Sound check: Hey Nonny's showcase with Todd Kessler

  • Glenbrook North grad Todd Kessler hosts the "Songwriters in the Round" local music showcase at Hey Nonny Tuesday, July 6.

    Glenbrook North grad Todd Kessler hosts the "Songwriters in the Round" local music showcase at Hey Nonny Tuesday, July 6. Courtesy of Chelsea Ross

  • The Gin Blossoms head to Loves Park to headline the Long Play Music Festival this weekend.

    The Gin Blossoms head to Loves Park to headline the Long Play Music Festival this weekend. Courtesy of Shervin Lainez

Updated 7/1/2021 10:37 AM

Todd Kessler Presents ...

In January of 2019, Deerfield musician Todd Kessler launched his monthly "Songwriters in the Round" showcase at Arlington Heights' Hey Nonny listening room.


On Tuesday, July 6, he brings that chapter to a close for now with a final set.

"What I aimed to do was shine a light on the incredible talent that we have here in Chicagoland, and I think we were incredibly successful in doing that," Kessler said. "I was able to give a platform for other singer-songwriters at all levels of their career, and that was extremely fulfilling."

The showcase format is one built on camaraderie, with Kessler swapping songs and sharing stories with a trio of musicians, many of them friends he's made in his 16 years performing around Chicago and the suburbs. Tuesday's edition features Americana-folk rocker Chase Ventrella, Despina Pafralides of the bluegrass act Fox Crossing String Band and slide-guitar genius and Northbrook native Bill Grady.

"I learned that artists strive for community and a platform to share their art, and that audiences are inspired by honest and vulnerable performances," Kessler said. "One thing I found was that the audience's favorite part was always the conversations we had on stage. I strived to lead honest and compelling conversations with my fellow songwriters, and that often led to a back and forth with the audience that everyone really enjoyed."

For now, Kessler said he's stepping back from the showcase to figure out how to make it work best on a music scene changed by the pandemic. But the door is still open for its return.

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In the meantime, the Glenbrook North grad is also preparing for the mid-July release of his new single "Chasing Love," an upbeat, folksy duet he co-wrote with longtime collaborator Kevin Prchal and that features Algonquin native and "American Idol" contestant Althea Grace. The song also includes friends Charlie Dresser on drums and Zachary Goforth on bass.

"It's about how we are so often searching," he said. "Searching for love, for a dream, for more in general, when in reality often what we're looking for was right there all along."

7:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 6, at Hey Nonny, 10 S. Vail Ave., Arlington Heights. $15-$20; (224) 202-0750 or

Long Play musical weekend

After a Thursday afternoon baseball game, Rivets Stadium in Loves Park will transform to a music arena for the area's first Long Play Music Festival this weekend. The fest, featuring headliners Gin Blossoms Friday, July 2, Jeff Tweedy on Saturday, July 3, and Cheap Trick on Sunday, July 4, will also host a supporting lineup of regional acts including Hairbangers Ball, Blooze Brothers, Too Hype Crew, Catfight and 7th heaven, along with a carnival, food and fireworks all three nights.


Gates open at noon Friday through Sunday, July 2-4, at Rivets Stadium, 4503 Interstate Blvd., Loves Park. $39.99 for three-day general admission; $19.99-$29.99 for single-day passes; VIP and unlimited carnival-ride packages also available at

Long Grove's American Salute

Get set for an All-American weekend as Buffalo Creek Brewing hosts the American Salute concert Saturday, July 3, in its biergarten. The 45-piece Lake County Symphony Orchestra will play patriotic favorites -- including the Armed Forces Medley, Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture, Sousa's Stars and Stripes and more -- and guests are invited to bring blankets and chairs while wearing their red, white and blue. Handcrafted beer will be on tap, and a food truck will serve up tasty treats. The Aimee Gwen jazz quartet will continue the afternoon celebration from 3 to 6 p.m.

Noon Saturday, July 3, at Buffalo Creek Brewing, 360 Historical Lane, Long Grove. Free admission; (847) 821-6140 or

• Brian Shamie is a Daily Herald multiplatform editor and local music junkie. Email him at, find him on Facebook or follow him on Twitter (@thatshamieguy) or Instagram (@chicagosoundcheck). Brian also keeps tabs on the local music scene at

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