Forget the business about stormy Mondays and Tuesdays being just as bad. Not in Berwyn, at least. That’s because WDCB and Lagunitas Brewing have teamed up and deemed the first Tuesday of every month to be “Bluesday Tuesday” at Fitzgerald’s nightclub on Roosevelt Road in Berwyn.
The host of “Bluesday Tuesday” is none other than Tom Marker, a name very well known to Chicago music fans. DJ Marker has served as WXRT’s resident blues expert for over 30 years and recently signed on with WDCB to head up “Blues Time” on Saturday nights.
“Bluesday Tuesday” has been on the FitzGerald’s calendar since April and has boasted a stellar lineup from Day One. Marker said that the Kinsey Report kicked off the first event and was followed by Billy Branch with the Sons of Blues, Lurrie Bell and Dave Specter with Brother John Kattke.
When the fifth event gets rolling at 7 on August 4th, Toronzo Cannon will be the headliner and Marker said that, “people are going to LOVE Toronzo. His singing is good, his songwriting is good, his guitar playing is good, his band is good but his live performance is outstanding. He engages the audience, and keeps it exciting and very entertaining.”
Marker served as the emcee for the Chicago Blues Festival in June and saw first hand how Cannon wowed the crowd when he opened for heavyweights Shemekia Copeland and Buddy Guy. Marker said when Cannon came out on the Petrillo band shell, he drew polite applause from the audience but when he wrapped up his sizzling set, the fans were on their feet and clamoring for more.
“Bluesday Tuesday” also gives local artists the opportunity to play at one of the Chicago area’s most beloved live music clubs. Marker noted that FitzGerald’s “books blues regularly but it tends to be touring musicians from other towns. So far “Bluesday Tuesday” has only featured local blues artists. Therefore the bands are happy to play there. It’s such a nice stage, has good sound and the crowds have been very good.”
Marker added that the attendance at “Bluesday Tuesday” has been growing steadily since April, as have the crowds on the FitzGerald’s dance floor.
He also had high praise for Lagunitas and their willingness to sponsor this monthly event. Marker said that, “Lagunitas Brewing is a good supporter of the blues. Tony Magee, the founder of Lagunitas, is a musician himself and the blues is part of his repertoire.”
Marker added that, “Many of the mainstream breweries have a policy of marketing towards young consumers and wrongly believe that blues is “downscale and upper demo.” In other words, blues fans are old and have no money to spend. This isn’t the only way they have proven to be wrong-headed. But Lagunitas is smart enough and aware enough to know the appeal of the blues and they support it with their blues bookings at their Chicago Taproom and with their sponsorship of blues events.” In other words, “if it weren’t for the support of Lagunitas Brewing, this “Bluesday Tuesday” series of shows might not exist.”
Like many blues lovers, Marker discovered the genre as a teenager “when I had a couple of friends turn me on to some blues records and those were the days when a lot of young bands, mostly from the UK, but also from the U.S, were playing blues.” He added that, “there were a lot of shows in the late sixties and into the seventies when blues acts would be on the same bill as rock acts.”
By the same token, Cannon was influenced by musicians like Jimi Hendrix and people will definitely detect a rock-fueled edge to some of his blues songs. But show goers won’t be singing the blues about staying up too late on a Tuesday night. Marker noted, the performance ends right around 10 so people can be home and “in their jammies in time for the nightly talk shows!”
So, mark the calendar for Tuesday, August 4th to see Toronzo Cannon and his band. There is a $10 cover charge, Lagunitas brew specials, and food for purchase from Skrine Chops. The doors open at 6 pm and Marker will be spinning blues selections before the show.