HAVE A LITTLE WHINE. As you will see in the Out and About section below, we've had another month of too much (fully vaxxed) fun––capped off two weeks ago by the Berwyn Blues Festival at FitzGerald's (see Out and About section). It was the festival the city of Chicago should have had this year instead of the three-hour blues event they hosted at the Pritzker Pavilion on Sept. 18. Yes, I know Chicago was in Tune recently and there were quite a few wonderful free blues events around town, yada, yada, yada BUT no real blues fest. No worries...just across the border (the cheese border), there was a great little fest in Thiensville, WI to go to instead that weekend––and Spotted Cow beer as far as the eye could see. My bigger problem is what Nick Moss said during his set at the Berwyn Blues Fest: Apparently, the city is mulling the idea of a ONE-DAY BLUES FEST for 2022.WhaaaaaaaaaaTF? That is a terrible idea. Just because we have started to bring music to the neighborhoods (great idea) and there have been a lot of good events as part of Chicago in Tune doesn't mean that we should scrap the Chicago Blues Festival, the largest free blues fest in the world. Can't we continue to promote the sound of music throughout the city AND have the best blues fest, too? Yes we can.
ANOTHER DELMARK WIN.Bob Stroger has signed a contract with Delmark Records and will be releasing an album with The Headcutters soon. The 90-year-old Chicago treasure can be found playing bass on many of Delmark's historic recordings. This will be the first Delmark recording for The Headcutters, a highly regarded traditional blues band based in Brazil. HAVE A LISTEN TO THE HEADCUTTERS
HELP BENNY TURNER. A GoFundMe campaign has been started to help guitarist Benny Turner recover from the damage caused to his home and personal belongings by Hurricane Ida. The story is heartbreaking. DONATE TO THE GOFUNDME CAMPAIGN
Or...Donate directly to Benny at:
PO Box 6072
New Orleans, LA 71074
THE NEXT CHAPTER. The Blues Foundation's President and CEO Patricia Wilson Aden will be leaving the foundation to return to Philadelphia to become the President and CEO of the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance. She has just been with foundation for a little over a year. Aden will remain fully engaged in her role at the Blues Foundation to assist with a smooth transition plan through the end of January.
WHERE'S BUDDY? More specifically, where's the Legends calendar? If you go to the current Legends website, you might be confused––but that is why you read this newsletter. Legends apparently has a new ticket site where you can find out who is playing at the club. You could also use our ONLINE CALENDAR. In any case, here's the Legend's ticket site: etix.com/ticket/v/6592/buddy-guys-legends
FYI: Mr. Guy is back on the road again––beginning today at Knuckleheads Saloon in Kansas City. HERE'S HIS SCHEDULE
LEND A HAND. Chihsuan Yang, a member of Corky Siegel's Chamber Blues who plays violin and erhu, was in a horrific car accident in late September. Thankfully, she survived the crash and a GoFundMe campaign has been set up to help her and her family. At press time, the campaign had raised more than $92,000 of the $100,000 goal. READ THE NEWS STORY
TURNING POINT. John Mayall, the godfather of British blues, is hanging up his travelin' shoes, thanks to the combination of the current pandemic and his advanced age. He says he will still be performing, but mostly at local shows near his California home with maybe an occasional rare concert out of his comfort zone.
I MUST BE CONFUSED. It appears that if you have a publication, you must also give out awards. So...Making a Scene has the Independent Blues Awards and recently announced the 2021 winners. It was a mostly interesting mix of great musicians who certainly deserve recognition––such as Cathy Lemons (The Lucky Losers), who won Artist of the Year. What made me laugh was Nora Jean Wallace being named Best New Artist. I love Nora Jean (she was one of the performers at the recent Berwyn Blues Fest in September) and she deserves all the attention she can get, but new artist? According to her bio, her big break came in 1985 when she met Jimmy Dawkins and went on to tour and record with him for the next seven years. The good news for those of us in Chicago, Nora Jean plays around town often so catch her when you can. READ NORA JEAN'S BIO HAVE A LISTEN TO NORA – I'm a Blues Woman HERE'S THE COMPLETE WINNERS LIST
GETTING THEIR DUE. Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson dedicated October 3 as Vaughan Brothers Day at the unveiling of the sculpture in Kiest Park in Oak Cliff that honors Stevie Ray and Jimmie. The artwork is located just blocks from where they grew up on Glenfield Avenue and the unveiling was timed for what would have been Stevie Ray's 67th birthday. The sculpture, which features lyrics from the brothers' song, Tick Tock, was created by Spanish artist Casto Solano. TRIVIA: The sculpture, which is titled, We Are Music and Music Is Us, is on the exact spot where the brothers' mom took a photo of their dad in front of his 1947 Ford coupe. WATCH A VIDEO ABOUT THE PROJECT READ THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS ARTICLE LISTEN TO TICK TOCK
OOPS.The mistake of the month last month was spelling Robert Jr. Whitall's (Big City Rhythm & Blues) name the way I want it to be spelled (as Whithall), but not the way it is spelled. Somehow, two H's seem better than one, kinda like the Whitehall Hotel if I left out the "e." Never mind. Dumb mistake that my blind proofreader should have caught.
NEW chicagoBLUESnews WEBSITE. Keep dreaming...sometime we will update the site...or maybe not. It ain't broke...it's just breakin' (not really...it's just old).
REST IN PEACE
Byther Smith, 89 4.17.32–9.10.21 Byther Smith was highly respected guitarist and vocalist who was born in Monticello, MS, and moved to Chicago in the 1950s at the urging of his cousin, J.B. Lenoir. In Chicago, Smith played with the many of the greats of Chicago blues (Junior Wells, Howlin' Wolf, Otis Rush, Buddy Guy, etc. etc. etc.). He died Sept. 10 at Advocate Christ Memorial in Chicago at the age of 89. I was fortunate to see him once on the South Side, but in more recent years, scheduled gigs were often cancelled due to poor health.
If you never heard Byther, a lot of his music is available online.
Dr. Lonnie Smith, 79 7.3.42–9.28.21
Highly regarded American jazz Hammond B3 organist who was a member of George Benson's band in the 1960s; of pulmonary fibrosis at his home in Ft. Lauderdale, FL READ THE DOWNBEAT OBIT
After spending the weekend in heaven (OK...at the Berwyn Blues Fest at FitzGerald's), it is hard to believe that I was ever worried that the new FitzGerald's owners would change the club into something I would never want to visit. Boy, was I wrong about that. Will Duncan and crew have exceeded everyone's wildest dreams, keeping the music we love alive in the most creative ways during the pandemic––and now hosting what we all assume was just the first of many Berwyn Blues Festivals. There were 27 bands on two stages––and 85% were bands I loved. The other 15% may be your faves, so that means we all are happy, right? Can't wait to see what they have planned for next year. PHOTOS DAY ONE – SEPT 24 | DAY TWO – SEPT 25 | DAY 3 – SEPT 26
WOW...can you believe that we were at three festivals in the last month, plus a blues jam featuring our old pal, Johnny Burgin, a great show by Nick Mosswith Jason Ricci out near the edge of my earth (in Steger) and the birthday bash for Freddie Dixon and Motor Row Bob (and yes, my in-house baker brought his world-famous cookies).
La Salle Blues Brews and BBQ
Downtown La Salle, IL
This was actually a two-day fest, but since I cannot make myself care about jazz, Friday was the only night for me. It featured three bands: the Ivy Ford Band, the Ghost Town Blues Band and The Jimmys. Both Ivy Ford and The Jimmys put on a great show. This was the first time I saw the Ghost Town Blues Band––and while I was very entertained by the horn player Suavo Jones––I think they might want to drop "Blues" from their name. They sounded like more like a Southern rock jam band to me, but the audience didn't seem to mind. It's also been a long time (or maybe never) since I saw anyone smoke as many cigarettes on stage as the lead singer did. PHOTOS
9.12.21 Blues on the Patio with the Marie Martens Band
with special guest Johnny Burgin
The Grove Pub and Grill
Spring Grove, IL
This was another trip to an "edge of my earth" location, but we had to go cuz Johnny Burgin was in town. It was a good jam because a lot of musicians showed up to play with Johnny. Besides, why not spend your Sunday afternoon at a place that offers the winning combo of good music, nice people and delicious food? PHOTOS
9.16.21 Nick Moss Trio with special guest Jason Ricci
Austin Community Tavern
The owner insists otherwise, but Steger is a long traffic-clogged drive from where I live in Chicago. But it was worth every minute to see Jason Ricci join his friend Nick Moss on stage. The tavern is a nice, friendly venue with a new owner committed to the blues. Ya gotta love that. PHOTOS
9.18.21 Best Dam Blues Fest
This was day one of this hopefully annual blues festival in beautiful Thiensville, WI. The weather was glorious and the music was even better--featuring the Ivy Ford Band, Altered Five Blues Band, Joanna Connor Band, the Toronzo Cannon Band and a Harmonica Blowout to end the evening. Before the harp jam, the legendary Wisconsin harp player Jim Liban was honored as the first inductee into the new Wisconsin Blues Hall of Fame. I had hoped that Liban would play that night, but he insists that he is officially retired and hasn't played in two years. Honestly, I didn't think musicians ever voluntarily retired. SIDE NOTE: Both Altered Five and Joanna Connor have new CDs that came out recently: Joanna Connor | 4801 S Indiana Avenue
Produced by Joe Bonamassa, who is featured on the recording along with Reese Wynans, Stevie Ray Vaughan's former keyboard player Altered Five | Holler If You Hear Me
Produced by Tom Hambridge with Jason Ricci on harmonica PHOTOS
BLUES DOCUMENTARY Musician Eric Bibb's Tales From A Blues Brotherwill be streaming beginning Friday, Oct. 8, on Qwest TV. The film, according to the press release, is " a deep reflection on race, music and identity, in both America and the wider world. Half performance, half oral history, Eric delves into Civil Rights memories, police brutality, immigration tensions and, most importantly, how music has the power to cut through all the pain and conceive of a better future."
Elly Wininger | The Blues Never End RELEASE DATE: Sept. 17, 2021 (Earwig)
A total of 13 songs with four originals that touch on a variety of blues and gospel styles
Joe Louis Walker | Eclectic Electric RELEASE DATE: Nov. 12, 2021 (Cleopatra Records)
Walker is joined by an all-star cast on this recording that includes Jimmy Vivino, Doyle Bramhall II, Bette Smith, and the B.B. King Blues Band. The recording is a nice mix of originals and classics.
Samantha Fish | Faster RELEASE DATE: Sept. 10. 2021 (Rounder Records)
Samantha Fish continues on her blues rock journey, reaching farther out to incorporate a little hip hop, R&B and pop into the stew with these 12 originals.
Memphissippi Sounds | Welcome to the Land RELEASE DATE: OCT 15, 2021 (Little Village Foundation)
Damion Pearson and Cameron Kimbrough (yes, he's related to Junior) mix Mississippi Hill Country blues with the sounds of Memphis in this recording produced by West Coast harp player Aki Kumar.
Robert Cray | That's What I Heard RELEASE DATE: Feb. 28, 2020 (Nozzle Records)
Cray combines originals with more obscure R&B covers on this release from last year that won the Soul Blues Album award at the 2021 Blues Music Awards.
Government Mule | Heavy Loaded Blues RELEASE DATE: Nov. 12, 2021 (Fantasy Records)
The band––or at least Warren Haynes––has been hanging around the edges of the blues for some time now so they finally jumped in and have recorded their first all-blues release. It includes both originals and some much loved covers like the Junior Wells standard, Snatch It Back and Hold It.
Robbin Kapsalis and Vintage #18 | Soul Shaker RELEASE DATE: Oct. 15, 2021 (Bird Song Records)
The latest recording includes six originals from this Washington, D.C. based soul blues band fronted by the charismatic and energetic singer Robbin Kapsalis
The next chicagoBLUESnews:
FRIDAY, NOV 5 2021 (Mails on THURS, NOV 4)
Know about a gig I don't?Give me a heads-up.
Updates to the calendar are made regularly––not just once a month.
The calendar now covers shows in the states that border Illinois and Festivals all over the map that just look fun to me. What makes the cut? Shows within the Chicago metro area and those outside of the area that I would go to if I could.
GO HEAR LIVE MUSIC!
Far be it from me to tell you where to go, but here are a few ideas for the next month.
SUN, OCT 10 @ 2pm BEARS WATCH PARTY
with the Nick Moss Band
Epiphany Center for the Arts
There will be music pre-game, at half-time and after the game.
THURS, OCT 14 @ 7pm BLUES JAM hosted by the Freddie King Band
Overdrive Event Venue, 3rd Floor
2337 S. Michigan (The old Motor Row Brewing)
FRI-SUN, OCT 15–17 BLUESFEST 2021
The Logan Center for the Arts
University of Chicago LEARN MORE
SAT, OCT 16 JS Simo, GA-20 and Nick Moss Trio
FRI, OCT 22 Danielle Nicole
SAT, OCT 23 Dave Herrero and Anne Harris
The Venue, Aurora
MON, OCT 25 Sue Foley
WED, NOV 3 (7 and 930pm) Walter Trout