The Bitter Jester Music Festival (BJMF) returns for its 15th season of live concerts this summer after a 2020 virtual Original Song Competition. BJMF is recognized for showcasing over 100 exceedingly talented emerging musicians from across Illinois, Wisconsin, and Michigan each year at its free weekly 7pm concert series in Downtown Highland Park’s Port Clinton Square on Fridays.
The festival is a competition where bands of all shapes and sizes as well as solo musicians compete in front of live audiences. A panel of music and media professionals select a winner each week. The four winners – plus four additional “Wild Card” bands selected by BJMF producers – advance to a 3pm Grand Finale on Sept. 5, (Labor Day weekend) where cash prizes and other awards are given out before a gigantic fireworks display.
Musicans applications are open through June 26. The Grand Prize winner takes home $1000, the runner up notches a bag of $750 and $500 for honorable mention.
The 2021 season will feature 100 musicians representing approximately fifty different cities and over two dozen bands including non-competing showcase artists. Wine and craft beer will be available to of-age patrons at the Friday concerts in downtown Highland Park courtesy of Ravinia Brewing Company.
The July and August Friday performances take place at Port Clinton Square (600 Central Ave., Highland Park). The Sunday Grand Finale is hosted at Wolters Field (1080 Park Ave. West, Highland Park).