By Jeffrey Kaczmarczyk
The rock band Chicago never dominated pop culture like Elvis or Madonna. Its musicians never became household names like John, Paul, George and Ringo. The group from the Windy City never filled arena after arena the way Bruce Springsteen, Prince or the Rolling Stones did.
Yet Chicago, over a 50-year career, has become, according to Billboard, “the greatest of all time” American band in singles chart success as well as the greatest of all time American band in album chart success.
The music of Chicago, one of the longest-running, most successful rock groups of all time, is coming to the Grand Rapids Symphony’s D&W Fresh Market Picnic Pops for the second week of the 2017 Picnic Pops.
Brass Transit from Toronto joins the Grand Rapids Pops for The Musical Legacy of Chicago at 7:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday, July 20-21 at Cannonsburg Ski Area, 6800 Cannonsburg Rd NE. Principal Pops Conductor Bob Bernhardt will be on the podium for concerts underwritten by Gerald. R. Ford International Airport, Mercy Health, Vredevoogd Heating and Cooling, and Witness Inspection as Benefactor Sponsors.
Lawn seats begin at $19 for adults, $16 for seniors and students, $5 for ages 2 to 18, and free for children under age 2. Call the Grand Rapids Symphony at (616) 454-9451 ext. 4 during business hours or (616) 885-1241 or go online to PicnicPops.org
Chicago, the self-described “rock and roll band with horns,” This rock and roll group, according to Billboard, led the U.S. singles chart during the 1970s and has sold over 40 million units in America.
With songs such as Beginnings, Saturday in the Park, and You’re the Inspiration, Chicago has sold more than 100 million records worldwide over a five-decade career that began in 1967.
Their 1969 debut album, Chicago Transit Authority, was a double album, rare for a band’s first release. But within a year, the band sold over 1 million copies, earning a platinum disc, an impressive beginning for the group that would go on to record 25 or 6 to 4, Feelin’ Stronger Every Day and the ballad, If You Leave Me Now, which held the No. 1 spot on the U.S. charts for two weeks in 1976, winning the Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal Performance by a Duo, Group or Chorus.
Brass Transit, organized nearly 10 years ago specifically to play the music of Chicago, features eight accomplished, award-winning musicians from Toronto, Ontario. Founder Tony Carlucci, musical director and trumpet player, launched the group to do something for himself. He explained, “My favorite band of all time is Chicago, and I decided to put something together to just have some fun.”
The plan was to stay local and play at nightclubs from time to time. After the son of one of the band members posted a video of their performance on YouTube, Brass Transit took off. Carlucci said, “The ball was thrown in my court and I decided to run with it.” Hear Brass Transit on YouTube.
Today, Brass Transit has been successful enough that several members of the group have filled in as occasional subs with Chicago itself. This tribute band does not simply play songs; they embody the music and bring the notes to life on stage.
In addition to all of the songs above, Brass Transit joins the Grand Rapids Pops for such Chicago hits as Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is, Make Me Smile, Old Days and Hard To Say I’m Sorry.
In an October 2014 review on Icon Fetch, Tony Peter, after attending a concert, wrote, “I’ve seen Chicago 25 years ago, and they were nowhere near this good. Brass Transit led a high-energy, hit-filled evening that, with or without orchestra, is a must see.”
This incredibly talented band will appear at Cannonsburg for the first time on July 20-21 at 7:30 p.m., bringing D&W Fresh Market Picnic Pops fans back to some of the most memorable times of their lives in concerts underwritten by Grand Wealth Management, Mercantile Bank and Ranir as Patron Sponsors.
Coming next week, the Grand Rapids Pops’ three-concert, all classic pop/rock series rolls on with the music of Janis Joplin, Tina Turner, Carole King and Pat Benatar in Women Rock on July 27-28 at 7:30 p.m.
In August, join the Grand Rapids Symphony for the audience favorite Classical Fireworks show on Thursday, Aug. 3 with Music Director Marcelo Lehninger making his debut at Cannonsburg. Capping off the D&W Fresh Market Picnic Pops is the marvelous mariachi sound of Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán on Saturday, August 5. Both special-event shows begin at 8 p.m.
About Cannonsburg Ski Area
Gates at Cannonsburg Ski Area open at 5:45 p.m. each night for picnicking and pre-concert entertainment, including free, kid-friendly activities such as face painting, crafts, and a musical instrument petting zoo.
Pack your own picnic baskets and coolers or purchase food from the grill at the Cannonsburg concession stand. Alcoholic beverages are permitted on the grounds, and parking is free for concertgoers.
Single tickets for lawn seats in advance to The Musical Legacy of Chicago are $19 for adults, $16 for college students and seniors, or $5 for ages 2-18. Single tickets for general admission chair seating are $30. Single tickets for an individual, reserved table seats are $51 or $408 for an entire table for eight.
MySymphony360 members can attend for $15. U.S. Military on active or reserve duty or in the National Guard may purchase up to two tickets for $15 each. All children younger than age 2 are admitted for free.
All single tickets for all concerts are $5 more on the day of the show.
The Flexpass 6-Pack offers six lawn tickets that can be used in any combination, on any concert night, for The Musical Legacy of Chicago and Women Rock on July 27-28. Flexpasses are $96 for adults and $84 for seniors. Flexpasses cannot be used for the special events in August.
Group discounts are available for groups of 10 or more people by calling (616) 454-9451 ext. 192.
Tickets can be purchased through the GRS box office by calling (616) 454-9451 ext. 4 weekdays or (616) 885-1241 evenings; or in person at 300 Ottawa Ave. NW, Suite 100; or online at GRSymphony.org.
Tickets also may be purchased through Ticketmaster at (800) 982-2787, or at Ticketmaster outlets at select D&W Fresh Markets, Family Fare stores and Walmart. Tickets purchased at these locations will include a Ticketmaster service fee.