By Madeline Higgins/ChicagoMusic.org
Chicago dives into festival season head-on this month, as venues, promoters and artists being preparing for the slew of festivities that populate Chicagoans' streets and calendars during the spring.
From a street party sidewalk sale to the famed Gospel Music Festival, May boasts an array of music events and block parties as diverse as the city itself. We've compiled a list of four notable (and affordable) festivals to accommodate your spring music needs - you never know what you might end up enjoying. Support the community, enjoy the weather, and take advantage of all this city has to offer.
Chicago Mayfest, May 15-17
Lakeview's 20th annual Chicago Mayfest kicks off on Friday, May 15 at 5 p.m. and continues on Saturday and Sunday from 12 p.m. to 10 p.m. Music will feature cover bands performing '80s and '90s throwback hits in addition to contemporary popular songs. The folks at StarEvents, who plan the festival, have learned to be skeptical of Chicago weather after 20 years of practice: Mayfest will take place under a heated tent, just in case of rain (or snow).
StarEvents also provides a handy breakdown of the attendees' demographics,
Address: 3100 N Ashland Ave
Belmont-Sheffield Music Festival, May 23-24
Now in its 31st year, the Belmont-Sheffield Music Festival will run from noon to 10 p.m. on Saturday, May 23 and Sunday, May 24. Music will feature rock, pop/rock, and tribute bands as well as a kids' performance by students from the School of Rock Chicago at 12 p.m. on Sunday.
Local musicians hoping to perform at the event in future years can apply by emailing a biography, promotional link(s), Chicago performance history/clientele, and price range to GPeterson@chicagoevents.com.
Admission: Free, but a $5 donation is suggested. All proceeds go
to Central Lakeview Merchants Association.
Address: N. Sheffield from Belmont to Roscoe
Chicago Gospel Music Festival, May 29-31
This three-day event at the end of May, its 30th anniversary, explores and celebrates Chicago's roots in Gospel music. Each year, the Chicago Gospel Music Festival features performances by local, national, and international Gospel musicians. The festival also includes preview exhibitions and discussions:
- Chicago's Gospel Truths Exhibition is running now until June 1 at the Chicago Cultural Center. Learn about Chicago's relationship with Gospel music through pictures and original artifacts before the festival begins.
- The Up Close & Personal Preview Concert and Conversation will feature performances from festival artists and a discussion with Grammy-winner Tye Tribbett and Grammy-nominated KEM, moderated by Grammy-nominated Anita Wilson.
- The Maxwell Street Market on Sunday, May 17 will include Gospel performances beginning at 1 p.m. 800 S Desplaines St.
Admission: Free to the festival and all of its preview
Address: Main event takes place in Millennium Park.
Do Division Street Fest & Sidewalk Sale, May 29-31
If intermittent shopping between non-stop live music performances tickles your fancy, head west to the Do Division Street Fest & Sidewalk Sale. Fans of the Empty Bottle and Subterranean should plan to attend this three-day event - the two well-loved venues booked the music for the weekend. Attendees should expect both established and up-and-coming bands and DJs. Peanut Butter Wolf, DJ and founder of Stone's Throw Records, will be one of many notable performers. The Empty Bottle programmed the East/Damen Stage and Subterranean is responsible for the West/Leavitt Stage. Visit the fest's website for the full lineup.
Do Division will run from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday, May 29 and noon to 10 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
Admission: Free, but $5 donation is suggested.
Address: Division Street between Damen and Leavitt. If using GPS, the suggested destination address is 2000 W. Division St, Chicago IL 60622. Free bike parking will be provided.