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FEATURE: Beyond  the Chicago Blues Festival 2011


Tail Dragger

Tail Dragger will perform at Reggie's on 6/11 and at Delmark's Blues Brunch on 6/12

photo: Connie Kenny

By Linda Cain

We’ve been waiting patiently all year for the warm weather that finally has arrived and now it’s onto the biggest free blues festival in the world! The Chicago Blues Festival takes place in Grant Park June 10 -12 and festival hours are 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. daily. The blues clubs haven’t even begun to heat up when the fest closes for the night. There are events before, during, and after the fest all over town.


Here are some suggestions for places to go hear live blues beyond the Blues Fest . Please check back to this page for updates as we get closer to the Blues Fest 2011. And the countdown begins…


For a complete list of Chicago area blues clubs, see our club directory in The Guide section.


See you in Grant Park and all over town!



Chicago Blues Fest Update

For your convenience, we have published the entire schedule for the Chicago Blues Festival 2011, June 10 -12 (see link below). For the second year, the Windy City Blues Society has announced that it will again host the WCBS Street Stage featuring top acts like Kilborn Alley Blues Band, Lurrie Bell, Rob Blaine’s Big Otis Blues w/ Peaches, Nick Moss & the Fliptops w/Curtis Salgado and more.


There also is another stage which isn’t listed on any official schedule. It’s the Zone Perfect Stage on Jackson near the Petrillo Music Shell stage, which hands out free snack bars to blues fans.  Acoustic Delta style picker and slide guitarist Donna Herula w/ Tony Nardiello will perform there on:

June 10:  3 - 6 p.m.

June 11:  2 - 6 p.m.

June 12:  2 – 5 p.m.





Blues On The Fox 2011-- New Location

The official Aurora, IL fest lineup:

Friday, June 17

Eric Lindell – 6:30 pm

Robert  Cray – 8:30 pm


Saturday, June 18

Hix Brothers All-Stars – 2 pm

Billy Branch – 3 pm

Kenny Neal – 4:45 pm

Charlie Musselwhite – 7 pm

Buddy Guy --- 8:30 pm


Aurora’s Blues On The Fox outdoor festival will celebrate its 15th Anniversary on June 17 & 18 with two major headliners, Robert Cray and Buddy Guy. There are three changes with this year’s fest, which was previously produced by the city’s special events office.  The historic Paramount Theater in Aurora is now in charge of Blues on the Fox. Admission will no longer be free, but the entrance fee is only $5. And the location has been moved from its urban street setting to a greener space – the North River Street Park, located at New York and River Streets, just west of the Hollywood Casino on the Fox River. It’s only two blocks from the original location. CLICK HERE for info.



Blues On The Green Cancelled


After three years of hosting the free outdoor Blues on the Green blues and art festival, the village of Mt. Prospect, will no longer hold the popular event, which was traditionally held the weekend after Chicago’s Blues Fest . Restaurant/nightclub Blues Bar co-hosted the event and booked Chicago’s best bands. The fest will be missed.


Blues Events at Old Town School

On Wednesday, June 1, Sanctified Grumblers, an old-timey acoustic trio that plays blues and jug band style will perform in a FREE ticketed concert at the Old Town School of Folk Music, 4544 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago. To reserve your free ticket call: 773-728-6000. Honeyboy Edwards was originally slated to perform but has cancelled.


On Saturday, June 11, Booker T. Jones will play two shows at 7 pm and 10 pm. Tickets are $34-$38.


A Tribute to Big Bill Broonzy will be held on Friday, June 17 with Billy Boy Arnold, the Sanctified Grumblers, Mark Dvorak, Joe Filisko, Chris Walz, The Pickin’ Bubs, Paul Kaye and the Young Stracke All-Stars. Tickets are $16 - $20.



FREE blues shows in downtown Chicago


June 6 – Erwin Helfer Trio w/ Katherine Davis

12 Noon, Daley Plaza


June 8 – Blues Camp Kickoff Concert & Screening

5:30 p.m., Columbia College Chicago, Music Center.

For info:


Blues Fest Events at Buddy Guy’s

Buddy Guy’s Legends will host a variety of special events during Blues Fest week in Chicago.  The club will soon celebrate its First Anniversary in the spectacular, spacious new location at 700 S. Wabash (at Balboa), just two blocks north of the original club.


Wed., June 8 – The Chicago chapter of N.A.R.A.S., the organization which awards the Grammys, will host its annual fundraiser and Blues Fest Kickoff. This ticketed event includes a catered reception and an all-star concert lineup, including: Billy Branch, The Brooks Family Blues Dynasty, Cathy Richardson, Carlos Johnson, Chicago Stone Lightening Band, Deitra Farr, Matthew Skoller, Nellie “Tiger” Travis, Nick Moss & the Fliptops w/ Curtis Salgado,  plus a tribute to Pinetop Perkins by Willie “Big Eyes” Smith, Little Frank, Kenny Smith and more.  Tickets are $10 - $30, reserved tables for 4 are $200. For tickets call 312-786-1121 or email:


Thurs., June 9 – WXRT Radio’s live broadcast of a special blues concert with the Brooks Family (Lonnie, Ronnie & Wayne), together and separately, and Eddy “The Chief” Clearwater.  FREE admission. Concert runs from 6 – 7:30 p.m. Get there early!


Fri., June 10 – Noon: Guy King (acoustic)

                        3 pm: Jimmy Burns

                        6 pm: Guy King & his Little Big Band

                        9 pm: Carlos Johnson

                        11 pm: The Kinsey Report


Sat., June 11 – 11 am: Blues Brunch, Nick Moss & the Fliptops w/Curtis Salgado

                        3 pm: Matt Skoller

                        6 pm: Nu Blu Band

                        9 pm: John Primer

                        11 pm: Magic Slim & the Teardrops


Sun., June 12 – 11am: Blues Brunch w/ Harmonica Hinds

                        3:30 pm: Michael Coleman

                        7 pm: Joanna Connor

                        10 pm: Carl Weathersby


Chicago Live! presents Chicago Blues Fest Preview

On Thurs., June 9, the Chicago Live!  series will present an all-blues program with Bruce Iglauer, president of Alligator Records, with an all-star lineup: Eddy “The Chief” Clearwater, Shemekia Copeland, Billy Branch, and Fernando Jones with his Blues Camp Kids.


Due to health issues, David “Honeyboy” Edwards has cancelled his performance at this event.


 The show will be held at the Chicago Theater Downstairs, 175 N. State St., starting at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $20 and include a meet and mingle reception after the show. Tickets at


Three special Blues shows at S.P.A.C.E.

S.P.A.C.E., suburban Evanston’s premiere music venue, will host three very special blues shows during Blues Fest week.


On Wednesday, June 8, S.P.A.C.E. will host Dave Specter’s Adventures in Guitar, with Dave Specter and Rockin’ Johnny, plus openers Rick Simcox & the Tonequesters. Showtime is 8 pm. Tickets are $12-$22.


On Thursday, June 9 it’s  Blisterstring: Chicago Blues Guitar Summit with Jimmy Dawkins, Jody Williams and Billy Flynn. Showtime is 8 pm. Tickets cost $14 - $22.


Friday, June 10 features a Tribute to Pinetop Perkins with Hubert Sumlin, Willie “Big Eyes” Smith Band, Ann Rabson, Barrelhouse Chuck, Erwin Helfer, Sunny War and more. Proceeds to benefit the Pinetop Perkins Foundation. Showtime is 8 pm. Tickets are $27-$40.


S.P.A.C.E. is located at 1245 Chicago Ave (at Dempster), Evanston, IL

Tel: 847-492-8860.



Women in the Blues Event and more at Reggie’s 


2105 S. State Street, Chicago


Reggie’s is not the usual stop on the blues pub circuit, but they have booked some exciting acts for Blues Fest weekend and earlier.


Wednesday, June 1st,  Mississippi’s T-Model Ford headlines, plus The Congregation, Me & The Devil and more.

Friday, June 3, it’s Jimbo Delta acoustic duo at 5:30 p.m.


On Friday, June 10, Reggie’s Music Joint  will feature a stellar lineup of  Women in the Blues, starting at 8 pm. The cover is $10.  The show is hosted by Joan Gand & the Blue Road Band and includes:

Holle Thee Maxwell, Liz Mandeville, Peaches Staten, Vivian Vance Kelly, Demetria Taylor, Ramblin’ Rose, Dia Madden & Cruise Machine, Donna Herula and Ebonie Taylor.


Saturday, June 11 get ready for the 4th Annual Chicago Blues Fest After-Party

The joint will be jumpin’ and jam-packed when the party starts at 9:30 p.m. and goes until 1:30 a.m. Eddie C. Campbell, Tail Dragger, James Kinds, Mary Lane, Reginald Cooper, Vernon Harrington and special guests will be backed by the Rockin’ Johnny Band with Rick Kreher.


On Sunday, June 12, starting at 8 pm,  it’s Deitra Farr, Lurrie Bell Blues Band and Matthew Skoller Blues Band.


Delmark’s Annual Blues Brunch at the Jazz Record Mart



27 E. Illinois (at Wabash), Chicago, IL

312- 222-1467


Sunday, June 12

10 a.m. - Noon

Delmark Records’ annual Blues Brunch at the Mart is always FREE to early risers. This year don’t miss James Kinds, Tail Dragger, Demetria Taylor, Rockin’ Johnny, Dave Specter, Nick Moss & Curtis Salgado.


New Chicago Jazz & Blues Bus Tour

Chicago Detours will launch its educational, interactive bus tour, “Our Chicago Sound: Jazz, Blues & Beyond,” to coincide with the Chicago Blues Festival on June 11. The 2 ½ hour event, which will run Saturdays into September 2011, will provide a look at Chicago’s  rich cultural history by exploring the neighborhoods from the North to the South Sides, including musical landmarks and hidden gems, along with stories from experts, documentary video and musical performances. Tours are curated with a journalistic approach in order to present a wide variety of perspectives. The tours start and end at the Jazz Record Mart, 27 E. Illinois. For reservations, call 312-350-1131 or visit


The Blues Clubs




536 N. Clark (at Ohio)


Chicago, IL


This cozy River North club is very tourist friendly and provides a warm atmosphere with female vocalists belting out good-time blues.

Thursday 6/9 – Shirley Johnson Blues Band

Friday, Saturday 6/10 – 6/11 – Grana’ Louise & the Troublemakers

Sunday 6/12 -- Peaches Staten

Monday 6/13 -- Grana' Louise's  Delmark CD Release Party




2519 N. Halsted, Chicago



This famous little club, known as “Blues on Halsted,” on the North Side has a great atmosphere where the blues drips off the walls seven days a week.

Thursday 6/9 – Eric “Guitar” Davis & The Troublemakers and Mike Wheeler

Friday & Saturday  6/10-11 and Saturday 6/12 – Jimmy Johnson

Sunday 6/12 – Rob Blaine’s Big Otis Blues



700 S. Wabash, Chicago


See above article.


The music runs all day.  A short walk from Grant Park, this is always a nice option to catch blues either during or after the Blues Festival.  Tasty authentic Louisiana cuisine will keep your stomach happy, and the blues music will feed your soul.




6501 W. 79th St., Burbank, IL



This SW suburban eatery serves up authentic Cajun, Mexican and BBQ, not to mention some mighty tasty blues.


Wednesday June 8 – Dikki Du & his Zydeco Krewe

Thursday June 9 – Nick Moss & the Flip Tops w/ Curtis Salgado




3701 S. Harlem Ave, Berwyn, IL



The cozy and casual Harlem Avenue Lounge has very special lineup this weekend.


Friday 6/10 – Rob Blaine’s Big Otis Blues

Saturday 6/11 – Willie “Big Eyes” Smith w/ J.C. Smith & Bob Stroger




329 N. Dearborn (at Marina City), Chicago



The Back Porch Stage at HOB is on the ground floor of the Marina City multi-storied venue and offers dinner and a late night menu plus live blues acts and more seven days a week.


Thursday 6/9 – 9 p.m. Little Al Thomas & the Deep Down Fools


Friday 6/10 – 10 p.m. Nick Moss & the Flip Tops w/Curtis Salgado

                          7 p.m. Jacqui Horton

                          4 p.m. Vino Louden


Saturday 6/11 – 10 p.m. Rob Blaine’s Big Otis Blues

Sunday 6/12  10 p.m. Cadillac Dave & the Chicago Red Hots

                              7 p.m. Dave Herrero

                              4 p.m. Jimmy Burns     




2548 N. Halsted, Chicago



Chicago’s longest running blues club, The Mines puts the “unk in the funk.”  Two stages, so the music never stops, seven days a week. The club stays open ‘til 4 a.m. and 5 a.m. on Saturdays.


Friday 6/10 – Magic Slim & the Teardrops, Joanna Connor


Saturday 6/11 – Carl Weathersby, Joanna Connor


Sunday 6/12 – Blues jam with Linsey Alexander, 6 – 9 p.m., Charlie Love & the Silky Smooth Band




2105 S. State Street, Chicago


See article above.




3420 W. Armitage, Chicago



Rosa’s is a great place on the near West Side to hear the blues.  Chicago’s “friendliest blues bar” has a stellar lineup for the fest weekend:


Friday June 10 – Lurrie Bell Band

Saturday June 11 – Nick Moss & the Flip Tops w/ Curtis Salgado

Sunday June 12 -- Afterhour Blues Fest Party Jam w/ Luca Giordano, Quique Gomea, Bob Stroger, Eddie C. Campbell



1804 W. Division, Chicago, IL



Blues, BBQ and brews, Smoke Daddy offers all three in spades. This Wicker Park bar and eatery smokes its own meats daily, while top live bands “smoke” onstage nightly.


June 9 – Billy Branch & Jimmy Warren

June 10 & 11-- Billy Flynn & Friends

June 12 – Special 20s Blues Fest Wrap Up Party



1245 Chicago Ave (at Dempster), Evanston, IL

Tel: 847-492-8860

See above article.



214 Walnut Ave.

Elgin, IL



This friendly NW suburban neighborhood bar and restaurant features top local blues and jazz bands in a casual setting.


June 3 – Liz Mandeville

June 4 -- Pat Smillie

June 10 – Dawn O’Keefe Williams



 (Bleep) They still owe you money, fool!


Jake and Elwood are back in Sweet Home Chicago from July 6 – 24th at the Auditorium Theater for the U.S. premier of The All New Original Tribute to the Blues Brothers, a musical based on the popular ‘70s film starring John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd.


The play will feature cast members from the London production, where the show originated and was a smash hit for a 46-week run.  Directed by Brad Henshaw, who also plays Jake Blues, the musical features songs from the movie including “Shake A Tailfeather,” “Respect,” and “Gimme Some Loving.”  Jim de Groot portrays Elwood and the duo will be backed by a seven-piece European band. The Bluettes, three soulful female singers, will contribute their powerful pipes to the proceedings.


Tickets are $25-$55 and available at the Auditorium Box Office, Phone: 800-982-2787 or through Ticketmaster.




Simcox CD ad
Rick Simcox & The ToneQuesters
Debut album now at Jazz Record Mart
SPACE ad, specter & rockin' johnny
Dave Specter & Rockin' Johnny
June 8, 2011
Jimmy Dawkins, Jody Williams & Billy Flynn
June 9, 2011
  SPACE, Evanston, IL
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536 N. Clark
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