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First Look benefit amps up with live music, more

January 21, 2011
While the Chicago Auto Show’s First Look for Charity is well known as a top-tier evening on the Windy City’s social scene, there’s always room to make it better—and that’s what show organizers have done with the addition of multiple live music acts.
Those who attend the Feb. 10 evening affair are used to strolling the show floor with extensive hors d’oeuvres, champagne and other speciality foods and drinks. But this year’s attendees also will be entertained with live music from the legendary KC and the Sunshine Band, the North Mississippi Allstars and jazz impresario Rick Braun.
"First Look has always been great fun," said show chairman Kevin Mize, "When we’re able to give away two great cars (this year a sporty Honda CR-Z and a stylish Hyundai Sonata Turbo), it makes it even more fun by boosting up the live entertainment for the show, too. 
"KC and the Sunshine Band have had major venues rockin’ for decades. We can’t wait to have them bring their special brand of hits we all know to McCormick Place. I don’t know anyone who can’t sing along with all the hits they’ve had over the years."
KC and the Sunshine Band is as widely popular today as when they burst onto the music scene and became part of America’s musical lexicon. Theirs was the first band since The Beatles (in 1964) to have four No. 1 singles in a 12-month span, and they had an astonishing four chart-topping albums in a row.
Also performing that night will be blues-rock jammers, the North Mississippi Allstars. After touring as an opening act for a variety of artists and honing their blues chops as a unit, the Allstars issued their debut album, "Shake Hands with Shorty," in spring 2000. It earned them a Grammy nomination for Best Contemporary Blues Album. Bringing their hill country blues-infused Rock & Roll to stages the world over, including multiple tours in Europe and Asia, the Allstars gained a loyal fan base, and show organizers think that base will expand after the band’s auto show appearance.
Rounding out the spectrum of live acts for the night is jazz. And nobody on today’s contemporary urban jazz scene knows more about the power of perfect, timely partnerships—or what it takes to keep the No. 1 hits coming—than Rick Braun. His partnerships with other musicians, including Tina Turner, Natalie Cole, Ricki Lee Jones and Glenn Frey, plus noted composers and producers have made Rick a household name in the world of jazz music.
Braun set a record at the 2002 National Contemporary Jazz Awards in San Diego by winning a total of five trophies, including Best Male Artist, Best Album ("Kisses in the Rain," which hit No. 1 on Billboard’s Contemporary Jazz Chart), Song of the Year (the title cut) and Best Brass Player.
Understating his impact on his colleagues and thousands of fans across the globe just slightly, Braun says: "I am one of the luckiest guys in the world. I mean, when you really think about it, I make my living blowing into plumbing."
Marking its 20th year as an event, First Look for Charity benefits 18 local worthwhile organizations and over the years has raised more than $28 million in donations. This year’s theme follows The Greatest Auto Race on Earth, which in 1908 began in New York City and ended in Paris. The show floor will boast special cuisines that traces a path from the Big Apple to the City of Lights. Guests will be able to sample food and drink offerings from San Francisco, Japan, Berlin and, of course, the City of Big Shoulders.
Tickets for the black-tie event are $250 each. For a list of benefiting charities and to order tickets, go to Discounted tuxedo rentals are available at Men’s Wearhouse and MW Tux locations.