UPDATED: The Return of Main Street Nights

The Return of Main Street Nights. (Photo: John Hudzik)
Updated June 11 with new information on opening acts for June 23 and June 30.

Park Forest, IL-(ENEWSPF)- Main Street Nights is back!

On Wednesday, June 23, Main Street Nights kicks off its new season and a little bit of normalcy returns to Park Forest after a year of canceled or modified events.  According to Chuck Sabey, Cultural Arts Supervisor at Freedom Hall, there will be a full roster of events each Wednesday evening through August 11 on the Village Green (Cunningham and Main Streets).  Many of the artists performing this year were originally scheduled to perform in 2020 before the pandemic caused their cancellations.

While the Main Street Nights summer schedule has been finalized, details of next season’s Freedom Hall Main Stage and Matinee performances are still in development. Sabey is confident, however, that the season will be held, barring any unforeseen COVID spikes.

Sabey believes that this year’s Main Street Nights are something special.  “This is really a celebratory event for the village for the patrons and the residents.  It’s a way of saying that we are so glad to be back together again!” 

The opening event on June 23 event features The Lotus Kings: An All-Star Tribute to Santana at 7:30 pm. This performance will be preceded by Ayrie King III, better known as Mr. Taps, who demonstrates various styles of tap dancing from Fred Astaire to Ann Miller.

The Lotus Kings include eight Chicago-area musicians covering the amazing sound of Santana with such hits as “Black Magic Woman” and “Oye Como Va.”  The group covers Santana’s early recordings through their Grammy winning “Supernatural” album.  The Lotus Kings recently released their debut original album “OBRIGADA.”

With Illinois set to move into Phase 5 of the COVID recovery on June 11, Sabey is working closely with village officials to ensure that Main Streets Nights is following all health and safety guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and the Illinois Department of Public Health. 

In the past, Main Street Nights events have drawn between 400 and 500 people. While Phase 5 eliminates all capacity restrictions for events such as this, the village wants to ensure that the event layout and procedures protect the safety of everyone from the public to the entertainers.    Final plans regarding the layout and safety procedures are expected within the next week and will be reported in eNews Park Forest.

Sabey hopes to have concessions available for all performances and expects to use Dining on the Green as an indoor facility in the event of rain.

This year’s line-up of performers has something for everyone.  Below is a quick recap of the rest of this summer’s line-up.  More details can be found on the Freedom Hall website.

Wednesday, June 30

6:30 pm: ScribbleMonster, a children’s music and audience participation program.

7:30 pm: The Blooze Brothers, featuring the music from John Belushi’s and Dan Aykroyd’s original Blues Brothers band as well as soul, R&B, and Motown, brings a high level of energy to the crowd.

Wednesday, July 7

6:30 pm: Mike Mauthe brings his multiple talents of juggling, magic, unicycle riding, fire-eating, and stilt walking to entertain the entire family.

7:30 pm: Billy Elton, featuring Reid Spears on the piano and lead vocals, and backed by an eight-piece band, performs the greatest hits of Billy Joel and Elton John.

Wednesday, July 14

6:30 pm: The Kaben Kafö (translation: “Let’s play together” in the West African Malinke language) Djembe Drum Ensemble presents an interactive performance featuring gifted djembe/dunun musicians.  Feel free to bring your own djembe drum or other percussion instruments and play along.

7:30 pm: Mucca Pazza returns to Main Street Nights with their amazing troupe of musicians featuring trumpets, saxophones, clarinets, trombones, tubas, drums, and many other instruments.  This a performance that the entire family will love and will be talking about long after the concert.

Wednesday, July 21

6:30 pm: The Spotlight on Southland Arts showcases the diversity and talent of the region’s artists and musicians.

7:30 pm: The Southland Jazz Ensemble with Ava Logan features big band music that is sure to get the crowd on its feet to dance.

Wednesday, July 28

6:30 pm: Yo-Yo Champion Mark Hayward demonstrates his world champion yo-yo skills in a performance sure to entertain all age groups.

7:30 pm: Following their successful Freedom Hall virtual performance from earlier this year, Better Together returns with: We’re in this Love Together.  Featuring inspirational soul, jazz, and gospel favorites from Al Jarreau, Curtis Mayfield and others, these talented musicians are sure to appeal to fans of all musical genres.

Wednesday, August 4

6:30 pm: Istvan and His Imaginary Band delights the crowd with their interactive musical performance of rock ’n’ roll, country, and pop-punk songs.  Featuring sing-alongs and freeze dances, the kids have a great time participating in the fun.

7:30 pm: Fredi Taylor’s Legacy Music Project keeps the crowd on their feet dancing and singing along.  The Chicago born vocalist features the Nu Source Band and offers classic and contemporary R&B hits that span the generations.

Wednesday, August 11

6:30 pm: Shayna Steele’s wide range from soul, blues, and gospel to retro R&B and jazz bring the Main Street Nights musical season to a close.  A highly sought-after back-up singer for such artists as Rihanna and Kelly Clarkson, she toured regularly with Grammy award winning trumpeter Chris Botti.

Dusk:  An outdoor movie screening presentation of Disney’s “Raya and the Last Dragon” is presented.  Join Raya on her journey to find the last dragon and restore her land.