Best shows at the Ravinia Festival 2019
After last year's stripped-down, costume-less tour, parody-master “Weird Al” Yankovic returns with his most over-the-top production to date. The Strings Attached tour finds Yankovic fronting a show filled with costume changes, video montages and general tomfoolery—all with the support of a full symphony orchestra (in this case, the Ravinia Festival Orchestra). We're envisioning epic versions of tracks like "Amish Paradise," "Like a Surgeon" and "The Saga Begins" backed by lush string arrangements while Yankovic prances around the stage in a tailcoat—it promises to be a monumentally hilarious evening.
As one of the last remaining legendary Chicago blues players, Buddy Guy is a performer who epitomizes a very specific era in the city's musical history, when juke joints were an essential part of local nightlife. If you've never caught him playing at his eponymous Chicago club, you know what to expect: Screaming vocals, blazing guitar solos and a few random expletives. At Ravinia, Guy is joined by blues vocalist Shemekia Copeland and rock act Blues Traveler—a band best known for its hit song "Run-Around" that was probably added to lineup simply because its name contains the word "blues."
It's been nearly a decade years since "Tik Tok" introudced us to a pop singer who brushed her teeth with a bottle of Jack and partied until the break of dawn. These days, Kesha has dropped the dollar sign from her name and has shed her party girl image. Released in the wake of ongoing lawsuits against her former producer Lukasz “Dr. Luke” Gottwald, Kesha's 2017 album Rainbow never addresses the tumultuous controversy head-on, but the subtext is abundantly clear. From a soaring duet with Dolly Parton to a jam with the Dap-Kings, the record is a showcase of Kesha's talents that purposefully (and joyfully) moves beyond her past (though there's no way she'll make her Ravinia debut without throwing in at least one rendition of "Tik Tok").
While working as a mailman in Chicago in the ‘60s and regularly performing at open mics, John Prine's simple and impactful folk music caught the ear of Kris Kristofferson, launching his career as a professional singer-songwriter. Several decades later, Prine's eloquent songcraft has garnered prominent fans such as Bob Dylan and Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon. At this special performance just north of his hometown, Prine will look back on his storied career and debut material from The Tree of Forgiveness—his first album of new songs in nearly 13 years. Contemporary country singer-songwriter Tyler Childers opens the show.
Everyone's favorite vegan (remember when he shut down all of the hot dog, taco and burger stands at Riot Fest?) makes his first appearance at Raivinia, headlining the summer-long festival's penultimate performance (which will probably be mostly meat-free, unless security starts confiscating salami from picnic baskets). The former Smiths frontman is touring behind his recent album, California Son, a covers record on which Moz takes on tracks by the likes of Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison and Carly Simon. As usual, we can't be entirely sure that Morrissey will even show up—he's canceled several recent concerts in Chicago due to illness, and September is a opportune time to catch a sudden end-of-the-summer cold.