Northwestern University’s annual summer outdoor concert series, overlooking Lake Michigan’s scenic shoreline, will feature live music performances by some of the country’s top professional guest artists and ensembles.

This year audiences will experience the sounds of classic and Latin jazz, soul, funk, gospel, brass, blues and country, including old standards and newly released songs. They also will have a chance to enjoy free watermelon and “picnic pads,” a specially priced lunch menu featuring summer cuisine favorites and refreshing cool breezes off the lake.

Free and open to the public, Lunch on the Lake is a six-week Wednesday concert series co-presented by Northwestern’s School of Professional Studies’ Summer Session and Norris University Center.

The concert series will begin at noon, Wednesday, June 24, and continue through July 29. Each 60-minute program will take place on the lawn directly east of Norris University Center, 1999 Campus Drive, Evanston campus. In the event of rain, the concert will be moved indoors and held on the ground floor of Norris Center.

Concertgoers have the option of bringing their own lunch or purchasing their favorite “Lunch on the Lake” meal. The menu, which will change weekly, will be served from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., throughout the six-week summer concert season. The $8 menu includes a freshly grilled entrée, two side portions, dessert and a beverage.

Diners can either sit on the grass or at one of the picnic tables scattered on Norris Center’s east lawn.


The noon concert series will include:

June 24Chris Greene Quartet, a critically acclaimed group led by Evanston-born saxophonist and composer Chris Greene, will perform acoustic jazz. Their music is rooted to the past but also is influenced by various other genres that quartet members have been exposed to throughout their careers, including rhythm and blues, funk, hip-hop, Afro-Cuban, blues and gospel. “We do mostly original material, but we’ll also perform an oddball cover or mash-up, like a samba version of ‘Borderline’ by Madonna or a New Orleans street beat version of ‘Boogie on Reggae Woman’ by Stevie Wonder,” Greene said.

July 1Bassel and the Supernaturals, an eclectic Chicago-based band, is led by the soulful vocals of Ohio-born Syrian-American songwriter Bassel Almadani. “Our music combines soul, jazz and funk with captivating lyrics about love, loss, corporate life and a war in Syria that has affected my family along with more than 10 million others,” Almadani said. Five of the band’s nine members will be on hand July 1 to entertain lunchtime audiences.

July 8Guitarra Azul, a Latin percussion and Spanish guitar ensemble, will perform rumba, flamenco, Latin jazz and world music they have composed. Audiences also will be treated to songs from the group’s three original CDs — “Mariposa,” “Oasis” and “Lotus Flower.” The six-member group will include one of the ensemble’s male flamenco dancers. Guitarra Azul recently released their debut full-length album, “Get Your Four Star On!.” Recorded last year, it features original material as well as cover songs and reinterpretations of great tunes by Marvin Gaye, Bill Withers, the Rebirth Brass Band and others.

July 15Four Star Brass Band is a Chicago-based New Orleans style brass band led by Pennsylvania native “Tuba Dave” Ernsthausen, who has continuously booked the group for brass band events; Chicago live music clubs, including the Double Door, Martyrs and Quenchers; and appearances at many Chicago street festivals, crawfish boils and fundraisers. The group also is the chosen band of the Chicago Chapter of Who Dat Nation, the “oldest and biggest” New Orleans Saints fan club in the Midwest. The ensemble’s front line typically is comprised of a trumpet, saxophone and trombone, while the back line includes a tuba and percussion instruments, including a bass drum and a snare drum. “If you’ve ever been to New Orleans, you know the addicting, fun, upbeat party atmosphere,” Ernsthausen said. “We love to bring the party to you. We have the capability of intermingling in the audience by being mobile and playing on the stage, putting on a show.” Their rousing music will transport the audience down to New Orleans and inspire them to get up and dance.

July 22Liz Mandeville, an honored member of the Chicago Blues Hall of Fame, is an internationally renowned vocalist, songwriter, recording artist and Chicago blues musician. She is known for her versatile voice, electrifying performances, insightful songs and traditional blues guitar work. “My program will feature old school Chicago-style blues and boogie with a dose of humor and a whole lot of feminine moxie,” Mandeville said. “I’m a student of blues history, and I use what I have absorbed to make my show more multi-dimensional.” Her July 22 set will include songs from B.B. King, Bobby Bland, Magic Sam, John Lee Hooker, Etta James and a lot of originals.

July 29David and Whitney are a Nashville-based husband-and-wife country rock and pop duo from southern Indiana. In addition to appearing as the opening act for the Eli Young Band, they have shared the stage with country singer Randy Houser, the award-winning country duo Florida Georgia Line, musical artist David Nail, the country band Parmalee and country singer and songwriter Sara Evans. During their Northwestern concert they will perform some original songs from their new album, “Alibi,” which will be released July 11. They also will perform classic songs audience members can sing along to.

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