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Best New Ravinia Acts of 2010

Ravinia's welcoming some fresh faces this year; here's the best of the lot.
Wednesday Mar 17, 2010.     By Ben Rubenstein
Centerstage Chicago Nightlife City Guide Arts

Ravinia's great, but let's be honest - the annual lineup of outdoor concerts is rarely full of surprises. Each summer, in addition to tons of classical performances, you can expect several reunited acts, some kids shows, maybe a contemporary pop artist to bring out the tweens...and of course, Buddy Guy (June 19 this year). There's nothing wrong with predictability, but if you're looking for a unique experience, here are the top 2010 acts that haven't played Ravinia before.

Earth, Wind & Fire
June 6: Earth, Wind & Fire
Ok, this selection doesn't really break the mold of boomer-friendly acts, but the seminal R&B group has managed to remain somewhat relevant, particularly due to the resurgence of interest in funk and soul during this decade. EWF has performed with the likes of Outkast, Black Eyed Peas, Ludacris and others over the past few years, drawing from its classic catalog and sprinkling in some covers and new original material. Sure, you can probably expect a couple renditions of "Shining Star" - but really, what's wrong with that?

Levon Helm
July 1: The Levon Helm Band
If you never got a chance to see The Band in its prime during the 1960s and '70s, this special appearance from the legendary group's drummer (the iconic voice on such classics as "The Weight" and "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down") is as close as you're going to get. Since a battle with throat cancer in the late-'90s, an increasingly gravelly-voiced Helm's been chugging along in his adopted home of Woodstock, New York for the past several years, presiding over guest-star-studded Midnight Rambles that help pay his medical bills - oh yeah, and producing some of the best work of his career in 2007's Dirt Farmer and last year's Electric Dirt. John Hiatt & the Combo headline.

The Swell Season
July 14: The Swell Season
If you've seen the 2006 film "Once," a musical starring the members of this duo - Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova - you know that their songs have the unique ability to inspire even the biggest cynic to believe in love. Romantics should be warned, however; though Hansard and Irglova began a relationship of their own shortly after the movie was released, they've since broken up - and last year's acclaimed follow-up album, Strict Joy, leaves out few of the details.

Rodrigo Y Gabriela
August 28: Rodrigo Y Gabriela
As this Mexican acoustic-guitar duo's thrilling performance at Lollapalooza back in 2007 showed, real rock doesn't require amplifiers. You can expect to hear a Metallica cover or two over the course of this all-instrumental showcase, and you'll likely want to get within viewing range of the stage at least once, just to confirm that there really are only two people playing.

Nelly Furtado
September 3: Nelly Furtado
Can you believe it's been 10 years since the release of Whoa, Nelly!? While the Canadian singer-songwriter has not quite returned to the heights of hit single "I'm Like A Bird," she's still flying high, fresh off an Olympics-opening duet with fellow Canuck Bryan Adams. She's touring in support of Mi Plan, her first album recorded completely in Spanish, as well as the to-be-released Lifestyle featuring collaborations with producer Timbaland.

Ravinia 2010 tickets go on sale to the general public on April 22 at


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Bars & Clubs

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Get divey on Grace; go downstairs at River North's Curio.

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