Super Bowl LV is this Sunday. Too bad they now leak all the commercials ahead of time.
The Year of the Ox begins on Feb. 12, according to Chinese astrology. Our 2021 is Chinese Year 4719 and is a Yin Metal year.
It is Valentine's Day on the 14th, often the cause of much anxiety and hurt feelings––or beautiful bouquets and yummy chocolates.
It is winter's cruelest month...but we can see spring in the distance.
Feb. 20 is Northern Hemisphere Hoodie Hoo Day (look it up!).
On a more important note, I am not sure yet if many blues festivals will be happening in 2021, although a few have been scheduled.The clubs are not yet open in Chicago, but we are inching slowly back to normal life. And there are plenty of live streams going on if you care to watch.
A RANDOM HOUSEKEEPING NOTE
I have decided to kill my Festivals page on the website. Instead, I will add festivals to the calendar page when they are scheduled. The calendar will have appropriate and obvious LABELS such as LIVE STREAM, FESTIVAL, etc. IF there is no label, it is a show you can actually go to....in person...Imagine that.
Danny Ray, 85
James Brown's "Cape Man" and "the second hardest working man in show business;
of natural causes Rolling Stone article
OTHERS IN THE MUSIC COMMUNITY
WHO LEFT US RECENTLY Sylvain Sylvain Mizrahi (bass player, New York Dolls), 69
Gerry Marsden (frontman, Gerry and the Pacemakers), 78
of a heart infection, according to British news sources
Tim Bogert (bass player, Beck, Bogert & Appice, Vanilla Fudge, Cactus), 76
8.14.44–1.13.21 aka John Voorhis Bogert III
Phil Spector (record producer and creator of the Wall of Sound), 81
of COVID-19 related complications
Hilton Valentine (guitarist, The Animals), 77
no cause of death revealed
Mick Bolton (keyboard player, Mott the Hoople and Dexys Midnight Runners), 72
no cause of death revealed
Marsha Zazula (cofounder of Megaforce Records), 68
Michael Fonfara (keyboard player, Electric Flag, Foreigner, Rhinoceros, Lou Reed, Downchild Blues Band), 74
Neil Peart (drummer and lyricist, Rush), 67
of glioblastoma SIDE NOTE: I was never a Rush fan, but after reading most of this long Rolling Stone article about Peart I am going to have to listen to some of their music. Peart was definitely a much-loved, interesting man.
Jerry Brandt (promoter and nightclub owner––LA's Paradise Ballroom and NY's Electric Circus and The Ritz), 82
1.29.38– 1.16.21 aka Jerome Jack Mair
THINKING OUT LOUD
VOTE! The 2021 Blues Music Awards will be a live streamed event (Blues Foundation Facebook and YouTube channel) this year on Sunday, June 6, beginning at 4pm. I will listen IF Chicago Blues Fest is cancelled again this year. Otherwise, you know where I will be. NOTE: You can vote for your faves if you are a member of the Blues Foundation until 11:59pm CT on Friday, March 12, 2021.
All the nominees are winners in my book, but I am especially excited for all of our Chicago faves who are on the ballot. The star of this year's awards is Chicago's own Shemekia Copeland, who The Washington Post is calling the best blues singer of her generation (we agree!). So...congrats and good luck to our Chicago stars (in no logical order):
Album of the Year (Uncivil War), Contemporary Blues Album (Uncivil War), Contemporary Blues Female Artist, Song of the Year (Uncivil War, written by John Hahn and Will Kimbrough and performed by Shemekia), BB King Entertainer of the Year
Lil' Ed Williams
BB King Entertainer of the Year
Instrumentalist – Piano
Instrumentalist – Harmonica *Yes, I know Dennis is not technically Chicago, but he currently is in one of our best bands, The Nick Moss Band, so he is Chicago right now.
Traditional Blues Album (Every Day of Your Life)
Nora Jean Wallace
Traditional Blues Album (Blueswoman)
Traditional Blues Male Artist
Instrumentalist – Harmonica
Traditional Blues Male Artist
REMEMBERING MOJO. There will be a tribute concert at some point to honor the memory of Joseph "Mojo" Morganfield, but there are no specific details yet.Stay tuned. One obvious idea: A tribute at the Muddy Waters celebration held in Westmont every year in the summer...if it happens this year. And then there is blues fest if it happens. HONORING LADY DAY. I would love to say that the beautiful photos above were mine, but of course, they are not. They are the incredible work of photographer Jerry Dantzic that is part of a touring exhibition from the Smithsonian Institution, "Billie Holiday at Sugar Hill: Photographs by Jerry Dantzic," that most recently was on display at the Fort Smith Regional Art Museum in Arkansas. COVID-19 has made it difficult for museums to book touring exhibitions, but I am hoping that this exhibition will find its way to Chicago or somewhere nearby when we go back to normal life. The exhibition is a documentation of one week in the singer's life when, in 1957, just two years before her death, Holiday performed at the Sugar Hill nightclub in in Newark, NJ. The exhibition includes 56 framed pigment prints and a video of a historic 1957 performance of Fine and Mellow.
Until there is another public exhibition, you can also see the photos in a book written by the photographer's son, Grayson, with a forward by Zadie Smith. LEARN MORE THE FUTURE OF THE BLUES. A young Racine, WI, bluesman talks the blues in this interesting piece.
BUZZ AWHILE. I am getting a little tired reading that this movie or that one is generating Oscar buzz. The PR machines are the only things buzzing in too many cases. Take, for example, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom. I really couldn't wait to watch it and really was disappointed when I did. Viola Davis was great, but I guess I had hoped for a lot more music and a little more about Ma Rainey than what we saw in one highly fictionalized recording session. Now we have some other buzzing goin' on. This time it is for TheUnited States vs. Billie Holidaystarring Andra Day as Ms. Holiday. Even though my expectations have been lowered, I will be there on Feb. 26 when it streams on Hulu, hoping to be wowed. But how fun is it that two great ladies of the blues (yes, I am calling Billie Holiday blues) will be showcased at the Oscars this year? READ THE LA TIMES STORY
VIRTUAL FOLK. The Folk Alliance International is hosting Folk Unlocked this year February 22-26. It is a five-day virtual event for the international folk community to come together for panels, workshops, showcases, affinity and peer group meetings, exhibit spaces, networking and mentorship. Fans can get access to more than 800 hours of virtual performances from established and emerging artists for a donation (tickets say pay what you can and tipping is encouraged). Artists performing include Los Lobos, Keb' Mo', Cedric Burnside, Terrance Simien, Marcella Simien and Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band. GET MORE INFO CHECK OUT WHO'S PERFORMING
GOLD RUSH. Apparently, Sun Records has jumped on the gravy train and is selling the label’s assets, including its recordings, logo and brand to Primary Wave Music, an independent music company in New York. The deal includes every recording made by Sun––except Elvis Presley’s releases (owned by Sony) and a few other small labels and some songwriting copyrights. The deal includes approximately 6,000 recordings, including Johnny Cash’s Folsom Prison Blues and Jerry Lee Lewis’s Great Balls of Fire and Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On. According to the New York Times story, the amount of the deal was not disclosed, but is estimated at around $30 million. But didn't Bob Dylan sell his songwriting rights to Universal Music recently for $300 million? Does that make any sense? READ THE TIMES STORY
BUT THIS DOES MAKE PERFECT SENSE. Who wouldn't want to eat BBQ from a renowned chef while listening to great music at one of the metro area's greatest venues? Babygold Barbecue will be opening (tentatively in the spring) next to FitzGerald's in Berwyn. Chef John Manion (El Che Steakhouse & Bar in the West Loop) is in charge. Sounds like a match made in heaven.
WE (TRY TO) BE JUKIN'. Roger Stolle (Cat Head Delta Blues & Folk Art, Inc. in Clarksdale, MS) posted on Facebook that a pandemic-ly modified Juke Joint Festival is "on" for April 15-18, 2021, in Clarksdale.
Think smaller, more outdoors, health protocols––and attendees are expected to PROPERLY mask up and socially distance. Check jukejointfestival.com in early March for more info.
GRAMMY NEWS. Dr. John's 1973 album In the Right Place has been named to the Grammy Hall of Fame, along with Irma Thomas' legendary 1964 single, Time Is On My Side.
BLUES-ISH IN THE AM. Larkin Poe will be on CBS This Morning: Saturday on Feb. 6. If you care, musical acts appear at the end of the show, which is on in Chicago from 6-8am.
AND MORE AWARDS. The 39th Annual Chicago Music Awards will be held virtually on Sunday, Feb. 28 somewhere in the city. There seems to be only one blues category: Best Blues Entertainer––and the nominees are Billy Branch, Jamiah Rogers Band, Joanna Connor, Mike Wheeler and Shemekia Copeland. You can vote online. chicagomusicawards.org
AND THE WORST AWARDS. You have until Monday, Feb. 8 to vote in the Chicago Reader's Best of Chicago 2020 awards, which will appear in the March 18 issue. There is one blues category (Best Blues Band) if you want to vote. I won't bother because I am still in mourning for what The Reader used to be and am a LOT turned off by the idea that if you are nominated for an award (not sure how that actually happens), you can "upgrade your listing" for a price. Would that qualify as a form of ballot tampering? Just asking. Just imagine the possibilities if a political election had that option. ICK.
Take It Off Slowly Dana Gillespie and Al Cook and
his Original Band
I honestly thought I had heard ALL of Dana Gillespie's bawdy blues. What a nice surprise to find this one. HAVE A LISTEN
WATCH AND LISTEN Blues Under the Skin
An obscure 1973 French TV Blues Documentary featuring performances by Brownie McGhee, Sonny Terry, Robert Pete Williams, Mance Lipscomb, Walter “Furry” Lewis, Roosevelt Sykes, Junior Wells, Buddy Guy, Bukka White, Jimmy Streeter and B.B. King
The Center of Nowhere
I only have had a chance to watch the trailer for this fun documentary about Springfield, MO, which is described as "America's most overlooked music scene." The director is Chicago's own Dave Hoekstra. If you have Amazon Prime, you can watch it for free. If not, there are rental options.
John Kay of Steppenwolf plays the blues!
Solo Performance by John Kay (Steppenwolf founder, vocalist and primary songwriter) at Cantina Navarro showcase room at the Folk Alliance International conference in February 2019 in Montreal.
The Blasters & Carl Perkins Live!!
Not just Carl Perkins, this show also featured Willie Dixon...sort of. Dixon came on and sang two songs near the end of the show (around the 40:28 mark). It was still too much fun.
The next chicagoBLUESnews:
FRIDAY, MAR 5 2021 (Mails on THURS, MAR 4)
STAY ON THE COUCH!
SAT, FEB 6 @ 8pm EST | FREE Quarantine Concert #37: Jorma Kaukonen WATCH IT
MON, FEB 8 @ 8pm | FREE
Second Monday Blues with Ronnie Baker Brooks
The Logan Center’s Second Monday Blues series continues virtually with Ronnie Baker Brooks. A live interview precedes the concert, moderated by host Billy Branch. Brooks, the son of Texas and Chicago blues legend Lonnie Brooks, started playing guitar around age six. At 19, he joined his father on tour for 12 years. His latest album is Times Have Changed.
This session was pre-recorded by Ken Christianson at Pro Musica in Chicago for virtual viewing WATCH IT
LIVE STREAMS FROM ROSA'S LOUNGE
FRI, FEB 12 @ 930-1030pm
Brian Lupo Band
Brian Lupo was going to have a CD Release Party when the world was a more welcoming place. The release was rescheduled a couple of times thanks to COVID and now it will be a live stream. Lupo will be playing seven original tunes and one cover. Give him some support!
OTHER UPCOMING ROSA'S SHOWS
FRi, FEB 5 | Vino Louden with Vic Baker
SAT, FEB 6 | Ivy Ford Band
SAT, FEB. 13 | Bear Williams Trio rosaslounge.com
In the meantime, listen to blues online. A quick spin on Facebook will find a lot of options to get your blues fix.
Joanna Connor | 4801 South Indiana Avenue RELEASE DATE: 2.26.21 | KTBA Records
The name of the new recording, as most Chicago blues fanatics know, is the address of the former Theresa's Lounge, where many of Chicago's legends could be heard nightly back in the day. Connor pays tribute to spirit of Theresa's in this 10-track issue. It's Joe Bonamassa's record label, so he is on all tracks. THE BAND Joanna Connor (Vocals, Guitar all tracks) Joe Bonamassa (Guitar on all tracks; Solos on 9 & 10) Josh Smith (Guitar on all tracks) Reese Wynans ( Keyboards) Calvin Turner (Bass) Lemar Carter (Drums and Percussion) Jimmy Hall (Vocals on Track 1) HORN SECTION Steve Patrick (Trumpet), Mark Douthit (Saxophone) and Barry Green (Trombone) PRE-ORDER
Steve Cropper | Fire it Up RELEASE DATE: 4.23.21 | Mascot Label Group/Provogue
Cropper says this release is"his first proper solo album since 1969," after many impressive years as a sideman in soul, blues and rock.
John Hurlbut & Jorma Kaukonen | The River Flows ACOUSTICBLUES-ISH RELEASE DATE: 12.25.20 | Culture Factory, USA, Inc.
It's eight tracks that are not exactly blues, but it's Jorma in his happy place.
Robert Allen Parker | The River's Invitation RELEASE DATE: 3.26.21| Broken String Records
Robert Allen Parker is a Memphis-based guitarist / songwriter/producer & veteran of both the creative midtown Memphis music scene as well as the downtown Memphis blues scene. This double vinyl recording combines Parker's screaming guitar with top shelf Memphis singers such as Kennard Farmer, Candice Ivory, Chris Stephenson, & Lahna Deering. It's the best musicians from underground Memphis bringing the city's rock, blues, soul and funk together in a perfect stew.
AND ONE MORE
Memphis' sacred soul artist Elizabeth King will make her full album debut April 2 at the age of 78 on Bruce Watson's Bible & Tire Records. Have a listen to Ms. King (I am pretty sure you might recognize that drummer!)
Feb 4 Frank Falduto Victor Wainwright
Feb 8 Eliza Neals
Feb 10 Ruthie Foster
Feb 13 John Lee Henley Ellis Hooks
Feb 14 Toronzo Cannon
Feb 15 Gary Clark Jr.
Feb 16 James "Super Chikan" Johnson
Feb 17 Doyle Bramhall Lou Ann Barton Lee Ann Flynn (photographer)
Feb 18 Chris Alexander DC Conley
Feb 19 Robert Bradley
Feb 21 Marty “Big Dog” Mercer Rhiannon Giddens
Feb 25 Katherine Davis
Feb 27 Jimmy Burns Howard Greenblatt (photographer)
Feb 28 Michael Messer Laurance Glasser
Mar 1 Johnny Drummer
Mar 4 Stephen Bass
Feb 4 Therley Speedy Ashford
Feb 5 Little Arthur Duncan
Feb 6 Bob Marley
Feb 7 Curley Bridges Earl King King Curtis
Feb 8 Lonnie Johnson Eddie "Guitar" Burns Floyd Dixon
Feb 9 Johnny Heartsman
Feb 11 Otis Clay
Feb 12 Pink Anderson Gene McDaniels
Feb 14 John Henry Perry Bradford Magic Sam
Feb 15 James "Kokomo" Arnold
Feb 16 Bill Doggett
Feb 19 Earl Bell Sam Myers
Feb 21 Francis "Scrapper" Blackwell
Feb 22 Bill Jackson "Ernie K-Doe" Kador
Feb 24 Elmon "Driftin' Slim" Mickle Willie Kent
Feb 25 Ida Cox Andrew Brown
Feb 26 Fats Domino Bob "Bear" Hite
Mar 1 Walter Davis
Mar 2 Papa Lightfoot Maxwell Street Jimmy Davis Rory Gallagher
Mar 3 Louisiana Red
Mar 4 Willie Johnson Good Rockin' Charles
TENTATIVE 2021 SCHEDULE (All newsletters mail on Thursday, the day before the issue date) MAR 5–APR 8
APR 9–MAY 6
MAY 7–JUNE 3
and more TBD
Alway subject to change in our crazy world.