There’s something magical about Ravinia. It’s a sprawling open-air venue with lush green lawn nestled amidst tall shady trees. As the sun goes down, dozens of candles flicker to life as the audience members settle into their blankets and lawn chairs to be serenaded by their favorite musical artists under a (sometimes) starry Chicagoland sky.


To North Shore folks, Ravinia is synonymous with summertime. It is the oldest outdoor music festival in the US holding concerts from June to September. For traditional concert goers there are pavilion seats with rows of covered seats sloping back from the main stage. The preferred seats are the lawn seats that allow you to sit anywhere you can see grass. The most experienced Ravinia patron will lay out dozens of blankets, or create a lawn-chair circle, break out picnic baskets filled with three course meals and plenty of wine (not the mention their own wine glasses). The venue is indeed a BYOB and you’re allowed to bring your own food, but this is not a concert venue to get drunk and rage. This is a recline-sip-your-drink-enjoy-the-music kind of venue. Because no matter where you sit on the lawn you are treated to amazing sound quality of the band or concert you are seeing.

Ravinia offers some of the best line ups over the course of each summer and this year is no different. This past week brought the iconic 1970’s band The Doobie Brothers back to Chicago. The band brought baby boomers, Gen Xers, and aspiring teenage hipsters to the venue, it was a multi-generation engagement. But truthfully, none of those guests seemed overly impressed with the performance. The opening set, performed by Lara Johnston, was lackluster. Her voice hardly carried across the lawn despite the speakers. Now perhaps it was the chilly June weather, or perhaps people didn’t need a relatively unknown opener to open for one of their favorite bands, but there was some heat missing from this summer show. Johnston did nothing to warm up the crowd. It took her entire set and nearly four songs into the headliner’s set for the crowd to show any sign of life. It wasn’t until “Black Water” that people finally got up to dance, sing along, and really start to enjoy the show. The Doobie Brothers played all of their classics “Listen to the Music,” “What a Fool Believes,” “Black Water,” “Give Me the Beat Boys,” and “China Grove,” but the night was a far cry from the carefree summer days of their youth.

doobie brothers

The Doobie Brothers provide the ideal soundtrack for long road trips and summer nights and on most occasions Ravinia would be the perfect venue for them to perform. This time around, however, the audience was asking the band to give them a beat but unfortunately it didn’t free our souls, just our nostalgia. For Ravinia tickets, remaining summer schedule, and more information visit: www.ravinia.org

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