Chicago guitarist and vocalist Melody Angel combines fiery celebrations of life with equally fearless and uncompromising demands for social justice. Her style of blues-rock mixes genres and influences as freely and as pointedly as her lyrics assault the boundaries between the personal and the political. Angel counts Hendrix and Prince among her idols, and though […]
This year, the Chicago Blues Festival will again include shows on the west and south sides as well as in Millennium Park. The agendas of these neighborhood shows are more ambitious, though, than just getting a collection of locally rooted musicians onto the same stage. Both are presented in coordination with larger projects intended to […]
Singer Mzz Reese has become a Chicagoland favorite for her burnished alto voice, expansive blues and soul-blues repertoire, and playfully flirtatious, warm-hearted stage presence. But what really sets her apart is the professionalism of her show. Reese and her band—waggishly christened Reese’s Pieces—charge through a tightly constructed set consisting of well-known standards and too-often-neglected soul […]
Melvia “Chick” Rodgers-Williams is a dynamic, versatile blues and soul vocalist with a pretty sparse recorded legacy (mostly under her maiden name, Melvia “Chick” Rodgers). She’s deft and audacious enough to take on warhorses such as “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and Aretha Franklin’s “Dr. Feelgood,” retaining the power and feel of the originals while making […]
UPDATE: this event is scheduled for 3 PM until 7 PM. For years, until the pandemic shut everything down, the weekly shows hosted at the Odyssey East by bassist Joe Pratt and his Source One Band made the cozy venue one of the most important remaining strongholds of blues and soul-blues on the south side. […]
We don’t often think of sidemen as comprising a “supergroup,” but there’s really no other way to describe Chicago’s Source One Band. Between them, bassist and bandleader Joe Pratt, lead guitarist Sir Walter Scott, keyboardist Stan Banks, and drummer Lewis “Big Lou” Powell have performed or recorded with a list of greats that starts with […]
Classically trained vocalist and masterful banjo and fiddle player Rhiannon Giddens is celebrated as one of the leading proponents of what’s variously called Americana or roots music. Though her aesthetic has wide appeal, she toughens it with her uncompromising determination to bear witness to the ongoing (and too often neglected) Africanist voice and history in […]
Blues singer Jean Williams, known as the Countess, delivers her music with a theatrical panache that recalls the classic blueswomen of Bessie Smith’s era; skilled thespians as well as gifted vocalists, they often transformed their songs into melodramas that they carefully acted out onstage. Born in Chicago in 1966, Williams cultivated her musical tastes by […]
Blues tributes are too often dire affairs—note-for-note reworkings of timeworn ideas and riffs that betray an almost puritanical obsession with “authenticity.” That approach, of course, dishonors the spirit of the music it purports to celebrate—Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, and Elmore James, all of whom attract frequent tributes, weren’t purists or revivalists but instead radically reimagined […]
The Blues Festival diversifies its lineup for 2019, with suave and sexy R&B star Latimore, deep-soul legend Don Bryant, genre-defying singer Bettye LaVette, and many more.
The Blues Festival spurs dozens of special events around town, including shows by Jamiah Rogers, Lurrie Bell, and Lynne Jordan—plus three historic photo exhibits.
Soul-blues superstar O.B. Buchana brings a distinctive grit to his tales of all-night escapades.
Chicago musician and actress Melody Angel blends blues, old-school rock ’n’ roll, R&B, hip-hop, and more to create a style all her own.
Whether on well-chosen covers or her signature song “Cookies,” Chicago blues singer Mzz Reese prefers nuance and subtlety to pyrotechnics.
Memphis vocalist Karen Wolfe has adopted the persona of a vintage blueswoman—feisty, independent, and ready to call out no-good men.