By Philip Vidal
This will be a terrific summer for music lovers… especially for those of us who are baby boomers.
“Exhibitionism,” an exhibit of Rolling Stones artifacts, continues at Navy Pier’s Festival Hall through July 30. The Stones have several Chicago connections. They were inspired by Chicago blues. The album cover for their “Some Girls” (which I purchased when it was released in 1978) is a take-off on an ad for Valmor Product Company, a Chicago beauty and wig company. The album cover was blown up to life-size for an exhibition, “Love for Sale: The Graphic Art of Valmor Products,” at the Chicago Cultural Center in 2015. Lead singer Mike Jagger said, “One of our best memories of Chicago was recording at Chess Records in June 1964.” Oh, how I wish the historic building that housed Chess Records until 1967 on Chicago’s Motor Row on South Michigan Avenue could become a museum dedicated to Chicago’s important place in the music world.
If you would rather experience live music, we have an abundance of concerts this month:
- U2 is at Soldier Field, June 3. U2 is to play “The Joshua Tree” album in its entirety, which I bought when it was released, to mark its 30th anniversary.
- Elvis Costello & The Imposters is at Northerly Island, June 12 (“This Year’s Model” and “Armed Forces” are a couple of my favorite albums which I bought – all on vinyl – when they were released in 1978).
- Four Voices – Joan Baez, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Indigo Girls, Amy Ray and Emily Saliers are at the Chicago Theatre, June 11.
- Paul Simon is at Northerly Island, June 14.
- Don Henley, founding member of the Eagles, is at Northerly Island, June 17.
- King Crimson is at the Chicago Theatre, June 28.
- Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers kick off Wrigley Field’s summer concert series June 29.
If you prefer classical, country, electronic, pop, soul, jazz or blues:
- Ravinia Festival from June 3-September 17. The oldest outdoor music festival in the U.S. covers just about every musical style. June highlights include Willie Nelson (June 16), the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin (June 17) and the Juilliard String Quartet (June 20).
- Rush Hour Concerts June 6-August 29. These are free classical music performances on Tuesday evenings at St. James Cathedral, 65 E. Huron Street.
- North Shore Chamber Music Festival from June 7-10 at the Village Presbyterian Church, 1300 Shermer Road, Northbrook. It will include performances by the Escher String Quartet and the ProMusica Chamber Orchestra of Columbus, Ohio.
- Chicago Blues Festival June 9-11. The world’s largest free blues festival is at its new location in Millennium Park.
- Spring Awakening Music Festival also from June 9-11. An electronic music festival is at Addams/Medill Park on the Near West Side.
- “Barbra and Frank: The Concert That Never Was” is at the Paramount Theatre in Aurora, June 11.
- Pink Martini will perform at Symphony Center on June 12. Owner of the eponymous store “Ikram” and Chicago’s own high priestess of fashion, Ikram Goldman, will sing and her twin boys could play four-hand.
- Tuesdays on the Terrace June 13-September 26, are free live outdoor jazz performances by Chicago jazz musicians at the John and Anne Kern Terrace Garden at the Museum of Contemporary Art.
- The Grant Park Music Festival June 14-August 19. A series of free concerts at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park is a summer tradition for many.
- The Country LakeShake Festival from June 23-25 at Northerly Island will include country stars Miranda Lambert and Rascal Flatts.
Even some of June’s benefits are related to music. Music of the Baroque’s A Musical Feast Gala Benefit honoring executive director Karen Fishman, who is retiring after eighteen seasons heading the MOB, will be on June 2 at the Fairmont Chicago. Opera star and creative consultant at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Renée Fleming, is the first recipient of the Creative Voice Award at the Arts Alliance Illinois luncheon at the Palmer House Hilton on June 8. Janelle Monáe will perform at the “MCA Artedge: 50” gala on June 3 which celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Museum of Contemporary Art and the opening of the exhibition “Takashi Murakami: The Octopus Eats His Own Leg.” The exhibition opens to the public on June 6. Chicago Shakespeare Theater will celebrate its 30th anniversary season with GALA 17 on June 9 at their theater on Navy Pier.
One of the most famous scenes in “My Fair Lady” is set at Royal Ascot. Although “My Fair Lady” at the Lyric Opera closed May 21, the Chicago branch of the English-Speaking Union is holding its annual Ascot Ball on June 17. The real thing, Royal Ascot, is June 20-24.
I mentioned a few of this summer’s many music festivals, but do not forget the many farmer’s markets that seem to go into full gear in June. There are over two-hundred farmer’s markets found across the Chicago area, and some have already started. But, it is not summer until my local favorite, the Streeterville Organization of Active Residents (SOAR) farmer’s market on Tuesdays in front of the Museum of Contemporary Art begins on June 6.
A true Chicago classic, “The Blues Brothers,” kicks off the free Millennium Park Summer Film Series at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion on June 13. Another free summer film series, Music Box Theatre Movies at the Park, starts with another classic Chicago movie, “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” at the Park at Wrigley on June 14.
June 8 is the 150th anniversary of architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s birth. In celebration of that anniversary and the nearly completed restoration of Wright’s Unity Temple in Oak Park, the Unity Temple Restoration Foundation will host an open house on June 17. Once the restoration is complete, the Frank Lloyd Wright Trust will offer tours. Wright was not only an architect, but he was also a dealer who sold Japanese prints. See some of those prints at The Art Institute of Chicago’s “The Formation of the Japanese Print Collection at the Art Institute of Chicago: Frank Lloyd Wright and the Prairie School.” It is a beautiful show that also includes photos of a Wright designed installation, through July 9. If you’re making a trip to the Big Apple, “Frank Lloyd Wright at 150: Unpacking the Archive” will be at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, opening June 12 through October 1. Surprises from the archive were a model and a rendering of the Guggenheim Museum in beige and hot-pink, respectively. White was the better choice.
Chicago has a rich theater scene. The best of Chicago’s non-equity theater community will be fêted on June 5 at this year’s Non-Equity Jeff Awards at the Athenaeum Theatre. I mentioned the local theater group Hell in a Handbag Productions in my last column. Its co-founder and artistic director, David Cerda, will receive the 2017 Non-Equity Special Jeff Award, not only for his theatrical achievements, but for his philanthropic endeavors as well. Theo Ubique seems to get the lion’s share of the Non-Equity Jeff Awards every year. I saw their superb Jacques Brel revue in 2008. “Jacques Brel’s Lonesome Losers of the Night” returns to Theo Ubique at the No Exit Café (June 15 – August 6). I saw Black Ensemble Theater’s hit, “My Brother’s Keeper: The Story of the Nicholas Brothers,” in March. It looks like this Uptown theater troupe has another hit on their hands. “Black Pearl: A Tribute to Josephine Baker” about the expat entertainer and “It” girl of Paris in the 1920s and 1930s, the production runs through June 25.
I know that it might be difficult to think about hockey at this time of the year, but Chicago hosted the NCAA Frozen Four men’s hockey championship in April at the United Center and will be hosting the National Hockey League (which is celebrating its centennial this year) draft at the United Center, June 23-24.