Chicago thrives on music. With all the events, concerts, and parties happening in the city, there’s never a night without some sort of music. But the best time to experience music in the city is during summer. I’m not talking about Lollapalooza or other big name festivals. I’m talking about the Millennium Park Summer Music Series. Starting June 6th, the park will host 18 free (yes, actually free) outdoor concerts every Monday and Thursday in Millennium Park. Series last from June 6th – August 25th and features music from local, national, and international acts – both emerging and established.
Some of the details regarding performers and times are still being determined, but check out the schedule so far below:
Monday, June 6, 6:30pm
Blonde Redhead + Ryley Walker
Blonde Redhead is an indie rock band composed of Kazu Makino and twin brothers Simone and Amedeo Pace. Formed in New York City in 1993, the band is known for innovating their sound for every album and blending rock, dream pop and electronica. Ryley Walker is an accomplished fingerstyle guitarist, singer, and songwriter from Chicago best known for his Primrose Green album released in 2015, which blurs the genre lines between folk, rock, jazz, and new music.
Thursday, June 9, 6:30pm
Lee Fields & The Expressions + Makaya McCraven
With a catalogue that ranges from James Brown-style funk to lo-fi blues and contemporary Southern soul, Lee Fields has had a successful career spanning more than 43 years. Since the late sixties, the North Carolina native has amassed a prolific catalog of albums and has toured and played with such legends as Kool and the Gang, Sammy Gordon and the Hip-Huggers, and many others. Paris born Makaya McCraven pushes the boundaries of sound and rhythm to create categories of his own. He layers his extensive experience with hip-hop bands, African dance bands, Hungarian folk music, and indie rock on top of a deep history of “straight-ahead” jazz, improvisation and Avant-garde beats.
Monday, June 13, 6:30pm
Rodrigo Amarante + Leyla MaCalla
One of the masterminds behind the Brazilian band Los Hermanos and founding member of the samba super group Orquestra Imperial, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Rodrigo Amarante is an inescapable musical figure in his native South American home. In 2015 he wrote the popular song “Tuyo”（Yours), which serves as the opening theme for the Netflix series Narcos. Leyla McCalla is a New York-born Haitian-American living in New Orleans, who sings in four languages and plays cello, tenor banjo and guitar. Deeply influenced by traditional Creole, Cajun and Haitian music, as well as by American jazz and folk, her music is at once earthy, elegant, soulful and witty.
Thursday, June 16, 6:30pm
Nneka + Gina Chavez
Award-winning, Nigerian singer-songwriter Nneka is known for her captivating blend of reggae, hip-hop and soul sounds. She was quickly established as one of Africa’s most powerful voices as her politically charged lyrics examine a myriad of social issues, including maternal love, heartbreak and the quest for justice. Gina Chavez is a bilingual Latin-folk singer-songwriter from Austin, Texas who expertly blends the sounds of the Americas with tension and grace. Her most recent album Up.Rooted has won critical acclaim from NPR, USA Today and more.
Monday, June 20, 6:30pm
DJ Spooky’s Rebirth of a Nation + Kelan Phil Cohran’s Summer Solstice Ensemble
Washington, D.C.-born Paul D. Miller aka DJ Spooky is a composer, multimedia artist and writer whose work immerses audiences in a blend of genres, global culture, and environmental and social issues. Rebirth of a Nation was his first large-scale multimedia performance piece, which has been performed more than 50 times in venues around the world, from the Sydney Festival to the Herod Atticus Amphitheater in Athens, Greece.
Thursday, June 23, 6:30pm
Maceo Parker + Marrow
Born in North Carolina, saxophonist Maceo Parker embodies the legacy of soul and funk music and is best known for his collaborations alongside seminal icons like James Brown, George Clinton, and Prince, all the while honing his own signature brand of showmanship. Marrow is an American indie rock band from Chicago consisting of three former members of Kids These Days, plus one additional member.
Monday, June 27, 6:30pm
Eddie Palmieri Salsa Orchestra + Ecos del Pacifico
Eddie Palmieri is one of the foremost Latin jazz pianists in the world and has had a musical career that spans over 50 years. Born in the Spanish Harlem of New York City, Palmieiri has won nine Grammy awards throughout his career as a bandleader of several critically acclaimed Salsa and Latin jazz orchestras. Ecos del Pacifico is a Chicago-based group formed in 2006 by Julio Cesar Montaño Montenegro and is steeped in the Afro-Colombian music and dance traditions of the pacific coast of Colombia.
Thursday, June 30, 6:30pm
TBD + Lower Dens
Headliner to be announced soon. Baltimore, Maryland-based Lower Dens are an American indie pop band. Pitchfork says the group “siphons its aesthetic from the storied pop of the ‘80s, but it’s not content to stop at homage. Lower Dens use the past—its clichés and its innocence—as a lens through which to imagine a queer and open future.”
Monday, July 4 and Thursday, July 7
No Shows – Week of Taste of Chicago
Monday, July 11, 6:30pm
Femi Kuti + The Positive Force + ProbCause
Femi Kuti is a Grammy-nominated, high energy Afrobeat artist born in London and raised in Nigeria. Kuti is the eldest son of Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti and grandchild of Nigerian aristocrat, political and women’s rights activist Funmilayo Ransome Kuti. Working out of Chicago with the likes of Chance the Rapper, Action Bronson, Twista, Vic Mensa and others, ProbCause seamlessly jumps from electronic to funk to R&B, then back to classic boom-bap gritty rap.
Thursday, July 14, 6:30pm
Azymuth + Sidewalk Chalk
Brazilian electrified trio Azymuth combines a high voltage blend of Brazilian rhythms, jazz, and funk with occasional acoustic episodes. Sidewalk Chalk is an eight-member Chicago-based band that is leading the contemporary evolution of hip-hop, soul, and jazz. The group’s unique arrangement allows them to incorporate numerous styles seamlessly: an MC and female vocalist; a trio of keys, bass, and drums; a horn section with trombone and trumpet; and a tap-dancer.
Monday, July 18, 6:30pm
King Sunny Ade + Ugochi & A.S.E.
King Sunny Ade is the undisputed king of juju music, the dance-inspiring hybrid of western pop and traditional African music with roots in the guitar tradition of Nigeria. Ade launched his own record label in 1974 and has released more than 100 of his own recordings in Nigeria. Born in Chicago to Nigerian parents, Ugochi is an Afro-soul singer, songwriter and poet who is known for her extremely versatile and creative music and performances. She will appear with The Afro Soul Ensemble (A.S.E.).
Thursday, July 21, 6:30pm
Heritage Blues Orchestra + Toshi Reagon
Known for their traditional blues material bolstered by a New Orleans-like horn section and a good dose of both jazz and gospel sensibilities, New York City-based Heritage Blues Orchestra has found a way to make traditional material sound fresh and new. Toshi Reagon is a versatile singer-songwriter-guitarist from Atlanta with a unique hold-nothing-back approach to rock, blues, R&B, country, folk, spirituals and funk.
Monday, July 25 6:30pm
The Jones Family Singers + Apostolic Church of God Sanctuary Choir
The Jones Family Singers are a Texas-based gospel powerhouse consisting of five sisters, two brothers and their father who infuse joyful and reverent songs with vintage soul, funk and R&B. Under the direction of Brother Ray Nuckolls and Dr. Willetta Greene-Johnson, Chicago’s Apostolic Church of God Sanctuary Choir includes more than 300 voices.
Thursday, July 28, 6:30pm
No Show – Lollapalooza Weekend
Monday, August 1, 6:30pm
Jose Gonzalez + Tall Heights
Jose Gonzalez is Swedish indie folk singer-songwriter renowned for his mix of autumnal indie pop and intimate acoustics. Formed in Boston in 2010, Tall Heights are known for their captivating vocal harmonies driven by a folk-inspired accompaniment of cello and acoustic guitar.
Thursday, August 4, 6:30pm
Sinkane + Mark de Clive-Lowe
Sinkane is solo recording artist who sings and plays numerous instruments blending krautrock, free jazz and funk rock with Sudanense pop. Although born in London, Sinkane spent his early childhood in Sudan followed by Ohio after his family fled to the United States. Mark de Clive-Lowe is a musician, composer and producer originally from New Zealand, and now based in Los Angeles, after living for ten years in London. He is a veteran of the UK’s broken beat movement, blending jazz, electronic dance music, funk and percussion heavy world music into a unique sound.
Mondays, August 8, 15 and 22
Thursday, August 11, 6:30pm
Mbongwana Star + Dos Santos Antibeat Orchestra
Mbongwana Star is a psychedelic African dance band from Kinshasa, the capital city of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Chicago-based Dos Santos: Anti-Beat Orchestra rocks the sounds of popular pan-Latin American dance genres—from cumbia to salsa.
Thursday, August 18, 6:30pm
Elephant Revival + Mandolin Orange
Elephant Revival are a quintet from Colorado whose sound encompasses elements of gypsy, rock, Celtic, alt-country and folk. Mandolin Orange is an Americana folk duo from Chapel Hill, North Carolina whose music has received critical acclaim from NPR, American Songwriter others.
Thursday, August 25, 6:30pm
TBD + Homme
Headliner to be announced soon. HOMME is an experiment in voice and sound by Sima Cunningham and Macie Stewart who joined forces in 2014, inspired by the free improvisational music scene in Chicago, and influenced by folk and avant-garde rock.
For more information on the Millennium Park Music Series check out the event page.