Archive for March, 2009

Paul M. Banks a.k.a. The Sports Bank, NBC Chicago Street Team

Before it was an environmental clarion call spouted by business and government leaders everywhere, the phrase “go green” was the Michigan State Spartans’ battle cry. For those lucky enough to be in Detroit this weekend (Yes, it’s weird describing Detroit as a coveted destination) you’ll hear lots of “go green” and “go white” as MSU becomes the first team to play in the Final Four in their home state since Duke laced them up in Charlotte in 1994. When Tom “H to tha” Izzo brings his Spartans to Ford Field, a venue 92 miles from their campus, his resume will include 11 straight NCAA appearances, 5 Final Fours in those 11 years, a National Championship in 2000 and a 30-10 overall tournament record. With the recent collapse of the Indiana Hoosier program, Sparty has become the Big Ten’s (and the Midwest in general) finest program. No other team from the heartland is a March Madness fixture like the Spartans, with Izzo preparing each and every one of his recruited four-year players for Final Four glory. But this success is a more recent phenomenon.izzo_at_midnight_madness

State wasn’t admitted into the Big Ten until 1995 and the nation didn’t really “Meet the Spartans” until the Jud Heathcote era (1976-1995). They weren’t considered a power until the 1979 National championship- when Magic Johnson, Greg Kelser and company defeated Larry Bird’s Indiana St. team in the highest watched game in college history. This established East Lansing as a haven for stellar guard play. The list includes Steve Smith, Scott Skiles, Eric Snow, Shawn Respert, Mateen Cleaves, Charlie Bell, Jason Richardson, Shannon Brown, Drew Neitzel and current Big Ten player of the year Kalin Lucas. Lucas spoke about his conversations with Mateen Cleaves, the floor general on the last Spartan championship team. “Mateen tells me this is my team and I have to be the general, I have to run the team, I have to give guys shots, but I also have to get my shots,” Lucas said.

The hard-line Izzo leads teams that get better as the season progresses and excel in rebounding (currently first nationally) and defense. “Defense can be measured in a lot of ways: points allowed, opposing field goal percentage, but it’s almost like what Jay Bilas says about heart, you measure it when things are on the line. And I thought down the stretch our defense is getting better, it’s been pretty solid when we’ve had the right lineups in there,” Izzo said

See more of Paul M. Banks’ work at the NBC Street Team, the Washington Times and The Sports Bank

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stephanie_small1Stephanie S. Green, NBC Chicago Street Team

For dance fans in Chicago, Spring means much more than the anticipation of good weather — it means that the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater returns to the Auditorium Theatre!

This year, Alvin Ailey celebrates its 50th Anniversary, and there are numerous ways to join in the celebration.

Click here to read the rest of this post on nbcchicago.com.

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Marcus Riley, NBC Chicago Street Team

Are you a little sore that you missed out on snagging tickets for U2’s concert this summer at Soldier Field? Don’t feel bad, not all of us have the high-tech equipment and/or connections needed to get such an elusive ticket.

But now you have a second chance. U2 will play a second Chicago show on Sept. 13 at Soldier Field.

Click here to read the rest of this post on nbcchicago.com.

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Marcus Riley, NBC Chicago Street Team

How do you do most of your professional networking these days? Facebook? LinkedIn? Twitter? Here’s a novel idea — how about actually meeting some people in person?

That’s the idea behind a new monthly networking event called “Movers + Shakers Mondays” at Rosemont’s aloft Hotel.

Click here to read the rest of this post on nbcchicago.com.

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Joy DiNaro, NBC Chicago Street Team

Returning to the forefront of the music world after a four-year hiatus might be difficult for most, but R&B artist Ginuwine made it look easy at his intimate concert at Crobar (1543 N. Kingsbury).

“I’ve matured a lot since I was last on the scene in 2005,” Ginuwine says.

Chicago was a necessary stop for Ginuwine since his newest single “Last Chance,” references the Windy City’s very own Barack Obama.

“I had to use the person who made change a big word,” Said Ginuwine. “I definitely had to use President Obama.”

Ginuwine’s career started in 1996 with the multi-platinum disc The Bachelor. He says that his second run at a music career is very different.

“I’m not doing back flips on stage nor am I singing songs that are as raunchy.”

No raunchy music? I say it’s always good to bring sexy back.

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Blagica, NBC Street Team (Video)

It was one of those terrific days, but first, a little bit of background…

He's still smiling after a long day

He's still smiling after a long day

I learned that Dan Aykroyd would be in Chicago promoting his new Crystal Head Vodka and Dan Aykroyd Wines.  In addition to being in Chicago, Mr. Aykroyd was going to be at the Binny’s South Loop – a hop, skip and a jump from my home.  A few phone calls into his marketing folks and I was able to clinch an interview for our Street Team, along with my husband’s blog, The Windy City Wine Guy. Today was Day 2 of the tour, focusing on the wine collection, and we were off to Binny’s.

Partnering up Jean-Charles Boisset and DeLoach, Mr. Aykroyd’s mission is to bring affordable and tasty $20 bottles of wine to tables across the States. Aykroyd made the connection with Boisset in a Toronto restaurant and the rest is wine history.

The Windy City Wine Guy

The Windy City Wine Guy

I had the opportunity to interview Dan as he finished signing the 1,000+ pieces of product and memorabilia that kept coming his way. Note: the reason why Mr. Aykroyd is sporting shades? All of the camera flashes can cause major damage to his retinas and his doctor prescribed the sunglasses.  From my silent observing to the one-on-one interview, I was amazed by Mr. Aykroyd’s commitment to both his business, but also his family. Thank you to Binny’s South Loop for hosting our Blues Brother and thank you to John W. for arranging our meeting.

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Marcus Riley, NBC Chicago Street Team

If you’ve been putting off pitching in for the environment, the least you can do is observe Earth Hour on Saturday.

Between 8:30 and 9:30 p.m., households and businesses to turn off their non-essential lights and electrical appliances.

So why not make it a party? Several area businesses have special events and menus planned for Saturday.

Click here to read the rest of this post on nbcchicago.com.

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Marcus Riley, NBC Chicago Street Team

There are a lot of bars out there that claim to be dive bars, but aren’t the real deal. You know, the types of spots where the posers hang out and drink a few Pabst Blue Ribbons just because it seems like the retro cool thing to do.

But how can you tell when a real dive bar passes the — I guess you could say, “smell” test?

South Side bar Woodlawn Tap (1172 E. 55th St) doesn’t have to worry about its dive bar legitimacy. Men.style.com ranked it as one of the “Best Dive Bars in America.”

Click here to read the rest of this post on nbcchicago.com.

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Theresa Carter, The Local Tourist, NBC Chicago Street Team

THIS JUST IN: Flaming Lips are not participating in Write The Night, so they’ll be creating their own setlist. Only bands on Friday Night are inviting fans to vote for the songs they’ll play.

The Flaming Lips have been added to Sunday’s lineup at Pitchfork Music Festival (July 17 – 20), and ticketholders get to pick the setlist.

Friday night attendees can “Write The Night” for the bands playing that evening by voting on the songs they’ll play, and The Flaming Lips are extending the courtesy to their fans for their performance Sunday night. Once a ticket’s purchased a confirmation email with voting instructions will be sent. Voting ends on June 12th.

Tickets are $35 for one day or $75 for a three-day pass.

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rebecca_1Rebecca Taras, NBC Chicago Street Team

If you think  a “hair war” is waking up with a killer case of bed head then think again. Starting back in 2001, Hair Wars is the ultimate salon competition where local salons have the opportunity to showcase their artistic best in a model meets catwalk showdown. The top three salons from each region are invited to battle for the title of “supreme salon” in a national competition at Wasted Space in Las Vegas’ Hard Rock Hotel.

The most recent Hair Wars competition took place on March 15th at Rednofive – but don’t go on tearing your hair out because you missed it. Rednofive is pleased to host the eighth annual Hair Wars DVD Relase Party this Sunday, which includes an awards ceremony acknowledging the top three salons. BRAVO’s Shear Genius finalist Ben Mollin will host the evening’s festivities.hairwars

Get there at 9 p.m. to enjoy the Belvedere Vodka cocktail reception and have your photo taken by locally famous fashion photographer Goykphoto, as well as as a live airbrush makeup demo by Airbrush Academy. Famed fashion photographer David Anthony will also display photos from a recent shoot of all the winners.  At 11 p.m., URSupermodels will display the avant garde creations from the top three salons. The winners, Hairborn Fashions, Bang Salon and Ambra European Salon and Spa, will advance to the national competition in Vegas in the fall.

No need to RSVP,  just show up at Rednofive (440 North Halsted) at 9 p.m. – that is, unless you have to wash your hair.

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Fayth, a.k.a Relaxocat, NBC Chicago Street Team

Soul pioneers, Wiley And The Checkmates, hit Chicago on Saturday, March 28th at Hideout.

These guys are the real deal — true pioneers of Delta soul bringing you serious booty shakin’ music from the deep South.

Click here to read the rest of this post on nbcchicago.com.

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Shlomi Rabi, NBC Chicago Street Team

Unless you have been sleeping under a rock for the past month, which, truth be told, would have at least kept your hair (and clothes, and shoes and new deerskin bag…ugh, don’t even get us started) dry as a cracker, then by now you know that Spring has finally come and you have an official excuse to stay outside your house for far too long. After all, what is the point of having good weather if you’re going to stay indoors?

A great excuse to leave your house this evening, for example, is the opening reception for three (count’em!) exhibitions at the John David Mooney Foundation. The space, in fact, is used by the Edinburgh College of Art to showcase works by the school’s faculty members Gordon Brennan and John Brown, as well as the fellowship winners Janine Biunno and Rachel Gargiulo, among others.

The works engage in a relevant dialogue that touches on issues that range from personal narratives, to global concerns, and yes, some very Chicago-specific matters as well.

The exhibition will run through March 30th, and doors will open at 5:30p.m. tonight. So throw on that fun little number you had been dying to try on since, oh, last year, and make it a date. Just leave your deerskin bag back home, just in case.


To learn more about how Shlomi spends his Spring days (and nights!) click here.

Gordon Brennan and John Brown, World-A-Rama, 2008

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Marcus Riley, NBC Chicago Street Team

TheChiGuide.com, a new Web site and weekly newsletter aims to keep Chicago in the know about all the cool things to do in the city. Kind of what we do right here on the Street Team blog and on nbcchicago.com.

So why join forces with group that from the outside might look like a competitor? Well, the current economic crisis and sad state of the media industry proves that we have to find new ways of doing business — and helping each other. Instead of one big money grab, realizing that there’s a piece of the pie out there for everyone. Especially in a city like Chicago, when you join forces with like-minded souls, you make yourself stronger. So, we’re proud to welcome TheChiGuide to the NBC family, because they share the same vision we do. Telling local stories by local people — at the street level.

Click here for more information on tonight’s launch party.

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candace-small2Candace Jordan, NBC Chicago Street Team

Easter is around the corner and what could be more adorable than a photo of your DOG with the EASTER BUNNY?

Tails in the City is Easter Bunny with Dogs offering this unique opportunity for all of you animal lovers out there on Saturday, March 28th!  Just hop on down to One East Delaware between 10 AM to 5 PM and you can capture this memory of your little darling.  Appointments are required and the $10 donation will benefit PAWS Chicago, so it’s all good!

Store owners Bruce Haas and Phillip Emigh opened Tails in the City in 2004.  They were immediately embraced as a fashion destination for canine-istas.  They scour the market for the latest, greatest and most unique items for pets.  Visiting celebrities as well as fashionable locals know to make this hot spot their first stop when shopping for the latest in doggie couture and accessories.  Bridget, Holly and Kendra from the reality series “Girls Next Door” all own something from Tails in the City for their various pets!   But the best part about this store is the fact that they are very committed to giving back to the community and do so through partnerships with both PAWS as well as The Anti-Cruelty Society.  They Tails In The Cityare always planning various fundraisers and special events such as their annual Halloween Party and Parade, Holiday pictures, benefit shopping days, adoption events, yappy hours and many more.  I hope to see you and your “kids” at one of these unique events soon!  (Tails in the City, 1 E. Delaware, (312) 649-0347, www.tailsinthecity.com)

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Glenn Murray, NBC Chicago Street Team

For the second consecutive year, 220 Communications hosts Music and Lyrics, a fusion of spoken word and sound. Thursday March 26th at Ai Sushi Lounge (358 West Ontario). The event starts at 7PM. 

It features Kalimba player Lenox Mayes Jr and spoken word artist/actor Mel Rob. The event will feature live performances of jazz and spoken word by up and coming artists, and feature a sample of selections from Ai’s sushi menu. Prize drawings will be held throughout the night and each paid attendee receives a copy of Lenox Mayes debut CD “Now I Understand”. Performances include spoken word artists Paulette “Passion” Stinson, Devonna and Sandria Washington as well as a special performance from Aniba Hotep and the Soul Collective, prize drawings and much more. Tickets are $20.

The Kalimba, a musical instrument from Africa. Several reeds or tines are plucked with the thumb or fingers, and the reed vibrations are amplified by a hollow box resonator or a sounding board. The Kalimba is a member of the Lamellophone family of musical instruments. It is also known as the African Thumb Piano. Lenox Mayes has mastered this instrument and incorporated into his unique brand of Jazz. Mayes handled all writing and arrangements for his debut CD and will perform selections from his latest release. A one man show that can’t be missed.

Actor/Spoken Word Artist Mel-Rob has been in the performing arts since his childhood. He starred in the 2008 film “I Used To Love Her”. Other projects include And Then There Was Poetry, Love Shorts, Why Men Cheat, and Holla’ if You Hear Me,”If These Pens Could Talk” was his first spoken word CD. His sophomore album was released in October of 2006, and is still going strong.

Click here for more information.

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JenChicago, NBC Chicago Street Team

It was a HUGE success! Arthur Murray’s Fourth Annual “Dancing with Chicago Celebrities” raised $67,000 for the Chicagoland Area Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure®,and what a fun way to do it! All of the toe-tapping fun went down on Friday, March 13, 2009, when Chicago celebrities paired with Arthur Murray professional dance instructors at the Hyatt Regency Chicago.

The winning team included Dana Kozlov, Assignment Reporter from CBS 2, and her Arthur Murray partner Edgar Chavarria. The MVP went to Robbie Ventura, who along with his team raised the most – $4,680. Other celebrities competing included Pat Cassidy, Radio Personality on WLS 890 AM, Lourdes Duarte, Assignment Reporter for WGN 9, Daryl Hawks, Sports Anchor and Reporter for NBC 5, Evelyn Holmes, Assignment Reporter for ABC 7, and Katie Lorenz, Miss Illinois 2008. The night’s emcee was NBC 5 Sports Anchor, Mike Adamle. WGN Anchor Dina Bair, NBC 5’s Meteorologist, Ginger Zee and ABC7’s Traffic Reporter Roz Varon also returned as alumni.

For more tail-feather shakin’ videos, check out JenChicago.com!
Find me on Facebook! (Search: JenChicago)

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Paul M. Banks a.k.a. The Sports Bank, NBC Chicago Street Team Last week the Chicago Blackhawks lost and later regained the Western Conference’s fourth seed and with it the final home ice advantage for the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. They’re currently two points ahead of the fifth place Vancouver Canucks – who come to town Sunday for a slightly important regular season game- and five points ahead of the 6th place Columbus Blue Jackets.

The Hawks are helped immensely by the return of pure scorer Patrick Sharp. Number ten looked as sharp as hispatrick_sharp namesake during his first game back Sunday. Sharp had 2 goals and an assist in a 4-1 victory over Los Angeles. It was also nice for the United Center crowd to hear ZZ Top’s “Sharp Dressed Man” played in celebration of goals again. Especially since we’re getting sick of the usual goal-scoring song- that annoying tune – Amstel light commercials. Chicago is 38-22-11 on the season, but went just 6-7-3 without Sharpie. “You add a player like that to our lineup, you have 3 lines that can all produce and are dangerous. So it’s a really nice addition,” Coach Joel Quenneville said.

The Hawks are just three points behind third place Calgary, but do not hold a realistic chance of obtaining third place, because the top three slots are reserved for division champions and the Hawks have no chance at catching the Central leading Detroit Red Wings. Seven of Chicago’s final 11 are at home, where the Hawks are 19-7-7. If Vancouver is to catch them, they’ll have to do it away from Canada with 7 of their final 11 on the road. And don’t forget about that youngster franchise in Columbus. The Blue Jackets have already set a franchise record for points in a season and are getting hot at the right time. During this final stretch, Chicago will try to get the same type of separation from the muddled middle that San Jose and Detroit currently possess.

“Being in the middle of this pack again, it certainly gets your attention. I think everyone has some stretches; during the course of the year we had some bumps. I think March was extended and I think we can learn something from it. Maybe we let off the gas pedal a little bit, and we know now: that can’t happen,” Quenneville stated on Sunday. Maintaining a position with home ice is crucial, because as star defenseman Duncan Keith recently told me, “We feed off that. When there’s 22, 21 thousand people cheering for you, it helps.”

See more of Paul M. Banks’ work at the Washington Times and The Sports Bank

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Marcus Riley, NBC Chicago Street Team

The anticipated redesign of South Loop’s Room 21 restaurant is now complete, and the new space comes with a new name and design.

Via Ventuno opened to the public on Tuesday, and focuses on regional Italian cuisine.

The restaurant, located at Wabash and 21st Street, literally translates to “Street 21” in Italian.

Click here to read the rest of this post on nbcchicago.com.

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Fayth aka Relaxocat, NBC Chicago Street Team

Just in time for Hubbard Street Dance Chicago’s Spring performance series is an event arranged with NBC Chicago Street Team’s, Tom Kolovos, Hubbard Street bloomingdales_verticalDance Chicago, and Bloomingdale’s on Michigan Avenue. 

Tonight, Tom will put together some spring fashion for men and women to be modeled by Chicago’s very own Hubbard Street Dancers. 

The event will begin with a cocktail reception at 5:30 with a fashion presentation at 6 p.m. and shopping (!) until 8 p.m. 

10% of sales made by event participants will go toward Hubbard Street Dance Chicago’s education and community programs. 

It all goes down on the fourth floor of Bloomingdales at 900 N. Michigan Ave.

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rebecca_1Rebecca Taras, NBC Chicago Street Team
Even if you’re not getting married, chances are you know someone in your circle of friends that is. If you are the lucky bride-to-be, then an event at the historic Drake Hotel this Thursday should be on your radar.

Read the rest of this post on nbcchicago.com.

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D.C. “Fete Select TV” Crenshaw, NBC Chicago Street Team

Lately it seems like I’ve been on an Italian culinary tour around Chicago.  From a fabulous dinner at Prosecco to an intimate meal in the 200 East Supper Club, I’ve tasted a few different pasta dishes and consumed more than a couple of glasses of wine.  Last week I ventured into the Lincoln Park neighborhood to take on yet another Italian establishment.  Let’s just say that my dining experience at Trattoria Gianni was not only enjoyable, but was a perfect nightcap to my birthday celebration.facade_main11

Trattoria Gianni is intimate, homey, authentic and friendly. The ambiance is most comparable to the dinner settings that I experienced while honeymooning in Rome. The cuisine was not too far behind either. Among the Antipasti dishes, the fried calamari and grilled octopus stood out.  Moving to the Primi Piatti side of the menu, the Gnocchi della Nonna, handmade and stuffed with ricotta, and the Conchiglie del Mercante, pasta crumbled with Italian sausage, mushrooms and fresh tomato sauce, were savory and plentiful.   The veal scaloppine, grilled duck breast,  grilled chicken breast, and grilled Norwegian salmon filet were also favorites.  However, the “Costolette d’ Agnello alla Griglia”, their grilled lamb chops marinated with olive oil, garlic and fresh mint, was a noted specialty dish and the highlight of the evening.  The most enjoyable side dish were the roasted potatoes in olive oil garlic rosemary.wine_151

Trattoria Gianni has homemade desserts worth the indulgence.  The Panna Cotta and Tiramisu led the way. Their sorbet and cannoli are good alternatives and the not-quite-frozen hazelnut mouse, topped with chocolate sauce received accolades. The service met expectations and the wine recommendations paired nicely with our many courses.  A live vocalist added a special ambiance throughout dinner, which set off an energetic vibe amongst diners.

Trattoria Gianni will celebrate their 21st anniversary this year with a $21.00 priced fixed dinner every Tuesday night starting March 24th – June 30th.  Trattoria Gianni is located at 1711 N. Halsted St.  Log onto <a href=”http://www.trattoriagianni.com&#8221; target=”blank” http://www.trattoriagianni.com.com for more information or call (312) 266-1976 for reservations. 

To find more dining options and to get an inside look at the newest and best restaurants in Chicago watch Fete Select TV on www.efete.net.

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rebecca_1Rebecca Taras, NBC Chicago Street Team

Being an adult means dealing with whatever life dishes out at you in as optimistic and responsible way as possible (with an occasional pity party at the local watering hole). But when you’re a kid faced with crises such as death or divorce, ways of knowing how to cope may seem less obvious.

On Wednesday, Rainbows Children’s Charity gives you a reason to visit Rockit Bar and Grill other than to drown in your own sorrows. The organization will hold its inaugural fundraiser at the River North restaurant to launch their Young Professionals Board.

“I’m thrilled and humbled by the efforts of Chicago’s young professionals. In just one month, the group has made astounding progress, which is a testament to their compassion and support,” said Suzy Yehl Marta, founder and CEO of Rainbows. “This group started with five young professionals and it quickly grew to 14 and counting. I’m looking forward to seeing this group flourish in the near future.”

Rainbows realizes that hard economic times are adversely affecting charities across the country, but if you already plan to be out and about Wednesday night, you might as well shell out 25 bucks at this event and help out someone less fortunate than your growling stomach.

Plus, you’ll get wine, beer and appetizers and of course, contribute to that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. RSVP is preferred but not mandatory. Visit www.events.org/rockit for ticket information.

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Glenn Murray, NBC Chicago Street Team

The kalimba (also known as the Thumb Piano) is a musical instrument from Africa. Several reeds or tines are plucked with the thumb or fingers, and the reed vibrations are amplified by a hollow box resonator or a sounding board. The kalimba is a member of the Lamellophone family of musical instruments.

The first one to be exported commercially out of Africa was the Hugh Tracey Kalimba. After years of studying African music and dozens of prototype instruments, Hugh Tracey’s company African Musical Instruments began manufacturing kalimbas, a western version of the mbira, in the late 1950s. The name kalimba is a Bantu word which means “little music”, and is similar to the word karimba, a type of mbira.

Now why do you need to know all that?

Because if you’ve never heard music created with a Kalimba you have your chance this Thursday at “Music and Lyrics” – A Fusion of Spoken Word, Jazz, and Neo Soul. It features Kalimba master and all around musical genius Lenox Mayes Jr. The event takes place at Ai, 358 West Ontario from 7 – 10 p.m. Guests will receive a copy of Mayes debut CD “Now I Understand” and will be treated to his unique one man show utilizing multiple instruments.

It also features a lineup of Spoken Word Artists including Actor/model/poet Mel-Rob, featured in the film “I Used To Love Her”, and Paulette “Passion” Stinson of EarCandy. A special musical performance by Aniba Hotep and the Soul Collective caps off the night. Delectable sushi from Ai’s menu and more than $200 in prizes will also make it a worthwhile trip to River North.

Tickets are limited so grab them now, and get ready for your lesson in musical instruments. No test will be given.

Click here for ticket information.

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