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News

Harlan Jefferson Performs at New Rockton Inn

By Lisa Palmeno
Freelance Writer

Award-winning Saxophonist Harlan Jefferson has been a regular at Rockton Inn since their re-opening four months ago. New owners, a new image, and quality entertainment are the focus of the revamped mainstay of nightlife in the Stateline area.

Jefferson was contacted by the new owners of the Rockton Inn, Tamara and Pascal Cornieux, Jefferson in an effort to bring Chicago-style jazz and R&B to the historic town and its residents. Harlan stocks the Thursday shows with a variety of versatile and talented performers. On October 11, he and Rick Burns were joined by Vocalist Thurston Sherod in an evening of festive jazz for all ages.

Grandparents, parents, kids and couples danced to standards and favorites such as Harlan’s famed Louie Armstrong imitations, Keyboardist Rick Burns’ singing on “Mack the Knife” and Thurston’s trendy renditions of Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together” and the blues classic “Stormy Monday.”

In addition to the live music, the Rockton Inn is an ultra clean, casual-dressy destination, where one can find nightly specials such as ribs and potatoes, oysters, fresh seafood, and a variety of sandwiches. The club sports an ocean theme (see the fish on the wall in the photo). The one flat television screen over the bar was appropriately tuned to Bogey and Bergman. The menu describes the food as “international fare with a home town flair.” Pascal, the chef and owner, is from France where studied culinary arts. He was brought to the U.S. by Hotel Sofitel. He was also executive chef at Bigg’s, on Dearborn Street in Chicago.

Located on Main Street on Rockton’s downtown strip, the Rockton Inn is open Tuesday through Thursday from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m., Fridays from 4 p.m.-11 p.m., and Saturdays from 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Ahead of the statewide ordinance, Rockton Inn is a smoke-free environment. The Rockton Inn can be reached at 815-624-8877.

“I had Harlan come up here because I thought he would be a big attraction,” said Tamara Corniuex. “I wanted to bring really good music to the people in Rockton and the surrounding area. I think it’s going good. People are coming, and they’re really enjoying the music.”

Keeping the schedule booked with repeat performances is a specialty of Harlan Jefferson’s. He played at Café’ Belwah in Beloit, Wis. every Wednesday for three years and every Tuesday at Big Al’s for more than 13 years. Now he has added regularly booked shows in Chicago, which led to a headlining spot for the Radio Station WNUA 2007 Smooth Jazz Festival.

Always working on multiple projects, the RAMI Hall of Famer recently released a new CD, You’re All I Need, a compilation of smooth, contemporary jazz and gospel now available at cdbaby.com, Border’s, and Ubiquity Records. A series of CD Release Party dates will happen at CloseUp2 Smooth Jazz Club on October 18, 19, 20, 25, 26 and 27. CloseUp2 is located at 416 S. Clark St., Downtown Chicago. For information on times and cover, call 312-385-1111.

In November, Harlan will bring back Soul Explosion, an extravaganza featuring hors d’ oeuvres, musical performances from Harlan and many special guests, and DJ Neal. Tickets can be purchased at Giovanni’s, 815-398-6411. More information on Harlan can be found at jazzchicago.net, www.myspace.com/harlanjeffersonmusic and www.harlanjefferson.com.