Climbing aboard the Soul Train

September 2, 2011

Though I am the last to climb aboard—give me a break; I’ve been on vacation!—this blog would be remiss if it did not note the coolest event happening this Labor Day weekend, if not the entire summer: Monday’s celebration of the immortal TV dance party “Soul Train” at Millennium Park.

Bringing to life the mind-boggling (oh, those fashions!) “Soul Train Photo Exhibition” organized by Mike Orlove and the hard-working folks at the Chicago Office of Tourism and Culture at the Expo 72 Gallery, the festivities kick off in Millennium Park with a pre-concert dance party hosted by Chicago radio giant Herb Kent at 5:30 p.m. on Sept. 5, followed by a free concert in the Pritzker Pavilion at 6:30 with performers Jerry Butler, the Impressions, the Chi-Lites, and Gene Chandler, all backed by a 25-piece orchestra and hosted by Kent, my WBEZ colleague Richard Steele, and the man, the myth, the legend himself, Don Cornelius.

I won’t try to recap the history of Cornelius, “Soul Train,” and its Chicago roots here, since these auspicious events have prompted a flood of local press, including this Q&A with Cornelius by Tribune freelancer Andy Downing, this feature by Sun-Times musical historian Dave Hoekstra, and this Cornelius chat with Steele on this very Web site. But I will maintain that if you skip Monday’s festivities, you’ll not only be missing out on some of the coolest, most timeless grooves ever, but a chance to take part in the longest Soul Train line dance in history.