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5 Picks For Fitzgerald's American Music Fest

By Chuck Sudo in Arts & Entertainment on Jun 24, 2013 4:20PM

Matt Spiegel and Tributosaurus pay tribute to Tom Petty July 6. (Photo credit: David Kindler)
With Chicago now deep into summer festival season it’s easy to forget one of the best music festivals of the year is happening Independence Day weekend right outside the city limits in Berwyn. Fitzgerald’s American Music Festival, now in its 33rd year, brings musical fireworks to the venerable roadhouse on Roosevelt Road equal to the illegal ones being sent into the air in the backyards surrounding it.

Like Fitzgerald’s itself, the festival has grown from a one-day affair coupled with barbecue into a four-day affair encompassing the stages in Fitzgerald’s main music room, its side bar and a tented stage in the parking lot focusing on the myriad styles of music under the Americana umbrella Fitzgerald’s traffics in so well. Expect a ton of alt-country, Cajun, zydeco, bluegrass, blues, jazz, soul, rhythm and blues and bluegrass from July 3-6. Full festival passes are available on Ticketweb. If you don’t want to go that route, you can buy single day admissions at the door each day of the festival. It would behoove you to make it to Fitzgerald’s when the doors open at 1 p.m. each day so you can enter for $25. The price goes to $30 after 2 p.m.

With so much happening during the festival, here are Chicagoist’s five picks to click and the days each band is playing.

Ian McLagan with Jon Notar Thomas: Maclagan’s keyboard and organ textures were an integral part of the sound of the Small Faces (and later the Faces), Rod Stewart’s early solo career and played a key role in the Rolling Stones’ last great memorable hit, “Miss You.” He’s been a member of Billy Bragg’s band since 1997 and, nearing 70, is still in demand as a studio musician. Catch him with bassist Jon Notar Thomas 9 p.m. July 3 in the club.
Like many Texas bands before and after, Brave Combo’s music incorporates myriad influences within and outside of the Lone Star state including norteno, cumbia, rock, zydeco, texas swing, blues and ska. Live, Brave Combo is one of the best party bands in the country, with twisted takes on songs by Jimi Hendrix, The Door’s and a spirited version of Tennessee Ernie Ford’s “Sixteen Tons” arranged as a cumbia.

Brave Combo plays the tent 10:30 p.m. July 4.
The long-running group’s latest effort, For A While, is another stellar entry in a nearly 20-year career of consistency; Dolly Varden’s lineup has remain unchanged since its formation. Download For A While and familiarize yourself with the songs before their 7:30 p.m. set in the Club July 6.

Tributosaurus becomes Tom Petty: Matt Spiegel may be the most recognizable member of the popular local tribute band thanks to his WSCR-AM midday show with Dan McNeil, but Tributosaurus is a band in every definition of the word and their ability to adapt to an form of music is impressive. We’re eager to hear how Tributosaurus will tackle Tom Petty under the tent with their 10:15 p.m. July 6 show.

Sarah Potenza: The “Sarah” in Sarah and the Tall Boys goes solo for this 5:30 p.m. show in Fitzgerald’s side bar July 4. (Sarah and the Tall Boys also plays the club stage July 5 at 5:30 p.m.)