Cool things to do this weekend
Shaping a sound
The documentary “The Center of Nowhere (The Spirit and Sounds of Springfield, Missouri),” the brainchild of former Sun-Times writer Dave Hoekstra, was released digitally this week on Amazon, Vimeo and cable on-demand networks. The film examines what Hoekstra calls “America’s most overlooked music scene,” via an exploration of how that city’s culture and community created a fiercely independent sound that influenced artists around the country. Included are interviews with Brenda Lee, Merle Haggard, Dan Penn, Dave Alvin, Robbie Fulks, Jonathan Richman and Springfield’s own Lou Whitney, a beloved musician, producer and frontman for The Skeletons. For more information, visit facebook.com/SpringfieldDoc2018/.
Blues Brothers fun
The Chicago Jazz Orchestra is putting the band back together with a 40th anniversary tribute to the film “The Blues Brothers” at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 7 at Navy Pier, Grand and Lake Michigan. The free concert features the orchestra plus saxophonist Blue Lou Marini from the original Blues Brothers Band and Chicago singer Opal Staples, who performs Aretha Franklin’s signature songs including “Think” and “Respect.” For more information, visit navypier.org.
The Lyric Opera’s Ryan Opera Center presents “Lawrence Brownlee and Friends:
The Next Chapter,” a free virtual concert celebrating Black artists performing their favorite repertoire including arias and spirituals. In addition to host Brownlee, the performers are soprano Whitney Morrison, mezzo-soprano J’Nai Bridges, baritone Will Liverman and three current Ryan ensemble members: tenors Martin Luther Clark and Lunga Eric Hallam and baritone Leroy Davis. The 90-minute stream is available through Aug. 26 at lyricopera.org.
Home as inspiration
Vermont’s Weston Playhouse, a member of the National New Plays Network, has asked 14 playwrights, many familiar to Chicago theatergoers, to pen short plays for “One
Room,” a virtual presentation that explores the events of this year by looking at how home is a space of possibility and creativity. The playwrights are David Cale, Andy Bragen, Torrey Townsend, Vichet Chum, Will Eno, Melissa Li, Dael Orlandersmith, Jen Silverman, Charly Evon Simpson, Alena Smith, Noelle Vinas, Else Went, Josh Wilder and Kit Yan. Among the actors performing in the recorded, one-person plays are Marin Ireland, Josh Hamilton, Alfre Woodard and Dana Delany. The free stream begins at 6 p.m. Aug. 7 with a live pre-show discussion with Weston artistic director Susanna Gellert followed by the performances. For more information, visit westonplayhouse.org.
Science and more
The Museum of Science and Industry has reopened with new attractions including “Superpower Dogs,” a film narrated by Chris Evans about dogs that fight crime and save lives. And while there is always a lot to see at MSI, tours of the Coal Mine and the U-505 Submarine are suspended (the U-505 exhibit remains open), and the Idea Factory and Future Energy Chicago exhibits are closed. “Avengers” fans will have to wait a bit longer for the highly anticipated exhibit “Marvel: Universe of Super Heroes,” which has been postponed to March 4, 2021. MSI’s iconic north doors will be open for entry for the first time in 15 years and there will be food and drink available on the front lawn, where people can picnic. The museum is open 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday; admission is free through Aug. 14 with admission after that date $12.95 (ages 3-11) and $21.95. Tickets must be reserved in advance and face masks are required. Visit msichicago.org.
The ongoing concert series Live from the
Lot turns the live concert experience into a drive-in concert experience this weekend at Schaumburg Boomers Stadium, 1999 Springinsguth, Schaumburg. Kicking it off is the tribute band Smells Like Nirvana (7:30 p.m. Aug. 6) followed by glam-metal cover band Hairbanger’s Ball (7:30 p.m. Aug. 7) and alt-rock duo Local H (5 and 8:30 p.m. Aug. 8). Tickets are $50-$90 a car (limit 6 people per car) and must be purchased in advance. Visit ticketweb.com.
The U-505 Submarine exhibit
Blue Lou Marini