At most music festivals, you'd probably have parents at the word "free."
But, with Lollapalooza, it's about much more than just letting kids 10 and under in at no cost with a paying adult. It's about banging on drums, learning to beatbox and, of course, listening to great music.
When Lollapalooza invades the city Aug. 3-5, it once again will feature Kidzapalooza, giving youngsters their own place within the mega music celebration.
Kidzapalooza, created by Tor Hyams, debuted during Lollapalooza 2005 and continues to shine. Hyams says he has three criteria he uses to put together his lineup: he wants local acts; he wants interactive opportunities for kids and families; he wants it to be "really cool."
"Since day one, it has really been well-received," Hyams says. "It's something where the whole family can bond and experience it together."
While kids can get a rock star hairstyle or a fun temporary tattoo, they also might end up on stage playing guitar with a performer. Reminiscent of the days when your kids would pull out the pots and pans, they can try out the drum circle. Hyams also signed the Chicago Ultimate Tumblers, who will show kids how to do their stunts.
Oh, and there's the music, too.
This year's lineup includes blues guitar phenom Quinn Sullivan, local singer/songwriter Andrew Christopoulos and a dozen more acts. The full lineup and list of activities can be found at kidzapalooza.com.
Video earns local teen a spot
Andrew Christopoulos is no stranger to Lollapalooza-as a fan, that is.
This year, the 17-year-old singer/songwriter gets his chance to play on the Kidzapalooza stage.
"It's amazing," he says. "I feel so blessed to have this starting point."
Christopoulos, who attends Glenbrook North High School, started playing piano at 8, but put it aside for several years as he underwent cancer treatments. He got back to the piano last year and convinced his parents to let him take time off school to go to a cabin in California's redwood forest to write songs.
"I wanted to see what I could do," Christopoulos says.
The trip became the most productive stretch of his young career. Most notably, he wrote "Know Your Name." Hyams saw the YouTube video for the song-find it at andrewchristopoulos.net-and offered Christopoulos a spot at the festival.
"I thought he was really good. He's really got something going," Hyams says, calling "Know Your Name" a "crazy catchy song."
Christopoulos was "stunned" to get the call from Hyams, and now is working hard to get ready for his Kidzapalooza debut.
"Music is my passion. I can't wait to show people my songs," he says.
Blues 'prodigy' returns to Chicago
At just 13, blues guitarist Quinn Sullivan already has had musical experiences to last a lifetime.
He's toured with blues legend Buddy Guy, met guitar master Eric Clapton and put out a debut CD that reached No. 7 on Billboard's blues chart. Sullivan's schedule this summer will take him, among other places, to New York, Los Angeles and the world renowned Montreaux Jazz Festival.
"It's a great festival," Sullivan says of Lollapalooza and Kidzapalooza.
As an 11-year-old, Sullivan performed at the festival when Guy joined him on stage.
"It was amazing, really cool," he remembers. "Buddy Guy was kind of the guy who turned me toward the blues."
Guy released Sullivan's debut disc, "Cyclone," last year and invited him along as his opening act on Guy's 2011 tour. Before Sullivan took the stage at the famed Hollywood Bowl or the Apollo Theater, his first major show was at Kidza during Lollapalooza 2010.
Hyams glows about what Sullivan has done.
"He just dazzles on the guitar," Hyams says. "He's a prodigy."
You can find more about Sullivan at quinnsullivan.me.
Dan Campana is a dad and freelance writer living in Streamwood.
See more of Dan's stories here.