Gerald Dowd & Friends play a benefit show at Aurora's The Venue Friday, Nov. 19, to raise funds for two local food pantries. // Courtesy of Michael Jackson

Sound check: Benefit shows with Gerald Dowd, Mavis Staples; Josh Turner opens Rialto’s holiday season

The Rialto Square Theatre is unwrapping its holiday season with Josh Turner and many other festive shows; Gerald Dowd & Friends benefit two local food pantries; Mavis Staples’ Beyond Hunger benefit shows; Blue Oyster Cult headlines the Des Plaines Theatre and much more.

Early holidays at the Rialto

Your holiday decorations might not be up just yet, but Joliet’s Rialto Square Theatre is ringing in the holidays with a stretch of festive events starting this weekend. On Saturday, Nov. 20, gospel and country singer Josh Turner presents his new Christmas album, “King Size Manger,” as part of his “2021 Holiday & the Hits Tour,” loaded with original creations and Christmas favorites. A few days later, the Rialto hosts VenuWorks’ “A Charlie Brown Christmas Live On Stage” celebrating Charles M. Schulz’s “Peanuts” characters and the beloved 1965 television special — complete with the classic Vince Guaraldi score — and followed by caroling with the Peanuts gang.

Josh Turner’s “2021 Holiday & the Hits Tour” with Mo Pitney is at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 20. $34-$64. “A Charlie Brown Christmas Live On Stage” is at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 23. $29-$49. Rialto Square Theatre is at 102 N. Chicago St., Joliet, (815) 726-6600 or

Singer-songwriter Josh Turner brings the holidays to Joliet’s Rialto Square Theatre with his “Holidays & the Hits Tour” Saturday, Nov. 20. // Associated Press file photo

Visit for details on the full lineup of holiday events, including:

• A Very Rialto Christmas: Making Merry Music! at 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 22

• Von Heidecke’s Chicago Festival Ballet’s production of “The Nutcracker” at 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 28

• Merry Little Soiree featuring the Nova Soul Quartet at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 1

• Big Bad VooDoo Daddy’s Wild & Swingin’ Holiday Party at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 2

• Cirque Musica Holiday Spectacular at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 5

• Million Dollar Quartet Christmas at 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 10

• Merry Little Soiree featuring The Nova Soul Quartet at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 15

Blue Öyster evening

The influential Blue Oyster Cult (“(Don’t Fear) The Reaper,” “Burnin’ for You”) brings its nearly 50 years of hard-rocking stage performances to the suburbs for a headlining show at the newly reopened Des Plaines Theatre.

7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 19, at the Des Plaines Theatre, 1476 Miner St., Des Plaines. $49-$99. (630) 962-7000 or

Mavis Staples plays two nights benefiting Beyond Hunger this weekend at Thalia Hall and FitzGerald’s.

Mavis Staples

Mavis Staples, Chicago’s incomparable gospel and soul singer with a kind spirit and an eye toward social awareness, takes to the stage for a two-night benefit concert to raise funds for Beyond Hunger. The Grammy-winning legend, who will be joined by jazz and gospel singer Kelly Hogan, first hits Chicago’s Thalia Hall Friday, Nov. 19, followed by a show at Berwyn’s FitzGerald’s on Saturday, Nov. 20, to aid the Oak Park-based nonprofit organization in its mission of providing hunger relief throughout the area.

8 p.m. Friday. Nov. 19, at Thalia Hall, 1807 S. Allport St., Chicago; $70-$140; (312) 526-3851 or Also at 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 20, at FitzGerald’s Nightclub, 6615 Roosevelt Road, Berwyn; this show is sold out, but guests can be added to the waitlist at

Gerald Dowd & Friends

Veteran musician Gerald Dowd is leading a squad of Fox Valley and Chicago artists in taking over The Venue in Aurora for a benefit concert to raise funds to help feed those in need for the holidays. Featuring the talents of John Abbey, Greg Schultz, Larry Brown, Scott Stevenson, MaryLou O’Brien Fischer, Bob Kuhn, Dave Ramont and Chris Walke (and maybe a few surprise guests), all proceeds from the Gerald Dowd & Friends show will benefit two nonprofit agencies in the area — the Marie Wilkinson Food Pantry in Aurora and The Pilsen Food Pantry in Chicago.

8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 19, at The Venue, 21 S. Broadway, Aurora. $15-$20 in advance; ticket prices increase by $5 at the door the day of the show. (331) 212-8490 or

12 shows to catch

Big Smile, Honey Creek, Drying Out, High Wire, Bluprint: 6:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 19, at Evolution Music, 923 Curtiss St., Downers Grove. $10.

The Laughing Hearts, The Darkhorse Collective, Sun-Riser: 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 19, at Cubby Bear, 1059 W. Addison St., Chicago. $8. (773) 327-1662 or

Violet Crime, Grace Coletta: 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 19, at Golden Dagger, 2447 N. Halsted St., Chicago. $15; sold out, but a limited number of tickets will be released at the door the day of. (773) 857-0166 or

HOMESAFE, Jail Socks, Arm’s Length, The Dayshakers: 6 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 20, at Subterranean, 2011 W. North Ave., Chicago. $15.

Background Character album release show with The Off Days, Salt Creek, OK Cool: 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 20, at Subterranean (downstairs), 2011 W. North Ave., Chicago. $10.

Perfecting Gravity, The Buzz Worthys: 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 20, at BaseCamp Pub, 5750 Lakeside Drive, Lisle. $10. (331) 777-4712 or

Miles Over Mountains, The MilBillies: 9 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 20, at Two Brothers Roundhouse, 205 N. Broadway, Aurora. $5. (630) 264-2739 or

Primal Moon & Friends EP release show: 5 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 21, at The Comedy Shrine, 2228 Fox Valley Center Drive, Aurora. (630) 585-0300 or

Fletcher Rockwell, Kory Quinn: 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 24, at FitzGerald’s Nightclub, 6615 Roosevelt Road, Berwyn. $10. (708) 788-2118 or

Chicago’s Lil Zay Osama joins G Herbo’s “Monster Outbreak Tour” at the Riviera Theatre Wednesday, Nov. 24. // Courtesy of Hustle Simmons

G Herbo’s “Monster Outbreak Tour” with Lil Zay Osama: 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 24, at the Riviera Theatre, 4746 N. Racine Ave., Chicago. $100-$150.

Free Monday with Impulsive Hearts, 8-bit crEEps and Lithia: 8:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 22, at Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western Ave., Chicago. Free. (773) 276-3600 or

Brontë Fall, Meagan Hickman: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 24, at Hey Nonny, 10 S. Vail Ave., Arlington Heights. $12-$30. (224) 202-0750 or

• 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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