Guide To: Taste Of Chicago Music Festivals

June 22, 2011 2:00 PM

Grant Park
Michigan Ave. & Congress Dr.
Chicago, Il 60604
Illinois Lottery Taste Stage
June 24th – July 3rd
Explore Chicago: Taste of Chicago

Many of you summer music lovers may have noticed the recent disappearances of some of your favorite music festivals in the city of Chicago. Unfortunately, more than a few festivals have been combined and thrown into Taste of Chicago. So the city can, you know, save money. Who doesn’t love to save money? My grandma, a purveyor of coupons, loves it when people save money. And she’s a swell woman. Grandmothers and coupons aside, this change, questionable as it may seem, should lead to a very interesting, diverse and fun Taste of Chicago. Here’s a preview of what your ears should expect while exploring Grant Park this June and July.

Viva! Latin Music Day

Friday, June 24th

Old Town School of Folk Music recommends you shake your booty to Angel d’Cuba, former lead singer of Cuban band Mezcla, on stage at 2:40 p.m. Stick around till 6:40 p.m. and continue dancing to Orquesta Bambu, who create good beats for everyone – even those without rhythm.

Other performers: Guitarra Azul (on stage at 12:00 p.m.), Jose Valdes & The Mambo Allstars (1:20 p.m.), Freddy Kenton, Jr. & La Dynastia (4:00 p.m.), and 2012 (5:20 p.m.).

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Rock/Pop Day

Saturday, June 25th

Archie Powell & the Exports aren’t out to swindle or trick you into liking their music with cheaply chic sounds, they just want to play solid, well written songs. Check out their legitimate intentions at 2:40 p.m. If you’re looking for ear candy, check out Yeah Dude’s happy, synth-rock, on stage at 1:20 p.m.

Other performers: St8 of Grace (12:00 p.m.), Jon Drake & the Shakes (4:00 p.m.), Empires (5:20 p.m.), and California Wives (6:40 p.m.).

Gospel Music Day

Sunday, June 26th

Get ready to clap and sing along with the Brown Sisters (on stage at 1:20 p.m.), who reach out to their fans with all the energy they can muster. End the night right with the Chicago American Gospel Quartet (on stage at 6:40 p.m.), made up of a long list of talented musicians and singers from some of the best bands in Chicago.

Other performers: Mahalia Jackson Centennial Salute (12:00 p.m.), Dr Abertina Walker Tribute (2:40 p.m.), The Nichols Sisters (4:00 p.m.), and Chicago’s Next (5:20 p.m.).

World Music day

Monday, June 27th

I don’t know what Gypsy Surf music is, but you better bet I’d listen to it. If you’re as adventurous as I am, check out Lamajamal at 2:40 p.m. If you’re more in the mood for some tunes from the Polish highlands, then set yourself in front of the stage at 1:20 p.m. for Megitza Quartet.

Other performers: Black Bear Combo (12:00 p.m.), Mar Caribe (4:00 p.m.), Mas Trueno (5:20 p.m.), and Funkadesi (6:40 p.m.).

Singer/Songwriter Day

Tuesday, June 28th

Nothing beats good, solid, original songwriting from the likes of artists like Jessica Lea Mayfield, on stage at 6:40 p.m. Or check out Briar Rabbit, who creates easy, indie-pop sounds you’ll love (on stage at 1:20 p.m.).

Other performers: Nina Ferraro (12:00 p.m.), Karlye Lapetina (2:40 p.m.), Jessica Robbins (4:00 p.m.), and Chris Gelbuda (5:20 p.m.).

Variety Day

June 30th & July 2nd

Two variety days mix things up to keep everything nice and loose this year. Check out White Mystery on June 30th at 4:00 p.m., a fun, fast paced, garage rock brother and sister duo. Or check out the Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young tribute band, Marrakesh Express, on July 2nd at 5:20 p.m.

Performers on June 30th: Steelin’ Jazz (12:00 p.m.), Black Slang (1:20 p.m.), Shining Star (2:40 p.m.), KTP Band (5:20 p.m.), and Generationals (6:40 p.m.).

Performers on July 2nd: Chicago Yestet (12:00 p.m.), JT & The Clouds (1:20 p.m.), Tommy McCracken (2:40 p.m.), The Congregation (4:00 p.m.), and Gold Motel (6:40 p.m.).

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(credit: and Jim Newberry)

Celtic Music Day

Wednesday, June 29th

Enjoy traditional Irish dancing with the McNulty School of Irish Dance onstage at 12:00 p.m. Taking Irish music and expanding it to fit in with modern day and Midwestern values, Kevin Flynn and the Avondale Ramblers never fail to entertain. See them on stage at 4:00 p.m.

Other performers: yDdraig Goch Welsh Dancers (12:30 p.m.), Glen Ayre (1:20 p.m.), The McDance Company (2:40 p.m.), Evanston Scottish Country Dancers (3:10 p.m.), Baal Tinne (5:20 p.m.), and Bua (6:40 p.m.).

Country & Americana Music Day

Friday, July 1st

Feel sad, but in the good way, as you listen to Musikanto, who blends Country, Americana and Folk to create something akin to the sad ballads by aged country stars Musikanto grew up on (Musikanto goes on at 2:40 p.m.). For something a bit more upbeat, attend Heartsfield at 4:00 p.m. for some good ol’ foot-stompin’ fun.

Other Performers: Country Doctors (12:00 p.m.), Whitey Morgan & the 78s (1:20 p.m.), Anna Fermin’s Trigger Gospel (5:20 p.m.), and The Giving Tree Band (6:40 p.m.).

Alligator Records 40th Anniversary Party

Anniversary is just another word for birthday, and everyone loves birthdays. Finish your festival going with a celebration of Alligator Records. Entertaining you will be Li’l Ed & The Blues Imperials at 12:00 p.m. and Smokin’ Joe Kubek and Bnois King at 2:40 p.m.


With all this music, diverse as it is, your head is liable to explode. Make sure to give yourself a moment to take these bands in when you go. Also, make sure to bring sunscreen and lots of water, the last thing any of these musicians want is for you to bring down the mood by passing out in the middle of their performance. That’s just rude.

Mason Johnson, CBS Local Chicago

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