The 41st annual festival featured live bands at Millennium Park, the Chicago Cultural Center, and other venues throught the city. Among the headliners were a special tribute to Nat King Cole by his brother, Freddy Cole.
“It’s quite a thrill. It’s quite a thrill. You remember the festivals from the years back when we used to go out in the park and listen to everybody. I’m quite excited about it,” Cole said last week.
The Cole family grew up on Chicago’s South Side in the Bronzeville neighborhood and it was on the South Side where many nightclubs allowed him and his contemporaries to play music non-stop. There was never a shortage of clubs or gigs to play. Cole, who’ll turn 88 in October, remembers that time very well, when music was everywhere.
“On the same block you would have two or three taverns with music in them. Especially up and down 63rd Street. They had every block between South Park (now Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive) and Cottage Grove. They had some type of music. Trios, quartets, quintets, just different things,” Cole said.
That time and space inspired Cole to record one of his most famous songs “On the South Side of Chicago.”
This year’s also featured performances from Art Ensemble of Chicago cofounders Roscoe Mitchell and Famoudou Don Moye with a new assortment of performers joining them; Cécile McLorin Salvant; the Eddie Palmieri Sextet; and George Freeman and Billy Branch.
New stars and musical innovators also took the stage.