The heart and culture of the West Side: West Side Music Festival

R&B singer Case
R&B singer Case

The West Side of Chicago is one of the toughest sides of town. People who talk about the West Side usually refer to an urban tradition of black activism, strong-arm politics or the heightened levels of crimes. No matter how you measure the various characteristics of the West Side, most Chicagoans understand if you grew up on that side of town —you’re not a punk.
The West Side has created some wonderful community leaders and long standing businesses that pride themselves on staying loyal to their community. A new pride and joy has taken refuge on this side of town—the West Side Music Festival. The brainchild of Michelle Geddes and Michael Scott, Jr., newly elected as the Alderman of the 24th Ward. Both are West Side natives and happily reside in the Lawndale community where they decided to create and produce a music festival four years ago—free to the public.
Since it’s inception, the free music festival has brought out a growing number of attendees enjoying past concert performances by Syleena Johnson, Raheem DeVaughn, Terisa Griffin, Brownstone, Musiq Soulchild and 112. This year, the festival had the biggest R&B headliners to date—Case and Bell Biv DeVoe (BBD) in Douglas Park on Saturday, August 15th.
It has become a labor of love and taking on a different role this year, said Alderman Scott, Jr., who is incorporating his newly formed, “Back to School” picnic and family day into this year’s West Side Music Festival.“I’m proud to say that in the three years that the West Side Music Festival has existed, we’ve had no incidents of violence,” Scott said. “It’s just been good people out enjoying good music in great weather and we look to have the same thing happen this year.”
In addition to having the Alderman’s endorsement on the event, another Scott will be stepping into a new role as the Executive Director of the West Side Cultural Foundation—his wife, Natashee Scott.BBDSlider
An attorney with a Roosevelt University MBA and a background in corporate transactional law, Natashee Scott is the mother of three children—a ten-year-old, four-year-old and a 10-month-old son. Taking on this new role for the West Side Cultural Foundation is exciting as she winds down from working on her husband’s aldermanic election.
I’ve been a spectator in watching Michael and Michelle run around going crazy producing the music festival,” Natashee said. “I am very excited and I’ve learned so much in just this short length of time.”
In addition to this year’s musical line-up, which includes local acts, Obisoulstar, Dante Hall, BluPrint, and Hadiya Love, there will be various games and activities for young and senior attendees. During the day from 12noon–6pm. Alderman Scott will be giving away hundreds of backpacks for students heading back to school along with free hotdogs and chips. From 5pm–9:30pm, the live entertainment takes the stage and he hopes parents will stay to enjoy live entertainment under the sky. The importance of the West Side Music Festival is a catalyst for other positive programs to come from the West Side Cultural Foundation.
Natashee Scott adds, “I want to focus more on having programming throughout the year, as opposed to having one big event. That’s our goal for 2016, to create other educational and cultural outlets. My focus will be for the youth because of everything that is taking place on the streets,” she said. “In the words of my husband,‘We can’t ask them to put the guns down if we don’t have anything else for them to pickup.’ So I want to focus on giving them something else—another outlet other than hanging on the corner.”
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