31st Annual Winter Solstice Concert Series

Event Type
Event Description

Please join Hamid Drake and Michael Zerang as they return to the live stage to celebrate their 31st Annual Winter Solstice Concert Series at Links Hall, with three consecutive sunrise shows on Dec 21, 22 & 23, 2021 at 6AM.

"The appointed time of a ritual often declares its meaning, and so it is with Hamid Drake and Michael Zerang's winter solstice concerts. Every year since 1990 these two master percussionists have greeted the end of the year's longest night in a room lit only by candles. As darkness turns to dawn, they use their combined collections of bells, frame drums, tablas, djembes, and jazz kits to circumnavigate a world of rhythm. They reference and combine the ancestral beats of Mesopotamia, Africa, Asia, and the Americas, achieving a union of cultures and traditions that is as personal as it is universal. Both men are singular stylists with one-of-a-kind touches, restless imaginations, and decades of accumulated improvisational acumen, all of which guarantees that each concert is a unique event. As they play, the predawn light begins to illuminate the space, and by the time the sun shines through the windows they've united the planet (in their own way) with rhythm and tone. I've been attending these concerts for a dozen years, and I've never left one without feeling uplifted and hopeful for a better year to come."—Bill Meyer



Hamid Drake - This brilliant, sensitive, endlessly rhythmic,intelligent, spiritual, and powerful drummer /percussionist from Chicago was born in 1955 in Monroe, Louisiana. His family moved to Evanston, Illinois when he was a child, just as an older musician from Monroe named Fred Anderson also moved to Evanston with his own family. Hamid started out playing with local rock and R&B bands, which eventually brought him to the great Fred Anderson’s attention, with whom he has worked intesively from 1974 to 2010 when Fred left us including Anderson’s 1979 The Missing Link.

Through workshops  given by Anderson, young Hamid was introduced to Douglas Ewart,George Lewis, and other members of Chicago’s Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM). Another one of the most significant percussion influences, Ed Blackwell dates back from this period. Hamid’s flowing rhythmic expressions and interest in the roots of the music drew other like-minded musicians together into a performance and educational collective named the Mandingo Griot Society. They combined traditional African music and narrative with distinctly American influences & reggae appearing on the group’s first album.

Don Cherry, who Hamid first met in 1978, was another consistent collaborator. He worked extensively with him until Cherry’s death in 1995. Hamid and fellow percussionist Adam Rudolph travelled with Cherry to Europe, where they spent much time exploring the interior landscape of percussion, while working nonstop to share deeply in Mr. Cherry’s grasp of music’s spiritually infinite transformational possibilities. Hamid Drake studied drums extensively, including eastern and Caribbean styles. He also frequently plays without sticks, using his hands to develop subtly commanding undertones. His tabla playing is also notable for his subtlety and flair. Hamid's questing nature and his interest in Caribbean percussion led to a deep involvement with reggae.

Now touring and recording all over the world, and in constant demand everywhere, Hamid Drake has played and/or recorded with Fred Anderson, Peter Brötzmann, Don Cherry, Marilyn Crispell, Pierre Dorge, Johnny Dyani, Hassan Hakmoun, Herbie Hancock, Joseph Jarman, George Lewis, bassist William Parker (in a large number of lineups), ARchie Shepp, David Murray, Sabir Mateen, Joe McPhee, Jim Pepper, Dewey Redman, Adam Rudolph, Pharoah Sanders, Foday Musa Suso, John Tchicai, and almost all the members of the AACM.  He has collaborated on a Winter solstice celebration with fellow Chicago percussionist Michael Zerang annually since 1991. He has also maintained his ties to world music through work with Foday Musa Suso and many others. With these diverse artists, playing in a broad range of musical settings, Hamid comfortably adapts to north and west African and Indian impulses as well as reggae and Latin.

More and more, though he’s engaged as sideman, he’s devoting his energies and creativity as band leader and co-leader focusing on his own groups and projects: such as Bindu and the Indigo Trio (with Nicole Mitchell and Harrison Bankhead), the duet with the italian vibraphone player Pasquale Mirra, as well as playing alongside Iva Bittova, Paolo Angeli, and Michel Portal.

Michael Zerang was born in Chicago, Illinois and is a first generation American of Assyrian decent. He has been a active musician, composer, and producer since 1976, focusing on improvised music, free jazz, contemporary composition, puppet theater, experimental theater, and international musical forms. He has been a long-standing member of The Peter Brötzmann Chicago Tentet, Friction Brothers, Brötzmann/ McPhee/ Kessler/ Zerang Quartet, and Survival Unit III with Joe McPhee & Fred Lonberg-Holm.

He has collaborated extensively with contemporary theater, dance, and other multidisciplinary forms. He has also received three Joseph Jefferson Awards for Original Music Composition in Theater, in 1996, 1998, and 2000. He has over one-hundred titles in his discography and has toured nationally and internationally to 39 countries since 1981 with an ever-widening pool of collaborators. He was the artistic director of the Links Hall Performance Series from 1985-1989 where he produced over 300 concerts of jazz, traditional ethnic folk music, electronic music, and other forms of forward thinking music. He continued to produce concerts at Cafe Urbus Orbis from 1994-1996, and at his own space, The Candlestick Maker in Chicago's Albany Park neighborhood, from 2001 - 2005. http://www.michaelzerang.com/



As of September 10, 2021, proof of vaccination for individuals ages 12 and up OR a negative COVID-19 PCR test (taken within 72 hours of the event) is required for entrance to Links Hall.  Please see our website for additional details about these policies, and ongoing health and safety measures.
Visitors, staff, and artists are still expected to wear masks at all times in public spaces, or when two or more people are gathered.

Running Time
1 hour
Dance Styles


Links Hall

3111 N. Western Ave. at Constellation
Chicago, IL 60618
(773) 281-0824