Because dancing outside with no ceiling is incredible. Because the best things in life are free. Because it's starting to heat up outside. Because you can take ballroom dancing lessons. Because the music lineup is stellar. Because the Chicago skyline at night is gorgeous.
Those are just six of the millions of reasons you need to get yourself downtown and dance in Grant Park.
Kicking off its ninth annual year, the Chicago SummerDance festival begins June 15th with plenty of free music playing on a 3,500 square food open-air dance floor. Located in Grant Park across from Columbia College ( 601 S. Michigan ) , this series of events is not to be missed.
The festival is grouped into themed nights, running Wednesday through Sunday. Wednesday brings the wildly popular DJ Series, featuring lots of big names in the House and Techno world. Thursdays are World music nights, with everything from African to Klezmer music. Fridays and Saturdays are Latin, Jazz, Country and Funk, with a dash of Swing here and there. Sundays are devoted to Ballroom dancing.
I will repeat, this event is free. On any day except for Wednesdays, they even offer free dance lessons for the first hour, followed by two hours of live music. I can't stress enough how incredibly fabulous this festival is, and I strongly encourage all of you to visit egov.cityofchicago.org and do a search for SummerDance for the schedule. There are so many great bands and styles of music that I'm certain you'll find something you like.
Something I like, in fact someone I like, is one of the most underrated female vocalists of our time. Alana Davis, who many of you might remember had a successful hit with '32 Flavors,' an Ani DeFranco track.
Alana has a new album out on her own label Tigress Records. Entitled 'Surrender Dorothy,' it's a satisfying collection of Soul, Funk, Rock, Folk, and everything good in-between. The title is a nod to The Wizard of Oz because 'if Dorothy represents the girl I wanted to be, well I must surrender to her to find myself, no?'
Twice through this CD now, I can't shake the haunting familiarity of her many musical influences both past and present. Acoustic guitars back up Alana's sultry voice through the entire CD. It's clear that on this album, she's doing it all for herself and to promote her art.
To point you in a familiar direction, Alana Davis sounds like Joss Stone, Toby Lightman, Joan Osborne, Sheryl Crow, and the lyrical skills of Erykah Badu and Jill Scott all wrapped up in a soft and gentle voice that's soulfully wise and powerful. She has the ability to bring you closer-than-close to her music. It feels like she's hanging out with you in a jam session as opposed to performing in a studio. It's a world of music you won't want to miss. Give 'Surrender Dorothy' a listen and you won't be disappointed.
With you in 4/4,