Zak Piper, coproducer of The Interrupters and director of production at Kartemquin Films is fascinated by:

The Stars of Fame

For half my life I’ve been obsessed with 60s soul music and collecting obscure soul 45s and LPs. Earlier this year I came across The Stars of Fame—an excellent EP of four previously unreleased songs, which perfectly exemplify the sounds and strength of Fame Records, cofounded by legendary producer Rick Hall. George Jackson’s “Search Your Heart” is a catchy ballad drenched in the signature sounds of Muscle Shoals. Ben & Spence offer the upbeat, midtempo, organ-driven, complete-with-horn-outro “Thief in the Night” (later recorded by Percy Sledge)—solid. The C&C Boys’ track “Thread the Needle” captures the popular boogaloo flavor of soul from the mid- to late 60s. The EP is rounded out with Jimmy Hughes and an update to his biggest hit: “Steal Away ’68 Part 1″—a begging ballad with bonus female backup singers that bring the whole thing home. The Kent Records release is a wonderful slice of southern soul music.

Mary Kate Barley-Jenkins, programming director for the Chicago Humanities Festival had a relaxing time at:

Emily Oaks Nature Center

Emily Oaks Nature Center

Searching for an outing one Sunday morning for myself, my husband, and our three-year-old son, I stumbled across a line in an events calendar about the “secret places of Emily Oaks.” Intrigued, I soon discovered that Emily Oaks is a nature center in Skokie, not too far from the Rogers Park neighborhood where I live. Needing a break from the usual kids’ outings (museums, etc) we headed on over and were delighted by what we found. Tucked away beyond Howard Street and several car dealerships was an oasis. For $2 we rented a backpack and got goodies for the “secret places” search. Some of the items in the backpack included a journal, colored pencils, and my son’s favorite, binoculars. The secret places we found had names like Blooming Palace, Fall Skeleton, Chipmunk Crossing, and Reflection Beach. At Reflection Beach we watched a bird swoop down and grab a fish out of the water.

Allison Peters Quinn, director of exhibitions at Hyde Park Art Center can’t take her eyes off of:

“Yesterday’s Losers”

From “Yesterday’s Losers” by Hebru Brantley

Regardless if you’re an art person or not, everyone should get the chance to experience the current underground exhibition “Yesterday’s Losers” at a new space calling itself Open Gallery (2150 S. Canalport). You walk in through a graffitied shipping-container-turned-hallway into a cavernous redbrick industrial space containing at least a hundred artworks by emerging artist Hebru Brantley. Primarily a painter, Brantley shows off his grand vision in multiple forms, including large canvas paintings, small drawings, resin sculptures, installations, and even an actual jeep and a motorcycle in the space. Both young and old will enjoy the hubris of this Chicago artist who is on the fast track (already in the collection of many celebrities) and probably won’t be here for long.