The Chosen Few Picnic is the homegrown festival every Chicagoan should attend | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

The Chosen Few Picnic is the homegrown festival every Chicagoan should attend 

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click to enlarge The Chosen Few

The Chosen Few

Parrish Lewis

If you’ve ever wished that more music festivals were like family picnics, then you need to go to this Jackson Park house-music blowout. In the late 80s, DJs and brothers Tony and Andre Hatchett and their families began hosting an annual Fourth of July reunion barbecue behind the Museum of Science and Industry. For the 1990 gathering, they decided to treat their relatives to a day full of DJ sets with help from the three other members of their crew, the Chosen Few. Founded by Wayne Williams in 1977 and also including Alan King and Williams’s stepbrother, Jesse Saunders, the Chosen Few became important players in house music’s earliest days and helped establish the culture among young people of color on Chicago’s south side. As the Chosen Few returned to the Hatchett family barbecue year after year, they attracted larger and larger audiences; by the mid-2000s, attendance was in the thousands, and the party outgrew its home behind the museum. After a brief stint on the Midway Plaisance, in 2008 the Chosen Few Picnic settled in Jackson Park, which has so far managed to contain the crowds—which have recently ballooned to nearly 50,000. For 2016 and 2017, the Chosen Few expanded to a two-day festival, though it’s been one day again since last year. The Chosen Few (whose ranks now include Terry Hunter and Mike Dunn) perform throughout the day, and as usual the crew has recruited some ace guests: they include New York producer and remixer David Morales, disco hit maker Thelma Houston, and Chicago house DJ Lori Branch, who was among the first of the very few women involved in shaping the genre as it was born. As always, attendees are welcome to barbecue, though I wouldn’t blame anyone who doesn’t want to cut into their dancing time by tending a grill.   v

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