New Citywide “Chicago In Tune” Festival will Celebrate City’s Diverse and Legendary Music Scene and the 2021 Year of Chicago Music — As Chicago’s Cultural Scene Reopens

July 21, 2021

Highlights include new “Music Lives Here” historical markers and Record Row concerts; workshops for musicians; Rock, Hip-Hop, House and Latinx music fests in neighborhood parks; and Gospel, Jazz, House and Blues concerts at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion


CHICAGO—Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot and the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) today announced more details for “Chicago In Tune” (August 19 – September 19), 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 hundreds of free and ticketed events at dozens of venues. The festival is part of “Open Culture” — just one component of the Mayor’s “Open Chicago” initiative to safely and fully reopen the city.

“Our city is our music — heard and felt in every church, club, park, dance hall, bar, concert venue and sidewalk in every corner of our city,” said Mayor Lightfoot. “I want to thank each and every City, arts, community and business leader who partnered with us to Open Chicago during this Year of Chicago Music — as well as our very own residents, whose diligence in following public health guidance has allowed our city’s rich, diverse and legendary cultural scene to bounce back and become more resilient than ever before.”

DCASE will present four special evenings at Jay Pritzker Pavilion presented by the Millennium Park Foundation honoring music born and innovated in Chicago: Gospel music (September 3), Jazz (September 4), House (September 11) and Blues (September 18) — detailed below. Other 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) and Riot Fest in Douglass Park (September 17–19) — plus professional development workshops for musicians and a new “Music Lives Here” public art initiative (detailed below). Previously announced City-sponsored events include Millennium Park summer programming and community events such as Chicago SummerDance in the Parks; the new House City series; ¡Súbelo!, a celebration of Latinx music and culture in the Pilsen neighborhood; and music at Maxwell Street Market.

“Chicago’s arts landscape has been devastated by the pandemic, but I’m excited to see our talented musicians, music clubs, concert halls and festivals come back to life and energize Chicago,” said DCASE Commissioner Mark Kelly. “During this 2021 Year of Chicago Music, our Chicago In Tune festival will emerge as a joyous month-long celebration of Chicago’s amazing music scene. The arts have suffered greatly, but culture is coming back to Chicago — big time.”

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.

Venues, organizations and artists may still submit Chicago In Tune events by visiting

The public will find the most comprehensive listing of events at — and event highlights in a festival guide inserted in the August 19 edition of the Chicago Reader.

Following are details for Chicago In Tune programs presented or co-presented by DCASE.



Music Lives Here (, a multi-media project by DCASE, Chicago graphic art studio Sonnenzimmer and Maya Bird-Murphy of Chicago Mobile Makers, will pay 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.

The project’s accompanying Music Lives Here: Record Row Concert Series will include outdoor performances in Willie Dixon’s Blues Garden and tours of Willie Dixon’s Blues Heaven Foundation (2120 S. Michigan Ave.). Events are 12–8:30pm with special musical tributes at 6–8:30pm featuring Joe Pratt and The Source One Band (August 29), Sheryl Youngblood (September 5), Vino Louden Band (September 12) and a John Primer duo performance (September 19).

Historical markers along Chicago’s iconic Record Row will include Chess Records (2120 S. Michigan Ave. and 320 E. 21st St.), Constellation Records (1421 S. Michigan Ave.), Jerry Butler's Songwriters Works (1402 S. Michigan Ave.), One-derful Records (1827 S. Michigan Ave.) and Vee-jay Records and Brunswick Records (1449 S. Michigan Ave.).



DCASE’s Professional Development Program Series has been restructured in response to the critical needs of the creative community. It now 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. Events during Chicago in Tune include:

  • August 19 at 6pm, August 21 at 2–4:30pm, August 28 at 12pm, August 30 at 3pm, August 31 at 3pm and September 4 at 2pm: Mind, Body, Soul and Music: Musician Seminars — presented by South Side Jazz Coalition (
  • August 21 at 3–9pm: Still Rising: A Forum for Queer Women DJs, Producers and Their Allies — presented by Lora Branch (
  • September 9 at 7pm: What You Need to Know About Releasing Music — presented by Next Showcase Chicago (
  • September 14 at 7–8:30pm: Club Creative — presented by 2112/Center for Creative Entrepreneurship (



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. The September 3 Gospel music event — hosted by Jonathan McReynolds and Inspiration 1390’s Sonya Blakely and DeAndre Patterson — will 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 — made possible in part by the Millennium Park Foundation — 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, 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. Events during Chicago in Tune:

  • August 23: Preservation of Fire with Natural Information Society + Drum Divas. Co-Curated with Alejandro Ayala aka King Hippo
  • August 30: Afrodjia Social Club + Proximity | Underground art cool meets nightlife in an experiential multidisciplinary performance by DJ Sadie Woods and friends, exploring traditions of spacemaking through diasporic music and culture + The Silver Room and Connect Gallery present Proximity — a sonic study of time and space and its relationship to influence featuring bassist Micah Collier & Electec.
  • September 2: Zulema | On a spectacular musical journey of many thousands of miles — from her Chiapas home in Mexico to Chicago — young Zulema zig zags through the culturally diverse landscapes of her homeland and our fair city along the way. Exhilarating regional music and dance from the Grammy-nominated Sones de México Ensemble make a joyous event for the whole family.
  • September 6: Contemporary Indigenous Voices feat. Leonard Sumner, Lyla June and Tall Paul | Representing different nations from the U.S. and Canada, these contemporary Indigenous performers re-imagine what is possible for Indigenous music with a one-of-a-kind performance rooted in cultures and artistry that are older than America; co-curated with artist Frank Waln.
  • September 9: CIVL Summer Concert feat. Neal Francis and band with special guest headliner TBA | This CIVL (Chicago Independent Venue League) summer concert at Millennium Park aims to showcase diverse local talent appearing on various stages around Chicago on any given night. Special guest collaborations will combine local acts, rarely on stage together, to create multi-sensory, original works.
  • September 13: Angel Meléndez & the 911 Mambo Orchestra — Homenaje a la Salsa Boricua de Chicago | Angel Melendez is a Grammy-nominated Chicago composer, arranger, instructor and trombonist. Inspired by Chicago record label Numero Group’s 2011 release of “Cult Cargo: La Salsa Boricua de Chicago,” this special DCASE commission pays homage to the golden era of Chicago’s emerging Salsa scene of the late 60s and 70s with new arrangements and featuring many original musicians from the period.
  • September 16: Grammy Legacies — Eighth Blackbird with special guests TBA | The Chicago Chapter of the Recording Academy celebrates 60 years of supporting Chicago musicians; starring Eighth Blackbird with special guests to be announced.

The 2021 season of Grant Park Music Festival will feature 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 6:30–8 p.m., featuring the Grant Park Orchestra and Chorus; Carlos Kalmar, conductor; Christopher Bell, chorus director; Vadim Gluzman, violin; and David Govertsen, bass-baritone.

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 ( “INTERPLAY” curated with composer, trumpet player, and multi-instrumentalist Sam Trump on the Harris Theater Rooftop (August 22). “Sonic Pavilion” (August and September, is a series of sound installations commissioned by Experimental Sound Studio for the overhead trellis loudspeaker array at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion. Compositions utilize the entire surface of the trellis’s 60-channel system, resulting in an immersive canopy of sound — a fluid sonic architecture that bridges the focus of a live performance and the majesty of the surrounding cityscape.

Special music events at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion during Chicago In Tune include “Baroque in the Park” presented by Music of the Baroque (September 10 at 6:30–8pm,

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. Rained out when it was screened as part of the 2019 Summer Film Series, this American musical adventure fantasy is presented to celebrate the 2021 Year of Chicago Music.



Chicago SummerDance in the Parks ( returns 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:

  • August 25: Steppin’ at Ogden Park (6500 S. Racine Ave.) featuring DJ Mellow Khris, dance instruction by Majestic Gents
  • September 1: Line Dancing at Palmer Park (201 E. 111th St.) featuring DJ Chico, dance instruction by Fre2Dance
  • September 8: Cumbia at Davis Square Park (4430 S. Marshfield Ave.) featuring Quinto Imperio, dance instruction by Back of the Yards Neighborhood Council Ballet Folklorico — presented with Back of the Yards Neighborhood Council
  • September 12 (Note the time: 1–6pm): House at Rainbow Beach Park (3111 E. 77th St.) featuring DJs Torin Edmond, Rae Chardonnay and DJ Kobe One Kenobi; hosted by Ronda Flowers and Dana Divine; dance instruction by Boogie McClarin — presented as part of the House City series
  • September 15: Salsa at Portage Park (4100 N. Long Ave.) featuring Chicago Latin Groove, dance instruction by Latin Street

House City ( is a new, 10-part series of free events popping up throughout the summer in the neighborhoods that helped create the House music genre over 35 years ago. Events during Chicago in Tune:

  • August 28 in Englewood (Kennedy-King College, 6301 S. Halsted St.), 12–7pm featuring Chosen Few DJs — presented as part of the Protect Chicago Music Series | Please note: This event is open only to Chicago residents age 18 and up who are fully vaccinated by August 14.
  • August 29 in Lakeview (3737 N. Clark St.), 3–9pm with DJs Derrick Carter, Dj Heather, Michael Serafini, Celeste Alexander, Garrett David and more — presented in partnership with SmartBar & Gramaphone Records
  • September 12 in South Shore (Rainbow Beach Park, 3111 E. 77th St.), 1–6pm with DJs Torin Edmond, Rae Chardonnay and DJ Kobe One Kenobi; hosted by Ronda Flowers and Dana Divine; dance instruction with Boogie McClarin — presented as part of Chicago SummerDance in the Parks
  • September 19 in Bronzeville (location TBA), 3–9pm with DJs Mike Dunn, Daryll Mellowman and JStar; hosted by TheWayWeWere — presented in partnership with Renaissance


¡Súbelo! ( is September 4 in the Pilsen neighborhood — a celebration of Latinx music and culture; lineup TBA.

Chicago City Markets ( presented by Humana include the historic Maxwell Street Market ( on 1st and 3rd Sundays at 9am–3pm with a special Jazz Music Celebration featuring James Sanders & Conjunto on September 5 and a special Blues Music Celebration with Low-Reen & the Maxwell Street Market Blues Band on September 19.

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. For updates, visit and 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