Sunday, June 29, 2014

Concert Review: Ringo Starr and His All-Starr Band at the Chicago Theater



Ringo Starr is a Beatle. He will always be a Beatle. His future obituary will write him up as a Beatle and his lasting legacy will be that as a member of what is the single most accomplished and gifted music act of the 20th century. The only other artist to rival the catalog of the Beatles is Frank Sinatra. Sinatra recorded for approximately 50 years and the Beatles recorded for a total of seven years, so in the end, the Beatles win.
 
I’ve seen Ringo Starr and his All-Starr band before, but last night's performance was the most fun one could have at a concert. Ringo doesn't play for the sake of nostalgia and he has wisely hired some of the most talented people in the industry to compose his All-Starr band. The members of this band can say they played a few Beatles songs along the way. As a musician, that alone must be a moment to cherish in your recollected memory train.

Greg Rolie from Santana and Journey (although he doesn't play any Journey songs), Steve Lukather from Toto, Richard Page from Mister Mr. and the wonderful guitarist/vocalist/songwriter Todd Rundgren are joined on the stage by drummer Gregg Bisonette and saxophonist/percussionist/vocalist, Warren Ham.
 
Rundgren's presence on this stage may be worth the $210.00 (with fees) to see this travelling All-Starr act, so his contributions with the out-loud Bang on the Drum All Day, the sweetly inspired I Saw the Light and the touching anthem, Love is the Answer provided a worthy show in around 15 minutes.
 
Richard Page delivers a vivacious version of of the 80's hit Kyrie and slides us back to a bygone day of great pop with Broken Wings. He is the one man on stage Ringo allows to debut a new song, You Are Mine. A lovely love song that would have balanced itself up to hit status 30 years ago, but in today's marketplace this song wouldn't work unless you had a 20 year old woman singing it.
 
Greg Rolie pounds out some classic Santana songs, including Evil Ways, Black Magic Woman and the always sing-along worthy Oye Coma Va. Rock and roll never sounded so fresh - forty plus years after the release of these songs.  
 
Steve Lukather gets us firmly planted with some superb lead guitar work on radio staples, Rosanna, Africa and Hold the Line. Lukather centers the night with some dream work on guitar.  
 
They are clearly a timely group since the show started exactly on time (8:00) and ended on the nose at 10:00. It was a mischievious night of fun and it didn't take long for you to realize this isn't your typical concert material. For one, they all genuinely seemed to be having a wildly good time and it was obvious to all, that these musicians all liked each other. Jokes were flying back from stage left to stage right and lo and behold, they weren't all scripted.
 
Ringo wants to have a good time on stage and that is what you get with one of his shows. The legendary Chicago theater played host to the 2014 Starr tour and it was indeed an entertaining night of raucus delight.  Of course, we get some of the great Ringo singing lead Beatles songs, including the still absolutely fantastic Yellow Submarine.  Ringo states with tremendous clarity, "if you don't know this song you are in the wrong venue." Could you possibly have a wider array of giddy smiles throughout the hall going on and on with "we all live in a yellow submarine?" Who else could have come up with something so creative and fun without being stupid, except the fab four.
 
Ringo goes back and forth with some famed Ringo vocals from the Beatles (Don't Pass Me By, Honey Don't, Act Naturally, Boys, I Wanna Be Your Man, Matchbox), but he never gives us a 2014 tour version of Octopus’ Garden so that was my big "what?" of the evening, but we do get some spot on renditions of his 1971 hit, It Don't Come Easy and the George Harrison penned, Photograph.
 
It's difficult to believe that Ringo Starr will be 74 years old in a few days. His energy level would rival any man half his age. I didn't count how many times peace and love were mentioned throughout the performance, but in this crowd it seems a mildly ridiculous preaching to the choir test of words and they even end the performance with John Lennon's Give Peace a Chance, although Ringo at that point is conspicuously off the stage.
 
Check out the legends. These are artists we rarely get to enjoy and life is indeed brief and fragile. Thanks to all of them for putting on a wonderful show. Yes, they got by with a little bit of help from their friends.      
 
It’s all fun, fun, fun. Wait, that’s a Beach Boys song.         
 
Good time in the old town last night. Take advantage of these performances. Someday soon, these guys will be too old to deliver some of these classic tunes.
 
Copyright Chicago and Then Some 2014

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Fireworks! Chicago and Chicagoland 2014 - Happy Independence Day!



Americans have been celebrating Independence Day for almost 240 years and we have been lighting up the skies with fireworks for most of that 200 year plus period. To celebrate the American independence from British control, and taxation without representation we enjoy watching our skies lighting up in brilliant bursts of color and sounds exploding over the various locations across our towns and cities.

To our Founding Fathers: Thank you for seeing past the moment and taking on a cause that became a nation! Take one moment to think of the courage, strength and wisdom of George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, James Madison, James Monroe, Benjamin Franklin, John Hancock, Patrick Henry, Thomas Paine, Paul Revere, John Paul Jones; and to all of the men and woman who were fearless, relentless and passionate about freedom.

Here is a schedule of fireworks displays scheduled for Chicago and the Chicagoland area for 2014 (times and locations subject to change).   ALL TIMES ARE PM
 
Firework displays in the Chicagoland Area

1)      Aurora, IL

July 4th @ McCullough Park and River edge Park at 9:30pm. There will be a 4th of July parade @10 a.m. starting at the Paramount Theatre in downtown Aurora.

2)      Naperville, IL

Ribfest from July 3-6 at Knoch park 12pm-10pm with free shuttle service available from several Naperville locations. July 4th fireworks at 9:30pm.

3)      Wheaton, IL

On July 3rd starting at 5:30pm Graf park family fun events including firework displays.

4)      Highland Park, IL

July 4th at Wolters field the Bitter Jester Battle of the bands finale starting at 6pm followed by a fireworks display.

5)      DeKalb, IL

July 5th Hopkins park @dusk. Vendors, food, crafts and live music before the fireworks go off.

6)      Kirkland, IL

July 5th Kirkland’s Lions Club on 3rd St. @ 9:30pm fireworks. July 3rd-5th there is a carnival, food and live bands. July 4th @11am there will be a parade.

7)      Northbrook, IL

July 4th parade @ 2:30pm and Meadow Hill Park and Techny Prairie Park and field @dusk fireworks.

8)      Evanston, IL

July 4th parade @ 2pm followed by activities and concerts throughout the day and a fireworks display @ 9:15pm at the lakefront.

9)      Tinley Park, IL

July 4th 8am-9:30pm McCarthy Park all day events and activities, entertainment and food. The grand finale fireworks show begins @ 9:15pm.

10)  Romeoville, IL

July 3rd 7-9:15pm activities, food and live bands at deer Crossings Park and at 9:15pm fireworks show at Village Park.

11)  Lake Zurich

July 4th family fun all day event at Paulus Park with fireworks displayed at the lake at 9:15pm.

12)  Palatine, IL

July 3rd the Hometown Fest all day event will include food, carnival and entertainment. Fireworks will be going off at around 9:30pm.

13)  Crystal Lake, IL

July 6th fireworks will take place at dusk over the lake.

14)  Hoffman Estates, IL

July 4th at 9:30pm fireworks will take place at Sears Centre Arena Grounds.

15)  Roselle, IL

July 3rd Party at the Park starts at 6:30pm at Lake Park High School West Campus followed by fireworks.

16)  Downers Grove, IL
July 4th fireworks show at 9:30pm on 75th and Lemont Road.

17)  Park Ridge, IL
 July 3rd firework display will be held at Maine East High School at dusk.

18)  Lake Ellyn, IL
July 4th afternoon festivities 1-4pm at Lake Ellyn Park followed by fireworks at dusk in the park.

19)  Sleepy Hollow, IL

July 4th Sabatino Park all day festivities followed by fireworks at 9:15pm in the park.

20)  Rochelle, IL

July 4th Atwood Park 8-9pm municipal band concert followed by fireworks at dusk.

21)  Palos Heights, IL
July 3rd 7-10pm at Lake Katherine there will be food, music, games and fireworks.

22)  Itasca, IL

July 4th at Hamilton Lake live music will begin at 6pm with a fireworks display starting between 9:45-10pm.

23)  Navy Pier in Chicago

Dusk on July 4th

24)  Bartlett, IL

July 4th there will be a carnival, food and entertainment throughout the day followed by the Firework Extravaganza at 9:30pm all at 700 S. Bartlett Road, Bartlett, IL.

25)  Rockford, IL

July 4th in Davis Park the Silver Creek band will play at 7:30pm followed by fireworks at 9:30pm in downtown Rockford.

26)  Shabbona, IL

July 4th at Lake Shabbona fireworks display will take place at dusk.

27)  Mt. Prospect, IL

July 4th at Melas Park fireworks will go off at dusk.

28)  Plainfield, IL

Patriotic Picnic and Fireworks Thursday, July 3rd at 6pm at Plainfield Central High School picnic with several events followed by fireworks at dusk.

29)  Lake Forest, IL

July 4th at Deerpath Park starting at 6pm there will be food, beverages and entertainment including the band 10,000 Maniacs followed by fireworks at around 9:30pm.

30)  Skokie, IL

July 4th 5pm at Niles West High School there will be food, games and bands playing followed by a 3-D glasses fireworks show at dusk.

31) Wilmette, IL

Independence Day Celebration, Gillson Park, Thursday, July 3rd, 9:30pm

32) Bolingbrook, IL

The All-American Celebration, Friday, July 4th, 2001 Rodeo Drive, Bolingbrook

33) Frankfort, IL

4th of July Celebration, Friday, July 4th, 200 S. Locust Street, Frankfort

34) Barrington, Fireworks at Dusk, July 4th, 616 W. Main Street

35) Arlington Heights, Frontier Days, July 3-6 Fireworks, Dusk, July 4th, 2200 W. Euclid Avenue 

36) Mokena, Fireworks, Dusk, July 4, Main Park 10925 LaPorte Road

37) New Lenox, Fireworks, 9:30pm, July 4th

38) St. Charles, Fireworks, Dusk, July 4th 

Be prepared and check your community of choice's homepage to verify information before you depart for the celebrations. Due to weather and other situations, this list is subject to change.
Enjoy life with a purpose! Be careful and safe journeys!


Let freedom ring while we celebrate and enjoy our Independence Day! 


Copyright Chicago and Then Some 2014

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Best Ice Cream in the Chicagoland Area

I love ice cream. Packed. Soft-serve. Gelato. Frozen Yogurt (actually, I only love TCBY's frozen yogurt - it is the country's best yogurt). It's officially summer and summer is the season for multiple outings for cold treats. I have a deep emotional attachment to those moments when my mom and dad would take us out for ice cream during those summer nights of my childhood and youth. History bubbles up with memories as I dip into glorious ice cream. I have nostalgia for my youthful family memories, but the ice cream is even better today - or so it seems.  

For the last year we've been scouring the entire area for the best ice cream. These are places we have experienced either once or in some cases, multiple times. These locations are not necessarily in any particular order, but if you want to indulge in some good ice treats, check them out. Please leave comments, since we want to hear about other good ice cream locales.

The Brown Cow – This ice cream palace has the single best chocolate peanut butter ice cream I've ever tasted. It's one heck of a creative accomplishment. The ice cream here is superb, but the chocolate peanut butter here is as memorable as a song you can’t get out of your head. Superb ice cream and the ambiance is delightful. 
    7347 W. Madison Street, Forest Park
Chocolate Peanut Butter on the right side!  

Cool Creations –What a gem and it’s a relatively unheard of gem. I would never had known of its existence if I hadn’t been chatting up ice cream locations with the garage door fixer upper.  I have been chatting up ice cream locations with everyone I encounter. Cool Creations is in a an old Baptist church built in 1852. The ice cream is a gift to the palate. Outdoor seating and indoor seating available. 
937 S. Hamilton, Lockport
 
Plush Horse – A great American getaway for decades in the south suburbs.  Two locations offer up a good reason to share in the excitement of getting your calcium. Yes, tell yourself that one.  This is good for my bones! You will not get more for your money than the ice cream dished out or coned out at the Plush Horse. 
Two locations: 12301 S. 86th Avenue, Palos Park (original location)
7903 W. 171st Street, Tinley Park


                                                               Plush Horse Cones
 
Bobtail - Bobtail is pretty sophisticated. Their ice cream is homemade and wildly creative. This place doesn't mess around with second rate flavors. Have fun! 
2951 N. Broadway, Chicago
1114 Central, Wilmette

Original Rainbow Cone – You can’t go wrong with an Original Rainbow Cone. A famous and almost downright iconic refreshing treat in the city of Chicago.  I love to look at a rainbow cone. Makes you smile. Well, it makes me smile.
9322 S. Western, Chicago

                                                      Original Rainbow Cone

Mamma Rosetta's Gelateria – Some of the best gelato you will ever indulge in. Inside and outside seating is available. Don't be fooled by the cup size. This gelato is so rich that a medium packs a lot more than you think. Flavors are all excellent. You can't figure out which ones to go with, because you want them all.   
30 Oak Street, Frankfort 
 
Zarlengo’s Italian Ice and Gelato – This place is a bit south, but it’s worth the drive. Daringly delicious ice treats being served up since the early 1980's. 
257 W. Joe Orr Road, Chicago heights 

Jack Frost – Excellent location for wildly good soft serve ice cream. Their dipped cones are out of this world. Outdoor seating is available. The building resembles a small Swiss Chalet.
5329 159th Street, Oak Forest 

Capannari Ice Cream - An entertaining ice cream locale filled with good flavors. A packed list of events to boot. 
10 S. Pine Street, Mount Prospect

2 Sisters – Custard. Yes, it’s good.  Very, very good. It’s a small location in a strip mall, but if you are anywhere near it, you should check it out.
4734 147th Street, Midlothian

Dairy Bar - The little red draped building serves up some holy cow good soft serve ice cream. They've been there since 1955.
1015 Harlem, Glenview 
  
Oberweis – Yes, chains are included if they offer up the creamiest ice cream in the 75 mile spread of the covered area. Lots to offer in these throwbacks to Americana. The music from the earlier days of the rock/pop era serve as a delightful backdrop, but the cleanliness of the locations and the super fantastic ice cream keeps you coming back. 
3055 N. Sheffield, Chicago
Various locations throughout the suburban Chicagoland area
 
Tastee Freez - Excellent soft serve treats.  Prices are good too. Go for the waffle cone!
2815 W. Armitage, Chicago
Various locations throughout the suburban Chicagoland area
 
Don't fear the chain. Baskin Robbins has superb ice cream in a variety of flavors and they are pretty much all over the place. Also, the American superstar of ice cream chains is Dairy Queen. When you travel along the nation's highways you begin to expect to see signage for the DQ and it is somewhat comforting to know they are there. 

Copyright Chicago and Then Some 2014     

 

Friday, June 6, 2014

Long Weekend Trip Out of Chicago - Presidential Libraries/Museums

                     ROAD TRIP

It's difficult to get more quintessentially American than a visit to a Presidential Library and Museum. Visiting the Presidential Libraries/Museums is one of the few bucket list items on my own personal journal of things to do and you can visit two of them during a pleasant long weekend out of Chicago.

While it would be easy to fly directly to Kansas City, Missouri, there is a certain poetry to the drive through large swaths of endless rows of farms and green tree filled hills. Missouri is a beautiful state with lots of hills, valleys and non-treadmill inclines. This is in no way a boring drive through the Show Me state. It's lovely from start to finish.

The trip begins in Chicago and you drive the smooth stretch of I-55 down through to Springfield with a turn toward Hannibal, Missouri. We stopped in Hannibal to visit Mark Twain's boyhood home, but the real destination was toward Kansas City, Missouri and then to Abilene, Kansas.

I'm a history buff, specifically a U.S. history buff, but you don't have to be a buff to appreciate the massive historic encounters at these two superbly enthralling venues.

You can get to Kansas City in a day's drive and we parked ourselves (well, actually we parked with the valet) at the downtown Marriott in Kansas City. The hotel is this side of gigantic, but the service on all fronts was professionally generous. The rooms are large and clean and everyone we encountered from the valet to the greet staff to the check-in staff to the security guards were all kind and helpful. The food in the lobby bar was even excellent.  I still haven't forgotten the outstanding soft pretzel appetizers we ordered while watching a sporting event.

The Harry S. Truman Library and Museum is a short distance from the hotel. The facility is located in the lovely suburban area of Independence. Truman was born in Lamar and he died in Kansas City, but Independence was home for much of his life. It's a large library featuring the triumphs of one of our most to the point Presidents. He was humble and yet he was a born leader. He certainly didn't appear on the surface to be a man who would lead the nation out of the Second World War and into what is perhaps the most consequential period in American history outside of the flush years directly after the American Revolution. Truman famously said "if you can't take the heat, then get out of the kitchen." Leadership comes in a wide variety of personality types, but every President since Truman has latched on to Trumanisms.

                                                      Truman Library and Museum

Obviously, Truman's life cannot be diminished to a few paragraphs, but clearly he was one of the most remarkable people who enlivened the American century. He, his wife Bess and their only child are buried on the grounds of the Library/Museum.

The highlights here are the film, the sections on Postwar America, the Recognition of Israel, Upset of the Century (think Thomas Dewey) and the Courtyard.

The even more intriguing part of the twofer Library/Museum visits was to come in Abilene, Kansas. We saddled up for our journey to one of the outposts of the American west. Dwight David Eisenhower who brilliantly forged the campaign known as D-Day has one of the most significant of the Presidential Libraries/Museums.  The content at this museum is unusually large and you need a full day to navigate the wide array of historical points. Quite frankly, if you are an avid history buff you could use two days in this Library/Museum.  I was mad at myself that we had not allowed enough time at this vast arena of information. The World War II sections were particularly satisfying to this buff. Again, even if you are a casual observer to American history you will appreciate these places for contemplation; and ultimately be grateful for the experience of having this nation to call home. Whether you personally agree with the ideology of a President these places reflect the arc of American history and politics has nothing to do with the libraries/museums.

                                                      Eisenhower Museum & Library

Eisenhower's resting place is solemn and thought-provoking. His childhood home is on the property and there are two buildings housing the mighty and bountiful displays of artifacts, documents and historical archival footage. On a side note, it is a pity Mamie Eisenhower wasn't recognized for her style. Every single outfit on display in Mamie's section (Ike's wife) would and could be worn by me today.

I cried during multiple spins around ever changing rooms and the chapel is a graceful resting place for not only Eisenhower, but for anyone wanting a few moments alone to rest in God's grace.

                                                        Eisenhower's Boyhood Home

To visit Eisenhower's Library Museum you will need 2 1/2 hours out of Kansas City. Then you need the time back. Just allow as much time as possible. On the way back to Kansas City you can have dinner in the gorgeous town of Lawrence, Kansas which houses the University of Kansas. Great town filled with affordable eateries and some nice stretches for stretching your legs on a walk around campus or around town.

Practically everything you witness here is a highlight. Glorious day of lounging in the history of two decades of Eisenhower's brilliant and understated leadership.

On our return trip to Chicago we ventured a different way home instead of taking the Missouri route back. We climbed north to Clarinda, Iowa. Clarinda is a small town on the Southwestern edge of Iowa. Since Truman and Eisenhower both defined or were definers of the World War II era it seemed more than appropriate to stop in this town to pay our respects to the Glenn Miller Birthplace Museum. The Glenn Miller Orchestra was the most successful of the Depression/World War II era big bands and they even were the first music artist to sell a record reaching one million in sales. Miller joined the Army Air Force band and lost his life in service to his country. The museum is a small place filled with music, photographs, posters, films, documents and original long play albums. It's a wonderful diversion on the road back whether you are in the mood or not.

We love weekend journeys out of Chicago and particularly when you can take some luxury time in the good weather of spring, summer and fall.

Take this jaunt and enjoy the history you breathe in.

Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum, Independence, Missouri. 816 268 8200 or www.trumanlibrary.org

Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum, Abilene, Kansas 785 263 6700 or www.eisenhower.archives.gov or www.facebook.com/IkeLibrary

Glenn Miller Birthplace Museum, Clarinda, Iowa 712 542 2461 or www.glennmiller.org

If visiting the Presidential Libraries is on a bucket list, please note the other Presidential Libraries and their locations:

Abraham Lincoln, Springfield, IL
Herbert Hoover, West Branch, IA
Franklin Roosevelt, Hyde Park, NY
John Kennedy, Boston, MA
Richard Nixon, Yorba Linda, CA
Lyndon Johnson, Austin, TX
Gerald Ford Library, Ann Arbor, MI (Museum is located in Grand Rapids, MI)
Jimmy Carter, Atlanta, GA
Ronald Reagan, Simi Valley, CA
George Bush, College Station, TX
William Clinton, Little Rock, AR
George W. Bush, Dallas, TX  


Copyright Chicago and Then Some 2014   

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Concert Review: Barry Gibb - The Mythology Tour (Bee Gees) at the United Center, Chicago

 
 
 
It’s a sad story to lose three of your siblings (Andy Gibb passed in the late 1980's) before any of them reached the age to qualify for Medicare, but fortunately Barry Gibb’s wife of 44 years (yes, that is correct) convinced him he needed to get out there and play music. Thankfully, for us he is still playing that music and doing it brilliantly.  
 
Last night’s performance at Chicago’s United Center (home to the Blackhawks and the Bulls) was certifiably one of the finest live shows I’ve ever witnessed. Barry Gibb has received a multiple number of honors over his 48 year career, but knowing the Bee Gees are the only act in history to write, produce and record four number one hits in a row may be the most stupendously over the top achievement any music artist could even dream of. Obviously, the Bee Gees were one of the most commercially successful (even beyond their work on the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack) and critically acclaimed acts in all of music history; and Mr. Gibb's show provides a well-rounded look at the career of the Bee Gees.   
 
Most people think of the aforementioned Saturday Night Fever soundtrack when they think of the Bee Gees, but the brothers Gibb were a heady act of great renown before that 1977 splash of music paint hit the walls of the waning years of the disco generation. Those tunes remain some of the finest songs of the now defunct era, but shockingly they still hold up nearly four decades past their first turn of the 33 1/3. 
 
Gibb’s entrance onto the stage was overwhelming. He wasn’t on stage for three songs before an extended crush of a standing ovation was given. Gibb seemed flush with the feeling of good will. He genuinely was surprised by all of that fan love. He also seemed troubled to hear the shouts of WE LOVE YOU BARRY every time some 60 plus year old yelled it out while he was singing one of his multitude of stunningly beautiful love songs. As much as I enjoy and have enjoyed the music of the Bee Gees I simply didn’t remember all of these beautiful and in some cases downright obscure ballads. I loved every minute of it.  At many concerts the last thing you want to hear is an obscure “slow song,” but not at a Gibb concert. Those whopper sized donuts of love were welcomed with open arms in Chicago. After listening to them, you ask yourself, what music do people today fall in love to?  
 
Gibb can still hit and hold the notes; and that famed falsetto is still working at its peak. This man resides comfortably in the glory of superbly crafted music. He is a gifted songwriter both lyrically and musically. Many of his compositions are orchestral which opens a wide path for all of the critical acclaim he has received.  
 
There were so many highlights that you could say the entire list of thirty songs were the highlight. It was one big reel of pop genius. The monumental Lonely Days sounded like the original track and it was hard to believe that all of this came about via nine musicians and three back-up singers. To Love Somebody never sounded as good. How Can You Mend A Broken Heart was performed solo in this showcase, because Maurice’s daughter was out sick (Samantha is touring with her uncle). Barry's son Steve is on stage with his iconic dad. Steve is a guitarist who favors metal and tattoos. He is a nice driver of lead guitar work, so it's family, but it's always been family for Barry Gibb.    

 
Stayin’ Alive still has the ability to get the heart pumping and I literally dare the shyest among us to not at least move an arm. Some of the great classics from the late 1960’s and early 1970’s were meshed with the finely tuned upbeat songs and Gibb never missed a beat. The ballads are all here. I’ve Gotta Get a Message To You, Run To Me, and Words 
 
Gibb takes on Night Fever and More Than a Woman with a hanging from the ceiling disco ball. We get a rousing round of songs he wrote for other artists, including the powerful drama of a tune, Woman In Love.


He pays tribute to Bruce Springsteen with a lovely rendition of I’m on Fire. Springsteen has been playing Stayin’ Alive on tour, so it was payback time in their mutual love fest. Gibb said Springsteen is the greatest live act in music. Springsteen is, but Gibb is high on the list of great live acts, even at his current age.   
 
The great “One” was played as though it were an overture number from a musical out of the 1940’s. The stunning panorama of gorgeous ballads kept coming. If you have never heard Morning of My Life or With the Sun In My Eyes do yourself a big life favor and download these tracks. His current versions are almost a little too penetrating to the soul; and it all kept going. When was the last time you said at 11pm on a Tuesday night you wanted to stay out and listen to the music?!    
 
My only dilemma: my two favorite Bee Gees songs were not performed. Why on earth Fanny (Be Tender With My Love) was not added to the set list is slightly off my radar of thought. One of the most beautiful love songs ever wasn't played at the United Center. Love You Inside Out is so blatantly and ballistically brilliant it should be played no matter where he goes and this song missed the set list as well. 
 
The Mythology tour ends in California shortly, so hopefully Mr. Gibb will have enjoyed himself so much on this tour that he will carry himself back to the stage within the next couple of years. The ticket prices were reasonable. Shockingly, he didn’t sell out the venue. That is bizarre, but as the aging boomer population retreats into their own isolated cocoons we may see less and less of the great artists of the latter half of the 20th century taking to the road. There aren’t many of them left, but Barry Gibb was and remains one of the most resourcefully talented people the music industry ever had their hands on.  
 

Final Note: Jared & the Mill opened for Gibb in Chicago. The five man band from Arizona were strikingly good; and shockingly the audience paid attention to their detailed and finely performed set. I highly recommend checking out their music. 
 
 
Copyright Chicago and Then Some 2014
 

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Fun in the Summertime - Things To Do In Chicago During Summer



Grass is green, trees are green, flowers are in bloom, birds wake us up chirping.

Chicago comes alive in summer with a multitude of wonderful opportunities. Yes, Chicago may be one of the felony crime capitals of the country, but it also has an inventory of fabulous activities and events to cherish with family and friends.

Here is the guide to fun in the summertime in a great world class city!

Navy Pier - Chicago provides a stunning lakefront. You can go to Navy Pier and ride a 150 foot high Ferris wheel, ride a stunning carousel and play an 18-hole miniature golf course. Walk the Pier, view the skyline that has no rivals in the U.S. and enjoy the gorgeous lakefront. Summer fireworks at Navy Pier run on Wednesdays and Saturdays, May 28th through August 30th. The fireworks are at Navy Pier's Gateway Park and Dock Street (South Promenade). Wednesdays at 9:30pm, Saturdays at 10:15pm

Chicago Beaches - Bike rentals are located at the beaches. Swim only when lifeguards are present and listen to the rules and regulations. There are posted beach rules. Pay attention to people in authority at a beach. Currents and tides can be dangerous. Beach hours: 11am-7pm. Swimming is allowed unless otherwise posted. Keep it clean. Garbage goes into trash receptacles. Garbage finds it way into the waters provided for the world's population to drink; and respect the sea creatures. Care about your surroundings.  It's cool to care about wildlife.

Buckingham Fountain - One of the most beautiful fountains in the world is still the go to photo op in the city of Chicago. Absolutely breathtaking even in a high-tech world. The fountain is located in Grant Park. Catch one of the daily water shows before starting your exploration of the city in summer. chicagoparkdistrict.com 312 742 7529

The Bean - The city's second best photo op. It's just cool, period. Art at its simplest.

Taste of Chicago - July 9-13 - Food, glorious food. Grant Park. Concerts too. This is still one of Chicago's big deals.

Chicago Air & Water Show - August 16-17 - North Avenue Beach - 10am-3pm. The U.S. Navy Blue Angels and U.S. Army Parachute Team Golden Knights. It's a premiere event in the nation, let alone in Chicago. If you have never gone, go! Free! You will witness thrilling maneuvers! 312 744 3316



Chicago Gospel Music Festival - June 27 through June 29 - June 27 at the Chicago Cultural Center at 78 East Washington Street, Chicago; June 28/29 at Ellis Park - 37th Street & Cottage Grove Avenue.  Superb and long running festival. Prepare to worship.

10th Annual Lollapalooza Festival, Grant Park - August 1-3. It's wild and if you don't like the music make sure you aren't in the city that weekend. Crowded and noisy. 11am-10pm. 130 acts in all, including Eminem, Outkast and Kings of Leon.

Terrace at Trump - Chicago - You will not get a better view of the city's skyline and lakefront than what this location provides. The upscale16th-floor restaurant gives you the best wraparound of the city's gorgeous vistas while you dine on small-plate food. Absolutely unsurpassed views of the Chicago River and Lake Michigan. 

Chicago Architecture Foundation Walking and Bus Tours - All tours are led by highly trained docents. Go to architecture.org for the dates, times and ticket prices. Great tours!

Chicago Architecture Foundation River Cruise Aboard Chicago's First Lady - May through November 23 - Cruise in style and comfort while going on a 90 minute panoramic view of Chicago's architecture. This is a must for any tourist or resident!  Wow. What a beautiful city!

Baseball! Chicago White Sox - Chicago Cubs - A day at U.S. Cellular Field or Wrigley Field. There is nothing like a ball game. Buy tickets for games at Ticketmaster or on their respective team sites.

Festa Italiana - August 14-17 - The fest will attract about 50,000 people. It's packed. The food is beyond fantastic and there are four stages of music. Meatball eating contest and grape stomping are included. This is one of the city's best festivals. Lots of fun and the food is great! Taylor Street and Ashland Avenue, Chicago.

Mercury Skyline Cruises - May through October 13 - Chicago's Skyline Cruiseline offers 90 minute cruises with some superb commentary.  Catch it at Chicago's Riverwalk on the lower level at the southeast corner of the Michigan Avenue bridge.

Mercury Canine Cruise - Dogs!!! This cruise on the lake and the river is for dogs! Well-behaved, leashed dogs and their best friends will enjoy some dog history. Go to Chicago's River Walk at the lower level of the southeast corner of the Michigan Avenue Bridge. 10am or go to chicagocaninecruise.com.

80th anniversary of the Grant Park Music Festival - Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays - June 11th through August 16th - This is free all summer long. Classical music in Grant Park. How much can you ask for? - Millenium Park's Pavilion - Times vary. Free!

Cirque Shanghai: Warriors - Wednesdays-Sundays, May 28-August 31 - Chinese tumblers, jugglers and other artists. Navy Pier's Pepsi Skyline Stage - Times and ticket prices vary.

D-Day: Normandy 1944 - May 23 through December - Omnimax - Tom Brokaw is the narrator. This stunning film provides a penetrating look into the largest Allied operation of World War II. Awesome archival photography, live-action re-enactments that bring to life the experiences of those who were there. Truly one of the highlights in Chicago this year! Museum of Science & Industry, 5700 S. Lake Shore Drive. Hours during summer have been extended. Times and prices vary. msichicago.org - Don't miss this!

Flight of the Butterflies - All summer long - Omnimax - A must see.  Check out both this filmed exhibit and the D-Day: Normandy 1944 exhibit on the same day. Times and prices vary. Museum of Science & Industry, 5700 S. Lake Shore Drive. Museum closes at 5:30pm.

Butterflies & Blooms - May 24 through September 1 - Butterflies from all over the world and from the area. Chicago Botanic Garden, Glencoe

Chicago Blues Festival - June 13-15 - Grant Park - Largest blues festival in the country and it's free. Some major names in the blues world appear here.

Chicago Jazz Festival - August 28-31 - Cultural Center, Millennium Park, Grant Park - This festival closes out summer with a Labor Day treat featuring some of the nation's finest jazz artists.

85th annual Bud Billiken Parade & Picnic - August 9 - This is the oldest and largest African-American parade in the nation. King Drive & 39th Street - 10am.

NASCAR Nationwide Series - July 19, Chicagoland Speedway, 500 Speedway Boulevard, Joliet. Presented by Menards.

Viva La Fiesta - Brookfield Zoo - June 7-8 &14-15 - 8400 31st Street, Brookfield - A celebration of Hispanic culture.

Brookfield Zoo in Brookfield and Lincoln Park Zoo in the city's Lincoln Park neighborhood. Chicago has two world-class zoos. Open seven days.

Six Flags, Gurnee, Illinois - Goliath is being billed as the steepest and highest roller coaster in the world and it opens this year. This may be on your updated bucket list.  Open seven days.

Frankfort Fall Festival - August 30-September 1 - More than 300,000 visitors visit this festival in historic downtown Frankfort to shop for crafts by 300 artisans.

Ambler-Becker Texas Gas Station - Dwight, IL - If you are in the mood for a short drive and some genuine history then check out this historic 1930's service station that is listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. It's at the intersection of the old Route 66 and Illinois Route 17.  It's about 80 miles southwest of the city center.

Rooftop Summer Series in Joliet featuring Strung Out.  - July 10 at 7:30pm. Strung Out is a classic rock band. These guys are near perfection. Check this event out.

Copyright Chicago and Then Some 2014

 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Restaurant Review: Capri Ristorante, Burr Ridge, Illinois



Since Italian restaurants are relatively plentiful throughout the United States and particularly in large Northern American cities we at times have a tendency to believe and/or think it is easy to make a good Italian meal. Nothing can be further from the truth. Creating an excellent sauce is one of the most difficult goals to reach in the culinary world; and that is why I enjoy when I find a good experience and then being able to share it.

Capri Ristorante in Burr Ridge is an overall delightful dining experience highlighted by a superb series of sauces. The sauce that deserves the highest recommendation on this menu is the marinara sauce. This sauce is authentic, bold and memorable. Most of the time going in the simple direction is the best direction to drift in with an entrée, so the spaghetti with marinara will leave you feeling beyond satisfied.

The most elaborate entrée I tasted was the Parpadella Boscailola. It's a large flat pasta smothered in tomatoes, spinach and veal. It was very good. The Lasagna portion is gigantic, so prepare thy stomach for a whirlwind of wonderful tastes, but know you have to take about a three hour walk to wear it off. Chicken Parmesan (otherwise known at this location as the Denis Savard - if you are a hockey fan you will appreciate the menu note) and Chicken Marsala are both excellent.

A highlight appetizer is the Pepe Rosso Ripieni. The roasted red pepper dish is absolutely noteworthy on the palette; and quite honestly it could serve as a I must go back there entrée.

Overall, Capri Ristorante Burr Ridge is a wonderful night out whether you are with a large family contingent or on a date with your loved one.

The ambiance is splendid and quite true to the Italian in décor.  It's a lively, but not loud event of a meal.

Valet parking is available, although a gracious and welcoming parking lot awaits if you don't want to valet park.

Prices are reasonable and the service is excellent. The location is easy to get to as it is right off the I-55.

Make a way to check out this wonderful restaurant location.

Capri Ristorante
324 Burr Ridge Parkway
Burr Ridge, Illinois

Copyright Chicago and Then Some 2014

Monday, February 17, 2014

Restaurant Review: Harvest Room, Palos Heights, Illinois


Most of the restaurants worthy of reviewing inevitably end up being in the city, but I love to celebrate small businesses in the suburban areas of this large metropolis. The south suburbs can at times be quality food barren, but Chicago and Then Some has attempted to find stand-out gems worthy of a visit for the palate.

Many of us are chained out, although quite frankly, I'm actually not. One of the reasons many, if not most people like chains is for their predictability. You know what you are going to get at a chain restaurant. Some chains are better than others, but we should support small businesses, particularly small businesses in communities in or near where one lives.  For discerning adults, you will know these businesses pay taxes that assist your community. Smart people want to support small businesses. They also want to support large businesses, but the bread and butter of the typical suburban community in America is at times driven by the small businesses. You see those empty storefronts making your neighborhood look dismal and then making your home values go down, well get out and support the businesses that are within walking or a short driving distance from your home. Renters should feel the same way.  

I've eaten at the Harvest Room four times. Over this past let's get out of the house before cabin fever becomes dangerous weekend I ventured over there with friends. The food on every single outing has been good to great. Some items are better than others. The Panini's are particular standouts and some of the unique dishes on the menu range from great to ok I tried that.

The sweet potato fries and the regular fries are a hotbed for fabulousness (if you aren't on a diet). The salads are excellent and the menu has a wide variety of items to choose from. Breakfast, lunch or dinner - you won't be steered incorrectly. The menu is wide ranging and well rounded. It is a farm to table concept that works.

The breakfast prices are particularly soothing if one is on a budget. If you are eating breakfast there definitely opt for the biscuit. As I was indulging in every bite I found myself ever more pleased with my menu side item of choice.  Superb and quite frankly, worthy of a visit.

Want gluten-free? They have it. Want a few vegan options. They offer them. The big plus at the Harvest Room is that it celebrates the food art of organic and the meat is free range/grass fed.

Mosey on over to the quaint town of Palos Heights and grab yourself a meal at this excellent restaurant. It is a nondescript place with near nothing of signage, but once inside expect a great meal.

Parking is tight (or go off hours) and I assume at some point their neighbors won't like them very much, but indulge in a good meal.

Harvest Room
Open Monday through Sunday
7164 West 127th Street
Palos Heights, Illinois
708 671 8905

Copyright Chicago and Then Some 2014