I know the best place in town to hear music and try literally dozens of beers, and it is not Taste of Chicago. Tonight, I checked out the Square Roots Festival in Lincoln Square, and it was awesome. The Square Roots Festival runs from Friday, July 11 through Sunday, July 13, and you (yes, you) should check it out. Despite getting there shortly after 8:00 p.m., music was pumping out of the north stage and there were hundreds of people in the street between Montrose and Wilson on Lincoln Ave. Most of the vendors were still open, including an amazing line up of food trucks, tents, and…oh, right, the beer: Fifteen primarily local breweries each with at least two of their lineup for you to try.
Most street festivals and art shows in Chicago put forth the same line up of art vendors, and this festival isn’t much different, save that a number of local vendors from Lincoln Square have tents offering their wares. A score of local restaurants have food stations lining the street, including Lincoln Square favorites Bistro Campagne, Fountainhead, Gather, and Cheesie’s Pub.
Music, however, is the biggest draw for the festival, proceeds from which will help support the Old Town School of Folk (full disclosure: I take guitar lessons at the school). Tonight, Joe Driscoll & Sekou Kouyate were creating amazing African/hip hop/reggae awesomeness (that’s a thing, right?) to a crowd of well over two hundred. They were followed by Ivan & Alyosha, a Seattle based group with a fantastic name (any other Literature geeks get the reference?), a remarkably upbeat folk band whose album I’ll be purchasing as soon as my bank account will allow. Tomorrow’s headliner is Bobby Bare, Jr’s Young Criminals Starvation League. You can check out “Valentine” on YouTube.
Folk and World Music bands aren’t the only acts getting stage time. Old Town offers a number of awesome music ensembles and classes. Sunday will feature their Brazilian Folk Ensemble with Paulinho Garcia (5:00-5:45 p.m); visitors can try out their African Dance (1:30 – 2:30 p.m) or Flamenco classes (2:45- 3:45 p.m), or just hang out and watch Aloft Circus Arts (8:00 – 8:30 p.m). If you want to catch up with Travis and me, you’ll find us in the 2nd Half Guitar Jam (1:30 – 2:15 p.m).
There’s always something to do on summer weekends in Chicago. There’s a street fest happening almost every weekend, and this weekend there’s Taste of Chicago to compete with as well. If you want over-crowded places with absurd food prices and too many tourists, go to Taste. If you want a chill atmosphere, great beers, and an amazing musical experience, then go to Square Roots.