Archive for March, 2012


official opinions: Choose your own choral adventure!

April 21 will mark a new day in the history of classical and choral entertainment in Chicago. In an effort to collaborate with Chicago artists while raising funds for the 2012 season, Chicago’s best neighborhood choir, the Wicker Park Choral Singers, is holding an interactive event with a new twist. Held at the Jackson Junge Gallery in Wicker Park, WPCS’s Choose Your Own Adventure Fundraiser is completely unique in how it allows attendees to vote for the choral music they want to hear. In between mingling with the guests, the choir will perform short 30 second teasers of a variety of pieces throughout the evening, while attendees, using their tokens, vote for the snippets they like. The songs that receive the most tokens will be performed at the end of the evening. So put on your classiest cocktail outfit and come out to support the arts by attending this fun evening of song!

For only $30 you can attend, enjoy complimentary appetizers and drinks, and vote for two pieces. But if you spring for the $50 Adventurer ticket, you get all this, plus an additional 13 voting tokens AND the undying gratitude of a Chicago arts institution. What are you waiting for? Space is limited and tickets are going FAST! Click here to purchase your tickets for what’s sure to be a fun and unique affair!


guest star: nicholas barron – from busker to band leader

This month’s Musician Spotlight recognizes Nicholas Barron, band leader, singer and guitarist of Stitely Entertainment’s 312 Chicago. We sat down with Nicholas to learn what inspires him as an artist and band leader and who he’d love to share the stage with.

What are the five artists, songs or albums you’re listening to the most right now?

1) Bon Iver

2) Stew and the Negro Problem

3) Daniel Lanois – Shine

4) John Martyn – Hurt in Your Heart

5) Rickie Lee Jones – The Horses

I’m in a writing frenzy right now so I’m heavily into my own songs because my band and I are recording a new record soon and playing a weekly residency to work out the material.

Who or what inspired you to be a professional musician?

My parents are both artists, so just being around their energy and freedom set up a world of expression for me. My dad was a sculptor and a painter as am I. I never really fit in at school or anywhere else. When I went to Europe in the summer of 1986 and ran out of money, I started busking (street performing) in the Underground Tube and knew right away that music would be my life. It evolved from a simple love of having to sing and play everyday to a new passion. I knew music wasn’t the most secure form of income but this new passion and ability to express overpowered that.

My earliest memories are of listening to my mother’s extensive collection of blues, jazz and rock records.

What’s your craziest event story?

Playing for 8 hours without a break.

What was your first concert?

I had a high school band called Lo Pressure Mud and we played the big high school dance.

If you could share the stage with any musician, dead or alive, who would it be?

My favorite singer and songwriter is John Martyn. I would rather watch him perform rather than share the stage with him though. He was so unique and special so it’s more about watching them rather than performing with him. I would love to hang and perform with Bob Dylan though.

You’re stuck on a desert island forever. Which three albums do you want with you?

Keith Jarrett – Dark Intervals

Anything by Bob Marley

Leonard Cohen – Songs from a Room

Beatles or Stones?

I love both the Beatles and the Stones in different ways. I can’t choose!

Check out the talented Nicholas Barron and his song, This Train, off of his album titled As I Am!


Official opinions: A Mellow Joni Mitchell Monday

Happy Monday Stitely Blogosphere! Enjoy today’s mellow Joni Mitchell tune, “Hejira” played live in Japan.


Official opinions: A Hunger Games wedding- “Real or not real?”

If you’re like most of the Stitely staffers (and rest of the world), you just might be obsessed with The Hunger Games. This AMAZING three novel series by Suzanne Collins is about Katniss, a 16 year old girl trying to survive an epic fight to the death in the dystopian world of Panem. Well, that’s the incredibly short, very basic thumbnail sketch of this complex and moving trilogy. If you have not read these books, check them out, and cancel your weekend plans because you will not want to put them down. And while you’re at it, buy your ticket to the movie which comes out TODAY!!!

Meghan Christine Photography

The Hunger Games movie trailer

Despite the violence of the plot, the story also involves a lot of love and romance, and some brides are bringing these ideals to their wedding, bridal showers or bachelorette parties. Here are some fun ideas of how to channel your Hunger Games love into favors, fashion and decor.

Check out Entertainment Weekly’s 18 Great Hunger Games Gifts for some awesome favor ideas! There are some great finds from Etsy artists including Russian nesting dolls and magnetic word poetry.

Also, if you’re looking to get in shape before your big day, take some tips from New York Sports Club’s Hunger Games-themed workout, ‘Train Like A Tribute.” The rigorous class doesn’t just do arm workouts with a bow and arrow either. The “Gamemaker” randomly shakes things up by throwing out sudden “disasters,” like imaginary fireballs and mutant dog attacks.

Enjoy and may the odds be ever in your favor.


Guest Star: Colleen and Jarod’s Summer Spectacular

Colleen Grogan & Jarod Garbe were married on May 21, 2011 with their reception at the La Grange Country Club.  Their wedding was an absolute riot!

Colleen and Jarod knew they had to have The Stitely Orchestra after they played for Erin, Colleen’s sister, at her 2007 wedding. And after hearing Stitely rock out at Colleen & Jarod’s wedding, Frank O’Hare, Jarod’s best man, chose us to play at his wedding on St. Patrick’s Day this past Saturday.

The evening began with Stitely’s classic jazz trio of piano, drums & saxophone, followed by an 8-piece reception band that included singer-trumpet player, Andew Distel. Colleen and Jarod really like oldies and classic rock, Motown, and 80’s hits, as well as a handful of songs from the 90’s & 2000’s. Their special songs and requests definitely reflect their musical tastes:

  • First dance: “You Send Me” by Sam Cooke
  • Father/daughter: “Unforgettable” by Nat King Cole
  • Mother/son: “The Wonder of You” by Elvis Presley
  • Last song: “Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey

Other special songs requests included:

  • “Better Together” by Jack Johnson
  • “Buddy Holly” by Weezer
  • “Keep on Loving You” by REO Speedwagon
  • “Footloose” by Kenny Loggins
  • “Nothing Can Change This Love” by Sam Cooke

Together Colleen, Carly (Stitely’s Event Planning Coordinator) and Lindsay Uyeda from the La Grange Country Club planned a fantastic fiesta. Thanks to Lindsay, Jason from Jason Kaczorowski Photography and Diane from Diane Michelle Florals for such a great event!


official opinions: modern 80’s pop for music monday

If you’re just getting out of a relationship, Gotye‘s latest hit “Somebody That I Used to Know” is the perfect song to belt out in the car (much like Adele’s Someone Like You!) The 80’s pop-esque song comes off of the Belgian-Australian’s third album, Making Mirrors, and featured New Zealand singer Kimbra. Stitely wishes you a Happy Monday! Enjoy!


official opinions: Irish for a day: St. Patrick’s Day Events

Looking to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day bigger than ever this weekend? Break out the kilt and check out these events happening all day tomorrow and all over the city!

10:00am – Dyeing the River Green

Start your day off by watching the Chicago River magically turn bright emerald green. The best views of the river can be seen from the east side of the bridge at Columbus Drive or upper and lower Wacker Drive between Columbus and Lake Shore Drive. Get there early to get a good spot!

12:00pm – Parade

Since the parade falls on a Saturday this year, bring the kids! The parade route starts at Balbo and Columbus but can be best viewed around Buckingham Fountain.

2:00pm – 6:00pm – Dancing and Music at Navy Pier

Enjoy Irish dancing and music courtesy of the Trinity Irish Dancers and Irish band, Anish! The Trinity Academy has grown from 12 dancers at its beginning to the largest Irish dance company in the world. Band Anish plays regularly at the Irish-American Heritage Center, Martyr’s and a number of other venues. The event is FREE. Navy Pier, 600 East Grand Avenue.

8:00pm – $10 for a ticket to four bands, a beer and a corned beef sandwich ($20 value)

Thanks to this Reader Real Deal from the Chicago Reader, you can check out Thin Lizzy cover band, Tin Lynott, while having a great dinner for only $10! Ten bucks gets you tickets to see four awesome bands at Martyr’s Chicago, a New Holland Mad Hatter IPA and a corned beef sandwich. 3855 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago, IL 60613. Call (773) 404-9494 for more details.

Tips from Stitely for having a great St. Patty’s:

  • Remember, expect delays and leave early if you’re taking the CTA because it will be PACKED everywhere!
  • Miller Lite has their sponsored Free Rides will run from 9 a.m. on St. Patrick’s Day until 1 a.m. Private shuttle buses will run two looped routes that offer stops in The Loop and River North, Old Town, Lincoln Park and Wrigleyville
  • Be sure to wear green so you won’t be pinched!

Offiical opinions: Stitely’s Shepherd Pie for St. Patrick

Don’t let the last name fool you. Stitely Staffer Rachel Mikolajczyk may have two ‘k’s, a ‘y’ and a ‘z’ in her last name, but this Erin is mostly Irish, and she has an awesome shepherd’s pie recipe for this St. Paddy’s day. Recommended by her dear old dad who makes his own pie from scratch, this recipe from is a traditional Irish treat. Enjoy!


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 lb ground beef or 1 lb lamb
  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  •  3 -4 large carrots, finely diced
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 3 -4 sprigs fresh thyme, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 glass red wine
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 cup stock
  • 1 large quantity mashed potatoes (around 6 cups, fresh or leftover)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

1. Pre-heat oven to 400°F.
2. Saute carrots in the olive oil until they start to get tender.
3. Add in the onions and saute for a minute or two then add the meat.
4. Season with black pepper and thyme.
5. Cook until browned then drain fat.
6. Add the butter and peas.
7. Sprinkle with flour and stir through.
8. Add tomato paste, wine and Worcestershire sauce.
9. Let this reduce slightly then add the chicken stock. Allow to reduce down until you have a thick meaty gravy. Season to taste.
10. Remove from heat. Grease a 9×13 oven proof dish with butter and add the sauce.
11. Spoon or pipe the mashed potatoes over top. Brush with egg and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese (if you so desire).
12. Bake for about 20 minutes or until the potato is nice and browned on top.
13. Serve as is or with some crusty bread to mop up that yummy sauce!


official opinions: Black Keys on a gray Monday

One week from today The Black Keys will be rocking the United Center, but until then they’re rocking the Stitely office!

Some history behind the video: The man in the video, named Derrick T. Tuggle, was originally an extra limbering up before the shoot, and the director enjoyed his dance moves so much that he recorded them. Then the band recorded the video as planned… and hated the result. So they decided to use Derrick’s smooth moves until they could re-record the video, but by then the video was so popular they decided to keep it as is. Click here for more info and enjoy The Black Keys’ “Lonely Boy.”


official opinions: give back by going green – tips for the perfect eco-friendly wedding

With St. Patrick’s Day rapidly approaching, forget the leprechauns and four-leaf clovers and focus on another type of green. When planning your wedding, it’s easy to incorporate eco-friendly elements that allow you to have the day of your dreams while doing some good for the Earth! Check out Stitely‘s top six tips for having a green wedding and reducing your carbon footprint!

1. Paperless invitations

Since everything else is moving online, why not invitations too? You can keep the classic touch of traditional invitations by working with a designer but sending them via e-mail saves paper and trees. Greenvelope helps save trees by working with clients to create the perfect wedding e-vite that emulates the opening of a traditional printed invitation so you don’t lose that special touch.

If all weddings this year used paperless invitations, we could save about 50,000 trees!

2. Picking the right venue

Even picking a venue that has a green initiative can give your wedding the eco-friendly touch. Find an event space that has met the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Rating System, which sets the standard for sustainable spaces. Learn what your venue does to be sustainable!

Venue Six10 is a great option because of its unique 6700-square-foot green roof that has special vegetation that keeps the building cool, helps with air pollution and much more.

Give your guests trees as party favors

3. Green wedding favors

Certain wedding favors can contribute to waste so give something memorable yet eco-friendly to give your guests. Plant a tree in your guest’s name or even give out trees for them to plant in your honor. For a more creative route, include sachets of herb or vegetable seeds so your guests can start their own eco-friendly, edible garden.

4. Go organic!

Have healthy alternatives during your wedding dinner such as free-range chicken or fresh, wild salmon. Work with your caterer and learn where your food is coming from and if it is eco-friendly. For dessert, include free trade coffee for your guests. Remember going organic doesn’t have to substitute for taste!

5. Charitable donations to eco-friendly non-profit

In lieu of gifts, you can raise money for a charitable organization. Choose one that has a special meaning for you or find one online that shares your same values. Your guests will appreciate the gesture and will love knowing that their gift is going somewhere meaningful.

6. Do your research

Remember that going green doesn’t have to cost you more green! Take some time to see what options you have. If paperless invitations aren’t for you, you can always find some other way to be eco-friendly. The Chicago Green Wedding Alliance is a great resource for all of your green wedding needs including approved green vendors, caterers, florists and more.

If you want a more literal green wedding, however, check out The Knot’s wedding ideas for using all shades of the color green! Or you can take an even more literal attempt from singer, Kelis, by having an all-green wedding dress! Now, that girl knows how to go green!

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Delivering a mind-blowing musical performance at an event is an art and planning it is a science. Stitely Entertainment has mastered both by planning and executing thousands of events.

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March 2012