For my music fans, I went to Ravinia, about an hour north of Chicago, to see the Roots, the Jimmy Fallon band on the Tonight Show. The founder, Questlove, aka Ahmir Thompson is the leader, and sang for a full two hours. Perhaps a little too much rap for me, but overall, quite enjoyable.
For those of you unfamiliar with Ravinia, it is the oldest outdoor musical festival in the US. The venue is located in Highland Park. Ravinia is one of the few concert venues in the country to allow full meals (and alcohol) to be brought in and consumed at concerts, even allowing alcoholic beverages. Accordingly, most grocery stores and specialty restaurants in and around the Highland Park area offer ready-to-eat Ravinia picnics for purchase.
People were wheeling in large coolers, tables, chairs, and blankets, creating both simple and elaborate dinners. I was able to dine at Joe’s Stone Crabs before heading out to Ravinia. But some of the picnic spreads I saw were quite impressive, including the variety of alcohol. And the people were very friendly, offering anyone nearby a bite of food or an adult beverage.
Many famous musicians have performed here, including: John Legend, Aretha Franklin, Bryan Ferry, Diana Ross, Maroon 5, Common, Carrie Underwood, Tony Bennett, Lady Gaga, Josh Groban, Dolly Parton, Sheryl Crow, Patti LaBelle, Andrew Bird, Darius Rucker, Mary J. Blige, Gladys Knight, James Taylor, Santana, Stevie Nicks, Patti LuPone, Smokey Robinson, and John Mellencamp
In 2021, Questlove made his film directorial debut with Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised), a film about the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, which featured performances by Stevie Wonder, Sly and The Family Stone, Nina Simone, Mahalia Jackson, Mavis Staples, B.B. King, and many other top Soul, Jazz, Gospel and Latin artists of the era. SUMMER OF SOUL won both the US Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award for documentary at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival. Disney-owned Searchlight Pictures acquired the film for distribution, setting a new Sundance Film Festival record for documentary film acquisition price. If you have not seen it on Netflix, I strongly recommend it. Summer of Soul is better than Woodstock!
Now for the only downside, I missed the train out to Ravinia, so I had to Uber for $43. I caught the train on the way back to Chicago but had to wait over an hour along with several thousand other music fans. It was well past my bedtime, about 12:30am, so I had to Uber back to my hotel. But I got about 5 hours of sleep, before having to head out to O’Hare for my flight home.