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The History of
Fox Valley Music Foundation

The Fox River Valley area of Illinois is rich in music of all kinds, from the earliest orchestra and bands in the mid-19th century, to the legendary blues recordings made at the Sky Club of the Leland Hotel in the late 1930's, to the current day Jazz Fest and Singer-Songwriter Series' at The Venue and Blues On The Fox at RiverEdge Park.


Blues, Rock & Roll, Gospel, Metal, Classical…it’s all here in some form, shape or fashion. Artists, venues, organizations, retailers and enthusiasts of all kind are scattered throughout the Fox Valley area. It's our mission and sincere desire to ensure this rich musical history and the artists responsible for it are seen and heard, both now and in the future. 

Our Story

The Fox Valley Music Foundation and The Venue in Aurora, IL, have played pivotal roles in celebrating, preserving, and promoting music and the arts within the community. Here is a detailed history of both.


In 1937 and 1938, more than 320 recordings were made in the Sky Club of the Leland Hotel in downtown Aurora for Victor's Bluebird record label. The sessions were "produced" by Lester Melrose. The cream of the crop in terms of Chicago and St. Louis Blues artists took part in the sessions that occurred over a period of 20 months.

The (re)discovery of those recordings by a group of Aurora-based blues music lovers led to the creation of the Fox Valley Blues Society and the Blues On The Fox festival. That festival brought together a group of music lovers who, for many years, worked together organizing and running the festival itself with the support of the City of Aurora’s Special Events Division.

From 2004 until 2009, the Blues On The Fox Festival was managed by The City of Aurora and a group of volunteers, steeped in their love of the Blues. In 2010, the reins for that festival were handed over to the Aurora Civic Center Authority with the Paramount Theatre leading the charge. The volunteer group remained involved with artist selection and the festival in general. Meanwhile, a new performance venue was on the drawing board.

RiverEdge Park, once a seemingly distant dream, became a reality while the BOTF festival was fast becoming the premier Blues festival in the Midwest. After BOTF outgrew the confines of Galena Boulevard in downtown Aurora, they kicked off the inaugural year for RiverEdge Park in June 2013 with Dr. John and Buddy Guy headlining the weekend event.

As all of this was taking place, the original volunteer group who nurtured the festival during its formative years reinvented their organization and in 2014, became a 501(c)(3) foundation: the Fox Valley Music Foundation (FVMF). The Foundation's purpose is to Preserve, Protect, Promote, Present, and Educate on music of all genres and its importance in our community.

Fox Valley Music Foundation

Since its establishment in 2014, the Fox Valley Music Foundation (FVMF) has served as a champion for music and musicians across the Fox Valley region in Illinois. As a nonprofit organization, its mission has been to celebrate and preserve the rich musical heritage of the area while providing support and opportunities for emerging and established artists.

The foundation has tirelessly worked to organize and host diverse musical events, including concerts, workshops, and educational programs, aiming to engage and inspire audiences of all ages and backgrounds. Through its efforts, the Fox Valley Music Foundation has become a vital resource for musicians, offering guidance, networking opportunities, and a platform for local talent to showcase their artistry.

Additionally, the foundation has been dedicated to music education, collaborating with schools and community partners to foster a greater appreciation for music and its cultural significance. Through its initiatives, the Fox Valley Music Foundation has bridged generations through the universal language of music, leaving an indelible mark on the cultural landscape of the Fox Valley.

The Venue

The Fox Valley Music Foundation is the home of The Venue, the 200-seat listening room housed in the old Woolworth Building in the heart of downtown Aurora. Since its opening in June 2019, The Venue has emerged as a premier destination for live entertainment and artistic expression, and has encapsulated the spirit of creativity and innovation, providing a stage for a diverse range of performances and musical experiences.

With support from the City of Aurora and an intrepid and dedicated group of volunteers, the historic Woolworth building has been meticulously transformed into a state-of-the-art facility, equipped with modern sound and lighting systems to elevate the audience's immersive experience. Its intimate yet dynamic setting has set the stage for countless memorable performances, attracting top-tier musicians, bands, and artists from various genres.

The Venue has been an ardent supporter of local talent, nurturing emerging musicians and providing them with a platform to share their craft with the community. In doing so, it has become a cherished hub for creative expression and artistic collaboration, fostering a rich tapestry of musical diversity reflective of the Aurora community's vibrant multicultural heritage.

Moreover, The Venue has served as a beacon of cultural enrichment, hosting music festivals, workshops, and special events that have resonated with audiences and further enriched the city's cultural fabric.

As the Fox Valley Music Foundation and The Venue continue to evolve, their commitment to celebrating music and the arts remains unwavering, solidifying their indomitable presence as pillars of artistic expression and community engagement in Aurora, IL, and beyond.

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