When we think of ideal summer concerts experiences, the obvious choice is an outdoor festival of sorts. And while Chicago's parks and streets are literally overflowing with fest goers all summer long, that's not where your options end when planning a fun musical outing.During your next visit to Chicago, check out one of these unique concert experiences.
Jazz, cocktails, fireworks and...stingrays? There's only one spot in the city that can make this happen. Shedd Aquarium's Wednesday night series Jazzin' at the Shedd pairs jazz performers from Chicago and the surrounding region with its 32,000 plus aquatic residents. This year's performers exhibit all of jazz music's modern influences including Latin (Rio Bamba, performing July 3, July 31 and August 28), soul music (Detour JazFunk, performing July 10, August 7 and Sept. 4) and rock and roll (Chris Green Quartet, performing July 24 and August 21). There's plenty of traditional jazz music to go around too. PJM Jazz, frequent Green Mill performers, perform every Wednesday through July 10 and July 17 through August 17.
Jazzin' at the Shedd attendees can listen to music as well as enjoy the aquarium's Abbott Oceanarium, Wild Reef and galleries. You can also check out the brand new Stingray Touch exhibit for a small additional price. The series runs every Wednesday from now until September 4 from 6 - 10 p.m. Admission is $18 for adults and $16 for kids 3-11 ($3 additional charge for Stingray Touch). You can purchase tickets on the Shedd's website or by calling 312-939-2438.
The Museum of Contemporary Art's terrace and sculpture garden grow to be even more beautiful Tuesdays during the summer with its Tuesdays on the Terrace series. Grab a blanket or rent a lawn chair ($5) for these free jazz concerts showcasing performers like acclaimed local cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm (July 9), soulful vocalist Julia Huff (August 13) and vibraphone maestro Andre Earles (Sept. 3). Wolfgang Puck Catering curates a rotating international barbeque buffet ($25 a person) or you can buy lighter fare like hamburgers and sausages from an a la cart menu. Tuesdays on the Terrace run now through Sept. 24. Concerts begin at 5:30 p.m.
It's not hard to pair wine and live music during the summer, but where else are you going to find an actual winery in the middle of downtown Chicago than City Winery. The concert venue/winery/restaurant's scenic 100-plus-seat patio is official open and its schedule is packed. And after work concert series is free to attend every Monday through Wednesday from 5:30 to 7: 30 p.m. If you're free on the weekends, check out the Bluegrass Brunches on Saturdays from noon to 3 p.m. and World Music Brunches featuring performers of the French, Spanish, Honduran and Klezmer varieties on Sundays from noon to 3 p.m. Admission to both brunches is free as well, but you'll likely want to belly up to the bar while you're there and try one of City Winery's 14 wines on tap. Visit the City Winery's website for a full performance schedule and more details.
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