Chicago comes to Hard Rock Rocksino

By Kelly Maile | Staff Writer Published:

Between two tours of Europe and Asia and select dates in the United States this summer, it seems audiences can't get enough of the legendary rock 'n' roll band with horns, Chicago.

Chicago will take the stage for a one-time performance in Ohio on May 20 at the Hard Rock Rocksino, 10777 Northfield Road in Northfield. The show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets range from $56 to $110.

"It's not only busy, it's busier than ever," said original band member Jimmy Pankow. "It's gotten to the point where the music has become a phenomenon."

This year marks Chicago's 47th consecutive year of touring, without missing a single concert date.

"This is what we've done for so long that it's become almost something that we cannot do without," Pankow said. "It's a communion because you created this music and little did you know when you sat at a piano and notated some intimate, personal ideas and thoughts that they would become shared with hundreds of thousands of people and become an experience, not just notes on paper."

The show will take audiences on a magical journey, starting from the very beginning.

"The adrenaline gets pumping," Pankow said. "The people get nuts. The show we're doing is probably the best show we've ever done in terms of pacing, in terms of capturing the body of music of all these years. We start the show with the first album and we include selections from our new album."

Chicago's new record, "Now," Chicago XXXVI, is set to release on July 4. The album includes 11 brand new songs, recorded on the road.

"We have some very exploratory stuff and music that is traditionally Chicago," Pankow said. "We have the signature horns and the identity that the music has always had, but we also have the fun of taking it places that was not possible before. The music is very daring in some ways. It is where we are now."

For this record, Chicago built a new "recording rig" that travels with the band.

"This new technology has allowed us to be extremely mobile," Pankow said. "The music is reported by us as we travel, as we get inspired. We can record in hotel rooms, on the bus, in the venue. We don't have to, like the old days, assemble in a traditional recording studio and track new songs and go through the protocol. We are now free to do whatever we want. We can push the limits."

They have even created an online collaboration portal that allows even more performances to be worked on around the clock from remote locations.

"For the first time since the beginning of the band, we are looking at not only a new way of making records, but a new way of manifesting those records," Pankow said. "We do business now essentially direct to fans through the Internet."

Anything and everything that is Chicago is available on the band's website, chicagothe band.com.

"This is global," Pankow said. "We have the same career in Asia, Latin America, Europe, Australia. Just the other day we were tracking web activity and at one moment there were people visiting the website from about 12 different countries simultaneously. It takes the performance and the music to another level."

With a release around the corner, Chicago is already thinking about what's next.

"If you're serious about your art, you absolutely need to search for that next thing," Pankow said. "There's never a point where you think you've done it or said it all. That is the pull that keeps you going. Even with the new collection of songs for the release this summer, additional new songs are still being written for yet a future collection, not only written, but recorded."

Although Chicago embraces today's cutting edge technology, the band is still old-fashioned in some ways.

"When people come to a Chicago show, they see veteran musicians with great ability, playing and singing music very well," Pankow said. "There's no smoke and mirrors. They come to witness and hear music that's been performed the old-fashioned way, and the records are a mirror of that."

Chicago's 1969 album "The Chicago Transit Authority" was inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame this year. The band performed on the Grammy stage for the first time in 2014, performing four songs with Grammy nominee Robin Thicke.

Chicago will play on May 20 at the Hard Rock Rocksino, 10777 Northfield Road in Northfield.

For tickets and more information, call 330-908-7625 or visit hrrock ­sinonorthfieldpark.com.

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