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NEW YEAR’S EVE
FIRST NIGHT EVANSTON
with music by
HOWARD LEVY, CORKY SIEGEL, MEGON McDONOUGH,
GERALD McCLENDON, ERWIN HELFER
and many others
plus performances from
SECOND CITY, POETS OF RHINO, SHANNON CASON, WAA-MU
and much much more.
SPECIAL KIDS AFTERNOON AND TEEN EVENING PROGRAMS
The eclectic and diverse North Shore suburb that’s right on Chicago’s border continues its long-running New Year’s Eve celebration, First Night Evanston, with a wonderful range of music, dance, poetry and more from some of the nation’s finest artists, several of whom live in the town. The family-friendly event begins with an afternoon of exciting musical and variety performances geared to children and their parents, goes into the evening beginning at 7pm with entertainment at four classic buildings within a block of each other, and ends with an outdoor communal singing of “Auld Lang Syne” at midnight. Purchased wristbands allow access to all events.
Two the most internationally-renowned musicians playing this New Year’s Eve in Evanston are both harmonica virtuosos and pianists: Howard Levy (most notably of Bela Fleck & The Flecktones) and Corky Siegel (from the Siegel-Schwall Blues Band and founder of Chamber Blues). They will perform individual sets and then join for an evening-ending collaboration. Folksinger and vocalist Megon McDonough was a founder of the Four Bitchin’ Babes ensemble and recently re-joined the oft-humorous quartet. Octogenarian blues and boogie-woogie pianist Erwin Helfer continues to present keyboard classics and his own compositions. R&B singer Gerald McClendon, known as the “Soulkeeper,” will keep audiences dancing with a two-hour set of certified hits of the Sixties. Other musicians in the evening include violinist Rob Flax, Layla Frankel (presenting a circle of fellow songwriters), Patt & Possum’s barn dance, teenage band Noah Roth & The Magpies, twin sister singers Carly & Martina, Art Farm, and ragtimer Sam Grossner.
In addition to music there are performances from The Second City improv group; a preview of Northwestern University’s legendary annual Waa-Mu show; The Poets of Rhino (with a contest!); storyteller and Moth Grand-Slam winner Shannon Cason; the athletics of The Actor’s Gymnasium; and the humor of Stew Figa’s Fifty Shades Of Yiddish.
The afternoon activities are all held at First United Methodist Church (516 Church Street) with short sets interspersed throughout the building by The Actor’s Gymnasium, family-fun folk ensemble The Whistling Pig, dancers and players from the Irish Music School of Chicago, the pre-teen bluegrass Sullivan Sisters duo, the afore-mentioned Carly & Martina, and Layla Frankel– this time with her tunes for tots.
The other venues are The Music Institute of Chicago (1490 Chicago Ave.), The First Presbyterian Church (1427 Chicago Ave.) and The First Congregational Church (1445 Hinman Ave.). Wristbands are available online, at the Evanston City Clerk’s Office, the local libraries, the three Whole Foods stores,and Bookends & Beginnings (1712 Sherman- in the alley). Prices for the evening schedule for adults are $20 until 12/25, $25 until 12/31, and $30 at the door (First Presbyterian Church only). Teen wristbands are only $10. For those wishing to reserve a seat for select evening shows, special wristbands can be bought online. For the afternoon shows only each wristband is $10 (for any age) with a $40 per family special that admits six. Pre-teens can use the afternoon wristband for evening performances but all other ages would need to acquire an additional wristband for the nighttime programming. While free parking is not provided, there are three city lots nearby and ample metered spots.
First Night Evanston is a production of First Night Evanston, Inc., a Illinois 501 (c) (3) not-for-profit corporation, a community-based organization devoted to the arts and culture in Evanston. Community and corporate sponsors include The City of Evanston, Romano Wealth Management, First Bank and Trust of Evanston, Country Financial, Whole Foods Evanston, and The Music Institute of Chicago.
For more detailed information please visit the continually-updated First Chicago Evanston website:
Interviews with some of the organizers and artists can be arranged.