"Friday Night Lights" took on a whole new meaning the past two weeks at the American Legion Hall, Post 208 in Arlington Heights.
A film crew converged on the hall, 121 N. Douglas St., across from Recreation Park, to film the live, open mike nights that take place from 8:30 a.m. to midnight every Friday.
The filming coincided with the event's second anniversary this month, and it confirmed what organizers thought from the start -- they have a growing hit on their hands.
Organizer Bob Bolash of Arlington Heights -- a local contractor by day, known as "Bob B. Bad" on stage -- says the live music sessions draw a mix of veteran musicians and local students, all who seek the chance to play before a live audience.
"Musicians love to play in the hall," said Bolash, a 40-year veteran guitar player, who has sat in with a variety of Chicago area bands. "They love the acoustics and the audience."
And the sound system.
Over the years, Bolash has moonlighted in the recording industry, consequently he has provided the venue with a state-of-the-art sound system.
"We give them good sound, and good backups," Bolash added. "If they need a bass player or drummer, there's always someone there who can sit in."
Some of the regulars include Steve Kikoen, who plays guitar with the band, Reely Dan, as well as Kevin Mooney, a Nashville recording artist, and Ray Herr, an original member of the Ides of March, all of Arlington Heights.
Bass player Billy Corsten, who adds rhythm to the band, Jay & the Americans, often turns up, as well as blues artist Sammy Fender.
However, Bolash likes to feature up-and-coming musicians, as well, he says. Each performer, no matter how seasoned, gets to play three songs or for 15 minutes.
Legion members, including Bolash, are in the middle of editing the filmed footage, and they hope to air it on cable access channels, possibly negotiating for a regular gig.
"We want to promote the open mike nights, and just how good the musicians are," said Tim Horan, an American Legion officer.
To do so, they need sponsors, consequently they seek business supporters. For information, call the American Legion Hall, at (847) 253-6632.