ARE YOU READY FOR BLUES FEST WEEKEND? WXRT DJ Tom Marker announced the headliners for Blues Fest on his Blues Breakers show earlier this week. Please no whining until at least the whole schedule is released. The fest will be held JUNE 5–7. THE HEADLINERS Friday, June 5
4:30–5:30pm Marquise Knox
5:45–6:45pm Nick Moss Band featuring Dennis Gruenling
7:00–7:40pm Jimmy Johnson and Billy Branch
7:50–9pm Shemekia Copeland
Saturday, June 6
4:30–5:30pm Anthony Paule Soul Orchestra
featuring Sugaray Rayford and Terrie Odabi
7:00–7:40pm Steve Bell and John Primer
7:50–9pm Candi Staton
Sunday, June 7
4:30–5:30pm Catherine Russell
5:45–6:45pm Lil' Ed and The Blues Imperials
7:00–7:40pm Erwin Helfer and Katherine Davis
7:45–9pm PM: Eric Gales
THE 2020 IBC. First a big congrats to our hometown heroes, Dave Weld and the Imperial Flames, who represented Chicago well and made it to the "Elite 8" finals at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis. Watch the band's performance on WGN's Midday Fix the week before they headed down to Memphis. The 2020 winners?
1st Place Band: The Horojo Trio (Ottawa Blues Society)
2nd Place Band: The Jose Ramirez Band (DC Blues Society)
3rd Place Band: The Pitbull of Blues Band (Southwest Florida Blues Society)
1st Place Solo/Duo: Hector Anchondo (Blues Society of Omaha)
2nd Place Solo/Dup: Felix Slim (Long Island Blues Society)
Gibson Guitarist: JW-Jones (Ottawa Blues Society)
Best Self-Produced CD: Sweet Thing (Moonshine Society, River City Blues Society of Virginia)
AND THEN THERE'S THE GRAMMYS.Gary Clark Jr. Won Best Rock Performance and Best Rock Song for This Land and also Best Contemporary Blues Album for This Land.Keb' Mo' won Best Americana Album for Oklahoma, and Delbert McClinton won for Best Traditional Blues Album for Tall, Dark & Handsome. My lips are zipped, but you know what I am thinking.
TIME TO RENOVATE.B.L.U.E.S. (2519 N Halsted) will be closed SUN–THURS for the month of February for a little sprucing up. The bar will be open every FRI and SAT during the month. Rico McFarland is playing this weekend.
A HELPING HAND. Singer Mary Lane and her husband Jeff LaBon (who is her bass player) need to move into an accessible apartment so Rosa's Lounge will be holding a Benefit Show on SUN, FEB 16, to raise a little money for those two important members of the Chicago blues community. Of course, the stars (think Billy Branch, John Primer, Lurrie Bell, Jarekus Singleton and many more) will line up to play. Tickets are $35. BUY TICKETS NOW
HUMP DAY. Lil' Ed Williams and bass player Mike Scharf are now performing weekly on Wednesdays (through the end of February) at the Taylor Street Tap (1358 W. Taylor). The fun begins at 9pm.
READING MATERIAL. The Joint Was Jumpin': A Promoters Story is Peter Andrews' first-person account (an e-book only) of Ann Arbor’s reign as the Midwestern musical capital during the cultural revolution of the 1960s and 1970s. You know...that time when Ann Arbor hosted that Blues Festival we all shoulda gone to (and I guess some of us did). FIND OUT MORE
SUPPORT LIVE MUSIC. Beginning this week, Adams Street Brewery (oldies know it as the bar at The Berghoff at 17 W. Adams) will offer live music Wednesdays–Sundays from 5-8pm in the bar area. No idea who is playing other than I do know that Michael Charles will be there FEB 7 and 15 cuz I saw him on WGN. Hopefully, the venue will enhance their calendar to be a little more specific than "Live Music." Some of us actually care what band is playing.
DEADLINE REMINDER. The city of Chicago is creating a Chicago Band Roster, which is a searchable database of high-quality musical performers to help "increase meaningful performance opportunities for Chicagoland musicians." The deadline to apply is FRI, FEB 14 at 5pm. The roster is being created as part of the Year of Chicago Music initiative, which now has a brand: Music in the Key of Chicago. MORE INFO
See the JAN 29 UNEXPECTED EDITION of the newsletter.
ONE MORE REMINDER. An informal memorial gathering will be held THURS, FEB 13 before the Thursday night jam at the Wooden Nickel (444 Lakeview, Highwood) to remember Brett Champlin, who died Jan. 22. The formal memorial service will be held SAT, FEB 15. Details in the UNEXPECTED EDITION.
DO WE NEED ANOTHER HALL OF FAME?The Illinois Rock & Roll Museum on Route 66 down in the hinterlands (aka Joliet) is currently taking votes for its first Hall of Fame members. Of course, you have to be a Charter Member of the museum to have a say, but just for kicks I thought you might want to know that performers nominated this year include Buddy Guy, Willie Dixon, Muddy Waters, Chuck Berry and the Paul Butterfield Blues Band. Chuck Berry? Yes, I know he recorded for Chess, but doesn't St. Louis claim him as one of their favorite sons? In case you care, the Induction Ceremony is Sunday, March 29. FIND OUT MORE
AND FINALLY PHOTOS AND MORE PHOTOS. As you will see below, I have been editing a lot of photos this week. I am too loony to actually go through what I posted this week to weed out the ones that maybe should not have made the cut...enjoy anyway. We've got a zillion photos from the Legendary Rhythm and Blues Cruise plus more than enough from the North Mississippi Allstars/Southern Avenue show at Thalia Hall and the inaugural Winter Blues Summit that was held just this past week in Arlington Heights. SEE OUT AND ABOUT SECTION
ONE MORE THING. I know there are a lot of new CDs floating around (including that new Delmark release Jimmy Johnson will be celebrating at SPACE on THURS, FEB 20, and Shoji Naito's Westmont to Chicago, his Tribute to Eddy Clearwater), but they will have to wait until next week when I have fully recovered from the photographic aftermath of the blues cruise. Not complaining...it was worth every lost second of sleep.
Watch for the next chicagoBLUESnews:
FEB 21–MAR 5
JUST FOLLOW THE RULES You MUST be a subscriber of Chicago Blues News to enter (enter ONCE A DAY until the deadline).
THE EMAIL SUBJECT LINE
Use the EXACT subject line indicated
BODY OF EMAIL ONLY your name, phone number and email address.
Drawings will be the DAY AFTER the entry deadlines.
Winners will have 24 hours to respond before another winner is chosen. Please do not enter if you know you cannot attend.
TUESDAY, MARCH 10 @ City Winery DEADLINE TO ENTER
MON, FEB 24 @ midnight
Bruce Springsteen has said that Ana Popovic is “one helluva a guitar-player,” which may explain why she has been nominated for six Blues Music Awards. If you have seen her show, you know why Springsteen is impressed.
SUBJECT LINE: Ana Popovic Likes It on Top
GET OUT Here's a few ideas to go hear live music (one or two a day). If you think these are your only options to hear live blues in Chicago, though, you need to get out more often.
FEB 1 2020 Winter Blues Summit
It was maybe an overly ambitious beginning for this inaugural winter blues fest–three days, 20+ performances, two brunches and a movie screening. I could only make it for the Saturday events, which included a long day of performances in four connected locations and a movie screening of Sidemen with a panel discussion. Of course, all the bands–which included Toronzo Cannon, Jimmy Johnson, Mike Wheeler, Joanna Connor, John Primer and Dave Herrero and Anne Harris and much more–were great.
The price ($175 for a three-day pass) was a bit steep, but I assume it also included two brunches.
The lighting, which I know is not done to accommodate my needs, was not optimal for photography...especially in the Metropolitan Ballroom, where white lights were shining directly toward the audience.
Joanna Connor's Band was so loud my ears are still ringing, even though I put in earplugs for the first time ever. Seems like the acoustics in the ballroom are not optimal for loud music.
For a small fest, I want to see all the bands (and their whole performance)...and that was not possible based on the scheduling.
I assume that the big draw for many people was the chance to see Jimmy and Syl Johnson perform together–but that didn't happen since time ran out.
I was happiest seeing the bands that performed at the wonderful Hey Nonny space and the downstairs Big Shot piano bar, which was great, but might have felt even more fun late into the evening instead of early in the afternoon.
JAN 19–26 2020 Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise #34 There is no way to adequately explain the sheer joy or the subsequent exhaustion of being on a blues cruise. It's really a week of more fun that most people deserve to have (or maybe need more of in their lives).
This year, we decided to focus on the bands we love the most. So, you will see a LOT of photos of the Nick Moss Band, particularly Dennis Gruenling, who seemed to pop up everywhere, plus Victor Wainwright and the Train, Taj Mahal, Thornetta Davis and Anne Harris' latest project, Gumbo, Grits & Gravy with Guy Davis and Marcella Simien. Yes, Tab Benoit and Kenny Wayne Shepherd were on the boat, too, but we just never got there. There's always next time. THE EVIDENCE
FEB 16 2020 @ Thalia Hall
North Mississippi Allstars OPENING ACT:Southern Avenue
We have seen sooo many bands in the last few weeks that it is almost hard to remember any coherent thoughts about this show. Of course, it was a great show...these are two of my favorite bands–and they never disappoint. I only wish that Southern Avenue's set was a little longer. See them whenever and wherever you can. THE PHOTOS
FRI, MAR 13 Toronzo Cannon
MAR 20 Robert Cray
North Shore Center
for the Performing Arts
SUN, MAY 17 Sue Foley
JUNE 5–7 Chicago Blues Festival Millennium Park
FEB 7 Katriva "Kat" Riggins
FEB 13 John Lee Henley
FEB 14 Maceo Parker
FEB 15 Gary Clark Jr.
FEB 16 James "Super Chikan" Johnson
FEB 17 Lou Ann Barton Lee Ann Flynn (Photographer)
FEB 18 Irma Thomas
Chris Alexander DC Conley (Maxwell St Market Blues Band)
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.
FEB 3 Brandon Santini
FEB 5 Little Arthur Duncan
FEB 7 Earl King
FEB 8 Alonzo "Lonnie" Johnson
Eddie "Guitar" Burns
FEB 9 Johnny Heartsman
FEB 10 Alton Jay "Rockin' Dopsie" Rubin
FEB 11 Josh White
Little Johnny Taylor
FEB 12 Pink Anderson
Big John Wrencher
FEB 14 John Henry Perry Bradford
"Magic Sam" Maghett
Clarence "Blowfly" Reid