HF musicians and listeners enjoy comeback after long pandemic limitations


Live music is back.

Most festivals and regular venues canceled live music or switched to virtual performances at the worst of the pandemic in 2020, but when restrictions eased in June, musicians returned to play.

Among the first live performances was the first of three Trail Mix concerts at Izaak Walton on June 18. Two other concerts are scheduled for August 13 and October 1.

Park Sessions perform jazz, blues and R&B for listeners at Irwin Park on July 2. (Eric Crump / HF Chronicle)

The first Starry Nights concert sponsored by the Homewood-Flossmoor Park district took place on July 8. Another show, featuring Feel Good Party Band, will take place at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, July 22.

Two more Irwin Park concerts will be presented by the Community Band at 7 p.m. on Thursdays July 15 and 29.

The second annual Porch party is set for Saturday August 28. The event will move to a different neighborhood this year. The organizers plan the event so that guests can walk between the venues. A story with more details will be published in the coming weeks.

The Independence Day weekend brought another wave of outdoor entertainment.

On Friday July 2, Sam Calhoon brought his latest project, The Park Sessions, to Irwin Park in Homewood with the band’s mix of jazz, blues and R&B.

“We started playing at the park a few weeks ago, just to get out of the house with friends and make some music,” he said. “It was totally for fun. As we played later that night, we were in awe of the number of people stopping to listen, and even some dancing to the music.

“It was so good to bring live music to our community again.”

He said someone posted a video of the group on a local social media group, which helped bring more people to the park for their performances.

The July 2 group Park Sessions included, from left to right, Manny Gonzalez, guitar;  Sam Calhoon, bass;  Kendall Carter, guitar;  Will Lawton on drums (behind Carter), Ken Nakamura, saxophone;  and Winston Doss, trumpet.  (Eric Crump / HF Chronicle)

The July 2 group Park Sessions included, from left to right, Manny Gonzalez, guitar; Sam Calhoon, bass; Kendall Carter, guitar; Will Lawton on drums (behind Carter), Ken Nakamura, saxophone; and Winston Doss, trumpet. (Eric Crump / HF Chronicle)

The rotation of musicians could change, but sessions will continue where possible this summer, he said.

On July 2, the lineup included Kendall Carter and Manny Gonzalez on guitar, Ken Nakamura on saxophone, Will Lawton on drums, Winston Doss on trumpet and Calhoon on bass.

Calhoon was the founder and leader of TiMELeSS, one of the region’s most popular groups in the two years leading up to the pandemic.

TiMELeSS isn’t as active now after singer Alex Reese left for school, he said, but The Park Sessions includes similar music.

The group plans to perform at the Wednesday Night premiere of Homewood Farmers Market on July 21 and again on August 4.

The next day, live music returned to the Saturday Farmer’s Market, with MG Bailey, a longtime regular, taking the first session and the McDowell brothers playing the second.

Bailey was preparing for a tour, which he kicked off with a performance on July 9 at the Flossmoor Community House.

Listeners gather in lawn chairs and blankets to listen to The Park Sessions, led by Sam Calhoon.  (Eric Crump / HF Chronicle)

Listeners gather in lawn chairs and blankets to listen to The Park Sessions, led by Sam Calhoon. (Eric Crump / HF Chronicle)

The McDowell brothers, Carlton on guitar and Peyton on bass, were named the Most Talented Teens in the 2017 Chicago Music Award.

Although the market quickly removed pandemic restrictions in the previous weeks, market manager Kate Duff said the return of live music made it look like the market was full again.

“This is what we expected,” said Allisa Opyd, Events Manager at Homewood.

The July 10 Farmer’s Market featured solo performances by Jeff Maharry of Work in Progress and Mark Alexander.

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