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Musicians Bid Farewell To Finnegan's

Public is invited to a jam session Thursday .

Finnegan’s Irish Pub in Plainfield and the music community the shuttered business helped foster will have their swan song Thursday.

The public is invited to the farewell to Finnegan’s Irish Pub, which closed three weeks ago after losing its liquor license due to back taxes, and the Overmanor, an 1844 farmhouse and nearby musicians’ gathering spot that was damaged in an August storm. 

The event will start at 9 p.m. with songs outside the pub, 24102 W. Lockport Street. Attendees will then walk four blocks to the Overmanor, located at Lockport Street and Eastern Avenue, for an open jam.

“I want Thursday to be closure for everybody,” said Aaron Kelly, songwriter, bassist and guitarist for the local band Overman and a former co-host of open mic nights at Finnegan’s, which attracted songwriters from around the Chicago area. “I want people to remember Finnegan’s and the Overmanor in a good way because nothing but good came out of them.” 

Finnegan’s has been a hot topic in town, with some former employees blogging about bounced paychecks and residents criticizing owners Dale and Pam Lewis for not paying taxes.

But Kelly and others in the tight-knit circle of musicians and music lovers, artists, craft beer drinkers and others who called Finnegan’s and the Overmanor home are hoping to focus on the positive and provide a fond farewell.

“There is way too much good that came out of Finnegan’s to let it end on a sour note,” Kelly said. “In Plainfield there is no place as nourishing to music as Finnegan’s was. The environment, the patrons, the craft beer and good music. . . while it existed it was really special. A lot of long-lasting relationships formed there.” 

Kelly, who met his girlfriend at Finnegan’s, said the pub was becoming a well-known stop on bands’ tours. Bands from the Midwest and as far away as Australia played there and then occasionally headed to the Overmanor, where Kelly and other musicians have lived and hosted jam sessions.

It wasn’t uncommon, he said, for a dozen or more musicians to pass the guitar around on any given night while bystanders-turned-friends sang, clapped and laughed along.

“They were maybe strangers when the night started, but you played songs and by the end of the night they didn’t feel like strangers in the house, just new friends,” Kelly said. “Before Finnegan’s, we didn’t know that kind of environment could exist. We never had a place where you could walk down the street with a guitar and congregate. It opened our eyes to the possibility of ‘community.’”

Kelly, who grew up in the farmhouse and moved back in as an adult with fellow musicians, said he and his Overman bandmates along with housemates from the band the Jack Pines also felt a sense of community from supportive neighbors.

Parents had even thanked them for encouraging a love of music in local kids, including Adam Bollinger and Marco Palandri, who played in the band the Hungry Goldfish.

By month’s end, the musicians will move out of the Overnmanor, which was part of the Underground Railroad. It will be listed for sale, and hopefully restored, after a storm collapsed the chimney and sank the foundation.

“In times of economic hardship society turns to Americana roots folk music,” Kelly said, and the pub and farmhouse communities supported that genre.

On Thursday, Overman will thank friends for support with such songs as “From the Banks of This Old River.”

For more details, visit http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=236123853101490#!/event.php?eid=236123853101490 or www.overman.info.

Aaron September 26, 2011 at 03:38 PM
This night was an overwhelming success. Two videos ("From the Banks of This Old River" and "Nine Pound Hammer") are posted at www.youtube.com/overmanvideo. Thanks for the coverage, Patch!

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