27 Reasons to Step Out at First Night Evanston This New Year’s Eve

Following last year’s exciting return of First Night Evanston, this New Year’s Eve event will feature Chévere de Chicago with Grammy Award winner Howard Levy on harmonica and piano, which sold out two shows in 2013; and Corky Siegel’s Chamber Blues, which had the audience dancing in the aisles.

Virtuoso jazz violinist and MacArthur genius Regina Carter makes her First Night Evanston debut with Southern Comfort, while Alfonso Ponticelli and Swing Gitan will light up the night with their blazing gypsy jazz. The North Shore Choral Society gets in on the act, too.

Finding something fun for the whole family to do on New Year’s Eve can be challenging, especially for parents of teenagers. But with more musical acts and entertainment for the whole family, including a new teen band competition and improv by the Underage Sugar Addicts, even teens will have a great time.

“The wonderful thing about First Night is that there really is something for everyone,” says Emily Guthrie, president of the non­profit organization. “Despite the snowy weather last New Year’s Eve, more than 2,700 people came out for live music, dancing and entertainment, and this year we hope to see about 4,000 people. We have added venues and are bringing in more gourmet food trucks serving hot food, all within a short walk of Evanston’s Raymond Park, so there’s really no excuse to sit in front of the TV when all this is happening right next door!”

The celebration gets started with children’s programming from 1-4 p.m. at the Evanston Public Library, with hilarious shows like Professor Marvel’s Amazing Flea Circus, kids’ favorite singer­-guitarist Joel Frankel, and folk music with puppeteer Margaret Nelson.

Dennis DeBondt’s magic will delight children and grandparents alike, and of course there will be balloon artistry and face painting.

At 7 p.m., the doors open at seven nearby locations to kick off 27 live performances that continue until midnight. Program director Stuart Rosenberg says, “The beauty of this event is that it’s a community­-wide, cultural celebration of the arts that draws on local and national talent, and you can see it all with just one ticket. There’s nothing like it anywhere else in Chicago.”

Other artists who will be performing include blues with Eddy “The Chief” Clearwater, baroque music with the Rembrandt Chamber Players, the groove roots drumming of Doum Sound, jazz piano with Chicago’s Joan Hickey, and West African rhythms of trumpeter Yves Francois et Rocambu Jazz. Local songwriters Ezra Furman and Michael Smith will each play their selections, as will stride and ragtime pianist Sam Grossner. The Milwaukee Mandolin Orchestra will astound you with their ballads, Bach and more, and pop group Ambassadors to Earth will keep the night rocking!

If you like to participate in the arts, head over to the barn dance with live music and calling from Barb Silverman and Steve Rosen, then join the poetry slam with Marc Smith or hear the best of the Poets of Rhino.

For more information, and to purchase your single ticket for admission to all shows, go to First Night Evanston’s website. Early bird pricing continues until Dec. 26, and ticket sales continue up to New Year’s Eve. Reserve seating wristbands are available for purchase online to ensure you get a seat for the hottest shows.