Large crowd helps Charlotte’s Web celebrate 35 years

StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-118366362632069.jpg’, ‘Photo by Mike LaLoggia’, ‘New American Theater founder Jim Sullivan (from left), Charlotte’s Web founders Karen and Bill Howard, and Stephen Powers pose for a photo June 30 at Charlotte’s Web for the Performing Arts’ 35th Anniversary Celebration at the Verdi Club in Rockford. Bill Howard is holding a bust of Steve Goodman, famous folk singer who wrote “City of New Orleans.” In May 1972, the Howards recruited Sullivan and Powers to present Charlotte’s Web’s first concert.‘);
StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-118366397013482.jpg’, ”, ”);
StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-1183663985985.jpg’, ”, ”);
StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-118366403832069.jpg’, ‘Photos by Jon McGinty’, ‘Bill Howard (top photo) jams in the finale of the 35th Anniversary Celebration on his new washtub bass. Holland Zander (center photo) and Jim Post (bottom photo) also performed.‘);
StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-118366459611284.jpg’, ‘Photo by Jon McGinty’, ‘Charlotte’s Web regulars David H.B. Drake (clockwise, from top photo), Kraig Kenning, Megon McDonough and Julie Patchouli perform as part of Charlotte’s Web’s 35th Anniversary Celebration June 30 at Verdi Club. Performers also included Small Potatoes, Richard Pinney and Ron Holm. Ald Doug Mark (R-3) also read Rockford Mayor Larry Morrissey’s (I) proclamation honoring Charlotte’s Web’s 35th anniversary.‘);

The bank of the Rock River at the Verdi Club was buzzing with more than boat motors and jet skis Saturday, June 30. Large crowds circulated in and out of the Madison Street club and listened to more than 20 performances as part of the Charlotte’s Web for the Performing Arts’ 35th Anniversary Celebration.

Charlotte’s Web has been Rockford’s source of American music since founders Bill and Karen Howard recruited Stephen Powers and Jim Sullivan and held its first concert in May 1972. Its original First Avenue building, which also housed the Front Page Bar and New American Theater in its early years, was a premier American concert venue until it closed in the early 1990s. Charlotte’s Web has since become a non-profit mobile music venue, and continues to host shows at several locations throughout Rockford.

June 30 entertainment included many of the artists that have played the Web over the last three decades. Acts delivered folk, jazz, blues and poetry on two stages. Bill and Karen Howard were also honored. The tandem was presented with commemorative awards, including a framed collage of Charlotte’s Web memorabilia.

According to Lani Richardson of Charlotte’s Web and daughter of Bill and Karen Howard, the program was more than she had hoped for.

“We couldn’t have asked for a better day,” Richardson said, noting the sunshine and cool breeze that continued off the river.

Fans also enjoyed themselves. Sharon Talke of Beloit, Wis., said the program enabled her to remember the early days of Charlotte’s Web with a sense of appreciation of what the organization has done for the area.

Talke said: “Charlotte’s Web has been a part of my life since the first day it opened. I remember sitting on the first seats in the old building. They were made out of old telephone poles. They were not comfortable, but because of how wonderful the shows were, nobody even noticed. Charlotte’s Web is something I have passed on to my children.”

The program also included a moment to remember the organization’s namesake, Charlotte Powers. Powers, sister of Stephen Powers, was a noted performer who lost her life when she was hit by a drunk driver while on her way to a Boylan High School production. Several of her high school classmates honored their fallen friend.

More information about Charlotte’s Web for the Performing Arts can be found online at and by calling (815) 964-2238.

from the July 5-10, 2007, issue

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