Fairchild Blues Tribute

Jeff Fairchild and Ken Levine believe in uniting people with fedoras, Wayfarer sunglasses, black suits and the blues.

The two helm the Blues Brothers tribute act, Fairchild Blues Tribute. They will perform at the Chicago Fest West VIP party at 5 p.m. Saturday, April 22, at Modern Moments in Gilbert. Hosted by College Bound AZ, the event features the “aura of Chicago through music.”

“There’s going to be a lot of fun and audience participation,” Fairchild says. “There will be dancing, if there’s room for dancing.”

Guests can meet White Sox legend Bill Melton; bid on a Jim McMahon-signed jersey at auction; grab a selfie at the Harry Caray wall; and dance to Bluesman Mike and the Blues Review Band, followed by Fairchild Blues Tribute. Portillo’s and Lou Malnati’s Pizza will provide dinner and drinks. 

All proceeds benefit College Bound AZ, the college-going program that turns dreams into degrees.

The VIP party leads up to the April 30 Chicago Fest West at Riverview Park in Mesa. The Chicago-themed outdoor festival includes the tribute bands Surrender: The Cheap Trick Experience; Chicago Uncorked, a dance cover band; and Bluesman Mike and the Blues Review. 

Filling Riverview Park are food tents and trucks; arts and crafts booths; vendors; sports memorabilia; neighborhood pavilions with Chicago-style ethnic foods; youth art exhibits; chalk artists; a Chicago graffiti artist and a vintage car show. Shop the festival’s own Michigan Avenue for leather goods, jewelry and artwork. 

This is the second year Chicago Fest West is being presented by College Bound, a local nonprofit that helps “underserved youth achieve their dream of a brighter future through a college education,” says Elizabeth Paulus, College Bound AZ’s executive director.

Chicago Fest West is one day but Paulus and College Bound AZ envision it growing into an annual weekend event.

“It’s bigger and better this year,” Paulus says. 

“We have different groups for music — a little bit of blues, we have Surrender: The Cheap Trick Experience. We had a lot of interest in dancing last year. So we have Uncorked, and we have JNX, an emerging youth band. What’s interesting is the bass player’s sister is an alum of our program and she’s in her second year at Harvard.” 

College Bound shares the journey to college with aspiring under-represented students through mentorship, guidance and support resources for their advancement to a better future through education.

“I know that education is transformative, and our program serves as a bridge to a better future through higher education,” Paulus says.

“I feel a deep connection with every student I come in contact with because each represents our past, present and future. Every generation seeks the same thing —opportunity.

“I have seen what the lack of college guidance has done to the most well-intentioned student. Opportunity is lost. First-generation students and all those underrepresented in college require our utmost support for equal access to opportunity and success.”

College Bound AZ provides laptops for students, so they’re accustomed to working online. 

‘Long, long time ago’

Fairchild Blues Tribute formed in 1997—a “long, long time ago,” according to Fairchild. It was on the heels of Fairchild’s brother being told he resembled Garth Brooks.

“He was walking through the mall and this lady said, ‘You look like Garth Brooks. Do you sing?’ He said he was a singer and she asked him to go to Vegas and audition for Legends in Concert.

“Back in 1997, I was singing six nights a week in a nightclub. I came out to watch my brother perform and I thought, ‘Who could I be?’ I remember my dad said I reminded him of a little Dan Aykroyd. We auditioned for Legends in Concert.”

Since then, the band has performed around the world with its horn section, back-up singers and black suits. 

“We’re very interactive with the crowd and very spontaneous in terms of dealing with the crowd and the things they say and do,” says Levine, a Phoenix resident who also has a swing band, Ken Levine & Jump Jive & Wail. 

“We just have a good time. We bring out the fun in people.”

They say the Fairchild Blues Tribute works because they have such good chemistry. 

“I’ve been performing with Jeff for about 17 years,” says Fairchild, who lives in Las Vegas. “We love performing together. We have very good chemistry. You never know what’s going to happen. It’s so funny. We have these spontaneous comedic bursts. Sometimes Jeff says something and it’s just a good time.”

Levine adds, “Even if people haven’t heard of the Blues Brothers, they still have a really good time. They’re entertained and have a good time. The original guys are entertaining and funny and so are we.”

Chicago Fest West VIP Party

WHEN: 5 to 10 p.m. Saturday, April 22

WHERE: Modern Moments, 3335 E. Baseline Road, Gilbert

COST: $100

INFO: 602-550-3161, chicagofestwest.com


Chicago Fest West

WHEN: 1:30 to 9:30 p.m. Sunday, April 30

WHERE: Riverview Park, 2100 W. Rio Salado Parkway, Mesa

COST: Tickets start at $22

INFO: chicagofestwest.com, eventbrite.com