Free Concerts: Taste of Chicago – June 26-July 5

A lineup of internationally renowned entertainers will be performing free concerts during the 29th Annual Taste of Chicago, June 26-July 5 in Grant Park.

Opening night includes one of the most familiar voices in R&B, Charlie Wilson of the Gap Band. Fresh off of his newest release, Uncle Charlie, reflecting the nickname given to him by Snoop Dogg.  Co-headliner, Cameo, starts the evening off at the Petrillo Music Shell beginning at 5:30 p.m.

On Sunday, June 28, it’s another Taste concert reprise when The Wallflowers, with lead singer Jakob Dylan, returns to Taste. At the tender age of 14, Dylan, son of the legendary troubadour Bob Dylan, formed his first band with childhood friends, which would eventually lead to the musicians who became The Wallflowers. Music starts that day at 5p.m. with Lovehammers, favorites on the Chicago rock scene and with so many new fans who supported lead singer Marty Casey during his run on the hit television show “Rock Star: INXS.”

Broadway at Taste is fast becoming an annual tradition. Catch Broadway’s biggest and best shows featured in the “Broadway In Chicago Concert in the Park,” on Monday, June 29, with the Best of Broadway headlined by the casts of Chicago’s own JERSEY BOYS, joined by the Broadway stars of MARY POPPINS, YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN, SPRING AWAKENING, IN THE HEIGHTS and others. Plus, there will be an interactive hip hop dance contest with the members of the audience on stage! Music begins at 6p.m. and it will be hosted by ABC-7’s Janet Davies, star of 190 NORTH.

Come see the free concert given by Canada’s Barenaked Ladies who make their Taste of Chicago debut on Tuesday, June 30 at 5:30p.m. The band members Ed Robertson, Kevin Hearn, Jim Creeggan and Tyler Stewart all met one another either at music camp, music school or just playing music in Toronto. The band soon enters the studio to work on their 11th album, but they are taking time now for a free show for their fans at this year’s Taste.

Las Vegas native and self-professed Rat Pack aficionado Ne-Yo performs on Wednesday in a free show presented by the City of Chicago and WGCI. The Arkansas native is fresh off his latest release, Year of the Gentleman, on which the singer-songwriter seeks a more worldly sound with songs like “Closer”, which combines classic R&B and a late-sixties retro sound. The concert begins at 5:30p.m.when Keri Hilson fresh from her new CD In a Perfect World, takes the stage.

On Thursday, July 2, beginning at 5:30p.m., Taste of Chicago offers free time travel back to the seventies. Tribute bands Super Diamond and Afrodisiacs will definitely recreate another era for festival attendees. Neil Diamond hits such as “Sweet Caroline” and “Cracklin’ Rosie” will have everyone singing in their seats after dancing in aisles to Afrodisiacs’ disco redux. In an ironic twist, disco will live for one night at Taste in the same week that famed Disco Demolition leader Steve Dahl will be cooking at the Dominick’s Cooking Corner. (The Chicago Radio veteran demonstrates a recipe with former Chicago Bear Tom Thayer and Chef Hans of Smith & Wollensky, Saturday, July 4 at 2p.m. Disco Demolition happened at Comiskey Park on July 12, 1979.)

Another Taste tradition, the Independence Eve Fireworks Spectacular, adds a new element. In the spirit of the holiday, to honor our country’s fight for freedom, Taste of Chicago tributes those men and women who continue the battle for freedom, with the 85th Army Band. The reserves unit performs patriotic and spirited songs beginning at 7:30p.m. Immediately following the performance at 9p.m., a musical soundtrack of contemporary and patriotic tunes provided by 101.9 THE MIX, will accompany the display. Viewers at home can enjoy the fireworks on a nationally telecast broadcast on WGN Television.

Taste of Chicago’s final weekend brings on the blues with Chicago’s own legendary Buddy Guy on July 4, presented by the City of Chicago and 93XRT. A pioneer of Chicago’s West Side Sound, Guy has influenced musicians around the world, including Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughn and Jimi Hendrix. This marks Guy’s first scheduled appearance at the festival. In 2007, he surprised audiences by joining John Mayer on stage.

Before Guy brings his brand of the blues to Taste, Guster takes the stage. The band, which finds its roots going back to freshman orientation at Tufts University, first performed at Taste in 2003 during a July 4 show. The concert begins at 3p.m.with Booker T and the DBT’s. The famed musician known for his work with the MGs (“Green Onions”) has just released an album with his new band, with whom he connected just two years ago at South by Southwest.
Then Sunday, July 5, is Family Day. After a successful day last year, the City of Chicago and Radio Disney partner to present a concert aimed to the younger audiences with Mitchel Musso and Jordan Pruitt.
Hailing from Loganville, Georgia, Jordan started singing in public at age four working her way up to crowds of thousands at venues like Centennial Olympic Park, Stone Mountain, Six Flags Over Georgia and Atlanta’s Fox Theater. Her latest album, Permission to Fly, has yielded a song that rose to be the #1 requested song on the Radio Disney Top 3 Nationwide Hits Chart. Jordan will perform “One Love” and many more beginning at 2:30p.m.
Following her and closing the Petrillo Music Shell for the 2009 Taste of Chicago is Mitchel Musso who co-stars with Miley Cyrus on the popular “Hannah Montana” (he plays Hannah’s friend Oliver.) Enjoying a thriving acting and musical career, this teenager is following in his brother’s footsteps. Older brother Mason is with the band, Metro Station. Fans can expect his self-titled album to be released just before Taste of Chicago.
The Taste of Chicago is one of the largest free entertainment festivals of its kind offering more than 200 menu items highlighting Chicago’s diverse culinary community. The 29th Annual Taste of Chicago is June 26-July 5 opening every day at 11a.m. until 9p.m. in Grant Park on Chicago’s lakefront. (Taste closes at 6p.m. on the final day, July 5.)
For more information on Taste of Chicago, visit or call the event hotline, 312.744.3370 or TTY: 312.744.4964. For more information on Chicago, including help planning your trip, visit
The Mayor’s Office of Special Events encourages taking public transportation to all lakefront festivals. Call (312) 836-7000/TTY (312) 836-4949 for information on RTA, CTA, PACE and Metra. Lakefront parking is available at the Millennium Park Garage, East Monroe, Grant Park North and Grant Park South garages.
Taste of Chicago is sponsored by ABSOLUT, Bally Total Fitness, Best Buy, Bud Light
Chicago Transit Authority, Chicago Tribune, CLTV-ChicagoLand’s Television, Communications Direct, Dominick’s, Eli’s Cheesecake Company, Essex Inn, Gallo Family Vineyards, Hinckley Springs, Humana, Hyatt Regency McCormick Place, Illinois Lottery, LaGrou Distribution System, Louisiana Office of Tourism, Pepsi-Cola, T-mobile, United Airlines, V103, WGCI, WGN-Television, 93XRT and 101.9fm THE MIX.


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