2nd Annual Doug Esse Memorial 5-String Banjo Cacophony

Live stream 5-string banjo concert supports Old Town School of Folk Music faculty & employees April 11

RIVER FOREST IL - Music & Potlucks, a community organization will present "The 2nd Annual Doug Esse Memorial 5-String Banjo Cacophony" on Sunday, April 11 at 4:00 pm CDT. The live stream event will support the Old Town School of Folk Music Employee Financial Assistance Fund.


“There has been a real need,” said Mark Dvorak who has been on furlough from teaching at the Old Town School since last March. “Many on our faculty and those who work behind the desk have taken a real hit with the pandemic. The school set up the fund so those who have needed cash to pay rent, buy groceries and pay for insurance would have a life line.”

The concert will feature Dvorak and six other artists. Peggy Browning and Chris Walz currently on faculty at the Old Town School, Max Allard and Alan Deaton, both former Old Town students, Jill Lagerström of South Orange, New Jersey and Oak Park, Illinois’ own Joe Michelotti will perform on the 5-string banjo.

“I had a banjo student some years ago named Doug Esse,” said Dvorak. “Doug was an archaeologist and professor at the University of Chicago. Although Doug struggled with his lessons, he loved being with his classmates and was always upbeat and positive.”

"The summer of 1992 I was on the road a lot and when I returned to teaching that autumn, Doug’s name was on the class roster, but he missed the first two class. I got a phone call from his wife who told that Doug had passed away. He was diagnosed with stomach cancer and from the start, the prognosis was not good.”


His wife went on to explain to Dvorak that Doug’s friends in class were sworn to cover for him when he had to miss class for treatments or was simply too tired to attend. 

“I never had a clue,” said Dvorak. “On the phone she told me that in his remaining time Doug wished to travel back to Egypt to visit the great Pyramids and to learn the 5-string banjo at the Old Town School of Folk Music. To Doug, playing the banjo was his way to celebrate living.”

Old Town School CEO Jim Newcomb will also make an appearance on the program to promote the Old Town School Employee Financial Assistance Fund.

“The Old Town School announced the Fund on the same day we announced the school would be shutting down operations,” said Old Town School CEO Jim Newcomb. “To date we have raised nearly $100,000 and distributed almost that much. We’ve decided to make the EFAF (Employee Financial  Assistance Fund permanent. We value our people tremendously. The Music & Potlucks crew are doing a very good thing."

Music & Potlucks is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that has been presenting community music and cultural events in the Chicago area since 2017. Tickets are $20, $10 for students & seniors, and are available at www.musicandpotlucks.org. All proceeds raised will directly support the Old Town School Employee Financial Assistance Fund. 

To make a donation to the Old Town School Employee Financial Assistance Fund go to www.gofundme.com/f/old-town-school-staff-amp-faculty-assistance. learn more about the Old Town School of Folk Music and all the ongoing programs at www.oldtownschool.org. For information and to view the video trailer visit www.markdvorak.com.

Stay in touch • markdvorakinfo@gmail.com • PO Box 181 • Brookfield IL 60513 • 312 315 4273