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Buddies to reunite after 40 years for WOW benefit

Anonymous • Jul 21, 2015 at 11:01 AM

Jim Novak, Paul Cerny and Dale Johnson grew up in the same neighborhood in Berwyn, Ill. They went to the same grade school and high school, and attended the same church where they first sang together in the choir. While still in high school, and joined by the late David Cooper, they formed a folk-singing quartet called the Newports.

Through their high school years, they performed together in concert at other high schools, colleges, coffee houses, corporate conventions, gas station openings and once on a train. They appeared frequently at private functions with the stars of the WGN Barn Dance television show, and they have written songs for The Ides Of March and David Gibson of The Gibson/Miller Band.

College and the Vietnam war marked the end of the quartet, but Cerny and Novak continued to write and perform together for several years, singing their unique style of mellow folk/pop/blues to the coffee houses on Chicago’s north side.

Eventually, Cerny married and relocated to Atlanta, Ga., where he pursued a career in marketing management. Novak and his wife moved to Grand Haven, where he worked in communications. Both continued to perform solo for many years.

Dale Johnson now lives in North Carolina.

In recent years, Novak’s writing style has turned introspective, and reflects his personal journey and recommitment to Christ. In 2009, he released his first Christian CD, “Be Still.” Many of the cuts from that album have been featured on WGHN Radio. His new CD, “Meetin’ Tonight,” was released in April.

Novak has appeared for the last two years at Worship On the Waterfront. Last summer, Cerny was to appear with him, but had to cancel at the last minute.

“I am really excited that Paul will be here this year,” Novak said. “It’s been a long time.”

Friday night will be the first time Novak, Cerny and Johnson have sung together in 40 years.

Admission to the concert is free. A free-will offering will be taken. Seating is limited and a second performance is being considered.

First Reformed Church is on the corner of Third Street and Washington Avenue. For more information, call the church office at 842-6600.

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