Falling, Falling, Falling in Love With Autumn - Part II

Soleil! Just hanging around!



So Long, Summer - Welcome Autumn!

When I started this post, it was nice and sunny and the leaves were still kinda full of leaves.  However, after the night we had last night, we're lucky if we still have trees let alone leaves!  Nonetheless, in this To-DosLetter I've included a few cool opportunities for outdoor adventure - or outdoor relaxing.  Grab the kids, a loved one or wrap your arms around yourself and check out some of the activities in suburbs from 25 minutes to an hour and a half outside of the City.  In case the weather doesn't cooperate this weekend, I've also highlighted some indoor To-Dos, so keep reading!

Apple SeasonsApple Seasons Apple Orchard, Pumpkin Patch and Corn Maze: Here's a nice outing for seniors, youth, couples, friends - everybody!  Enjoy apple picking, wagon rides, petting zoo, shooting apples from canons, pastries, cider and tasty delights all in a beautiful and serene setting with century-old oak trees and picnic tables.  On this 150-acre farm you'll also find a market stocked with all sorts of kitchen items for baking and unique gifts for the holidays. Apple farms is in Woodstock, about an hour and a half outside of the City.  Open Daily; Prices Vary.

Morton ArboretumThe Morton Arboretum:  I always talk about going to Starved Rock, but there are closer places you can go to take a hike and revel in the beautiful fall foliage.  The 1700 acre Morton Arboretum is a lovely setting with 16 miles of easy walking trails.  Have a bite at the Ginkgo Restaurant & Café or pack a basket!  Then try out the Theatre-Hikes® (weekends through October), where you’ll walk along with the action from The Night of the Living Dead from scene to scene outdoors!  Located in Lisle – about 25 miles west of Chicago.  Open daily, 7am – sunset.  $11; Children 2-17, $8. 

Waterfall GlenWaterfall Glen Forest Preserve:  If you’re looking for a more rugged hike, the 11 miles of limestone- and turf-covered routes amidst the 2,472 acres at Waterfall Glen should satisfy you!  You can bike or hike any number of wide trails or seldom explored pathways.  You're sure to find a plenty spots take in the view, so be sure to sit a spell and enjoy!  Picnic in the grassy areas, and even light a campfire!  Yummm . . . I can taste the s’mores now!  Open daily, one hour after sunrise until one hour after (ahhhh) sunset!  In Naperville, 35 miles west of Chicago.

Other Things To-Do

Avery Sunshine
Avery Sunshine


Adler After Dark: Spooky Space

Sue Duncan Children's Center Fall Fête Fundraiser

The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975

Afro Latino Live Series f/ Planeta Azul & 'Passistas' Samba Dancers

Avery Sunshine


ALC Humanitarian Awards Dinner f/ Regina Taylor and Jennifer Hudson - At the Fairmont Hotel; includes performance by Terisa Griffin.

more more more . . . future - A raucous and powerful dance theater performance by Faustin Linyekula draws from personal experience to explore the struggle of life in the Congo.

Dick Gregory A Luta Continua/The Struggle Continues “An Afternoon with Dick Gregory"


Public Art | Public Spaces Tour - Kicks off by tour bus at 51st & Calumet; includes food and discussion.

A Luta Continua/The Struggle Continues “An Afternoon with Dick Gregory"

Cultural Couture f/ Aniba Hotep & The Sol Collective - Get yourself a serious dose of funky soul with a retro vibe!


MSI Spooky Science

Black Theater Alliance/Ira Aldridge Awards

Black Creativity: Alternative Energy
Black Creativity: Alternative Energy


Black Creativity: Alternative Energy Technologies Panel Discussion

Screams In the Park (Closing Week)


Bengston's Pumpkin Fest (Closing Week)

World Music Wednesdays: M.A.K.U. Sound System

Looking for more To-Do? Visit Soleil's To-Dos regularly for the most up-to-date listings!  Whatever you decide To-Do, make it a fabulous fall weekend!


To-DosLetter: Falling for Autumn!

Soleil! Just hanging around!

So Long, Summer - Welcome Autumn!

It is, indeed, that time of year when the leaves begin to fall, the weather cools and many warm weather lovers wonder: "what now?"  It's true that it's not hard to find something To-Do in the summer - it's just hard to keep up with it all!  But, in the off-season (i.e., fall, winter and spring!), Soleil's To-Dos really shines!  In fact, Soleil's To-Dos was born in autumn eleven years ago and we still revel in our ability to unearth tons of really cool To-Dos to keep you entertained, enlightened, engaged and excited year-round!  In your seven-day forecast we've got:

Afro Latino Live Series featuring Grupo Cha Cha - A new weekly Thursday series presented by Sound Culture!  Sound Culture has solidly established its reputation as a presenter of world music.  Look forward to heating things up each week with a dose of African Diasporic Music from Latin America!

Etienne CharlesChicago Jazz Ensemble - Musica Panamerico featuring Etienne Charles - On Friday, Trinidadian trumpeter and percussionist Etienne Charles teams up with the Chicago Jazz Ensemble in what is sure to be an exciting performance!  Go a little deeper with Jazz Sessions, an informal conversation between CJE's Artistic Director Dana Hall and Etienne Charles.

Esperanza SpaldingEsperanza Spalding’s Chamber Music Society - Also on Friday - man - you might wish you could clone yourself!!  Esperanza is quite special.  It's such a joy to see and hear her perform.  Her passion for her music is matched only by her talent and charm.   Esperanza is truly and delight and Terri Lyne Carrington will be bangin' it out on the drums! 

Ugandan Orphans Choir - Du something different at DuSable this Saturday!  Five boys and five girls aged 8-11 invite you to share in their culture through dance, music and song, bringing a message of hope!

Black United Fund Living Legends/Passing the Torch Awards Benefit - Break out your finery and celebrate the year of the woman!  Awardees include Deborah O. Brown (NBC 5 Chicago),  Naomi Davis (Blacks In Green) and Zondra Hughes (Steed Media Group)!  ('Tis the season to be . . . Gala - so look for an upcoming To-DosLetter featuring a number of fabulous galas!)

Dark Girls - Screening & Lecture - The long-anticipated screenings of this documentary have finally begun!  Dark Girls examines biases and attitudes relating to dark-skinned women.  The directors will participate in a lecture/discussion about the issues raised in the film.

Black Theater Alliance/Ira Aldridge Awards - Prime-Time Theater season is in full effect and here's an opportunity to show some love for your faves from the stage and behind the scenes.  We have a nice selection of productions on our Theater Page and more are added regularly - so please feel free to indulge yourself!  If you're looking for a little more spooky in your theater, Chicago Stage Reviews "Spooky Theater" will get you off to a hell-raising start!

Halloween - CarrieHalloween To-Dos - Sad, but true: we have put away the Festival Page.  :=(  But, don't spend too much time whining because we've replaced it with Holiday and Seasonal To-Dos!  You'll find a range of Halloween options for the young and for the young at heart!  We're always adding more cool To-Dos here, too - family fun days, short group getaways

Black Power MixtapesThe Chicago International Film Festival continues through October 20th and the line-up is fantastic!  Check out Soleil's Picks from the Black Perspectives and World Cinema categories.  But, wait - there's more!  DuSable is showing SankofaSpirit Movies with a Mission - Harlem’s Mart 125: The American Dream; ICE Theaters' Black World Cinema continues its series with Viva Riva; The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975 (with  Angela Davis, Stokely Carmichael and Bobby Seale) is being screened at both DuSable and the Music Box Theatre; and . . . and . . . well, there's just so much more To-Do!!  (In fact, I'm probably going to have to update this post when I realize I've left out a few über-neato To-Dos.) 

Universoul CircusUniverSoul Circus - The magic continues in Washington Park through October 16th.  It's a crowd-pleaser every year, but I'll never forget my magical introduction to the UniverSoul Circus . . .  Trust me, there's still so much more To-Do!!  (In fact, I'm probably going to have to update this post when I realize I've left out a few über-neatoTo-Dos.) 

So, I hope you feel a little reassured and trust in Soleil's To-Dos as we embark on another journey through the "off-season"!!

SunSpots: Sade - Well Worth the Wait!

Soleil! Just hanging around!





Sade - The Experience from the Rafters

Sade at the United Center?! "No way," I thought, "her personality is way too mellow to fill the United Center up to the rafters" - which was where I was seated. Well, I stand corrected!

SadeBefore I get into the performance itself, I have to give kudos to the stage design and media concept! It was so perfectly Sade!  Instead of overpowering Sade with theatrics, the design empowered her!  The stage was set-up in a minimalist style that mimicked Sade's simple grace, fluidity and subtle dynamism. The musicians and back-up singers weren't permanently fixed in one location, tied to electronic cables and what-nots. Rather, there were multiple platforms that would vary from song to song - sometimes recessed below the stage, elevated and/or at stage level - adding movement in a unique form of choreography.

Sade Photo by: Sophie Muller

What Sade "lacked" in complex dance moves was more than compensated for by the incredible media!  Varied video images were projected on video monitors on either side of the stage, the stage background, the stage floor and/or a sheer curtain in front of the performers.  We saw playful, yet seductive, video of Sade in a  garden; black and white images of the live performance on full and split screens; amorphous images projected through the curtain onto the performers; and an assortment of pre-recorded video.  At times, she interacted with the video - walking along the projected roads, moving with the projected dancers and even deferring to the images.  The effect was extraordinarily stunning and creative (true to the Sade persona!), setting moods that were powerful, playful, romantic, ethereal and dramatic!  So, even at the rafters, the visual effect was captivating!

Then, there was Sade!

Pearl Pearl - Photo by Gabriel Coutu Dumont

Sade opened with Soldier of Love, backed by the projection of images from the video.  Her arrival was met with the roar of a very enthusiastic crowd and she clearly appreciated  the welcome.  She thanked her fans for keeping the fire burning for her and then launched into Your Love is King.  Sade was in wonderful form, and performed a number of songs from Soldier of Love - her first release in ten years!  The new music was warmly received, but her classics pushed her fans over the top.  One of the many standouts was Pearls (There's a Woman in Somalia).  Sade appeared completely alone (with her band neatly tucked away in the recessed platforms) and completely commanded the stage with passion, powerful lyrics and moving vocals!

She sang her butt off for 2  1/2 hours!!! 

SadeTo see Sade and to hear her is to feel that time has stood still - and time has definitely been kind to Sade.  She is elegant, effortlessly beautiful, sultry and authentic.  This tour represents the first live performance by Sade in ten years and it is taking place more than a year after the release of her newest CD.  Why so long?  She wanted to be sure she was ready.  Clearly, she is!

A subscriber gave me tickets to the concert, otherwise, I wouldn't have gone.  I was skeptical and remained so through John Legend's performance and until the instant Sade appeared on stage.  I am grateful that I had the opportunity to be proven wrong!  Tickets are still available for the Saturday and Sunday performances.  If you can get tickets on the floor or close to it, do that - I can only imagine how much better it would have been closer to the stage.  But, this is a review from the nosebleed seats, so if those are the only tickets available to you - go.  You are guaranteed to fall in love all over again!

SunSpots: Cirque du Soleil's "Ovo"

Stephanie! Stephanie!


Ovo - Magical and Breathtaking!!!

My introduction to Cirque du Soleil came several years ago through Bravo TV.  I found myself on the edge of my bed, hand clasped across my mouth - alternating with gasps of disbelief!  But, to see any Cirque du Soleil performance live is simply a mesmerizing and breathtaking experience - and, Ovo does not disappoint!


Ovo is set in a magical and exciting world of delightful and breathtaking adventures!  The costumes are imaginative and surreal, wonderfully creating the ecosystem that lives beneath our feet.  The live music and vocals (a hallmark of Cirque du Soleil) add even more texture and melodrama to this world into which we peek.

The "Dragonfly of Orvalho" shows amazing grace and unbelievable strength as he weaves his way in and out of looped poles, pausing here and there to strike a pose!

Dragonfly of Orvalho Dragonfly of Orvalho

Balancing on a tightrope seems difficult enough, but how 'bout a "slackwire"?!?!  "Spiderman" does just that, upping the ante all the way!

You'll never look at a climbing wall the same way after you see  "Crickets" - an amazing piece of choreographed acrobatics!!

Crickets Crickets

OVO is a headlong rush into a colourful ecosystem teeming with life, where insects work, eat, crawl, flutter, play, fight and look for love in a non-stop riot of energy and movement. The insects' home is a world of biodiversity and beauty filled with noisy action and moments of quiet emotion.

When a mysterious egg appears in their midst, the insects are awestruck and intensely curious about this iconic object that represents the enigma and cycles of their lives.

It’s love at first sight when a gawky, quirky insect arrives in this bustling community and a fabulous ladybug catches his eye – and the feeling is mutual.

OVO is overflowing with contrasts. The hidden, secret world at our feet is revealed as tender and torrid, noisy and quiet, peaceful and chaotic. And as the sun rises on a bright new day the vibrant cycle of insect life begins anew.

At $70-250, tickets aren't cheap!  But, the breathtaking experience?  Priceless!


Ovo continues at the United Center through August 21, 2011.

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To-DosLetter - 4th of July!

Stephanie! Just hangin' around!






Happy Fourth of July!


The Independence Day weekend is a little tough because, other than a couple of festivals and a couple of parties, most folks either BBQ or go to BBQs and don't invite me.  If you, too, are BBQ-less, or if you want To-Do something different, we've got some great suggestions in this To-DosLetter!

Fireworks at Navy PierTaste of Chicago continues through Sunday, July 3rd!  Eat all you want, but the only fireworks you'll see will be those launched from Navy Pier!  Yes, the fireworks, along with the final Monday of The Taste, fell victim to City budget cuts.  A moment of silence, please.

Navy Pier - Catch the fireworks shows on July 2nd at 10:15pm and July 4th at 9pm!  Get into the thick of it by venturing out to Navy Pier, or view the display from La Rabida, Promontory Point, Grant Park or elsewhere along the lakefront! For a really cool viewing option, spend some time with the Musicians Network MECCA regular Monday evening set at the Museum Shore Yacht Club. On The Fourth, the performance will be a Tribute to P-Funk! It's free, beautiful, laid back w/ great music and food and drinks available for purchase - or bring your own! Get the details and see the photos in Sun Spots: Mondays w/ Musician’s Network MECCA!

Balloon Glow Balloon Glow

Lisle Eyes to the Skies Festival is only about 26 miles from the loop.  From July 1-3, hot air balloons will launched at 6am and 6pm.  Tethered balloon rides are  first come, first served ($25 per person)!  At 8pm, the “Balloon Glow” fireworks will be launched – and it will surely be a magical sight!  There's a fireworks show nightly, but the major show is on Sunday at 9:45pm and will be timed to a musical score!  Let’s hope they get those balloons back on the ground in time, otherwise it’s gonna be quite a display!

Naperville Rib Fest runs from July 1 - 4 and with Styx on Friday and REO Speedwagon on Saturday you can't possibly go wrong!  (And I know you know what I'm talkin' 'bout, so don't front!)  Naperville Rib Fest boasts having a musically choreographed fireworks display that rivals Chicago's and is about 30 minutes long!  Decide for yourself on July 4th, 9:30pm!


On Monday, the Chicago History Musuem has the whole family covered with Happy Fourth of July!  I like this one because it focuses on the reason for the holiday instead of the fireworks.   But, it also includes a children’s costume parade led by the World’s Tallest Uncle Sam! Free(!) admission to all outdoor activities.

Mackinaw Fireworks Mackinaw Fireworks

July 4th Fireworks & Mackinaw Inc. Waterfront Events is perfect for a quick getaway and change of pace!  It's a bit of a drive, but once you get there it'll be well worth the trip!  Bicycle around the town and enjoy live music, parks, beaches, shopping, restaurants and children's activities.  Take a ferry to Mackinac Island and see what it has to offer!  The drive is about 7 hours, so plan on staying local or stop for the night along the way!  Free!  (Well . . . except gas, hotel, food, drink . . . )

International Festival of Life – Washington Park is ready for its first summer festival, so get on out there and enjoy live reggae, calypso, African and gospel music.  There will be the usual assortment of food, vendors and, probably, the carpet-cleaning man!  Get there early because the price goes up after 5pm!

Other seasonal To-Dos in the suburbs and beyond:

  • City of Aurora Independence Day Parade and Fireworks  - July 4 fireworks - 20-25 minute display.  Donations requested. Parking is tight, but shuttle buses are available.

  • <a href="'s Fantastic Fireworks - Ample parking and room to spread your blanket out to watch this 20-25 minute display on July 3!

  • Saugatuck-Douglas 4th of July Celebration - This is going to be really cool with a small town vibe!  It's about 2 1/2 hours away on the shores of Michigan with a small town feel.  You'll find live music, a waterfront invitational art fair, walking tours, Segway tours, bike, modped, kayak and canoe rentals, art exhibit openings, sailboat charters and - FIREWORKS!

There's plenty more To-Do, so whatever you decide To-Do, make it a fabulous weekend!


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We hope you enjoy our To-DosLetters and website and that you will share them with your friends, family and colleagues.  And when you attend an event that you heard about through us (shoot, even if you heard about from someone else (okay, just jokin'!)), tell 'em you heard about it from Soleil's (so-LAZE) To-Dos!


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