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updated: 2/1/2014 5:31 PM

Getting the band(s) back together for 'In St. Charles'

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  • St. Charles Mayor Ray Rogina shares a laugh with songwriter Jim Masters, left, during the city's tree lighting ceremony last November at First Street Plaza.

       St. Charles Mayor Ray Rogina shares a laugh with songwriter Jim Masters, left, during the city's tree lighting ceremony last November at First Street Plaza.
    Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • Video: 'In St. Charles' video


Music videos have been around more than 30 years, but it didn't take that long for musicians and promoters to figure out it was a good way to get more people to hear and "see" the music.

Those who promoted "In St. Charles" by Jim Masters, to the point that the city council adopted it as the city's official song, are taking advantage of the music video.

David Phyfer, producer of Stage Fright Productions, taped Masters and his sister, Barbara, singing the song in the Baker Community Center the day before Masters sang it publicly for the first time at the St. Charles holiday lighting ceremony.

He turned it into an excellent music video, adding in various clips he has done for the St. Charles Downtown Partnership, visitors bureau and Pride of the Fox that capture life along the Fox River in St. Charles.

"It appears we may use the umbrella of Pride of the Fox to release and promote upcoming local artists performing 'In St. Charles' on video," Phyfer said.

Phyfer is working with Bill Russell and Alderwoman Maureen Lewis to approach other St. Charles musicians to create versions of the song.

Phyfer said crooner Johnny Maggiano of the Arcada Theatre has agreed to sing it soon.

"I have to arrange with Bill (Russell) to get some sort of music track for Johnny or someone to perform live with him, so we don't have a date for recording yet," Phyfer added.

He plans to approach the St. Charles Singers, "American Idol" contestant Leslie Hunt, the Fox Valley Concert Band and possibly Dirty Dan's Cool Rockin' Daddies to do the same.

"This is in an early stage of planning and considering funding possibilities, but the idea would be to develop a simple campaign that might release a new performance of the piece every couple of months for a year or so," Phyfer said.

Russell said song promoters plan to meet with the St. Charles North and East high schools' bands and choir directors to encourage playing and singing "In St. Charles" at school and city events.

In the meantime, those who have not heard the song can take a look at Phyfer's music video at

Those empty spaces: After my request for feedback, readers sent ideas about businesses that could move into currently vacant locations. Or, more accurately, ideas for what they definitely would like to see.

Sue Skibley said she would like to see a "play cafe" set up in the Tri-Cities, where parents could take preschool kids to play games, play with toys or climb on playground equipment. Parents could stay and enjoy coffee, light snacks or a light lunch, Skibley said.

A place like this could go in any number of strip mall locations or maybe the empty Aldi building in Batavia, meaning someone could have their car worked on nearby and spend the waiting time in the play cafe.

Carol Smith of Geneva is anxious for an Apple store to make its home in this area. She suggests a good spot would be the empty location on River Lane in Geneva, which has housed a few pizza places, most recently Three Brothers.

It has decent nearby parking, and the Apple logo would stand out for anyone going through town.

Smith doesn't stop there. She'd like to see a movie theater open again in Geneva. She wonders if the empty Mill Race Inn property wouldn't be a good location for a theater and other entertainment entities.

Other readers asked for an Eddie Bauer store in the spot in the Geneva Commons previously occupied by Anthropologie.

Grocery shoppers are asking for a Butera at the empty Dominick's location off Lincoln Highway in St. Charles, and a Mariano's at the empty Dominick's off Randall Road in Geneva.

Another suggestion for the empty Aldi building in Batavia was for an auto body shop to fit in with the other auto-related businesses nearby.

Not a peaceful ending: Mike Dixon of St. Charles had the best of intentions when leaving the area a few years ago to serve with the Peace Corps in the Ukraine.

Last week, he said all of those dreams to help that nation thrive went up in the smoke of the country's protests after the government voted to align itself more closely with Russia again.

In the last emails he sent from Ukraine, Dixon talked of preparing to evacuate the area. He kept saying he was safe, but you had to wonder. When a country loses all semblance of sanity, no one would be safe it seems.

In an email last week, Dixon said he was participating in a concert that was to be held last night. He says he plays the bongo drums, so at least he has a way to release some stress.

But it wasn't clear if he plans on staying or going, as politics in the Ukraine change by the day.

That's some religion: I'm a bit of a sucker when it comes to buying DVDs of movies I loved as a kid. Many fell under the "spear-and-sandal" category.

Such was the case at Sam's Club in Batavia recently when I grabbed a DVD box set called "Biblical Classics." It had "The Robe" and "Demetrius and the Gladiators," among others. That might explain why it only cost a few bucks.

When leaving the store, the Sam's Club employee marking my receipt took a glance at the DVD set.

"Now that's some old-time religion right there," he said.

Yep. And it was good enough for me.

Can we stump you?: You'll only find out if you sign up for TriCity Family Services' Trivia Night fundraiser next Saturday at Batavia Moose Lodge.

My team won the last event, so we were in charge of putting this one together. We think we have a decent lineup of questions, but it's been tricky getting the team together to work on it during this ugly stretch of winter.

If you want to get a team entered, call TCFS at (630) 232-1070. It's only $10 a person, so get about eight people together and give it a shot.

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