The July 25 theme is "Blues/Folk/Americana Night." Featured entertainment also includes Ecoh & Ransom: Coleen Wild Jason Benefield and a musical preview from "Footloose" from the Joliet Drama Guild.
Filisko travels the world with Noden, performing and conducting workshops. Filisko is the leader HOHNER Affiliated Customizer Program (according to the HOHNER website, a harmonica and accordion company) and he has taught harmonica at Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago since 1992.
He and Noden have performed together since 2003.
"Eric is a one-man band on guitar," Filisko said. "Together we recreate many of the old sounds of predominantly rural folk and roots music that you would have heard in the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s."
While the harmonica is indeed a melody instrument, Filisko said the way he plays it makes it so much more.
"It's often a rhythm instrument or a chord instrument or a percussion instrument that supports the fancy guitar work that Eric does."
Watching a harmonica player perform is also not as interesting visually as watching a guitar player, which can be tricky when trying to teach a student how to play, Filisko said.
"When you're looking at a guitar player, you can watch their fingers," Filisko said. "But when you're playing the harmonica, the magic happens inside the mouth with the acrobatics the tongue is doing. That has been endlessly intriguing to me."
Born in Germany, Filisko moved to Ohio. Filisko's father was transferred to Joliet when Filisko was 3.
"I've been in the area ever since then," Filisko said.
Filisko studied guitar under Jeff Jaskowiak, now the director of the DARA (digital audio recording arts) at the University of St. Francis of Joliet.
"Through studying with him, I found myself listening to American roots music and blues," Filisko said. "I was hearing the harmonica in the recordings and I became intrigued by it and how to make it sound like I was hearing it, so I picked it up. Once I picked it up, I really was not able to put it back down."
Filisko said he about 20 at the time. He was not formally instructed, but Filisko wasn't self-taught, either.
"I developed my knowledge and abilities by studying the the recordings of the greatest players that ever lived," Filisko said. "Also, doing harmonica repair work – repairing harmonicas – enabled me to have very close relationships with many living harmonica players."
According to Filisko, some of those greats included Sonny Terry (1930s) and Little Walter (1940s, 1950s and 1960s).
Why did the harmonica lose popularity?
"It's just one of those things," Filisko said. "For a generation or two, it's a really cool thing. Then the younger generation believes it to be uncool. Things tend to cycle in my opinion and from my experience."
Joe Filisko calls the harmonica the original iPod.
"Before the iPod you had the Walkman and before the Walkman you had the transistor radio," Filisko said. "Before that, if you wanted to take music with you and you could not sing or whistle, you played the harmonica."