top of page

Millennium Park Summer Series w/ Kelan Phil Cohran, Eddie Palmieri, Makaya McCraven and more

The 2016 Millennium Park Summer Music Series will offer an exciting line-up of 18 FREE outdoor concerts every Monday and Thursday June 6 – August 25, 2016 (except where noted) at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park. The music series (formerly ‘Downtown Sound’ and ‘Made in Chicago: World Class Jazz’) has been re-imagined to feature a wider variety of genre-defying music from top local, national and international artists – both established and emerging. Highlights of the season include the indie-rock band Blonde Redhead (series kickoff); legendary salsa and Latin jazz artist Eddie Palmieri; Swedish indie-folk singer Jose Gonzalez; the king of Juju music, King Sunny Ade; Chicago improvised jazz legend Kelan Phil Cohran opening for DJ Spooky’s Rebirth of a Nation; and the critically acclaimed blues ensemble Heritage Blues Orchestra.

“Watching a free concert under the stars in Millennium Park has become a Chicago summertime tradition – and the music series is now evolving to include an even wider range of top-notch talent,” says Michelle T. Boone, Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events. “No matter which concert our visitors attend, they will enjoy an exceptional performance set against the dramatic skyline of downtown Chicago.”

All concerts are FREE and open to the public – presented by the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events. Performances begin at 6:30 p.m. and take place rain or shine. There will be no concerts the week of July 4; or on Thursday, July 28; or on Mondays in August.

The full 2016 Millennium Park Summer Music Series line-up features:

Monday, June 6, 6:30pm

Blonde Redhead + Ryley Walker

Blonde Redhead is an indie rock band composed of Kazu Makino and twin brothers Simone and Amedeo Pace. Formed in New York City in 1993, the band is known for innovating their sound for every album and blending rock, dream pop and electronica. Ryley Walker is an accomplished fingerstyle guitarist, singer, and songwriter from Chicago best known for his Primrose Green album released in 2015, which blurs the genre lines between folk, rock, jazz, and new music.

Thursday, June 9, 6:30pm

Lee Fields & The Expressions + Makaya McCraven

With a catalogue that ranges from James Brown-style funk to lo-fi blues and contemporary Southern soul, Lee Fields has had a successful career spanning more than 43 years. Since the late sixties, the North Carolina native has amassed a prolific catalog of albums and has toured and played with such legends as Kool and the Gang, Sammy Gordon and the Hip-Huggers, and many others. Paris born Makaya McCraven pushes the boundaries of sound and rhythm to create categories of his own. He layers his extensive experience with hip-hop bands, African dance bands, Hungarian folk music, and indie rock on top of a deep history of “straight-ahead” jazz, improvisation and Avant-garde beats.

Monday, June 13, 6:30pm

Rodrigo Amarante + Leyla MaCalla

One of the masterminds behind the Brazilian band Los Hermanos and founding member of the samba super group Orquestra Imperial, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Rodrigo Amarante is an inescapable musical figure in his native South American home. In 2015 he wrote the popular song "Tuyo"(Yours), which serves as the opening theme for the Netflix series "Narcos.” Leyla McCalla is a New York-born Haitian-American living in New Orleans, who sings in four languages and plays cello, tenor banjo and guitar. Deeply influenced by traditional Creole, Cajun and Haitian music, as well as by American jazz and folk, her music is at once earthy, elegant, soulful and witty.

Thursday, June 16, 6:30pm

Nneka + Gina Chavez

Award-winning, Nigerian singer-songwriter Nneka is known for her captivating blend of reggae, hip-hop and soul sounds. She was quickly established as one of Africa's most powerful voices as her politically charged lyrics examine a myriad of social issues, including maternal love, heartbreak and the quest for justice. Gina Chavez is a bilingual Latin-folk singer-songwriter from Austin, Texas who expertly blends the sounds of the Americas with tension and grace. Her most recent album Up.Rooted has won critical acclaim from NPR, USA Today and more.

Monday, June 20, 6:30pm

DJ Spooky’s Rebirth of a Nation + Kelan Phil Cohran’s Summer Solstice Ensemble

Washington, D.C.-born Paul D. Miller aka DJ Spooky is a composer, multimedia artist and writer whose work immerses audiences in a blend of genres, global culture, and environmental and social issues. Rebirth of a Nation was his first large-scale multimedia performance piece, which has been performed more than 50 times in venues around the world, from the Sydney Festival to the Herod Atticus Amphitheater in Athens, Greece. Kelan Phil Cohran is a Chicago improvised jazz legend known for his contributions in the Sun Ra Arkestra in Chicago and for his involvement in the foundation of the AACM.

Thursday, June 23, 6:30pm

Maceo Parker + Marrow

Born in North Carolina, saxophonist Maceo Parker embodies the legacy of soul and funk music and is best known for his collaborations alongside seminal icons like James Brown, George Clinton, and Prince, all the while honing his own signature brand of showmanship. Marrow is an American indie rock band from Chicago consisting of three former members of Kids These Days, plus one additional member.

Monday, June 27, 6:30pm

Eddie Palmieri Salsa Orchestra + Ecos del Pacifico

Eddie Palmieri is one of the foremost Latin jazz pianists in the world and has had a musical career that spans over 50 years. Born in the Spanish Harlem of New York City, Palmieiri has won nine Grammy awards throughout his career as a bandleader of several critically acclaimed Salsa and Latin jazz orchestras. Ecos del Pacifico is a Chicago-based group formed in 2006 by Julio Cesar Montaño Montenegro and is steeped in the Afro-Colombian music and dance traditions of the pacific coast of Colombia.

Thursday, June 30, 6:30pm

Givers + Lower Dens

Givers are an indie pop group from Lafayette, Louisiana whose diverse sound stems from the improvisational and dance-fueled atmosphere of their hometown’s zydeco, cajun and jazz cultures mixed with an affection for new wave, funk and world music. Baltimore, Maryland-based Lower Dens are an American indie pop band. Pitchfork says the group “siphons its aesthetic from the storied pop of the ‘80s, but it’s not content to stop at homage. Lower Dens use the past—its clichés and its innocence—as a lens through which to imagine a queer and open future.”

Monday, July 4 and Thursday, July 7 NO SHOWS – WEEK OF TASTE OF CHICAGO

Monday, July 11, 6:30pm

Femi Kuti & The Positive Force + ProbCause

Femi Kuti is a Grammy-nominated, high energy Afrobeat artist born in London and raised in Nigeria. Kuti is the eldest son of Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti and grandchild of Nigerian aristocrat, political and women's rights activist Funmilayo Ransome Kuti. Working out of Chicago with the likes of Chance the Rapper, Action Bronson, Twista, Vic Mensa and others, ProbCause seamlessly jumps from electronic to funk to R&B, then back to classic boom-bap gritty rap.

Thursday, July 14, 6:30pm

Azymuth + Sidewalk Chalk Brazilian electrified trio Azymuth combines a high voltage blend of Brazilian rhythms, jazz, and funk with occasional acoustic episodes. Sidewalk Chalk is an eight-member Chicago-based band that is leading the contemporary evolution of hip-hop, soul, and jazz. The group’s unique arrangement allows them to incorporate numerous styles seamlessly: an MC and female vocalist; a trio of keys, bass, and drums; a horn section with trombone and trumpet; and a tap-dancer.

Monday, July 18, 6:30pm

King Sunny Ade + Ugochi & A.S.E.

King Sunny Ade is the undisputed king of juju music, the dance-inspiring hybrid of western pop and traditional African music with roots in the guitar tradition of Nigeria. Ade launched his own record label in 1974 and has released more than 100 of his own recordings in Nigeria. Born in Chicago to Nigerian parents, Ugochi is an Afro-soul singer, songwriter and poet who is known for her extremely versatile and creative music and performances. She will appear with The Afro Soul Ensemble (A.S.E.).

Thursday, July 21, 6:30pm

Heritage Blues Orchestra + Toshi Reagon

Known for their traditional blues material with a good dose of both jazz and gospel sensibilities, New York City-based Heritage Blues Orchestra has found a way to make traditional material sound fresh and new. Toshi Reagon is a versatile singer-songwriter-guitarist from Atlanta with a unique hold-nothing-back approach to rock, blues, R&B, country, folk, spirituals and funk.

Monday, July 25 6:30pm

The Jones Family Singers + Apostolic Church of God Sanctuary Choir

The Jones Family Singers are a Texas-based gospel powerhouse consisting of five sisters, two brothers and their father who infuse joyful and reverent songs with vintage soul, funk and R&B. Under the direction of Brother Ray Nuckolls and Dr. Willetta Greene-Johnson, Chicago’s Apostolic Church of God Sanctuary Choir includes more than 300 voices.

Thursday, July 28


Monday, August 1, 6:30pm

Jose Gonzalez + Tall Heights

Jose Gonzalez is Swedish indie folk singer-songwriter renowned for his mix of autumnal indie pop and intimate acoustics. Formed in Boston in 2010, Tall Heights are known for their captivating vocal harmonies driven by a folk-inspired accompaniment of cello and acoustic guitar.

Thursday, August 4, 6:30pm

Sinkane + Mark de Clive-Lowe

Sinkane is solo recording artist who sings and plays numerous instruments blending krautrock, free jazz and funk rock with Sudanense pop. Although born in London, Sinkane spent his early childhood in Sudan followed by Ohio after his family fled to the United States. Mark de Clive-Lowe is a musician, composer and producer originally from New Zealand, and now based in Los Angeles, after living for ten years in London. He is a veteran of the UK's broken beat movement, blending jazz, electronic dance music, funk and percussion heavy world music into a unique sound.

Mondays, August 8, 15 and 22


Thursday, August 11, 6:30pm

Mbongwana Star + Dos Santos Antibeat Orchestra

Mbongwana Star is a psychedelic African dance band from Kinshasa, the capital city of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Chicago-based Dos Santos: Anti-Beat Orchestra rocks the sounds of popular pan-Latin American dance genres—from cumbia to salsa.

Thursday, August 18, 6:30pm

Elephant Revival + Mandolin Orange

Elephant Revival are a quintet from Colorado whose sound encompasses elements of gypsy, rock, Celtic, alt-country and folk. Mandolin Orange is an Americana folk duo from Chapel Hill, North Carolina whose music has received critical acclaim from NPR, American Songwriter others.

Thursday, August 25, 6:30pm

Tortoise + Homme

Throughout its 25-year history, Chicago-based post-rock instrumental quintet Tortoise has nodded to dub, rock, jazz, electronica and minimalism throughout its revered and influential, six-album discography, but the group’s resulting sound continues to defy easy categorization. HOMME is an experiment in voice and sound by Sima Cunningham and Macie Stewart who joined forces in 2014, inspired by the free improvisational music scene in Chicago, and influenced by folk and avant-garde rock.

#eddiepalmieri #makayamccraven #chicagojazz #jazzinchicago #milleniumpark #chicagojazzmagazine