Bitter Jester Music Festival tunes up for its 15th anniversary season this weekend

  • Pretoria from Grand Rapids, Michigan, took top honors in last summer's songwriting contest, a virtual pivot for Bitter Jester due to the pandemic.

    Pretoria from Grand Rapids, Michigan, took top honors in last summer's songwriting contest, a virtual pivot for Bitter Jester due to the pandemic. Courtesy of Bitter Jester

  • Pretoria from Grand Rapids, Michigan, took top honors in last summer's songwriting contest, a virtual pivot for Bitter Jester due to the pandemic.

    Pretoria from Grand Rapids, Michigan, took top honors in last summer's songwriting contest, a virtual pivot for Bitter Jester due to the pandemic. Courtesy of Bitter Jester

  • Double Identity, from Chicago's Western suburbs, made the finals in the 2020 virtual Bitter Jester Music Festival.

    Double Identity, from Chicago's Western suburbs, made the finals in the 2020 virtual Bitter Jester Music Festival. Courtesy of Bitter Jester

  • F.L.A.M.E. (finding love among my echo) from Lake Forest won the Fan Favorite award at the 2020 Bitter Jester competition.

    F.L.A.M.E. (finding love among my echo) from Lake Forest won the Fan Favorite award at the 2020 Bitter Jester competition. Courtesy of Bitter Jester

 
 
Updated 7/22/2021 3:58 AM

After shifting to a virtual songwriting contest last year, the Bitter Jester Music Festival is back full force and in person this summer.

The weekly competition series launches at 6:45 p.m. Friday with six up-and-coming acts from the Midwest region playing live in Port Clinton Square, 600 Central Ave., Highland Park.

 

Solo artist Kate Larson will also warm things up with Acacia closing out the evening before the judging announcements.

Acts will be considered by a different slate of judges each week, all professionals in the music industry, who will provide thorough, thoughtful feedback to the contestants.

The contest continues the subsequent three Fridays with new acts each week, culminating in the grand finale concert. Performances are free; Ravinia Brewing Company, Judy's Pizza and Sweet Home Gelato will be on hand for purchases, so guests can grab dinner with their show.

Friday, July 23

• The Adem Dalipi Band

• The Millennials

• Scarlet Demore

• Scorched Waves

• Vengaza

• You Got the Message

Solo showcase: Kate Larson

Featured act: Acacia

Friday, July 30

• Beach Street

• Flying Fuzz

• Leo Sclamberg

• Luscia Jane

• The Simsons

• Summer Drive

Solo showcase: 9 A.M.

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Featured act: Marigold

Special guest appearance by Miles Music Kid in his first public performance.

Friday, Aug 6

• F.L.A.M.E.

• Feed the Monkeys

• Fluctuation

• Monsoon

• One Man Ginger Band

• Quick and Painless

Solo showcase: Kyra Cain

Featured act: Fightin' Bob

Friday, Aug 13

• Ian Jake Robleza

• Lyra

• Opening Day

• Pretoria

• Quite Frankly the Band

• Vertigo

Solo showcase: Linda Therese

Featured act: The Peter Dankelson Trio

The grand finale concert will highlight the eight finalists duking it out for the grand champion title and prizes. The event starts at 3 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 5, at Wolters Field, 1080 Park Ave. West, Highland Park, and ends with the City of Highland Park's belated Independence Day fireworks show.

Visit bitterjesterfoundation.org for more information on the bands, judges and contest prizes.

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