Westside Musical Festival presents free summer concert series beginning next month in Austin

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The newly established Chicago Westside Music Festival  has announced a free summer concert series planned at three West Side park locations, and the first will be in Austin.

The series will begin at Columbus Park, 500 S. Central Ave., June 16 from 12 to 6 p.m., followed by a second event at Douglas Park, 1401 S. Sacramento Blvd., July 21st from 12 to 8 p.m. and ending at Garfield Park, 100 N. Central Park Ave., Aug. 18 from 12 to 8 p.m.

Festival planners seek to provide national and local talent to Chicago using the communities of Austin, North Lawndale and Garfield Park as a platform for cultural and musical activities, according to a press release issued by the city.

“Mayor Emanuel is committed to ensuring that every Chicago neighborhood has access to high-quality cultural experiences.” said Michelle T. Boone, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events in the release.

“The Chicago Westside Music Festival is a wonderful example of how neighborhood events can heighten accessibility to engaging arts programs in communities.”

Chicago Park District Central Region Manager Art Richardson said the park district is “pleased” to welcome the festival.

“This concert series, in conjunction with the many cultural programs offered in our parks, underscores our commitment to bringing unique recreation opportunities to families in all Chicago neighborhoods,” he said in the release.

Michael Scott Jr., a lifelong resident of the West Side and area two manager for the Chicago Park District Central Region, secured a grant from The Chicago Community Trust after seeing another concert series end in 2010 and community patrons inquiring about its replacement.

“I grew up watching my father (Michael Scott Sr.) producing events all over the city of Chicago, but none were on the West Side, not major ones.  His goal was to better our community, and I’m following in his footsteps through this concert series,” Scott said in the release.

Event Producer Michelle Geddes, president and CEO of M Group Worldwide Inc., also a lifelong resident of the West Side, is enthusiastic about the opportunity this endeavor provides for her community.

“The West Side is thirsty for exposure, sustainable programming and cultural outlets. We are super excited to be a part of this process and have waited a long time for something like this to come to our community,” she said in the release.

Each of the three concerts will provide a different musical atmosphere.

Partnering with the Chicago Gospel Music Festival, the June 16 concert at Columbus Park will feature “Battle of the Gospel Choirs” showcasing 20 of the city’s top choirs. The winner will perform during the “Chicago Gospel Music Festival” Sunday concert June 24 at Ellis Park (37th and Cottage Grove).

“Our department is proud to collaborate with the Chicago Westside Music Festival to present the winning choir in performance at this year’s Chicago Gospel Music Festival in Bronzeville this summer,” said arts commissioner Boone.

The July 21 concert will showcase “Chicago’s Home-Grown Talent” to date, acts are still being confirmed, according to the release.

The Aug. 18 grand finale at Garfield Park will feature headliner and multi-award winner R&B/soul singer-songwriter Musiq Soulchild and Chicago’s own Grammy-nominee R&B and soul singer-songwriter and actress Syleena Johnson.

Other acts are still being confirmed to date.

The Chicago Westside Music Festival is presented by The Chicago Community Trust (lead foundation), the Chicago Park District (lead partner), Parkways Foundation (fiscal agent) and sponsored by BMO Harris (platinum sponsor), ComEd (silver sponsor), Friends of Michael Alvarez, Comcast and Hard Rock Hotel Chicago, with additional sponsors and partners to be named later.

For more information on the festival as news becomes available, call 312-961-2025, click here or follow on Twitter (@WSMF2012).

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