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A weekly digest of blues news
 
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JAN 17–FEB 6, 2020
ONLINE CALENDAR  |  FESTIVALS
FORWARD TO A FELLOW BLUES LOVER FORWARD TO A FELLOW BLUES LOVER
LOOKING BACK:                                                                THE GOOD, THE BAD & THE TOO MUCH FUN
I can't say that 2019 was as bad as 2018, but no need to repeat much of it. Despite some forgettable and regrettable moments, we still had too much fun most days in 2019. We photographed more than 70 shows again this year, including six festivals. And we went to a couple of emotional tribute shows, a few fundraisers and two birthday bashes. 

Let's saunter down memory lane while I still have some memory left.


FIRST, THE PHOTOS
I wish I had been carrying a camera with me when I first fell in love with the blues and saw many of Chicago's legends. But I didn't, so now I am making up for it. I think we may have past the trillion mark in images shot by now–and definitely have posted thousands online. For the photos linked below, I am still labeling them, but you know who they are.
OUR FAVORITE PHOTOS FROM 2019


10 FAVORITE SHOWS OF 2019
It was hard to pick just 10, but discipline is my new mantra. Shows are listed by date, not by what I thought was the best show. Honestly, I loved them all...even the ones that didn't make the list.

JAN 18 | Buddy Guy in Residence
with Kingfish @ Legends

If you wonder who is the future of the blues, just remember his name: Kingfish.
BIZARRE FACT: David Lee Roth covers Kingfish's song, Fresh Out, during his new Vegas Residency. So many oddities  in just one sentence. It's gonna be an interesting year....

FEB 20  | Frank Bang @ Legends
Never miss Frank Bang when he is in town. You heard me.

MAR 30 | Roy Rogers and the Delta Rhythm Kings
@ The Old Town School of Folk Music

If you like Elmore James (or Fill_in_the Blank with your favorite slide guitar player)....you really should go see Roy Rogers (the one without the horse...I think).

APR 13 | Squirrel Nut Zippers
@ City Winery

The definition of fun

MAY 30 Elvin Bishop's Big Fun Trio
@ City Winery

More BIG fun

JUL 28 | The Legendary Shack Shakers
@ Reggie's Music Joint

My favorite blues-ish band since Lux Interior left us.

JUL 29 Rev Seku and Cha Wa
@ Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park

You know how much I like flying hair....

SEPT 30 Toronzo Cannon's CD Release Party
@ City Winery

It's Toronzo...who doesn't love Toronzo?

OCT 24 Harpdog Brown
@ Lizard's Liquid Lounge

For this show from one of Canada's finest, there was no guitar...and no one cared

NOV 7 Whitey Johnson
@ Legends

A big thank you to John Kattke for educating me about Gary Nicholson (aka Whitey Johnson). Just plain amazing.


TRIBUTES/FUNDRAISERS
The tributes are always a little emotional so it's a good thing the birthdays fall into the "too much fun" category.

JAN 12 | Eddy Clearwater Tribute
at SPACE, Evanston


JAN 13 | Eddy Clearwater Photo Exhibit and performance by the Eddy Clearwater Band + Guests
@ Euro Echo Cafe, Skokie


JAN 30 |  Michael Ledbetter Tribute
@ Danny's Pizza, Elgin


Carlos Johnson and Marian DiazAPR 24 Otis Rush Tribute
@ SPACE, Evanston


MAY 1 | Little Walter Tribute and Fundraiser
@ Legends


JUL 23 | Buddy Guy's 83rd Birthday Party
@ Legends


OCT 26 | Bob Koester's 87th Birthday with the Smiley Tillmon Band
@ Bob's Blues and Jazz Mart


NOV 22 | Jimmy Johnson's 91st Birthday Party (DAY 1)
@ B.L.U.E.S.


DEC 20 | Benefit for Mzz Reese
@ The Water Hole
 
PHOTO: Carlos Johnson (l) with Marian Diaz © Chicago Blues News/Karen Murphy

THE SUPERFUN–FESTIVALS,
BIRTHDAYS AND EVEN A CRUISE



FEB 3–10 | 2019 Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise #32
It's definitely a "sleep when you're dead" kinda week.

JUN 7–9 | Chicago Blues Festival @ Millennium Park
You know that this is my favorite festival...and when I had a real job it was my religious holiday time every year, at least that is what I told my boss.

JUN 29 | New Glarus (WI) Blues, Brews & Food Truck Festival
In the home base of The Jimmys and Spotted Cow, you know you're gonna have some fun.

JUL 6 | Mississippi Valley Blues Festival @ Murphy Park, East Moline, IL
I cannot tell you how impressed I was with the lineup for this fest. 

AUG 16–19 | Ann Arbor Blues Festival
It was the 50th anniversary of the legendary 1969 festival and of course we all had a rollicking good time...until the lightning came Sunday and shut down the fest early. Great bands, fun times, great city.

AUG 24 | Crossroads Blues Fest @ Lyran Park, Rockford
What a lovely location for a laid back festival with a solid lineup featuring, among several others, a few of Chicago's finest bands.

OCT 5 | Windy City Blues Fest @ Toyota Park, Bridgeview
The lineup for this one-day fest was top notch, but the weather didn't cooperate, which certainly affected the crowd size. Also not sure that Toyota Park is a good venue for this fest.

JUST A FEW OTHER THINGS
First, we said goodbye to Amplified: Chicago Blues, the wonderful blues exhibit at the Chicago History Museum that closed in August.

Then we said a big hello to 2020 as the Year of Chicago Music, which should make this year a music fan's dream come true. Thank you, Mark Kelly. We anticipate a great year.

We also welcomed Jeff Pinzino and his Chicago Blues Revival nonprofit into the community.  Getting started, he helped a few blues bands get get gigs at a couple block parties this past summer. He has many other plans, much enthusiasm and is always open to a great idea.

And then we said WTF when we realized that it has been TWO YEARS since any new news was posted on the Chicago Blues Experience website...you know, that exciting new blues museum that was supposed to open in 2019? Maybe next year? OK, sure.


I really appreciated Dave Katzman's work that brought a monthly Blues Pro Jam to Reggie's Music Joint on Sunday nights featuring a different special guest each time. Every one has been great–and I hope there will be more in 2020.

And those Second Monday Blues shows at the Logan Center on the University of Chicago campus? Just plain wonderful. We've missed a couple lately, but not because we wanted to. We'll be back. And so will the Logan Center Blues Festival in October.

Finally, my photo of Toronzo Cannon at the opening of The Venue in Aurora on June 1 was selected to be part of the juried blues and jazz photo exhibit at Cafe Logan in the Logan Center on the campus of the University of Chicago. I didn't win, but two of my talented friends–Peter Hurley and Howard Greenblatt–did. Congrats!
HATE TO SEE YOU GO
It was another year of terrible losses for the blues community in Chicago and beyond. Not only did Chicago lose rising star Michael Ledbetter at the age of 33, we also lost Buddy Guy's longtime drummer Tim Austin and Eddie Taylor Jr., who was following in his dad's footsteps as a highly respected guitarist in his own right.

Take a look at the list of those who left us this year–and be grateful that they shared their talents with us, even for a little while.


2019 Obituaries
THINKING OUT LOUD 
A NEW YEAR, A NEW DECADE.  My Pollyanna side is front and center in the beginning of each new year so hope springs eternal. We'll see how long that lasts.

FIRST, A FEW GOODBYES.
Sleepy LaBeef
7.20.35–12.26.19

Sleepy LaBeef  (born Thomas Paulsley LaBeff) was a rockabilly artist who, according to the New York Times article on his passing, claimed to know 6,000 songs. He was 84. 
THE NEW YORK TIMES OBITUARY
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/29/arts/music/sleepy-labeef-dead.html

Marty Grebb, 74 
9.2.46–1.1.20

This American musician, who played keyboards, guitar and sax, was born and bred in Chicago. He had a wide-ranging career, from a stint in The Buckinghams to being a record producer and arranger who worked with musicians such as Bonnie Raitt, Eric Clapton, Etta James and Leon Russell.
READ THE DAILY HERALD ARTICLE

Tom Hyslop, 56
5.20.63–1.2.20

It doesn't take much searching to feel the love everyone felt for Tom Hyslop, who was a staff writer and contributing editor for Blues Revue and Blues Music Magazine, and who wrote liner notes for many recordings. He also was a 2019 recipient of a Keeping the Blues Alive Award from the Blues Foundation in Memphis.
READ THE OBIT

CHICAGO'S IN THE HOUSE. The Blues Foundation has announced the nominees for the 2020 Blues Music Awards and I am grateful to Alligator for the press release pointing out that 14 Alligator artists were nominated for 37 awards! That means I didn't have to count them. WOW. In case you wondered, the wonderful Rick Estrin and the Nightcats topped the list of nominees this year with a total of eight. Other Chicago musicians who received nominations: Fruteland Jackson, Mavis Staples, Mary Lane, John Primer, Lurrie Bell and Kenny "Beedy Eyes" Smith. Good luck to all!

The 41st Blues Music Awards ceremony will be held May 7 in Memphis. DON'T FORGET: You can only vote if you are a member of the Blues Foundation.
HERE'S THE ENTIRE LIST OF NOMINEES
Rick Estrin photo © Chicago Blues News/Karen Murphy

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.

TUNE IN. Dave Weld and the Imperial Flames will be featured Jan. 20 on WGN's Midday Fix at 11am the week before they head down to Memphis to represent Chicago at the International Blues Challenge. Cross your fingers–and toes.

LISTEN UP. Buddy Guy will soon have his own streaming radio station so that he can play the music we rarely get to hear on mainstream radio. Stay tuned for specifics. And, by the way, the clock is ticking on the 2020 Buddy Shows. You can still go, but they end JAN 26–and three of the eight shows left are SOLD OUT.

GET SOME GRUB. The Water Hole has Soul Food Sundays now through April 26. For just $15, you get one entree and three sides, and dine to the sounds of the Blues/R&B Jam hosted by the Mr. Rhythms Band. If you need dessert (peach cobbler or banana pudding), add $4.

PLAN WAY AHEAD. A lot of the seats are already sold for the Southern Hospitality show at SPACE in Evanston on June 19. Not surprising since the band features three powerhouse players: lap steel guitarist Damon Fowler, guitarist J.P. Soars and keyboardist Victor Wainwright.

THE BLUES IS A WOMAN. Jennifer Noble has been photographing blues in Chicago for more than 30 years so she knows a thing or two about the scene. In 50 Women in the Blues, she highlights–you guessed it–50 women of the blues–from the legendary trailblazers like Memphis Minnie, Big Mama Thorton, Sippie Wallace and Bessie Smith to present day blues queens such as Shemekia Copeland, Joanna Connor, Thornetta Davis, Mary Lane, Sister Cookie and many, many more. Even I, who likes to think I know everything there is to know about the women who sing the blues, met a few women I didn't know in this delightful book.

Noble is a co-founder and the director of photography for the Chicago Blues Guide and has had her photography published internationally. The book will be available FEB 25 and you can, of course, buy it on Amazon ($34.99) or your favorite spot online.
Watch for the next chicagoBLUESnews:  
FEB 7–20
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TUESDAY, MARCH 10 @ City Winery

Ana Popovic
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. 
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THE CLOCK IS TICKING...
THIS SWEEPSTAKES ENDS
JAN. 24, 2020.


Guitarist Samantha Fish is giving away:
  • an autographed cigar box guitar to one winner
  • an autographed vinyl recording to nine winners
FIND OUT MORE
 
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.

GET THE ENTIRE LIST:  ONLINE CALENDAR
FRI, JAN 17
Studebaker John 
and the Maxwell St. Kings

Harlem Ave. Lounge, Berwyn

SAT,JAN 18
Nikki Hill

Honky Tonk BBQ

SUN,JAN 19
Cash Box Kings

SPACE, Evanston

MON, JAN 20
THE MONDAY BLUES
John Kattke

Untitled

TUES, JAN 21
Chicago Wind Blues Band
with Deitra Farr

Blue Chicago

WED, JAN 22
BLUES-ISH
Joel Paterson and
The Modern Sounds

Hey Nonny, Arlington Heights

THURS, JAN 23
Kirk Manley and Shoji Naito

Smoke Daddy Wrigleyville

FRI, JAN 24
Luca Kiella Band

Johnny's Blitz Sport Bar
Westmont

SAT, JAN 25
BLUES-ISH
Dave Alvin & The Guilty Ones, 
Kevin Gordon Band

FitzGerald's, Berwyn

SUN, JAN 26
BLUES-ISH
Squirrel Nut Zippers, 
Dirty Dozen Brass Band (5pm)

Arcada Theatre, St. Charles
MON, JAN 27
Corey Dennison,
Funky Mojo Daddy

Kingston Mines

TUES, JAN 28
Pete Galanis & Friends
featuring Dave Herrero

Rosa's Lounge

WED, JAN 29
Luke Pytel Band, Keithen Banks

House of Blues

THURS, JAN 30
Matt Hendricks Trio

The Hideout

FRI, JAN 31
Hey Nonny Winter Blues Summit
Various artists and venues

Arlington Heights
THRU SUN, FEB 2

SAT, FEB 1
Vino Louden, Nick Alexander

Legends

SUN, FEB 2
Billy Flynn 

Shaw's Crab House

MON, FEB 3
BLUE MONDAY SERIES
Kilborn Alley Blues Band

SPACE, Evanston

TUES, FEB 4
Erwin Helfer

The Hungry Brain

WED, FEB 5
Lil Ed Williams and Mike Scharf

Taylor St. Tap

THURS, FEB 6
Robert Randolph & The Family Band

City Winery
Know about a show I don't? Tell Me About It...please.
ONE MORE THING: Always call before you go if you have your heart set on a particular show...things can change.
WANT MORE CHOICES?  ONLINE CALENDAR
OUT AND ABOUT
JAN 5 2020
THE BUDDY SHOWS

Buddy Guy with Carlos Johnson
Plus Austin Walkin' Cane and Matt Hendricks
It's January, so of course I had to go to one of the Buddy shows. And you know it was great–from beginning to the very end.

THE PHOTOS
JAN 7 2020
Low-reen and the Lazy Dogs
featuring Charles Hayes

You just never know where you might run into Low-reen–or who she will be with at the time. For this quiet Tuesday night at Buddy Guy's joint, she brought the A-team downtown to play for the enthusiastic crowd:
Low-reen | Guitar/vocals
Charles "Delta Blues Hogg" Hayes | Guitar/vocals
JoJo Hayes | Keyboards
Steve Bass | Drums
and an unnamed bass player (sorry about that)


THE PHOTOS
JAN 3 @ The Water Hole

Elmore James Jr. and the Broom Dusters
We finally made it out to see Elmore James Jr. and the Broom Dusters during their monthly gig at The Water Hole. Because it's Chicago's juke joint, you never know who might jump up on the stage to play.

PHOTOS
12.20.19 @ The Aon Ballroom, Navy Pier

A BLUES CHRISTMAS
It's this photogenic bunch–Toronzo Cannon, Lil' Ed Williams, Lynne Jordan and Matthew Skoller–that always gets us in a festive mood for the holidays. If only we could combine Zoolights with A Blues Christmas...now that would be an over-the-top holiday party.

RELIVE THE HOLIDAYS
PLAN AHEAD
JAN 26
BLUES-ISH: Squirrel Nut Zippers
with the Dirty Dozen Brass Band (5pm)

Arcada Theatre, St. Charles

FEB 3
BLUE MONDAYS SERIES
Kilborn Alley Blues Band

SPACE, Evanston

FEB 18
Lindsay Beaver
FitzGerald's, Berwyn
FEB 27
Nick Moss Band
Hey Nonny
Arlington Heights

MAR 5
Dave Specter
Hey Nonny
Arlington Heights

JUNE 5–7
Chicago Blues Festival
Millennium Park
JAN  16
Barbara Lynn
Jennifer Littleton

  (Manager, B.L.U.E.S.)

JAN 17
Carlos Johnson

JAN 18
Luther Dickinson
Miles Minor


JAN  19
Henry Gray
Christone "Kingfish" Ingram
Charlie Love
Katherine Davis


JAN 21
Kenny Kinsey
Zora Young


JAN 22
Janine Judge
    (Blues Heaven Foundation)

JAN 23
Ronnie Baker Brooks

JAN 24
Aaron Neville
Johnny B. Moore
JAN 26
Jerron "Blind Boy" Paxton
Huey “Piano” Smith


JAN 27
Kevin Johnson

JAN 28
Lori Lewis
Bob O Walesa
Arnell Powell


JAN 30
Samantha Fish

JAN 31
Charlie Musselwhite

FEB 1
Sonny Landreth
Jeff Dale
Tom Crivellone


FEB 2
Terry "Sonny Lee" Tritt

FEB 4
Curtis Salgado
Jeremy Powell
Frank Falduto
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. 
JAN 12
Mark Maddox
  (Legends, NuBlu Band)
BIRTHDAY REMEMBRANCES
JAN  16
Lester "Mad Dog" Davenport

JAN 20
Lead Belly
Luther Tucker
John Campbell


JAN 21
Snooks Eaglin

JAN 22
Hammie Nixon
Sam Cooke


JAN 25
Sleepy John Estes
Blind Willie Johnson
Etta James


JAN 26
Guitar Shorty

JAN 27
Andrew "Smokey" Hogg
Elmore James
Bobby "Blue" Bland
JAN 28
Cash McCall

JAN 29
Eddie Taylor

JAN 31
Roosevelt Sykes
Chuck Willis
Paul deLay


FEB 1
Leroy Foster
James P. Johnson
Finis Tasby
William "Pa" Rainey


FEB 2
Walter Vinson

FEB 3
Johnny "Guitar" Watson
Jody Williams


FEB 4
Therley "Speedy" Ashford

FEB 5
Will "Son Brimmer" Shade
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You are receiving this blues newsletter because you love the blues and asked to be on the mailing list. If you are no longer interested, you can unsubscribe at any time. Chicago Blues News is written and distributed by Editorial Director Karen Murphy every Thursday, with the exception of previously announced vacation plans. Its content cannot be reproduced in any form without written permission in advance. The weekly deadline to submit information for possible inclusion in the newsletter is Wednesday at Noon.
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