Rock ’n’ Roll Night is a popular annual White Sox promotional night, and this past Friday, the New York Yankees came to town to rock in Chicago’s South Side park. Opening the game with the Star Spangled Banner was musician, and Forest Parker, Mark Grzelak rocking the anthem for a crowd of nearly 29,000.  

While the most iconic rock version of the anthem was played by Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock, Grzelak took more of a classical approach on his guitar.

“It’s not about you and your playing, it’s a service, and I just keep traditional. It has some of my style, but I just keep it cool, it’s not a time to show off to show what you can do, everyone knows it,” said the down-to-earth Grzelak. 

This wasn’t the first time Grzelak has been asked by the Sox to lead off the game with the national anthem, but this time he finished his set outside the park and had to run a half-mile, guitar in hand, with Sox staff to make it to the field with just minutes to spare to wipe his brow and catch his breath before the performance.

“It’s quite an experience,” Grzelak explained. “Once my name is announced, thousands and thousands of people become silent, and all eyes and ears are on me and I am playing a song that every single person knows the melody to … and there’s really not any room for error.”

Forest Park Review Publisher Dan Haley, who was at the game, recorded a video of the performance, which can be experienced below.    

After losing all shows for a year during the pandemic, Grzelak focused on his original projects and now that gigs are coming back two-fold, his calendar with bands, private performances and solo shows are taking up much of his time.

Keep up with Grzelak’s performances, both solo and with his bands, including Red Pop Fury, by following his website at Kentland Records, or grab a burger and rock with him next time he plays at Scratch on Lake.