Mayor Lori Lightfoot and various key city players had a press conference yesterday. I sat and watched––and waited and screamed at the TV because I only wanted to know one specific thing. They announced that Chicago would be fully reopening July 4 (Hallelujah!) and that there was something they were calling Chicago In Tune and that 2021 was now the Year of Chicago Music. I just wanted to know about the summer music festivals, specifically Blues Fest. They were not mentioned by name, though, and none of the reporters even asked (maybe they already knew the answer).
Thanks to a spin around the internet, here are a few specific facts (probably tentative, based on youknowwhat) that should be cause for some (masked and socially distanced) dancing in the streets, with vax cards in hand.
CHICAGO IN TUNE | AUG 19 – SEPT 19
This new citywide festival will celebrate Chicago's diverse and legendary music scene and the 2021 Year of Chicago Music with free and ticketed events at clubs, concert halls and beyond (Where?Mars or just Indiana?)
FOUR SPECIAL EVENINGS AT THE PRITZKER PAVILION IN MILLENNIUM PARK (530-830pm)
SEPT 3 | Gospel music
SEPT 4 | Jazz
SEPT 11 | House SEPT 18 BLUESThis, my friends, is what will substitute for Blues Fest this year. It's certainly not Blues Fest circa any year before 2020, but certainly will be much better than last year's virtual snooze. No lineup yet.
SUMMERDANCE IS BACK!
...in parks throughout the city in August and September...not sure if that also means the main lakefront location.
MILLENNIUM PARK CONCERTS AND PROGRAMMING
Note that in addition to the Grant Park Music Festival (aka classical music) that will be held not in Grant Park, but of course at Pritzker, there are also 10 more "genre-defying" concerts planned. I don't know about you, but no matter how I read that, somehow it does not spell blues (hopefully it doesn't mean something like a Kenny G tribute band).
The Chicago Cultural Center reopens on JUNE 2, some street fairs will be back and we can hope that the music clubs will be allowed to be open at 100% capacity soon.
JUST TWO MORE THINGS CHICAGO PRESENTS
This new Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) funding program supports "safe neighborhood programs that comply with public health guidelines in neighborhoods throughout Chicago in Summer 2021." THE BAD NEWS: The Application Deadline is TOMORROW (FRI, MAY 7). READ THE RULES
There will be vaccination events for the arts community at: The Promontory (5311 S. Lake Park) on May 20 at 12-7pm Theater Wit (1229 W. Belmont) on May 21 at 12-7pm
PLUS...mobile vaccinations at many city-sponsored summer events.
AND...city residents can also schedule an appointment or find walk-up vaccine locations online.
AND...most events will require reservations, vaccinations, yada, yada, yada. CHECK ON THE RULES BEFORE YOU GO ANYWHERE.
WE REALLY DON'T WANT TO GO BACK TO LOCKDOWN.
AT PRESS TIME
Gov. Pritzker just one-upped Mayor Lightfoot with an announcement that coronavirus restrictions in Illinois will be further loosened in Illinois on May 14 with the goal to fully reopen the state on June 11. So...does that include Chicago or are we a separate territory?
REST IN PEACE
Paul Allan Oscher joined the Muddy Waters Band when he was just 20 years old and, for a while, lived in the basement of Muddy's house on Chicago's South Side. Oscher left Muddy's band in the early 1970s and went on to play with other notable musicians, including Eric Clapton, Levon Helms and T-Bone Walker. He was 74 when he died April 18 of complications from the coronavirus in Austin, TX, where he had been living for the past eight years. At the time of his death, he also was on the board of the Mojo Museum, the name for the new museum that will be located at 4339 S. Lake Park Ave., the historical Chicago landmark that was Muddy's home from 1954 to 1974. READ THE NY TIMES OBIT
Brian "BJ" Jones
Much beloved Chicago drummer Brian "BJ" Jones passed away April 24 after a long illness. I did not know Jones personally, but saw him play often over the years, most recently a few years ago with Frank Bang and the Cook County Kings at Kingston Mines.
If you want an idea of how much this man was loved by those who knew him well, take a little time to read all the heartfelt posts on his Facebook page. It will bring you to tears.
John Dee Holeman, 92
A Piedmont bluesman in the tradition of Blind Boy Fuller; of natural causes at his home in Hillsborough, NC Learn about John Dee HAVE A LISTEN
OTHER NOTABLE PASSINGS Bob Porter, 80
Blues and jazz expert, two-time Grammy winner, record producer and writer who helped make WBGO (88.3 FM in Newark) the largest jazz radio station in the New York City area; of complications from esophageal cancer WBGO STORY
Mike Mitchell, 77
Guitarist for The Kingsmen, famous for Louie, Louie, the song that titillated a million teens and even led to a fruitless FBI investigation; of unknown causes
Rusty Young, 75
Poco co-founder and pedal steel player; of a heart attack
Joe Long, 88
Bass guitarist for the Four Seasons; of COVID-19
Morris "BB" Dickerson
Bassist and one of the founding members of War; after a long, undisclosed illness
Paul Jackson, 73
Founder member of the Headhunters and jazz bassist for Herbie Hancock; in Japan (where he had lived for more than 30 years) of sepsis as a result of complications from diabetes
Al Young, 81
American poet, novelist, essayist, screenwriter and professor who was the 2005 Poet Laureate of California; wrote several blues-themed books, including Something About the Blues: An Unlikely Collection of Poetry and The Blues Don't Change: New and Selected Poems; of complications from a 2019 stroke
Denny Freeman, 76
Austin blues guitarist who was the co-lead guitarist with Stevie Ray Vaughan in the Cobras; worked with many other notable musicians, including Jimmie Vaughan, Bob Dylan, James Cotton and Taj Mahal; was a member of Antone's house band and backed Otis Rush, Albert Collins, Buddy Guy and Junior Wells; of abdominal cancer that was diagnosed just weeks before his death
Chris Barber, 90
British jazz trombonist who also played double bass; helped launch the British rhythm and blues boom in the 1960s, arranging U.K. tours for blues musicians such as Big Bill Broonzy, Muddy Waters and Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee; suffered from dementia prior to his death With Lonnie Donegan
James White, 81
Owner of the legendary Broken Spoke honky tonk dance hall in Austin, TX; of an undisclosed illness
Robert (Mike) Davis Jones
Brother of Chicago guitarist Eric "Guitar" Davis, who was murdered in 2014; of COVID-19
THINKING OUT LOUD
VOICE YOUR OPINION! TheLiving Blues magazine Reader's Ballot 2021 is now online––and EVERYONE can vote for their favorites (even if you aren't a reader) in the 2021 Living Blues Readers' Awards (once in each category and only one ballot per person). There are a LOT of Chicago musicians on the ballot and in many cases the choice will be a hard one. Voting ends on Tuesday, June 15, 2021. Winners will be announced sometime (no exact date given). VOTE RIGHT NOW
KEEP WIRE ALIVE.Berwyn's Wire, a music venue and bar located west of FitzGerald's at 6815 W. Roosevelt Rd., is for sale. Owner Chris Neville hopes to find a buyer that will continue to run the well-equipped venue as a live music space. LEARN MORE
A REASON TO VISIT SPRINGFIELD. The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield (212 N. Sixth St.) has a new exhibit running through January 2022 that celebrates the legendary musicians and the music made in Illinois. The exhibit, called The State of Sound: A World of Music from Illinois, includes a working radio studio available to DJs. A BIG BONUS: Receive FREE ADMISSION in May and June with proof of a COVID-19 vaccination card. Normal adult price is $15 (seniors, $12). LEARN MORE
TIME FOR CAKE. Tony Howard, owner of The Water Hole, is celebrating his birthday on Thursday, May 27. Stop by and bring some cheer!
BLUES IN THE UK. The 2021 UK Blues Virtual Awards Show will be broadcast on YouTube and Facebook on Sunday, May 9 at Noon CST (6pm in the UK). Joe Bonamassa is one of the presenters and there will be a special feature remembering Chris Barber, who died in March.
SLIP OF THE SOMETHING. The dumb mistake of last month's newsletter was likely somewhat of a wishful thinking glitch. In the article about the Living Blues Radio Chart's Top 50 Blues Albums of 2020, the image of John Primer had #1 on it when in fact, John Primer & Bob Corritore's wonderful CD, The Gypsy Woman Told Me (VizzTone) came in at #2. The copy below the image was correct, listing Primer and Corritore as #2 and Roomful of Blues, In a Roomful of Blues, in the top spot. I loved them both. HERE'S THE COMPLETE LIST in case you want to reminisce.
AND NOW FOR SOMETHING AMAZING. Radio.garden is a website that lets you listen to radio stations from all around the world. Just click on a dot on the map. This should keep you busy for at least a little while.
POSITIVE CHANGE. Getting kids into music is one way to keep them off the streets and out of trouble. Did you know that there is an organization called NOTES FOR NOTES that provides youth in 16 locations throughout the U.S. with FREE access to music instruments, instruction and recording studio environments? The Chicago studio is at the Jordan Boys & Girls Club of Chicago at 2102 W. Monroe (312.226.2323). The club is open from 9am-730pm Monday–Friday. LEARN MORE
GET SOME CHIPS.A Hard Rock Casino is opening in Gary, IN (5400 W. 29th Ave.), on Friday, May 14 @ 5pm. To celebrate the opening of the casino in their hometown, The Jacksons will have a free concert, tentatively scheduled for July 17 at the Gary Chicago Airport. Will the casino have some blues? We can hope. LEARN MORE
BURNING DOWN THE HOUSE. I was very amused by this story about what sounds like the ultimate end of Burning Man. It kinda says something about rich people ruining everything for regular working free spirits. What idiot would pay $2500 for the right to reserve a chance to buy tickets? Okay, to be fair, it is for reservations to buy tickets for two festivals. THE ANSWER: Only someone who has too much money and too few brain cells. HAVE A LAUGH
ONE MORE THING. You probably won't even notice, but the JUNE newsletter (JUNE 4–JULY 8) will be mailed on Friday, June 4, instead of the usual Thursday mailing because...I can...and also because I will be somewhere far from my beloved desktop computer.
OUT AND ABOUT
OMG...We Were OTC! MONDAY NIGHT BLUES JAM | 7-930pm
with Casey Lee Chicago and the Blue Line Blues Band Kale My Name | 3300 W. Montrose
When I lived near that stretch of Montrose, no one I knew had ever heard of kale, let alone considered it edible. Now, a restaurant that serves it and other vegan delicacies has a regular BLUES JAM on its patio. My, how times have changed.
It was wonderful to get out and off the couch (OTC) to hear live blues––outside––in beautiful weather (remember those days?). This Blues Jam happens weekly when the weather cooperates (not this past Monday) and the Blue Line Blues Band is all musicians you know and love, if you hang around the local clubs. And, if I had been drinking, I might have thought that one of the guests that showed up was one of the Glimmer Twins. See if you agree (or just think I am nuts and possibly going blind). FYI: The restaurant is BYO so you can drink whatever your heart desires and your liver can tolerate. TAKE A LOOK AT THE PICS
PLAN TENTATIVELY (BUT ENTHUSIASTICALLY)
CROSSROADS BLUES SOCIETY
We had a GREAT time when we finally made it out to the 2019 Crossroads Blues Society Festival at Lyran Park in Rockford. So...we were sad to hear that there will not be a festival in 2021. BUT, CBS President Steve Jones has made the brilliant move to schedule six small socially distanced shows with BYO coolers of beverages and food. You must wear a mask to come in and out and walk about.
You will be able to sit in your groups of up to 10, and the groups will be six or more feet from other groups spaced across the hill at Lyran Park in Rockford.
It's more like the Endofsummerfest, but we will take it. The 53rd edition of the festival will be held on three separate weekends: SEPT 2-4, 9-11 and 16-18 and will feature more 1,000 performances on 12 stages along the shores of Lake Michigan. I don't think all the bands are listed yet, but there are a lot (just not any blues, other than ZZ Top that I can see). GET MORE INFO
The Arcada Theatre in St. Charles has begun rescheduling shows and is planning a mid-July reopening. So far, I am not seeing any blues acts.
LEE'S UNLEADED BLUES
Supposed to open in late summer 2021
Rosa's continues to have weekend shows, Kingston Mines and FitzGerald's are open, Blue Chicago is opening and Buddy Guy's likely will be open when we are back to 100% capacity.
Keep looking at the online calendar of events...I am typing as fast as I can to add stuff.
Note that I am also adding FESTIVALS to the online calendar so I don't have to keep updating a web page.
We are ALMOST there....stay safe and YOU KNOW WHAT TO DO!
Guy Davis | Be Ready When I Call You RELEASE DATE: June 4 (M.C. Records)
It's a beautiful 13-track stew of blues, folk and Americana from the "ambassador of the blues" who also happens to be the son of Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis.
Jose Ramirez | Whatever She Wants RELEASE DATE: APRIL 16 (Delmark)
He's the first Latin American artist to sign with Delmark and, from what I have experienced, one of the few Costa Rican blues guitarists (believe me, I looked everywhere when I was there and came up empty). This new release was nominated for a 2021 Blues Music Award for Best Emerging Artist.
"Big" Al's Blues Howlers | Get It While It's Hot AVAILABLE NOW (Self-release)
Not only are there two harp players on this CD ("Big" Al Dorn and Benny Richun) special guest Jim Liban joins them for harp and vocals on two tracks of this 10-track recording. It's our own Chicago blues coming back to us from Milwaukee.
Robert Finley | Sharecropper's Son RELEASE DATE: May 21
Finley's third studio release has been co-written and produced by The Black Keys' Dan Auerbach, who has been quoted as calling Finley "the greatest living soul singer." YOU DECIDE
The Black Keys | Delta Kream RELEASE DATE: May 14 (Nonesuch)
This is the 10th studio album from the Black Keys and it pays tribute to R.L. Burnside and Junior Kimbrough and the music of the Mississippi Hill Country. They were joined on this recording by Kenny Brown and Eric Deaton, two respected Hill Country musicians who both have played with Kimbrough and Burnside. HAVE A TASTE
Maria Muldaur with Tuba Skinny | Let's Get Happy Together RELEASE DATE: May 7 (Stony Plain Music)
It's a joyous celebration of early blues, jazz and jug band music from the 1920s and 1930s that joins Maria Muldaur with one of New Orleans' traditional jazz street bands.
OLDIES BUT GOODIES
Various Artists | Southern Bred – Louisiana & New Orleans R&B Rockers RELEASE DATE: June 4, 2021 (Koko-Mojo)
These two CDs just looked interesting––with a combined total of 29 tracks from an eclectic group of musicians that include Buddy Guy, Irma Thomas, Lazy Lester, Little Walter and Slim Harpo. Apparently, there also is a Texas version that features musicians such as Cleanhead Vinson and Pee Wee Crayton.
BLASTS FROM THE PAST What My Momma Told Me
Carey Bell backed by Lurrie Bell, Bob Stroger, Roosevelt Purifoy and Brian Jones
WHO KNEW H.W. WAS SO COOL?
Actually, it was probably Lee Atwater who had the great musical taste. Without a doubt, though, George H.W. Bush had the greatest of all presidential inaugural concerts––featuring Dr. John, Koko Taylor, Willie Dixon, Bo Diddley, William Bell, Delbert McClinton, Jimmie Vaughan and Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble and more. A DVD of the concert––A Celebration Of Blues And Soul: The 1989 Presidential Inaugural Concert––was released today. Yes...you should get it.
The next chicagoBLUESnews:
FRIDAY, JUNE 4 2021 (Mails on FRI, JUNE 4)
OUR ONLINE CALENDAR chicagoBLUESnews Online Calendar
The calendar is starting to look more like it should...with more live shows being listed all the time. I am also listing streaming shows here and festivals here.
A quick spin on Facebook will find a lot of options to get your blues fix.
MAY 7 Lazer Lloyd
MAY 8 Carlos Showers Joe Bonamassa Red Young Ron Onesti (Arcada Theatre)
MAY 9 Bob Margolin Jontavious Willis
MAY 10 Greg Piccolo Gene "Birdlegg" Pittman Maurice John Vaughn
MAY 12 Guy Davis Barbara Dane Donald Kinsey
MAY 13 Ana Popovic Magic Dick
MAY 14 Grady Gaines
MAY 15 Lindsay Beaver Ole Harv Stauffer Blues Revue on WVPE-FM
(88.1 FM, Northern Indiana) Michael Schafer-Murray (Planetary Blues Band)
MAY 17 Taj Mahal Giles Robson
MAY 18 Tierinii Jackson (Southern Avenue)
MAY 19 Jimmy Thackery
MAY 21 Dave Specter
MAY 23 Dick Shurman Michael Cloeren
MAY 25 Krissy Matthews Hard Luck Hopson
MAY 27 Tony Howard owner of The Water Hole
MAY 28 Jesse Robinson
MAY 29 Gerry Hundt Ron Levy Michael Alkaraki (Mary Lane and
the No Static Blues Band)
MAY 30 Rick Holmstrom
JUNE 1 Rich Delgrosso Tom Principato Zach Avery
JUNE 2 Johnnie Marshall Luca Kiella Chiellini
JUNE 3 Terry Garland Tikyra Khamiir Jackson (Southern Avenue)
BELATED BIRTHDAY WISHES
MARCH 18 Casey Lee Chicago
MAY 6 Eddie C. Campbell Henry Ford Thompson
MAY 7 Amos “Bumble Bee Slim” Easton Kansas City Red
MAY 8 Luke "Long Gone" Miles Robert Johnson
MAY 9 A.C. Reed Dave Prater
MAY 10 Larry Williams Ted Bogan
MAY 11 Kansas Joe McCoy
MAY 13 L.C. “Good Rockin” Robinson
MAY 14 John Lee Smokey Holman
MAY 15 Larry Johnson Johnny Williams
MAY 16 Cleveland Chenier Big George Brock
MAY 17 Tiny Powell
MAY 18 Big Joe Turner Charles Caldwell Little Son Joe Lawlars
MAY 20 Jaybird Coleman
MAY 21 Billy Wright Lee “Shot” Williams Lil' Dave Thompson Willie (Little Willie) Anderson
MAY 22 Aaron Pinetop Sparks
MAY 23 Chico Chism
MAY 25 James Crutchfield
MAY 26 Big Boy Henry Mamie Smith Papa Charlie McCoy
MAY 27 Brother John Sellers Junior Parker
MAY 28 T-Bone Walker
MAY 30 King Ernest Baker
JUNE 1 Lafayette Leake Boyd Gilmore Jim Jackson
JUNE 2 Leonard "Baby Do" Caston Othar Turner
JUNE 3 Buster Pickens Jimmy Rogers Memphis Minnie
TENTATIVE 2021 SCHEDULE (All newsletters mail on Thursday, the day before the issue date) JUNE 4 – JULY 8*
JULY 9 – AUG 5
AUG 6 – SEPT 9 and more TBD
Always subject to change in our crazy world.
* The June newsletter will mail on Friday, June 4 (not Thursday).