Some things just naturally go together; peanut butter and jelly, summertime and fresh air and iconic band Chicago and the town where they got their start. (Some might add “Saturday” and being “in the park,” but we’re attempting to keep the song lyrics to a minimum, here.)
Another perfect pairing with Chicago the band? Jelmar, the family-owned, Chicago-based company who brought the world many beloved household products — among them, Tarn-X Tarnish Remover, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary. To commemorate, they teamed up with the Chicago Parks Foundation as well as the brass-loving Chicago, (who themselves are celebrating a 50th anniversary) for a concert experience unlike any other.
“When we heard that Chicago was celebrating their 50th anniversary, a lightbulb went off for me,” says Jelmar President and CEO Alison Gutterman. “What a great idea, to celebrate a Chicago-based company with the iconic band Chicago in our hometown.”
The perfect fit of partnering with Tarn-X wasn’t lost on her, either. “They’re known for their horn section!”
July 12th’s concert at the Huntington Bank Pavilion offered VIP experiences and band meet-and-greets to fans who won tickets through a myriad of fun ways; among them, finding golden trumpets hiding in Buckingham Fountain Park and tweeting out photos with the hashtag #TarnXrocks. Regardless of VIP status, all Chicagoans won during this contest, as Jelmar has committed to making donations to the Chicago Parks Foundation for years to come.
And as for that concert experience?
“The band has been so gracious with all of their fans,” Gutterman raves. “So wonderful! Really just nice, down-to-earth men.”
It’s hard to argue with that, as the band spent a great deal of time talking about their favorite hometown spots. Founding member Robert Lamm (keyboards, vocals, composer) loves visiting the lake when he’s in town, and thinks the walk up from the south side to downtown is simply unmatched, while Ray Herrmann (saxophone, flute) always makes time for Tavern on Rush and Rosebud. As for family members, Lamm’s wife, an artist, knows the art scene in town can’t be beat and Herrmann says “ … the MSI is amazing. I have an 11 year-old daughter and she loves it.”
The band has changed a bit over the years, and the current iteration is a blend of longtime mainstays and slightly newer members — crowd favorites, all. Founding members include Lamm, Lee Loughnane (trumpet, flugelhorn, songwriter), James Pankow (trombone, horn arranger, composer) and Walter Parazaider (saxophone, flute, clarinet), and they are joined by “newcomers” Tris Imboden (drums for 26 years now), Keith Howland (guitar and vocals for 21 years), Lou Pardini (keyboard and vocals for 18 years), Herrmann (for 12 years), Walfredo Reyes Jr. (percussion for 5 years) and Jeff Coffey (bass and vocals for a year now).
And good news, guys: they still bring a thousand and one percent to their live shows. The Doobie Brothers opened for Chicago and sounded as good as ever. (“Taking it to the streets” took everyone firmly to their feet while “China Grove” was one pavilion-wide singalong.) When Chicago took the stage, they played a mix of fan faves and deep cuts, complete with incredible guitar and drum solos, extended versions and plenty of moments to joyfully, gratefully spotlight the adoring crowd. Die-hard fans clamored for the early catalog while other members of the mixed-age group thrilled for the mid to late ‘80s set. But really, even complete newbies would have found it hard to resist becoming lifelong superfans.
(Some might even say that’s a hard habit to break.)