PAYING TRIBUTE.The late Milwaukee-based blues guitarist and singer simply known as Stokes will be honored on Sunday, March 8, at 7pm at the Anodyne Coffee Roasting Company (224 W. Bruce St., Milwaukee). Some of the musicians who will appear: Jim Liban, Harvey Westmoreland, Steve Cohen and Leroy Airmaster Band, Matthew Skoller, Billy Flynn, Marc Wilson, Tom Wilson, Perry Webber, Milwaukee Slim, Kurt Koenig, Matt Liban, Alex Wilson, Matthew Wilson and Jim Schwarz. One more thing: This tribute show isfree to the public–and just a short road trip from Chicago. LEARN MORE
NEW DIRECTION? Three years after Bill FitzGerald announced he had had enough and wanted to retire to the north woods of cheeseland, the legendary club he founded 40 years ago in Berwyn has been sold. The new FitzGerald's owner is Will Duncan, the former beverage director of Thalia Hall, who will remain a partner at Thalia Hall, Dusek’s, Punch House, MoneyGun and Saint Lou’s Assembly. Duncan is quoted in Crain's Chicago Business as saying, "I look forward to bringing fresh energy to the property, building off FitzGerald’s existing Americana roots and expanding the programming based on community input and experimentation.”
That comment scares me a little, but an article in the MAR 5 Chicago Tribune sounds more positive, quoting Duncan as saying that regular customers "...will recognize the place and recognize a lot of what's goin on in the music calendar...." The Tribune article also says that Duncan plans to keep the name and the approximately 25 staff members. My community input would be simple: Don't fix what ain't broken. People LOVE the joint and the great bands FitzGerald has brought to town year after year so maybe just tweak a little. READ THE MAR 4 CRAIN'S STORY
BLUES 'N BREWS.Motor Row Brewing (2337 S. Michigan) has cut back its weekly blues jam (7-10pm) featuring the Original Chicago Blues Allstars to just once a month (except this month). Go down there and support the music–the beer ain't bad either. UPCOMING JAMS
APR 2 and on and on (I hope).
BLUES 'N BRANDY. Matthew Skoller, who you mostly know mostly as the founder/harp player of the Chicago Wind Blues Band, has another life as the co-founder (with his brother Larry and Larry's wife, Nadege) of Family Tradition Cognac. To share the fruits of this other life, Skoller is hosting an exclusive cognac tasting party in the barrel room adjacent to City Winery on Friday, March 27. Attendees will taste the single vineyard, artisanal, grower-cognac and get a private acoustic blues performance from Skoller and blues guitarist Billy Flynn. Tickets are $70. LEARN MORE
SPRING IS IN THE AIR. The city of Long Grove used to support a small fest called the Ice Meltin' Blues Festival in March. It pulled out this year, but that didn't stop the Village Tavern (135 Old McHenry Rd., Long Grove) from continuing the yearly tradition. This year, the fest will be simply called The Village Tavern Blues Weekend and will feature two bands: Toredown Blues Band | SAT, MAR 7 (6–9pm) Crook County Blues Band | SUN, MAR 8 (1–5pm)
It's family friendly so bring the kids.
SPRUCING UP. According to its website, the Ron Onesti-owned Evanston venue, Evanston Rocks (plus, I assume, the adjoining Rock 'N Ravoli and Bourbon 'N Brass), are currently closed for renovation and only available for private events). Hopefully blues will be back on the bill when the venue opens again.
SAY IT AIN'T SO. Bronzeville's Pilgrim Baptist Church (3301 S. Indiana), which is considered the birthplace of gospel music in the 1930s (even though it was originally built as a synagogue in 1890 and 1891) will not be rebuilt, according to 3rd Ward alderman Pat Dowell. The building, which was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973 and was designated at a Chicago Landmark in 1981, was devastated by a fire in 2006. LEARN MORE
DIG DOWN DEEP. Boz Scaggs is bringing his Out of the Blues Tour to the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie on Monday, July 20. There are not a lot of tickets left, which is shocking since the cheapest ticket is $149 (and probably without all the taxes and fees).
FOR MUSICIANS ONLY. If you are interested in performing at the Miller Lite Beer Gardenon Navy Pier during the 2020 Season, you should send an electronic press kit (EPK) to firstname.lastname@example.org. IMPORTANT NOTE: Use the following format for your subject line to ensure it is reviewed: Band Name – Miller Lite Beer Garden. One thing I know for sure: I am interested in going to Navy Pier this summer OFTEN to see live blues outside on the pier.
GET TO KNOW BILLY.Billy Prewitt is a self-taught musician who played with and was mentored by both Otis Rush and Sam Lay. In Talk a Blues Streak,which wasrecorded in Chicago at B.L.U.E.S.,Prewitt is interviewed by music historian/producer Dick Shurman. The video also includes short appearances and performances by Sam Lay and Mike Wheeler.
LET THEM EAT CAKE.The March 5 Birthday Boys (you can call them John Primer and Rico McFarland) will both be celebrating their birthdays at Rosa's Lounge this weekend. Primer will be celebrating his 75th with his band, the Real Deal Blues Band. on Friday, March 6. McFarland, who was born in 1960 (you do the math), will be celebrating and entertaining on Saturday, March 7.
Watch for the next chicagoBLUESnews:
MAR 20–APR 2
BEGIN THE COUNTDOWN CHICAGO BLUES FEST 2020
In case you wondered, when I checked earlier today, there were 91 days (11 hours, 4 minutes and 29 seconds) until the first day of the 2020 Chicago Blues Festival, which will be JUNE 5–7 in Millennium Park. Not that I am excited or anything...
So...the complete lineup has been released. While I am thrilled that a lot of local musicians got slots and there are more than enough performances I want to see that will assure I get in 10,000+ steps a day, it always seems like my top picks end up playing at the same time (WAAAH).
IF I DON'T COMPLAIN, SOMEONE ELSE WILL: To give just one example of my frustration, on Saturday night, the Anthony Paule Soul Orchestra is wonderful and will be incredible with the pairing of Terri Odabi and Sugaray Rayford....but at 430pm instead of the headline slot? Now I have to choose between Tab Benoit on the Crossroads Stage, Anthony Paule on the main stage or the Mississippi Jam on the Juke Joint Stage. Chicago Wind is also playing at that time, but thankfully, I can catch them often in Chicago.
I know...you can never please everyone....
EXTEND THE PARTY
Although I am sure there will be a lot of other announcements of great shows surrounding the fest, a couple have already been announced:
JUN 4 @ The Blues Heaven Foundation (2120 S. Michigan) Remembering Chicago’s Blues Legacy
and the 70th Anniversary of Chess Records
Details are slim right now, but you know they gonna pitch a wang dang doodle that would make Willie proud.
JUNE 5 @ Smoke Daddy Johnny Burgin
JUNE 5 @ SPACE, Evanston Christone "Kingfish" Ingram
JUST ASKING.Since there is now two weeks (instead of just one week) between Chicago Blues Fest and the Blues on the Fox festival in Aurora (JUN 19–20), will our international visitors stay to attend both fests? Personally, I would stay since this year's Blues on the Fest features a killer lineup: JUN 19: Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Southern Avenue
JUN 20: Buddy Guy, Mindi Abair & The Boneshakers, Billy Branch and Melody Angel
COUNT IT DOWN YOURSELF If you type in the date you want in the search box for this NIFTY ONLINE COUNTERand then click on the date at the top of the list that comes up, it will tell you how many days are left to your special day.
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.
If you don't, the automated system will void your entry.
BODY OF EMAIL ONLY your name, phone number and email address.
Drawings will be the DAY AFTER the entry deadlines (most of the time).
Winners will have 24 hours to respond before another winner is chosen. Please do not enter if you know you cannot attend.
JOE LOUIS WALKER PHOTO BY ARNIE GOODMAN
TWO FREE TICKETS
PLUS A MEET & GREET
THURS, MARCH 26 @ Hey Nonny, Arlington Heights Joe Louis Walker Joe Louis Walker is a Blues Hall of Fame inductee, a four-time Blues Music Award winner and a national treasure who is still cranking out new music after more than 50 years in the blues biz. He released a live DVD last May (Viva Las Vegas Live) and will be releasing a new recording, Blues Comin' On, at a June 13 party at The Cutting Room in New York City. ONE MORE THING: Did you also know that Joe was Michael Bloomfield's roommate for many years? Just think about all the stories he could tell.
DEADLINE TO ENTER FRIDAY, MAR 20 @ midnight
ENTER NOW SUBJECT LINE: Everyone Wants a Piece of Joe Louis Walker
FRI, APR 24, 10pm @ City Winery
Taj Mahal Quartet The Quartet is this year's Taj model that he is taking out on the road. As far as I am concerned, I can never hear too much Taj, no matter what the format (but I do really LOVE the Phantom Blues Band).
DEADLINE TO ENTER SUN,APR 5 @ midnight
SUBJECT LINE: Taj Has the Leavin' Trunk Blues
SO MUCH NEW MUSIC
It is hard to keep up with all the new music that is being released–and that's a good thing because we all are sure to hear something we just gotta have.
The Nighthawks, who will celebrate 50 years as a band at the end of 2021, will release a new CD on EllerSoul April 17 called Tryin' to Get to You. I think Mark Wenner (harp and vocals) is the only original band member. Other current members include: Dan Hovey, guitars and vocals; Mark Stutso, drums and vocals; and Paul Pisciotta, bass and vocals. Don't forget that this is the D.C. band that gave us Jimmy Thackery.
Michael Dotson, who you will see playing with Mississippi Heat, has a new live album recorded in Valencia, Spain, called Peligroso Blues.This is the only way I can see you can get it:
For sale: Paypal 15€ Spain, 20€ Europe, including postage, to: email@example.com.
Dion DiMucci's (the oldies in the crowd know who he is) allegedly has a new album coming out on June 1 called Dion, Blues with Friends. And because he is Dion! (my exclamation point), those friends include Jeff Beck, ZZ Top, Billy F. Gibbons, Bruce Springsteen and Patti Scialfa, Joe Bonamassa, John Hammond, Brian Setzer, Samantha Fish, Van Morrison, Paul Simon and Joe Louis Walker. I can't wait because I LOVED his other blues releases and love his voice. Now I want to see a live show with these friends of his. I would even go to Jersey. SEE WHAT YOU THINK Tank Full of Blues Hoodoo Man Blues (from Son of Skip James) Walkin' Blues (from Bronx in Blue)
Check out Dion in his youth (I can't get enough of this): Runaround Sue
Roomful of Blues, another band that keeps on ticking with an ever-evolving cast of characters, has a new Alligator recording coming out March 13 called, In A Roomful Of Blues. It is the band's sixth release on Alligator and features 13 songs, including ten band-composed originals that are blues mixed with everything else you love: zydeco, late-night ballads, Latin-tinged funk and vintage rock ‘n’ roll.
And finally, Liz Mandeville & the Blue Points will be celebrating the release of their new CD, Playing with Fire, on Sunday, March 15 at Buddy Guy's Legends. It's Mandeville's 4th release on her Blue Kitty label. Be there.
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.
I have been trying to get you to plan your own fun by only listing one or two options for each day, but this two-week period is a real challenge. There is SOOOO much good stuff coming our way, it is hard to choose...especially on this coming Friday the 13th.
Aren't you glad you call Chicago your sweet home?
FRI, MAR 6 Davy Knowles
Brauer House, Lombard
Martin Lang Band
Goin' Down South
Harlem Ave. Lounge, Berwyn
Original Chicago Blues Allstars
SAT, MAR 7
Big Dog Mercer
The Hyde Speakeasy
CD RELEASE PARTY
Harlem Ave. Lounge, Berwyn
Smiley Tillmon Band
SUN, MAR 8
Mary Lane and
the No Static Blues Band
Culture, Homewood (1pm)
and Gerry Hundt
Smoke Daddy (1130am)
MON, MAR 9 SECOND MONDAY BLUES
Doktu Rhute Muuzic
with Billy Branch
University of Chicago (7pm)
THE MONDAY BLUES
TUES, MAR 10
and Shoji Naito
WED, MAR 11
Joel Paterson Trio
THURS, MAR 12
Shaw's Crab House
FRI, MAR 13 BLUES-ISH: Squirrel Nut Zippers
City Winery (10pm) NOTE:Earlier show is sold out.
Ronnie Baker Brooks
Club 210, Highwood
The Venue, Aurora
with Giles Corey and Friends
Spectrum Bar & Grill
Big Damn Band,
Black Oil Brothers
Vanessa Collier, Melody Angel
Buddy Guy's Legends
SAT, MAR 14 Michael Charles
Danny's on Douglas, Elgin
SUN, MAR 15 Albert Cummings
PRO BLUES JAM
featuring Vino Louden
Reggie's Music Joint (7pm)
CD RELEASE PARTY
Buddy Guy's Legends
MON, MAR 16 BLUE MONDAY SERIES
THE MONDAY BLUES
Barbara Clifford and
the Shakin' Tailfeathers
TUES, MAR 17
Chicago Wind Blues Band
with Deitra Farr
WED, MAR 18 BLUES LEGENDS JAM
with Linsey Alexander, Willie Buck, Milwaukee Slim, Mary Lane and Claudette Miller
OUT AND NOT ABOUT
Shocking, but true: I got nuthin'for this issue, unless you want to see a picture of my cat. Believe it or not, I've been holed up in my apartment, not because of that corona thing, but because it just seemed like a little lagom (OK, hygge, if you lean more Danish)was in order. I have, however, been listening to a couple of bands I wish were still here.
HAVE A LISTEN
Sweet Home Chicago Blues (1977) Easy Baby & His Houserockers
You can buy it on Amazon for $94.07
or listen to it here.
I would buy it, but my pockets are not that deep.
Lickin' Gravy (1988) Wild Child Butler with special guests Jimmy Rogers and Pinetop Perkins
Check out the other players on this recording! WOW. Listen now
THURS, APR 16 Marcia Ball and Tommy Castro
(7 and 930pm)
The Venue, Aurora
APR 30 Albert Castiglia (730pm)
Hey Nonny, Arlington Heights
JUNE 5–7 Chicago Blues Festival Millennium Park
THURS–SUN, JULY 2–5 39th Annual Great American
MAR 5 Rico McFarland John Primer
MAR 6 Walter Trout Pete Galanis
MAR 7 Odie Payne III Thaddeus Krolicki
MAR 9 Robin Trower Laura Lee (Gospel)
MAR 10 Ronnie Earl
MAR 11 Harvey Mandel
MAR 16 Giles Corey
MAR 18 Amy Brat (BratGirlmedia, VizzTone) Dave Riley
MAR 19 Peaches Staten
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.
MAR 4 Stephen Bass
FEB 23 Michael Freeman
(Blues Foundation, Blue Point Records)
MAR 5 J.B. Lenoir Peg Leg Howell Tommy Tucker
MAR 6 Walter “Furry” Lewis
MAR 8 Mississippi John Hurt Bob Brozman
MAR 9 Georgia White
MAR 10 Omar Shariff (aka Dave Alexander)
MAR 12 Jesse Fuller
MAR 13 Lightnin’ Slim Hicks
MAR 14 Robert Pete Williams
MAR 15 Bertha “Chippie” Hill Lightnin’ Hopkins
MAR 16 Yank Rachell
MAR 18 Big Daddy Kinsey
JUST ONE MORE THING
I know Frank Zappa said, "Don't you eat that yellow snow," but I think he also would have cautioned against the consumption of green beer. YOU HEARD ME.