The Shams Band (photo: ishootrockstars.com)
There's a lot of flavor at the Taste of Chicago this year. Head to Grant Park starting this Friday, June 25 to Sunday, July 4 for music-filled days showcasing specific themes, such as garage rock and folk, and bands both local and international on a variety of stages. Here are a few local highlights, plus one very cool group visiting from London that I am diggin'.
The Shams Band - Friday, June 25, 4-5 p.m., Illinois Lottery Stage
The Shams Band is a can't miss Chicago Americana/folk band that slyly differentiates itself by walking the delicate line between honest and clever. The band's music is marked by the wisdom of an unassuming blue collar intellectual, and in songs like "Working Man," singer Paul Gulyas's mischief is clearly audible. When he admits he was "already up to no good," it makes you want in on whatever he was getting up to. Here's your chance.
Jon Drake and the Shakes - Friday, June 25, 5:20-6:20 p.m., Illinois Lottery Stage
Jon Drake and the Shakes amble along Midwestern highways, approachable and disarming in there earnestness. The wavering voice of their music speaks directly to the trend of honesty and sincerity that has been compelling musicians everywhere to abandon bombast and pluck on some strings and sing together.
White Mystery - Saturday, June 26, 6:40-8 p.m., Illinois Lottery Stage
The brother and sister duo who sound like Grace Slick and Jimmy Page had kids betray their faux parentage with fiery red curls, but are true to the licks. They have been causing a fuss all Spring and with this being the first of many fest appearances here in Chicago, maybe you should check them out so you can hold it over your friends' heads when they try and tell you about White Mystery in July!
JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound - Saturday, July 3, 12-3:40 p.m., Illinois Lottery Stage
It should come as no surprise that JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound are like a time machine that you can dance in, but what may surprise you is how quickly you will get in the time machine (generally about four bars in) and find yourself wondering, why isn't this on the radio?Why did people stop making music like this? Well, not everyone did. Just check it out.
The Heavy - Saturday, July 3 - 4-5 p.m. - Illinois Lottery Stage
The Heavy jam. But not in a way that makes you want to call them a jam band. They jam in the way that the originators of the word (whoever, wherever they may be) would have to be proud of. I listen to them and think Bob Marley to James Brown in four chords? No way. Yes, they did. These guys even got David Letterman so pumped up when the played the Late Show that he just straight up asked them to play the song again immediately, which they did. All the way from London, do not miss them.