Music promoter, bar owner and guitar-player Donnie Biggins is bringing Dunn Dunn Fest, his three-day celebration of roots rock, blues and Americana, back for its sixth year.
But this time there’s a twist. Instead of spreading shows out across six city venues, this year the festival will be held entirely at FitzGerald’s in Berwyn.
“A problem I noticed was that people weren’t able to go to multiple shows in one day,” said Biggins. “It would be like, ‘I wish I could have gone to see that, but I couldn’t get across town to the other venue in order to catch a set.’
“Last year, it was getting so big I was beginning to compete with myself a little bit, clubs against clubs. I wanted to bring it all back to one central location.”
The festival — Thursday through Saturday, Feb. 15-17 — is a product of Biggins’ desire to showcase hometown musicians as well as touring acts.
“I just want to expose the music I love,” said Biggins, “and watch these people grow and build this event up bigger every year.”
Some may know FitzGerald’s as the home of the annual American Music Fest, held every July.
“I wanted to give it a destination festival vibe,” Biggins said of Dunn Dun. “Kind of mirror that American Music Fest vibe, only in the winter.”
The Dunn Dunn Festival features 28 acts spread across three stages. According to Biggins, it’s roughly an even split between local and touring acts.
“It’s a good mix,” Biggins said. “There’s some FitzGerald’s regulars in there. The Hoyle Brothers, Heavy Sounds, MilkMoney, Ryan Joseph Anderson, Ian Leith. These are people that live in the area. I tried to keep that familiarity for our local folks so they know they’ll see people they know but also be exposed to some of these bigger headliner names.”
Headliners include Moonrise Nation on Thursday, the JC Brooks Band and Blackfoot Gypsies on Friday, and Toronzo Cannon and Alanna Royale Saturday.
“The Blackfoot Gypsies are like a modern Rolling Stones in a way,” said Biggins. “Their energy … they’re like the ultimate party band. Really good roots rock ‘n’ roll.”
Dunn Dunn Fest acts will be showcased on three stages: The main club, the Sidebar stage (an intimate space which will feature smaller bands and solo acts) and the yard, a 90-foot heated tent with a stage built onto a pontoon boat.
The move to FitzGerald’s is a homecoming of sorts for Biggins, who grew up in Oak Park and lives there now. But the biggest challenge he faces with the festival move is drawing new people to the Berwyn club.
“Last year, we had about 3,700 people come over the course of the three days to all the shows. That’s a huge number,” Biggins said. “I’m taking a step back moving out of the city. That’s probably not going to happen this year. We wouldn’t have space for that. Do I try to go into the realm of starting a new street festival in Chicago to add to the dozens that already exist, or try to stick with what I have … and make something great?”
But the location out of the city is also a benefit. “It’s right smack in the middle. … I’m hoping to bring the next generation of city transplants that have moved to the suburbs and also to get people who think they have to go really far,” said Biggins.
“Everybody knows about (FitzGerald’s) in my parents’ generation. It’s an awesome club, and the sound is incredible. It’s been around longer than I’ve been alive. It’s tradition to be going there.”
• • •
Dunn Dunn Fest
When: 8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 15; 6:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 16; and 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 17
Where: FitzGerald’s, 6615 Roosevelt Road, Berwyn, (708) 788-2118 or dunndunnfest.com
Tickets: $15 for Thursday, $20 each for Friday and Saturday; $40 three-day passes are available.
7:30 p.m. — Emily Blue
8:45 p.m. — Michigander
10 p.m. — Moonrise Nation
7 p.m. — MilkMoney
8:30 p.m. — Allegra Malone
10 p.m. — The Hoyle Brothers
7:15 p.m. — Wild Earp
8:45 p.m. — Charley Crockett
10:30 p.m. — JC Brooks Band
6:30 p.m. — Fox Crossing Stringband
8 p.m. — Bailey Dee & Her Late Night Bait
9:30 p.m. — Cole DeGenova
11:15 p.m. — Blackfoot Gypsies
7 p.m. — Scientific Map
8:30 p.m. — Garrett Clemens
10 p.m. — The Heavy Sounds
7:15 p.m. Ryan Joseph Anderson
8:45 p.m. — Hannah Wicklund & The Steppin Stones
10:30 p.m. — Toronzo Cannon
6:30 p.m. — Carson McHone
8 p.m. — The High Divers
9:30 p.m. — Matthew Ryan
11:15 p.m. — Alanna Royale
7 p.m. — Ian Leith
8:30 p.m. — Josefina
10 p.m. — The Family Gold
11:30 p.m. — Chicago Funk Mafia