Weather doesn’t stop concerts to benefit local organizations

MORRIS – The weather was freezing, the streets icy and the wind blowing, but that couldn’t keep away the close to 400 people who braved it all to see the performance of The Dueling Tony’s last month.

The concert was in support of Trinity Services and Special Connections of Grundy County and held at Chapin’s East in Minooka, according to a news release.

Tony DeBlois is blind, has autism and has a rare musical ability. Playing 23 instruments, DeBlois wows crowds across the U.S. and abroad, including in Grundy County, where he has come to perform for the past three years. DeBlois was joined on stage by Morris musical sensation Tony Kidonakis.

Kidonakis is an assistant professor of saxophone and jazz studies at the VanderCook College of Music in Chicago.

Since the evening was a “by-request” event, there was something for everyone. Their play list included songs from artists, such as Ray Charles, The Beatles and Journey, and also included some of DeBlois’ favorites, such as Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue,” which is 16 minutes in length.

“Tony D. and Tony K. encourage the audience to get involved in the show, clapping, singing and dancing,” Kelly Thompson, executive director of Special Connections, said in a news release. “You can tell how much they enjoy playing for the audience and how much the audience enjoys the experience.”

DeBlois also played a solo concert the following day at Immaculate Conception Church in Morris to another 250 guests. The first hour he played songs of his choice, some that were even composed specifically for him. The second hour was audience requests. Throughout the show, his mother, Janice, talked about their journey together and how DeBlois has conquered so much despite his challenges.

“It was two days of great people, stories, music and fun. We can’t thank Tony D. and Tony K. enough for sharing their talent, passion and spirit with us,” Thompson said.