'Live and Uncorked:' Ravinia-style concert parties at Blackberry Farm
When it comes to the best of the best, outdoor concerts are at the top of the list -- warm summer nights groovin' under the stars. You don't just hear the music … you see it and feel it.
Blackberry Farm makes that experience even better. This week, Blackberry unveils its summer concert series -- "Live and Uncorked" -- with the first of five highly-anticipated performances each Thursday through July.
If you're not familiar with Live and Uncorked, let me sing it to you (guitar riff here). This is the West suburban version of Ravinia Festival. Concertgoers basically bring a party to the party.
Around the stage, it's a celebration. Guests arrive with lawn chairs, blankets, coolers, food, drinks and -- yes -- alcoholic beverages. It's a BYOB event (21 and older, of course), so bring a bottle of wine, pack a few craft beers or assemble a mix of mixers. Better yet, go full style and pack a picnic basket with glasses, mugs and appetizers.
It's an ideal setting for a romantic date, or a girls night out, or just hanging at the park, hearing some good live music and having a great time (along with a few drinks).
And it's just $5 admission -- for two hours of live music outdoors amid the classic backdrop of Blackberry Farm, 100 S. Barnes Road in Aurora.
Each show is from 7 to 9 p.m., but doors open at 6:30 so you can get in early, find a place to set up and start your preconcert picnic.
Here's the lineup of bands:
• Piano Man, June 30: Do you remember when rock was young? Piano Man is the premier tribute to Elton John and Billy Joel. Mike Sigman brings the music of these two legends to life in a dynamic, Las Vegas-type show full of all the glitz and glamour of the original artists -- perfect for the stage.
With a hand-picked lineup of versatile musicians and his uncanny ability to mimic the voices of these two mega superstars, Piano Man is one of the most solid and authentic tribute bands in the country. Every song is a hit, guaranteeing audience participation, singing, dancing and general merriment.
• And Beyond, July 7: Not your ordinary classic rock band … as its song list will reveal. And Beyond takes its audience beyond the edge, covering five decades and a wide variety of artists, including Bon Jovi, Journey, Styx, REO, Aerosmith, and Led Zeppelin -- with a variety of music that crosses over generations.
Having performed throughout the Midwest for over two decades, And Beyond was twice voted the No. 1 Rock Cover Band by Suburban Nightlife Magazine's Best of the Burbs.
• Libido Funk Circus, July 14: Originally formed as an over-the-top tribute to the Disco music of the 70s, Libido Funk Circus has been relentlessly entertaining a wide range of audiences since its inception in 1996.
While they continue to play popular disco hits, the addition of hundreds of dance and rock songs -- spanning from the 60s through today -- has turned LFC into a human jukebox. From the hits of the good ol' Motown days to the bass-thumping beats of today's dance music -- and the always danceable disco grooves to the new wave rock of the 80s -- LFC has it "covered."
• Wild Daisy, July 21: Wild Daisy bills itself as the most energetic, dynamic female-fronted country band in the Chicago area. The band plays current, upbeat country, with a few pop/rock songs thrown in for fun. Wild Daisy established a reputation in Chicago for consistently delivering high-quality, family-friendly, crowd-interactive, entertaining shows that pulse with musicianship and energy. Past gigs include big-ticket venues at First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre and U.S. Cellular Field.
• Midwest Dueling Pianos, July 28: Back at Blackberry again, Midwest Dueling Pianos performs an all-request driven show that creates an interactive musical comedy experience. As seen on college campuses, fans bring request slips directly to band members and, from there, it becomes a celebration of singing, shouting, dancing and laughing.
Their music ranges from today's most popular songs to throwback tunes of yesteryear, from rock and country to R&B and rap. Fans provide the direction of the show and audience participation is a big part of it, with members often coming on stage. Uniquely entertaining, you can expect Midwest Dueling Pianos to bring the house down.
• Jeff Long (firstname.lastname@example.org) is the public affairs and communications manager for the Fox Valley Park District. Live and Uncorked tickets are available online at www.wherefunbegins.org