ron with american flag and crowd

Ron Onesti: You say goodbye, I say hello…to 2023!

This being my final column of 2022, I just wanted to heartfully thank all of you who have loyally kept up with my backstage escapades each week.  I never really thought anyone would actually care about all that went into putting on these shows, but I guess, in retrospect, it is kind of cool.  I mean, I DO get the privilege of meeting and sometimes hanging with the heroes of my youth!

As I look back to January of this year, I was just concerned with re-opening our venues, and re-booking shows that were postponed…some as many as six times!  But so many of you were patient and understanding.  Words can never truly express what your support during that very volatile time meant to me.  Our industry, like many others, was under siege and its future quite unsure.  Live music and restaurants were of the hardest industries hit during and post COVID.

But we did not “sit on our hands” during that time.  We livestreamed many bands to keep “LIVE” music coming to people at a time when they needed it the most.  We kept up our renovations at The Arcada, adding restrooms, new HVAC and more food and beverage options.  We also got our newly-remodeled Des Plaines Theatre up and running, right after its historic re-opening in October of 2021.

One of the hard parts was hearing of the suffering many of our beloved customers and their families experienced during the Pandemic.  Between lost loved ones, lost jobs and lost businesses, there was immeasurable devastation, but life had to go on.  And so many of you entrusted us with the responsibility of taking you away for a few hours, something we do not take lightly.

We had a really positive year despite all the industry challenges.  We were not at 100%, but the numbers were encouraging.  And as the year went on, more and more acts ventured back on the road, and onto our stages.

But I gotta tell ya, one of the most encouraging things that we experienced was the overall excitement had by all to return to a sense of normalcy-from employees to the entertainers to the guests themselves.  Everybody, although cautious, was exuberant with delight as the live music experience was back!

As I would walk the halls welcoming our guests back, I felt the love from everyone who missed us and the venues.  Folks were so excited to be back.  And the entertainers were more humbled than ever, having a taste of what retirement would be like.   They were thrilled to be back on stage playing the hits to their adoring fans.

But the shows were different.  The entertainers were different.  The fans were different.  The emotion was over the top, like long lost families reuniting.  The music never sounded so good!

Sooooo many celebs visited us this year-too many to mention completely, but highlights include:  John Waite, Ace Frehley, Paul Anka, Tower of Power, Bret Michaels, Peter Noone, Debby Gibson, Peter Noone, Ted Nugent, Tesla, Gladys Knight, Tony Danza, Christopher Cross, Gipsy Kings, Andrew “Dice” Clay, Jim Belushi, Billy Bob Thornton, AMERICA, 38 Special, Dionne Warwick, ASIA, Howard Jones, Keifer Sutherland, Lee Greenwood, Randy Travis, Bill Engvall, Montel Jordan, Wayne Newton, Craig Morgan, Martina McBride, Post Modern Jukebox, Little River Band, The BoDeans, Tony Orlando. Warrant, Dokken, Winger, Glenn Miller Orchestra, Blue Oyster Cult, Chazz Palminteri, Michael Bolton, Yngwie Malmstein, Pablo Cruise, Ambrosia, Al Jardine, Sean Cassidy, Todd Rundgren, The Lettermen, John Anderson, Ides of March, Micky Dolenz, The Buckinghams, New Colony Six, The Cryan’ Shames, Michael Feinstein, Nancy Wilson, Scott Stapp, Richard Marx, Michael Schenker, Robby Kreiger, Blood Sweat and Tears, RATT, Slaughter, Everclear, the list of show biz legends who appeared this year goes on and on.

2023 should prove to be a banner year as we will bring even more of your entertainment heroes to our iconic stages for your live music pleasure.  And keep those suggestions coming as many of the shows you see by us come as a result of an email from you! If there is one thing that got us through it all, it was the power of positivity.  Let’s all look forward and leave the past in our dust.  Just think about what we went through to get us where we are today.  We still have a bit to go, but as long as you keep coming, we will keep bringing live music to you.  I feel like George Bailey, again, with a second chance at life.  Hot dog, this time will be even better than the first!