Wait a minute...Has the pandemic ended? It sure seems that way in Chicago, where masks have become "chin" jewelry for some and trash for many. If you are ready to rejoin the world again, there are a LOT of options to hear blues inside and out, even though we are still waiting for Legends to get back to business. It will...be patient.
In my world, for a few different reasons, I have decided to skip the AUGUST newsletter and take the rest of the summer off to pretend to finish my quarantine to-do list and just wander a bit. I will be back SEPT 10 with a new newsletter, likely the same ol' attitude...and hopefully the updated website I promised to have finished by now. Procrastination is sometimes my middle name.
Enjoy the summer! I will keep the online calendar more or less updated as I hear about gigs, so you won't have to find things on your own. See you in September! –Karen Murphy
REST IN PEACE
Ellen McIlwaine, 75 10.1.45 –6.23.21 Ellen McIllwaine died at a hospice center in Calgary, Alberta, of esophageal cancer, which had only been diagnosed six weeks before her death. I have been an Ellen McIllwaine fan since the 1970s, but never looked closely at her bio so I just assumed she was Canadian (she was born in Nashville). It was a logical mistake since she lived in Canada for more than 30 years. Amazingly, she once played in the plaza next to Tribune Tower for one of their lunchtime shows. Boy, was I in heaven that day. What a talent. PHOTO: The cover of her 1972 recording, Honky Tonk Angel HAVE A LISTEN READ THE WASHINGTON POST OBIT
Carlton Jackson, 60
Carlton Jackson was a longtime member of the Portland jazz and blues scene. He was a talented drummer and, since 2009, hosted The Message on Portland jazz station KMHD. He passed away at his North Portland, OR, home. The cause of death was not released. GET MORE INFO
FROM TAJ MAHAL'S FACEBOOK PAGE (JUNE 21–22):
It is with heavy hearts that we share the very sad news of the passing of our dear friend and “tour manager extraordinaire” Kong. The family of Taj's tour manager and our dear friend, Kong, created an email address for those who would love to share your stories, photos, feelings and memories of Kong. Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
THINKING OUT LOUD
TOO MANY CHOICES. This weekend in Chicago is a good example of WE ARE BACK IN BUSINESS. On Sunday, July 11, we have to choose between three great options:
Muddy Waters Blues Jam and Tribute to Mojo Morganfield
1-5pm, Downtown Westmont (part of Taste of Westmont)
FRONT PORCH CONCERT SERIES: Jimmy Burns
3pm, Muddy Waters Mojo Museum (4339 S. Lake Park)
Tribute to Sir Walter Scott with Joe Pratt and the Source One Band
3-7pm, East Odyssey Lounge (9942 S. Torrence)
And, if you are up for a road trip, there is a Tribute to Bryan Lee (1-830pm) on Saturday, July 10 in Two Rivers, WI with a lot of bands.
MORE BUDDY.Buddy Guy: The Blues Chase the Blues Away premieres Tuesday, July 27, at 9PM on PBS (Check your local listings, pbs.org/americanmasters, and the PBS Video app). This new documentary features unseen performance footage and new interviews with Buddy, Carlos Santana, John Mayer, Gary Clark Jr, Christone "KINGFISH" Ingram and more.
OPEN HOUSE. The House of Blues is the latest to announced they will be back in business in Chicago beginning today! They don't have a music schedule online yet, but I am sure it is coming soon.
BETTER IDEA. As I was whining about the Village of Orland Park's Centennial Park West Concert Series and the dumb idea that you had to buy the whole series ($75-$90), someone at the village must have realized that no one would want to pay to see that odd collection of bands with no obvious connection to each other (or they just heard me whining).Now it is possible to buy single day tickets...so if you wanna see the Fabulous Thunderbirds, the ticket is a more reasonable $25. That night you can also see the headliner Blue Oyster Cult for a real blast from the past and Mark Farner's American Band. In case you forgot, Farner was the lead singer/guitarist of Grand Funk Railroad who later became a contemporary Christian musician (I could not make this up). OPTION #2: You could go see the T-Birds at 430pm and leave after their set. Then you have time for a nice dinner before you head home. TICKETS
CLAP YOUR HANDS! Congratulations to 92-year-old Chicago blues master Jimmy Johnson, who won the Blues Artist of the Year (Male) in the 2021Living Blues Awards Critics' Poll.
OTHER CHICAGO CRITICS' POLL WINNERS Shemekia Copland |Blues Artist of the Year (Female) Billy Branch | Most Outstanding Musician (Harmonica)
CRITICS' POLL – BEST BLUES ALBUMS OF 2020 Shemekia Copeland | Uncivil War John Primer & Bob Corritore | The Gypsy Woman Told Me
THE LIVING BLUESREADERS' POLL CHICAGO WINNERS Shemekia Copland |Blues Artist of the Year (Female); Best Blues Album of 2020, Uncivil War Buddy Guy | Most Outstanding Musician (Guitar); Best Live Performer; Most Outstanding Blues Singer
BMA WINNERS. The Blue Foundation also has announced its 2021 Blues Music Award winners. For Chicago, it was Shemekia Copeland, Kenny Smith and John Primer. Here's the complete list. Congrats to everyone!
MORE AWARDS. Anyone can and should vote (but ONLY ONE TIME) in the Blues Blast Music Awards––and you can do it through Aug. 6. While I would never tell you who you should vote for, there are a number of Chicago musicians up for awards who I know would love your support. I can't tell if there will be an actual awards ceremony this year or if we are still operating in virtual reality. One more thing: This is how Blues Blast signs up new subscribers...if you don't already subscribe, you are added to the subscriber list when you vote. You can, of course, unsubscribe any time you want, but why? You can never have too much blues news, can you? VOTE RIGHT NOW
AN INTERESTING COINCIDENCE. July 10 must have been a particularly good day for the blues because both Bruce Iglauer (Alligator) and Julia Miller (Delmark) were born that day.
ON THE ROAD AGAIN.The ill-fated Women of the Blues exhibit curated by Lynn Orman Weissthat was at Delmark during the entire pandemic, was featured in a short WTTW segment recently. Look for the exhibit to pop up again in a couple other locations in town in the not-too-distance future. WATCH THE WTTW SEGMENT
OFF THE COUCH
6.18.21 @ SPACE, Evanston Southern Hospitality
Any time I see Victor Wainwright's name on something, I'm in. His band the Train is a force of nature and I cannot wait until they do another show in Chicago. In this case, Southern Hospitality is just some old friends playing together...but when the friends are Victor Wainwright, Damon Fowler and J.P. Soars...everyone has a great time. We waited a year for this show, thanks to our friend COVID-19. It definitely was worth the wait, but let's not do that again. THE PHOTOS
6.27.21 @ 43rd & Lake Park Bronzeville Mural Ribbon Cutting
Thanks to the Bronzeville Blues Collaborative,there's a new mural in Bronzeville that emphasizes the link between the Delta blues that Muddy electrified and turned into Chicago blues and the music being made today by current musicians like Chance the Rapper and Noname (aka Fatimah Nyeema Warner) an American rapper, poet and record producer from Bronzeville. The mural, by artist Damon Lamar Reed, features images of Muddy Waters, Koko Taylor, Willie "Big Eyes" Smith, Mary Lane, Chance the Rapper and Noname.
Mary Lane and the No Static Blues Band entertained the crowd after the ribbon cutting. THE PHOTOS
7.1.21 @ Blues Heaven Foundation/Chess Studios Willie Dixon's Birthday Bash
featuring Melvin Taylor & The Slack Band
This was Melvin Taylor's last performance before he joins John Mayall's band for its upcoming tour, replacing guitarist Carolyn Wonderland. It was great to be back at the Blues Heaven Foundation's Garden to celebrate the great Willie Dixon. Hopefully, this will be the first of many performances this summer. THE PHOTOS
NOTE: The Mayall show at SPACE is already sold out, but Mayall will also be at City Winery on Sunday, Aug. 22–and there are still a few tickets left.
HAVE A LISTEN The Mannish Boys
I LOVE this band and wish I could have seen them live...especially with Finis Tasby. This is the next best thing. This version of the band also has Sugaray Rayford.
******* I Ain't Studdin' Ya My American Blues Story Bobby Rush just doesn't slow down. At 87, he is still performing regularly all over the U.S. and keeps winning awards, including a Grammy at the age of 83 for Best Traditional Blues Album for Porcupine Meat. And now he's got a new memoir that just came out June 22. Anyone who has seen Rush perform knows he tells it like it is, which means the book will be filled with both humor and painfully honest stories with intimate details.
******* BUY SOMETHING
In my youth, I spend a LOT of time wandering around Evergreen Park Plaza, yet never knew that there was such a thing as Beverly Recordsjust a few miles farther south. Now that I know, I will be heading down there to take a look. Amazingly, the store has been family-owned since 1967. I recently saw the store in the documentary Live At Mister Kelly’s––and thought for a second it might be the old Jazz Record Mart. It kinda has that Bob Koester vibe.
Maybe they will have the record I have been looking for for the past few years. I can dream.
Christone "Kingfish" Ingram | 662 RELEASE DATE: July 23 (Alligator)
Anyone who has seen Kingfish live would agree with Living Blues magazine's assessment that, "By any measure, Kingfish is one of the brightest new stars of his generation." At just 22, he has already won many awards, including a 2021 Blues Music Award for Guitarist of the Year and Contemporary Blues Male Artist of the Year for the second year in a row. This second release was recorded in Nashville and co-written and produced (as was his first CD, Kingfish) by Grammy winner Tom Hambridge. It features 13 songs.
GO SEE HIM LIVE
Kingfish will be at the new Hard Rock Casino in Gary July 23 and 24–and the shows are FREE (no kidding).
Mike Zito | Resurrection RELEASE DATE: July 16 (SoNo Recording Group)
There are 11 tracks––eight originals and three covers––on this new release that Zito describes as "an album of feelings, emotions and is very personal." The covers are JJ Cale's I’ll Make Love To You, Eric Clapton's Presence of the Lord and Willie Dixon's Evil.
Brenda Taylor & Her Chicago Blues Band | Buggy Ride RELEASE DATE: August 21 (Wolf)
Brenda Taylor is one of the daughters of Chicago blues legend Eddie Taylor. Chicagoans can catch Taylor around town often, but this is her first CD of her own. Her Chicago band members are her brothers Tim and Eddie Taylor Jr., plus Illinois Slim, Freddie Dixon and Harmonica Hinds. There are 12 tracks, including four originals plus one written by Taylor's mother Vera and one written by her dad, Eddie.
Dixon, Watkins, Vaughn | 3x3 RELEASE DATE: July 2 (Reecy Records)
Three Chicago blues masters––Freddie Dixon, John Watkins and Maurice John Vaughn–are joined by two other well-known Chicago musicians, Tim Taylor and Shirley Johnson, on this new release.
Now I want to see this band play somewhere in Chicago. I'm waiting.
Cedric Burnside | I Be Trying RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW (Single Lock Records)
A total of 13 tracks of Mississippi Hill Country blues from a member of the legendary Burnside family. Cedric, the grandson of R.L. Burnside, takes his grandfather's music and turns it into a modern sound that echoes its Hill Country roots. Luther Dickinson of the North Mississippi Allstars makes a guest appearance.
NOTE: Cedric Burnside will be opening for the North Mississippi Allstars at SPACE in Evanston on Nov. 18. You can also see him at the Shawnee Cave Revival on July 17 in Murphysboro, IL.
AND ONE MORE THING
Delmark is planning a fall release for a double album celebrating Dave Specter's 30 years on the label.
The next chicagoBLUESnews:
FRIDAY, SEPT 10 2021 (Mails on THURS, SEPT 9)
You may have noticed that the calendar has expanded a bit in terms of the geographical boundaries. There are now shows listed that are happening in the states that border Illinois and Festivals all over the map that just look fun to me. Are there any rules you can follow to know if a show outside of the Chicago metro area will make the cut? Not really...but if it looks interesting to me or if I would go if I could, it will likely find its way onto the calendar.
GO HEAR LIVE MUSIC! I was going to give you some ideas, but you have eyes and can look at the online calendar whenever you have a second. One thing I will point out: There is now a Blues Brunch Cruise running every Sunday right around the lake in Michigan City, IN. It could be too much fun and just one more thing we oughta be doing in Chicago. I do know that Matt Hendricks and Gerry Hundt are both performing during the season, but not sure when. FIND OUT MORE
(269) 231-5867 TICKETS
Tickets go on sale tomorrow (7.9 @ 10am) for the SEPT 24–26 Berwyn Blues Fest at FitzGerald's. It's the closest thing we have to a real Chicago Blues Fest this year...unless the Logan Center Fest ups the ante in October. I also am hearing rumblings that the Windy City Blues Society might be planning a festival for 2022. Stay tuned.
JULY 10 Mavis Staples Bruce Iglauer Dexter Allen Julia A. Miller
JULY 11 Jarekus Singleton
JULY 12 Brenda Taylor Roger O'Reilly
JULY 13 Big Joe Maher
JULY 15 Willie Cobbs Steve James Tim OBrien Corey Dennison
JULY 16 Sue Koester (Mrs. Bob)
JULY 17 Ironing Board Sam Margie Evans Johnny Burgin Keith Johnson
JULY 18 Tony Mangiullo Lynn Jordan Rosalind Wilcox
JULY 19 Little Freddie King John Watkins
JULY 20 Merle Perkins Steve Freund Bonny B. Phil Breen Darren Jay Fallas
JULY 22 Dennis Gruenling
JULY 23 Linsey Alexander Frank Pellegrino Bill Gibbs
JULY 24 Mighty Mo Rodgers
JULY 25 Bobby Henderson Powell Keith Edward
JULY 27 Roger "Hurricane" Wilson
JULY 28 Roy Rogers Steven I. Wolf
JULY 30 Buddy Guy Otis Taylor
JULY 31 Jesse Lockridge
AUG 1 Robert Cray Deitra Farr Bill Stuve
AUG 2 Mark Naftalin
AUG 3 Matthew Skoller Ronnie Shellist
AUG 5 Michael Murphy (yeah, that Michael Murphy) Martin Schaefer-Murra Dave Katzman
AUG 6 Cody Diekhoff
AUG 7 Denny Freeman Annika Chambers
AUG 8 Lady Bianca Deak Harp
AUG 9 Trudy Lynn Lois Wang
AUG 10 Grego Anderson Devon Allman
AUG 11 Billy Flynn Thornetta Davis
AUG 12 Roy Gaines Sam Frazier Jr Terry "Big T" Williams Morry Sochat Albert Castiglia Nick Bell Chuck Tippit
AUG 13 Jimi Bott Cathy Lemons
AUG 14 Larry Graham Terry Adams Rick Kreher
AUG 15 RL Boyce
AUG 16 Eric Bibb Seth Walker
AUG 17 Colin James Steve Likens
AUG 18 Ken Saydak Paul Garrett
AUG 19 Billy Prewitt
AUG 20 Bill Howl-N-Madd Perry Eric Johanson
AUG 21 Elmore James Jr. Tracee Adams Landis Chisenhall
AUG 22 Debbie Davies Jim Thebassguy (Kaplan)
AUG 23 Johnny Iguana
AUG 24 David Freiberg "Guitar Slim Jr." Armstrong
AUG 25 Mr. Sipp Erin Harpe Brother Jacob (Jacob Schulz)
AUG 26 Cedric Burnside Ari Seder Derrick Procell
AUG 27 Louisiana Al Andrew Diehl
AUG 28 Diane Spencer Chris Beard Sue Kane Coleman Dave Raye
AUG 30 Jimmie Smith
AUG 31 Jay Davenport Joanna Connor Tom Rezetko
SEPT 2 Alan Charles Jardine Joe Simon Nick Fane Jeff Stone
SEPT 3 Jackie Dixon Lee Stafford Chris Gibbs Roosevelt E Johnson
SEPT 4 Wayne Sharp Neal Francis O'Hara
SEPT 5 Sandra Hall
SEPT 7 Benjamin Latimore Casey Lee Jaime Sheets
SEPT 8 Guitar Shorty Leslie Keros (DJ) Shun Kikuta Kurt Foor (Friends of the Blues)
SEPT 9 Tutu Jones
JULY 8 Louis Jordan Johnnie Johnson Henry Qualls
JULY 9 Joe Liggins
JULY 10 Blind Boy Fuller Charlie Baty Barrelhouse Chuck
Sir Walter Scott
JULY 11 Smokey Wilson
JULY 12 Sam Taylor Sammy Lawhorn
JULY 13 Long John Hunter
JULY 14 Queen Sylvia Embry
JULY 15 Washboard Sam Brown
JULY 16 Denise LaSalle
JULY 17 George Barnes Peppermint Harris
JULY 18 "Screamin' Jay Hawkins Lonnie Mack
JULY 19 Richard "Hacksaw" Harney Buster Benton
JULY 20 Grace Brim
JULY 21 Floyd Jones
JULY 23 Percy Strother
JULY 24 Washboard Willie
JULY 25 Sylvester Weaver
JULY 26 Alberta Adams
JULY 28 Isaac L. "Banjo Ikey" Robinson Junior Kimbrough Mike Bloomfield
JULY 29 Charles Henry Christian
JULY 30 Bobby Too Tuff (aka Edward Blanche) Big Jack Johnson Michael Burks
JULY 31 Roy Milton Smoky Babe
AUG 1 Marie Booker Dixon
AUG 2 Pork Miller Big Walter Price
AUG 3 Alex “Easy Baby” Randle
AUG 4 Louis Armstrong
AUG 6 Willie Lee Brown Lem Johnson Willie Nix
AUG 7 Mose Vinson Magic Slim
AUG 8 Lucky Millinder Jimmy Witherspoon Joe Tex
AUG 9 Robert Shaw
AUG 11 Sam Collins
AUG 12 Gladys Bentley Percy Mayfield
AUG 13 Baby Bob Warren Jimmy McCracklin Son Seals
AUG 15 Buster Brown Jackie Brenston Bobby Byrd Osee Anderson Sr.
AUG 16 Melvin “Lil’ Son” Jackson Eddie Kirkland
AUG 17 Walter Brown Albert Washington Luther Allison Dave "Snaker" Ray
AUG 18 Curtis Jones Barkin' Bill Smith
AUG 19 Earl Gaines Little Johnny Christian
AUG 20 J.J. Malone
AUG 22 Henry “Son” Sims Addie "Sweet Pea" Spivey Ruby Kate McTell John Lee Hooker Carolina Slim Roscoe Shelton
AUG 24 Ruby Smith Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup Wynonie Harris Willie Seaberry (Po’ Monkey)
AUG 26 Jimmy Rushing Walkin’ Cane Mark
AUG 27 "Diamond Teeth Mary" McClain Lenin "Doc" Pellegrino Odie Payne Jr.
AUG 29 Jimmie Bell Dinah Washington
AUG 30 Mercy Dee Walton Olive Brown Luther “Snake Boy” Johnson
AUG 31 Todd Rhodes Dan Pickett Red Nelson Bobby Parker
SEPT 2 Floyd Council Booker T. Laury
SEPT 3 Memphis Slim Charlie Booker Freddie King
SEPT 4 Meade Lux Lewis Archie L. Edwards U. P. Wilson
SEPT 5 Sunnyland Slim
SEPT 6 Charles Joseph "Buddy" Bolden Jimmy Reed Fred Below Ollie Nightingale Jay Owens Paul Orta
SEPT 7 Little Milton
SEPT 8 Harmonica Fats
SEPT 9 Otis Redding
TENTATIVE 2021 SCHEDULE (All newsletters mail on Thursday, the day before the issue date) SEPT 10–OCT 7
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.