Your Complete Guide to the Chicago Blues Scene
BEYOND THE BLUES FESTIVAL 2013
Where to hear blues outside of Grant Park
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 kicks off with a free evening performance in Millennium Park by Shemekia Copeland on June 6 and then continues in Grant Park June 7-9. 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.
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 2013 (see link below). For the fourth year, the Windy City Blues Society has announced that it will again host the WCBS Street Stage featuring top artists like Bob Stroger, Billy Flynn, Sam Lay, Bob Riedy, Bob Corritore, Toronzo Cannon and more.
TO SEE ENTIRE CHICAGO BLUES FEST SCHEDULE, CLICK HERE
Blues Fest Preview Shows
BENEFIT & BIRTHDAY PARTY FOR
EDDIE C. CAMPBELL
Friday, May 31 – The campaign to bring Eddie C. Campbell home was a success!
The West Side blues guitar great suffered a heart attack and stroke while on tour in Germany in February. Thanks to the donations raised all over the world by friends, family and fans, Eddie C. Campbell is back home in Chicago. Funds are still needed to help pay for his past and continuing medical care and to support the family.
An all-star fundraiser and a Welcome Home 74th Birthday Party will be held at Buddy Guy’s Legends on May 31. Eddie will hopefully make his first public appearance since returning to Chicago in March!
The outstanding lineup will include: Eddy “The Chief” Clearwater, Eddie Shaw, Billy Boy Arnold, Billy Branch & Sons of the Blues, Lurrie Bell, Zora Young, Jimmy Burns, Marty Sammon, Donald Kinsey, Peaches Staten, Carlos Johnson, Dave Specter, Demetria Taylor, Matthew Skoller, Wayne Baker Brooks, Johnny Iguana, Orlando Wright, Hollee Thee Maxwell, Toronzo Cannon, Kate Moss and special surprise guests!
Sunday, June 2 -- Old Town School of Folk Music presents Delmark Records 60th Anniversary show with Linsey Alexander Blues Band w/ Willie Buck. Concert will be held at the Old Town School’s Szold Hall, 4545 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago. Showtime: 6:30 p.m.
50 W. Washington, Chicago
Monday, June 3 – Nellie “Tiger” Travis, Noon – 1 p.m. FREE
ERWIN HELFER CD RELEASE PARTY
Monday, June 3 -- Blues piano legend Erwin Helfer will perform with special guests John Brumbach, Katherine Davis, Lou Marini and “Bugs” Cochran to celebrate his new disc on The Sirens label. The show is at Katerina’s, 1920 W. Irving Park Rd., Chicago. Tel: 773-348-7592. Erwin has a Monday night residency here.
WXRT LIVE BROADCAST AT
BUDDY GUY’S LEGENDS
Buddy Guy’s Legends will host a variety of special events during Blues Fest week in Chicago. Scroll down to Blues Clubs listing for more info.
Wednesday, June 5 – WXRT radio will broadcast live from Buddy Guy’s Legends for a FREE concert. There will be performances by Shemekia Copeland, Donald Kinsey & the Kinsey Report and Buddy Guy!!! The annual show, which is in its 16th year, will be emceed by DJ Tom Marker. The event is from 6 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. Get there early!
BARRELHOUSE CHUCK CD RELEASE PARTY
Wednesday, June 5 – Blues piano great Barrelhouse Chuck will celebrate the release of his new disc on Sirens Records w/ special guest Bob Corritore. The show is at Barrelhouse Flat , 2624 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago. Tel: 773-857-0421. Chuck has a residency at this venue on most Wednesdays. Free!
BLUES EVENTS DURING THE FEST AND BEYOND:
Blues Heaven Foundation/Chess Records
2120 S. Michigan, Chicago
Starting June 6, Willie Dixon’s Blues Heaven Foundation will present free Blues Shows in the Blues Garden at the historic Chess Studios each Thursday evening for the summer, until August 30. Bands and showtimes are TBA. For updates, visit: www.bluesheaven.com
Delmark’s Annual Blues Brunch at the Jazz Record Mart
27 E. Illinois (at Wabash), Chicago, IL
Phone: 312- 222-1467
Sunday, June 9
10 a.m. - Noon
Celebrate Delmark Records 60th Anniversary with the annual Blues Brunch at the Jazz Record Mart. FREE to early risers. This year don’t miss: Mississippi Heat and special guests: Tail Dragger, Rockin’ Johnny, Toronzo Cannon, Linsey Alexander, Mike Wheeler, Dave Specter, Kate Moss and more!
A BLUES SCEANCE,
SONGS OF FALLEN WOMEN
June 6, 7, 8 --The spirits of Alberta Hunter, Lucille Bogan and Victoria Spivey are conjured in this musical tribute to the pioneering blues women of the Twenties. Grana’ Louise, Ava Logan and Sameerah Walker portray the classic blues divas, backed by blues keyboard master Daryl Coutts in A Blues Séance, Songs of Fallen Women. The blues ladies will also pay tribute to Bessie Smith, Ida Cox and Memphis Minnie. The show will run three nights at The Comedy Bar, 157 Ontario, Chicago. Tel: 773-387-8412
For tickets and info: www.comedybarchicago.com. You must be age 21 or over.
June 4 -- Free film screening of Muddy Waters & The Rolling Stones, Live at the Checkerboard Lounge, 1981
The Jay Prizker Pavillion in Millennium Park will host a special free screening of the concert film that captured a piece of blues history. Bring blankets and popcorn. The movie starts at 6:30 p.m.
June 7 – Born in Chicago, a documentary film about white Chicago blues musicians mentored by famous blues legends like Muddy Waters, will screen at 8:15 p.m. at the Gene Siskel Film Center, 164 N. State, Chicago. The film will be followed by a discussion and audience Q &A with the film’s blues musician subjects: Barry Goldberg, Nick Gravenites, Sam Lay, Harvey Mandel and Corky Siegel. Additional screenings are set for June 8, 10, 12, 13. For info: http://www.siskelfilmcenter.org/
BLUES REUNION CONCERT & FILM
June 6 – Born in Chicago film premiere and all-star concert at The Vic Theater
Born in Chicago is a film about the white kids in Chicago who discovered the blues in the South Side clubs and brought it to a younger audience in the ‘60s and ‘70s – namely Paul Butterfield, Mike Bloomfield, Charlie Musselwhite, Steve Miller, Harvey Mandel, Elvin Bishop and others. Marshall Chess, of Chess Records fame, narrates the documentary, which includes performances and/or interviews with Bob Dylan, Buddy Guy, B.B. King, Hubert Sumlin, Jack White, Sam Lay and more. The film shows at 6 p.m.
Following the movie there will be a concert by the Chicago Blues Reunion band with Nick Gravenites, Barry Goldberg, Harvey Mandel, Corky Siegel plus special guests Charlie Musselwhite, Eric Burdon, Elvin Bishop and more surprise guests.
The Vic Theater is located at 3145 N. Sheffield, Chicago. The show is a benefit for the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless. Tickets are available at https://chicagocoalition.ejoinme.org/borninchicago
BLUES PHOTO EXHIBIT
Author, playwright, photographer, songwriter, concert promoter -- Terry Abrahamson grew up In The Belly of The Blues (the title of his new photo book), socializing and working alongside Chicago’s blues titans. His coffee table book chronicles his shoulder rubbing with the likes of Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, The Rolling Stones, Willie Dixon, Johnny Winter, Freddie King, Koko Taylor and many more. Now his iconic photos are on display in the most appropriate blues building in Chicago where it all began – Chess Studios at 2120 S. Michigan Ave., home of the Willie Dixon Blues Heaven Foundation. During Blues Fest, Abrahamson will be on hand to host receptions, sign books and tell stories. He can also be seen at the Koko Taylor Foundation booth at Blues Fest.
CHICAGO SOUL BLUES TOUR
Monday, June 10 – Soul Tour of Chicago -- a blues and soul history bus tour, complete with live music, BBQ and soul food and presented by Orman Music Group -- will launch on June 10 from Buddy Guy’s Legends. The excursion lasts from 2 p.m. to 1 a.m. Now that’s a long party!
The tour will include stops at Chess Studios, Lloyd’s on the West Side for BBQ & Blues, Star Planet TV studios for a live taping, Hot City for soul food and music, and the final destination at Linda’s Place for a late night snack. Musical guests include Holle Thee Maxwell, Jimmy Burns, Mz. Peachez, Killer Ray Allison, Johnny Drummer and more TBA. Some of the artists will entertain and host on the bus, along with blues/soul author Robert Pruter.
Tickets are $120, available at www.chicagosoulbluesbus.eventbrite.com/#
The Blues Clubs
This cozy River North club is very tourist friendly and provides a warm atmosphere with female vocalists belting out good-time blues.
Thursday June 6 – Shirley Johnson Blues Band
Friday, Saturday June 7-8 – Peaches Staten & The Groove Shakers
Sunday, June 9 – Ronnie Hicks & Masheen Company w/ Laretha Weathersby
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 6/6 – J.W. Williams & the Chi-Town Hustlers
Friday, Saturday 6/7 – 6/8 – Jimmy Johnson
Sunday 6/9 – Lil’ Ed & the Blues Imperials
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.
Thurs, June 6 – 12 pm: Eddie Taylor, Jr.
3 pm: Michael Frank & Michael Packer
6 pm: Eddie Shaw
9 pm: Murali Coryell
10:30 pm: Linsey Alexander
Fri., June 7 –11 am: The Peterson Bros.
3 pm: Cash Box Kings
6 pm: Jimmy Burns
7:30 pm: Studebaker John
9 pm: John Primer
11 pm: Carlos Johnson
Sat., June 8 –11am: Michael Charles
3 pm: Matthew Skoller
6 pm: NuBlu Band
7:30 pm: Dexter Allen
9 pm: Toronzo Cannon
11 pm: Billy Branch & Sons of the Blues
Sun., June 9 –11 am – Corey Dennison
3 pm: Rob Blaine
6 pm: Eric “Guitar” Davis
9 pm – Dave Herrero
10: 30 pm – Mike Wheeler
The cozy and casual west suburban Harlem Avenue Lounge has very special lineup this weekend.
Friday 6/7 – Blue Coast Blues Band w/ Ron Sorin
Saturday 6/8 – J.C. Smith Band w/ James Wheeler
N. Dearborn (at
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. Sundays features the venue’s famous gospel brunch.
Thurs., 6/6 – 6:30 pm Matt Hendricks
9 pm Chicago R&B Kings
Fri., 6/7 – 6:30 pm Doktu Rhute Muuzic (Roy Hightower)
9 pm Kinsey Report
Sat., 6/8 – 6:30 pm Studebaker John
9 pm Blue Olives
Sun., 6/9 – 8 p.m Joe Moss Band
2548 N. Halsted, Chicago
Chicago’s longest running blues club, The Mines puts the “unk in 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.
Thursday 6/6 – Chicago Blues All Stars CD release party
Friday 6/7 – Billy Branch, Eddie Shaw
Saturday 6/8 – Carl Weathersby, Eddie Shaw
Sunday 6/9 – Sharon Lewis, Linsey Alexander
7401 South Chicago Ave.
Wednesday 6/5 – Blues Jam w/ Low-reen & the Maxwell St. Market Blues Band
Friday 6/7 – Eric “Guitar” Davis
Saturday 6/8 – 5 pm show w/ Johnny Drummer. Headliners: Jeff Dale, Jeff Stone, Charlie Love, Dave Gordon, Mark Mack & Big Perm
2937 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago
Thursday, June 6 – Liz Mandeville & special guests host the blues jam.
1516 N. Milwaukee, Chicago
Saturday, June 8 – Dave Specter
REGGIE’S MUSIC JOINT & REGGIE’S ROCK CLUB (2 in 1 venue)
Thursday, June 6 – Delmark Records’ 60th Anniversary Tribute To Magic Sam w/ Eddie Shaw, Billy Flynn, Mike Avery, Bob Stroger, Kate Moss & Kenny Smith.
Photo by Airshots Photography
Friday, June 7 – Chicago Women in the Blues Festival with Holle Thee Maxwell, Peaches Staten, Liz Mandeville, Demetria Taylor, Vanessa Davis, Tracee Adams, Ramblin’ Rose, , Donna Herula, Stacy Jones, Ellen Miller and Alex Lund. The ladies will be backed by Joan Gand and the Blue Road Band w/ Dia Madden, TK, and Sherri Weathersby. There will be a presentation award to Cookie Taylor and the Koko Taylor Taylor Celebrity Aid Foundation for its work to mentor young girls and women to play blues music.
Time: 8 p.m. Tickets are $10. Purchase advance tix: HERE (highly recommended as this show sells out). Tickets at the door $15.
There will be a bus to transport Blues Fest goers from downtown (near the Hilton) to Reggie’s and back downtown. Bus tickets are $25 and part of the proceeds will go to the Koko Taylor Foundation.
Saturday, June 8 – Rockin’ Johnny Band w/ Lee Gates, Charles Hayes, Pee Wee Hayes, Shakey Jake.
Sunday, June 9 – Delmark Records’ 60th Anniversary The Guitars of Delmark with Jimmy Johnson, Lurrie Bell, Toronzo Cannon, Marty Binder, Melvin Smith & Brother John Kattke.
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 7 – Lil’ Ed & The Blues Imperials
Saturday, June 8 – Sugar Blue Band
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.
Fri., June 7 – Billy Flynn & Friends (varies each night) w/ Bob Corritore & more
Sat., June 8 -- Billy Flynn & Friends
Sun., June 9 – Morry Sochet & the Special 20s w/ Bob Corritore
1245 Chicago Ave (at Dempster), Evanston, IL
Wednesday, June 5 – Dave Specter’s Adventures in Guitar w/ Donald Kinsey
Thursday, June 6 – John Primer & Bob Corritore CD release party.
Sunday, June 9 – Tommy Castro & the Painkillers