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The Top Five Things to Do in Chicago This Week

Aretha Franklin at Ravinia, Square Roots Festival, Morrissey, and more

QUEEN OF SOUL See Aretha Franklin at Ravinia this weekend.   Photo: Nuccio DiNuzzo/Chicago Tribune

The Five

Don’t-miss picks for Wednesday, July 8 through July 14, 2015

1 The Freedom Principle

Art: A form of free expression that developed on the heels of the civil rights movement, jazz in Chicago during the 1960s was more than just a dizzying new music genre: it epitomized a cultural revolution. That avant-garde sound continues to reverberate today, as revealed by this large exhibition of work by contemporary visual artists inspired by Chicago’s jazz history, including Nick Cave, Cauleen Smith, Renée Green, and Rashid Johnson. Opening day (7/11) is free.
7/11–11/22. Free–$12. Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 E. Chicago. mcachicago.org

2 Men of Soul with a Tribute to Bill Withers

Theater: Daryl Brooks wrote and directs this musical about Bill Withers, the 2015 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee whose hits include “Lean on Me,” “Ain’t No Sunshine,” and “Just the Two of Us.” Plan on an evening of Grammy-winning hits and deep cuts from the B-Sides.
7/12–8/31. $55–$65. Black Ensemble Theater, 4450 N. Clark. blackensemble.org

3 Morrissey

Music: After a 2014 marked by cancellations, England’s foremost mopester is allegedly healthy and road ready. Expect tracks from recent album World Peace is None of Your Business, his first record in half a decade.
7/9 at 8:30. $50–$85. Civic Opera House, 20 N. Upper Wacker. lyricopera.org

4 Square Roots Festival

Festivals: Taste more than 30 craft beers from Midwestern breweries and listen to live music from artists around the world, including Hassan Hakmoun and Plena Libre.
7/10–7/12. $5–$20 donation. Lincoln between Montrose and Wilson. squareroots.org

5 Aretha Franklin

Music: She may be on the other side of 70, but Detroit’s soul queen has still got it. In addition to dropping her first new material in 11 years last fall, Franklin recently became the first woman with 100 singles on Billboard’s Hot R&B/Hip-Hop songs chart. R-e-s-p-e-c-t.
7/11 at 8:30. $15–$43. Ravinia Pavilion, 200 Ravinia Park, Highland Park. ravinia.org

What I’m Doing This Weekend

Matt Byrne
Matt Byrne Photo: Courtesy of Matt Byrne

Up next in our series of weekend plans from notable, in-the-know locals—a.k.a. people we like: comedy producer Matt Byrne.

“Friday is the first day of the Comedy Exposition, which is a festival I helped start last year. It’s all weekend long in three different neighborhoods. Friday, we’re in Lake View at Schubas and the Playground Theater. We’ve got a show called Arguments & Grievances. Several comics argue over the relative merit of a topic. After that, there’s a show curated by former Chicago magazine comedy writer Jason Heidemann and stand-up comic Megan Gailey, who now lives in New York. She’s coming back to do a set they co-curated called Megan Gailey and Friends. Then we’ve got our big time show featuring Adam Cayton-Holland and Sarah Schaefer.

“If I wasn’t doing comedy stuff, I would be seeing the band Dastardly at Lincoln Hall. They’re celebrating the release of their new album The Hollow. They used to be straightforward indie rock, but they’ve gotten darker, almost in Nick Cave territory at points.

“Saturday, we have ten shows happening in Wicker Park. I’ll be floating between all of them from 1 p.m. to 2 a.m. At some point, I’ll sneak off to Ada Street. It’s been my favorite for years. They have this really awesome dessert just called Chocolate. It’s a big scoop of spreadable chocolate, and they give you toasted French bread dribbled with olive oil and sea salt to spread the chocolate on. If I had to have one last meal, that would be it.

“Sunday, the Comedy Exposition is spending time in Old Town. We’re doing our closing ceremony with Todd Glass. The term comedian’s comedian Todd Glass is often thrown around with him. If I wasn’t there, I would probably spend a lot of time at West Fest. This band Diarrhea Planet, (it’s just the worst name in the world) will be playing out of control, upbeat ridiculous rock music. I’d love to see them.” —As told to Tomi Obaro

Freebie of the Week


West Fest

Festivals: Enjoy live music from acts such as Dead Moon, Derrick Carter, and NOBUNNY at this popular fest. There’s also a dedicated mini-fest for children and pets.
7/11–7/12. $5 donation. Chicago between Damen and Wood. westfestchicago.com

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