In Concert

The summer concert season kept rolling at Ravinia with Stephen Stills and Judy Collins. The manicured lawns were graced with the musical talents of two folk singers that started their careers a half century ago. As they went along through the course of a ninety-minute set they presented their own style of serene music for everyone to hear.

Concert-goers were allowed a dry spell long enough to enjoy a good show. The humidity was starting to fade into night as people munched on short rib tacos and sipped wine from Ravinia’s restaurants. The well-groomed crowd mostly decked in white pants and khakis were preparing themselves for a time to remember.

Kenny White started out the evening with a solo piano show. He tickled the ivories for a short warm up to set the tone for the evening. Calm and mellow was the mood for this outing. The opening act was brief, but filled with soft tones that were easy on the ears.

Then came the time for the main act and the legendary artists came out together as if they owned the world. The first song for the evening was the Traveling Wilburys' hit song “Handle with Care”. It was a great way to start off the show and get the crowd’s attention. After nearly fifty years since these two performed together live, Collins and Still fell back into it as if it were meant to be.

Stills had some guitars with him that were not just for an everyday player. Two mid-fifties Fender Stratocasters made their way into the hands of the guitar legend and he was more than worthy to play them. His sound was smooth and pristine. His solo capabilities were incredible and he could even up with any guitar great out there. His voice was crystal clear and very pleasant to hear.

Stephen changed guitars after almost every song. He went back and forth between one of the Strats to a Gretsch Stephen Stills Signature model and a few Martin acoustics. He told a story about buying one smaller bodied Martin acoustic while on tour. He joked how if you are traveling North in Minnesota in February that your musical career was just about over with. After a good laugh from the audience he continued by saying he bought the guitar to perform for the evening.

A white light came up from behind Collins and lit up her hair as if she were an angel. Her voice was refined and her guitar abilities were excellent. Her instrument of choice was a Martin Judy Collins Signature Model. She strummed chords on the beautiful twelve-string while providing some incredible vocal harmonies. She is truly just a stunning woman to see and hear.

The two pulled out some songs that made the crowd very happy as toes tapped and bodies swayed. Judy brought out a bigger hit “Both Sides Now”. The mellow upbeat song was an excellent choice for the set list that put a smile on so many faces. Stills played the classic rock anthem “Carry On”. The CSN masterpiece was like a shot in the arm of adrenaline. After all, they were being entertained by one of their heroes.

Stephen started to strum out the chords to a song that turned out to be a high point for the evening. Once lyrics came out, “There’s something happening here…” the crowd started to applaud with excitement. The Buffalo Springfield song “For What It’s Worth” was heard through the venue and everyone knew the words. The show would not have been the same without the iconic protest song about the Sunset Strip curfew riots.

It came time for an encore and they saved the best for last. “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes” written for Judy Collins was a reason that a lot of people attended the show. The torch song was first unveiled for the public at Woodstock in 1969 and it brought this crowd to their feet. Singing along with every word it made the evening complete.

The show ended and everyone started to make their way back to their mode of transportation. The fountain outside the main entrance was lit up in every spectrum of the rainbow. As the colors changed a few raindrops started to fall. Thankfully it held out just long enough for this perfect evening.

Ravinia Festival in Highland Park provided the setting for this great concert that was brought together from the love felt within two musicians. Stephen Stills and Judy Collins graced the grounds with their unbelievable talent and performed a mellow musical set for its well-behaved onlookers. It was a night to remember.

 

Published in In Concert

It’s summer at Highland Park’s Ravinia and the concert season continues with Sheryl Crow and Lukas Nelson. The grounds were jam packed with people ready to see a quality show and they were not let down one bit. The weather was nice, the drinks were cold, and the music was hot! It was a night of pure pleasure.

Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real took the stage first just as the sun was starting to set. This is a super tight group with skills beyond the levels of so many bands in existence today. The band was absolutely powerful and a real treat to see. Unfortunately, as the case with many opening acts, there were a lot of empty seats because too many people are only interested in the headliner. Big mistake, as the openers are sometimes just as good as the main act. A lot of people only came to see Sheryl Crow, but those in attendance for Lukas Nelson undoubtedly became fans of him as well.

Nelson was just at Ravinia a few weeks prior with his father Willie Nelson. Just before the show many music lovers who caught Willie’s show were still talking about Promise of the Real in anticipation of another great performance - and that is exactly what they got. Nelson’s band impressed so many people and left a few asking, “Who is he?” Now they know. Growing up in a family filled with some of the best musical minds, talent has truly rubbed off onto this young man.

Promise of the Real put together some great songs for the audience. “Four Letter Word” is a great little song and well written piece. “Find yourself” was being belted out to a few people who swayed their drink of choice back and forth to the almost reggae style beat created by the rhythm section.

Just before Lukas started to play “(Forget about) Georgia”, he talked about the inspiration to the song. He dated a young lady once by the name of Georgia and sadly, their relationship ended. He stated that he would forever be tormented during performances with his dad as he was constantly reminded of her every time they played “Georgia on My Mind”.

Lukas has put together a band of musicians that could challenge any band to a duel. They had to be a real tough act to follow, but if If anyone could follow them it would have to be someone with super musical powers like Sheryl Crow.

Night time had finally come and the cool breezes graced the pavilion seats and manicured lawns, creating the ambiance for a perfect night of music. By the time she took the stage, Crow was playing to a packed house. She opened the show with “Everyday is a Winding Road” then taking the audience down a musical path of her most popular hits.

“All I Wanna Do” was definitely a crowd pleaser and a great way to get people involved in singing the chorus. The music was extremely well rehearsed and vocally she sounded better than ever. As her set of gems continued, she mellowed out the crowd a bit with her cover of “The First Cut is the Deepest”. Then she quickly pumped everyone right back up with her next song “Halfway There”. The lady really knows how to work a crowd.

It wouldn’t be a Sheryl Crow show without the song “If It Makes You Happy”. Her set was just dynamite and arranged very well, as she kept hitting fans right between the eyes with one great song after another.

Possibly the youngest in the crowd was a not quite two-year-old child named Michael who was experiencing his first show. He put his hands together and started his uncoordinated dance during “Soak Up the Sun”. He was an enjoyment to the section he was in and added to the music in his own innocent way.

A major highlight of the entire evening was Sheryl’s cover of an Allman Brothers song, “Midnight Rider”. She gracefully nailed the vocals in her own style that put a smile on everyone’s face. She later ended the night with “I Shall Believe”. Even though it was a full show of boundless material by both groups, a lot of people left wanting more. When the music is that good, who would want it to ever stop?

Highland Park’s Ravinia has a great reputation of putting together incredible performances. The park has been the place to go for entertainment in the area for over one hundred years. Ravinia put yet another notch in the belt of their list of great shows with Lukas Nelson and Sheryl Crow. The festive outdoor concert venue is never a disappointment and always delivers a magical experience as they constantly keep their sites on perfection. Hats off to Ravinia, Sheryl Crow, and Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real for the great event they put forth. Collectively they created a show beyond the wildest of dreams of most. It was just priceless!

 

Published in In Concert

 

 

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