Holiday shows have been a tradition since 2002 for the esteemed groove informed jazz rock pioneers Family Groove Company, and this season was no different. It’s always a Chicago family affair when FGC plays the holidays and the vibe was more alive than ever this past Saturday, December, 26th as the show was brought out to the suburbs at Durty Nellie’s, a place that has seen its fare share of fame and is Ted Nugent’s favorite place to play.

The group consists of Janis Wallin on bass, Adam Lewis on guitar, Jordan Wilkow on organ/vocals, and “Sweet Pete” Koopmans on drums. Koopmans was given the nickname of “Sweet Pete” by Victor Wooten after jamming together at Summer Camp Music Festival.

Miles Over Mountains kicked off the night in the new grass fashion that live music fans have grown to love over the years. A four-piece act consisting of guitar, banjo, mandolin, and upright bass MoM provides the listener with a paradoxical calming, yet exciting experience. The band somehow has the power to ease one’s worries while also forcing the crowd into a frenzy of dance. Their performance was highlighted by a cover of The Who’s classic “Baba O’Riley”.

Succeeding MoM was Chicago Funk Mafia. These guys seriously force the crowd to dance. Heavy hitting guitar solos accompanied by booming bass lines, keys, saxophone, trombone, and soulful vocals allow CFM to produce powerful funk. CFM was also quite hilarious as they have song titled “I’m in Love with a Wookie,” which is essentially comedy funk. Certainly one of the highlights of the set was their cover of Bruno Mars’ “Uptown Funk”. 

By the time Family Groove Company hit the stage, old friends had found each other and magic was in the air. It felt like one big family reunion for all the fans. Many fans moved away from Chicago for various reasons and come back home for the holidays, so the joy was abounding.

FGC takes the raw jazz sound that artists like John Scofield produce and turn into a groovy dance party. Nellie’s was packed to the gills and it seemed as if the roof was going to blow off the place as the fans anxiously awaited for the sound. The company laid it on the line with some historic covers. The first was Paul Simon’s “Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard” which sent the crowd into an extreme state of bliss due to Wilkow’s beautiful vocals.

“Julio” was followed by a cover of Jaco Pastorius’ “The Chicken,” in which FGC was joined by Maurice and Marty from CFM. The Groove Co. also played their near reggae version of “Last Dance With Mary Jane.” They played this song in one of the coolest manners in which it has ever been played.

These Family Groove Company Chicago holiday shows have been a family affair since ’02. It is a tradition long running with no sign of stopping. If you are ever worried about a decision just ask yourself “What Would Janis Do?” You’ll know the right answer.

Setlist: Family Groove Company at Durty Nellie’s, Palatine, IL – 12/26/15

One Set: The World Is Watching, The Unlimited Space Around Us, Negresco, Atlas, Falling Off the Fence, We Could > Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard, The Chicken*, Professionals Here, Mary Jane’s Last Dance, Well In Hand

Encore: When I Come Around

*with Maurice Cade (trombone) and Marty Gierczyk (sax) from Chicago Funk Mafia

Words by Andrew Preissing. Check out the full gallery of photos via Pizzle Pieces.