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Get Wired: New rock club, music school opens in Berwyn this week

From left to right: Jon Smith, Paul Bolger, Chris Neville and Tracey Dear pose for a picture on the balcony of their new Wire music venue, lighting, music recording and music school on Roosevelt in Berwyn.
From left to right: Jon Smith, Paul Bolger, Chris Neville and Tracey Dear pose for a picture on the balcony of their new Wire music venue, lighting, music recording and music school on Roosevelt in Berwyn.

BERWYN – The volume is about to get turned up again in the music scene on Roosevelt Road in Berwyn. A new venue, school and recording studio set to open this week shows there’s plenty of desire for more places to rock out.

At Wire, 6815 W. Roosevelt Road, the new club will offer a place to learn how to make music, present it to a crowd and record it for the masses, in addition to hosting regular performances on its stage.

On Thursday, city officials and Wire associates will gather to cut the ribbon on the space, but the real celebration gets going this weekend. On Friday, Tributosaurus will take on the persona of British rock group Electric Light Orchestra, complete with a symphony. On Saturday, Chicago’s own, Mr. Blotto, will take over opening duties.

Located in a renovated, vintage movie theater, Wire will have a music scene of its own, but behind the scenes will be classrooms to not only learn music, but associated arts like music production and lighting design.

The concept is backed up by state-of-the-art audio and video equipment utilizing current and vintage backline instruments, amplification and microphones.

Behind the venue are four partners who really live the rock ‘n’ roll life. Chris Neville, known as the conceptual founder, is a musician, composer and technical producer best known as the musical director, keyboardist, vocalist and guitarist for the transformation band, Tributosaurus.

“The whole philosophy is to foster an atmosphere of collaboration across all levels of musicians and musical styles,” Neville said.

Jon Smith is a music recording engineer and producer whose credits range from recording thousands of national TV and radio commercials, to artists ranging from The Police, Ministry, The Chi-Lites and Leon Russell.

Musician, singer and songwriter Paul Bolger, known for his rock band, Mr. Blotto, also is a teacher and musical director at the Highwood and Evanston School of Rock.

Tracey Dear, a lighting and production specialist who has toured with Elvis Costello, Emmylou Harris and others, also is a member of the Waco Brothers.

So what brought this musical brain trust to Berwyn?

“Obviously some of it was the building, but we had been looking at other places as well,” Neville said. “But friends said we really should go talk to Berwyn. They said they are very proactive.”

Neville said they weren’t steered wrong, and had nothing but good things to say about how the town worked with the Wire associates.

“From top to bottom, Berwyn has been really great,” Neville said. “Anytime there has been a snag, they have been there to say ‘what can we do fix it,’ as opposed to to saying, ‘good luck.’ ”

Wire, the school, also known as Rock University (or Rock U), began offering classes in late September.

Wire studios are scheduled to open in early 2014.

As for that other venue on Roosevelt Road – the legendary FitzGerald’s Nightclub – the Wire crew said it’s been an inspiration.

“Bill Fitzgerald [owner of FitzGerald’s] is one of the inspirations for me,” Neville said. “He has a musical soul; he’s a real patron of the arts. I have been fortunate. He’s one of my best friends.”

For more information about Wire, visit

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