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In the MIXX: The Silver Room Reign Hyde Park, Taste of WVON Gives Back and Chicago Shines

14th Silver Room Sound System Block Party draws thousands of attendees to downtown Hyde Park. PHOTO: Mary L. Datcher

Summertime in Chicago is an awesome place to be despite the steady reports of violence that flash across our television screens and social media platforms. There are some powerful and positive series of events that make our city great. Almost anywhere in the Chicagoland area, people can trip over neighborhood festivals, block parties, family reunions, and special summer programming for every age.

This past weekend, I attended some major hometown events and they were all beautiful. Two of them were The Taste of WVON and the 14th Silver Room Sound System Block Party | WE Speak; both produced, operated and owned by African American businesses. No negative occurrence. The energy was organic and real Black love, pride and freedom reigned. The third event was the Pitchfork Music Festival on the near West Side. From Chatham, Hyde Park to the West Side—these festivals mirrored what Chicago should be about—a kaleidoscope of colors, cultures and communities.

People love a good read of tragedy but MUSIC TRULY CALMS THE SPIRIT AND SOUL. Without any major sponsors and media coverage, The Silver Room’s party they shut down the 53rd Street business corridor! There were over 150 performances from musical artists and DJs, 50 plus vendors and close to 20,000 attendees descending on downtown Hyde Park on a Saturday afternoon.

Nearly 14 years ago, the block party was created by The Silver Room owner, Eric Williams in an alley next to the building of his Wicker Park jewelry boutique. Since then, the collaboration of various arts, fashion and community organizations have created a refuge of synergy with Williams’ store at the nucleus. The store’s relocation to Hyde Park has brought a breath of fresh air and shot of “dopeness” for the Hyde Park business district. The production team for the annual block party is a small one but with a long arm of resources, relationships and a unique style of marketing outreach that has made the second year on the South Side an incredible success. An awesomely electric DJ set by the incomparable NYC’s DJ Pete Rock closed out the night on a euphoric note.

El DeBarge performs at the 7th Taste of WVON in Lorraine Dixon Park. PHOTO: Worsom Robinson

In Chatham, the 7th Annual Taste of WVON brought out some key corporate companies to the South Side to engage the community along with small businesses and great food vendors. The “real” Taste of Chicago was in Lorraine Dixon Park with some familiar names such as Uncle Remus and their incredible chicken tips. Main headline acts Rose Royce and El DeBarge shut it down—bringing folks “back down memory lane” and having seniors dust off their 8-track decks. This year, part of 87th Street was closed to ensure proper traffic flow which leads to the sad conclusion that the event has outgrown Lorraine Dixon Park and has residents wanting more.

Tribe Called Quest performs at 2017 Pitchfork Music Festival in Union Park. PHOTO: Mary L. Datcher

The Pitchfork Music Festival headlined Black acts on both Saturday with George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic and Tribe Called Quest, and Sunday (Solange). Held at Union Park for the past seven years, the three-day festival drew over 40,000 attendees in the hot weather. TCQ performed for the first time since their founding member, Phife Dawg, died last March and lit up Saturday night’s performance. They performed early classics from “Can I Kick It”, “Check the Rhime”, “Scenario” new music from their latest 2016 album, “We Got It From Here, Thank You For 4 Your Service.”

Congratulations to Rev. Jesse Jackson and his committees for hosting another successful Rainbow PUSH Coalition Convention. The five-day event was held at the Chicago Hilton with powerful panel discussions, workshops, luncheons and dinners honoring some prolific leaders in business, automotive, faith, education, media, politics, entertainment, sports and awarding numerous student scholarships. On Thursday, the Independent Music Seminar featured several speakers in the areas of music, production, publishing, legal, fashion and digital tech as part of the convention’s panel discussions.

Independent Music Seminar at Rainbow PUSH panelists l-r: Jesse ‘GF’ Jones, Marcus Blassingame, Erin Teague, Steven L. Wiser, Hearon Trackz and Reginald ‘Fub’ McKinley. PHOTO: Mary L. Datcher

The United State of Women hosted their first regional summit in Chicago.  Galvanize Summit armed women with resources to take action in their communities with leaders in politics and public service at the McCormick Place. Some attendees included: former Sr. Advisor to President Barack Obama Valerie Jarrett; Former Chief of Staff to First Lady Michelle Obama Tina Tchen; actress and activist Sophia Bush and an impressive line-up of high-powered women in business, activism and education.

Throughout the hustle and bustle of some of the activities taking place in our backyard, from my lens, there was a cathartic sense of pride, a renewal of economic hope in supporting neighborhood businesses along with mutual respect towards each other throughout each corner of Chicago.

Birthday Shout-outs

Chicago City Treasurer Kurt Summers

Best wishes to one of Chicago’s architects of hip hop, former WHPK personality Quentin ‘Chilly Q’ Lewis and soulful Jazz vocalist Lynn Jordan on July 18. Veteran and one of the hardest working publicists Patricia Andrews-Keenan; lawyer and mom Danielle Le Roy celebrate on July 19. Happy birthday to former indie music retailer David Danku and publicist Kristi Dawson on July 20. Everyone’s favorite club door man and security Joe “Bruno” Blaque; celebrity and fashion make-up artist Anre Brownlee; and the special wishes to long-running youth show producer Elma Lucas (Elma and Company) on July 22. Veteran musician Gerey Johnson and Echo Hobson-Robinson on July 23. Crazy birthday love to City of Chicago Treasurer Kurt Summers on July 24.

Celebrity Sightings

The cast of VH1’s “Black Ink Chicago” celebrated the premiere of Season 3 on Wednesday evening at Casey Morans in Wrigleyville. The cast members did a great promo run headed up by publicist Catrice Armstrong (PR Werks), making stops at WGCI FM, The Chicago Defender, Power 92 and other outlets.

Notorious former gangster and drug pin, Rick Ross is in town to promote his new book for the next few days.

Print Retraction: Actor and filmmaker Marlon Wayans will be in town to promote his new NBC comedy, “Marlon” on Monday, August 14.

KRS-One performs on The Art of Rap Tour at the Chicago Theatre on Sat. July 22.

Gear up for another weekend of great outdoor events in the city. For praise, worship and an appetite for some culinary flavors—stop by the Taste of Gospel on Saturday, July 22 in Washington Park. Live performances by LXW Chicago, Charles Jenkins and Stars of Heaven. Early that evening enjoy the lakefront breeze at V103’s 3rd Annual Block Party at the Huntington Bank Pavilion on Northerly Island. The concert is officially sold out but what an incredible line-up with Nelly, Kelly Rowland, Bell Biv DeVoe (BBD), SWV and one of my favorite entertainers—Jill Scott. The Art of Rap Tour will be shaking the building on the same evening at the Chicago Theater featuring DMX, Rakim, Chicago’s Crucial Conflict; Wutang members, Ghostface Killa and Raekwon along with the legendary KRS-One. If you don’t feel like dealing with the stress of city traffic and parking lot drama and the serenity of the suburbs can ease your nerves—check out Guy and Blackstreet at the Country Club Hills Theater.

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