Since my last newsletter, a lot of members of the blues community and in the larger music community have left us. May they all rest in peace and let us all remember how important it is to cherish our friends and family and each day we have.
Mike Finnigan, 76
Mike Finnigan was a legendary keyboardist and session player who played with almost everyone: Joe Cocker, Etta James, Jimi Hendrix, Sam Moore, Crosby Stills and Nash, Manhattan Transfer, Buddy Guy, Taj Mahal and the Phantom Blues Band, Michael McDonald, Cher, Maria Muldaur, Ringo Starr, Rod Stewart, David Coverdale, Leonard Cohen, Tower of Power, Tracy Chapman, Bonnie Raitt, Los Lonely Boys, and Saving Escape. He died of kidney cancer. READ THE OBIT HAVE A LISTEN Full Concert with The Phantom Blues Band at Knuckleheads Garage (2017) Death Letter with the Phantom Blues Band
Carol Fran, 87
Rhythm-and-blues and swamp-blues singer, pianist and songwriter; married to fellow musician Clarence Holliman, who died in 2000 READ THE OBIT HAVE A LISTEN NOTE: A tribute is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 11 (11am–2pm), at the Grouse Patio in Lafayette, LA. Masks will be required.
Roy Gaines, 83
American Texas blues and electric blues guitarist and the younger brother of blues musician Grady Gaines; played with Bobby Bland, Junior Parker, Big Mama Thorton and others HAVE A LISTEN
Charles Schantz (aka River City Slim)
Grand Rapids (MI) guitarist; complications from a stroke OBIT
Berbon "Bubba" Sullivan, 81
Driving force behind the annual King Biscuit Blues Festival in Helena-West Helena and a founding member of the Sonny Boy Blues Society READ HIS OBIT
Dusty Hill, 72
Bass player for ZZ Top, who also sang lead and backup vocals and played keyboards; of indeterminate causes READ THE OBIT
Charlie Watts, 80
Rolling Stones drummer since 1963 BBC Obit
Paul Boudreau, 66 Bass player for the Canadian band, Glamour Puss Blues Band; of cancer
Lee Williams, 75
Gospel singer who was the leader and founder of the Spiritual QCs; of complications from dementia
Linda Mensch, 70
Renowned Chicago entertainment lawyer; from a hit-and-run accident
Charles Edward Weiss, 76
American songwriter and vocalist known for an eclectic mix of blues, beat poetry, and rock and roll; toured with Lightnin' Hopkins and played with Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Dr. John and others; subject of Rickie Lee Jones song, Chuck E.'s in Love; of cancer
Kenosha area bass player with the Rhythm Dogs; no other info available
OTHER PASSINGS Bruce Conte, 71 (Tower of Power guitarist); of leukemia (3.3.60–8.8.21) Nanci Griffith, 68, Texas singer/songwriter (7.6.53–8.13.21) "Sweet" Connie Hamzy Parente, 66, Arkansas native and groupie who was the subject of several rock songs, including Grand Fund Railroad's We're an American Band (1.9.55–8.21.21) John Drake, 74, lead singer of the Amboy Dukes, of cancer (1947-8.29.21) Rickie Lee Reynolds, 72, Black Oak Arkansas guitarist, of kidney failure and cardiac arrest, complications from COVID-19 (10.28.48–9.5.21) Michael "Mick Rain" Ruane, 68, Drummer for Chicago group Pezband (1953–8.14.21), of complications from COVID-19 Ron Bushy, 79, Drummer for the rock band Iron Butterfly; only member of the band to appear on all six of the band's studio albums; of cancer(12.23.41–8.29.21) Scott Bock, 65, Lawyer and blues fan who published more than 400 feature stories on musicians; his photographs are now housed at the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi and his blues and African artwork are at the Sherrill Library at Lesley College in Cambridge, MA; of cancer (4.19.56–8.23.21) Tom T. Hall,85, Country singer-songwriter who wrote Harper Valley P.T.A. (5.25.36–8.20.21) Walter Yetnikoff, 87, President of CBS Records International (1971–1975) and president and CEO of CBS Records (1975–1990); of bladder cancer (8.11.33–8.9.21) Dennis Thomas, 70, Co-founder of Kool and The Gang and alto saxophone player, flutist, percussionist as well as master of ceremonies at the band’s shows (2.9.51–8.7.21) Patricia Kennealy-Morrison, 75, Rock journalist and "wife" of Doors lead singer Jim Morrison (3.4.46–7.21.21) Razzy Bailey, 82, American country music artist (2.14.39–8.4.21) Paul Johnson, 50, Chicago House music legend; of complications from COVID-19 (1.11.71–8.4.21) Lithofayne Pridgon, 80, Long-time girlfriend of Jimi Hendrix and alleged inspiration for his song, Foxy Lady (1940–4.22.21) Sanford Clark, 85, Rockabilly and country performer; of complications from COVID-19 (10.24.35–7.4.21)
THINKING OUT LOUD
STEP IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION. The City of Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASEA) Music Lives Here project pays tribute to 50 spaces, places and people that have shaped Chicago’s music landscape, past and present. There will be pop-up performances throughout the year. The project, part of the city's Year of Chicago Music, is being handled by Chicago graphic art studio Sonnenzimmer and Maya Bird-Murphy of Chicago Mobile Makers. There is a map online that will show you where all the markers are. As you can see, Delmark Records (4121 N. Rockwell) has one of the markers. CHECK OUT THE MAP
NEW VENUES IN TOWN.
The HVAC Pub (3530 N Clark St.)
This pub is hosting a new live blues series call Sawbuck Sundays (Get it? The cover is $10). The last Sunday of the month will be a Pro Jam. Here's the upcoming schedule:
SEPT 19 | Joanna Connor
SEPT 26 | Chicago Blues Pro Jam featuring Billy Flynn, Brother John Kattke, Scotty "Bad Boy" Bradbury, Dave Katzman, Marty Binder and Melvin Smith.
SPECIAL GUEST: Jimmy Johnson
OCT 3 | Mike Wheeler Band
OCT 10 | Dave Specter Band
OCT 17 | The Kinsey Report
OCT 24 | Chicago Blues Pro Jam featuring Billy Flynn, Brother John Kattke, Bob Stroger, Dave Katzman, Kenny Smith and Amy Lowe
SPECIAL GUEST: Oscar Wilson
Doors and kitchen 430pm | Music at 8pm
Des Plaines Theater (1476 Miner St, Des Plaines)
Ron Onesti has done it again––brought this historic theater back to life after a hefty investment. So far, not a lot of blues planned EXCEPT:
OCT 21 | Buddy Guy
NOV 5 | Kenny Wayne Shepherd
MAR 11 | BLUES-ISH: Eric Johnson
MORE AWARDS. Although there wasn't a Blues Blast Awards event this year, the winners have been announced–and our favorite blues diva Shemekia Copeland is probably going to have to add a wing to her house if she keeps winning awards. This time she won for Contemporary Blues Album (Uncivil War) and Female Blues Artist.
WHO'S NEXT?Mark Kelly, who has been running the city’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) since 2016 and is widely admired for the all the work he has done to promote the arts in the city, is retiring this fall. Those are big shoes to fill and we can only hope his successor will continue what Kelly began.
BUDDY'S BACK. Buddy Guy's Legends is back open, hosting music WED–SUN every week (club opens at 5pm). At least for now, the club is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. FIND OUT WHO'S PLAYING
BELATED CONGRATS. Not sure how I missed this big news back in February, but it is NEVER too late to say WOW and HELL YEAH! Congrats to Julia A. Miller, President & CEO of Delmark Records, who was given AirPlay Direct’s 2021 Iconic Innovator Award. She is the first woman to receive the award, which honors visionaries who have openly embraced digital innovation in the music industry.
SURELY YOU JEST. We went to the 2021 Bronzeville Blues Fest and the music was great (see photos), but I cannot believe the story that ran on the WBBM Radio site. Unless I missed something or The Onion is part of WBBM now, there are no plans that I know of to replace the Chicago Blues Festival with the Bronzeville Fest. I am pretty sure they both can exist.
$%#@!% Thanks to the rising number of COVID-19 cases in Helena-West Helena and Phillips County, the King Biscuit Blues Festival has been cancelled for 2021 and the next one is scheduled for Oct. 5-8, 2022––unless this international nightmare has not gone away.
WE KNEW THAT.Rory Gallagher was named Ireland’s Greatest Music Artist following a vote hosted by Dublin-based radio station Newstalk, beating out Thin Lizzy and U2. If you are a Gallagher fan, you might want to order the 50th Anniversary Edition Five-disc Box Set, which includes a new mix of his original 1971album, 30 previously unreleased outtakes and alternate takes, a six-song 1971 BBC Radio John Peel Sunday concert, four BBC Radio session tracks, plus previously unreleased 50-minute DVD of Rory’s first-ever solo concert filmed in Paris. LEARN MORE
NEW chicagoBLUESnews WEBSITE. Okay, it didn't happen yet. As I have said before, procrastination is often my middle name (it changes on a whim). And, my excuse this time is I was re-learning how to use my camera, as you will see below. Maybe before 2022, this will become a priority...or not. Photographing live music is a LOT more fun than wrestling with html code.
GET OFF THE COUCH
We've been OUT&ABOUT a lot since July––like there never even was a pandemic or a Delta Variant of youknowwhat. We sure had some much-needed fun!
Granville Blues Fest
What a fun fest in a neighborhood fighting hard to come back to life. Great music both days.
Rick Estrin & the Nightcats
SPACE, Evanston PHOTOS
We waited a whole year for this to be rescheduled, but it was definitely worth the wait. Rick Estrin and crew showed us all why they won the Blues Music Award for Band of the Year this year. Bravo!
Smiley Tillmon Band
Reggie's at the Beach PHOTOS
Frank Bang Trio
Reggie's Rock Joint PHOTOS
Frank Bang was back in town! Where were you?
Donna Herula Trio
Skokie Backlot Bash PHOTOS
2021 Bronzeville Fest
E. 43rd Street, Chicago PHOTOS
The music was great until the rain came down in buckets. I also can't say I am in love with the idea of having simultaneous music on two stages about a mile apart...especially when parking is a nightmare near one of them. I have high hopes for this fest, but some tweaking is definitely in order.
September got off to a great start with the wonderful 1st annual Rockwell Street Blues & Jazz Stroll and followed the next day with a dream-come-true show: Johnny Iguana's Chicago Blues Spectacular at Rosa's.
But, of course, I need to throw in a little whine. Chicago's Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events has done a spectacular thing with Chicago in Tune AUG 19–SEPT 19 that is bringing free and ticketed events to neighborhoods and venues all over sweet home Chicago.
BUT...I only really care about the BLUES events, so here's the whine: It would have been nice to spread out the free blues club shows through the AUG 19-SEPT 19 time frame instead of bunching them all together SEPT 1–6. And, while I am whining, why couldn't the shows at Pritzker (again, I only really care about the SEPT 18 show) have been more than just 3 hours if they sort of replace the downtown festivals we miss so much?
I hope these images show you exactly why you need to get double vaxxed AND get off the damn couch. There is a LOT of fun to be had outside your humble abode.
Blues & Jazz Stroll
Burning Bush Brewery PHOTOS
In addition to a ton of great music all day long, Robert Jr. Whithall was exhibiting his art in the Delmark Gallery (aka lobby). You can still catch Whithall's paintings through SEPT 24.
4121 N. Rockwell St. delmark.com
Chicago Blues Spectacular
Rosa's Lounge PHOTOS
Sometimes people tend to overpromote things...but SPECTACULAR was exactly the right word for this performance. It was so nice to be back at Rosa's for such a special event.
Carolyn Wonderland Band | Tempting Fate RELEASE DATE: October 8 (Alligator)
This is Carolyn Wonderland's debut on Alligator Records. She left the John Mayall Band (replaced by local fave Melvin Taylor) after three years to tour in support of this new Alligator release. Can you believe Wonderland is the first female guitar whiz in Alligator's 50-year history? This is her 11th album and it contains 10 tracks––five originals and one co-written song including maybe my favorite Dylan song, It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry. The recoding was produced by Dave Alvin, and Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Cindy Cashdollar and Marcia Ball make guest appearances. ON TOUR If you pre-order before the release date, the first 300 orders will get an autographed CD. NOTE: Wonderland will be at City Winery in Chicago on Monday, OCT 25.
Altered Five Blues Band | Holler If You Hear Me RELEASE DATE: September 3 (Blind Pig Records)
Produced by Tom Hambridge with special guest Jason Ricci on harmonica on five tracks; 13 original tracks from this beloved Wisconsin band ON TOUR
Tommy Castro | Tommy Castro PresentsA Bluesman Came to Town RELEASE DATE: September 17 (Alligator)
Another recording produced by the prolific Tom Hambridge–and it contains exactly what Castro's loyal fan love: 13 original songs that mix blues rock and a little West Coast funk with Memphis blue-eyed soul ON TOUR
Ronnie Wood Band | Mr. Luck–A Tribute to Jimmy Reed: Live At The Royal Albert Hall RELEASE DATE: September 2 (BMG)
A total of 18 tracks recorded live in 2013. Band includes Mick Taylor and special guests Bobby Womack, Mick Hucknall and Paul Weller.
Lindsay Beaver and Brad Stivers | One Condition RELEASE DATE: September 10 (VizzTone)
Eleven of the 12 tracks are originals on this recording, which was recorded in Halifax, Nova Scotia, at Garrett Mason's studio. It's a blues, Americana and soul stew.
Elder Jack Ward | Already Made RELEASE DATE: August 20 (Bible and Tire)
Ward offers 10 original songs of Memphis sacred soul with his daughters providing background harmonies. The Sacred Soul Sound Section includes guitarist Will Sexton and Grammy award winner Matt Ross-Spang. This is 83-year-old Ward's first recording in more than 50 years.
GA-20 | GA-20 Does Hound Dog Taylor – Try It, You Might Like It RELEASE DATE: August 20 (Coleman Records in partnership with Alligator)
I did try it––and I didn't might like it, I LOVED it. But just like Bruce Iglauer, who built Alligator Records on a recording of Hound Dog Taylor, I love Hound Dog's sound. Although Hound Dog is long gone, GA-20 does a killer tribute on this recording of 10 of the songs written or performed by Hound Dog Taylor & The Houserockers. ON TOUR NOTE: The band will be in Chicago OCT 16 at Martyrs' and OCT 13 in Milwaukee at Shank Hall.
Rick Holmstrom | See That Light RELEASE DATE: February 26 (Luellie Records)
I have been a Rick Holmstrom fan since I saw him light years ago in Los Angeles at the Hollywood Athletic Club with Johnny Dyer. Fans of his work with Mavis Staples might be a little surprised by tracks like Losing My Shit and I'm An Asshole, but sometimes gritty is just exactly what we need.
Sue Foley | Pinky's Blues RELEASE DATE: October 22 (Stony Plain Records)
Foley mixes some of her favorite blues and roots songs like Angela Strehli's Two Bit Texas Town with several originals in this new recording. Even Jimmie Vaughan joins in on rhythm guitar for Hurricane Girl. ON TOUR NOTE: Foley will be at SPACE in Evanston on OCT. 25 and Shank Hall in Milwaukee the next day.
OTHER RECENT RELEASES 3x3 Dixon, Watkins, Vaughan (Reecy Records) Freddie Dixon, John Watkins and Maurice John Vaughn with Tim Taylor and Shirley Johnson
I finally got a chance to hear this double CD, which features Chicago blues royalty. It has 21 songs, many of which are Chicago blues classics that have been given new life by this powerhouse trio, who are joined by Tim Taylor (yes, those Taylors) on drums and Shirley Johnson on vocals.
Those of us who spend a few pre-pandemic years hanging out on Thursday nights at the now-closed Motor Row Brewing, had the immense privilege to watch Willie's Dixon's son, Freddie, hold court, often joined by guitar whiz John Watkins and sometimes even Maurice John Vaughn, who also is featured on this recording. BUY IT NOW
Under Your Spell (Gulf Coast Records) Tito Jackson
Yes, it's true. Michael Jackson's brother has recorded a blues CD on Mike Zito's record label featuring guest appearances by Bobby Rush, Stevie Wonder, Kenny and Darnell Neal, George Benson, Joe Bonamassa, Eddie Levert, Grady Champion and the B.B. King band. As you probably can guess, this is soul blues, not the blues of Muddy or the Wolf. www.titojackson.com
The next chicagoBLUESnews:
FRIDAY,OCT 8 2021 (Mails on THURS, OCT 7)
Know about a gig I don't?Give me a heads-up.
The calendar has expanded a bit in terms of the geographical boundaries––and now covers shows in the states that border Illinois and Festivals all over the map that just look fun to me. What makes the cut? Shows within the Chicago metro area and those outside of the area that I would go to if I could.
GO HEAR LIVE MUSIC!
With all the options to hear live blues in an around Chicago, you would never guess we are still in a pandemic. Check the ONLINE CALENDAR for options, but here are a few fun fests and shows coming up:
SEPT 12 and 19 | 6-830pm. FREE
Blues Heaven Foundation @ Chess Studios
2120 S. Michigan September 12 - Vino Louden Band
September 19 - John Primer with Steve Bell
SEPT 12 12–8pm
Soul City Blues – Austin
Chicago & Mayfield
Celebrating the living legacy of Chicago Blues on the city’s West Side and The Soul City Corridor
SEPT 18 (530-830pm)
Chicago In Tune – BLUES FREE
Pritzker Pavilion, Millennium Park
What I guess is supposed to pass for blues fest this year is a three-hour show that celebrates 50 Years of Alligator Records with some of Alligator's finest: Lil' Ed and the Blues Imperials, Nick Moss Band with Dennis Gruenling, and the Cash Box Kings with special guests Shemekia Copeland, Billy Branch and Wayne Baker Brooks.
Berwyn Blues Festival
FitzGerald's (6615 W. Roosevelt Rd.)
This is going to be quite the weekend...so many bands...too many to mention. But here's a few: Shemekia Copeland and Ronnie Baker Brooks, Thornetta Davis, Toronzo Cannon, Vanessa Collier, Cash Box Kings, Nick Moss, Billy Branch etc. etc. etc. Need I say more? fitzgeraldsnightclub.com/berwyn-blues-fest/
Logan Center Blues Festival
@ University of Chicago
Headliners Shemekia Copeland and Ronnie Baker Brooks
Bobby Rush with Jontavious Willis
avery r. young and BUTTERSCOTCH
The entire event will be available for viewing via livestream recording at no charge through Sunday, Oct. 24, 2021. A limited number of headline concert tickets will go on sale in mid-September. logancenterblues.org
OCT 23 Alligator Records 50th Anniversary All-Star Blues Revue
with Billy Branch, Toronzo Cannon and Nick Moss
Al Larson Prairie Center for the Arts, Schaumburg
SEPT 11 | 11am–10pm
Blues, Brews & BBQ
Dixon Riverfront, Dixon, IL Ghost Town Blues Band, The Jimmys, Nick Moss discoverdixon.com/dixon-event/blues-brews-bbq-2/ Kinda looks like the same group is putting this on, with a slight change in the band lineup
SEPT 18–19 | Noon–11pm SAT; 9am–5pm SUN
Best Dam Blues Fest
Village Park, Thiensville, WI Toronzo Cannon, Altered Five Blues Band, The Jimmys, Joanna Connor, Jim Liban Harmonica Blowout––and more facebook.com/events/279714483447544/
SEPT 28 Ben E. King Houston Stackhouse Koko Taylor
SEPT 29 Joe "Guitar" Hughes
SEPT 30 Z.Z. Hill
OCT 1 George “Wild Child” Butler Albert Collins Cub Koda
OCT 3 Blind Jim Brewer Deborah Coleman Stevie Ray Vaughan
OCT 5 Left Hand Frank Little Hat Jones
OCT 6 Tim Austin Sammy Price
TENTATIVE 2021 SCHEDULE (All newsletters mail on Thursday, the day before the issue date) OCT 8–NOV 4
NOV 5–DEC 2
DEC 3–JAN 6 2022
Always subject to change in our crazy world or just because I feel like it.