Things to do in Chicago for music fansMary Houlihan – For the Sun-Timeson September 22, 2021 at 10:40 pm

Welcome to our highlights for concerts, festivals and live music in Chicago. From free shows at Millennium Park to large festivals like Ravinia and Lollapalooza, and intimate shows at small local venues, our guide has all the latest music entertainment. Bookmark this page and check back for updates on concerts and events.

Chicago Symphony Orchestra

Maestro Riccardo Muti conducts the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in 2017.(C) Todd Rosenberg Photography

WHAT: Ricardo Muti and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra reunite for their first concerts since February 2020 with a series of three performances in a fall residency. The opening program (Sept. 23-25) features music by Joseph Bologne-Chevalier de Saint-George and Florence Price as well as Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 3 (Eroica).” Violinist Leonidas Kavakos joins Muti and the orchestra for Brahms “Violin Concerto in D Major” plus the orchestra performs “Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 (Sept. 30-Oct. 2). The final fall program (Oct. 7-9) features the CSO’s first performance of Missy Mazzoli’s 2006 work “These Worlds in Us” plus pieces by Anatoly Liadov and Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.

WHERE: CSO at Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan.

TICKETS: $38-$260.

VISIT: For updated information regarding the CSO’s Covid 19 vaccination and/or mask policies, visit

Berwyn Blues Festival

Black Joe Lewis Connor Beitel Photo

WHAT: The inaugural Berwyn Blues Festival kicks off Sept. 24-26 at FitzGerald’s, 6615 W. Roosevelt Rd. The lineup includes Shemekia Copeland, Ronnie Baker Brooks, Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears, Thornetta Davis, Cedric Burnside, Jackie Venson, Toronzo Cannon & the Chicago Way, Lil’ Ed and the Blues Imperials, Joanna Connor Band, Bette Smith, Honey Island Swamp Band and more.

TICKETS: $50/day.

VISIT: For updated information regarding the festival’s Covid 19 vaccination and/or mask policies, visit

Hyde Park Jazz Festival

Makaya McCraven David Marques

WHAT: The Hyde Park Jazz Festival returns with mostly outdoor performances. Festival highlights include the debut of local drummer and band leader Makaya McCraven’s new piece commissioned by the festival plus sets by Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, Dee Alexander & the Metropolitan Jazz Octet, The New String Trio featuring Regina Carter, Junius Paul and Tomeka Reid, Juan Pastor’s Chinchano with Miguel Zenon, Micah Collier Trio and more.

WHEN: From 1-10 p.m. Sept. 25 and noon-7 p.m. Sept. 26 around Hyde Park.

TICKETS: Admission is free.

VISIT: For updated information regarding the festival’s Covid 19 vaccination and/or mask policies, visit

Heartless Bastards

Heartless Bastards frontwoman Erika Wennerstrom.Photo by Aaron Conway

WHAT: Heartless Bastards tour behind the new album “A Beautiful Life,” which features new songs by frontwoman Erika Wennerstrom whose lilting melodies and driving beats enforce lyrics that outline her vision of the challenges faced living in today’s complex world. “It’s so easy to get caught up in the material goals that are prioritized by our society and the every-man-for-himself mentality of late-stage capitalism,” Wennerstrom says. “That way of thinking presents a false idea of what a beautiful life is, and I think it’s so important that we as individuals all ask ourselves what it truly means to have a beautiful life.”

WHEN: At 9 p.m. Sept. 24

WHERE: Lincoln Hall, 2424 N. Lincoln


VISIT: For updated information regarding the venue’s Covid 19 vaccination and/or mask policies, visit

‘Songs for Nobodies’

Bethany Thomas in “Songs for Nobodies.” Photo by Michael Brosilow

WHAT: “Songs for Nobodies” is Joanna Murray-Smith’s one-woman tour-de-force that celebrates the iconic work of Judy Garland, Patsy Cline, Billie Holiday, Edith Piaf and Maria Callas. Bethany Thomas stars in the story of the unexpected encounters between these divas and the ordinary women whose lives they changed. Rob Lindley directs.

WHEN: From Sept. 23-Oct. 31

WHERE: Northlight Theatre at North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie Blvd., Skokie.

TICKETS: $30-$89.

VISIT: For updated information regarding the theater’s Covid 19 vaccination and/or mask policies, visit

Ear Taxi Festival

Matt UlerySally Blood Photo

WHAT: The Ear Taxi Festival with its spotlight on new and experimental music begins with a Spotlight Series from Sept. 16-29 followed by a Mainstage Series Sept. 30-Oct. 4. The opening weekend is packed full of performances: rhythm is image (Sept. 16), Matt Ulery’s Mannerisst 11 (Sept. 17), Quijote Duo (Sept. 18), Kosmologia (Sept. 18-19), Fifth House Ensemble (Sept. 19), Fourth Coast Ensemble (Sept. 19) and Koeun Grace Lee (Sept. 19).

TICKETS/INFO: Prices and locations vary. For a complete schedule and updated information regarding the festival’s Covid 19 vaccination and/or mask policies, visit

‘Feelin’ Groovy Series’ at The Hideout

WHAT: As part of the city’s Chicago in Tune Festival, The Hideout’s “Feelin’ Groovy” series features conversations with key figures from Chicago independent record labels and live sets of music from musicians that span genres and generations. Upcoming are Cedille Records president Jim Ginsburg with Black Oak Ensemble (Sept. 13), Thrill Jockey founder Bettina Richards with Thalia Zedek Band (Sept. 15), Teklife co-founders of Ashes57 and DJ Spinn with a performance by DJ Spinn (Sept. 16), Sooper Records co-founder Nnamdi with Sen Morimoto, Drag City director of sales Rian Murphy with Lama Lobsang Palden and Jim Becker (Sept. 22) and Sonorama Discos co-founder Marlowe Baca with Dos Santos (Oct. 1).

WHEN/WHERE: All are at 6 p.m. outdoor at The Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia.

TICKETS: Admission is free. For vaccination and/or mask policies, visit

Ifetayo Ali-Landing(C) Earl E. Gibson III

World Music Wednesday

Bomba con Buya Amy Young Photo

WHAT: The Old Town School of Folk Music’s weekly showcase of world music and dance, returns beginning Sept. 1 with Jazz a la Mexicana, a concert featuring traditional and folkloric Mexican music mixed with jazz. A celebration of Segundo Ruiz Belvis Cultural Center’s 50th anniversary follows on Sept. 8 with performances of Puerto Rican bomba music by Bomba con Buya and Mancha E’ Platano. The current roster of concerts runs through Dec. 1.

WHERE: Old Town School of Folk Music, 4544 N. Lincoln

Admission is free, a $10 suggested donation is appreciated. For updated information regarding the venue’s Covid 19 vaccination and/or mask policies, visit

Chris Foreman Courtesy Origin Records

Chris Foreman at the Green Mill

What: The Green Mill has reopened and that means the return of Chris Foreman, a Friday night fixture at the popular jazz club. Foreman, a jazz organist blind since birth, is a master on the Hammond B3 and regarded as Chicago’s best. His playing is a blend of blues-gospel and jazz honed in his professional experience, which has included work with Hank Crawford, Albert Collins, Bernard Purdie, The Deep Blue Organ Trio and The Mighty Blue Kings.

When: 5-7:30 p.m. Fridays

Where: The Green Mill, 4802 N. Broadway

Cost: No cover charge


Ravinia Festival

What: The Ravinia Festival, the oldest outdoor music festival in the country, returns with reduced capacity. As usual, the lineup is a varied slate of music from classical to pop, jazz and rock. The Chicago Symphony Orchestra returns for a six-week run with conductor Marin Alsop leading seven concerts in her first season as Ravinia’s chief conductor. Also on the roster are: Garrick Ohlsson, Cynthia Erivo, Counting Crows, Kurt Elling, Brian McKnight, John Hiatt and the Jerry Douglas Band, The Roots, John Legend, Madeleine Peyroux, Midori, Joshua Bell, Pinchas Zukerman, the Chicago Sinfonietta and the Joffrey Ballet.

When: July 1-Sept. 26

Where: Highland Park

Tickets: prices vary


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