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Audience members enjoy the sounds of local band Suite Mollie at the Jamming Jean concert in the park behind the Levy Center. Credit: Debbie-Marie Brown

The local band Suite Mollie had Evanstonians of all ages busting a move in the park behind the Levy Center on Friday.

“This was the best time I had in the last two years,” said an attendee who stopped mid-dance to talk. “Fantastic, marvelous.”

The band played songs from Stevie Wonder, Amy Winehouse, Beyonce, Prince and Bruno Mars, from 5 to 7 p.m. in James Park to an intergenerational crowd of more than 400 people.

The event was free and also featured a food truck from local Mexican restaurant Cocina Azteca.

Audience members enjoy the sounds Friday night of Suite Mollie at the Jamming Jean concert. Credit: Debbie-Marie Brown

Judy Newton, chair of the Levy Senior Center Foundation Board, organized the event.

“I like to live our mission, which is to enrich the quality of life for our senior population throughout Evanston and also keep up the facilities so that the seniors can flourish here. And look what we’ve created,” Newton said.

Jamming Jean is a concert series started by a Levy Center member who passed away in 2016. Newton told the RoundTable that she left money for “music” for the City of Evanston, and they decided to use those funds to have concerts.

The group has already spent the money she left, so Symphony Evanston sponsored the event on June 10 so it could be available for free.

Newton enjoys it when grandparents bring their grandkids, and when families come together to celebrate birthdays or anniversaries. She also likes knowing that they are offering outdoor connections and great spirit with people from all over Evanston amidst an isolating pandemic.

“I personally just sit back, and I enjoy it. I soak it in and I go, ‘Yeah, this is what life is about for me. And this is what matters.’”

In past years, Jamming Jean has featured other local bands like South Boulevard band, Funkadesi, Corky Siegel, Howard Levy and others. Newton said the group likes to keep it local and showcase people from Evanston.

Rob Bady is the lead vocalist of Suite Mollie, which he said is named after his wife, whom he performs alongside. He’s also on the Levy Center board.

“Music energizes you,” Bady said. “I’m 52 years old, I’m aging, and it’s OK to age. It’s OK to get a little older. And you can do that successfully and healthily. So that’s really what we’re promoting. That’s what the Levy Senior Center is all about.”

Audience members dance to Suite Mollie. Credit: Debbie-Marie Brown

Bady started Suite Mollie 10 years ago while he worked as a medical device representative at NorthShore Medical. He used to deliver implants to one specific doctor who conducted surgeries. That doctor, who was also a bassist, insisted they start a band.

He’s since left, but Bady’s current keyboardist is a neurologist co-worker he worked alongside at NorthShore Medical. Bady’s wife and two daughters sing alongside him in the band and have for the past two years.

“This crowd was infectious,” Bady said. “It was a lot of people from many iterations of our life … but a lot of people from the community, a lot of people, and neighbors were here. I saw just people from my basketball team.”

Debbie-Marie Brown

Debbie-Marie Brown is a reporter and Racial Justice Fellow at the Evanston RoundTable. They cover the local reparations initiative, Black life in Evanston, and the 5th ward. Contact Debbie-Marie at dmb@evanstonroundtable.com...

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  1. My wife, Zoraida, and I had a great time and really enjoyed the Sweet Mollie concert last Friday. We were invited by our son-in-law, band guitarist Joe Ferguson, and his wife, our daughter Cristina. We have a special place in our hearts for Rob Bady as he officiated at Joe and Cristina’s wedding and then did double duty by leading his band at the reception! Rob, his wife and daughters – in fact all of his band – are very talented, and we look forward to seeing them again. Jim Pagett