Things to do in Chicago for music fansMary Houlihan – For the Sun-Timeson July 23, 2021 at 1:15 am

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.

Buffalo Nichols

Buffalo Nichols - Photo BY Mike Dunn
Buffalo Nichols
Mike Dunn Photo

When: 7 p.m. July 23, Space, 1245 Chicago, Evanston ($20); 7:30 p.m. July 30, The Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia ($10)

What: Until last year Milwaukee-based Carl Nichols was best known as one half of the folk duo Nickel & Rose. Inspired by the classic blues music he grew up loving as well as the gospel and African music he would later play, he has rebranded himself as Buffalo Nichols focusing on acoustic blues and returning it to his songwriter roots. “I always related to the blues,” Nichols says. “I grew up in abject poverty. I experienced racism. And when I would sit down with a blues record, I could hear that in the songs. Now I want to be that person that I never got to see on stage.”

More information:;

Chicago Latino Jazz Festival

Luiz Ewerling & AMADA 
Luiz Ewerling & AMADA
Courtesy of Luiz Ewerling

When: July 23-24

Where: Outside the Humboldt Park Fieldhouse, 1440 N. Humboldt Blvd.

What: The Jazz Institute of Chicago and the Chicago Park District present a family-friendly free event. Performing both nights are Brazilian drummer and composer Luiz Ewerling & AMADA (6 p.m.) followed by James Sanders’ Conjunto (7 p.m.) performing new Afro-Latin music written during the COVID-19 quarantine .

More information:

Opera Festival of Chicago

Emily Birsan
Provided photo

What: The festival returns with three works at three different venues. First up is Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari’s whimsical one-act opera “Il Segreto di Susanna” at 7 and 9 p.m. July 24 (Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N. Southport, $15-$75) with Stephen Powell as Count Gil and Emily Birsan as Susanna. Next is “Dante 700,” which celebrates the impact Dante and his “Divine Comedy” has had on opera’s rich history, at 8 p.m. July 28-29 (Artifacts Events, 4325 N. Ravenswood, $15-$35). The festival concludes with Puccini’s tale of loss, love and betrayal “Il Tabarro” at 7 and 9 p.m. Aug. 5 (Thalia Hall, 1807 S. Allport, $35-$75).

More information:

House City Series

DJ Traxman
DJ Traxman
Courtesy Chicago Park District

What: The Departments of Cultural Affairs and Special Event’s tribute to house music continues with House City, a new series of free events popping up throughout the summer in the neighborhoods that helped create the house music genre over 35 years ago.

When/Where: vent dates and communities are July 23 in South Shore, July 31 on the Southeast Side, Aug. 14 in Humboldt Park, Aug. 28 in Englewood, Aug. 29 in Lakeview, Sept. 12 in South Shore and Sept.19 in Bronzeville. DJs playing include Traxman, Lori Branch, Deeon, Elbert Philips, Duane Powell and more.

Info: For locations and times, visit

Chris Foreman
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


Grant Park Music Festival

Independence Day concerts will kick off the Grant Park Music Festival season.
Patrick Pyszka

What: The Grant Park Music Festival is fully open for capacity audiences in the seated area and the lawn.

When: July 2-Aug. 21

Where: Pritzker Pavilion, Millennium Park, Michigan and Randolph.

Admission: free


Chicago Philharmonic

Adrian Dunn will conduct the Chicago Philharmonic in “Redemption,” June 29-Aug. 27.
Courtesy of

What: Chicago Philharmonic returns with a three-concert outdoor chamber series at North Shore Center for the Performing Arts parking lot, 9501 Skokie Blvd, Skokie. The opening performance at 7 p.m. June 27 is “Chicago Phil Brass: Brass with Sass” and features Edward Elgar’s “Chanson du Matin,” Astor Piazzolla’s “Oblivion,” Fats Waller’s “That’s a Plenty,” Bob Dylan’s “Forever Young” and more. There’s also a free streaming concert “Redemption” (June 29-Aug. 27), which features spirituals and gospel songs conducted by Adrian Dunn.

When: Subsequent concerts are July 25 and Aug. 5.

Tickets: $36-$42


Summer Nights with Northlight

What: Summer Nights with Northlight is a cabaret series held at Evanston restaurants to benefit Northlight Theatre. The performers are Alexis J. Roston and Kelvin Roston Jr. (June 10, Good to Go Jamaican, 711 W. Howard), Linda Solotaire (July 27, Sketchbook Brewing Company, 4901 Main, Skokie) and Heidi Kettenring (Aug. 24, Peckish Pig, 623 W. Howard).

When: Performances times are 6 p.m.

Tickets: $60 includes light dinner and select drinks. Visit

Tuesdays on the Terrace

“Tuesdays on the Terrace” at the MCA in Chicago.
Copyright MCA

When: 5:30 p.m. Tuesdays June 1-Aug. 31

Where: Museum of Contemporary Art’s outdoor sculpture garden, 220 E. Chicago

What: Tuesdays on the Terrace returns to the Museum of Contemporary Art’s outdoor sculpture garden. The popular jazz concert series features an array of Chicago jazz musiciansFirst up on June 1 is Alexis Lombre’s Ancestral Awakenings. Free with advance reservations. Visit

Labyrinth Arts and Performance Collective

What: Labyrinth Arts and Performance Collectivepresents “Emerge,” a new cabaret series featuring music, drag performance, comedy and spoken word.

When: every second Friday of the month

Where: Porkchop, 1132 W. Grand

Tickets: $20. Visit


When: July 29-Aug. 1

Where: Grant Park

What: Lollapalooza returns to Grant Park July 29-Aug. 1 with Foo Fighters, Post Malone, Tyler, the Creator, Miley Cyrus, Dababy, Marchmello, Journey, Megan Thee Stallion, Roddy Ricch, Kaytranada and more. $375+/festival pass. Visit

Pitchfork Music Festival

When: Sept. 10-12

Where: Union Park, 1501 W. Randolph

What: The Pitchfork Music Festival returns to Union Park, 1501 W. Randolph. Performers include Erykah Badu Phoebe Bridgers, St. Vincent, The Fiery Furnaces, Angel Olsen, Kim Gordon Waxahatchee, Flying Lotus, Thundercat and more.

Tickets: $90/day, $195 festival pass. Visit

Riot Fest

When: Sept. 17-19

Where: Douglass Park, Chicago

What: Riot Fest is back, this year with Nine Inch Nails, The Smashing Pumpkins, Run the Jewels, Pixies, Faith No More, Devo, Lupe Fiasco and more.

Tickets: $125+/day $155+/festival pass. Visit

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