Downtown Sound

Mondays can be a bit of a drag, especially in the summer when all anyone wants to do is be outside, but the Downtown Sound concert series makes them something to look forward to. Downtown Sounds, which kicks off today, takes place weekly at Millenium Park through August 11 (with an exception of July 28) beginning at 6:30 PM. The series' highly-curated lineup captures a wide range of musical styles from folk, to independent rock, to world sounds. Each concert showcases talent based here in Chicago along with renown artists from all over.

Whether you work conveniently close to the park, or are traveling downtown by bike, train, or Metra downtown, make sure to come early! There's nothing like joining friends for a relaxing summer evening in Millenium Park, with its superb sound, and spectacular city views.

June 2

Robbie Fulks and Funeral Bonsai Wedding

This year's first Downtown Sound features Chicago resident and celebrated country/folk artist Robbie Fulks. Fulks twelfth and latest album,  Gone Away Backward, was released on Bloodshot Records last year. Opening the night is Funeral Bonsai Wedding, featuring Steve Dawson of Dolly Varden, along with esteemed improv musicians, drummer Frank Rosaly, bassist Jason Roebke, and vibraphonist Jason Adasiewicz.

June 9

Omar Souleyman and Joshua Abrams' Natural Information Society

Make sure to wear your dancing shoes this week for a high-octane performance by Omar Souleyman, the Syrian wedding / pop singer who has won the hearts of the international community. After releasing over 500 cassette releases, Souleyman teamed up with producer Kieran Hebdan of Four Tet for his latest release, Wenu Wenu. Josh Abrams, a bassist / composer with deep roots in Chicago's improvised, rock, and jazz communities kicks off the night with the rhythmic chaos of his Natural Information Society.

June 16

An evening with Richard Thompson and his Electric Trio

Starting with his days as a teenager with the Fairport Convention in the 1960s, British folk legend Richard Thompson has had a prolific and varied music career for nearly 50 years. After a solo acoustic performance, Thompson will be joined by the Electric Trio for an additional full set. This This special performance is sure to be one of the most memorable Downtown Sounds of the season. After the show, stay for a screening of the 1998 film Rushmore as part of Chicago Bike Week presented by the Goose Island Beer Company at 8:30 p.m.

June 23

Bob Mould and Split Single 

Beginning in the 1980s with his band Husker Du, Bob Mould has been one of the most iconic and influential musicians in independent rock. He makes his appearance at Millenium Park just weeks after the June 3 release of his latest album, Beauty and Ruin. Opening the bill is Split Single, the latest rock project of Evanston-based Jason Narducy (former Verbow).

June 30

My Brightest Diamond and White Mystery

Under the monikker My Brightest Diamond, Shara Worden's mixes her classical training and taste for pop styles into a mesmerizing blend of opera, indie rock, and cabaret and avant-pop. Sibling garage / psych rock duo White Mystery open.

July 7

Joe Pug and Hurray for the Riff Raff

Former Chicagoan Joe Pug returns for a headlining spot at Downtown Sounds. Taking cues from the likes of Bob Dylan, Pug crafts contemporary folk and country ballads, flavored by his earnest, salt-of-the-Earth demeanor and powerful voice. Opening up is Louisiana-based Hurray for the Riff Raff, a charming, Southern-flavored folk project led by banjo player / vocalist Alynda Lee Segarra.

July 14

Noura Mint Seymali and Ted Sirota's Heavyweight Dub 

Hailed as the "Diva of Mauritiania," songstress Noura Mint Seymali mixes the sounds of the Sahara and West Africa with bluesy psychedelics and her unparalleled, agile voice. Led by drummer Ted Sirota, Heavyweight Dub is one of Chicago's most notorious dub projects, even recording their debut album with pioneering dub artist The Scientist.

July 21

The Both and Pillars & Tongues

The Both is the indie/folk collaborative project of iconic singer-songwriters Aimee Mann and Ted Leo. The duo's self-titled debut came out in April on Mann's SuperEgo Records. Also on the bill is Chicago's minimalist avant-pop trio Pillars and Tongues, whose latest album, End Dances, came out last fall.

August 4

Maps & Atlases and Wooden Shjips 

Chicago quartet Maps and Atlases twists together hook-driven, technical indie rock, folk sounds and electronic influences, most recently on their 2012 album, Beware and Be Grateful. Mystical, minimalist psych rockers Wooden Shjips' (whose latest album, Back to Land, is available via Chicago-based Thrill Jockey Records) open.

August 11

Russian Circles and Colin Stetson

Closing out the Downtown Series is Russian Circles, an instrumental trio that has become one of the most sought-after rock bands to come out of Chicago in the last decade. While popular amongst hard rock audiences, the band's emotionally-charged, dynamic music has a universal appeal. Opening the evening is celebrated avant-garde saxophone / multi-instrumentalist Colin Stetson.

By: Jamie Ludwig