By Lizz Kannenberg in Arts & Entertainment on Aug 13, 2008 8:23PM
Rock and roll is coming to Ravenswood, and the children of the neighborhood will be the beneficiaries of this sleepy area’s wake up call. The Raven, an indie rock-heavy weekend festival, invades Chase Park August 16 and 17 with all proceeds going to the renovation and expansion of the park’s playground.
Melissa Lagowski, founder of festival planners Big Buzz Idea Group, said the neighborhood, the city, and the arts community have rallied around the cause. “It’s been wonderful to have the community residents and businesses pool their resources to make this happen,” she said. “The park is 75 years old, and the playground hasn’t been renovated in more than 25 years. It’s time to make some changes.”
While there are few who would deny the validity of the end goal, some might question the notably “underground” nature of the entertainment. While most Chicago street festivals book a rotating cast of cover bands and past-prime mainstream acts, The Raven’s talent lineup walks the cutting edge. Bands like Minneapolis lo-fi rockers Tapes ‘n Tapes or New York City’s two-drummer art pop quintet White Rabbits are usually found in the dingy confines of Wicker Park clubs, but will be drawn out into the sunshine of Chase Park as festival organizers attempt to draw a diverse audience.
“Our goal has always been to stay away from the cookie-cutter event,” Lagowski explained. “I think you’ll see a lot of families with kids whose parents used to go out to the clubs to see up-and-coming bands, but can’t do it as often anymore. On the other hand, we also hope to draw upon the bands’ usual audiences - the younger people from other areas of Chicago.”
Patricia Martinelli, president of the Chase Park Advisory Council, also thinks the diversity of the festival is its greatest chance for success. “You can tell that a lot of the younger people we’ve talked to recognize the bands,” she said. “But if some of the neighborhood families don’t know the music, it’s ok because there’s a huge kids’ fest area for the children.”
The bands themselves seem excited to lend their talents to a localized cause, and some have taken pay cuts to be a part of the festival.
“The indie bands for the most part seem to be a bit more socially conscious and active,” said Shawn Rios, drummer for festival artist Deanna Devore. “The artists involved get behind this, especially since children are the benefactors. It's a mini-model of communities at work.”
The Raven takes place August 16 and 17 in Chase Park, 4701 N Ashland
Photo of Tapes 'n Tapes by David Donovan Evans from their MySpace page