Blues legend Lurrie Bell joined The Caught Off Guards in an outdoor concert at the Oak Park Arms

Lurrie Bell
Oak Park Arms resident Lurrie Bell, left, performs with The Caught Off Guards band as they perform a free outdoor concert at Oak Park Arms for residents, their families, staff, and the public Friday, September 23, 2022, in Oak Park, Ill.

For the first time since the pandemic, the Oak Park Arms hosted a concert for the entire community. The Caught Off Guards performed outdoors for residents and their families, staff, and the public on Friday, September 23, at Oak Park Arms Senior Living, 408 S. Oak Park Ave.

Renown blues guitarist Lurrie Bell who is an Oak Park Arms resident joined the concert to the delight of the audience and the performers. Born in Chicago, Bell is the son of harmonica player Carey Bell. His father’s band, the Carey Bell Blues Band, often rehearsed in the family’s apartment, and Lurrie grew up among music and musicians. He taught himself how to play the guitar, and eventually played with his father’s band in a couple of club performances. His career took off from there.

“I learned from the old timers,” Bell said. “Some staff members urged me to play with The Caught Off Guards. I know some of the band members, and it felt great to be playing with them.”

“When Lurrie performed at the concert it brought the show to a whole new level,” said Renee Steingard, director of leasing and resident engagement at the Oak Park Arms. “It was special to have a concert with the Oak Park community again. Having one of our residents perform, who is a friend and neighbor here, was the icing on the cake.”

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Oak Park Arms hosted more than 300 activities and events each month, most of which were free and open to the public. This fall concert marks the first time the Oak Park community was invited back to join the senior residents.

Members of The Caught Off Guards first met at an open-mic event at the NAMI drop-in center in Oak Park. Each musician has a love of Funk, R&B, Soul, Blues, and Jazz. They began as a backup band or live karaoke band for other performers, and in the process of mutual support, The Caught Off Guards emerged as a main act for community events.

Healing through the arts is the reason The Caught off Guards perform. They have performed at the Open-Door Theatre, Unity Temple, the Nineteenth Century Club, Cheney Mansion, and Oak Park’s Thursday Night Out. Band members include Charles Torpe, Carla Taylor, Gary Barkov. Kevin McDermott, Steve Coppola, Sylvester Czaijkowski, Carl Mugavero, and Francesco Forte.

The Oak Park Arms is a rental retirement community which provides senior housing in the form of senior independent living and assisted living apartments. Additional services include respite care and an award-winning adult day care program. Furnished apartments are also available for a short-term stay – a weekend, a week, a month or longer.

The concert is free and open to the public. For more information call 708-386-4040.