Friday, January 20, 2023

Gigantar Arrives at Illinois Rock & Roll Museum — Lighting Ceremony Planned

Photo: Courtesy Rock&Roll Hall of Fame, Joliet.

The Illinois Rock & Roll Museum has announced another superb milestone in its progress of making Joliet, Illinois, the destination home of the most important and dynamic musicians ever born in the state. On Friday, Jan. 20, at 5:00 p.m., the public is invited to the official lighting ceremony for the Giagantar at the Museum.

This wonderful 24-foot sculpture was made specifically for the museum and according to the Joliet News, The “world’s largest hand-made guitar,” called Gigantar, crossed over five states last weekend before its arrival in Joliet. The artist is Shannon McDonald who is known for her entertainment industry artwork (see her website here), has been lauded by many, including Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick (pictured below), Sylvester Stallone, and Diane Sawyer.

As part of the museum’s growth and development, President and Founder Ron Romero continues to bring together in Joliet some of the most exciting events that celebrate the state’s most beloved musicians.

Carl Giammarese (above) said, “On behalf of The Buckinghams, I am excited to be a part of the sign lighting. It is an honor to be in the company of (fellow 2021 Inaugural Class Members) Jim Peterik (The Ides of March)(photo below), and Rick Nielsen at the VIP event. There has been so much talent from the great state of Illinois, and they deserve to be recognized!”

Partial funding for the sculpture came from a grant by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. In addition to the VIP Rockstars invited, Romero says that “on hand for the special event will be the Mayor and Joliet’s Economic Development Director.” The results of a contest, sponsored by Rock’N Vodka, to name a special drink in honor of Gigantar will be announced.

In the short period of time that the idea has gone from dream to reality, Ron Romero continues to build a truly exceptional home for memorabilia and other treasures of Illinois’ greatest musicians.

The Museum is located at located at 9 W. Cass St., Joliet, IL 60432.

Thursday, January 19, 2023

Remembering David Crosby

[Photo: Ron Elkman, Published across USA TODAY network]

Another musical milestone was reached with news of the passing of extraordinary musician, David Crosby, on January at the age of 81. Audiences know him best as the first-named part of Crosby, Stills & Nash (later Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young), but he actually entered the music scene as a founding member of the Byrds. His clean, clear vocals added a dimension to a song like no other in his time.

His youthful indifference to what was best for him in his having a long life was part of his trademark rebel self. On the other edge of his defiance was a heart and soul that went beyond the pale for others. Often at odds with himself, it was the harmony he would create in music that kept his colleagues willing to collaborate and create works that stand forever as “classics” against six decades of possibilities. He brought Joni Mitchell’s talent to light for all of us. He produced and inspired music that is on everyone’s playlist today. Look at your phone and see.

Carl Giammarese said today:

The passing of David Crosby brings tremendous sadness. I never had the opportunity to meet him, but his music was a major influence on me, starting with the Byrds. But when Crosby, Stills and Nash released their first album, I was blown away! God, those infectious songs wrapped in those beautiful harmonies, so new and refreshing. I don’t think there was a sound that I embraced that much since The Beatles! They were a major influence on Tufano and Giammarese, the duo Dennis and I began after The Buckinghams came to an end in 1970. David Crosby will be so missed, but his music will live on, burned in my soul!

Nick Fortuna agreed and added:

On behalf of The Buckinghams, our prayers are with his wife Jan and his son, Django, and all the extended family of musicians who were fortunate to have his friendship and example to follow.

Thanks to music journalist/photographer Ron Elkman for sharing his exquisite photo of David Crosby (published across the USA TODAY network) to reflect on this very special life.

Saturday, December 31, 2022

Happy New Year 2023 from The Buckinghams

On this final day of 2022, we’d like to take a moment to address all of you who are here on our musical journey across the country and over the seas as we travel on cruises. Our world has been changing constantly this year, and as a result, we have seen what happens when we all join together in song, and in appreciation of the music that brings us together. The Buckinghams are now celebrating what will be our 58th year as a group.

Thanks to quality songs by James Holvay, Gary Beisbier, Lloyd Price, Cannonball Adderly, and lyricists Johnny “Guitar” Watson, and Larry “Bad Boy” Williams, as well as the late Marty Grebb, our fellow bandmember, and talented producers including Dan Belloc, Carl Bonafede, James William Guercio, Jimmy “The Wiz” Wisner, as well as talented arrangers, label promo teams, and relentless devotion to our craft, The Buckinghams continue to be heard on terrestrial radio, we’re streaming on your favorite devices, and many times when you speak to Alexa, Siri, or Google, you’re requesting the devices to play our songs for you.

When concert promoters had to wait out the in-person paralysis of freezing in-person concerts, you all tuned in to our YouTube channel, my YouTube channel, and you stayed with us across all 3 pages on Facebook. DJs around the country kept in touch with us and talked with us about new music we worked on (in our basements) and in carefully controlled studio environments. In 2022 the veil was gently lifted, and the velvet rope pulled back once again when live music events began to reappear as safely as we could all be.

COVID had sidelined some of us for a time, but miraculously, thanks to vaccinations and consideration of all of you, even though we had to forego meet-and-greets, which was a sacrifice for us and for you, you attended our concerts and shared your love for our personal appearances. We saw many of you in the 2022 Happy Together Tour city travels. Thousands of miles, thousands of music fans. You were there for us each time.

We’re now entering 2023. I see on our calendars appearances in towns large and small, sailing the seas to exotic ports of call, and summer festivals and fairs, and showcases together with our musical friends. Our Cornerstones of Rock signature Chicago gatherings always promise a return to the best times of our teenage days.

American Pops concerts with The Box Tops and The Grass Roots (occasionally with The Association) mean an evening of fun wherever we go. Concerts with Peter Noone, Tommy James, and Gary Puckett keep our best days fresh and fun. Then, we enjoy opportunities to reunite with friends in music in selected concerts of the Happy Together Tour.

In 2022, new music was offered from Carl in solo and duet form with colleagues and you all embraced the new songs as enthusiastically as he could ever ask for. New records were set for our fans who have seen us over the “first” 57 years of our shows. To think that you have saved times in your lives to be together with us throughout the coming year is a compliment and a gift of precious time that we appreciate profoundly.

In 2023 we wish for you that all your dreams come true, for you to have great health, enjoy plenty of time with those you love, that you find healing when you have sustained a loss, and that you all know how important each of you is to The Buckinghams. Here’s to another great year of friendship, laughter, and music.

Happy New Year, from all of us in The Buckinghams’ family, and thank you.

The Long, Strong History of Chicago's Best -- The Cornerstones of Rock Concerts Still Solid Gold

Thanks to Concert Coordinator, Susan Rakis, Buckinghams' fans have some great photos of behind the scenes at their rehearsal for the latest Cornerstones of Rock show last month on November 26, 2022. Performers included The Ides of March, The New Colony Six, and The Cryan’ Shames, The Buckinghams and, representing the longtime lead singer of the Shadows of Knight, Jimy Sohns, was “Dirty Dan” Buck. Special to the band for this concert was The Buckinghams' drummer Tommy Scheckel, who played with the band from 1985-2010 before joining Paul Revere and the Raiders for many years.

Soundcheck photos by Susan:

And special thanks also to Jeannie Mikota, the "Sunset Princess" of The Ides of March, we have some terrific performance photos as well:

The popularity of the Cornerstones of Rock Shows has skyrocketed since its 2015 debut. Originally envisioned as a larger collective of Chicago-area bands “one more time,” this original concept is as much the brainchild of singer/songwriter Jim Peterik and producer Joe Thomas. Filmed as a DVD/CD combo product at Chicago PBS station WTTW in Grainger Studio, the product became a popular broadcast for quarterly pledge drives of PBS.

Thinking back to the very first Cornerstones offering in 2015, The Ides of March served as the primary backing band for most of the groups that evening, except for The Buckinghams. Music legends made time to participate, including Gary Loizzo, Al Ciner, Chuck Colbert, Jr., and Lee Graziano, representing the American Breed, Jimy Sohns, Dennis Tufano and Ted Aliotta representing the Shadows of Knight, plus Rick Derringer representing The McCoys. James Fairs joined the Cryan’ Shames for this concert, and Dennis Tufano joined The Buckinghams especially for this show.

On hand for The Cryan’ Shames were Tom Doody, James Fairs, and Jim Pilster; The New Colony Six included Bruce Mattey, Ronnie Rice, and Ray Graffia. There were two special tributes: “Get it On” by Chase, with The Ides of March and Chase member Dartanyan Brown, plus Ted Aliotta representing his late brother Mitch, of Aliotta Haynes Jeremiah, was joined by The Ides of March, and all the groups together performing the iconic Chicagoland song, “Lake Shore Drive.”

For the past seven years, then, the Cornerstones of Rock have performed three to four concerts each year, primarily at Ron Onesti’s Arcada Theatre, as well as traveling to Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin, and other venues that requested the best of American Garage music.

After all, that’s how all these guys got their start as musicians in Chicago. From basements of homes to the garages of others, music was attempted, mastered, and later recorded by sixteen-and seventeen-year-olds who had a dream and asked themselves, “Why Not Me?” and “Why Not Us?” As it turned out, the majority of the people performing on stage over the past seven years have had pretty amazing lives and careers that continue to be popular after five decades.

Check out more photos by Susan Rakis to also see some longtime fans who make these concerts feel like homecoming each time they gather.

Here are Laura and Russell Smith:

Also, say hello to Al:

Here's Greg Ellis, who is seeing his 133rd (yes, you read that right) 133rd Buckinghams' concert over the years. So far, he has the record of all ticketholding concert attendees that we know of. If you can top Greg's record, let us know!

Here's Richard Peck:

And Frank P.

And Jim L.

And, special thanks to Rich Onesti, who does so many great things behind the scenes.

Check your calendars for 2023 pretty soon for the next announcement of a Cornerstones date. You won’t want to miss it.

Saturday, November 26, 2022

Jump Back to the 80s: New Video Release from Dave Mikulskis and Carl Giammarese

It’s after Thanksgiving. You’ve enjoyed the festivities, the football, and maybe got in some Black Friday shopping deals. Before you go back to work on CyberMonday, you might just need a shot of inspiration. Here it is. Check out the newest effort from two of Chicago’s favorite singers who are also songwriters in their rare moments off from performing.

Dave, you know from Hi Infidelity, the tribute band that makes you think you’re in the arena with Journey, Styx, and Foreigner when you hear Dave Mikulskis belt out the best of the 80s power ballads. He’s been voted Best Male Vocalist six times in the SuburbaNites annual “Best of the Burbs” readers poll.

Carl, you know well from The Buckinghams, as they have been iconic there since 1965. But, because he’s been behind the microphone so long singing up front, you might forget that he was also a premier Chicago guitarist since the 1960s. This song gave him a chance to play his beloved Paul Reed Smith guitar, a custom brand also favored by Carlos Santana, Robben Ford, Orianthi, and John Meyer.

They come together here on “Easy Lover,” a song first made famous in 1984 by co-writers Philip Bailey, Phil Collins, and Nathan East (in-demand bassist frequently seen touring with Toto and other Grammy winners). The Chicagoland duo worked across the Internet at first to find the right song and you can judge for yourself what you think. Dave Mikulskis is also a talented graphic designer and produced and directed the video. Click “Like” on the video if you agree.

The guys are working on a few ideas for their next duet. That’s just what busy musicians do when they do what love for a living. It doesn’t happen without an audience though, so consider sharing the link on social media as you wish.

Also, if you’re on streaming services, you can take this song with you wherever you stream your music. For example, check it out on Spotify here, add a heart, and add to playlists. Share the good news, and take a few friends along with you for the ride back to the 60s.

Find "Easy Lover" where you listen to streaming radio:



Apple Music

Amazon Music

iHeart Radio


Cover design: Snow & Flair Creative

Friday, July 29, 2022

In Memory of Jimy Sohns, Shadows of Knight Frontman, Cornerstones of Rock Showman

Chicago music lovers and classic rock devotees mourn the loss of Jimy Sohns, who passed away today at 5:10 p.m. this evening, following a recent stroke. The loss of Jimy, whose performances of classic favorite songs remained 100% as strong as when he first performed them in the 1960s, is still hard to believe. [Photo: Ides of March video screenshot]

At age 75, the showman was not only the lead singer of the Shadows of Knight; he was a longtime favorite key player in the preeminent ensemble best known as Chicago’s Cornerstones of Rock.

There’s no question that in the 1960s, two national capitals ruled record releases when major labels held court—New York and Los Angeles. Yet, by the mid-1960s, Chicago became an unofficial “third coast,” producing a core group of bands beloved in teen clubs and sock hops first, who eventually made their way to guest appearances on national TV shows as their songs emerged on national charts.

The Buckinghams, The Ides of March, The New Colony Six, The Shadows of Knight, The Cryan’ Shames are the core of the ubiquitous Cornerstones lineup thanks to agent Jim Lenz’ love for Chicago garage bands.

When they perform in Chicago, their usual home base is Ron Onesti's Arcada Theatre, and performances sell out each time; they've also performed in Wisconsin and Indiana as well. In September 2015, Chicago's PBS Station WTTW recorded their show and it's been seen nationally for many years during pledge drives.

Other integral past performers have included Aliotta, Jeremiah, and Haynes (Ted Aliotta) and guests including multi-instrumentalist Colin Peterik, creative musician and producer, the late Gary Loizzo (American Breed), and the idiosyncratic talent of James Fairs (Cryan’ Shames).

Collectively and individually, these Chicago bands entered the national charts from the springboard of 50,000 Watt superstations WLS-AM and WCFL-AM, propelling the “American Garage” entries straight onto the Billboard Top 100 Charts, giving the British Invasion a run for their proverbial money.

But it was the characteristic mop top of Jimy Sohns that went into turbo drive with each Cornerstones concert. It’s true that everyone thinks of “Gloria” first, the 1966 release that blew away even the Van Morrison (Them) version of his own composition! Jimy shared his own version of the song from 1966 when they were on "Where the Action Is":

But it was also “I Got My Mojo Working” and the famous “Shake” that Jimy made his very own. Other noteworthy cuts include “I’m Gonna Make You Mine,” “Dark Side,” and “It Always Happens That Way.”

Jimy passed away today at the age of 75, just eight weeks ahead of the next Cornerstones Show, Friday, September 30th, at the La Porte (IN) Civic Auditorium. Talking by phone this afternoon, Carl Giammarese expressed these thoughts:

“Jimy’s loss from our Cornerstones team is still so very hard to accept. Not that long ago, he had made a tremendous comeback from a stroke, and we just expected him to do that again and maybe in time for our next show. There is no other frontman like Jimy; his enthusiasm for the show, his love for all the fans, and his commitment to staying true to the music our contemporaries fell in love with, and to, is unparalleled. Nick and I and our entire Buckinghams family feel his loss tremendously. He will always be with us in our hearts, every time we take the stage.” [Photograph by Jim Summaria]

Tonight on Facebook, Jim Peterik expressed sympathy on behalf of the Ides of March:

“…The Cornerstones of Rock are missing a boulder. No one can replace him and never will. But Jimy’s voice will echo always through rock history. He’s the man - Oh Yeah, he’s the man - and he will sing forever in our hearts. Rock In Peace, Brother.”

A favorite VH1 classic shows Jimy singing “Gloria” backed up by Cheap Trick and Little Steven. The history on that stage is equally magnificent. Watch here:

Even the Pandemic didn’t stop the Cornerstones; Jimy sang lead on the video “Pandemic Blues,” as the masked-up marauders chanted “Music is the cure for the Pandemic Blues.” The Cornerstones collectively dedicated the song to the first responders, front-line heroes, and “all those who suffered loss of loved ones in these tragic times. Also dedicated to the memory of one of the true pioneers of Rock & Roll - Eddie Cochran….May we rise together in heaing.” Check it out here:

On Jimy’s Facebook page, Crowley’s Nest photographer Laurie Crowley, shared the following photo:

With a triumphant fist in the air and a firm grip on the microphone he owned, on the stage he ruled, stands Jimy.

It has been said that “Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything.”

Godspeed Jimy Sohns, and thank you for all the great music.

Sunday, June 12, 2022

The Buckinghams Return to The Belfry Theatre for 2 Nights in June

On Wednesday, June 22 and Thursday, June 23, The Buckinghams are pleased to return for their fourth year of performing for fans of the best generation in music at the Belfry Theatre.

As anyone who lives or vacations in the Lake Geneva area of Wisconsin knows, one of the best venues to enjoy the best days of summer, is the Belfry Theatre. It’s an historic and delightful theatre with perfect acoustics where every seat is “the best seat in the house.”

Located at 3601 State Road 67 in Williams Bay, WI, it’s only a bit over an hour’s drive from Chicago to get there. The theatre has great acoustics and sometimes you’ll even find people dancing in the aisles as they go back to the best days sunshine pop music.

Although Carl and Nick have been on the road for most of the month with The Happy Together Tour and going from town to town, these two dates include the full band, including the Buckinghorns, joining them. It promises to be two great nights of singalong fun.

Just in case you didn’t know, the Belfry Theatre has been awarded the Traveler’s Choice award for the past 5 consecutive years and last year was voted the #1 Best Place for Live Music in Walworth County.

Some tickets remain for both nights and range from $58 to $76 for premiere seats, Wed. June 22, and Thur. June 23.

Click for more information.

For a preview, click