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The Five Best Things to Do in Chicago This Week

Chicago Blues Fest, Hubbard Street Dance, Nate Otto’s Cities, Printers Row Lit Fest, and Yo-Yo Ma at Symphony Center

MISTER MA Yo-Yo Ma performs A Distant Mirror at the Symphony Center this weekend.   Photo: Courtesy of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra

The Five

Don’t-miss picks for Wednesday, June 8 through June 14, 2016

1 Chicago Blues Fest

Blues: The inimitable Shemekia Copeland closes out the first night of this free fest, but you’ll want to swing by before her set to the see the scene-stealing Toronzo Cannon join Tommy Castro and the Painkillers onstage. Saturday and Sunday feature a range of R&B and soul acts, leading up to a star-studded tribute to adoptive Chicagoan Otis Rush.
6/10–12. Free. Grant Park. cityofchicago.org

2 Hubbard Street Dance

Dance: Named a favorite of 2014 by pretty much everyone, The Art of Falling, Hubbard Street’s ingenious collaboration with Second City, returns for a two-weekend revival of hilarious vignettes.
6/9–12, 6/15–19. $30–$99. Harris Theater, 205 E. Randolph. harristheaterchicago.org

3 Nate Otto’s Cities

Art: These aerial views of crowded cityscapes, drawn in colored marker on wood, appeal to architecture buffs, Lego champions, and those who just like to stare out airplane windows. Inspired by the façades of Chicago, Otto’s structures delight in geometric order and imagination.
6/10–19. Free. Galerie F, 2381 N. Milwaukee. galerief.com

4 Printers Row Lit Fest

Festivals: The Tribune’s lit fest takes over the South Loop for two gloriously geeky days of readings, panels, and books. This year’s event doubles as a centennial celebration of the Pulitzer Prize.
6/11–12. Free. South Dearborn. printersrowlitfest.org

5 Yo-Yo Ma at Symphony Center

Classical: The always-inclusive Yo-Yo Ma gathers a bellowing of cellos for A Distant Mirror. Details are scant, but when Ma and friends played this program in Boston, it included works from Poland, China, and Western Europe, contemporary arrangements of Persian melodies, and an Incan processional carrying the cellos.
6/12 at 3. $50–$144. Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan. cso.org

What I’m Doing This Weekend

Andrew Fenchel
Andrew Fenchel Photo: Courtesy of Andrew Fenchel

Up next in our series of weekend plans from notable, in-the-know locals: Andrew Fenchel, director of Lampo, which organizes experimental music and multimedia performances around the city. Lampo presents Ben Vida’s Reducing the Tempo to Zero at the Graham Foundation this Saturday, June 11.

“Ordinarily, my weekend plans consist of going to the dry cleaners. This week, with Ben Vida’s epic performance ahead, I’ll be doing some marathon-style carbo-loading at Club Lago in River North. It’s an old family-style Italian place, and a favorite with my family.

“Saturday morning, I have to swing by our offices at the Monadnock Building on Jackson. The building is a big hunk of masonry, designed by Burnham and Root. It’s actually the tallest load-bearing brick building ever constructed—a cool architectural distinction. There’s an Intelligentsia Coffee on the ground floor so I’ll be grabbing my gear upstairs, picking up some coffee, and then heading over the Graham Foundation.

“The Graham Foundation is one of those places that every Chicagoan should visit. I like to say that they’re the nicest people working in the most beautiful building. Their offices, performance space, and bookstore—which has some great architecture and design books—are all based out of the Madlener House on West Burton. Michael Rakowitz currently has an excellent exhibition there called The Flesh Is Yours, The Bones Are Ours, and I highly recommend it to anyone stopping by for Ben Vida’s performance.

“The show has a setup as unique as its premise. Four vocalists will sit around a table in the center of the room, while the audience is invited to sit all around them. Ben has composed six hours of music, and the vocalists will be contributing intermittently throughout. It’s an experiment in expectations and in staging. We’re encouraging people to come and go from the performance as they please—you don’t have to be there all evening to enjoy it. A few of us, however, will be there for the duration. Afterwards, we’ll all go for dinner at Rootstock in Humboldt Park. I love that place—it’s very conducive to conversation, the food and drinks are great, and they’re open late. We tend to go there after late-running Lampo events.

“Sunday mornings are usually Lula Cafe and the Logan Square Farmer’s Market. Depending on the weather and how ambitious we’re feeling, I may take my daughter to play at Maggie Daley Park. I’ve also been wanting to check Pilsen Community Books, a new bookstore on West 18th. I’ve been tracking them on Instagram since they opened—they’re a great follow—and it looks like a place I’d really like.” —As told to John Hardberger

Freebie of the Week

Lampo

Music: The publicity blurb for Ben Vida’s Reducing the Tempo to Zero may hint that it’s long, but mercifully, Vida built the piece, for four vocalists and electronics, so that listeners could come and go, choosing how long to engage—and in this case, how to navigate the gallery housing the performance.
6/11 at 6. Free. Graham Foundation, 4 W. Burton. lampo.org

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