Mayor Lightfoot’s New “Chicago In Tune” Music Festival Starts Thursday
City-supported “Chicago Presents” neighborhood events and new Blues Community Concerts are among the 575+ free and ticketed shows at 55 music venues through September 19
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Jamey Lundblad Jamey.Lundblad@cityofchicago.org
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CHICAGO—Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot and the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) today announced more details for the new “Chicago in Tune” music festival starting Thursday — including 36 more City-supported “Chicago Presents” neighborhood events and new Blues Community Concerts in the Bronzeville and Austin neighborhoods, on historic Record Row and in music clubs across the city. Chicago In Tune (August 19 – September 19) is a new citywide festival celebrating Chicago’s diverse and legendary music scene and the 2021 Year of Chicago Music. This month of music will bring together iconic neighborhood venues, presenting organizations and musicians from across the city to celebrate all music genres and forms — with 575+ free and ticketed shows at more than 55 venues. The festival is part of “Open Culture” — one component of the Mayor’s “Open Chicago” initiative to safely and fully reopen the city.
“You can try to define, categorize or pigeonhole it, but at the end of the day, there is no singular sound that encompasses Chicago’s music scene,” said Mayor Lightfoot. “This wide variety of music not only reverberates through and breathes life into every corner of our city, but it is highlighted and celebrated during incredible events like Chicago in Tune. I want to thank every musician, venue owner and music industry leader for participating in this timeless festival, remaining resilient in the face of this pandemic and partnering with us to safely Open Chicago.”
“Chicago is the city that knows how to strike a chord. It’s a city that knows how to find its harmony in the hustle. It’s a city where everyone knows how to move to their own beat, yet everyone comes together to play in the same key — the Key of Chicago,” said DCASE Commissioner Mark Kelly. “This year, we’re beating the drum for Chicago’s music industry by inviting all music lovers to experience new artists, styles and venues — from intimate settings to iconic outdoor stages. This truly is the Year of Chicago Music.”
Through Chicago Presents — an initiative of Arts77, Chicago’s arts recovery plan — DCASE, with lead support from the Walder Foundation, has awarded grants ranging from $5,000 – $30,000 to support 36 community events, August 15 – October 31. (Chicago Presents supported 16 community events, July 1 – August 14, in its first round of funding.) Chicago Presents provides funding for cultural programs that are helping Chicago neighborhoods rebuild, unify and heal from the COVID-19 pandemic — including free, in-person concerts, performances and community events that activate Chicago’s streets, plazas and parks. Many of these events will feature artists from the Chicago Band Roster, a new resource listing over 200 Chicago-based musicians of all genres — created for the Year of Chicago Music (Chicago.gov/Music). Highlights during Chicago In Tune include:
- Thirsty Ears Festival presented by Access Contemporary Music (August 14 & 15, acmusic.org), Uptown neighborhood
- Sounds Of Solidarity / El Sonido De La Solidaridad presented by Segundo Ruiz Belvis Cultural Center (August 14, segundoruizbelvis.org), Hermosa neighborhood
- The South East Performance Arts presented by The Stillwell Institute for Contemporary Black Art (August 21, thestillwellinstitute.org), Auburn Gresham neighborhood
- Sweet Home South Chicago presented by South Chicago Parents & Friends, Inc. (August 21, scpf-inc.org), South Chicago neighborhood
- Frida Festival presented by ARTE (August 21 & 22), Pilsen neighborhood
- Broadway in your Backyard presented by Porchlight Music Theatre (August 28, porchlightmusictheatre.org), North Lawndale neighborhood
- Feeling Groovy: A Celebration of Independent Record Labels in Chicago presented by The Hideout (August 26 & 28, September 15 & 22, hideoutchicago.com), Wicker Park Neighborhood
- 4th Annual Nu Jazz Pop Festival presented by Live the Spirit Residency (August 30, englewoodjazzfest.org), Englewood neighborhood
- 29th Ward 7th Annual Free Blues Fest presented by Isaac S. Carothers Youth and Senior Foundation (September 3), Austin neighborhood
- Rockwell Blues & Jazz Street Stroll presented by Delmark Records & Rockwell Business & Residents Association (September 4, delmark.com), Northcenter neighborhood
- PLUGGED-IN presented by Beverly Area Arts Alliance (September 4, beverlyarts.org), Morgan Park neighborhood
- Argyle Night Music presented by Uptown United (September 9, 16, 23 & 30, exploreuptown.org), Uptown neighborhood
- Dance Down by the River presented by Open the Circle (September 10, otcprojects.org), Chicago Riverwalk
- Englewood Music Fest presented by Englewood Arts Collective (September 18, englewoodartscollective.org), Englewood neighborhood
- We Austin presented by Juan & Only LLC (September 19, juanandonlyevents.com), Austin neighborhood
- D-Composed Family Edition presented by D-Composed Gives (September 19, dcomposed.com), East Garfield Park neighborhood
- 100 Years of Chicago Cabaret presented by Chicago Cabaret Professionals (September 19 & October 3, chicagocabaret.org), Bronzeville neighborhood
Other Chicago Presents neighborhood events taking place in late September and October include: Hyde Park Jazz Festival 2021 (September 25 & 26, hydeparkjazzfestival.org); Live from Haven Studios: Humanity is the Genre Festival presented by Guitars Over Guns’ Haven Studio (September 25, guitarsoverguns.org), 120 Project (September 26 & October 7, story7inc.com); Mid Autumn Moon Festival: A light and sound journey through Argyle Street (October 2, haibayo.com); Pullman Arts & Culture Festival (October 16 & 17, pullmanarts.org); and Unbound Sound at Comfort Station (October 23, fullspectrumfeatures.com).
As part of Chicago In Tune, DCASE and its partners will also host Blues Community Concerts (ChicagoBluesFestival.us) in the Bronzeville and Austin neighborhoods, on historic Record Row and in music venues across the city. See websites for performers and other details.
- Bronzeville Blues (August 29, 12–6:30pm) presented with Bronzeville Blues Collaborative in the neighborhood that is the cradle of classic Chicago Blues features live music at The Forum, 318-324 E. 43rd St.; The Checkerboard, 423 E. 43rd St. (original location); and Park 43, 540 E. 43rd St. Visit chicagobluesrevival.org.
- Music Lives Here: Record Row Series (August 29 and September 5, 12 & 19) at Chess Records Willie Dixon’s Blue Heaven Foundation, 2120 S. Michigan Ave., will offer tours (12–4pm; register in advance) and performances in the Willie Dixon’s Blues Heaven Garden (6–8:30pm). Visit bluesheaven.com.
- Chicago Blues Club City Tour (September 1 – September 6) co-presented by DCASE and CIVL (Chicago Independent Venue League) offering a free citywide blues club tour with 20 shows in 11 venues. Visit civlchicago.com.
- Soul City Blues – Austin (September 12, 12–8pm) at Chicago & Mayfield, celebrating the living legacy of Chicago Blues on the city’s West Side and The Soul City Corridor (Chicago Avenue in the Austin neighborhood), which focuses on guiding development of underutilized land with the goal of promoting Black culture, arts and entertainment, and seeking economic development, job creation and new development that serves neighborhood residents. This program is partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency.
Venues, organizations and artists may still submit Chicago In Tune events by visiting Do312.com/ChicagoInTune.
The public will find the most comprehensive listing of shows at Do312.com/ChicagoInTune — and event highlights in a festival guide inserted in the August 19 edition of the Chicago Reader.
Chicago In Tune Event Highlights:
Previously announced, following are details for Chicago In Tune programs presented or co-presented by DCASE — plus other special events, festivals and shows citywide.
Special events and festivals across the city include The Lyrical Lemonade Summer Smash in Douglass Park (August 20–22), Ruido Fest in Union Park (August 20–22), Auris Presents: All Day I Dream (August 21), Auris Presents: BUILT IN CHICAGO (August 22), Chosen Few DJs at Kennedy-King College (August 28), ARC Music Festival in Union Park (September 4 & 5), Pitchfork Music Festival Chicago in Union Park (September 10–12), Ear Taxi Festival (Spotlight Series: September 15–29) and Riot Fest in Douglass Park (September 17–19).
Free and ticketed events across Chicago in neighborhood clubs, concert halls and beyond will include: Hypnotic Brass Ensemble at The Promontory (August 19); Goodman Theatre presents Sones de México Ensemble’s “Zulema” in Chicago parks (August 19–21 and September 2); Water Colors with Junius Paul presented by Jazz Institute of Chicago in Polk Bros Park at Navy Pier (August 20); Thomas Comerford at The Hideout (August 21); Bluegrass Brunch at Beat Kitchen (August 21 & 28, September 4, 11 & 18); Pete Galanis and Friends featuring Dave Herrero at Rosa’s Lounge (August 24); Ohmme with Ganser at Thalia Hall (August 26); Kid A Performing ‘OK Computer’ in its entirety at Subterranean (August 28); Porchlight Music Theatre presents “Broadway in your Backyard” at CYC-Sidney Epstein Youth Center (August 28); Chicago Soul Jazz Collective featuring 2020 Esteemed Artist Award Winner Dee Alexander at Jazz Showcase (September 1 and 15); NEA Jazz Master Herbie Hancock opens the Symphony Center Presents Jazz series at Symphony Center (September 2); DJ All the Way Kay at Ace Hotel Chicago (September 2); 2021 Esteemed Artist Award Winner Billy Branch and the Sons of Blues, Joey J. Saye Trio at Reggies (September 3); and Lyric Opera of Chicago presents Verdi’s “Macbeth” at Lyric Opera House (September 17 and additional dates) — just to name a few.
As part of Chicago In Tune, DCASE will present new and reimagined programs in place of this year’s Gospel music, Jazz, House, and Blues festivals in Millennium Park. Four special evenings at Jay Pritzker Pavilion will honor music born and innovated in Chicago, presented by the Millennium Park Foundation: Gospel music (September 3), Jazz (September 4), House (September 11) and Blues (September 18) — all at 5:30–8:30pm, MillenniumPark.org. The September 3 Gospel music event — hosted by Jonathan McReynolds and Inspiration 1390’s Sonya Blakey and DeAndre Patterson — will include a special award to producer Sasha Daltonn and feature LaShon Brown; a celebratory music tribute to Rev. Dr. Clay Evans, Pastor Maceo Woods, and ArchBishop Lucius Hall featuring The Carson Sisters, Nicole Harris, and Illiana Torres; and The Tommies Reunion Choir. The Jazz event on September 4 is presented with the Jazz Institute of Chicago and features Ari Brown, Marquis Hill, and Lizz Wright. The September 11 House music celebration will feature “Sanitize Your Soul,” a debut Gospel House Choir collaboration between Mark Hubbard and DJ Terry Hunter. And the Blues event on September 18 is a celebration of the 50th Anniversary of Alligator Records with Lil’ Ed & The Blues Imperials, Nick Moss Band featuring Dennis Gruenling, Cash Box Kings with special guests, Shemekia Copeland, Billy Branch, and Wayne Baker Brooks.
Millennium Park summer programming will also include 10 genre-defying concerts at the iconic Jay Pritzker Pavilion as part of the Millennium Park Summer Music Series (Mondays, August 2 – September 13 at 6–8:30pm, and Thursdays, September 2–16 at 6–8:30pm, MillenniumPark.org). This year’s series is putting Chicago on stage — aligned with the City’s artist relief efforts and featuring a nearly all-Chicago lineup filled with debuts, new works, commissions and special collaborations. The series is also co-curated with a diverse group of Chicago venues, organizations and artists. Programs during Chicago in Tune are Preservation of Fire (August 23); Chicago Sinfonietta Presents: Afrodjia Social Club + Proximity (August 30); Zulema featuring Sones de México Ensemble (September 2); Contemporary Indigenous Voices featuring Leonard Sumner, Lyla June and Tall Paul (September 6); CIVL Summer Concert featuring Neal Francis and band with special guest headliner TBA (September 9); Angel Meléndez & the 911 Mambo Orchestra — Homenaje a la Salsa Boricua de Chicago (September 13); and GRAMMY® Legacies and Looking Ahead starring Eighth Blackbird with special guests TBA (September 16). Millennium Park Summer Music Series is presented by the Millennium Park Foundation with support from co-presenting partners BMO Harris Bank, Chicago Free for All Fund, Lloyd A. Fry Foundation, Northern Trust and In Honor of the Massey Scholars of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. DCASE programming is supported by the Chicago Transit Authority.
The 2021 season of Grant Park Music Festival features 21 classical music concerts at the iconic Jay Pritzker Pavilion — including (during Chicago In Tune) Mozart Violin Concerto No. 3 (Friday, August 20 & Saturday, August 21 at 6:30–8pm, gpmf.org).
Special music events at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion during Chicago In Tune include “Sunday in the Park with Lyric's Rising Stars” (August 29 at 6–8pm, lyricopera.org) and “Baroque in the Park” presented by Music of the Baroque (September 10 at 6:30–8pm, baroque.org).
Special music events throughout Millennium Park include a free, outdoor event presented by the Joan W. and Irving B. Harris Theater for Music and Dance (harristheaterchicago.org): “INTERPLAY” curated with composer, trumpet player, and multi-instrumentalist Sam Trump on the Harris Theater Rooftop (August 22). “Sonic Pavilion Festival” (August 22 & 31, September 7 & 14, ess.org) is a series of 30-channel sound installations commissioned by Experimental Sound Studio for the overhead trellis loudspeaker array at Jay Pritzker Pavilion. The result is an immersive canopy of sound.
This summer, DCASE and the Millennium Park Foundation are pleased to present two films in Millennium Park, on its state- of-the-art, 40-foot LED screen — including (during Chicago In Tune) “The Wiz” (1978, G) on Tuesday, August 24 at 6pm.
Chicago SummerDance in the Parks (ChicagoSummerDance.org) returns in-person this summer, presented with the Chicago Park District. Dancers of all ages and skill levels are invited to take part in family and creative activities from 4:30–5:30pm and introductory dance lessons by professional instructors followed by live music and dancing from 5:30–7:30pm except where noted. Events during Chicago in Tune feature Steppin’ at Ogden Park (August 25), Line Dancing at Palmer Park (September 1), Cumbia at Davis Square Park (September 8), House at Rainbow Beach Park (September 12; Note the time: 1–6pm) and Salsa at Portage Park (September 15).
House City (ChicagoHouseMusicFestival.us) is a new, 10-part series of free events throughout the summer in neighborhoods that helped create the House music genre over 35 years ago. Events during Chicago in Tune are popping up in Englewood (August 28, 12–7pm featuring Chosen Few DJs — presented as part of the Protect Chicago Music Series); in South Shore (September 12, 1–6pm); and in Bronzeville (September 19, 3–9pm). This program is partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency.
Just announced as the fourth Protect Chicago Music Series concert, ¡Súbelo! (Chicago.gov/PCMS) is a celebration of Latinx music and culture (September 4, 1–9pm) at Harrison Park, 1824 S. Wood St. One of two events in the park over the weekend, this free concert on Saturday will only be open to Chicago residents age 18 and up with a ticket who are fully vaccinated by August 21. ¡Súbelo! is presented by the Chicago Department of Public Health, DCASE, the Chicago Park District and Pilsen Fest; lineup TBA.
Chicago City Markets (ChicagoCityMarkets.us) presented by Humana include the historic Maxwell Street Market (MaxwellStreetMarket.us) on 1st and 3rd Sundays at 9am–3pm with a special Jazz Music Celebration featuring James Sanders & Conjunto + Herbsaint (September 5) and a special Blues Music Celebration with Low-Reen & the Maxwell Street Market Blues Band + Fruteland Jackson (September 19).
Music in the Key of Chicago “Sounds of the Riverwalk” is a new eight-week music series featuring musicians from the Chicago Band Roster. These free, public performances start on August 22 and will continue every Sunday at 1pm at the Confluence, located between Lake St. and Franklin St. on the Chicago Riverwalk (ChicagoRiverwalk.us). Visit our website for the full schedule.
Also on the Chicago Riverwalk, Art on theMART (ArtontheMART.com) continues to project its summer program nightly at 9 & 9:30pm including three new commissions in alignment with the Year of Chicago Music (through September 16): Footnotes, Wills Glasspiegel and Brandon K. Calhoun; the light of the dark, Eighth Blackbird and Xuan; and Woven, Spectralina.
Music Lives Here (MusicLivesHere.site), a multi-media project by DCASE, graphic art studio Sonnenzimmer and Maya Bird-Murphy of Chicago Mobile Makers, pays tribute to the spaces, places and people that have shaped Chicago’s music landscape, past and present. Launching on August 29, Music Lives Here will take the form of unique graphic sidewalk markers installed at 50 sites across Chicago, an accompanying website to provide a further window into the background of each site, a print publication and pop-up performances.
DCASE’s Professional Development Program Series has been restructured in response to the critical needs of the creative community. It aims to support free programs that increase access to training, education and opportunities for emerging artists and small businesses. In 2021, grants were awarded to 23 professional development providers. During the Chicago In Tune festival, workshops for musicians and other artists will be presented by South Side Jazz Coalition (southsidejazzcoalition.org), Lora Branch (lorabranch.com), Next Showcase Chicago (nextshowcaseusa.com) and 2112/Center for Creative Entrepreneurship (2112inc.com).
DCASE programming is supported by the Chicago Transit Authority.
In partnership with Choose Chicago and marketing agency FCB, Chicago has unveiled its first ever music brand, “Music in the Key of Chicago.” Leveraging this new brand positioning, Choose Chicago is launching a major regional and national marketing campaign. DCASE and the local music industry are developing a local awareness campaign that includes digital billboards, advertising on CTA trains and busses, advertising at O’Hare, radio, community and minority-owned media and more.
The Year of Chicago Music is co-chaired by Commissioner Mark Kelly alongside Margaret Murphy-Webb, Juan Díes, Juan Teague and Che “Rhymefest” Smith. The ambitious effort is led by a steering committee, an intergovernmental group and 12 working groups focused on venues and clubs, festivals and special events, youth and education, equity and diversity, marketing and more. Over 200 individuals have volunteered to serve on these working groups and committees, representing more than 150 music organizations, entrepreneurs and individual artists. DCASE has supported over 80 music organizations granting more than $1 million in general operating and project support — and provided over $500,000 in individual grants to 130 artists in 2020 and 2021. As part of the 2021 Individual Artists Program, DCASE granted half of its 13 Esteemed Artist Awards to local musicians: Afinca’o, Jeff Baraka, Billy Branch, Joelle Lamarre, Vivian McConnell, Matt Ulery and Wanees Zarour. For updates, visit Chicago.gov/Music and YearofChicagoMusic.org and join the conversation on social media using #YearofChicagoMusic and #ChicagoInTune.
The 2020/2021 Year of Chicago Music follows the success of the City’s 2017, 2018 and 2019 initiatives, which highlighted Chicago’s public art, creative youth and its vibrant theatre scene. This year’s mission is to place a spotlight on Chicago’s music landscape — one of the most influential and dynamic musical sectors on the globe — highlighting its legacy, expanding its audience and strengthening the sector.
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Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events
The Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) is dedicated to enriching Chicago’s artistic vitality and cultural vibrancy. This includes fostering the development of Chicago’s non-profit arts sector, independent working artists and for-profit arts businesses; providing a framework to guide the City’s future cultural and economic growth, via the Chicago Cultural Plan; marketing the City’s cultural assets to a worldwide audience; and presenting high-quality, free and affordable cultural programs for residents and visitors. For more information, visit chicago.gov/dcase.