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 […]
Tag: Chicago Blues Festival
Soul singer Ruby Andrews makes a career change
In its nearly 40-year history, the Chicago Blues Festival has frequently saluted the city’s vibrant soul-music legacy with all-star sets underscoring the connection between soul and blues. This year is no exception. On Saturday, June 11, at Pritzker Pavilion, what’s billed as a Chicago Soul Tribute pays homage to three local legends: saxophonist-producer Gene “Daddy […]
Little Al Thomas lent his big voice to Chicago blues for more than 50 years
Covering dozens of blues artists in the Secret History of Chicago Music has taught me that a few of the cliches about old-time bluesmen are rooted in reality. Many such musicians indeed began doing grueling labor in the fields as children, and many built their own first instruments. Often they started playing on the street […]
Blues-rock guitarist J.B. Ritchie set off fireworks that too few people saw
A few months ago, when I saw that blues guitarist J.B. Ritchie had passed away on November 23, 2021, I made a mental note to dig into his story. First I checked out a few tracks—his style straddled rock ’n’ roll and the blues, and he sure could play! I couldn’t find much at all […]
Melvia “Chick” Rodgers-Williams brings her big voice to the 15th annual Chi-town Blues Festival
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 […]
Saxophonist Gene Barge helped shape the sound of Chicago R&B
Gene Barge has done his most influential work as a sideman or producer, but he’s just as important as any of R&B’s marquee stars.
From soul sweetheart to blues bombshell
Holle Thee Maxwell’s long career has taken her through several genres and across the world—but it’s never made her a star.
Blues guitarist Lurrie Bell beat mental illness to build a thriving career
By the early 90s Lurrie Bell didn’t even own a guitar anymore, but now he’s got a shelf full of Blues Music Awards.
Blues guitarist Jimmy Johnson is much more than just Syl’s big brother
Blues guitarist Jimmy Johnson, still going strong at 91, released his newest album just four months ago.
The Reader’s guide to the 2019 Chicago Blues Festival
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.
Thinking outside the park (and beyond the weekend)
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.
O.B. Buchana sings about sin with the voice of a saint
Soul-blues superstar O.B. Buchana brings a distinctive grit to his tales of all-night escapades.
Melody Angel is the future of the blues
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.
Mzz Reese and her Reese’s Pieces serve up crowd-pleasing blues
Whether on well-chosen covers or her signature song “Cookies,” Chicago blues singer Mzz Reese prefers nuance and subtlety to pyrotechnics.
Karen Wolfe sings tough but supple southern soul-blues
Memphis vocalist Karen Wolfe has adopted the persona of a vintage blueswoman—feisty, independent, and ready to call out no-good men.