With it’s huge musical line-up and delicious eats, most know Lollapalooza as the biggest festival in Chicago. It’s attended by hundreds of thousands and is a rite of passage for most teens. What you might not know is that located in its own enclosed area of Grant Park is Kidzapalooza, the Lollapalooza kid’s stage which offers parents and kids the opportunity to catch family friendly music while taking part in skateboarding demos, hip hop workshops, a music video tent and much more. Read on for Chicago-favorite Little Miss Ann’s guide to getting musical with the kids at Lolla.

photo: Kidzapalooza

FESTIVAL DATES AND LOCATION

Lollapalooza is scheduled for August 2-5 in Grant Park. We’re giving you a nice running start because this is one fest that sells out very early every year. So, don’t wait!

FAMILY MUSIC LINE-UP

Little Miss Ann interviewed this year’s talent to help you make a decision on which acts to see. Read on!

Aaron Nigel Smith 
This high-energy reggae artist brings a global sensibility to music-making for children. Aaron has toured with reggae great Ziggy Marley, appeared on PBS’ acclaimed series Between the Lions and has had a role as a Martin Guitar Ambassador; Through his non-profit 1 World Chorus, he has spread his message of global unity through music. He has garnered praise from Parents’ Choice, NAPPA and Parenting Media. Aaron Nigel Smith gets young audiences and their families to connect through music, dance, and play, so get ready for a memorable morning!

What do you love about Chicago? I love the energy of Chicago. When I was a youth, I marveled at the Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls as they dominated the NBA.

What was one of the most memorable concert(s) you ever went to and why? One of the most memorable concerts I attended was Mozart’s The Magic Flute at the Metropolitan Opera. I had sung the role of Papageno when I attended Interlochen Arts Academy. It was amazing to see such a world-class performance.

Kidzapalooza Performance date(s): August 3rd & 4th

Website: aaronnigelsmith.com

photo: Justin Roberts and the Not Ready for Naptime Players

Justin Roberts and the Not Ready for Naptime Players
Three-time GRAMMY nominated, Justin Roberts is truly one of the “all-stars” of the kindie music scene. Appearing with his incredible band, The Not Ready for Naptime Players, Justin plays intelligent and whimsically rocking music for kids and their parents. Paste Magazine called his latest album, Lemonade, “an absolute gem” and it earned Roberts his ninth Parent’s Choice Gold Award. Families attending Justin’s Kidzapalooza show should expect hilarious puppetry, catchy songs that’ll be fun for the whole family!

What do you love about Chicago? I love Chicago because it is a big vibrant city with a small midwest town feel. It’s got an amazing arts scene with everything from world class museums to the CSO and Lyric Opera to indie clubs and tiny storefront theaters in every neighborhood.

What was one of the most memorable concert(s) you ever went to and why? Recently, we were touring in New Mexico and we went to this truly bizarre and beautiful immersive art experience called Meow Wolf where you feel like you’ve been dropped in the middle of a Twilight Zone episode. And by luck, Jonathan Richman was playing that night. I hadn’t seen him in years but his performances have become a kaleidoscope of fragments of songs weaving in and out of different languages with great moments of absurdity and joy. It was truly mystical.

Performance date: August 5

Website: justinrobertsmusic.com

photo: Lucy Kalantari and the Jazz Cats

Lucy Kalantari and the Jazz Cats 
Lucy Kalantari is an award-winning children’s artist based in Brooklyn, New York, making jazz age inspired music for families. Lucy Kalantari & the Jazz Cats was featured on
Sprout House, the musically-infused programming block on Universal Kids. Her songs are on steady rotation on SiriusXM Kids Place Live and other family radio programs around the country.

Her debut into the kids independent music scene came with her album Pockets Full of Joy in 2014. Pockets landed a Parents’ Choice Silver Honor Award and earned a place in The Best Kids Music of 2014, by Cooper & Kid. Her hit song Fantastic off her album Big Things won the International Music Award for Best Children’s Song and reached #3 on Kids Place Live 13 Under 13 charts. She was also awarded in the International Songwriting Contest for Best Children’s Song with Balloon, also from Big Things. Lucy Kalantari has performed in festivals and libraries around the country.

What do you love about Chicago?  Like New York City, Chicago is filled with a vibrant music history, delicious restaurants and I have wonderful friends who live there!

ADVERTISEMENT

What was one of the most memorable concert(s) you ever went to and why? Back in 2008, I went on a road trip to Philly with my best friend to see Nine Inch Nails (for the umpteenth time). Halfway through the show, there was a dramatic shift in music and arrangement, when Trent Reznor was suddenly playing a marimba, and Robin Finck a recorder. I’m pretty sure there was a banjo on stage at one point. For those who are not familiar with NIN, those instruments are not the usual sounds you hear at their shows. It was part of their presentation from their Ghosts album, a collection of instrumental tracks composed on a collaborative whim, going by feel of where the music needed to go. I remember having a huge smile on my face thinking how awesome it was to be unafraid to honor the music you’re inspired to write, regardless of how different it might be compared to your usual fare. I always remember this as I write new music, honoring all the sounds in my head!

Performance date(s): August 2nd, noon & August 3rd, 1:30 p.m.

Website: lucykalantari.com

photo: Mister G

MISTER G 
A Latin Grammy Award winner for Best Children’s Album, Mister G (Ben Gundersheimer) has been called “a bilingual rockstar” by The Washington Post and “irresistible” by People Magazine. His 2017 release, Mundo Verde/Green World, is a collection of environmental-themed songs which he debuted at his concert during the National Climate Rally in Washington, DC. Spanning genres from bluegrass to bossa nova, funk to folk, this kindie musician’s energetic, original music has won praise from The Boston Globe, Chicago SunTimes, People, New York Post and Parents magazine. Note: you don’t have to speak Spanish to enjoy Mister G’s music!

What do you love about Chicago? Chicago has always been one of my favorite cities. Between the vibrant music scene, two major league baseball teams, phenomenal architecture and great food what’s not to love? We’ve played memorable shows at Schuba’s and the Botanic Garden . . . Lollapalooza promises to be pretty incredible too!

What was one of the most memorable concert(s) you ever went to and why? You never forget your first concert. Particularly when it’s a Hall & Oates show and you catch the drum stick thrown into the crowd after the second encore. I took that as a sign that I was destined to pursue a life as a musician.

Performance date(s) and time(s): August 2nd and 3rd

Website:  mistergsongs.com

KB WHIRLY 
Award-winning songwriter KB Whirly is a groovy, get up and dance, one-man-band who juggles multiple instruments from diverse genres and sings with humor and soul.

With a dynamic background in music, theater and education, and a lifelong mission to spark empowering connections through inventive play, KB Whirly’s shows and workshops combine improvisation, storytelling and interactive music-making to ignite audiences of all ages.

Moving from rhythm and blues, to funk, folk, and jazz. . . with some Broadway theater and camp songs thrown in-between. . .  his spirited songwriting wittingly weaves life’s fables and follies into universal grooves we dance, laugh, lighten-up and learn with.

What do you love about Chicago? I have not been beyond the train station in Chicago — but I remember that place as being out of this world beautiful! Also, why am I excited? LOLLAPALOOZA!

What was one of the most memorable concert(s) you ever went to and why? I was 14 years old in the late 80’s and I got to see THE WHO on a reunion tour, and I was right in the middle of my deep classic rock education — so that moment was uh-mazing.  

Performance date(s): TBA

Website: kbwhirly.com

BIG DON 
Don Robinson is an award-winning accomplished hip hop musician based in Austin, Texas. He has been named Hip Hop Artist of The Year nine times by the Austin Chronicle and has been involved in the music scene for over 22 years.

His work in Hip Hop has always focused on the positive and inspiring aspect of what kids embrace about life.  Having toured the U.S. many times, this message has led to nine independent CD releases, national recognition by Billboard magazine and involvement in mainstream children’s entertainment by writing for the movie soundtrack of Spy Kids 3-D Game OverBig Don’s energetic and charismatic live performances will light up any stage and leave the audience with a unforgettable experience.

What do you love about Chicago?  I love the entire vibe of Chicago. The sports culture, the food and historical nature of the city. It is one of America’s most iconic cities and there is always so much to see and experience there.

What was one of the most memorable concert(s) you ever went to and why? What was one of the most memorable concert(s) you ever went to and why? Michael Jackson’s Bad tour was absolutely the most stunning live show that I have ever seen in my life. It was like being part of a magical experience where you get to live out these incredible musical moments in person.

Performance date(s): TBA

Website: bigdonproductions.com

photo: Q Brothers

Q BROTHERS
Q Brothers, whose inventive “ad-rap-tations” set the works of Shakespeare to original hip-hop beats. The Q brothers, GQ and JQ, are musicians, actors, writers, educators and DJs. They have created and starred in many award-winning, internationally acclaimed productions around the world.

Film and television credits include the movie Drumline and the TV show Scratch and Burn (MTV), which they co-created and starred in, as well as work with Fox, CBS and Showtime. The Q Brothers have numerous album credits as musicians and producers, including The Feel Good Album of the Year. They have conducted hip-hop workshops for children of all ages, and have worked at Connecticut College, Lehigh University, Austin City Limits Music Festival, Bear Music Festival, the Latin School of Chicago, in London and throughout Australia, and are regulars at the kids stage at Lollapalooza.

What do you love about Chicago?  We love Chicago because it combines the cultural experience of the east coast, the relaxed nature of the west coast, and the food and hospitality of the south. It’s the best of all worlds.  

What was one of the most memorable concert(s) you ever went to and why? The most memorable concert I (JQ) ever went to was at the House of Blues in Chicago in the late 90s. The lyricist lounge tour. Big Pun and Common were the headliners, and one of the opening acts was a little known white boy from Detroit called Eminem. One of those shows that you’ll never be able to fully explain to anyone who wasn’t there.   

Performance date(s): TBA

Website: qbrothersofficial.com

SCHOOL OF ROCK ALL-STARS 
School of Rock highlights the young musicians that have studied at the school. Watch them shred on the guitar, get low on the bass, keep the beat on the drums and sing some soulful vocals. You’ll be blown away by their talent!

Website:  schoolofrock.com/

TICKET INFO

Friday and Saturday General Admission tickets have sold out, but there are some available via through Lollapalooza’s verified ticket exchange, accessible via their website. As of press time, tickets are still available for Thursday and Sunday.

Kidzapalooza is open daily during the festival, 11 a.m.-7 p.m. While you’re listening to all the music you just read about, feel free to participate in the arts and crafts area. Children 10 years & younger attending Lollapalooza with a ticket-holding adult will be admitted for free, limit 2 children per ticketed adult.

Have you taken the family to Lollapalooza? We’d love to hear about it in the Comments!

— Ann Torralba

photo: Little Miss Ann

About the Writer:
LITTLE MISS ANN
 (Ann Torralba) is an award winning touring Kids Musician, former Chicago Public School teacher, veteran instructor at the Old Town School of Folk Music, mom and a first generation Filipina-American.  Her music has been featured on Sirius XM Kids Place Live, WXRT Local Anasthetic and NAEYC. She has played everywhere from SXSW, Nashville’ Pilgrimage Festival, and even last year’s Lollapalooza kids stage! Her performance schedule can be found on her website.