After two years online, historic Chicago house collective the Chosen Few return to Jackson Park for a 30th anniversary picnic and festival


I can’t imagine summer in Chicago without the Chosen Few Picnic & Festival, and it’s not just because this popular house music gathering is celebrating its 30th annual installment (plus two years online during the pandemic). It’s also because house music – and Chicago – would be very different if it weren’t for the Chosen Few DJ collective. Chicago’s black gay nightlife scene was born, and the Chosen Few helped turn it into a movement among young Chicagoans of color. At the time, members of the Chosen Few were part of this demographic: Wayne Williams was still in high school when he founded the team in 1977. The second permanent member was his half-brother, Jesse Saunders – in 1984, he would release what is widely regarded as the first 12-inch house, “On and On” – and in 1978 the crew became a “Few” when Tony Hatchett joined. The collective recruited four more members in the decades to come, adding Alan King (1980), Tony’s younger brother Andre (1981), Terry Hunter (2006) and Mike Dunn (2012). The members didn’t all live in the same place for most of that time, and their annual festival began as an excuse to bring everyone together. It helped that the Hatchett family once held a reunion picnic behind the Museum of Science and Industry every Fourth of July, and in 1990 the rest of the Chosen Few showed up to spin informal DJ sets. .

As house music has become the Chicago soundtrack, the Chosen Few have made Independence Day weekend a true local tradition. Their festival brings together about 40,000 household heads and their relatives in Jackson Park, where people set up tents and steel drum barbecues and dance. During the day, the seven members of Chosen Few shoot solo sets and always leave plenty of time for guests. This year’s lineup includes 1990s Basement Boys hitmaker DJ Spen, Yoruba Records founder Osunlade, and New York DJ Natasha Diggs, a favorite of much of the esteemed Soulquarians collective. I recommend arriving early, to make sure you catch R&B powerhouse Dajae no matter when her set turns out – my bet is on her belting out her legendary 1992 Cajmere collab, “Brighter Days,” with her heart-pounding ooh-oh-ah-ee to hang up. But there’s no bad time to show up at Jackson Park. Few events manifest carefree summer cheer as reliably as the Chosen Few Picnic.

Chosen Few Picnic and Festival The lineup for the day includes DJs Chosen Few, Osunlade, DJ Spen, Teddy Douglas, Natasha Diggs, J Star, D Train and Dajae. Sat 7/2, 8:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m., Jackson Park, 63rd in Hayes, $60-$475all ages

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