Rockford's Independent Newspaper

Tom Mac Group performs at Concerts on the Creek

The Tom Mac Group (TMG) will be performing on Saturday September 10, 2022 at Concerts on the Creek from 7:00 to 9:00 pm. Mac, the Stateline’s exquisite singer and arranger, brings his unique talent to the Concerts on the Creek series. His arrangements incorporate Americana, Latin, folk and additional styles. TMG has won a RAMI award for Best Acoustic Rock and Mr. Mac, who opened for the Beach Boys when they appeared at Davis Park, is also a member of the Nielson Chorale (formerly the Rockford Symphony Chorale) and a former member of the DuPage Opera Theatre. One of the songs on his solo debut album Upper Palette entitled “Song for Jack” received an honorary mention in the International Acoustic Music Awards. The IAMA states “His song “Song for Jack” displays his chops in jazz and classical styles. [His] knowledge of creating great melodies set[s] him apart from other acoustic guitarists out there.”

For this performance, Tom will be bringing in Paul Wertico on drums, Larry Gray on bass, John Moulder on guitar and Costa Rican percussionist Tito Cevellos. Paul Wertico has won seven Grammy awards for “Best Jazz Fusion Performance”, “Best Contemporary Jazz Performance”, and “Best Rock Instrumental Performance” in addition to earning several gold records. He was Pat Metheny’s drummer for many years and has just about graced the cover of every major drum magazine in the world. He has worked with Buddy DeFranco, Herbie Mann, Kurt Elling, and Randy Brecker and has been the featured clinician/soloist at schools and festivals in New Zealand, Chile, Mexico, Russia, Hungary, France, Sweden, Ireland, and Spain. Larry Gray, an Assistant Professor of Double Bass in the jazz department at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, is a well-known and sought-after bassist in Chicago. Originally a jazz guitarist, Gray switched to double bass and developed a reputation as a first-call sideman. He tours extensively and has worked with Ramsey Lewis, Marian McPartland, Larry Coryell, and Doc Severinsen. John Moulder, a former Catholic priest, has played nationally and internationally at numerous festivals, clubs and concert halls and has performed with artists such as Eddie Harris, Gary Burton and Terry Callier. His soulful playing transcends the three-dimensional world, and he has the talent to frequently catapult his audience into another dimension of time and space. Tito Cevellos, is a local musician who has been performing in Rockford since the days of On the Waterfront. He is a multi-instrumentalist who composes and arranges his own music. Born to an Ecuadorian father and a Costa Rican mother, Tito has dedicated his life to music and his passion for his instruments confirms that dedication. His Latin rhythms on congas and timbales brings the added element of flair and tension to the TMG arrangements.

The Rock River Times reached out to Tom Mac who remarked that this performance is a reunion of sorts. “Paul, Larry, John and I made an album a while back along with Stanley Jordan and Roscoe Beck (bassist for Robbin Ford and Leonard Coen). Some of the tunes on that album (Upper Palette) will be performed at Concerts on the Creek.” Due to the pandemic, Tom Mac has not been as active as he has been in the past, which unfortunately has been a common theme for many musicians. “It’s been several years since I’ve played with this lineup of musicians, and I am very much looking forward to the September 10th show. I am more of a folk musician, but I love getting the jazz guys involved in the band because they have the needed magic to put an edge on the songs in our repertoire. The John Prine and Woody Guthrie tunes definitely get spiced up. We will also hit some music composed in the 20’s and 30’s that my 97-year-old Irish mother adores, as well as modern pop classics that I have arranged to fit more into the jazz vein.”

Special thanks to Spider Company who is sponsoring the Tom Mac Group as well as Oak Street Health, the overall Concert on the Creek series sponsor. Attendance will be limited to 150 persons. Free-will donations will pay the musicians and help to defray the church’s event hosting costs. A free-will offering of $15 is recommended. Those who wish guaranteed seating regardless of what time they arrive may make an early donation in the form of a $6 ticket at  Light, pre-packaged refreshments will be available and the church offers free off-street parking for 95 vehicles. For more information or to make special arrangements, e-mail or telephone 815.979.1949.

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