9 Miles | Fitzgerald's | Berwyn, IL | 4.24.03

I had been hearing about Fitzgerald's for as long as I can remember. Located just off the Eisenhower Expressway (I-290) in lovely Berwyn, Illinois, Fitzgerald's has been a social anchor in the community for the past 22 years. A quick look at their monthly schedule reveals an extremely eclectic mix of musicals tastes. A tremendous supporter of local and Midwestern talent, I've always felt Fitzgerald's was best known for its strong New Orleans influence. Either way, the venue is wonderful, and the jambalaya ain't too bad either...

The music on this eve was the burgeoning sounds of 9 Miles, formerly the NOD. While the term “jamband” doesn't really apply to the 9 Miles musical vocabulary, one can certainly see the influences. The band is fueled by guitarist and songwriter Hank Beach, along with the percussive stylings of "Conga Man" M. Sokol. Sokol, who clearly has spent time at a few Santana concerts intently studying percussionists Raul Rekow and Karl Perazzo, uses a more laid back approach than most conga players I've seen. It’s mellow, yet effective.

I must tell ya though, the real secret in this band is drummer John Knecht. Playing a paired down kit with a large African djembe, this boy can cook. Personally, I wouldn't mind if he lost the sticks completely, because when he plays the big drum, he gets your attention. John, who teaches drumming at a new "percussion-centric" club called Rhythm in Chicago, recently got the attention of Jim Donovan, drummer from Rusted Root, as they traded beats one night at Rhythm.

While I don't think 9 Miles is really everyone's cup of joe, it’s always good to see good people making music. I mean, they had a stack of CDs they were just giving away. Can you imagine?? On the other hand, whether you live near or far, high or low, I would strongly recommend checking out the music scene at Fitzgerald's. It’s places like this that make loving live music so much fun.

Listen to "your turn," recorded live at Fitzgerald's on 4.24.03.

Big A
JamBase | Chicago
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[Published on: 5/5/03]

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