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« Review: Brendan Benson @ Lincoln Hall, 6/28 Pulling Strings: For classical music in Chicago, you got a guy - July 2012 »

Concert Mon Jul 02 2012

Review: Fitzgerald's American Music Festival, 6/29/12

By Davis Inman

Bill Fitzgerald is still reeling from when John Prine sprung a surprise visit to his club last Sunday for the Earl of Old Town tribute show. He pulled out his smartphone to show a picture he took of his wife basking in the great man's glory.

John Prine. The name conjures up images of the best of Chicago's folk music history — the scene Fitzgerald's has helped foster and promote for 32 years. Incidentally, that's the same number of years they've been putting on the annual American Music Festival.

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Fitzgerald's American Music Festival (photos by Davis Inman)

In keeping with the patriotic theme, American flags dotted almost every inch of Fitzgerald's during the pre-Fourth of July celebration. Nearly every hand cradled a red, white, and blue can of High Life beer.

Modeled in part on the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, Fitzgerald's has long brought Louisiana acts like Marcia Ball to the fest. Caterer Tom Cimm's "cochon de lait" po' boy might even rival the real thing.

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Robbie Fulks (photos by Davis Inman)

On Friday, there was a strong lineup of legacy acts like Texas blues master Dave Alvin and Chicago jack-of-all-trades Robbie Fulks, as well as emerging roots acts like Austin's Sons of Fathers and Chicago's Go Long Mule.

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Sons of Fathers (photos by Davis Inman)

The band Sons of Fathers play a tight brand of heartfelt Southern soul that sometimes veers more towards Memphis than Austin — though they do a mean Texas boogie a la early Guy Clark.

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Go Long Mule (photos by Davis Inman)

Named after an old blues tune, Go Long Mule has been building their reputation as a versatile rock and roll outfit in Chicago. Singer-songwriter-guitarist Ryan Anderson can do deep Nola funky like Dr. John — but it's mostly pure rock and roll rave-ups with a touch of Chicago twang.

"This is an American music festival, so we're gonna play lots of American music," said Anderson before launching into a cover of Gillian Welch's "Annabelle."

By the end of their third set, I was convinced Go Long Mule might be one of the best bands in Chicago.

I was also pretty sure Fitzgerald's hosts one of Chicago's best parties of the year.

Maybe next year John Prine will even show.

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

Read this feature »


  Chicago Music Media

Alarm Magazine
Big Rock Candy Mountain
Boxx Magazine
Brooklyn Vegan Chicago
Can You See The Sunset From The Southside
Chicago Reader Music
Chicagoist Arts & Events
Chicago Music Guide
Chicago Singles Club
Country Music Chicago
Cream Team
Dark Jive
The Deli Chicago
Jim DeRogatis
Fake Shore Drive
Gowhere Hip Hop
The Hood Internet
Jaded in Chicago
Largehearted Boy
Little White Earbuds
Live Fix Blog
Live Music Blog
Loud Loop Press
Oh My Rockness
Pop 'stache
Pop Matters
Resident Advisor
Sound Opinions
Sun-Times Music Blog
Theft Liable to Prosecution
Tribune Music
UR Chicago
Victim Of Time
WFMU's Beware of the Blog
Windy City Rock


Abbey Pub
Andy's Jazz Club
Aragon Ballroom
Auditorium Theatre
Beat Kitchen
Bottom Lounge
Buddy Guy's Legends
The Burlington
California Clipper
Concord Music Hall
Congress Theater
Cubby Bear
Double Door
Elbo Room
Empty Bottle
Green Mill
The Hideout
Honky Tonk BBQ
House of Blues
Kingston Mines
Lincoln Hall
Logan Square Auditorium
Mayne Stage
The Mutiny
Old Town School of Folk Music
Park West
The Promontory
Red Line Tap
Reggie's Rock Club & Music Joint
The Riviera
Thalia Hall
The Shrine
Symphony Center
Tonic Room
Uncommon Ground
The Vic
The Whistler

  Labels, Promoters
  & Shops:

Alligator Records
Beverly Records
Bloodshot Records
Dave's Records
Delmark Records
Drag City
Dusty Groove
Flameshovel Records
Groove Distribution
He Who Corrupts
Jam Productions
Jazz Record Mart
Kranky Records
Laurie's Planet of Sound
Minty Fresh
Numero Group
mP Shows
Permanent Records
Reckless Records
Smog Veil Records
Southport & Northport Records
Thick Records
Thrill Jockey Records Touch & Go/Quarterstick Records
Victory Records

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Transmission is the music section of Gapers Block. It aims to highlight Chicago music in its many varied forms, as well as cover touring acts performing in the city. More...
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