'Jazz From the Forest City' on radio April 23

Rockford’s unique musical past will be showcased on a special one-hour program to be broadcast at 5 p.m., April 23, on a Chicago radio station. “Jazz From the Forest City” will feature interviews with about 20 musicians who gather each Tuesday for lunch at the Stockholm Inn in Rockford. Tunes by many of these long-time area celebrities will also be presented on the show.

Among those appearing on the program will be Rockford accordionist Mike Alongi, clarinet player Harold Smith, guitarist Johnny Porrazzo, trumpeter Tony Principali, drummer Jack Brand, and singers Ken Flodin, Harriett Ford, Mike Williamson and Dorothy Paige-Turner.

Sidemen including bass players Val Eddy, Guy Fiorenza, drummer Tom Marken and others will also be interviewed on the show. Former TV weatherman Vince Danca, Rockford Musicians Union President Bill Johnson, and Rockford Jazz Society President Matt Spinello will also talk about the city’s musical past. A separate program featuring interviews and music by Mike Williamson is set for June 11.

Music by Rockford’s oldest dance band, the Bill Engberg Orchestra, Dave Remington’s Dixie Six, the Val Eddy Duo with pianist Homer Carlson and Bill Korst’s Monday Morning Dixie Band will also be presented.

Mike Vaccarello, Rod Secoy, Don Sturner, Clyde Bachand, the late Peter Quinto (on tape), and former Rockford Peaches outfielder Barbara “Bobbie” Thompson will also make brief comments on the program.

The show is hosted by Rockford resident John Russell Ghrist, who is a volunteer at College of DuPage’s public radio station WDCB 90.9 FM. The program is part of his “Midwest Ballroom” series, which features local orchestras and performers. Ghrist, who uses just his first two names on the air, has been producing the program for five years. He also does a different Sunday night show featuring local musicians on Beloit College radio station WBCR 90.3 FM from 7 to 10 p.m.

“This program on WDCB is only a hour long, and it does not give enough honor to the fabulous amount of quality long-time talent in this city,” Ghrist says. “We’ll do a separate program with singers Mike Williamson and Peter Quinto on June 11, and talk more about the current Rockford music scene then. This show features the musicians who are still playing the old standards and keeping big band music alive.”

Rockford listeners will be able to hear the show on the Internet at www.wdcb.org. The program’s address is P.O. Box 1073, Dundee, IL 60118, or midwestballroom@


From the April 20-26, 2005, issue

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