Crosby, Stills & Nash performed at the Ravinia Festival in beautiful Highland Park, Illinois, last Saturday evening. The iconic folk rock band played to a sold-out crowd, who loved every minute of the performance. Ravinia attracts about 600,000 listeners per season and up to 150 events spanning genres from classical music to jazz to rock.
The group is known for its great music, but equally as well known for its political activism. At one point during the evening David Crosby could not resist political commentary. “I don’t believe our founding fathers thought elective office should go to the one with the most money to buy television advertising to buy political office,” said Crosby, in an obvious reference to the “Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.”
One can just imagine United States Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito in the audience, furiously shaking his head “no,” mouthing the words “not true,” as he did during a State of the Union Address delivered by President Obama in 2010. It is the kind of political commentary we have come to expect from them, the great music with sprinklings of politics. During the 1970s, the group protested against the Vietnam War, with David Crosby in particular, making no secret of their political leanings. It also reflected in their music with many anti-war tunes, including songs like “Wooden Ships” and “Ohio.”
This special evening at Ravinia, which attracted aging fans of the aging group, reaching back to the 1960’s in places like Woodstock, where they uttered their famous line at Woodstock, “We’re scared shitless.” Not this evening. That fear left them long ago.
The opening tune of the great evening was the song, “Carry On/Questions,” and the crowd immediately recognized the tune, as the crowd gave the group one standing ovation after another with second tune of the evening, “Marrakesh Express.” All the well-known hits were performed with a few new ones too, but notably absent was “Suite: Judy Blues Eyes,” which was expected as the final encore. The encore was “Teach Your Children”, and the audience could not have been more pleased.
Also performing, courtesy of Debbie Pollack of Rock Chicago, were Shayne Fontayne (Guitar), Steve Distanislao (Drums), Kevin McCormick (Bass), Todd Caldwell (Organ) and James Raymond (David Crosby’s son on the keyboards).
Time Warner’s Entertainment Weekly division released a video clip singing their classic, “Helplessly Hoping,” from Woodstock, which can be viewed here. It is part of a “new three-disc Blu-ray set, fittingly titled “Woodstock 40th Anniversary Limited Edition Revisited”, features the film’s four-hour director’s cut, two discs of extras, and a souvenir pack filled with reproductions of articles on the concert from Life magazine and The New York Times, a pair of reproduction concert tickets, and an embroidered iron-on patch with the classic dove-and-guitar logo.”
The 36-date tour concludes with a performance on Oct. 3 and Oct. 4 at the Greek Theater in Los Angeles. Some of the other stops include (click for complete list) Au-Rene Theater in Ft. Lauderdale (Aug.6), Bob Carr Performing Arts Centre in Orlando, Florida (Aug. 7), New Orleans’ Saenger Theatre (Aug. 23), Idaho Botanical Garden in Boise, Idaho (Sept. 11), Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery in Washington (Sept. 13 and 14) and Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Morrison, Colorado (Sept. 23).
Some of the other iconic musical performers scheduled at Ravinia this season are Heart on Aug. 3; Tony Bennett on Aug. 16; Yo-Yo Ma and The Knights on Aug. 21; ZZ Top and Jeff Beck on Aug. 28; The Moody Blues on Sept. 4 and Sept. 5; Carrie Underwood with the Ravinia Festival Orchestra on Sept. 6 and Sept. 7; and many other great performers throughout the season.