AVONDALE — Local musicians will pay tribute to late Polish singer Krzysztof Krawczyk and Avondale’s Polish roots with an outdoor concert this week.
The free concert, A Night On Milwaukee Avenue, is planned for 6-9 p.m. Thursday at Woodard Plaza at Diversey, Kimball and Milwaukee avenues.
Dallas Doyle and the Milwaukee Avenue Players will take the stage 6-7 p.m. to perform acoustic folk music and a “poetic commemoration” of Krawczyk’s life, organizers said. The group will be followed by The Paweł Pospieszalski Band, a contemporary of Krawczyk. The band will play Krawczyk’s songs 7-9 p.m.
Krawczyk recently died of complications from COVID-19 while living in Poland. He was 74. He was regarded as “one of the most famous baritones in Poland,” according to the Polish News.
Over the course of Krawczyk’s decades-long career, he recorded more than 40 albums and played shows across Poland and the United States, the news outlet said. He was a fixture of Polish nightclubs along Avondale’s Milwaukee Avenue in the ’80s and ’90s, when the neighborhood saw a “flowering of Polish arts and culture,” event organizer and local historian Daniel Pogorzelski said.
Chicago was one of a few American cities where Krawczyk played while trying to make it in the United States; he also frequented clubs in Las Vegas and Nashville. But Pogorzelski said the singer always came back to Chicago. He lived there for more than 15 years, from 1979-1995.
Avondale looks different today than it did in Krawczyk’s day. As the neighborhood gentrifies, many Polish businesses have closed, and Polish immigrants have moved out. Polish leaders and figures connected to the neighborhood have died, Pogorzelski said.
“There’s a sense of hopelessness among a good portion of folks in the Polish Community who live in Avondale,” Pogorzelski said.
With the concert and other events like it, Pogorzelski said community leaders aim to celebrate the neighborhood’s Polish identity “to show that there is still life in the Polish community here, even as legends connected to this neighborhood pass on,” he said.
The Avondale tribute concert was put together by the Polish Arts Club of Chicago, the Northwest Arts Connection and the Milwaukee Avenue Alliance. The event, part of the “Moods + Foods” series at Woodard Plaza, is named after a documentary film in which Krawczyk appeared.
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