Ravinia 2014


Sigh. Ravinia season is almost over.

Every summer we trek up to Highland Park for at least a few shows, even though we don’t live that close. We didn’t go to many this year. I swear it’s getting harder every year to find Ravinia concerts we want to attend that aren’t in the middle of the week. Some of us have work the next day, you know, Ravinia folks? In case any of you are reading this, not everyone lives on the North Shore. I would have liked to make the New World Symphony concert you scheduled for a Thursday. And both BK and I would have loved hearing Buddy Guy with Mavis Staples (scheduled for a Tuesday); it almost broke my heart to miss that one.

Still, when we can manage to get there, Ravinia is mostly a good time.

The good? Picnicking on the lovely grounds. Arguably the best—and certainly the easiest—way to do that is to stop at Pita Inn in Wheeling and pick up delicious Middle Eastern food. That way all we have to worry about are drinks and utensils and the like. We might also bring fruit and cookies on those occasions, but we often make a trip to the Carousel for some Superman or Cappuccino Crunch ice cream for dessert. When the timing is too tight to allow for a trip to Pita Inn, I pack dinner. The timing was indeed tight for our most recent trip, so I brought bruschetta, a 3-bean salad, sandwich fixings, pinot grigio, water, grapes, and cookies.

Also good: the people-watching. Crowds vary, depending on the act. For the Moody Blues, the crowd was remarkable only in that they were even older than BK and me. That doesn’t often happen.

The bad? The ungodly racket.

BK, Sis, and I had pavilion seats, thank the Lord—and Larry, who gave us the tickets. One immutable piece of advice I have for anyone who attends Ravinia in hopes of actually hearing the music is that they’d better get pavilion tickets. Most of the lawn patrons are so rude that if you’re sitting among them, you can barely make out that there’s any music happening. It’s as if they’ve confused Ravinia with a forest preserve. The music might as well be coming out of their boom boxes and they feel it necessary to shout over it so their friends can hear their drunken witticisms.

It’s not necessarily a sure thing that you’ll hear the music even within the pavilion, but at least there are security people there who will shut the loudmouths up temporarily, and the ratio of security to audience is better in the pavilion than it is on the lawn. Also, once a concertgoer is in the pavilion, he or she no longer sucking down alcohol, so said concertgoer might have a bit more decorum.

I sound crabby. I really do like going to Ravinia; it’s just not a perfect experience. Often, though, it’s better than I expected. Case in point: last Friday’s Moody Blues concert. More on that later.

So whose shows did we attend this year?

  • John Hiatt / Robert Cray*
  • Willie Nelson / Alison Krauss & Union Station featuring Jerry Douglas* / Jason Isbell
  • Train* / The Wallflowers
  • The Moody Blues
Thanks for this photo, Sis, and the video (linked to below)

The Moody Blues weren’t tickets we would have bought for ourselves, but a member (aka heavy hitter) from BK’s company also happens to be a generous Ravinia donor. He knows we go to Ravinia every summer. He couldn’t use his Moody Blues tickets, so he offered them to us. I figured I would know one Moody Blues song, “Nights in White Satin”. I knew tons, like this one.

In addition to the music, there were fabulous slides of the Moody Blues through the years alternating with trippy psychedelic visuals on a bank of three screens behind the band. Another bonus: the other concertgoers actually listened to the concert! I don’t know if it’s because they were older, or because it rained on and off through the evening, so only really committed fans attended, but we could actually hear the show. All in all, we had a swell time.

We have one more concert this season—we’re seeing Poi Dog Pondering on September 12. Then summer will really be over. Sigh.

*Jaw-droppingly awesome.


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