A NOTE TO OUR SUBSCRIBERS My current plan–after the next newsletter on JUNE 4–is to go on hiatus for the whole summer and hopefully resume biweekly publication after Labor Day (tentatively, FRI, SEPT 11). I will be back sooner IF life returns to normal before September. I am sure you will be fine left to your own devices.
STAY SAFE AND SANE–AND STAY HOME! –Karen Murphy, Editorial Director
I am sure most of you know already that the Chicago Blues Festival–and most other summer festivals throughout the U.S. (Summerfest in Milwaukee, New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, the Ann Arbor Blues Festival, the North Atlantic Blues Festival, etc.) have been cancelled for this year. There is NO DOUBT that it is the right thing to do, but right now I am still wallowing in misery so you will have to look elsewhere for any words of wisdom or positivity. At this particular second, the Beale Street Music Festival, which is part of Memphis in May has not been cancelled (yet) for 2020, it has just been moved to Oct. 16-18, 2020. And–at least right now–the Biscuit (King Biscuit Blues Festival) in Helena, AR, is still on for Oct. 7–10.
According to a Johnny Iguana post I saw on Facebook, the 2021 Chicago Blues Fest will have the same lineup announced for 2020, which is also what is happening for another fest I thought I might attend this summer: The Northwoods Blues Festival in Chippewa Falls, WI. They really had a killer lineup planned for this summer so I am really looking forward to both fests in 2021.
In the meantime, get your live music fix by going online and finding your favorite musicians. Most of them are performing live on a regular basis to try to make a little money during this national nightmare.
The sadness just doesn't end. Since the last newsletter, we have lost a lot of folks in the blues community or adjacent to it. In Chicago, we said goodbye to:
Roosevelt E. Johnson, a Chicago bass player who played with a number of bands, including Low-reen and the Maxwell St. Market Blues Band. I don't have exact dates, but Roosevelt died in mid-April.
There is a group online to connect family and friends
Big George Brock (5.16.32–4.10.20)
One of the last of the great Mississippi Delta bluesmen, who is said to have had 42 children LEARN MORE
Lee Gates (12.20.37–4.15.20)
Milwaukee guitarist, singer and songwriter who was a cousin of Albert Collins LEARN MORE
Doug Rice (12.28.47–3.9.20)
A South Bend (IN) blues musician Learn More
Hal Willner (4.6.56–4.7.20)
Longtime Saturday Night Live staffer and music producer The CNN Article
George "Duke" Albiez (10.1.50–3.17.20)
Owner of Duke's Bistro, a blues and jazz club in South Bend, IN LEARN MORE
Ben Elliott (1953–4.5.20)
Engineer and record producer who recorded Levon Helm and Hubert Sumlin, among many others LEARN MORE
Neil Lasher (1947-4.5.20)
Music industry executive and longtime MusiCares supporter LEARN MORE
Knox Phillips (1945–4.15.20)
The son of Sun Records founder Sam Phillips and a tireless champion of Memphis music LEARN MORE
Marcus "MG" Gibbons (10.28.78–4.1.20)
Milwaukee area drummer
WELL, I THOUGHT HE WAS FABULOUS... In the last newsletter, I inadvertently changed the late Leroy Perryman' Jr.'s stage name to Fabulous L-Roy. In reality, he used the name Fantastic L'Roy when he performed with his band, Fantastic L’Roy & the Bulletproof Band on Monday nights at Linda’s Place in Chicago.
There is a wonderful article about Mr. Perryman online.
(To find it on this page, you must put his name in the search box near the top of the page.)
A HELPING HAND. Do312 is offering $1 million in free advertising to entertainers and small businesses to help them through the pandemic. According to Do312, "The grants are meant to help people and small businesses who are doing something creative to make it through the pandemic, like bartenders who have created delivery services, artists hosting shows online and restaurants selling groceries to make ends meet."
If accepted, the applicant’s fundraiser, event or service will be advertised on Do312’s website, social media pages and newsletter. Do312 hopes to help 400-500 Chicagoans and businesses through the program, which is currently set to run through May 31.
TWO YEARS OF CHICAGO MUSIC. Due to the cancellation of several major music festivals, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) has extended the 2020 Year of Chicago Music into 2021. The Year of Chicago Music will continue right through to the end of 2021, to amplify the excitement and momentum building across the local industry.
HAVE A VIRTUAL WATCH PARTY. The Blues Foundation's Blues Music Awards (BMAs) will be hosted on Sunday, May 3 at 5pm EST (4pm CST), by our own Shemekia Copeland–from her living room. The show will be live-streamed on Facebook and broadcast on its YouTube channel. Nominees will contribute performances recorded in their homes, and special guests will appear throughout the program. Get your party hats on.
THE SOUND OF LIVE MUSIC. Not that this would make me move to Berwyn or anything, but I am LOVING the way the new owner of FitzGerald's is keeping the music going with the Stay-At-Home Concert Series. The venue has been driving a musician around on the back of a pickup truck for a "rolling performance" in Berwyn and Oak Park neighborhoods.
Here's the catch: To prevent gathering, the exact location will remain secret. If you live nearby, between Madison (N), 22nd (S), Austin (E), and Harlem (W) fill out THE FITZGERALDS STAY AT HOME CONCERT LOCATION REQUEST FORM to request that The FitzGerald's Stay At Home Concert visit your block between 4pm and 530pm. They are likely to visit the blocks that send in the most requests. Encourage your neighbors to fill out the form–but remember: Stay on your own property and maintain a safe distance. UPCOMING SHOWS
May 9 Lil' Ed
May 23 Toronzo Cannon
FitzGerald's is also sponsoring Live From Where They Live shows. FIND OUT MORE
ONE MORE THING: It would be totally wonderful if the other blues clubs followed FitzGerald's lead and brought the music into their neighborhoods. If not, maybe FitzGerald's could roll a little farther east.
MORE NEWS YOU SHOULD KNOW OUT OF TOUCH. Just when I thought I was pretty knowledgeable when it comes to the blues, the Independent Music Awards throws me for a loop, with winners that I have never heard of in both blues categories : SONG CATEGORY: Brick Fields won for Soul of a Woman ALBUM CATEGORY: Hamish Anderson for Out of My Head
Of course, I looked them both up and here's what I learned: Hamish Anderson is a 29-year-old Australian blues rock (emphasis on rock) guitarist who has released two albums. BIG TRIVIA: He was the last person to open a show for B.B. King before BB died–which happened to be Oct. 3, 2014 at the House of Blues in Chicago.
Brick Fields is a Eureka Springs (AR) band that seems to sometimes call themselves Brick Fields Blues Therapy and has represented the Ozark Blues Society at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis. Not sure I would call them more than blues-ish most of the time, but I will agree that Rachel Fields has a great voice. Here's an interview with her.
SUBMIT SOMEBODY. Submissions are open until Friday, May 15, for the 13th Annual Blues Blast Music Awards. Recordings released from May 1, 2019 to May 31, 2020 are eligible. GET MORE INFO/SUBMISSION FORMS
GOT TO MOVE. Sean McDonough, the talent buyer for Hey Nonny in Arlington Heights, has moved on to be the associate talent buyer for SummerFest in Milwaukee. Guess he will start working in 2021 when its time to buy talent again.
BACK TO THE CROSSROADS. Paramount has bought the Love In Vain pitch about Robert Johnson. The movie is described as "an unconventional biopic centering around" Johnson. Unconventional is an interesting choice of words. LEARN MORE
CAN SOMEBODY LEND THEM
A BUNCH OF DIMES?
There are so many GoFundMe campaigns right now that it is hard to keep up, but a couple in particular caught my eye.
SAD NEWS. There is a GoFundMe campaign for Judy Roberts, a much-beloved Chicago (and now Arizona) musician (borderline blues) who has been diagnosed with amyloidosis, a serious condition similar to blood cancer.
A TALE OF THREE CITIES. This is a story about two bookstores and a revered juke joint: The Blue Front Cafe in Betonia, MS, which is owned by Jimmy "Duck" Holmes and is the oldest (barely) surviving juke joint in Mississippi; the City Lights bookstore in San Francisco; and The Book Cellar in Chicago's Lincoln Square. All three have current GoFundMe campaigns online, but the donations they have received are dramatically different: City Lights Bookstore (San Francisco) GOAL: $300,000 DONATIONS TO DATE: $490,642
Am I the only one that is confused by this? I love bookstores–and have been to both of these–and am thrilled that apparently other people love them, too. But, in what world does it make sense that a revered juke joint run by a musician considered a legend cannot raise even $1000 when City Lights raises almost half a million? Consider this: If every subscriber of chicagoBLUESnews plus a few other serious blues fans gave just $10, the Blue Front Cafe would be way over its modest goal. Let's do it!
Watch for the next chicagoBLUESnews:
JUNE 5–WHO KNOWS WHEN 2020
I am not feeling too optimistic these days, BUT both shows that we had two free tickets for have been rescheduled for the fall so....the FREE TICKETS giveaways are back on–at least for now:
Joe Louis Walker AUG 28
@ Hey Nonny, Arlington Heights SUBJECT LINE: Everyone Wants a Piece of Joe Louis Walker ENTER NOW
Taj Mahal Quartet SEPT 28 9pm show
@ City Winery SUBJECT LINE: Taj Has the Leavin' Trunk Blues ENTER NOW
REMEMBER THESE RULES
You can enter ONCE a day. BODY OF THE EMAIL: Just your name, phone and email address
DON'T GO OUT!
The ONLINE CALENDAR is just fantasyland right now in case you need to remember how life used to be. I have been adding rescheduled dates to the calendar, but for the most part, ain't nothin' goin' on EXCEPT online in places like Facebook Live.
Continue to take care of your health, listen to blues online and support the musicians who are doing live streaming shows. A quick spin on Facebook will find a lot of options in addition the information on our website.
NOTE: I have been adding rescheduled shows to the calendar when they show up. Cross your fingers AND your toes.
SHOP IN PLACE CHICAGO Help support Chicago's Hometown Entrepreneurs
David Bromberg Band | Big Road
RELEASE DATE: 4.17.20
CD + DVD combo featuring 12 new tracks, five hi-def performance videos and a mini-documentary about the album's creation Have a Listen to the title track
Allman Brothers | Trouble No More: 50th Anniversary Collection
RELEASE DATE: 2.28.20
The collection includes five CDs, an 88-page booklet, and unreleased band photos TRIVIA: The band's first jam together and the last song they performed together was Muddy Waters' song, Trouble No More.
If you get the chills from music,
you may have a unique brain Listen to what a USC researcher says about people who could have an enhanced ability to experience intense emotions LEARN MORE
Johnny Iguana: Celebrity traveler
Johnny Iguana, keyboard player for The Claudettes and a few other bands around town, is featured in one of my favorite columns in the Chicago Tribune. (At the rate they are shedding long-time staff members, there are not many of those columns left.)
EXERCISE YOUR BRAIN Open U Blues Course
This six-hour course is (allegedly) a perfect introduction to blues music, covering the nature of typical blues lyrics, as well as the historical context of the genre. Students will also learn the blues scale and gain an understanding of the 12-bar blues structure – and no musical knowledge is necessary prior to signing up to the course. THE BEST PART: It's FREE. LEARN MORE
I tuned into the Juke Joint Festival for two main reasons:
I keep being told that I really should go to the fest at least one time (and I thought this might be the year) and
despite my general aversion to Facebook, there it was, taunting me with great music.
It was an amazing feat–attempting 10 hours of live music on Facebook Live. And just when I thought I was just fine sitting staring at a computer screen for hours on end, I just couldn't resist getting a few shots. The music was great...my photos, not so much.
Don't judge me.
MAY 3 Frank Sennish (superfan) Freddie Roulette
MAY 4 Dave Dickerson
MAY 7 Lazer Lloyd
MAY 8 Joe Bonamassa
MAY 9 Bob Margolin
MAY 10 Maurice John Vaughn
MAY 12 Guy Davis
MAY 13 Ana Popovic
MAY 14 Grady Gaines
MAY 15 Ole Harv Stauffer
MAY 17 Taj Mahal
MAY 18 Tierinii Jackson (Southern Avenue)
MAY 19 Jimmy Thackery
MAY 21 Dave Specter
MAY 23 Dick Shurman Record producer/historian Michael Cloeren Festival producer
MAY 25 Robert Lechtanski
MAY 27 Howard "Tony" Anthony
MAY 28 Melissa Cook Superfan
MAY 29 Gerry Hundt
MAY 30 Rick Holmstrom
JUNE 1 Rich Delgrosso
JUNE 2 Luca Kiella Chiellini
JUNE 3 Tikyra Khamiir Jackson (Southern Avenue)
JUNE 4 Tinsley Ellis
BELATED WISHES If I missed your birthday, more cake for you. Please let me know the date for next year so I can add you to the list.
Here's all the birthdays we missed last time because I forgot I wasn't doing another newsletter in April:
FEB 4 Jason Ricci
APR 3 Vino Louden
APR 17 Kate Moss
APR 19 Mike Flynn
APR 20 Brian James
APR 21 Jamiah Rogers
APR 23 Alex Dixon
Thomas A. Susala
APR 24 Miss Honey Piazza
APR 25 William Homans
APR 26 Benjamin “Pistol Pete” Newell
APR 30 Wayne Baker Brooks
Jimmy Lee Robinson
And here's all the birthday remembrances from the last newsletter through to the next one.
APR 17 Theresa Needham Jimmy "T99" Nelson Clifford Gibson
APR 18 Little Brother Montgomery Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown
APR 19 Alexis Korner
APR 20 Little Willy Foster Johnny Fuller
APR 21 Clara Ward Eddie King
APR 22 George "Harmonica" Smith Bull Moose Jackson
APR 23 Charles “Cow Cow” Davenport
APR 25 Albert King Earl Bostic
APR 26 J.B. Hutto Johnny Shines Ma Rainey
APR 27 Michael Ledbetter Hop Wilson
APR 28 Phil Guy
APR 29 Otis Rush Frankie Lee Big Jay McNeely Lefty Dizz
APR 30 Mabel Scott Rev. Gary Davis Homesick James Frankie Lee Sims
MAY 1 Little Walter Ada Brown Big Maybelle Smith Lacy Gibson
MAY 2 Connie Mack Booker
MAY 3 James Brown
MAY 5 Blind Willie McTell Johnnie Taylor
MAY 6 Eddie C. Campbell
MAY 7 Amos “Bumble Bee Slim” Easton
MAY 8 Robert Johnson
MAY 9 Henry Ford Thompson Dave Prater A.C. Reed
MAY 10 Ted Bogan Larry Williams
MAY 11 Kansas Joe McCoy
MAY 12 Barbara Dane
MAY 13 L.C. “Good Rockin” Robinson
MAY 14 Smokey Holman
MAY 15 Johnny Williams Larry Johnson
MAY 16 Cleveland Chenier
MAY 17 Tiny Powell
MAY 18 Ernest “Little Son Joe” Lawlers Big Joe Turner
MAY 20 Jaybird Coleman
MAY 21 Little Willie Anderson Lee “Shot” Williams Billy Wright
MAY 23 Chico Chism
MAY 26 Mamie Smith
MAY 27 Brother John Sellers Junior Parker
MAY 28 T-Bone Walker
MAY 30 King Ernest Baker
JUNE 1 Lafayette Leake
JUNE 2 Leonard "Baby Do " Caston Othar Turner
JUNE 3 Memphis Minnie Jimmy Rogers
Don't Start Me Talkin'
The judge asked me, "RL, did you shoot him in self defense? "
I said, "No, sir. I shot him in the leg and he jumped the fence."
—R.L. Burnside You See Me Laughing documentary
A LIGHTBULB MOMENT
Since the lockdown, I have been going through the embarrassingly large piles of old newspapers and magazines I couldn't throw out without reading and found this great tidbit in the December 2017 AARP magazine:
That's My Jam
When I discovered "I'm a Woman" by the singer Koko Taylor, I lost my mind.You should check her out.
Journalist and former Today show cohost