Music in the air and the Squire was there

by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL

“A Prarie Home Companion’s” Garrison Keillor autographs a copy of The Rockford Squire.

Last week was all about concerts for the Squire staff who stretched themselves thin by covering four local musical extravaganzas – two in downtown Rockford’s Garden Club Park and two at the Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park Amphitheater.

Photographer Tom Scott was present at the next-to-last concert of this year’s very successful Huntington Bank sponsored 2011 Rogue River Blues Series on Tuesday evening, featuring the world beat of the Red Sea Pedestrians.

Thursday evening, Photographer Scott, along with Squire Editor Beth Altena and Office Manager Kate Sickrey, covered the Rock the Dam finals sponsored by: Studio D2D, Sweet Tooth of Rockford, Grand Dental, Dam Dogs, Custard by the Dam, The Corner Bar, Stafford Media Solution & Rockford Independent and Mackinaw Harvest Music Group, Inc.

Also Thursday evening, your reporters, Cliff and Nancy were part of a standing room only (literally and figuratively) crowd at the twin bill Los Lonely Boys/Los Lobos concert at Meijer Gardens. Not only was the concert sold out, many in attendance were on their feet for the entire concert – singing, clapping, and dancing to the infectious Tex-Mex blues and rock rhythms of these two iconic groups.

The Garza brothers, (L to R) Henry, Ringo, and JoJo - aka “Los Lonely Boys” – end their opening set with a rousing rendition of their biggest single hit “Heaven”.

For a combined 2 hours and 37 minutes, we enjoyed one of the finest outdoor summer evening concerts we have ever attended. Both of these groups left their egos at the Gardens’ gates. They obviously enjoy one another’s company and revel in the times when they find themselves performing on-stage together, as they did at the end of the first and ending set. They feed off one another’s virtuosity and the audience’s enthusiastic participation. You had to be there to experience it. Everyone was on their feet and grooving as both groups closed out the evening’s performance when they performed Los Lobos huge hit “La Bamba”.

We’re not given to a star rating system here but if pressed we would have to offer up 5 out of 5 stars for the evening’s over-the-top concert.

To top off the week, the Squire was again back at the Gardens on Friday evening, when Squire Office Manager Kate Sickrey and her guest covered the return of Garrison Keillor’s 2011 Summer Love Tour. To say that Sickrey is a huge fan of the long-time host of “A Prairie Home Companion” would be an understatement. She was wowed when Keillor announced a standing intermission and then wandered through the audience leading everyone in a 30-minute singalong. Better still, she had brought along a copy of the Squire with front-page coverage of the 2010 Summer Love Tour, also at the Gardens.

Los Lobos and Los Lonely Boys took the stage together at the end of the first set and at the close of the evening’s performance at the Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park Amphitheater last Thursday evening. It was an electric combination.

As luck would have it, Keillor stopped right next to Sickrey and he was gracious enough to autograph the Squire’s front page right over a picture of himself. Sickrey doesn’t subscribe to a star rating system at all, but at this point she was so thrilled all she wanted to do was give Keillor a great big hug!

If you missed all this, Mary Blakeslee reminds us there’s a great upcoming Free Family Concert on Tuesday evening, Aug. 23 at 7 p.m. at Rockford’s Garden Club Park. Underwritten by the Independent Bank and sponsored by the Rockford Early Childhood Advocates, the concert will feature “The Music Lady,” Beverly Meyer.

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