What are the greatest moments in Chicago music history?Deanna Isaacson May 18, 2020 at 2:00 pm

Chicago has sent a lot of great sound into the world, not always getting back the recognition due. If you’ve got an opinion about which moments in our city’s music history were the most important (CSO’s first concert, 1891? “Johnny B. Goode” at Chess, 1958? Muddy? Mavis? Ardis?), the Arts & Business Council of Chicago wants to hear it. They’re making a list, and offering a prize for help in compiling it.

Last time I talked with A&BC executive director Kristin Larsen, she was explaining how the organization was about to expand its reach. The A&BC, which has been providing pro bono business savvy to arts organizations for 35 years, was arranging to put itself where it could be most useful, sending staff and consultants to Park District facilities on the city’s south and west sides for drop-in office hours and other services. It was all about having a physical presence in those communities.

That was four months and a different world ago.

Thanks to the pandemic, the A&BC’s presence in those (or any) neighborhoods is–for now–virtual. Staff and consultants are still meeting with artists and arts organizations to provide the financial, marketing, and management advice the A&BC has given to more than 600 arts businesses over the years, but it’s by phone or Internet. At the same time, the need for that kind of help has become more dire than ever.

To support this effort, and in honor of the city’s similarly virus-challenged 2020 Year of Chicago Music, the A&BC is marking its 35th anniversary with an online fundraiser and contest that’ll designate the 35 greatest moments in Chicago music history. Starting today, and through June 19, the public is invited to go to ChiMusic35.com to submit candidates for the list and vote on nominees.

There’s no charge for nominating or voting, but those who can are invited to participate in an associated raffle (which will end July 3). All winners will be announced July 23; look for them at ChiMusic35.com and here.The Chicago Reader is collaborating with this project by publishing a seven-part series spotlighting Chicago music luminaries who are serving as #ChiMusic35 ambassadors. The first feature–an interview with Lori Branch, widely acknowledged as the first woman DJ in Chicago’s house scene, conducted by Ayana Contreras of WBEZ and Vocalo–will run in this week’s issue.

Raffle proceeds will keep the consulting help coming to Chicago artists and arts organizations at a time when it’s desperately needed. v

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