Off North Shore: Skokie Music Festival North Shore Center for the Performing Arts

Off North Shore: Skokie Music Festival
North Shore Center for the Performing Arts
June21-22, 2024

Photos and words: Roman Sobus

Festival Season in Chicago explodes on the scene in mid-May and continues uninterrupted until October. Besides the likes of Lollapalooza, and Riotfest which draw more than one hundred thousand fans each day and feature dozens of performances on multiple stages, there are a multitude smaller and decidedly more chill events featuring a more compact footprint and a more relaxed atmosphere

Some of these events grow while other fade away and are replace by new ones. I always search for new ones sprouting up to see what they may have to offer. One such opportunity appeared on my radar last week – The first ever Off North Shore – Skokie Music Festival in the North West suburb. Originally, the performances were to be on an outdoor stage, but it was moved indoors to the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, a beautiful 1000 seat venue. I was told the move was due to weather and air quality. However, the temperature outdoors kept most fans inside for most of the evening.

I was granted credentials to review the first day of the fest. Opening the festival was Empty Pockets – a local Skokie foursome. They did a great job keeping the early arrivals entertained with a short and upbeat set. With the humidity and high temperatures, the seats began filling early.

Next up was The Bones of JR Jones, aka Jonathan Linaberry a Central New York singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. Jonathan performed his selection of soulful blues/ country blend material and had his audience mesmerized. His set covered material
from all four of his albums, some covering very personal feelings. One of those artists I want to keep on my radar.

Co-headlining the evening were Larkin Poe, a blues-rock band based in Nashville and they have skyrocketed to some prominence over the past few years going from playing small clubs to headlining the Chicago Blues Festival and opening for Bob Seger. Led by sister Mean and Rebecca Lovell, their loyal fans follow them and it is not unusual to see the same faces in several cities on a given tour! The fans cheered loudly as the band walked onto the stage and it has been a while since I saw so many people dancing and singing along during a full performance.

Headlining was Mike Campbell and the Dirty Knobs. Mike was a member with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and co-wrote “Refugee”, “Here Comes my Girl”, You Got Lucky” among others with Petty. They put in a solid performance lasting well over an hour and had the crowd on their feed during the entire set!

The festival itself is one I hope returns next year. I’m certain there were a few stumbles along the way getting to day one, but the overall experience was top notch. This one I thoroughly enjoyed and I am looking forward to next year!