Year 13 not unlucky for Hammond’s Festival of the Lakes

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By Tom Lounges Times Correspondent
Original article here.

Thirteen seems to be a lucky number for Hammond Mayor Thomas M. McDermott. His office partners with Hammond Parks & Recreation again for one of the more anticipated and well-attended events each summer in Northwest Indiana.

The 13th annual Festival of the Lakes at Wolf Lake Memorial Park Pavilion (2324 S. Calumet Avenue) in Hammond, kicks off next week on Wednesday, July 20 and runs for five fun-filled days of food, carnival rides, game booths, vendors and top name live entertainment.

Number 13 is lucky, because this year Mayor McDermott’s team has secured two artists who had been on their “wish list” for quite awhile.

One of them — Banda El Recodo de Cruz Lizarraga — will headline “Latin Night” on July 24. “They are hugely popular in Mexico. They are a modern group, but still traditional. We almost had them a couple of years ago, but missed out.” Other “Latin Night” acts are Antonio Pantojo and David Guevara with Mariachi Acero, Grupo Klonadoz, Los Jefes Del Rancho, and Natalia Corona.

The other “wish list” artist is maverick guitar-slinger George Thorogood and his band, The Destroyers. “We locked George in close to a year ago. I’ve been a fan of his music for many years and really look forward to seeing him perform,” McDermott said. Opening for Thorogood is Northwest Indiana’s Steepwater Band, an international touring group whose latest album, “Shake Your Faith” (Diamond Day Records), was released this spring.

Thorogood has been rocking around the world for four decades, logging over 8,000 live shows, and selling in excess of 15 million albums worldwide. “We do this because we are passionate about it. It’s what we love and it’s all we really know how to do,” said Thorogood of why he still spends several months each year touring.

“It would be Bo Berry and Chuck Diddley who inspired me most,” joked Thorogood when citing who most inspired him to play guitar. “Seriously, Bo Diddley and Chuck Berry were the first two guys to really play ‘rock guitar’. Those two inspired everybody.” Thorogood’s most recent album “2120 South Michigan Avenue” is a tribute to Berry, Diddley, and the other seminal Chicago blues artists of Chess Records.

Although Thorogood may slip in a newer track here and there into his set, he knows Northwest Indiana fans are coming to hear the radio classics — “Who Do You Love”, “I Drink Alone”, “Move It On Over,” “Bad To The Bone,” “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer,” etc. — and he promises not to disappoint.

Another performer McDermott said he is excited to see this year is rap music sensation, Ludacris, a top name and worthy follow up to LL Cool J, who performed at last summer’s fest.

“I’m personally not too familiar with this year’s country group, The Eli Young Band, but I understand they are one of the best younger country acts today,” said McDermott. The Region’s own Nicole Jamrose Band will open that show.

Classic R&B kicks off Festival of the Lakes on opening day as two different generations of former teen idols share the stage. Opening will be The Spaniels Forever whose career began on the streets of Gary in the early 1950s before having hit singles like “Goodnight Sweetheart” on the record charts. Headlining is 1990s Motown hit-making group, Boyz II Men, who held the #1 chart position for 50 weeks cumulatively, placing them behind only Elvis Presley, The Beatles, and Mariah Carey. Boyz II Men were named by industry trade magazine, “Billboard,” as the fourth most successful musical group of the 1990s.

“Without generosity of our sponsors who help defray the cost we couldn’t do this festival with these kinds of top acts,” stressed McDermott. “We don’t do this for profit. Our goal each year is to present the best talent possible for people to enjoy and to break even at the end of it all.”

McDermott knows, along with Hammond’s own citizens, the annual concerts draw thousands of people from surrounding communities who then return home with a positive experience of visiting Hammond. “For some, this (festival) is a ‘staycation,’ because not everyone can afford to go on vacation, so we bring fun and music to them,” he added.

While festival admission is free, there is a per car parking fee. So the cost is the same whether there is one person or an entire family, so car pooling is encouraged to save money. “Hey, if someone rides their bicycle, there’s no cost at all,” added McDermott.

“I know that I say this every year, but I do think this year is the best line up we have had yet,” he said.. “We’ve gotten to a higher plateau, because artists and managers talk and the word has gotten out that ‘Festival of the Lakes’ in Hammond is a great place to perform. These days we are competing against Ravinia and bigger venues like that for some of these acts and we are getting them. The artists we have welcomed here over the years have helped spread the word to others in the business that we put on a great event!”

FYI: The 13th annual Festival of the Lakes runs Wednesday, July 20 to 24. Entertainment lineup is July 20: Boyz II Men with The Spaniels Forever; July 21: Eli Young Band with Nicole Jamrose Band; July 22: George Thorogood & The Destroyers with The Steepwater Band; July 23: Ludacris with Golden and Fitz Fonsarelli; July 24: Banda El Recodo de Cruz Lizarraga with Los Jefes Del Rancho, Natalia Corona and others. Show times vary day to day. The festival is held at Wolf Lake Memorial Park Pavilion, 2324 S. Calumet Ave, Hammond. Admission is free/per car parking fee is $25. Call (219) 853-6378 or visit festivalofthelakes.com or facebook.com/FestivaloftheLakes.