The Chosen Few helped build house music’s foundation and keep the party going with their 27th annual picnic | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

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The Chosen Few helped build house music’s foundation and keep the party going with their 27th annual picnic


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Is experiencing music outdoors worthwhile if you can’t share it with those you love? Not to those guiding the Chosen Few Picnic, which began the way many great summertime activities should start—with a family barbecue. The original five members of south-side DJ collective the Chosen Few, who helped build the foundation for house music as teenagers in the late 70s, weren’t all living in Chicago by the late 80s, but they were in town together for certain holidays. Every Fourth of July, Tony and Andre Hatchett would attend an informal family-reunion barbecue behind the Museum of Science and Industry, and in the summer of 1990 the brothers brought their fellow Chosen Few DJs into the mix to spin at the festivities. What started as a fun way to reunite the team and blissfully melt a holiday away grew into the largest single-day house-music festival in the world (according to the organizers), and one that keeps the love intact. It’s filled with families circled around tents and grills in between shifts of getting down to house cuts. The Chosen Few eventually grew their fest into a two-day bash that continues this year with all seven DJs spinning alongside bona fide house legends: Saturday features southeast-side star Steve “Silk” Hurley, while Sunday has Ron Trent, who recently released Prescription: Word, Sound & Power (Rush Hour), a six-LP box set celebrating his catalog. If these names are foreign and house music is unfamiliar at best, the Chosen Few Picnic is a great way to dip your toes into a Chicago cultural legacy. Getting people moving is the easily achieved goal, and in my brief experience with the festival it often felt as though the music emanated not from speakers but from each DJ’s dance-loving heart.   v

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