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Q&A: Glen Ellyn Backyard BBQ to feature performances by father, daughter

Ralph Covert will perform with daughter Fiona Grey

GLEN ELLYN – It will be a family affair when Glen Ellyn musician Ralph Covert and his daughter Fiona Grey perform Sept. 8 at the 10th annual Glen Ellyn Backyard BBQ.

Covert, a 1980 Glenbard West High School graduate, and his band The Bad Examples will close out the festival from 8:15 to 9:45 p.m. Grey, a Los Angeles-based composer and songwriter, will perform from 7:15 to 8 p.m.

As a member of the Glen Ellyn Backyard BBQ committee, Covert lined up the bands for the entire day. A schedule can be found at

Funds from the event will help Glen Ellyn-based Bridge Communities and its mission of transitioning homeless families to self-sufficiency.

The event will take place from noon to 10 p.m. in the Glenwood Avenue parking lot on Crescent Boulevard between Main Street and Prospect Avenue in downtown Glen Ellyn, next to the office of Bridge Communities.

All event proceeds go directly to assisting the homeless families served by Bridge Communities.

Suburban Life reporter Eric Schelkopf had the chance to talk to Covert, who still lives in Glen Ellyn, and Grey. The interview has been edited for length and style.

Schelkopf: To be playing together at the Glen Ellyn Backyard BBQ, is that something special?

Grey: Yeah, any opportunity we have to play on the same bill, I think is super fun.

Covert: A lot of my fans, of course, have watched Fiona grow and develop as an artist and as a person. So for them, it's a really exciting experience to get to see her play. I know a bunch of folks are making a special trip into Glen Ellyn just because it's a nice family double bill.

Schelkopf: Fiona, I did see you gave a shout out to your dad in a recent interview. You talked about your dad being a songwriter, and that growing up, you would carry around a tape recorder and write songs.

Grey: The cool thing, I think, about growing up with a songwriter father is that you don't realize songwriting is work yet. So it's just something that you're able to do for fun and as play.

Schelkopf: So will the both of you be playing a lot from your latest projects?

Covert: I think for the both of us, it will probably be a mix of the old and the new, celebrating the new stuff while playing the old stuff that people love. That's what I'm going to be doing.

Grey: I'll definitely play old stuff and this new record. In addition, I've been enjoying playing new songs I've written that week or that month as a way of always kind of challenging myself.

Schelkopf: Fiona, you describe your music as "dirty pop" because you want to distinguish yourself from mainstream pop. Is that because people might get a false impression of you as an artist?

Grey: Well, I think that genres are generalizations of what your music is. I think there's so much more to my music than just straight pop music. Being called "dirty pop," I think, has that kind of edge to it. People are a little bit intrigued to check it out. ... Plus it kind of brings in the kind of rock 'n' roll, grimy, gritty element that I think my music portrays.

Schelkopf: Ralph, tell me about your latest album, "Welcome to Deadsville."

Covert: The song "Fly Little Bird" off the album, I wrote for my mother after she was diagnosed with cancer. That song became a big part of her journey with her cancer and the last three or four months of her life. ... She told me that when she read the words and heard the song, it was the first time she was able to cry after being diagnosed with cancer. When friends would visit, she would show them the words and play the song, and they would hold hands and cry. ... They were able to use that as a touch point to have the conversations that they needed to have, to open the door to some of the conversations that I think had been hard to get started. That kind of reflects what I was trying to do with this album. ... The songs on "Welcome to Deadsville" are an effort to kind of open the conversation about some of the deeper and harder emotions and experiences that happen in life.


If you go

WHAT: Glen Ellyn Backyard BBQ

WHEN: noon to 10 p.m. Sept. 8

WHERE: Glenwood Avenue parking lot on Crescent Boulevard between Main Street and Prospect Avenue in downtown Glen Ellyn

COST: Free


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