Willie Colón performs in Colombia in 2011. Credit: Luis Quintana Barney

The city has announced the lineup for this year’s Millennium Park Summer Music Series, which runs from June 18 till August 16 at Pritzker Pavilion. The concerts happen on Monday and Thursday evenings at 6:30, as usual, with one exception—local indie-rock faves Whitney and Ne-Hi play Sunday, August 12. The schedule consists of ten double-billed shows, a significant reduction from previous seasons—in 2017 there were 15, and before that generally around 20.


Over the past several years, the various specialized series devoted to jazz, world music, and contemporary classical have all been eliminated from the Millennium Park season, and in response the Summer Music Series has branched out from its previous reliance on indie rock and pop—though contemporary classical, once featured in the Loops & Variations series, is missing again this year.

Most of the acts on the schedule have performed reasonably often in Chicago, but a few of the concerts offer rare opportunities. Among them is the June 28 local debut of superb British jazz combo Sons of Kemet, led by saxophonist Shabaka Hutchings, who made his local debut last year as part of the band led by South African drummer Louis Moholo-Moholo at the Chicago Jazz Festival. On July 23 you can witness the return of legendary salsa bandleader, trombonist, and singer Willie Colón, who discovered brilliant singers such as Hector Lavoe and Ruben Blades (Pacific coast Afro-Colombian band Canalón de Timbiquí opens that show).

Below are the complete listings, with some links to prior coverage from the Reader. Before you scroll down, I highly recommend you press “play” on the stone-cold Colón classic “Calle Luna Calle Sol” (with singing by Lavoe), from the 1973 masterpiece Lo Mato.

Monday, June 18
Jose James Tribute to Bill Withers
Kahil El’Zabar Ethnic Heritage Ensemble

Thursday, June 21
The Aces
The New Respects

Thursday, June 28
Sons of Kemet
Melissa Laveaux

Thursday, July 19
Anoushka Shankar
Hollie Cook

Monday, July 23
Willie Colón
Canalón de Timbiquí

Thursday, July 26
The Kingston All Stars featuring Sister Nancy

Monday, July 30
Aimee Mann
This Is the Kit

Monday, August 6

Sunday, August 12

Thursday, August 16
The Sea and Cake
Moonrise Nation

Today’s playlist:

Tribalistas, Tribalistas (Phonomotor, Brazil)
Emerson String Quartet and Renée Fleming, Berg: Lyric Suite/Wellesz/Zeisl (Decca)
Megumi Yonezawa, Masa Kamaguchi, and Ken Kobayashi, Boundary (ESP-Disk)
Sinikka Langeland, The Magical Forest (ECM)
Roscoe Mitchell & Montreal-Toronto Art Orchestra, Ride the Wind (Nessa)