The Taste of Chicago kicked off Wednesday as anyone traveling down the Dan Ryan and other roadways can attest from the traffic backups at many points around the city.
Music fans and foodies continue to head out in droves to Grant Park for the annual weekend event. The free event runs through Sunday. "Taste" hours are 11 a.m. to 9 a.m. today and Friday and 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, with music starting at 5 p.m. daily.
Along with the traveling and traffic issues, will be parking issues. The official "Taste" website suggests that visitors make a pre-trip stop online at millenniumgarages.com or call 312-616-0600 to make the parking situation easier.
International Latin pop star Juanes will headline the entertainment tonight, following an opening set by La Santa Cecilia. Juanes has taken home more than 20 Grammy Awards. Friday's stage features the Brooklyn hip hop duo Black Star as the headliner, with electronic music artist and activist Kiran Gandhi opening the show.
Saturday's performance by Oklahoma City's The Flaming Lips is the real buzz event for this year's "Taste" stage. Together since 1983, the band is famous for elaborate live shows, costumes, props, video projections, light show and front man Wayne Coyne's signature man-sized plastic bubble. Opening for the Lips will be the El Paso-based punk group Le Butcherettes, and Chicago's own Half Gringa will kick off Saturday's music line-up.
Closing out the 2018 "Taste" is the godfather of the P-Funk music movement, George Clinton, whose Parliament/Funkadelic ensembles revolutionized R&B music in the 1970s when they fused soul music, funk and electronic beats together. Two Chicago artists -- BJ the Chicago Kid and The Boy Illinois -- open Sunday night's musical fare. More: tasteofchicago.us.
• "Jammin' For John" this Saturday at The Room/Silver Buckle venue in Highland (8355 Indianapolis Blvd.) will benefit Region musician John Yaney Sr., the guitarist of the country/rock group The Sons Of Liberty, who was seriously injured when a deer ran in front of his motorcycle. Among those scheduled to perform are The Mob, Spane, Dirty Trixxx and Darkhorse. A donation of $10 is requested for the 7 p.m. 21 & older event. More: 219- 838-5909.
• Chad Clifford of The Crawpuppies plays an 8 p.m. solo acoustic show this Saturday at Bugaboo's Bar & Grille (14577 S. Shore Drive) in Cedar Lake. More: 219-930-7232.
• Midwest guitar great Michaelangelo Batio headlines the latest multi-artist Corsone Entertainment "Roaring Records Concert Series" on July 14 at Cheers (4660 147th St.) in Midlothian. Performing on Saturday with Batio will be Euro-singer Marsy Flame, who recently recorded a remake of the old Batio/Holland song "Gotta Run," seen on YouTube (youtube.com/watch?v=nAL_O5H1A7w&feature=youtu.be). This Saturday's event begins at 5 p.m. and also includes performances by Vyse, Jim Pape, Tyrone Taylor, Headspins, The Isolated Brigade and Bullet To The Heart. More: 630-434-7858.
• Leroy's Hot Stuff (333 W. U.S. 20) in Porter welcomes the classic rock of Upside, Down & Backwards at 8 p.m. Friday, followed Saturday by the heavy sounds of AC/DC tribute band Little Lover at 9 p.m. More: leroyshotstuff.com or 219-926-6211.
• Northwest Indiana R&B veteran Gene Stewart -- a longtime member of both The Spaniels Forever and The Soulstirrers -- will present his solo "Sam Cooke Tribute" show at the Bendix Theatre in South Bend on July 20 with accompaniment by Sheryl Youngblood and The Say Yes Band. Cost: $20. More: 269-362-0026.
• Several local musical groups will perform at what is being hailed as the first annual "Soulshine Music Festival" in Monterey, Indiana at the Rising Sun Campgrounds (7510 N. 250 E.) over the July 20-22 weekend. Tickets are $60 per person/12 & younger are free and include two nights of camping, fire dancers, a drum circle, yoga and a variety of other activities. Scheduled to perform are: The Healers, Hurricane Reggae Band, Chris & Lou Band, Phil N The Blanks, The Highway Band, The Unstoppables, Dave's Envy, and The Righteous Hillbillies. More: risingsuncamp.com or 574- 542-4780.
• One of Ireland’s best loved and hardest working bands, The Coronas, who have built a large following in Chicagoland in recent years, will return to North America to support their fifth and latest album, "Trust The Wire." The band will perform at the eclectic Lollapalooza Festival in Chicago’s Grant Park on Sunday, Aug. 5, and three nights at the annual Milwaukee Irish Fest on Aug. 17, 18 and 19. More: thecoronas.net.
• This Friday afternoon local book author Phil Potempa will discuss his new exhibit of memorabilia on the late newspaper columnist Ann Landers at noon on 89.1FM-Lakeshore Public Radio's weekly program "Midwest BEAT with Tom Lounges" (which streams live at: lakeshorepublicmedia.org). The exhibit will be on display through September at Theatre At The Center as a tie-in with the venue's "Ann Landers: The Lady with All The Answers."
Then at 7pm on Tuesday (7/17), "Midwest BEAT" welcomes transplanted Regionite Jamie M. Harrison into the studio to spotlight the East Chicago native's music and talk about his successful music career since relocating to New Mexico a few years ago.