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FEATURES -- Beyond the Blues Festival 2009


Honeyboy Edwards

Honeyboy Edwards

By Hambone

Trying to visit as many stages and catch as many blues artists, as is humanly possible, is half the fun of coming to Chicago for the Blues Festival.  The other part is figuring out where to go for more blues after the official fest shuts down for the night.  Here are some suggestions for places to go beyond the Blues Festival in Grant Park.


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



Special Events before the Blues Festival:


Monday June 8th  -- NoonAron Burton and Two For The Blues open up the week’s festivities with a free outdoor lunchtime set at The Daley Plaza at Washington & Dearborn Streets.  Aron is best known for playing bass with Albert Collins.


Tuesday June 9th --   Noon:  David “Honeyboy” Edwards performs a free lunchtime set at the Chicago Cultural Center on Randolph Street at Michigan Ave.  Honeyboy Edwards, born June 28, 1915, is one of the last living links to Robert Johnson.  This is a great opportunity to catch an original Delta Bluesman in an intimate setting. This event is part of Earwig Music’s 30th Anniversary celebration.


Wednesday, June 10th  -- 8:30 p.m  Old Town School of Folk Music, 4544 N. Lincoln Ave, 773-728-6000.

 Johnny Drummer & The Starliters plus Liz Mandeville & The Blue Points. $5 suggested donation.


Southside singer Johnny Drummer brings his souful sounds to the Northside.  He’s joined by his Earwig label-mate sultry diva Liz Mandeville.  Liz is “The Bette Midler of the Blues” and is always thoroughly entertaining.  These same two blues artists will be performing a songwriter’s workshop here on Thursday

evening at 6 p.m.


Also on Wednesday, the NARAS/Chicago Chapter presents:


CHICAGO BLUES FEST KICKOFF JAM at Buddy Guy’s Legend’s from 6 –11 p.m.  This is a ticketed event with a catered reception, silent auction and an incredible concert lineup: Pinetop Perkins, Billy Branch, John Primer, Nick Moss, Matthew Skoller, Michael McDermott, Rick Nielson of Cheap Trick, Sones de Mexico, Vino Louden.  The house band will be headed by Brother John.  $10 Academy members/ $30 non-members.  For tickets call: 312-786-1316 or email:



Thursday, June 11th7 p.m. Fat Tone Guitars presents “How to Build a Blues Band.”  This free, all-ages workshop will be taught by master Chicago-style blues artists Bob Corritore (harp), Chris James (guitar) and Patrick Rynn (bass). Reservations are required. Fat Tone is at 1857 Janke Dr., Northbrook, IL. Call 847-272-5117.



Events during the Festival:


Buddy Guy 

Buddy Guy by Jennifer Wheeler


754 S. Wabash, Chicago


Thursday , June 11th --  6 p.m.  WXRT Radio’s 12th Annual Blues Breakers Blues Fest Live Broadcast featuring Buddy Guy, Shemekia Copeland and Larry McCray.  This is a great way to kick off the Blues Festival. The event is free, first come. You must be 21. Get there early!


Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Buddy Guy’s Legends will feature over 14 blues acts throughout the day and night during the Festival, including Lurrie Bell, Magic Slim, Nick Moss and Jimmy Burns.  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.


Tuesday, June 16th6 p.m. Buddy Guy’s Legends 20th Anniversary Party. Blues Fest will be over, but the party continues on Wabash Ave. The iconic club celebrates its two decades of blues with Brother John Band and Harmonica Hinds. There will be beer specials and prizes, including a chance to win a polka-dot Fender guitar signed by Buddy himself. And probably a few surprises as well.


BLUE CHICAGO (two clubs)

Chicago, IL

These two River North sister clubs, only two blocks apart , offer blues fans a great deal; two clubs with two bands on the weekend for only one cover charge.  These clubs are very tourist friendly and provide a warm atmosphere with female vocalists playing good-time blues.


536 N. Clark (at Ohio)


J.W. Williams Blues Band with vocalist Laretha Weathersby play Friday and Saturday night.


736 N. Clark (at Superior)


Grana Louise & The Troublemakers headline both Friday and Saturday night.




2105 S. State Street, Chicago


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

Friday, June 12th -- 8 p.m.  Jeremy Spencer with Dave Herrero.  Best known as Fleetwood Mac’s first guitarist, Jeremy plays a mean slide guitar. He headlines the Chicago Blues Festival Main Stage on Sunday night so here’s a chance to hear him up close. From Austin to Chicago, young Texan turned Windy City resident, Dave Herrero is a rising star on the local scene.


Saturday, June 13th -- 9 p.m.  Delmark Records Revue:  Incredible Blues Comeback Concert 2009 starring real deal blues legends: Eddie C. Campbell, Rockin’ Johnny, Johnny B. Moore, Jesse Fortune and Taildragger and many special guests including Cadillac Zack.  This show is sure to generate some heat.  Get there early!!!  $20 admission/ $15 in advance.




3420 W. Armitage, Chicago


Rosa’s is a great place to hear and see the blues.  Chicago’s “friendliest blues bar” has a stellar lineup with Lurrie Bell on Friday 6/12; Lil’ Ed on Saturday 6/13 and Stan Mosley on Sunday 6/14.



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

312- 222-1467

 Sunday, June 14th 10 a.m. to Noon.  Delmark Records’ annual Blues Brunch at the Mart is always free to early risers. This year don’t miss Mississippi Heat with special guests, including Tail Dragger (named by Howlin’ Wolf) and blues woman Inetta Visor.

 Jody Williams

 Jody Williams by Jennifer Wheeler


1245 Chicago Ave (at Dempster), Evanston, IL


This new performance space/recording studio and restaurant offers two nights of All-Star Revue lineups;


Thursday, June 11th --  8 p.m. Legends of Chicago Blues Guitar featuring Jody Williams, James Wheeler, Billy Flynn with Blues Express and Lurrie Bell. These guitar wizards will be bending some strings, if there’s a head-cutting contest, watch out!! Advance tickets $15 or $20 day of event.


Friday, June 12th -- 8 p.m. Second Annual Blues on the North Shore Festival, presented by Listen to this Music! Chicago celebrating Earwig Music’s 30th Anniversary.  The Mississippi  to Chicago concert features six generations of blues with Honeyboy Edwards, John Primer, Aron Burton, Johnny Drummer, Dennis Binder, Chris James, Patrick Rynn, Bob Corritore, Kenny Smith, Big Jack Johnson, Big T Williams, Lee Williams and Allen Batts. It’s hard to imagine a more impressive line-up paying tribute to local record label Earwig Music.  From Delta Blues to Jump Blues to R&B, this concert is sure to have it all. $50 for VIP seating/$30 all other seats.


A chartered blues bus trip from Evanston to the Blues Fest in Chicago is also available. The trip includes a brown bag BBQ lunch from Hecky’s BBQ and a concert ticket for $89. The bus leaves S.P.A.C.E. at 1 p.m. and returns at 7 p.m.




1029 Davis, Evanston, IL


Owner Bill Gilmore is the namesake for this cozy club in Evanston which brings the best in blues up to the North Shore


Friday, June 12th8:30 p.m Blues jam with Gary Gand’s Blues Festival Party.


Saturday, June 13th8 p.m. Prof. Fernando Jones and his Columbia College Blues Ensemble, a.k.a. the Love Jones Band, will perform a student showcase. The show will be dedicated to the late Koko Taylor, who helped mentor one of the students. At 9:30 p.m. Jeff Dale and the South Woodlawners will host their CD release party. All ages, $10 cover.




1920 W. Irving Park Road

Chicago, IL


Katerina’s is not the usual blues club, but they are having a special Post Blues Festival Party on Friday 6/12. Vocalist Katherine Davis, piano master Erwin Helfer, and saxmen John Brumbach and Skinny Williams play at this club/cafe that is loved by musicians and patrons alike.



1526 N. Milwaukee Ave.

Chicago, IL


Saturday, June 13th 10 p.m. This free show stars spectacular guitarist Dave Specter, who doesn’t sing. So he invited the dynamic Sharon Lewis, a singer/songwriter/bandleader in her own right, to join him. Put these two major talents together and watch the blues sparks fly.



329 N. Dearborn (at Marina City), Chicago


The Back Porch Stage at HOB presents:  Friday 6/12, Popa Chubby; Saturday 6/13, Mississippi Heat (free show) and Sunday 6/14, Rob Stone & The C-Notes.




2519 N. Halsted, Chicago


This club, known as “Blues on Halsted,” has a great atmosphere where the blues drips off the walls.


Thursday 6/11- Chicago R&B Kings featuring Gene “Daddy G” Barge.  Daddy G has been playing and producing blues for over 50 years.


Friday 6/12 and Saturday 6/13-  Jimmy Johnson with Big Ray and Rico McFarland.  Last year I saw Jimmy Johnson’s set (with the late Chico Banks) and it was the highlight of my entire Blues Festival weekend.




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.


Friday 6/12 -- Magic Slim, Vance Kelly

Saturday 6/13 -- Big James, Vance Kelly




3701 S. Harlem Ave, Berwyn, IL


The cozy and casual Harlem Avenue Lounge has nice lineup this weekend.  On Friday 6/12 catch MojoDaddy and Saturday 6/13 it’s blues legend Willie “Big Eyes” Smith with J.C. Smith.

Copyright 2009: Chicago Blues Guide



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