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updated: 6/28/2013 6:15 AM

Five for the Fourth: Fireworks with a side of music

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  • Modern Day Romeos will play an extended set at the Northwest Fourth Fest, Thursday, July 4, in Hoffman Estates.

    Modern Day Romeos will play an extended set at the Northwest Fourth Fest, Thursday, July 4, in Hoffman Estates.
    Courtesy of Modern Day Romeos


John Philip Sousa reigns supreme on the Fourth of July, but marches and Lee Greenwood aren't all you should be hearing Thursday. The suburbs are teeming with musical events to commemorate this most patriotic of holidays.

Here are five worth checking out:

• The Northwest Fourth-Fest, a partnership between Hoffman Estates, Hanover Park and Elgin, kicks off a three-day run with an all-day festival, capped by performances by local favorites/suburban natives Modern Day Romeos and the Elgin Symphony Orchestra.

If you haven't already caught Modern Day Romeos at your local musical venue/watering hole, you should. Unless you hate fun. Because that's what they are -- a heaping helping of talent with a side order of good times. Catch them at 7:30 p.m. The ESO will supply the patriotic tunes from 9 to 10 p.m., accompanying a 9:30 fireworks display.

Northwest Fourth-Fest, 5333 Prairie Stone Parkway, Hoffman Estates; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Admission free; or (847) 649-2222.

• If you're curious about Aurora's new RiverEdge Park and want to see some fireworks, you can kill two birds with one patriotic stone. RiverEdge presents a free Fourth of July concert of Bruce in the USA and the Fox Valley Orchestra, followed by a full set of whiz-banging fireworks.

Bruce in the USA brings the best of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band to the 'burbs at 6 p.m. Guest conductor Lucia Matos and the Fox Valley Orchestra will play a set of patriotic and classical favorites (and yes, maybe even Lee Greenwood's hit) starting at 8:30 p.m., with the fireworks show lighting up the sky at 9:15 p.m.

RiverEdge Park, 360 North Broadway, Aurora. Gates open at 5 p.m.; Bruce in the USA starts at 6 p.m.; Fox Valley Orchestra at 8:30 p.m.; fireworks at 9:15 p.m. Admission free; or (630) 896-6666.

• If your soundtrack for the late '90s included the many radio hits of Matchbox Twenty and the Goo Goo Dolls, now's your chance to press play on that mixtape again. Closing off a three-night set of performances, both bands will reignite the era before the airwaves were oversaturated with the post-grunge glory of songs like "Push," "Long Day" and "Iris."

Matchbox Twenty is touring in support of last year's release of "North," after an on-again-off-again hiatus that gave lead singer Rob Thomas a chance to explore his solo side. The Goo Goo Dolls continue a dizzying run that extends to almost a decade before "A Boy Named Goo" and "Dizzy Up the Girl" made them mainstream radio staples. Catch some new tracks or bathe in nostalgia with a nice bottle of wine on the lawn.

Ravinia Festival, 418 Sheridan Road, Highland Park; 6:30 p.m. in the Pavilion; gates open at 4 p.m. Reserved seats are $125/$105; lawn seats are $38 ($43 on the day of the show); or (847) 266-5100.

• Known throughout the state for its stunning Fourth of July fireworks display, Itasca will again be hosting a holiday celebration at Hamilton Lakes Office Campus. The music starts at 6 p.m. with Pat McKillen, before Maggie Speaks, one of the Chicago area's premiere cover bands, takes the stage at 8 p.m. Fireworks will start between 9:45 and 10 p.m.

Hamilton Lakes, I-290 and Thorndale Avenue, Itasca; 8 p.m. Free admission; on-site parking is $20 per car;

• Bring on the country! Naperville's Ribfest lineup for the Fourth of July includes two acts -- one well established and one breaking out fresh with a new label and a new album -- straight out of the South.

Casey James (yeah, from season nine of "American Idol") comes from Texas via Nashville with more than a decade worth of material. Influenced by artists such as Vince Gill and Bonnie Raitt, James' mix of classic rock and blues will bring a country energy to the stage. Stephen Barker Liles and Eric Gunderson of Love & Theft are still basking in the afterglow of joining RCA Nashville and releasing their second studio album. All this change is revving up the ACM-nominated duo for a great afternoon show, leaving you plenty of time to get a good seat for fireworks that evening.

Ribfest, Knoch Park, West Street, Naperville; 3 p.m. Casey James; 4:30 p.m. Love & Theft. $15 Ribfest admission ($12 early-bird tickets available online now), $12 for show tickets; or (630) 259-1129.

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