Two local music legands are teaming up. Val’s halla Records is kicking off its 50th anniversary year with an event at FitzGerald’s 6615 Roosevelt Road in Berwyn. On Tuesday, March 22 from to 9 p.m. “Cue the Record” ticket holders will enjoy a blend of barbecue and vinyl with an all-you-can-eat buffet and curated tunes from 1972 — the year Val’s halla Records was opened by the inestimable Val Camiletti.
“There is so much good music from 1972, I was like, ‘how can this event only be three hours?’” laughed Will Duncan, owner of FitzGerald’s. “I think Val’s milestone and this event will definitely resonate with the community.”
Duncan and Trevor Toppen, owner of Val’s halla Records, 239 Harrison St., have a shared vision about the importance of maintaining their inherited legacies while bringing new energy and a fresh perspective to sustain their respective businesses for future generations. The duo connected shortly after Duncan purchased FitzGerald’s in March 2020 and soon after invited Toppen to create a “mini Val’s” inside the nightclub.
The relationship between FitzGerald’s and Val’s goes back decades;” said Duncan, owner of FitzGerald’s. “We are both dedicated to local music lovers, but yet we never get in each other’s way.”
Tickets include a buffet of all you can eat Berwyn style barbecue and one Babygold Cold Beer, brewed by Kinslahger Brewing Company in Oak Park, specifically to be enjoyed with barbecue fare. Duncan teased the menu will include a sampling of cold seafood as well as an array of Babygold’s signature menu items including pulled pork, BBQ cauliflower and collard greens. The dinner and listening party is set to take place in the Babygold dining room, but organizers are prepared for the possibility the party may need to move into the adjacent nightclub should interest exceed expectations.
Shayne Blakeley, Val’s manager, will join Toppen and his son Jaxson, who also works at Val’s, to spin records from 1972 during the event. The trio is excited about the “wealth of music” available to them, and suggested attendees might hear both hits and B sides from albums by David Bowie, Roxy Music, Black Sabbath, The Allman Brothers Band, and Big Star among others.
“When you think about it, eating barbecue and listening to vinyl are really very similar,” said Toppen. “Barbecue is weekend fare. You sit down to eat it and it can get messy. Listening to records is the same — you sit down, pay attention and savor the songs.”
While the marriage of barbecue and vinyl records makes sense to both Toppen and Duncan they are curious to see how people approach the event. They intend to play full sides of an album to give guests the opportunity to listen to the songs in the “order they were meant to be heard,” but also hope to foster a festive atmosphere with plenty of breaks for conversations between guests. Both Duncan and Toppen are open to the possibility of hosting similar events in the future.
“I want to keep Val’s legacy front and center in the community, and we want this to be the first of many events this year that celebrate the store’s anniversary,” said Toppen. “We want to create space for people to share their great love for great music.”
Tickets are $39 each and available via FitzGerald’s website.