When Separate Equals Hungry

A 2-part feature exploring food insecurity.

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Chicago Summertime Fun

Photo Credit:
Photo by Chicago News Weekly

Fun in Chicago is known for its girth—something for everyone and the city that worked had something for all ages and even events for the entire family. People flocked to all the outdoor summer events that the entire population of Chicago looked forward to because it’s sunny, the lake calls us and the skates are on, skateboards are zooming pass you as your stroll or bike, yes ‘Hot Fun’ in the Summertime  was ‘a thing,’ in Chicago pre pandemic.  People are more selective and discriminating in their selections begging the question. Is it demographically safe?  This is a fist question asked as part of the new normal across the board not limited to color race, age, economic or social status  , just a necessary inquiry these days. No place is safe it seems.

Though there many reasons why people stay in, like, early closings of restaurants, convenience of home delivery and or a reservation requirement cancelling the thrill of spontaneity and romance is just not factored in. Chicagoans are spoiled, they like big portions even if they do have to take a doggy bag, but now portions have dwindled, and prices have risen. Wine or any alcoholic beverage cost is over the top, but the pour is short.  . .And so is the service with a huge tis expectation.  So, looking to get out isn’t the easy thing to do any more.


But I will tell you that the best outing, I’ve enjoyed so far was the Vendor Fair and WildFlower Music Festival this past Saturday held on the Illinois Tech campus at 33rd Street. The venue was perfect for the event shaded by the natural grove of trees that surrounded the open lawn seating and stage. Yeah, bring your own chair, blanket, or pillow.  One couple laid down tarp and brought beautiful blow up furniture. Others were in carry on colorful seating. They’re presence created a beautiful potpourri of colors upon the grass. The guests did not leave. They settled in and stayed from the time the music began until the last act. Vendors were behind the people who were seated in from of the stage. They were lined up on both sides of the paved  walkway. They sold anything from keylime pie to high end silver, hats,

It took me back to the ‘Everyday Art’ days at South Shore Country club produced by Carol Adams. They were off the chain and a good time for all was had. I saw so many old and new friends who I haven’t seen since the pandemic All I can say is, if you missed the inaugural event this year, mark your calendars now for next year, plan to be there.. It can only get better.

The Music

The music lineup  was wonderful! Shout out to Senabella Gill, the Bronzevile Diva who was the music curator.  Everything about it was wonderful! The music was magical, soul touching, moving and inspiring! Wow! The Frank Russell Band led by award winning Chicago bass guitarist Frank Russell was joined on the Wildflower stage by all stars of Robert Irving III on keyboard, Corey Wilkerson trumpet, Marco Villarreal on lead guitar, Steve“Kwame” Cobbs on  drums, and featuring international vocalist Yvonne Gage.

Listen up! If you don’t t recognize the names of the musicians you’ve heard their music for sure. It took The Abney Effect, Band members include Mario Abney on trumpet, Micah Collier on bass, Frank Morrison on drums, and Josh Atkin on sax and boy what a treat.

D’Erania Stampley and Jahari Stampley are known as a “mother -son duo,” internationally renowned, Grammy-awarded musicians who play with the most sought out and favored jazz musicians on local and international stages. But Saturday they wowed the  Wildflower Music Festival crowd. What a treat.

Lead guitarist  Alan Burroughs and The AB Band rocked the park. Next Percussionist  Tony Carpenter’s Band included Toca on conga, Malcolm Banks on drums, Roger Harris on keys, James Perkins on sax, Kelvin Djembe Olu on dunn dun Uche’ on Shakara..

The sweet treat was Mae Koen’s specific harmonic talents which will recognize from her time with Aretha Franklin’s  from 1997 to 2004 and again in 2013 to 2017. Koen appeared with Franklin at her last Chicago performance at Ravinia in September 2017. She’s also performed with other greats vocals for Mariah Carey, and Celine Dion, to name a few. Her band members included June “Obie Copeland on bass, Brady Williams on drums, and Theodis Rogers on keyboard.
As the  evening came to a close  and Yvonne sung her last song Frank called Senabella to the stage to close the evening and what a treat it was.

Again, all I can say is that  set the date for next year now.

Photo Credit:
Senebella Gill and Mae Koen

About Author:

Visionary Kai EL´ Zabar has worked as CEO of arts organizations and as editor, writer and multimedia consultant accumulating a significant number of years in experience as an executive, journalist,publisher, public relations, media training, marketing, internal and external communications. Kai currently continues her life’s work as Editor-in-Chief Of Chicago News Weekly where she has resumed her column, “E NOTES.” She is ecstatic to be in the position to grace Chicago and the world with a publication that articulates the Black voice.



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