A Summary of a Wonderful Celebration
by Hugh Higgins

I am reminded of Jean Fogelberg ’s words when she wrote about our gathering in 2010, “it was more like a family reunion.” Those words rang true again in 2013 at our 4th annual Dan Fogelberg Celebration in Peoria. It’s so heartwarming and rewarding to see people greet each other with hugs and embraces, as they gather again to celebrate the words and music of this very special man who touched all our lives.

After a few years of doing this we have found a venue that everyone seems to love, so once again, our Friday night Welcome Party was held at the beautiful Cornerstone Building in downtown Peoria. It is such an amazing place, a true Peoria landmark. The food was bountiful; the staff friendly and accommodating and the gorgeous high beamed ceilings reverberated with Dan’s music again this year. Tribute artists we have enjoyed before, and some who ventured here for their first time, poured their hearts into the music of Dan Fogelberg, and their hearts and the music rang true. While it would be easy to fill an entire evening of music from our previous tribute artists alone, we would miss the opportunity to share this evening with other artists who also love Dan’s music, and experience some wonderful new talent, make new friends, and grow the legacy we have chosen to love and preserve. In those respects, I think everyone in attendance would agree that Friday night was another tremendous success.

Bob Ritter, Steve Rodman, Mary Bomar

Our Midwestern summer showed up in all her glory Saturday, and everyone sought the shade of the trees in Riverfront Park, or escaped the sun’s rays under the tent. Anticipating the high temps, the FFoP provided hand held fans with our line drawing of Dan to help “beat the heat.” Everyone loved getting their very own “Dan Fan.” As always, we began our picnic in the park with a blessing and song. This year, Mary Bomar and Bob Ritter provided the words of welcome that were so very eloquent and touching. They closed with a wonderfully appropriate song selection that touched our hearts, and their rendition of “Icarus Ascending” will long be remembered. It was simply beautiful.

Mary Bomar and Bob Ritter do a beautiful blessing and perfom "Iscarus Ascending"

Song Circles

As in 2010, we returned to the majestic Scottish Rite Cathedral for our 4th Annual Dan Fogelberg Celebration concert. And like 2010, it was hotter than a firecracker! The “Dan Fans” came in handy, and after a short greeting from Deb and Hugh, Don Campbell began the show on his own. It was clear from the start that we were in for a great night. Don’s voice was rich and warm, showed a terrific range, his guitar playing was executed masterfully, and the sound in the house was great. After one song, he introduced the band, and the first set was a fantastic hour that went too fast. Before intermission, Don very respectfully introduced “his favorite song to play in the world. But here in Dan Fogelberg’s home town, I think it best to leave it to the master.” And with that, a single wooden chair and a lone guitar were illuminated in a spotlight, and we listened to Dan’s performance of “Leader of the Band.”

Given the oppressive heat and humidity, I thought we would really lose audience at intermission, but gratefully, I was mistaken. With the exception of a few souls in their golden years, everyone came back eager for more. On the few occasions when Don played an original tune, it was easy to see Dan’s influence on his style. It was a tremendous evening, and the Don Campbell Band clearly loved playing Dan’s music, and it showed. On many occasions throughout the evening, Don invited the audience to sing with him. The joy on stage, and in the house, was undeniable. As the show drew to a close, the finale was, of course, “There’s A Place In the World for a Gambler.” Many had come prepared with electric tea-candles to wave in unison as we sang together on those familiar refrains. It was lovely. As the band waved goodnight, the audience would have none of it. The band returned with a fun bluegrass number that fed the fire. When that was over, the stomping and chanting continued…”Morning Sky” was the only way to finish at this point, and Don was aptly accompanied by his mandolin player as they satisfied the audience once more.

The Don Campbell Band

Afterwards, many enjoyed a generous dessert reception and camaraderie with the band, while others exited into the night, passing the luminarias bearing their favorite DF lyrics. Word has it, that many tribute artists and fans gathered together at the hotel and sang and played well into the wee hours of the morning. Some folks can’t ever get too much Dan…some things never change.