Ravinia Festival released its schedule of shows for 2017 yesterday. Along with its perennial classical programming, there's once again some more popular forms to supplement the symphony. True, they tend to book acts that are past their sell-by date, but there's still some fun-in-the-park experience for a BYOB venue with a flat lawn. Maybe even check someone off the old bucket list.
I'm gonna take a quick stab at ranking those offerings.
Unranked: OneRepublic (7/14 & 15) and Lifehouse & Switchfoot (8/28). Feel like I should know these bands, but I'm not even gonna look them up.
23. Darius Rucker (8/5). Fuckin Hootie, man. He is on Robert Randolph's latest LP, for whatever that's worth.
22. Alanis Morrisette (8/25). Could you imagine if she didn't play "You Oughta Know"? Bedlam in Highland Park.
21. Sammy Hagar (6/19). Can't say this is a really good match of venue and artist. Bonham's kid on drums, though.
20. Moody Blues (6/30). I liked some Moody Blues songs once upon a time
19. Tie: John Legend (6/10) and Gipsy Kings (6/23). They land here for being artists that I respect, but don't necessarily want to see.
17. Beach Boys + The Temptations (7/2). There was a year when this pairing would have been incredible. Unfortunately 2017 is not it.
16. Tony Bennett (8/4). This concert will be one day after his 91st birthday. Holy. Shit.
15. John Butler Trio (8/20). This guys alright.
14, Tie. Blondie & Garbage (7/22) and Sheryl Crow (7/7). Showcasing the female rockers. You could do worse.
12. Stephen Stills + Judy Collins (7/26). I do like Judy and Stephen. But this would be a few slots higher if Collins was replaced with David Crosby and Graham Nash.
11. Booker T Jones (and Suprise Headliner) (7/6). Booker T is always a solid show, but the "surprise headliner"... what's that all about?
10. Michael McDonald + Boz Skaggs (6/27). McDonald seems to be having a bit of a career resurgence and Skaggs is highly underrated.
9. John Mellencamp (8/26 & 27). I've never been a huge Mellen-head, but will probably have one of the greatest percentages of hits to misses of any artist on this list.
8. Stevie Nicks (9/8 & 10). As evidenced on some of the more recent Fleetwood Mac tours, the girl can still sing.
7. Seu Jorge - The Life Aquatic Tribute to David Bowie (6/15). Seems like a nice time out on the lawn for this one.
6. Aretha Franklin (6/17). Getting to the part of the list that might make me take a trip up to Highland Park for these shows. I hear she's retiring from the road, so this could be the last time to the Queen of Soul perform in the area.
5. Santana (8/11 & 12). Carlos has gone in some strange directions of the last few decades but remains one of the greatest electric guitarists to even pick up the instrument. Hoping some of the original Santana stuff he's done recently makes its way to Ravinia.
4. Willie Nelson & Family (6/16). Willie's had some recent health scares, so I'm crossing my fingers that this one actually happens.
3. Andrew Bird & Esperanza Spalding (7/23). This is a nice pairing for a July night.
2. Pat Metheny (6/14). One of the all time greats and its seems like its been a minute since he's been in the Chicago area.
1. Punch Brothers + I'm With Her + Julian Lage (8/14). Three top notch acts all at the top of their game and a venue that suits their vibe. We have a winner.
The full calendar is available here.