Hear ‘Freebird’ Oct. 13 at Elgin’s Festival Park — and more shows there next summer
By Mike Danahey firstname.lastname@example.org @DanaheyECN on Twitter October 4, 2013 1:42PM
Lynyrd Skynyrd will be appearing in Festival Park in Elgin on Oct. 13. | Submitted
Updated: November 7, 2013 6:24AM
ELGIN — The third and final outdoor concert at Festival Park downtown takes place Sunday, Oct. 13, with Lynyrd Skynyrd and John Kay and Steppenwolf performing.
Things have gone well enough that plans are progressing to offer more shows in the city-owned park next summer.
“Onesti Entertainment is putting forth a plan to produce regular concerts and festivals in partnership with the Grand Victoria Casino and the city of Elgin. The plan is to include several multicultural, culinary and music-based events,” Ron Onesti, CEO and president of Onesti Entertainment Corporation, stated in an email.
Onesti, whose business operates the Arcada Theatre in downtown St. Charles, has been working with Grand Victoria Casino for about two years beefing up its indoor entertainment.
“I continue to seek out a combination of unique and new acts combined with the best of the most popular entertainers,” Onesti stated of the indoor offerings.
This summer, with Onesti producing, the casino decided to hold its “Rock and Roll Jackpot” outdoor concert series in Festival Park, which is adjacent to the Grand Victoria. The casino pays Elgin for use of the park, Onesti stated, and for any extra public safety workers they might put on duty at or near the park for the events.
An Aug. 24 concert featured ‘60s blues rockers Eric Burdon and the Animals and ‘80s new wave punk pop act Joan Jett and the Blackhearts. Another concert in the park took place Sept. 21 with ‘70s rockers Grand Funk Railroad and ‘80s hair metal act Night Ranger.
According to Onesti, attendance at each show was more than 4,000 and, “all things considered, yes, they did (make money). ..With the right formula and the right cooperation, excitement truly can be created.”
Casino officials have said that after the Animals and Jett concert, 270 people signed up for Grand Victoria Club membership — four times the number they see on a typical Saturday night.“I have personally seen many people enter the casino after the show or before the shows,” Onesti stated.
More than 3,000 tickets already have been sold to the Oct. 13 concert, which will be similar in format to the others, “but expanded to include a stage twice the size as what we’ve used in the past,” Onesti stated.
Lynyrd Skynyrd, of course, is known for its southern fried rock, particularly “Freebird,” one of the most popular power ballads of all time, which was first released in 1973. The pilot, copilot, road manager and three band members died in a plane crash in Mississippi in 1977 — singer Ronnie Van Zant, guitarist Steve Gaines and Gaines sister, Cassie, who sang backing vocals.
Kay and Steppenwolf are best known for “Born to Be Wild,” the 1968 biker anthem used to great effect in 1969’s “Easy Rider,” the groovy road movie which featured Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper and Jack Nicholson.
Tickets for the Oct. 13 Elgin show range from $25 to $99, with gates opening at 4 p.m. Steppenwolf is set to take the stage at 5:30 p.m., followed by Lynyrd Skynyrd at 7:30 p.m. For more information www.grandvictoriacasino.com/lynyrdskynyrd.