and that's just on one album.  She relates to her audience like very few performers do.

Get your tickets now and plan to join us this coming Friday evening.  You'll hear Richardson's orignals, plus Jefferson Starship classics such as "White Rabbit," "Somebody To Love," or "Miracles" and, if you ask nicely, I'm sure she'll throw down a Joplin tune or two.

We think you'll be pleasantly surprised, nay, excited by the upcoming artists we've been talking to for One Night Jam, including two more Grammy winners.

Come and find out what makes Valparaiso's second-oldest acoustic concert series (Front Porch Music holds the title) special.  Whether it's the sets that the artists play on, the comfortable seats, audiences that pay attention to the music and respect the artist, or the overall energy of the room, a One Night Jam event is something you just can't find everywhere.

Details and ticket info can be found HERE:

-- Paul Braun, Production Manager
One Night Jam Concert Series


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.