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Musician Patti Ecker Delights Highland Park Woman’s Club

For musical performer Patti Ecker, there seemingly isn’t any song she can’t learn to sing, or any instrument that she won’t attempt to play.

Ecker was the featured performer on Feb. 2 at the Highland Park Community House as part of the Highland Park Woman’s Club’s first meeting of the month.

The club, which has been in existence since 1900, meets bimonthly and always features an entertaining guest performance before members have a luncheon and tea session.

Ecker booked her first musical gig when she was 16 and has been a wedding singer and a rock band member in south Florida. She was excited to return to the Highland Park Community House, where she taught the Wiggleworms toddler program for the Old Town School of Folk Music earlier in her career. Later, she worked for the Old Town School’s Youth Outreach program.

The club asked Ecker to play a mixture of love songs in addition to her Mardi Gras Time! program that features carnival tunes from New Orleans, a unique combination that felt just right with Mardi Gras and Valentine’s Day falling within a week of each other.

Ecker’s act featured her playing the guitar, banjo, kazoo and a pair of wooden spoons, occasionally playing more than one instrument at the same time, while singing a harmonious melody of soulful tunes, especially when it came to the works of Louie Armstrong.

Her set list included “Iko Iko,” “When the Saints Go Marching In,” “Just a Closer Walk With Thee,” “Jambalaya” and other classics.

While they didn’t make it into the show, Ecker also plays the mandolin, the ukulele and is taking lessons on the violin. When it comes to her singing, there’s not much she won’t experiment with.

“Usually what happens is somebody will ask me, ‘Do you do such and such theme?’ Sometimes I’ll say ‘No, not yet’ but  I can always use the Internet and find songs.  Suddenly I have a new program and a whole complement of new songs,” Ecker said.

Ecker’s website lists off a number of programs that she sings, including “A Bit of Blarney” with a focus on St. Patrick’s Day songs from Irish culture, “Sundown Serenade”, which focuses on western and cowboy songs, and “Island Magic,” which takes the listener on a tropical tour of island melodies, among others.

“It’s my favorite thing to do, to put together a program, and it’s just one of those things that I figured out I was good at. Putting together a themed program with information and a little history [is really enjoyable] and I think people like that because it’s more of a show.”

During her performance, Ecker urged the excited crowd to sing along if they knew the words, and frequently regaled the crowd with a playful set of jokes in between songs. She also spent time explaining the ins-and-outs of various instruments, the motivation behind certain songs as well as the history of the original songwriter or the melody itself.

Mary McCullagh, the club’s press and publicity co-chairwoman, said that Ecker was the type of performer the club frequently tries to bring in since her act was lively, entertaining and funny and engaging with the audience.

 “We try to do a broad spectrum of different types of things, and they’re all well received,” McCullagh said.

The club meets on the first and third Tuesday of every month; the first Tuesday is always at the community house, while the third is always at Trax Tavern and Grill in Deerfield. Its members come from all over the North Shore and the club is always looking for more. Potential new members do not need to be from Highland Park since the club is open to all women.

For more information about the club, visit their website at www.highlandpark.gfwcillinois.org. To view the complete list of Ecker’sprograms and learn more about her music, visit her website at www.pattiecker.com.

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Upcoming Shows

  • Oct 5
    Sunrise of Willowbrook,  Willowbrook
     
  • Oct 10
    Island Lake Seniors,  Island Lake
     
  • Oct 13
    Medinah Fall Fest,  Medinah
     
  • Oct 16
    Cordia Senior Living,  Westmont
     
  • Oct 31
    Aperion Plum Grove,  Palatine
     

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