Archive Performances from the Vault

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Bismarck Hotel Big Band Fridays

Big Band Fridays LIVE Montage

Here is a promotional track from 1994 for the ABC Satellite Radio Network program, Big Band Fridays. Broadcast live each Friday evening from the historic Walnut Room of the famous Bismarck Hotel in Chicago’s Loop, it featured the Ed Vodicka Big Band, and was hosted by legendary Chicago disc-jockey Eddie Hubbard. The live on-air portion of the show ran two hours weekly, from 9pm-11pm central time, and ran for a total of eight weeks.

1994 was The Bismarck’s 100th anniversary, and the ownership of the property (The Wirtz Family) wanted to do something special to celebrate this important milestone.  Little did anyone know that they also wanted to sell the property as well.  So, management did some historic restoration of the lobby and the Walnut Room, which was famous back from the 1920’s as one of the first establishments to “have a wire.”  That meant, it was wired for remote radio broadcasts, and became a well know destination from coast-to-coast.

After opening night the first week (which was complete with Chicago-style snow storm), Big Band Fridays was sold-out each week thereafter.  It featured a cocktail reception in the newly restored lobby, then dinner in the Walnut Room at 7:30, accompanied by Ed’s trio.  Dancing and the live radio broadcast began at 9pm, and while the broadcast concluded at 11:00, the big band played a final set of dancing until midnight.  It was heard on the ABC Satellite Music Stardust Network, which broadcast to 160 stations coast-to-coast, including Alaska and Hawaii.

Ed started at the hotel in the fall of 1976, originally playing off-nights in the Garden Lounge during his first year of college.  He was named Music Director of the Bismarck in 1979, and was responsible for all of the music on the property until its sale and closure later in 1994.

The success of Big Band Friday’s unfortunately marked the demise of the hotel as it was known, since the national radio show helped bring the notoriety to the property which in turn enabled the sale.  It now operates under a different name as a luxury boutique property, and the Bismark Pavilion (former Palace Theater turned hotel Grand Ballroom) is now the Cadillac Palace Theater, which features first run Broadway musicals.

The live performance and radio broadcast were produced through agreement of the Chicago Federation of Musicians, AFM Local 10-208, and its president Charles Guse and vice-president Ed Ward.  The band featured Ed on piano; Tom Beranek, bass; and Bob Chmel, drums.  Trumpets:  Danny Barber, Warren Kime and Jim Jacobs; Bill Dinwiddie, Trombone.  Alto saxes were played by Angelo Basagos and Chris Lega;  Tenor Sax: Ray Migascz, and Ronnie Kolber on baritone sax.

Chicago Cubs – Wrigley Field 1982

These pieces were taped on May 29, 1982 when Ed was the Official Chicago Cubs Organist at Wrigley Field.  Ed held that position for the 1982 and 1983 seasons, and left after 1983 due to being in such high demand in other areas of the music business.

Ed’s Chicago Cubs “Opening Medley” (It’s A Beautiful Day For A Ballgame – Hey! Hey! Holy Mackerel)

Leonard Maltin on REELZ at the El Capitan in Hollywood

Ed interviewed in 2011 by film critic Leonard Maltin on the REELZ channel.

Maltin on Movies – Ed Vodicka Interview by ReelzChannel

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