With over 120 different concerts to choose from this summer at Ravinia, you might be interested in some help finding the perfect fit. We asked our eclectic and knowledgeable staff which concerts they are most excited to see this season in order to give you the inside scoop and perhaps introduce you to some quality concerts you may have overlooked.
Manager of Interactive Communication
As a lover of old-school funk and soul, I can’t help but be excited for the performance by Sharon Jones and The Dap-Kings on June 21 along with the Tedeschi Trucks Band. The Dap-Kings are quite possibly the best backing band doing the whole soul revivalist thing and were instrumental (pun intended) in creating the sound for Amy Winehouse’s critically acclaimed Back to Black album. I think the draw to watching a live show is to see the artist “perform,” and Sharon Jones doesn’t disappoint, with an incredible vocal range, awesome dance moves, and an infectious energy that rivals Tina Turner in her heyday.
My love of the band Radiohead is only one half of the reason I’m looking forward to the August 26 performance by Sybarite5. The other half has to do with the modern approach to chamber music that this string quintet brings to a genre that I’m generally not a fan of. For someone that isn’t really “into” classical music, hearing some of my favorites like “Pyramid Song” in a classical context really makes me appreciate the original even more as well as open my mind to attending some more traditional classical concerts.
A list of the best rock guitarists would undoubtedly include Billy Gibbons, the lead singer and lead guitarist of ZZ Top, and a list of the best arena rock bands would definitely include the entire band. Before the Black Keys and the White Stripes made it popular to rock out with only two band members these guys showed how you could rock with just three. I can’t wait to see these “sharp dressed men” tear up the Ravinia Pavilion stage on August 27.
My misspent youth came with buttered popcorn. Starting around 10 years old, I spent as much time as possible in a cool, dark movie theater. For me, the music was equal to the image. When my friends bought albums by Black Sabbath and Blue Oyster Cult, I spent whatever money I could scrape up on the soundtracks to The Godfather and The Sting. No one can tell me that E.T.’s emotional life doesn’t spring directly from John Williams’s score. What Williams is to Spielberg, Danny Elfman is to Tim Burton. Could we be so easily inserted into the quirky worlds Burton creates without the equally idiosyncratic silly symphonies that Elfman provides both as an invitation and roadmap to these strange places? That’s why I cannot wait for the July 14 Chicago Symphony Orchestra concert that will explore the greatest moments from one of the most successful screen pairings in Hollywood history.
I’m so glad Ravinia will erect the giant lawn screen for the August 21 big-band concert by Seth MacFarlane. I’m going to zone out and zoom in on the screen, picking out every pixel to see if I can get a peek into the mind of the bad-boy genius who enflames modern pop culture with such TV shows and movies as Family Guy and Ted, while at the same time carrying a torch for the good ol’ days. We know there are a lot of voices in Seth MacFarlane—from Stewie and Brian to the Sinatra sensibilities showcased on his solo albums. But I’m determined to find out if there must be more than one person in that head. I cannot wait to hear what pours out of it this summer.
Group Events Coordinator
Give me a cup of tea, a soft blanket, and a comfy couch and I’m set. That feeling of ease and comfort is what I liken to the mellow, indie-rock sounds of British singer-songwriter David Gray. You may also know him as “the guy that sings that one song,” like I did for a while. His catchy melodies, perfectly raspy voice, and ruminative lyrics (at times a bit reminiscent of Dave Matthews) leave nothing to be desired. With 12 albums under his belt since 1993, he certainly has no shortage of amazing repertoire, and I cannot wait to hear which old favorites and new tunes he performs on June 28. After a three-year hiatus, his latest album, Mutineers, released in June 2014, certainly indicates that he is “Back in the World” of creating a multidimensional listening experience.
I simply can’t wait for the Little Big Town concert on August 28. The first time I heard Little Big Town, I immediately thought of them as an edgier Lady Antebellum. Their fun and catchy tunes are perfect for a late-summer night. Plus, with special guests David Nail and Ashley Monroe, that show is sure to be a good time.
With their concert on September 6, O.A.R. may be close to last in the Ravinia lineup, but they are certainly not least. Their upbeat sound is similar to that of OneRepublic or The Script. Who doesn’t love their classic hit, “Shatter (Turn the Car Around)”? I know after that show, I will be humming their captivating melodies for days.
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Porgy and Bess was the first opera I saw in Chicago. The music is etched in my memory, and I can hear the opening “Jasbo Brown Blues” giving way to “Summertime” like it was just a few moments ago. I can’t wait to sit on the lawn with family and friends on July 8 to hear the lush harmonic textures, the emotional pull, and the lyrical beauty of Gershwin’s masterpiece as it cuts through the night air at Ravinia.
I’m excited to see a lot of the $10 BGH Classics series, but none quite as much as the evening of solo cello music by Alisa Weilerstein on July 27. There is an intimacy that happens between the performer and the audience when just a single musician takes the stage. From Cassadó to Kodály, Ms. Weilerstein is sure to share all that the cello has to offer with you.