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City alcohol policy also changed artists' contracts

The rock-and-roll partying by the musical acts at this year’s Taste of Chicago featured lots of soy milk and purified drinking water, if the artists’ contracts are any indication.

The city paid out at least $655,000 to the bands that performed at the Petrillo Music Shell during the five-day event, according to the deals they signed with the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events. Local-gal-made-good Jennifer Hudson was the top earner, pulling down $175,000 for her headlining performance to kick off the festival July 11.

Indie rock veterans Death Cab for Cutie got $150,000, while country singer Dierks Bentley pulled down $120,000.

But for all the scratch they were making, the requests for food, drinks and other amenities the musicians made point toward a low-key backstage scene. The city has a policy not to provide alcohol to its Taste acts, according to Cultural Affairs spokeswoman Cindy Gatziolis, though it doesn’t prohibit groups from bringing in their own libations.

Hudson and her band didn’t get the case of beer and two bottles of wine they usually require backstage as part of their standard contract rider.

Soul group Fitz & the Tantrums were not provided their usual complement of microbrews, Guinness, whiskey and wine, though they did enjoy coconut water, milk and Gatorade.

And Bentley and his band didn’t get the Bud Light, microbrews, rum and wine included in their typical show rider.

The groups also did without some of the creature comforts they usually request of concert producers.

Hudson settled for a dressing room without the bouquet of fresh purple flowers and five scented candles sometimes included in her deals.

Soul singer Chaka Khan — possibly in a nod to her longer tenure as a diva than Hudson — normally gets two bouquets and six candles, but those too were scratched out on her contract.

jebyrne@tribune.com

Twitter @_johnbyrne

Copyright © 2015, RedEye
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