SONGS FOR A SONG  The one street fair you shouldn’t miss this summer? The imminently affordable Wicker Park Fest, featuring the Chicago bands Local H (left) and Scotland Yard Gospel Choir.


Don’t-miss picks for Wed 07.28.10 through Tue 08.03.10:


festivals Wicker Park Fest
Thank heavens for this much-needed rarity: a street fest that actually cares about its music schedule. Day two alone includes the newly repaired and reinvigorated Scotland Yard Gospel Choir (at 5), the Montreal glam-rock/jam-band hybrid Plants and Animals (at 7:30), and the terrific Chicago hard-rock duo Local H (at 8:30)—all for a cool $5.
GO: July 31–Aug 1 from noon to 10. $5 per day. Milwaukee from North to Wood.


museums Garden Counter
Can’t tell your Local H from your Latin house? Get a primer on Chicago’s recent musical history—from the bass-pumping 1980s to today’s indie-rock explosion—before heading to Wicker Park, courtesy of this alfresco night school featuring the frequent Metro/Smartbar DJs Kid Color, Nate Manic, and Bald E.
GO: July 30 at 9. $10; cash bar. Pritzker Garden at the Art Institute; enter via the Modern Wing on Monroe.


theatre Drek Fest, Fillet of Solo Festival
The spiritual antithesis of our annual Best of Chicago issue (on newsstands now!), Stage Left’s hunt for the worst-ever 10-minute play is so bad it’s good. For just plain good, there’s Fillet of Solo, a grab bag of monologues and performance art that, if the past 13 years are any indication, should feature some of the funniest, smartest, and most thought-provoking solo acts around (don’t miss Tekki Lomnicki in week 4).
GO: Drek Fest: Aug 2, 9, 16 at 7:30. $10-$15 per night. Stage Left at Comedy Sportz Theatre, 929 W Belmont. Fillet of Solo: July 29–Aug 8 at Lifeline Theatre, 6912 N Glenwood. Aug 12–21 at The Artistic Home, 3914 N Clark. $10 per program.

ALSO THIS WEEK: The Gift Theatre’s Michael Patrick Thornton returns from ABC’s Private Practice to star in The Ruby Sunrise, a drama tracing TV’s origins through the McCarthy era at Theater on the Lake.


concerts Seu Jorge
Best known for singing David Bowie covers in Wes Anderson’s The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, Jorge’s blend of Carnivalesque samba, reggae, and funky 1960s Motown has its own slinky charm—the perfect antidote for those in withdrawal now that Music Without Borders has wrapped in Millennium Park.
GO: Aug 3 at 8. $25. Logan Square Auditorium, 2539 N Kedzie.


classical Orion Weiss
Every time the pianist André Watts gets sick, a star is born. At least that was the case a decade or so ago when Weiss—and, a couple of years before that, some kid named Lang Lang—filled in for the ailing musician. If you missed Weiss earlier in July, here’s another chance to see the 28-year-old dazzle the ivories alongside the local favorite Pacifica Quartet.
GO: Aug 3 at 8. $10-$40. Ravinia, Lake Cook and Green Bay, Highland Park.


concerts Tortoise 2.0
Chicago’s seminal postrock instrumentalists recruit an equally glowing lineup of local jazz players—Nicole Mitchell, Fred Lonberg-Holm—for a genre-hopping commission that should jumpstart the annual series Made in Chicago: World Class Jazz with a bang.
GO: July 29 at 6:30. Pritzker Pavilion, Millennium Park, Michigan and Randolph.

lit Newberry Library Book Fair and Bughouse Square Debates
The Newberry’s biggest sale yet offers up some 120,000 books for browsing in 70 categories (for insider tips on noteworthy titles, read the book fair manager Dan Crawford’s excellent blog). Those who’d rather pontificate than peruse should head across the street to Washington Park for the annual Bughouse Square Debates. Dueling oratorios sure to provoke heated free speech include “Logical Reasons Why Jesus Is the Only Way to God” and “Why Illinois Should Cancel Millions of Dollars in State Grants to Religious Organizations.”
GO: Book Fair: July 29–30 from noon to 8, July 31–Aug 1 from 10 to 6. Bughouse: July 31 from 1 to 4. Newberry Library, 60 W Walton.

ALSO THIS WEEK: Stock up on smart beach reads when some truckloads of zines, literary journals, and indie mags cart stacks of free publications to the sixth annual Printers’ Ball at Columbia College—also featuring live music, beverages, and printmaking demos.

classical Portland Cello Project
Almost every indie-rock band has a token cellist these days, but this label-defying group is composed solely of strings. The classically trained ensemble plays pop covers (think Outkast’s “Hey Ya!”), original compositions, and, for the traditionalists, Bach. What’s cooler than cool, Johann? Ice cold.
GO: Aug 2 at 6:30; part of the series Dusk Variations. Pritzker Pavilion, Millennium Park, Michigan and Randolph.

Photography: (Local H); (SYGC) Casey Black