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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

The sun started to settle in the West. The shadows were forming over the manicured gardens. Night was coming and so was the start of a great show at Ravinia in Highland Park, IL.

It’s Saturday Night, the weather is nice, and Crosby, Stills, & Nash are in town. Fans young and old came to sing the songs performed by these greats. This was a tremendous venue for these Woodstock (1969) performers.

The three men came out armed with guitars, backed by a sweet band, and gifted with sweet harmonies. Not too many bands have ever been able to rival CSN in vocals.

“Carry On” was a perfect song to start it up with. All the old hippies dressed in their sixties tie dyed gear began to dance. Colored lights illuminated the musical display being set forth for the sold out show of concert goers.

“Marrakesh Express” has always been known for being a popular song amongst the fans. A great song with it’s up beat patterns and vocals that are just amazing. Always great harmonies.

“Long Time Gone” reminds a lot of people of the Woodstock Movie. It plays in the opening and was just a crowd pleaser. CSN were really hyped up for this show and they were letting it all hang out on a Saturday night.

When “Southern Cross” first started, the place just went wild. Everyone was singing the song throughout almost the entire way. “When you see the Southern Cross for the first time you understand now why you came this way.” When you see it done live by CSN you understand why you came to the show. Now everyone knows what all the hype is about.

Of course the boys had to take an intermission which was very cool for the aging entertainers and concert goers. David Crosby has lived two lives, but he looks amazing and is still harmonizing well. If you ask him, “It’s what I was put on this Earth to do.”

Helplessly Hoping was another great hit and Graham Nash is just still a top quality singer. His vocal contributions have long been present in this band and many others. He has been a full time member or singing backup with Dave for other bands. It’s like hearing a group of musical deities.

“For What It's Worth” was brought out from the Buffalo Springfield library and Stills did a great job as usual. He was a little raspy compared to the other two vocally, but where he lacked in one category he made up for it another. His guitar playing has always been a leading voice within this band since the start.   

“Guinnevere” is just an amazingly graceful song. Each time they play this with such emotion and love from one man to this woman. No where can you hear a song like this written today. Sung in such a way it made a young lady cry. “It’s my favorite song by them. By anyone!!”

“Our House” was a sing along with lighters going and people chiming in on every note to this great hit. This song has some of the most children friendly lyrics put out. It just has an innocence about it that makes flowers in the hair of beautiful women mandatory.

 “Chicago” a great song performed in honor of the 1968 Democratic National Convention.  When they “Won't you please come to Chicago just to show your face” the excitement level went up immensely. Even in a far suburb of Chicago, it still makes many of us warm to hear about the city history in song.

 “Teach Your Children” is probably the most known song by this band. Appearing in several commercials, being all over the radio, and possibly on a few kid shows like Sesame Street over the years, you would have to have to live under a rock to not hear this song. This is such a great song that was originally intended as a vocal lesson for The Grateful Dead. They would teach the members of the Grateful Dead how to sing harmony for their upcoming albums, Workingman's Deadand American Beauty.

The sold out show at Ravinia in Highland Park, IL. was just an amazing time for people of all ages. One is really overtaken and just in awe over the beautiful presence of the theater. The grounds surrounding were just filled with very well behaved attendees.  No one got too crazy or out of hand. The sight of people enjoying a nice picnic lunch/dinner and beverage of choice just completes the scene of a serene summer weekend.

As the night came to a close, the crowd cleared out by shuttle buses back to the Botanical Gardens parking lot. They carried their chairs and coolers that had their leftover spinach dip and wine. Tie dyed people of all ages headed back to their vehicles excited from such a good show and exhausted because they got their monies worth.

Fans young and old came to sing the songs performed by Crosby, Stills, and Nash. Night settled the temperature and set the evening for a memorable time. Alcohol was being consumed, people were dancing, and some of the greatest songs ever written were being sung. What more could you ask for? Maybe a time machine to bring you back to Yasgur’s Farm in 1969? Watch their second show ever and have some fine milk from his dairy? 

 

For more Ravinia events, visit www.Ravinia.org.

Published in In Concert

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