Today In Culture, August 4, 2023: Jazz And World Music


Photo of concrete colonnade.

Exhibit Columbus Opens Public By Design in Columbus, Indiana

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Renaissance Society Director Myriam Ben Salah’s Guide To The City

At Cultured, Myriam Ben Salah toddles the town: “Myriam Ben Salah has unquestionably good taste. In her two-and-a-half years at the helm of the Renaissance Society, the small but widely influential kunsthalle at the University of Chicago, she has staged shows by such rising stars as Aria Dean, Meriem Bennani, and Diane Severin Nguyen… As the Chicago-set show ‘The Bear’ dominates silver screens and Lollapalooza brings thousands of music lovers to Grant Park this weekend, the Tunisian-born curator dished on why she hasn’t indulged in deep dish pizza and where to enjoy a snuck-in glass of wine”: “I have been in Chicago 2.5 years and so far resisted the deep dish pizza. I hear Pequod’s is great though, and I admit I was tempted to go after they were featured in ‘The Bear.’… A place I love for drinks and dinner at the bar is Rootstock. Great cocktails, great wines, outstanding burger.”

The city’s “best dinner party” is “a tie: Dirk Denison and David Salkin if you are looking for a downtown Mies Van Der Rohe ambiance on the twenty-first floor, with great food and all of Chicago’s art scene. And then my friend and documentary filmmaker Assia Boundaoui hosts the best garden parties in her backyard in Hyde Park. She is starting a garden summer film series!”



Pritzker Pavilion Shows Worrying Wear

At Millennium Park’s Pritzker Pavilion, “some of the horizontal trellis beams designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry are severely rusted,” reports the Sun-Times. “They’re in desperate need of repair or even replacement. In a statement, the city offered no estimate on the cost and timing of the repairs or who would pay for it. The city’s statement simply said there is no danger to those attending concerts at the Pritzker Pavilion.” Says Ald. Brian Hopkins, “It’s severely corroded to the extent that really shouldn’t be present in a structure that isn’t that old… Corrosion sometimes can appear on the surface without compromising the integrity of the joints. Just because you see rust doesn’t necessarily mean there’s a risk of imminent failure.”

Longterm 606 Expansion Plan Revealed

“The city plans to extend the popular walking and cycling trail under the Kennedy Expressway to Elston Avenue. It could then connect to Lincoln Yards and the Chicago River,” maps Block Club. “The Bloomingdale Trail is finally being extended eastward, but the project won’t be finished until at least the end of 2026.”

Behind The Rise Of Downtown’s Super-Luxury Apartment Market

The advent of high-end renting in Chicago is being traced back to  2013, when Related Midwest and competitor Fifield “unveiled amenity-rich rental buildings with high-priced apartments at the top,” writes Crain’s.  “At the time, the top rent in Related Midwest’s 500 Lake Shore Drive was nearly $8,000 a month, and at Fifield’s K2 it was $6,500. Prior to that, ‘Chicago was only a buyer’s market,’ Related’s Curt Bailey says. ‘If you could afford to live downtown, you bought. It was driven by a Midwestern value. In New York and San Francisco, [affluent] people rented, but in Chicago they bought.’ Since then, ‘the vast majority, probably ninety-percent, of what’s been built has been rentals.’”

Public Meeting For Damen Silos Demolition Plans

“Residents will be able to weigh in during a public meeting on the planned demolition of the historic Damen Silos on the Southwest Side,” reports the Sun-Times. “The new owner of the massive grain silos has applied for city approval to demolish the more than century-old structures and redevelop the riverfront land near 29th Street and Damen… Michael Tadin Jr. and his family bought the silos from the state for $6.5 million in December. Tadin has said he will redevelop the twenty-three acres of industrial land, though he hasn’t provided specifics. Tadin is also co-owner of MAT Asphalt on West Pershing across from McKinley Park. Tadin’s contractor, Heneghan Wrecking, began the application process early this year.”

Alder Approves 134 Apartments On Royal George Theatre Site

“Developers from Draper & Kramer want to convert the shuttered theater at 1641 N. Halsted St. into an eight-story apartment building with a ground-floor retail space, Hopkins (2nd) said. The Royal George Theatre was a staple in Chicago’s theater scene, but never reopened after the pandemic forced it to close in 2020,” reports Block Club.

Exhibit Columbus Opens Public By Design 

The fourth Exhibit Columbus exhibition, Public by Design, opens Saturday, August 26 with a day of free, public events and thirteen new works of art and architecture designed to expand the legacy of Columbus, Indiana, one of America’s most celebrated cities. Details here.



Grubhub Partners With The Hatchery To Support Local Entrepreneurs

Chicago-based food delivery service Grubhub announced a new $300,000 partnership with nonprofit food incubator, The Hatchery Chicago, to support restaurant entrepreneurs on the city’s West Side. Grubhub and The Hatchery are developing materials that will guide entrepreneurs looking to expand their offerings via delivery–adding another revenue stream to their growing business. The partnership will entail sponsoring a pitch competition and awarding the winner with one-year fully paid access to the private Grubhub Kitchen at The Hatchery; developing new educational materials to guide The Hatchery Chicago’s entrepreneurs interested in using third-party delivery to grow their businesses; and providing philanthropic support through the Grubhub Community Fund to The Hatchery Chicago’s Sprouts Incubation program. More here.

Sip & Savor Takes Vacated Edgewater Starbucks Site

Edgewater will get “the first North Side location of the Black-owned coffee chain, which has four South Side cafes and one in suburban Forest Park,” sips Block Club. Sip & Savor “will open at 1070 West Bryn Mawr… CEO Trez V. Pugh III announced on Instagram. The storefront is part of the [historic] Belle Shores Apartments building, one of the anchors of a Bryn Mawr commercial district… Starbucks moved out in October, days after its staff voted to unionize.”

“Red Sauce” Arrives At DeNuccis In Lincoln Park

DeNuccis has opened on Lincoln Avenue, reports Eater Chicago. “The team from Ballyhoo Hospitality took over the former Four Farthings Tavern & Grill, which is right across the street from their first restaurant, Gemini, which opened in 2009… DeNuccis is family friendly with an all-day lineup that plays the hits. There are sixteen-inch white and red pizzas with a tinge of New York style—topping options include New Haven clams and spicy pepperoni… and Sicilian gluten-free pies created by pizzaiolo Salvadore “Sal” Lo Cascio… A notable portion of the menu is devoted to pasta, such as lobster mezzaluna and Ragù alla Joe, red sauce pasta studded with beef short rib, meatballs, and Italian sausage.”

Leinenkugel’s Strike Continues

Teamsters Local 662 says no agreement was reached “in a meeting held with parent company Molson Coors,” reports WEAU-TV. “The meeting was reportedly short, and no new meetings have been scheduled.” Says Molson Coors: “Our offer from the start has been competitive and exceeded local-market rates for similar unionized roles. We remain engaged in discussions and are hopeful for a resolution.”



Privacy Concerns At City North Theater Garage

Patrons of Regal City North 14 have been getting notifications of parking fees via text, reports CBS 2. The station discovered online comments and reviews “for the theater that raise questions about how the parking lot is able to connect a license plate to an individual, then find that person’s cell phone number to send the dreaded text.” It’s a chase: “ABM operates the parking lot, and CBS 2 saw signs… with small print… about ‘plate recognition enforcement cameras in operation.’” When asked how “ABM…cross reference plates with vehicle registration data, ABM directed CBS 2 to a third party it uses called Flash Parking. Flash referenced yet another third-party vendor when it sent a statement saying.. ‘Flash uses industry standard License Plate Recognition (LPR) technology to match license plates with vehicle registration information using Parkpliant, a third-party parking compliance vendor that understands and abides by applicable privacy laws.’” The reports goes at length to describe the rules and regulations that each of these players have likely transgressed.

Studios Agree To Preliminary Meeting With Striking Workers; Streep, Clooney Among Contributors Of Millions To Strike Fund

The AMPTP is meeting with union reps, but members are urged not to get their hopes up, reports Variety. “It’s a meeting to discuss meeting,” said John Rogers, a member of the WGA negotiating committee, who was picketing outside Warner Bros. on Wednesday morning. “We’re trying to urge members to remember that this is a great first step, but not to get your hopes up too much.”

Meryl Streep and George Clooney helped lead a donation campaign that raised over $15 million for workaday actors over the last three weeks, the SAG-AFTRA Foundation said. The pair each gave $1 million and then [lobbied] other top-earning stars for contributions,” reports the New York Times. “Eight more stars (Matt Damon, Leonardo DiCaprio, Hugh Jackman, Dwayne Johnson, Nicole Kidman, Julia Roberts, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Oprah Winfrey) gave $1 million or more, along with two star couples: Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck and Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively.” Says Streep, “I remember my days as a waiter, cleaner, typist, even my time on the unemployment line. In this strike action, I am lucky to be able to support those who will struggle in a long action to sustain against Goliath.”



Victor Parra, Unpaid Host Of “Mambo Express” For Three Decades, Was Eighty-Seven

Victor Parra “developed a devoted on-air following, formed his own band—also named Mambo Express—and was on air for more than thirty years,” reports Mitch Dudek at the Sun-Times. Parra, “who didn’t earn any money for his radio gigs, spent hours researching and compiling music that he’d play on air… He left WBEZ and moved his show in 2004 to WDCB-FM (90.9), where he hosted until signing off for a final time in 2017.” Parra “had more than 8,000 vinyl albums in his collection that he would draw from for his show… His main job was working as a janitor at the University of Illinois at Chicago. ‘He did it for the love of music,’ said his wife.”

Oregonian Reduces Print To Four Days A Week

For the first time in more than a century, Portland will no longer have a daily newspaper, reports Willamette Week. “The Oregonian plans to stop printing a newspaper three days a week, reducing its editions to Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays,” starting in 2024. The shrinking newspaper “has run in print daily since 1881.” John Maher, president of the Oregonian Media Group, tells the Weekly, “Our industry continues to work through a period of dynamic change, and we have made significant investments in our digital offerings to ensure that we meet the needs of our readers and subscribers and invest in local journalism.”



Lolla Seems Expensive? Live Nation CEO Made $139 Million Last Year

The Hollywood Reporter had the figure in the spring: “Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino’s total compensation package rose to $139 million in 2022, up from $13.8 million the previous year. Rapino’s compensation included a base salary of $3 million, up from $2.6 million in 2021 (which came as Rapino agreed to take a pay reduction during the pandemic). Live Nation entered into a new employment agreement with Rapino in July 2022, ending December 31, 2027, which meant he also earned a $6 million signing bonus. The executive also earned a $12 million annual cash performance bonus for 2022 and stock awards of $116 million, some of which vest in early 2024, while others vest in four installments through 2027 if the company reaches certain stock price targets.” Live Nation majority-owns C3, which is behind two of the country’s top music festivals—Austin City Limits Music Festival and Lollapalooza.

Chicago Jazz Festival And World Music Festival Lineups Set

Mayor Johnson and DCASE announced music lineups for two of the City of Chicago’s signature fall music festivals: Chicago Jazz Festival (August 31–September 3) and World Music Festival Chicago (September 22–October 1). Following the return of three other iconic festivals earlier this summer—Chicago Gospel Music Festival, Chicago Blues Festival and the Chicago House Music Festival and Conference, DCASE continues to showcase a diversity of musicians from Chicago and around the globe this fall with free concerts in Millennium Park and in venues across the city. Schedule highlights with full details and updates online. More on Chicago Jazz Festival here and World Music Festival Chicago here.



Film Of Lyric’s “The Factotum” Streams Free

The original film of the world-premiere production of “The Factotum,” by Grammy award-winning baritone Will Liverman, DJ King Rico and Rajendra Ramoon Maharaj, is available for free streaming through September 5 on Lyric Opera of Chicago’s YouTube channel. “The Factotum” on Film features the full stage performance with the original cast, along with behind-the-scenes glimpses of the opera’s journey from page to stage and never-before-seen cast and creative team interviews from Chicago filmmaker Raphael Nash and Endangered Peace Productions. More here.

“Beetlejuice” Tickets On Sale

Broadway In Chicago announces that individual tickets for “Beetlejuice,” the Broadway hit musical comedy, go on sale today for a limited engagement at the Auditorium Theatre, November 7–19. Ticket prices start at $35 with a select number of premium seats. Additional ticket information and the performance schedule here.

Giordano Dance Chicago Names Executive Director, Board President

Giordano Dance Chicago has announced Erica Lynette Edwards as executive director. Michael McStraw, GDC executive director for thirteen years, steps down at the end of this month. “As a longstanding member of Chicago’s dance community, I have witnessed Giordano Dance Chicago’s captivating energy both on and offstage,” says Edwards in a release. “As the executive director, I am thrilled to support the exceptional artistry and dance education that fulfills the company’s legacy.” As a ballerina with The Joffrey Ballet, Edwards performed lead roles throughout a fifteen-year career, dancing in hundreds of performances. When she retired from the stage, she became an artistic and administrative senior leader as Joffrey’s director of community engagement.

Coinciding with the new season, GDC has also elected Chris D’hondt as board president. For the past two years D’hondt has served as GDC vice president while chairing key committees. Also new to the GDC team is Diana Nielander who recently joined as the first-ever director of development. Nielander is a veteran fundraiser with more than thirty years of experience with organizations in Chicago and Chicago’s north suburbs. More here.

Lifeline Casts “Cat’s Cradle”

Lifeline Theatre and artistic director Ilesa Duncan have announced casting for the revival of ensemble member John Hildreth’s adaptation of Kurt Vonnegut’s novel, “Cat’s Cradle.” “Join the famed Hoenikker family on the Caribbean Island of San Lorenzo for a satirical tale of how ‘pure’ scientific research, banana republic politics, and a fabricated, falsely-based organized religion bring about the end of the world. Cast members for the production include Shelby Bias, Patrick Blashill, Tony Bozzuto, Anthony Kayer, Vic Kuligoski, MarieAnge Louis-Jean, Jocelyn Maher, Mandy Walsh and Johnard Washington. Ensemble member Heather Currie directs Hildreth’s adaptation of one of Vonnegut’s most beloved novels for a new generation. “Cat’s Cradle” runs at Lifeline Theatre in Rogers Park, September 1-October 22. More here.



Illinois Cannabis Prices Among Nation’s Highest

“Pot prices remain higher in Illinois, the third-largest cannabis market in the nation, than in most other states,” reports the Sun-Times. “Illinois saw $950 million in pot sales in the first half of this year, but the average price per item in Illinois is eighty-nine-percent higher than in the rest of the U.S. cannabis market, according to a new report from Headset, a company that provides data and analytics to the cannabis industry.”


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