On a hot and steamy August morning, children's performer Karen Jordan strummed out catchy, upbeat tunes on her Taylor acoustic guitar in front of nearly 300 kids, moms and dads at the Viking Park Bandshell in Gurnee.
It marked the fourth and final show of the Children's Concerts 2011 concert series, co-sponsored by the Gurnee Park District and First Midwest Bank.
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Accompanied by bassist Jim Cox and mandolin player Don Stiernberg, Jordan performed, despite the heat, for 45 minutes. The show featured several of her musical staples, including her signature song "Come and Dance."
A Skokie resident and musician for 30 years, Jordan taught for 10 years at the Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago and has performed folk tunes at coffee houses in the Chicago area since the 1970s, including the famed Holstein's folk club on North Lincoln Avenue in Chicago.
However, it's performing children's musical standards for libraries and park districts that has become more lucrative than the coffee house circuit and has been paying the bills lately.
Antioch resident Melissa Smith brought her daughters, Lilly and Elsie, to the final concert, saying, "it's good to get out of the house," where she's felt trapped by the stifling heat this summer.
Josh Hornaday of Libertyville towed his kids, Justin and Morgan, in a little red wagon to their second concert this season.
The stay-at-home dad was a lawyer for 11 years before deciding to concentrate on writing fiction. The time at home allows him to spend more time with his kids, he said, and he doesn't mind missing the daily commute to Chicago either.
If you would like to catch Karen Jordan's lively musical talents, she will perform at the Chicago Botanic Garden as part of its "Dancin' Sprouts" free kids concert series Aug. 17.
For details, visit www.chicagobotanic.org/forfamilies/dancinsprouts.php.