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Frank Brichetto

Chicago Correspondent

“Summertime, and the livin’ is easy,” say the words of the famous song, and speaking of songs, let’s start this month off by taking in the hopeful, jubilant refrains from The Gospel Music Festival, this year on June 1st and 2nd, at the Chicago Cultural Center and of course, Millennium Park.  Chicago has long been the home of Gospel Music, and this celebration brings the very best singers and musicians together.  I’m not sure if we can make the noon kickoff, but we will try mightily to hear the Elder Thomas Singers at 3:20.  This inspiring group won the ChicagoMade Gospel Choir Auditions while making their way to the program, and they are not to be missed. For more information, visit – https://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/dca/supp_info/chicago_gospel_musicfestival.html

After that, some dinner, perhaps, at The Park Grill, https://www.parkgrillchicago.com/ right across Michigan Ave., where we can enjoy a delicious meal (the steak is delicious) at reasonable prices, right on the outdoor patio.  From here it’s a short walk through the park to Pritzker Pavilion, for the 6pm performance by Church Girls Rock Too! which promises to be a fun, passionate upbeat take on worship music.  We can stay for the rest of the program, or maybe take our leave quietly and head home, because tomorrow is b-u-s-y busy!

Get up sleepy-head! Meet us at Millennium Park, it’s time for some fresh air and exercise! We can skip the 7am Pilates session, but the 8am Yoga, and the 9am Strength Training are calling our names, loudly. Stretch and salute the Sun, breathe deeply and regularly, move into the poses, then hold and relax.  A short break, and now it’s muscle building work.  Be careful, and be strong, we can do this.  Isn’t this fun!  What a great way to get revved up for the weekend’s activities.

Breakfast, you say? What a great idea, let’s head west and try something different, yes? Uncle Mike’s Cafe, 1700 W. Grand Ave., will show us a menu with standard American breakfast fare, but because we’re on an adventure, I’m having one of the Filipino dishes.  Their Filipino breakfast is the perfect balance between sweet and savory, especially after our little fitness fest.  Coffee and some orange juice make it just right.

Since we’re in the neighborhood, how about a nice walk north a short way, to the Do Division Street Festival?  Our lives are so rich, so full and exciting, that a mere $10.00 donation to support local elementary schools is well worth the admission.  With TWO live music stages, a dedicated Family Fun area, and of course lots of food, crafts, and wares from the Street’s many independent boutiques and retailers, Do Division Street, 2000 W. Division St., is a wonderful example of the best of Chicago.  Wicker Park is on the north, while The Ukrainian Village and East Village are to the south, and everyone comes together here to shop, find music, gather with friends, and just enjoy the richness of this city we all share.  June 1st – 3rd. http://www.do-divisionstreetfest.com/fest/

Do Fashion is a special part of this gathering, on Hoyne St., just north of Division, where Chicago models will show off the unique and powerful efforts of local designers and boutique owners throughout both days.  I’m a big fan of “Chicago Made” and I and my date will be looking closely at the displays and the runway.  I’m hoping to see some of the shirts from one of the Ukrainian fashion designers in the Village.  Wow, I’m almost worn out already.  Let’s take a stroll past a few of the Ukrainian churches and through the quiet streets, down to Tryzub. http://tryzubchicago.com/, 2201 W. Chicago Ave., a modern Ukrainian restaurant offering culture and culinary tradition in a pleasing, modern way.  The food, of course, is amazing and satisfying, served in vibrant colors of natural food, gently cooked to perfection.  What are you having?  I’m in the mood for Cossack Breaded Pork Shank, which I’m happy to share, especially if you’re having the Kebobs.  Oh, yes, isn’t this all just delicious?  It’s over too soon, but don’t worry, because next week…

The world-famous Chicago Blues Fest  comes to life again, and this year is special, indeed.  Friday night’s opening program celebrates the 65th anniversary of Delmark Records, the oldest, and truly best independent jazz and blues record label in the US (if not the world).  Founder Bob Koester is now 85 years old, and this celebration is a tribute to his lifelong passion for great, American, independent music. It’s also a series of musical tributes to Blues greats who have passed, from Sleepy John Estes, through Big Time Sarah and Junior Wells and more in-between.  With artists such as Jimmy Burns, Demetria Taylor and Omar Coleman playing their take on classic Blues tunes, we won’t be leaving any time soon.

Saturday’s headline is a tribute to Little Walter, with a host of Blues harmonica players that includes Corky Siegel, Sugar Blue and more.  And on Sunday, (yes, we’ll be here all three nights, come on, you have to do this with us!) the world’s best and largest FREE Blues Festival concludes with the incomparable Mavis Staples.  Yes, I said that.  Mavis Stapleshttps://www.mavisstaples.com/

https://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/dca/supp_info/chicago_blues_festival.html/ June 8th – 10th, in the Pritzker Pavillion in Millennium Park.


However, the Blues Fest starts in the late afternoon, so what are we to do on Saturday?  Visit the Old Town Art Fair, of course.  This is another music and art filled experience that really shows the beautiful, interesting, fun and so wildly varied architecture, culture and history of our many neighborhoods.  “Voted America’s #1 Art Fair for the third year in a row,” according to ArtFairCalendar.com, on display are the works of over 250 nationally acclaimed artists, working in every conceivable medium to bring us out of our usual sensibilities and into the realms of imagination and ideas.  We’ll take in the garden walk, naturally, maybe you’ll find a print, painting or statue that somehow is absolutely not what you were looking for but will be the exact right thing for your living room.  http://www.oldtownartfair.org/  Use the interactive map and take public transportation.  Trust me, you really don’t want to drive.  We’ll meet you at the gates where Wisconsin St., Lincoln Park West and Lincoln Ave. intersect.  Don’t be late!  June 9th and 10th,, .

Summer is here, it’s warm, it’s green and lush.  Come along for a different adventure at Lake Catherine, Nature Center and Botanic Garden, that encompasses 85 acres, and has its own lake, complete with waterfall (how cool is that?).  The park also has wetlands, prairie, gardens and woodlands, with walking trails, a section of the Cal-Sag trail for us cyclists, canoe and kayak rental. (Yes! Yes! Yes! I love kayaks and canoes.) There is a great variety of wildlife, lots of reptiles, plenty of animals and birds to view.  In the park, we’ll think that we’re many miles from the bustle of the city, but really, it’s only a few.  Let’s spend a full day here, please? Lake Katherine Nature Center & Botanic Gardens, 7402 W. Lake Katherine Drive, Palos Heights, Illinois.  http://www.lakekatherine.org/

Let’s go dancing!  What better way could there be to finish June and head into July but to head to the Spirit of Music Garden, 601 S. Michigan Ave., for the Summer Dance Program?  We’ll meet you after work on Thursday June 28th, and Friday, June 29th, and get some top-notch lessons, and some real practice in Brazilian Samba (Thursday) and Swing (Friday).   Music is by some rather good bands, did you notice? Can you believe it’s free?  Oh my stars, it’s almost July! Until next month, my friends, keep up your adventures!