Alert: The World Music Fest is in Chicago!

Every year as summer turns into fall, something wonderful happens in Chicago: The World Music Festival! It  kicked off last night, September 8, at SummerDance with an amazing, high-energy band, Underground System — a band from Brooklyn, but their musical style, Afrobeat, hails from Nigeria. The temperatures dipped into the 50’s and there was a pretty strong constant cool wind off the lakefront, yet once this hot band got going, the outdoor dance floor in the Spirit of Music Garden in Grant Park was hopping. I had to strip off my coat to cool off!

20160828_184131Their show was incredible. Never had I seen such wild dancing except in movies. It was exciting: With each song, the drum beat pulled us in, and there was no way to not dance. This band was unique in that the front line was women, dancing in unison while singing, playing flute, drumming and including a tenor saxophonist who could really belt it out – while dancing! She was petite — the sax was almost as big as she — but she played with resounding power. They were backed by more than one drummer plus bass and guitar.

The good news is even if you missed Underground System last night, you can catch them tomorrow, September 10, at Navy Pier. It’s Chicago Music Festival’s Women of the World concert series from 3:00 to 6:00 p.m. Ecos Del Pacifico Afrocolombia and LePercolateur, also featuring female frontwomen, will also be playing. Don’t miss this!

1457086400The World Music Festival lasts over two weeks and is a marathon of music from around the world. Get your calendar handy and click here for the full schedule so you can plan to experience musical acts you would never otherwise get to see. I regret not jumping on this sooner, as last night was an event I’ve wanted to catch: An all-night (yes, you read that right: from 6:30 p.m. till 10:00 a.m. the following day) celebration of Indian music divided between Millennium Park and the Chicago Cultural Center, which are right across the street from each other.

But there’s still time to make it to Millennium Park by 3:00 p.m. today, September 9, to hear the Bharath Symphony, a musical celebration of India and commemorating the 70th Anniversary of India’s Independence — and so many other great acts around the city happening soon. One would need a clone to be present at them all at once, so choose wisely, and hopefully what you miss this year you can catch next year.

For example, while there’s Duo Scofano-Minetti, an Argentine group, playing at SummerDance tonight (including Tango lessons), there are two other World Music Fest events happening tonight as well at distant parts of the city. Concerts happen almost daily — some are indoors, some are outdoors; some are all ages, some are 21+ only — so take your vitamins and get your sleep to maintain your stamina so you can see and hear as much as possible.

Mexican Independence Day also happens during the Festival (on September 16); so after the parade, music of Mexico will be featured in the evening.

The World Music Festival is a delightful dive into world culture. It includes not just music but dance lessons and performances; yoga and gong meditation; a movie that’s a Saharan Desert style homage to Prince’s “Purple Rain” and a global peace procession and picnic in Humboldt Park.

To really make these next two weeks special, consider pairing up your musical experiences with visits to many of the restaurants around Chicago that serve exquisite ethnic food. Immerse yourself in the world, right here in Chicago!



August is here; live it up!


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This year, Chicago is enjoying a near perfect summer: Not too hot, not too humid, not much rain – mainly temperatures in the 70’s and 80’s and mostly sunny days! And now it’s August, the most summery time of the year. Chicago is the perfect place to be during summer. If you don’t live in Chicagoland, visit us soon!

Native Chicagoans know summer is a short season. So if you’re a resident, every weekend of your calendar, and even some week nights or days off for a staycation, could be jam-packed with activities to make the most of it!

Get out there and socialize and get your exercise walking around, bicycling, dancing. Now is that rare time of year Northerners can actually absorb enough Vitamin D from sunshine. All this while gleaning the most out of life. Nighttime in Chicago is just as alive as daytime. There’s nothing like a perfect summer night when you can comfortably wear your sleeveless shirts outdoors all night until dawn.

Here is a list of FREE events and activities, most involving live music, food and drink. This will keep you busy for the rest of summer:

Through mid-August – The Grant Park Music Festival (classical) takes place in Millennium Park’s Pritzker Pavilion (through August 18) which also hosts the Millennium Park Summer Music Series (through August 21). This is like downtown Chicago’s answer to fancy Ravinia picnics for city folk; bring your food and drinks and relax on the lawn or grab the seats up front, while available.

Through September 4 – Navy Pier’s Miller Lite Beer Garden: Free live music with available food and drink (don’t bring your own alcoholic beverages; the police patrol Navy Pier heavily, and your drinks will be confiscated, along with your cooler). Fireworks happen every Wednesday and Saturday night. There are also free exercise classes, performances, special rotating exhibits, carnival rides and lots of beauty and good food to be enjoyed at the Pier. It’s Chicago’s #1 tourist destination. Join the crowd, at any time of year, to find out what the excitement is all about.

Through September 14, Wednesday through Sunday – If the idea of dancing under the stars to unique live music appeals to you, SummerDance is the place for you! It happens mainly at the Spirit of Music Garden in Grant Park but also at other locations throughout the city. Music from all over the world is featured, including dance lessons. Food and beverages (including alcohol) are available as well as chairs (but come early for those). If you haven’t been to SummerDance yet, make this summer the one!

Through September 26, Tuesday evenings – The Museum of Contemporary Art features Tuesdays on the Terrace with free live jazz shows plus museum admittance. Food and drink are available, but I recommend you bring your own. The lines are long for drinks and snacks which are pricey. The MCA also has farmers markets during the summer and fascinating productions year-round.

Through October 26 – Don’t miss Movies in the Parks; there are many movies happening throughout the city all summer and into autumn. While you’re at it, check out the schedule for varied, fascinating events produced by the City of Chicago at Night out in the Parks which take place throughout the year.

There are also many smaller festivals sprinkled throughout Chicago neighborhoods, far too numerous to mention here, but here’s a link to find them all and be where the action is.

Stand by for my next post about what’s happening at Chicago beaches, including the Chicago Air and Water Show. To stay up-to-the minute, subscribe to my blog so you won’t miss any of the fun!

Check out the links I’ve included above, making it easy to plan your calendar; and come autumn, instead of regretting that you didn’t make the most of summertime, you can look back with wonderful memories at the summer of ‘17.

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Lollapalooza Chicago – No excuses: Be there!

Lollapalooza hits Chicago this week. Don’t miss it! Here’s a list of excuses you’re not allowed to use in order to miss out on Lollapalooza:

  • You’re clearly not 20-something anymore and perhaps there’s no hiding it short of aesthetic procedures…But you really love music, especially live, and no matter what your age, that is never going to change! Age is irrelevant: You deserve this!
  • Maybe you cannot afford the pricey tickets; after all, not everyone can justify the expense. If it comes to a choice between keeping a roof over your head or spending the weekend at an unforgettable rock concert…Well, it’s a tough choice.
  • Perhaps you don’t relish crowds or being fenced in, the long lines waiting for something to drink, something to eat, or to relieve yourself. Keep reading for an alternate idea.
  • All the general admission tickets are already sold out…Well, obviously, there are ways to get tickets if you seriously intend to, sold out or not.
Lollapalooza Gate

Lollapalooza is an experience of a lifetime, and if you’ve a mind to attend, I hope you will. When a gal pal called me a few years back while groovin’ to Snoop Dogg’s performance up close and personal at Lollapalooza, I endured huge pangs of envy overhearing Snoop and his exuberant audience over the phone.

And when I opted to miss Golgol Bordello at Lollapalooza — my excuse was that it was during work hours — I regretted it ever since, especially after reading the reviews and seeing the pictures. I repeat: Do not chance missing Lollapalooza; eating your heart out forever after is no fun.

Many of the bands live stream their shows on YouTube. So one option that’s better than nothing is armchair Lollapalooza. We chose this option when Foo Fighters played in the pouring rain in 2011. Perhaps you could throw your own Lollapalooza house party while streaming Lollapalooza.

But better yet: If you live in the Chicago area, I encourage you to come on down and make the scene! We do this every year; We call it “poor man’s Lollapalooza,” however politically incorrect that may sound. If you live downtown, you’ve got no excuse not to try this. You will discover the outer circle is full of fun-loving revelers. You’re not smashed together with the crowd in front of the stage, but you can still hear the music just as well — maybe better, and certainly differently — and see the light shows and the musicians on the big screen or on stage (bring binoculars).

Memorable Highlights

  • When long-time heart-throb Billy Idol came to Lollapalooza in 2005 — the summer Lollapalooza came to Chicago and made its home here — a gal pal and I took blankets and a picnic over to Lake Shore Drive for the concert. It was surreal with the traffic whizzing by, and we felt a bit conspicuous — but we were not alone: Lots of folks were doing it.
  • Rage Against the Machine was here in 2008, and my husband and I walked over from our downtown abode. As we approached, we could hear the concert just starting as it echoed eerily off the buildings. It sounded surreal, even psychedelic. As we walked through the peaceful park, Zack de la Rocha’s voice cut through the crickets and cicadas with clarity. Walking behind the stage, we discovered that is the best place to hang out if you favor the bass! It reverberated through our bodies and made me feel more exited than a kid on parade day when the drummers march by. We wound our way over to Lake Shore Drive where we found we could see them on the big screen, not to mention the music was clear as it floated out over the lovely lakefront, especially those insane guitar leads and the drums beating out a rhythm that was nothing less than empowering.
  • Walking back from Lollapalooza with thousands of music fans is a high-energy rush. Once while walking home from Lollapalooza, the crowds behind us started vocalizing. The sound was like a wave that caught on and caught up to us and we joined in as the wave of sound continued ahead of us: An unforgettable experience!

Have the best experience possible

  • Lollapalooza is heavily-guarded. Don’t try to penetrate or scale the fences. Plenty of people have been hurt/arrested doing this. It’s not peace-and-love Woodstock. Security guards are right there waiting in the cover of darkness and bushes to take you down.
  • To do a Lollapalooza walk-around will require plenty of walking: The whole area will be fenced off from Monroe to Roosevelt Road and parts of Michigan Avenue to Lake Shore Drive. But look at it this way: What could be better than to be out walking on a summer night in beautiful downtown Chicago. Oh the sights you’ll see, the music you’ll hear, the party people you’ll hang out with in the park and along the lakefront!

    Perry’s Stage
  • Do your homework: See the schedule and map to find out what time and on what stage your favorite artist(s) will perform. Stay on the Michigan Avenue side, in Grant Park overlooking the train tracks, to best check out Perry’s Stage. Get over to Lake Shore Drive to experience the Grant Park Stage.
  • SummerDance is happening just adjacent to Lollapalooza on Michigan Avenue and Balbo. You can enjoy live free music there without any of the hassle.

You still have time to plan on Lollapalooza this year. There are so many great performers; here are some really popular ones (including links to their YouTube channels):

Thursday, August 3: Lorde, Porter Robinson, MUSE

Friday, August 4: Blink-182, DJ Snake, The Killers

Saturday, August 5: The xx, KASKADE, CHANCE THE RAPPER

Sunday, August 6: Justice, Zeds Dead, Arcade Fire

Maybe you’ll be one of the lucky insiders — or maybe we’ll meet you on the fringe. Either way, it’s all good at Lollapalooza.