Tag: United Center

About the Town in July





By Philip Vidal


The full reopening of Chicago was originally planned for July 4, but Mayor Lightfoot moved the date up to June 11.  Still, as compared to one year ago, this 4th of July will truly mark independence from COVID-19 restrictions.

The Grant Park Music Festival

So many festivals are reemerging.   The Grant Park Music Festival returns to Millennium Park from July 2-Augu Pst 21.  Millennium Park is also the venue for “ABT Across America,” a free, live performance by American Ballet Theatre presented by the Auditorium Theatre on July 8.  The 30th edition of the four-day music festival Lollapalooza returns to Grant Park from July 29-August 1.

The Ravinia Festival, the oldest outdoor music festival in the United States, and the summer home to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO), reopens this month. Ravinia’s Women’s Board hosts “The Music Shines on Gala: Light the Night at Ravinia” to support of Ravinia’s “Reach Teach Play” program on July 18.  I’m looking forward to July 13, when the CSO announces their programming for the fall.  CSO music director Riccardo Muti’s 80th birthday is July 28.  Tanti auguri!

Movies in Grant Park

Night Out in the Parks” continues through October at over one hundred parks across Chicago and includes events, performances, and “Movies in the Parks.” The first of the movies coincides with the opening of the Cannes Film Festival, which this year is July 6-17.  If a trip to Cannes isn’t in the cards, then Chicago’s lakefront can be a stand-in for the Côte d’Azur. Watch one of the free outdoor movies in the “Water Flicks” series in Polk Bros. Park at Navy Pier beginning July 8.

The Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival’s annual “The Living Room Tour” fundraiser moves outdoors this year to three diverse venues:  an urban garden in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood; a suburban English garden on the grounds of a Tudor-style home in Glencoe; and farmland near Lake Geneva, Wisconsin.  The work of the three featured professional puppeteers will be just as diverse as the venues.  In addition to the performances, the fundraiser, from July 15-17, also includes food and beverages.

James Taylor will be at United Center on July 29.

Outdoor art festivals, summer in Chicago is a celebration of good food.  The Taste of Chicago was replaced last year by ameTaste of Chicago To-Go.   It returns this year from July 7-11 with special events city-wide.  This year the Chicago location for the James Beard Foundation’s national Taste America® culinary series is Frontier Restaurant, on July 13.  Perhaps the first street/outdoor food festival of the season is the Windy City Smokeout at the United Center’s Parking Lot C from July 8-11. The Windy City Smokeout is also an outdoor music festival with a terrific line-up of country performers.   The first concert in the United Center this year is on July 29 with James Taylor.

The Windy City Smokeout reminds me that the Union Stock Yards closed fifty years ago, on July 30, 1971, and that Carl Sandburg’s famous moniker for Chicago is “hog butcher for the world.”

Race to Mackinac is  July 16

The Chicago Yacht Club’s 112th  Race to Mackinac is July 16.  The Chicago Auto Show is normally held in February, when static is a hazard when touching anything metallic, and opening a car door can be a shocking experience.   This year, the only shock may be price of a new car.   The 113th Chicago Auto Show is now July 15-19 at McCormick Place.  It’s the first major exposition at McCormick Place since the pandemic.

If you prefer planes to cars, then head to Oshkosh, Wisconsin, for what’s billed as “The World’s Greatest Aviation Experience.”  The Experimental Aircraft Association’s AirVenture Oshkosh 2021 is July 26-August 1.   The Games of the XXXII Olympiad in Tokyo, Japan, are set to start July 23.  If just the thought of watching the Olympics is too strenuous, then head to the Elmhurst Art Museum for Par Excellence Redux: The Front 9,  from July 7-Sept 16, to play a round of miniature golf on a course designed by artists.  Come back on October 13, when a new course, Par Excellence: The Back 9, opens, designed by a new group of artists.

Congratulations to the National Museum of Mexican Art in Pilsen, which reopens July 1, and which received an $8 million unrestricted donation, their largest ever, from MacKenzie Scott and Dan Jewett.  Chicago’s John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, one of the largest philanthropic foundations, supports many worthwhile causes, including funding the MacArthur Fellows Program, aka the “genius grant.”   The program turns forty this year and several venues are commemorating its anniversary.

Mark Bradford is one of the artists participating in the Smart Museum of Art’s city-wide group exhibition beginning July 15.

The Smart Museum of Art at the University of Chicago presents a city-wide group exhibition” from July 15-19. Mark Bradford is one of the artists participating.  Nora Lambert, a MacArthur fellow, curated an exhibition “Love, Lust, and Loss in Renaissance Europe“ that closed last month.  One of the other participating venues in “Towards a Common Cause” is the Museum of Contemporary Photography, which is 

The Walder Foundation’s Chicago Takes 10 virtual performance series showcases and supports Chicago’s diverse artists and organizations.  “Arts + Public Life” on July 8 is the next performance in the series from Arts + Public Life, a project by UChicago Arts to foster ties between the University of Chicago and the South Side.

Outdoor arts festivals are also back.   The Southport Art Fest is July 10-11.   The Mercury Theater Chicago on Southport celebrates its reopening that weekend with an open house at its Venus Cabaret.   Most likely the first theater to open downtown is Teatro ZinZanni.  It reopens July 8.

The Goodman Theatre’s “Live” series of real-time, online plays concludes with one by my favorite Chicago-based playwright.  Ike Holter’s new play “I Hate it Here” streams July 15-18.  The Goodman’s first play with live audiences is Jocelyn Bioh’s “School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Play,” Goodman Theatre running July 30-August 29.

The Goodman Theatre’s first play with a live audience begins July 30.

Not everything is reopening.  Just a block east from the Goodman Theatre, Chicago’s most iconic street, State Street, will close to traffic from Lake Street to Madison on select Sundays in July, August and September starting July 11 for the Chicago Loop Alliance’s “Sundays on State.” Think of it as a block party for the entire city.

And just a few blocks east of State Street, the Grant Park Music Festival hosts its annual Independence Day Salute concert on July 2 and 3.  The concert ends with Tchaikovsky’s rousing “1812 Overture” and John Philip Sousa’s “Stars and Stripes Forever.”  A lot to look forward to, and August promises to be just as exciting.



Dates, times, locations and availability are subject to change.  Please stay healthy and safe and keep up with the latest COVID-19 information and guidelines.


About the Town in June






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.