The 34th Annual Festa Italiana will be Friday-Saturday, Aug. 3-5, on the grounds of Boylan Central Catholic High School, 4000 St. Francis Drive, Rockford. The festival is presented by the Greater Rockford Italian American Association (GRIAA).
The public is invited to help celebrate the city’s rich Italian heritage and enjoy a variety of food, entertainment and carnival fun during the three days of the festival. The entertainment schedule is as follows:
Friday, Aug. 3 — 5-11 p.m.
Entertainment begins with the Amici Italiani Dance Troupe. These popular folk dancers, who will appear on the grounds all three days, perform from 5:15-5:45 p.m., Friday. Then, hear Micheal Castaldo perform from 6:20-7:30 p.m.
Born in Reggio Calabria, Italy, crooner/composer/connoisseur Michele Castaldo (PKA Micheal Castaldo) and his family emigrated to Toronto, Canada, in the mid-’60s. Now living in New York City, this award-winning music producer/composer makes his first visit to Festa Italiana. His new album, Olive You, subtitled Classic Italian Songs to Feed the Heart & Soul, is poised to be another best-seller. The album’s lead single and critically-acclaimed track, “Pray’r,” had garnered the No. 1 spot on Amazon.com’s MP3 Classical Songs Chart in only three weeks. Micheal even nudged out long-lived chart-toppers like Andrea Bocelli, Sara Brightman, Neil Diamond and Bette Midler.
Soco 7 will perform from 7:45-9 p.m. This amazing Italian/pop band from Chicago are not only fantastic musicians, they have been great friends for years. The chemistry shows when they perform live. With stunning vocals, this entertaining show is an act you don’t want to miss! The seven-piece band plays songs from the ’70s, ’80s, ’90s and today.
Closing out the evening will be Audio Drive, a powerful rock act that brings one of the best shows in the region! They shine with excellent vocals, killer guitars and a thunderous rhythm section that knows no bounds. The song selection is planned to satisfy the masses, with the choice cuts from the ’70s and ’80s through today. Their sets are loaded with “melodic harmonies and screamin’ guitars.” Once you have experienced an Audio Drive show, you will appreciate their hard work, attention to detail and relentless drive for perfection. See this high-energy show from 9:45 to11 p.m.
Saturday, Aug. 4 — noon-11 p.m.
Festa Italiana brings back one of Rockford’s favorite crooners, Tony Spavone, from Chicago. Breathing life and emotion into every song, he has performed at the Rosemont Theater, abroad in Italy, and at other Festa Italianas across the country. Tony has also performed with such artists as Frankie Valli, Curtis Mayfield and Sergio Franchi, among others. When not performing, he’s back at his restaurant in the Chicago area, crooning to customers. He will perform with his band from 5:30-7:30 p.m., Saturday.
Following Spavone, the Amici Italiana Youth Italian Folk Dancers and then the Adult Dancers will perform from 3:05 to 5:15 p.m.
Radio Stars will perform from 7:45 to 9 p.m. Fronted by impressive female vocalist Stephanie Castillo, this energetic pop/rock band plays a variety of cover tunes, from current songs to the ’80s and a few sprinkles of other decades. Members of Radio Stars have been part of the northern Illinois music scene for more than 20 years, performing in front of national acts such as the Romantics, Quiet Riot, Off Broadway, James Young of Styx, the Elvis Brothers, Head East, Frank Stallone and many others. Some of the diverse artists they cover include Adele, Sugarland, Katy Perry, Pink, Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga, Lady Antebellum and more.
The evening’s entertainment concludes with Mr. Big Stuff from 9:30 to 11 p.m. Always a crowd favorite, it’s been a couple years since this band was at Festa Italiana. From the band’s inception in 1999, the word “explosive” has been used repeatedly to describe their music, which exploits both the dynamic drive of a three-piece brass section (the Big Stuff horns) and a tight, funky rhythm section. The band delves into genres of pop, rock, funk, R&B and disco. Keep ’em dancing until the end!
Sunday, Aug. 5 — noon-8:30 p.m.
From 2 to 2:40 p.m., watch the Amici ItalianiYouth Italian Folk Dancers, then from 3:15 to 4:30, it’s the Adult Italian Folk Dancers’ turn. Vince Amore and his Band take the stage from 5:15-6:15 p.m. Back again by popular demand, he has performed professionally for years and has had the honor to share the stage with a vast variety of accomplished artists ranging from Frankie Avalon to Luciano Pavarotti. He always strives to express pure joy in his songs. You don’t want to miss him!
From 7 to 8:30 p.m., Jaime Campbell & the Redneck Romeos take over. These five musicians quickly made their mark in the Rockford, Chicagoland and southern Wisconsin areas. His energetic stage presence, charming antics, and strong vocals engage audiences everywhere. Jamie has personally opened for several national acts, including Justin Moore, Jamie Johnson, David Allan Coe Band, and Randy Houser, and he has performed at venues such as Cadillac Ranch in Nashville, Tootsies and more. He is a favorite on the Broadway circuit in Nashville.
Saturday and Sunday, from noon to 2:45 p.m., Doug McDuff will be on the Festa Stage. Also, both days, the Vince Chiarelli Band will perform in the late afternoon in the Rest Tent between acts. This is the grandson of Vince Chiarelli Sr.
A Sunday Mass will be held on the grounds at 10 a.m.
Admission to Festa Italiana is $5 per person; children 12 and younger are admitted free when accompanied by an adult. Carnival ride specials: $15 with purchase of wristband at the south ticket booth. Rides will be offered Saturday, noon to 5 p.m., and all day Sunday. Proceeds will go to the GRIAA Scholarship Fund. For more information, go to www.GRIAAcom.
From the Aug. 1-7, 2012, issue