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By Andy Argyrakis
The 2012 Ravinia Festival Round-Up: Santana, Sarah McLachlan, Seal, Duran Duran, Glen Campbell, Al Green and Iron & Wine amongst the seemingly endless list of stars
April 26, 2011
If 2012 looks like one of the most diverse line-ups in Ravinia Festival's history, that's because the summer-long concert series is loaded with literally every genre imaginable. While classical and fine arts performances abound, there's also plenty of pop, rock, soul, country, indie and oldies acts to devour. Upon a quick scan of the calendar, there's also a hearty mix of repeat performers and a plethora of venue debuts, which coupled with some special themed concerts, makes for an endlessly exciting season! Here's a mere handful of famous faces from the highlight reel fans won't want to miss.
Earth, Wind & Fire - Saturday, June 9
Though every appearance from Earth, Wind & Fire is a bona fide party, this year's tour is especially eye-catching considering the group's touring behind "Guiding Lights," its first studio CD in seven years. Along with ageless tunes like "Shining Star," "September," "Boogie Wonderland" and "Let's Groove," there's plenty of horn-heavy funk in store.
Iron & Wine and Dr. John - Sunday, June 10
Indie rockers Iron & Wine are amongst the most respected acts in the folk-flavored acoustic scene today. Adding extra bang for your buck is the even more eclectic Dr. John, who brings his Crescent City gumbo to the Windy City.
Al Green - Friday, June 15
Some know him as one of the soul's most ambitious innovators in history and others consider him to be one of gospel music's greatest messengers. Chances are both sides of Al Green's ultra-smooth personality will appear as he dives deep into both genres' annals to unveil "Let's Stay Together," "Love and Happiness" and "I'm Still In Love With You." spanning several styles.
Jimmy Cliff - Sunday, June 17
The fairly recent inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame continues at full steam on the road, blending the best of reggae and ska. In fact, he's perhaps the most famous in the former category behind only Bob Marley, influencing a slew of contemporary performers like Wyclef Jean along the way.
Glen Campbell and Ronnie Milsap - Thursday, June 28
It's sad to see Glen Campbell bidding farewell to area faithful now that he's been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, but as his recent Grammy Awards appearance indicated, there's still plenty of vitality left for the country icon. He's joined by the equally inspirational Ronnie Milsap, who's managed to notch a hearty trail of country and crossover singles over the past five decades in show business.
Sarah McLachlan with orchestra - Saturday, June 30
The founder of the all-female arts festival Lilith Fair takes a break from collaborative touring for a solo headlining show backed by an orchestra. Considering the chanteuse has one of the most angelic voices of her generation, hits like "Angel" and "Building a Mystery" are sure to translate with gorgeous grandeur.
Santana - Monday, July 9
From the psychedelic era through present tense, Carlos Santana is one of the world's greatest guitar gods. See his six string skills alongside his Latin-flavored jam band as they turn in multi-generational favorites, from "Black Magic Woman" through "Smooth," plus tunes from 2012's "Shape Shifter."
Seal and Macy Gray - Sunday, July 22
These days, Seal's covering old school soul classics, though with a catalogue that's included everything from contemporary pop to electronica, there's no telling what he'll pull from his distinct bag of vocal brilliance. Neo-soul star Macy Gray ("I Try") recently signed on as the opening act, who besides a firmly established solo career, also delighted David Bowie fans during his last tour.
James Taylor - Friday, July 27 and Saturday, July 28
With a voice that could practically inspire world peace, James Taylor makes a return appearance with his trusty guitar (and always ultra-tight band) in tow. The outing follows his box office blockbuster double bill with Carole King, though this time through, core followers get a full set from "Sweet Baby James."
Crosby, Stills & Nash - Friday, August 3
When it comes to heavenly harmonies, none are more celebrated or consistent than Crosby, Stills & Nash. Even after three-and-a-half decades in the game, the trio's heart for political activism and timeless storytelling remains nothing short of a national treasure.
Huey Lewis & The News and Joe Cocker - Friday, August 10
These days, Huey Lewis & The News is putting its twist on obscure Stax Records gems, as chronicled on the brass-saturated CD "Soulsville." Double bill mate Joe Cocker is also celebrating the new release "Hard Knocks," a rockin' blues collection loaded with vocal gusto.
Tony Bennett - Saturday, August 18
By the time this concert rolls around, Tony Bennett will have just turned 86, but the living legend's proving to be just as popular with young people as his longtime followers. Perhaps that's because his "Duets II" chart-topper boasts pairings with Lady Gaga, Amy Winehouse and Michael Buble, though this show leans on more traditional staples and standards.
Happy 100th Birthday Woody Guthrie with Arlo Guthrie and Mary Chapin Carpenter - Sunday, August 19
In honor of what would've been Woody Guthrie's 100th birthday, the folk pioneer earns the ultimate hat tip from two of the genre's most respected artists. Catch his son Arlo and fellow troubadour Mary Chapin Carpenter interpret his socially conscious songbook, anchored by the iconic "This Land Is Your Land."
The Dukes of September - Wednesday, August 22
The name of this on again/off again super group's name might not jump off the page, but chances are the membership will ring a bell. Steely Dan's Donald Fagen, former Doobie Brother/Steely collaborator Michael McDonald and solo star Boz Scaggs offer a night of retro soul covers, along with glimpses of their celebrated catalogues.
Anita Baker - Saturday, August 25
Though she's kept a somewhat low profile as of late, Anita Baker never has any trouble selling tickets thanks to a rich past strewn with contemporary soul and jazz. To recap, the vocal diva extraordinaire is likely to name check "Sweet Love," "Giving You the Best That I've Got" and "Caught Up In the Rapture."
Duran Duran - Wednesday, August 29-28
One of this season's most impressive scores for electro-pop connoisseurs is surely Duran Duran's Ravinia debut. The group is touring behind the stellar return to form CD "All You Need Is Now," which finds the fab five (actually, there's just four originals these days) sounding just as relevant as they did during the decade of decadence.
Tickets to the 2012 Ravinia Festival go on sale Thursday, April 26. For a complete list of performers and full concert details, log onto www.ravinia.org.