Wednesday, August 22, 2012

One Thing Leads to Another Backlot Bash, This Weekend in Skokie

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On behalf of the Village of Skokie and my fellow residents--err, scratch that; on behalf of no one but myself but with the presumed blessing of the aforementioned--I invite one and all to come to town this weekend for the annual Backlot Bash.

Actually, scratch that too. While I think the music, movie, food and additional offerings of Skokie's premier festival are well worth your time, and our village is marked by a multicultural spirit of inclusiveness, one of the things I like best about the Bash is that it's comfortably populated, not overly besieged by burgeoning masses.

So feel free to attend--and yes, it's free to attend, unlike Naperville's Ribfest, which wanted to charge me $25 just to get enter the grounds--but preferably not in droves that will preclude me from easily parking nearby or getting a prime seat for the headline musical acts, as I have in years past.

Located along Oakton Street in downtown Skokie, alongside the Village Green that separates the library from village hall, the Backlot Bash is so named because the area once served as a backlot set for silent films between 1907-15, including those made by Chicago's Essanay Studios. As such, standup cutouts of Charlie Chaplin typically decorate the Bash, although there is no evidence that Chaplin ever filmed in Skokie. (Some may enjoy this piece I wrote, which cites Charlie's ties to Chicago.)

Although, for me and seemingly many others, the musical acts are the centerpiece of the Backlot Bash, there is an abundance of activities for attendees of all ages, including--tying in to the festival's theme--screenings of silent films at the historic, now nicely renovated Skokie Theatre.

These will run between Noon and 5pm on Saturday and Sunday; this page lists the films that will be shown, albeit without exact showtimes. I am also unsure if the films will be accompanied by a live pianist, as they have in prior years; I hope so as this was a real treat.

At 10:30pm on Friday, the Skokie Theatre will host a special screening of the Rocky Horror Picture Show to benefit the Les Turner ALS Foundation. Details and a link to buy tickets can be found here.

Although the food booths have tended to offer typical festival fare, I do recall some nice offerings by Myron & Phil's, so hopefully they'll be there again. The Backlot Bash website doesn't list food vendors, but notes that this year its "extended beer tent will be offering beer, wine and hard lemonade."

Other activities include the 5K Backlot Dash and Kids' Run, Carnival Rides, a Bingo tent, a Classic Car Show and a Pancake Breakfast.

And especially for a free-of-charge, relatively sparsely attended local fest, I've been quite impressed by the caliber of musical acts the Backlot Bash has offered.

In the past, I've seen the Smoking Popes, Fastball, American English, Tributosaurus, Lonnie Brooks, Lil' Ed & the Blues Imperials and others. The talent buyers for the Bash seem to really do their homework, because even the unknown bands I've caught there have typically been very good, and a band like Fastball showed last year that they remain terrifically enjoyable, even if they're not exactly top of mind anymore.

So I'm really looking forward to seeing how The Fixx--the inspiration for this post's title--are on Saturday night, and local favorites Local H on Sunday. On Friday night, the always great Tributosaurus will become Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers; hopefully they'll play personal favorites like "A Thing About You," "Straight Into Darkness" and "Change of Heart" that Tom himself has long since forgotten about.

I'm not sure how much else I'll get to, but am also intrigued--see the full musical roster here--by The Steepwater Band, The Handcuffs and a Brazilian guitarist named Paulinho Garcia.

Should be quite a hot time in the city--err, village. Hope you can make it; although perhaps not everyone all at once. Without a preponderance of homerism, I do feel the Backlot Bash deserves to attract more people than it often does, but I would hate for it to swell to the size of this sage Yogi-ism: "Nobody goes there anymore, it's too crowded."

But until then, come one, come all. On the imagined behalf of my hometown, Seth saith, "Welcome to Skokie."

Speaking of Skokie pride, this is a t-shirt I designed, but never did much to mass produce or market. But if you would like to order one--or better yet, a thousand--feel free to get in touch or leave a comment to that effect.

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