I want to say a very sincere thank you for all the love and support I have felt during this incredibly trying time in my life. I will be doing six more issues of the newsletter this year (see the bottom of the newsletter for dates), including a Chicago Blues Fest special edition. It is my year of foof, fun and feeling sorry for myself. Bear with me. This one is particularly long since apparently I was the only one who took a leave of absence during the last few months.––Karen Murphy
THINKING OUT LOUD
FIRST THINGS FIRST. No, I DO NOT know the lineup for the 2022 Chicago Blues Festival. That information is still in the hands of a select few who are sworn to silence and no, I also don't know when they plan to share this information to those of us who care. I am going anyway, even if the lineup is not what I would have chosen. However, if you need lineups, here are a few:
(They have announced a LOT of bands, but there are still more to come. I guess that is what happens when you have a million bands playing on 11 stages on three weekends––JUNE 23–25, JUNE 30–JULY 2 and JULY 7–9.)
Ravinia in Highland Park
They say they have more than 100 concerts from May 20 – Sept. 18––with a little bit of blues (such as Jimmie Vaughan andthe Steve Miller Band on June 23, Sheryl Crow with Ken' Mo' and Southern Avenue on July 7 and Bonnie Raitt on July 27). Tickets go on sale May 4.
Lyons Fest Red, White, & BLUES––with the help of the Windy City Blues Society
The music part of this fest is on Saturday, July 2 and the blues in this case is The Sonia Downs Band, Big Dog Mercer, Lauren Anderson Band, Vance Kelly and The Backstreet Blues Band and Mud Morganfield––and there are a couple of other non-blues bands.
CELEBRATING MICHAEL. I will be having a Celebration of Michael's life on SUNDAY, AUG. 7 in the afternoon at the Epiphany Center for the Arts at 201 S. Ashland. Although the plans are still fluid at the moment, I hope for it to be something akin to an Irish Wake with blues music, food, drinks and much laughter. I know that is what Michael would have wanted. The celebration is open to all who want to join in. Please send me a note if you plan to attend. MORE DETAILS TO COME
IT'S ABOUT TIME. The documentary film, Bonnie Blue: James Cotton’s Life in the Blues, will have its world premier on May 2 at the Somerville Theater in Boston during the Independent Film Festival Boston (IFFBoston). No other showings have been scheduled at press time, but shouldn't Chicago be next?
A VICTORY OF SORTS. The GOOD NEWS: The beloved California Clipper bar (1002 N. California) is back open after being closed for about two years. THE LESS GOOD NEWS: So far, it is not your best choice to hear blues. Hopefully that will change.
OUTDOOR FUN. FitzGerald's in Berwyn will be starting their 2022 patio shows on Wednesday, April 13. If that is not cause for celebration, I don't know what it.
WORKING CLASS BLUES.A blues concert will mark the restoration of one of Bronzeville’s cultural treasures: The Packinghouse Workers’ Mural at 4859 S. Wabash. The mural is one of the most significant pieces by William Walker, who has been called “America’s Diego Rivera.” Grammy-award winning musician Dom Flemons, who will premiere a new song about the mural, and local guitarist Toronzo Cannon will both perform during the ceremony. Cannon grew up in the neighborhood and has lifelong memories of the mural. Walker, who was one of the founders of the Organization of Black American Culture, died in 2011at the age of 84. GET SOME BACKGROUND INFO SAVE THE DATE
THURS, MAY 5 @ 4–7pm
Recommissioning ceremony and concert
Charles A. Hayes Family Investment Center
4859 S. Wabash FREE ADVANCED REGISTRATION
PORTRAITS IN BLUES. A photo exhibit of portraits of Blues Artists by photographer David Tepper (no...not the guy who owns the Carolina Panthers) opens April 26 in the 2nd floor gallery space at the The Trickster Cultural Center in Schaumburg (190 S. Roselle Road). The exhibit will include a tribute to the late Native American slide master J.B. Ritchie.
LEND A HAND. The Dig3––Andrew Duncanson, Gerry Hundt and Ronnie Shellist––have a GoFundMe campaign to help them finish their new album, This Is The Dig 3!!!. There are 14 originals on the recording. They need just $5000––and a $20 donation will even get you a CD (in the US); international fans need to kick in $25. Such a deal. DONATE RIGHT NOW
TOO MUCH FUNKY FUN. It is being widely reported that Eddie Murphy will play the Parliament-Funkadelic's George Clinton In a new biopic about the godfather of funk. The project is in the very early stages, so there is no release date or much other info. READ MORE
HE IS THE EGGMAN. Guitarist Luke Pytel's Equally Yoked has all the fresh eggs you could ever need. Need more info? TXT 1.708.372.6515 for delivery dates/locations and prices.
HONORING OTIS CLAY. 4245 W. Cermak Rd. will be officially named Otis Clay Way during a street dedication ceremony on Thursday, June 16, at 1pm.
CHEAT YOU FAIR.Maxwell St. Market (800 S. Desplaines St.) has opened for the season and will be held every Sunday through Dec. 18. I am guessing there will be music, but have no idea right now who or when. Admission is FREE.
IN THE BACKGROUND. After two friends told me that they heard a Steve Freund song when they were watching the series Reacher, I figured I had better take a closer look––and put the series on the long list of shows I want to watch, but probably never will. In any case, the Freund song was in Season 1, Episode 4 and it was Let Me Down Easy with Gloria Hardiman. There's a lot of good blues during the entire season. TAKE A LOOK
ALL THOSE AWARDS. I am done whining about the Grammys because even I am tired of hearing it––and you all know why I whined so much. Anyway, BIG CONGRATS to 23-year-old Christine "Kingfish" Ingram for winning Best Contemporary Blues Album for 662,Cedric Burnside for winning Best Traditional Blues Album for I Be Tryin' and Los Lobos for winning Best Americana Album for Native Sons. It was also wonderful and amazing that Questlove won a Grammy AND an Oscar for his documentary, Summer of Soul, which I have to admit that I have not yet seen–but will figure out how to do that soon. I think it is available free on both Hulu and Disney+, both of which I of course cancelled recently.
In the Chicago Reader's Best of Chicago 2021,Joanna Connor Band was named Best Blues Band (Runner-up: Bear Williams Band), and Joanna and Bear were also best and runner-up for Best Individual Blues Musician. Kingston Mines was named Best Venue for Blues Music (if you are a DePaul college student and need to drink until 4am), Joel Paterson Trio won for Best Jazz Ensemble,FitzGerald's won for Best Suburban Nightclub and Donnie Biggins and Golden Dagger won for Best New Chicago bar. Scrolling through the cumbersome list, in a non-blues moment, I also saw that Naked Raygun won for Best Punk Band (wait...am I looking at the 1980s list?) I have so many snarky comments that will remain only in my head EXCEPT FOR ONE: It is extremely amusing that the winner for BEST NEWSPAPER (BEST VOTES OVERALL) in the Reader poll was (drumroll please): The Chicago Reader.
In Time Out's Love Local Awards for 2021, Thalia Hall was named Chicago's most-love music venue.
Finally, the rescheduled 43rd Blues Music Awards will be held May 5 in Memphis, which will be right in the middle of the also rescheduled International Blues Challenge May 6–9. If crowds make you a little weak in the knees, Memphis may not be your happy place in early May. Good luck to everyone!
Here are a few links for musicians or those who want to be one.
WE BE JAMMIN'. There's a new weekly PRO JAM at Tavern on the Row (17 N. Wabash, 2nd Floor) hosted every THURSDAY (9pm-midnight) by Susan Williams and Darryl Wright.
The Lakeview Roscoe Village Chamber of Commerce is looking for participants for this year’s Porchfest, during which local musicians give performances from neighbors’ front yards. You can HOST music on your porch or PERFORM for 45 minutes on a porch.
There are two dates: JUNE 5 @ 1-5pm Lakeview Porchfest (between Grace and Wolfram streets and Ravenswood to Racine avenues) AUGUST 21 @ 1-5pm Porchfest Roscoe Village (between Addison Street and Wellington Avenue and Ravenswood to Western avenues) FIND OUT MORE
UNDER THE STARS
The city of Evanston is accepting applications through APRIL 30 for performers for its 2022 Starlight Concert Series. Performances are on Tuesday nights from 7–830pm at parks throughout Evanston. APPLY RIGHT NOW
TAKE CARE OF YOUR TEETH
According to a Feb. 28 story in the Chicago Tribune, low-income Illinois residents will be able to receive free dental care at a new clinic in the Fulton Market district opening this summer. The clinic will focus exclusively on dental services and will be free to all patients who make no more than 200% of the federal poverty level or are on Medicaid.
ALWAYS IN OUR HEARTS
The number of friends and loved ones who have left us recently is heartbreaking. The beginning of the year was especially difficult for the Chicago blues community. Hug your loved ones.
SAM LAY, 86 3.20.35–1.29.22
Who didn't Sam play with? Little Walter, Muddy Waters, Willie Dixon, Howlin' Wolf, Eddie Taylor, John Lee Hooker, Magic Sam, Paul Butterfield, etc. etc. etc. Among drummers, he was know for his distinctive double-shuffle groove. READ THE BILLBOARD OBIT Sam Lay in Bluesland A beautiful documentary film about Sam
ANDRE HOWARD, 63
Known as "Da Funky One" and considered one of Chicago's hardest working bass players READ HIS OBIT
SYL JOHNSON, 85
Syl was Jimmie Johnson's brother and was famous in the soul blues community for songs such as Is It Because I'm Black. His music was widely sampled by hip-hop artists. Syl died just one week after his brother, Jimmie. READ THE ROLLING STONE OBIT
CHARLES "DELTA BLUUS HOGG" HAYES, 79 7.30.42–2.13.22
Well-respected guitarist who often played in recent years with his brother Pee Wee Hayes in the band, Low-reen and the Lazy Dogs READ HIS OBIT
HARPDOG BROWN, 59
Award-winning Canadian harp player who won four Maple Blues Awards for Harmonica Player of the Year READ HIS EDMONTON SUN OBIT
OTHER BLUES COMMUNITY MEMBERS WHO RECENTLY PASSED NOTE: In the last newsletter, I neglected to mention the passing of William "Billy King" Finchum, frontman for the Billy King Band, who hosted a regular blues jam at Cuzin's in Tinley Park. The jam is now hosted by his former band members, now called The Fabulous Kings
Pervis Spann, 89
A WVON broadcasting legend, Pervis Spann, The Blues Man, introduced generations to the blues READ HIS OBIT
David Fauble, 67
Sax player who at one time played with Kilborn Alley Blues Band
Jill West, 68
Pittsburgh blues and R&B singer labeled the Queen of Pittsburgh blues
Milton Hopkins, 88
Houston blues legend and B.B. King's bandleader
Jack Mulder, 62
One-time owner of the Classic Wax Blues Bar in Sarasota, FL (he sold it in 2004)
OTHER MUSICIANS WE LOST RECENTLY
Betty Davis, 77
Ex-wife of Miles Davis and considered a trailblazing queen of funk
Ian McDonald, 75
Multi-insturmentalist and songwriter who was a co-founder of the rock bands King Crimson and Foreigner
Boris Brott, 78
Acclaimed Canadian conductor who died April 5 in a hit-and-run accident in Canada
Bobby Rydell, 79
Teen idol in the 1960s
Joe Messina, 93
Motown guitarist and original Funk Brothers member
Francisco González, 68
Los Lobos founding member and guitar-string pioneer
Roland White, 83
American bluegrass musician who was a master mandolin player and singer recently inducted into the International Bluegrass Hall of Fame
Ronnie Spector, 78
Lead singer of the Ronettes, often referred to as the original bad girl of rock and roll
Michael Lang, 77
Concert promoter, producer and artistic director best known as the co-creator of the 1969 Woodstock Festival
Dave Galanin, 66
Alaskan acoustic blues guitar player whose stage name was Strummin Dog
Kevin Hopkins, 42
Senior artist representative for Intrepid Artists International in Charlotte, NC
Grandpa Elliott, 77
Veteran New Orleans street musician (also know as Uncle Remus) who was featured in the Playing for Change video, Stand By Me
Nick Colionne, age unknown
Smooth jazz artist known for his guitar skills and colorful hats
J.D. Crowe, 84
Grammy-winning bluegrass musician
Gary Scruggs, 72
Songwriter/singer who was the oldest son of country music star Earl Scruggs
John Mills, 72
Vocalist who worked with Jimmy Page and the Alan Parsons Project
Joanne Shenandoah, 64
Grammy-winning Native American multi-instrumentalist, singer and composer
Philip Margo, 79
A member of the Tokens, who were most famous for the song, The Lion Sleeps Tonight
Ronnie Tutt, 83
Drummer who worked with Elvis, Roy Orbison, Johnny Cash, Neil Diamond, Elvis Costello, Stevie Nicks and Billy Joel
Keith Allison, 79
Guitarist for Paul Revere and the Raiders
Baron Browne, 61
Electric bass player who worked in the jazz-rock fusion realm with musicians such as Jean-Luc Ponty and Billy Cobham
Bob Matthews, age unknown
Former Grateful Dead engineer and "first roadie"
Barbara Campbell, 85
Widow of Sam Cooke, who married Bobby Womack after Cooke's death in 1964
Commander Cody (aka George Frayne), 77
Leader of the country rock band, Commander Cody and the Lost Planet Airmen
Ruth Olay, 97
Acclaimed jazz singer who performed with Benny Carter and Duke Ellington
As you can see, I took a long break from December through February, but tiptoed out to the suburbs once in late January to see the old Eddy Clearwater Band–and it definitely was exactly what I needed. In March, I started Ubering around so I could photograph some great shows, including three Fridays in a row at the beautiful Epiphany Center for the Arts. Did you know that Friday night is their blues night? Now you do. Tomorrow you can catch Dave Specter and Brother John Kattke.
I even crossed the Cheddar Curtain on Sunday to finally hang out at one of Milwaukee's great old beer halls, Kochanski's Concertina Beer Hall–and it was everything I hope it would be: great music, nice people and cheap beer. And last night, I went see the always wonderful Elvin Bishop with his Big Fun Trio (plus one extra guitarist). All of this recent hanging out helped me remember what I always knew: Music is healing. Hope you enjoy the photos!
Cool Blues Walk
Westmont THE PHOTOS
FRI, MAR 4
Donna Herula Trio,
Big Lew & The Crew THE PHOTOS
SUN, MAR 6
Mike Wheeler Band
with Shirley Johnson THE PHOTOS
SAT, MAR 12
Dave Weld and
The Imperial Flames THE PHOTOS
FRI, MAR 20
Jose Ramirez Band
Epiphany Center for the Arts THE PHOTOS
FRI, MAR 24
Sharon Lewis and Texas Fire
Epiphany Center for the Arts THE PHOTOS
FRI, APR 1
Donna Herula Band
Epiphany Center for the Arts THE PHOTOS
SUN, APR 3
Ivy Ford Band,
The Blues Disciples
Kochanski's Concertina Beer Hall
Milwaukee THE PHOTOS
SUN, APR 6 Elvin Bishop's
Big Fun Trio (+ 1) See Elvin in the photo collage above
More photos in May–maybe
“When you hear the blues,
you’re going to end up feeling
really joyful. I like to say
it’s like gospel music for people
who like to drink.” — Annie Raines, singer/harp player
(copied from the website for the upcoming James Cotton movie)
Larry McCray | Blues Without You RELEASE DATE: March 25 (KTBA Records)
It's McCray's first album in seven years–and he got a little help his friends: Joe Bonamassa and Josh Smith produced it and Warren Haynes, Joanna Connor and Reese Wynans made guest appearances. SIDE NOTE: Catch McCray at FitzGerald's in Berwyn on April 13.
Bob Stroger & The Headcutters | That's My Name RELEASE DATE: February 18 (Delmark)
At 91 years young, Bob Stroger joined forces with Brazilian band, The Headcutters, for his first solo Delmark release.
Vince Salerno and Gerald McClendon | Blues From All Points RELEASE DATE: January 1 (Pravda Records)
Chicago's "Soulkeeper" Gerald McClendon and veteran sax player Vince Salerno have joined forces on their second recording, which features six covers and five originals done in a variety of styles.
Big Llou | Big Man RELEASE DATE: January 2022 (GoldenVoice Audio Recordings)
There are 10 songs on Llou's first release since his debut recording, They Call Me Big Llou, which won a Blues Music Award. You might know him better as one of the DJ's on Sirius XM's B.B. King's Bluesville channel.
Charlie Musselwhite | Mississippi Son RELEASE DATE: June 3 (Alligator)
This is the first new solo studio release from Musselwhite in seven years...a semi-acoustic return to his Delta roots
The Wildroots Sessions | Vol.2 RELEASE DATE: April 6 (WildRoots Records)
The Wildroots is Victor Wainwright's old band–and that was really all I need to know. This volume has 15 original songs that are a perfect stew of gospel, roots and traditional blues. Vol. 1 was a mix of covers and originals–and every song is a winner.
Mississippi Heat | Madeleine RELEASE DATE: April 1 (Van der Linden Recordings)
The latest release from Chicago's Mississippi Heat led by harp master Pierre Lacocque gets a little extra help from some impressive friends: Lurrie Bell, Carl Weathersby and Kenny Smith. It is the band's 13th album and offers 12 original songs, nine by Lacocque, two by bass player Michael Dotson and one by vocalist Inetta Visor. SIDE NOTE: You can catch Mississippi Heat at the Chicago House of Blues in Chicago (4.8), at The Venue in Aurora (5.7), at Kingston Mines (5.26) and at the Hard Rock Casino in Gary, IN (6.11 and 6.18). AND ANOTHER THING: Guitarist Tom Holland and singer Daneshia Hamilton have joined the band full-time. Former Heat singer Inetta Visor will still occasionally perform with the band.
The next chicagoBLUESnews:
FRIDAY, MAY 6 2022 (Mails on THURS, MAY 5)
Know about a gig I don't?Give me a heads-up.
Updates to the calendar are made regularly––not just once a month and includes shows in nearby states and festivals all over the map that just look fun to me.
BE FULLY VAXXED AND GO HEAR LIVE MUSIC!
BLUES IS A FEELING
Here are just a few of the things that get me through the night.
Blues By the Pound, Vol. 2
Hollywood Fats Band
with special guest Otis Rush
Not only is Otis Rush on this CD, but it also features George "Harmonica" Smith.
Sorry, but there are no YouTube videos to look at. Trust me, it's wonderful. Here's Fats with another Chicago legend
READING SOMETHING Hill Country Hero
This is an interesting article about the great Hill Country guitarist Kenny Brown from the Memphis Flyer
VIDEO LINKS Born in Chicago
I never get tired of hearing the original version of this song–but this one is a pretty good substitute–and the video was not done by someone with my video skills. Here's the band: Gabriel Butterfield (drums), Jimmy Vivino and Jimmy Eppard (guitar), Steve Guyger (harp and vocals), Pete Levin (keys) and Jim Curtin (bass).