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updated: 6/21/2014 5:36 PM

Good news, Tri-Cities! More summer music on the way

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  • Natalie Woodward of Geneva is touched as Senior Master Sgt. Steve Thulon serenades her while the U.S. Air Force Band plays the Concert in the Park series in 2010 at Lincoln Park in St. Charles.

      Natalie Woodward of Geneva is touched as Senior Master Sgt. Steve Thulon serenades her while the U.S. Air Force Band plays the Concert in the Park series in 2010 at Lincoln Park in St. Charles.
    RICK WEST | Staff Photographer


When Swedish Days ends Sunday, does that mean we are finished with our outdoor summer music? Not even close.

Outdoor music is a festival tradition in all of our communities, but the park districts, chambers or downtown organizations have figured out that it's a pretty cool thing to offer throughout the summer.

We now have numerous options including various spots throughout downtown Geneva, Thursday night performances at Lincoln Park in St. Charles, or the Riverwalk band shell in Batavia, which features the Riverinia, RiverRhapsody or Music Matters concert series. The Geneva Commons has an excellent weekly music program on Sundays and Wednesdays in the courtyard between Houlihan's and Bar Louie.

The riverboat casino in Elgin and RiverPark in Aurora offer some great acts for evening outdoor concerts, but those are usually not of the free entertainment variety. It's still music -- and really good music at that. To give baseball an extra flair, the Kane County Cougars have added some pregame outdoor concerts as well.

Throw in the Arcada in St. Charles, the Paramount in Aurora and Hemmens in Elgin, and the choices are plenty.

Add it all up, and the message is pretty clear: The Tri-Cities area can be music to your ears, if you let it.

The Music Man: Speaking of music, a guy who has brought plenty of it to local residents will be the marshal in Sunday's Swedish Days parade.

Richard Peck of RJ Recording & Sound has been setting up sound systems and working the soundboard at various major community events for nearly 40 years.

Today he gets to be front and center for the parade instead of just making things work behind the scenes.

Even more music: My interactions with St. Charles East golf coach John Stock have been limited mostly to the golf course. So it was great to see him in another venue -- as a proud father watching his daughter Brittany perform last weekend in a key role as Patty Andrews in the "Sisters of Swing" musical for Fox Valley Repertory at Pheasant Run Resort.

Those familiar with St. Charles East's past stars of the stage may remember Brittany Stock, a 2006 graduate. She played Ann Sullivan in "The Miracle Worker" and scheming stepmother Fastrada in "Pippin" while in high school.

"While I'm living in Chicago now, it's been fantastic to be back in St. Charles working and performing," Brittany said of her run in "Sisters of Swing."

This is an excellent trip down memory lane for those who were involved in the World War II effort or for Baby Boomers who remember the Andrews Sisters helping everyone forget their blues. For others, it is just plain fun.

The Andrews Sisters pretty much sang silly songs, but that was exactly what the country needed at the time. Plus, one song during the show really sent the simplest of messages for handling your life: "Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive" in which David Hathaway, who was hilarious in the show, takes on the role of Bing Crosby when singing with the sisters. The show will run on weekends through July 27.

Not the end: The grand march that is the Swedish Days parade brings the annual Geneva festival to a close. I have always been bummed out about the end of Swedish Days, as if summer is over before it even started. Not so much this year.

That long, brutal winter still haunts me, and up until this week it hadn't been terribly warm. So let's keep our summer fun going for several months.

Auction at Norris: The sun coming up over the Fox River and Hotel Baker in St. Charles is an image you can have on your wall, if you have the winning bid at the Norris Cultural Arts Center's first art auction.

It's part of Nick Freeman's "Wine of Life" one-man art gallery, which has been featured at the center since late May. It's been so popular, Nick tells me the show has been extended through Labor Day, or two months longer than planned.

It means the silent and live auction, a fundraiser for the Norris Cultural Arts Center, has been switched to 5:30 p.m. Aug. 15, with the live art auction starting at 7 p.m.

Various other concerts and talks related to the gallery are also scheduled.

Freeman focuses his art on the local landscape and everyday life in the Fox Valley. The gallery is free to the public daily, but the auction fundraiser is $40 per individual and $75 per couple.

Left their legacies: Golf courses will serve as memory lanes a couple of Saturdays in July for two well-known figures at Geneva High School.

As reported recently, family and friends of former student Ray Kaligian will participate in an outing July 12 at Mill Creek in memory of the standout golfer and baseball player who died in an unfortunate carbon monoxide accident in his Houston home in 2013.

The school community will also gather at Bliss Creek in Sugar Grove on July 19 in an outing in memory of John Barton, a popular coach at the school who died from colon cancer in August 2012.

I covered Geneva boys' basketball when Barton took over as head coach in the early 1980s, and I was fortunate enough to be there every step of the way in 1981 when he took his team all the way to sectional finals.

I won't be in town on the weekend of his outing, but if I were, I would have knocked a few balls out of bounds at Bliss Creek in his memory. Not that the out of bounds has any type of connection with John. That's just how I tend to hit golf balls.

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