The Willtone Blues Collective performs at the Rose Aug. 29

Like the quiet before the storm, Rockford always gets a little sleepy right before On The Waterfront festival. But the Irish Rose continues to have its regular Sunday nights, and this weekend should prove to complement that nice end-of-summer drowsy feeling we all get around this time of year with The Willtone Blues Collective.

Typically, you see Will Kaczmarek doing solo jazz guitar jobs at Cannova’s and other similar venues, but never in a group. The few shows he’s done at the Rose were quiet and fairly intimate, as he played jazz standards with obvious classical technique, using the full spectrum of musical influences that made those tunes in the first place. His tone is cool, clean and soft, and his rendition of “Moon River” is one of the nicest I’ve heard locally.

This time around, he’s bringing a group, or “collective” as Kaczmarek insists on calling it, to perform more of a blues-focused evening, including some tunes from Zappa, Miles and Stevie Wonder. Sure, there won’t be any originals, but Willtone’s interpretations of these classic songs are innovative and fresh. “The goal is to check out the music of as many different cultures and genres as possible, and then blend them into my own thing,” said Kaczmarek. “…The collective concept is similar to jazz in that we use established music forms as a vehicle for improvisation.”

The Willtone Blues Collective includes drummer John Kemmerer , and “most likely” bassist Vic Castaneda.

Willtone studied under the more-than-well-respected Fareed Haque at NIU, DeKalb, and Joe Stump at Berklee, as well as shared the stage with the likes of J.J. Downs, Gail Nelson, and Ian Finkel. He first performed at Charlotte’s Web at age 9, and has been performing and teaching for quite a while in and around the Chicago area.

The Willtone Blues Collective will play at the Irish Rose, Sunday, Aug. 29, from 8:30-11:30 p.m., with a $3 cover. Info: 299-2375.

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