After two years of virtual events due to the Covid pandemic, this year First Night Evanston is in-person again, marking New Year’s Eve with a live evening of music and mind reading. Headlining the extravaganza at the First United Methodist Church, 512 Church St., is musician extraordinaire Corky Siegel.

Corky Siegel Credit: Courtesy of Corky Siegel

Siegel is known internationally as one of the world’s great blues harmonica players. He’s a blues pianist, singer and writer of unusual songs, a chamber blues progenitor and the pioneer/composer of award-winning revolutionary works that weave blues and classical forms together.

“It’s been 100 years since I was able to spend New Year’s Eve with you in Evanston in person, in living color, in 3D, indoors and inspired,” said Siegel. “We will all be older, wiser and cuter!”

To ensure a safe start to the new year, all audience members must be vaccinated and masks will be required in the venue for the duration of the performance.

“People come to be uplifted and nurtured by the muse and take that with them, and I don’t want anyone to say they got sick from Corky’s music,” Siegel said. “When it comes to creating a clean and safe environment for each other, it’s really not such a big deal to wear a mask, show proof of vaccine, fasten a seat belt, or stop at stop signs and look both ways crossing a one-way street. Thank you for your understanding, and I look forward to seeing your smiling and laughing eyes.”

Chris Carter Credit: Courtesy of Chris Carter

Also joining the live First Night Evanston lineup this year is in-demand entertainer Chris Carter. A mind reader, or “mentalist,” Carter is known for stunning and hilarious demonstrations of thought-reading and mental influence.

Carter is recognized as a leading corporate magician and mind reader, but he says he is not psychic. He’s simply a skilled observer of human behavior. Starting at age 8, when an uncle allowed him to sit in on a poker game, Carter said he began noticing how people broadcast their thoughts in ways beyond words. This led to a lifelong interest in nonverbal communication and “people reading.”

As a college undergrad, Carter pursued dual interests in psychology and theater. But it wasn’t until doing graduate work that he finally put it all together: blending a fast-paced, humorous theatrical style with displays of psychological ability to create thoroughly engaging corporate ands general entertainment.

“I can’t wait to perform at First Night Evanston this year,” Carter said. “It will be the first time in several years, and I’ve missed the experience. First Night Evanston audiences are among the most fun I’ve ever performed for. They’re smart, they have great senses of humor, they’re open to the experience of astonishment and they’re ready to have a great time.”

The Timezone Jazz Combo features seven Evanston Township High School musicians Credit: Courtesy of Timezone Jazz Band

As always, First Night Evanston is committed to providing a family-friendly experience that appeals to revelers of all ages. The Timezone Jazz Combo, featuring seven Evanston Township High School musicians, will kick off the evening’s events.

While taking public transportation is always encouraged, First Night also will offer on-site free parking vouchers for the first 400 attendees at the Evanston Place parking garage at 525 Church St.

Tickets are $30 general admission in advance, increasing to $35 on Dec. 31; $15 for students with ID.

Looking back, “1992 was the first year for First Night in Evanston,” said Emily Guthrie, Vice President of First Night Evanston. “We are delighted to be able to continue this celebration of the arts on New Year’s Eve. And this year we are live! With the support of local businesses and institutions, the evening continues to provide a lively six hours of programming at a reduced ticket price.”

The First Night Evanston website notes that the organization, created in 1992, had to disband in 2007 during the Great Recession but was reborn in 2013. It has celebrated every New Year’s Eve since then, though the party went virtual in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic.

First Night Evanston strives to make the event affordable, accessible and welcoming and thanks Romano Wealth, Byline Bank, Northwestern University, Kiwanis Club and Hecky’s for their many years of support, along with members of the congregation at First Methodist Church.

To buy a ticket for First Night Evanston 2022, visit Eventbrite.

Belinda Lichty Clarke

Belinda Lichty Clarke works as the alumni engagement director at Medill at Northwestern and is a freelance writer. After graduating with a master’s from Medill in 1994, Belinda worked in public relations,...

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  1. I will not show papers to go to any show. This has a dark history in the world, and anyone requiring this should be ashamed. I am a lifetime Corky Fan, but this is unacceptable! I am shocked by this.

    1. Thank you for your comment. But proof of vaccination is not unique to this event. So, I have no idea why you would be shocked, unless you are feigning the emotion. Masks and vaccinations are steps done to keep yourself, and your guests, safe amidst a pandemic – even if it is considered waning. And it is your choice whether you want to attend or not.