Fan favorite Spencer Ludwig brings his trumpet skills back to the North Shore for the new Emerge Winnetka music festival Saturday, Sept. 11. // Courtesy of Emerge Winnetka

Sound check: Emerge Winnetka rises on North Shore; Pitchfork weekend and more

Pitchfork fills Chicago with cutting-edge favorites, the new Emerge Winnetka brings music back to the North Shore, Take the Reins plays a benefit in Carpentersville, and a whole lot more.

Pitchfork Music Festival

The annual festival was based on bringing cutting-edge and groundbreaking alternative, indie, hip-hop and dance music to Chicago. Now in its 15th year, the festival lineup features headliners Erykah Badu, St. Vincent and Phoebe Bridgers, along with Big Thief, Animal Collective, Kim Gordon, Cat Power, Ty Segall & Freedom Band and more.

1 to 10 p.m. Friday through Sunday, Sept. 10-12, at Union Park, 1501 W. Randolph St., Chicago. Three-day passes are sold out, but single-day tickets are $90 at

Emerge Winnetka

After the COVID-19 pandemic made the annual Winnetka Music Festival nearly impossible to safely pull off, organizers conjured a new fest to take its place. Emerge Winnetka brings a full day of top-notch music to the sprawling Skokie Playfields, allowing fans a chance to spread out while still enjoying the music. Acts include Latin Grammy-winning pop trumpeter Spencer Ludwig, Grammy-nominated soul artist Allen Stone, country sister duo Walker County, jazzy rock band The Vindys, Argonaut & Wasp’s indie pop, a youth hip-hop performance by Brothers on a Mission and a disco dance after-party with DJ SQUAROPOLIS. Local food and drink vendors will be on hand, and VIP areas will provide even more catering options. And to bring the community together even more, $5 from each advance ticket sale will go to your choice of 11 local charities. Find out more about Emerge Winnetka and host ValsList at

2 to 11 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 11, at Skokie Playfields, 540 Hibbard Road, Winnetka. $60 (plus fees) general admission, $25 for ages 12 to 20, $5 for 11 and younger; VIP passes are also available at

Take the Reins for charity

West suburban punk band Take the Reins takes the stage for a family-friendly benefit for the Muscular Dystrophy Association and Carpentersville first responders. The outdoor event — co-hosted by the Spotted Fox Ale House and Carpentersville police and fire departments, will feature a full night of music, raffles and giveaways. Admission is free, but donations and profits will benefit the Carpentersville Fire Department’s Muscular Dystrophy Association and the Carpentersville Police Department’s Therapy K9 Program.

5 to 11 p.m. (music starts at 7) Saturday, Sept. 11, at Spotted Fox Ale House, 113 S. Western Ave., Carpentersville. Free admission, but donations are accepted. (224) 484-8907 or

Classical meets hip-hop when Black Violin takes the Ravinia Festival stage with The Blind Boys of Alabama Saturday, Sept. 11. // Courtesy of Caroline Brennan

Tuned up with Black Violin

Fort Lauderdale natives Kev Marcus and Wil Baptiste have been merging classical string arrangements they studied in school with the hip-hop beats they listened to outside of class since they first met in high school. Nearly two decades later, the duo has won “Showtime at the Apollo,” sold out The Kennedy Center, collaborated with Alicia Keys and Wu Tang Clan, released a Grammy-nominated album (Check out “Take the Stairs” here) and worked with and played for thousands of young, low-income music students to inspire them and challenge their ideas of what music (and musicians) need to be. Experience the music firsthand when the duo appears at Ravinia with the Blind Boys of Alabama this weekend.

7:30 p.m. (gates at 5) Saturday, Sept. 11, at Ravinia Festival, 200 Ravinia Park Road, Highland Park. $33-$43 for lawn, $60-$80 for reserved pavilion seats (prices increase $5 at the door);

The Chris Greene Quartet returns to The Venue in Aurora with a smoking headlining set Thursday, Sept. 16. // Courtesy of Ozzie Ramsay Photography

Jazz with Chris Greene

After an explosive performance at The Venue’s first jazz festival, Evanston’s Chris Greene Quartet takes its place among the Aurora venue’s headliners with a show next week. The foursome — Greene, Steve Corley, Damian Espinosa and Marc Piane — meld their diverse musical interests into a set incorporating elements of funk, hip-hop, rock, pop, blues and reggae. Bring blankets, lawn chairs (and your mask) for this Thursday night outdoor show.

8 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 16, at The Venue, 21 S. Broadway Ave., Aurora. $15 for terrace seats, $10 for lawn; admission increases by $5 at the door; (331) 212-8490 or

The blues at 11

Earlier this year, blues label Alligator Records produced “Sweet Home Chicago,” a performance by stars Billy Branch, Shemekia Copeland, Lil’ Ed Williams and Toronzo Cannon celebrating 50 years of the Chicago music label and its history with the blues. This weekend, WTTW-TV will broadcast the showcase — filmed at Governors State University Center for the Performing Arts in University Park, Illinois — at 9:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 10, and 12:30 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 12. Find more information at

10 shows not to miss

Real Friends, Action/Adventure, Muted Color, Wilmette: 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 10, at Bottom Lounge, 1375 W. Lake St., Chicago. $28;

Julian Marley: 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 10, at Arcada Theatre, 105 E. Main St., St. Charles. $20-$39;

Kickin Valentina, SIIN: 8:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 10, at BrauerHouse, 1000 N. Rohlwing Road, Lombard. $10-$65 at

Toad the Wet Sprocket, Althea Grace: 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 10, at Park West, 322 W. Armitage Ave., Chicago. $54-$94;

Alanis Morissette, Garbage, Cat Power: 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 11, at Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre, 19100 Ridgeland Ave., Tinley Park. Tickets start at $31; this event has been rescheduled from 2020, and original tickets will be honored;

Starlight City: 9 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 11, at Joe’s Live, 5441 Park Place, Rosemont. $5;

Jonas Brothers “The Remember This Tour” with Kelsea Ballerini: 7 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 12, at Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre, 19100 Ridgeland Ave., Tinley Park. Tickets start at $25;

Flogging Molly and Violent Femmes with Me First & the Gimme Gimmes and Thick: 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 14, at Byline Bank Aragon Ballroom, 1106 W. Lawrence Ave. Chicago. $20-$149;

The Struts “Strange Days Are Over Tour” with Nick Perri & the Underground Thieves: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 14, at Park West, 322 W. Armitage Ave., Chicago. $31.50;

Crystal Bowersox: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, Sept. 15-16, at Hey Nonny, 10 S. Vail Ave., Arlington Heights. Reserved seating is sold out; $20 for general admission standing room only at

• Brian Shamie is a Daily Herald multiplatform editor and local music junkie. Email him at, find him on Facebook or follow him on Twitter (@thatshamieguy) or Instagram (@chicagosoundcheck).

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