Cathy Richardson's "Wheel of Fortune" - A Black Friday Concert Preview (Friday, 11/25 at Fitzgerald's)

Cathy Richardson's "Wheel of Fortune" - A Black Friday Concert Preview (Friday, 11/25 at Fitzgerald's)

One of Chicago's finest vocalists returns to the area for a special Black Friday concert at Fitzgerald's.  I caught up with Cathy Richardson as she returned to Chicago last weekend to chat about this "Wheel of Fortune" show which will be heavy on audience participation and aim to raise awareness and money for local charity Coat Angels.

Cathy Richardson is a busy lady.  Her current work schedule includes solo shows, work on a new Macrodots album (The Macrodots are the band Cathy formed with former Scandal guitarist Zack Smith) and duties as vocalist in Jefferson Starship. 

Having just returned to Chicago following a weekend of Jefferson Starship shows in New York, I spoke to Cathy on Sunday, as she made her way through O'Hare, about the very cool show she's put together for this Friday night and exactly what its interesting title entails.

How exactly does one define a concert dubbed "Wheel of Fortune?"  "I’m gonna get one of those spinning wheels and label it… It’s taking a cue from the Elvis Costello 'Singing Songbook' tours where he just puts various songs on the wheel and lets the audience spin [it] and the setlist will be created on the fly" says Cathy.

If you've never seen Elvis play host to the "Singing Songbook," you're in for a treat.  Think along the lines of carnival barking minstrel meets Pat Sajak and you'll be heading down the right path.  However, it's not easy to keep the crowd interested and one of the key's to Costello's success with such a bold experiment was his inclusion of the unexpected on his wheel, something Cathy Richardson certainly seems to grasp.  "I’m gonna put some other crazy stuff on there like 'band switches instruments' or 'free form jam'..." adds Richardson. 

Anything non music related? “'Free Beer' is gonna be on there for the person who hits that on the wheel!  So it’s gonna be really fun I think!” exclaims Cathy.  No arguments here! 

Richardson cut her teeth performing throughout the city over the course of seven albums solo and with the Cathy Richardson Band (including the Grammy nominated Road to Bliss in 2003).  Then there's her time touring with Big Brother and the Holding Company and Jefferson Starship which leaves her in a unique position to fill that wheel with plenty of compelling material including covers ranging anywhere from Janis Joplin to Led Zeppelin (and if you haven't seen Cathy sing Janis... brace yourself).

Having jammed with just about everyone in the city at some time or another, I couldn't help but wonder who will be featured in Cathy's band this Friday at Fitzgerald's.  " It’s Jude Gold on guitar and Steve Gillis on drums (who plays with me in The Macrodots) and my old bass player from Cathy Richardson Band, Fran Kondorf.  I haven’t played with him in many years so he’s gonna come by and we’re gonna dust off some of the oldies (laughs)!  I’m pretty excited about it."

But Friday's show is about more than just music as it also seeks to raise money and awareness for local charity Coat Angels.  I'll let Cathy explain:  "Rikky Harriman, who plays in the Big Ditties (they’re opening the show), is a friend of mine and she runs this charity Coat Angels.  They’re gonna have a presence there.  We’re gonna be just trying to raise awareness and money.  It’s just really a great cause.  They work with several department stores, and find kids in need and they match them up with a brand new coat, a hat, gloves, scarves... We’re not collecting coats.  That’s not how they do it.  They actually buy the coats and each kid gets something special picked out for them." 

Amidst today's economy, it's more important than ever to make sure that kids have something warm to walk to school in.  So this Friday, finish your shopping early, get in the holiday spirit and head over to Fitzgerald's for what should be a fun of evening of live music that's different and far more interactive than your average concert.  Have a few beers, rock out and help a great cause in the process.

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Cathy Richardson's "Wheel of Fortune"

Friday, November 25, 2011

Fitzgerald's (6615 Roosevelt Rd. in Berwyn)

Doors open at 7PM, Show starts at 9PM

Only $15.  21+

The Big Ditties open

Click HERE to buy tickets in advance.

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    Jim Ryan has written about music in print and online for a variety of Chicagoland publications for over fifteen years. In addition to duties filling in as Traffic Anchor on CLTV or in the helicopter on NBC 5, you can also catch him Sunday nights at 6PM central as host of "The Rock N' Roll Radio Program" on AM 1420 WIMS and AM 1060 WHFB (streaming at wimsradio.com and via the TuneIn Radio app for the smart phone or tablet). Jim has also worked locally for WXRT-FM, lives within walking distance of the Metro and is an avid White Sox and Blackhawks fan whose first live concert experience came at Comiskey Park in 1984 during the Jacksons' "Victory" tour.

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