For nearly 70 years, Bob Koester owned the Jazz Record Mart and Delmark Records—and though his businesses could be “crazy town,” they helped nurture thriving communities.
Andrew “Big Voice” Odom toured internationally—and also used to drop by Maxwell Street and overwhelm the makeshift sound systems.
The Aces are best known as a backing band, but they took the lead when it came to the future of the blues.
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, still going strong at 91, released his newest album just four months ago.
This stubbornly idiosyncratic harmonica player had lousy luck with recordings, but he thrived for four decades onstage.
Jimmy Johnson—older brother of Syl—started out playing soul, but he came into his own as a bluesman in the late 1970s.
Queen Sylvia Embry’s bass playing and warm, soulful singing made her a hit in local clubs and on transatlantic tours.
Guitarist Luther Allison learned his craft in Chicago, but he spent much of his career in Europe when American interest in the blues waned.
Emmett “Maestro” Sanders was a huge figure in Peoria blues, but died unheralded this spring—in part because he only ever released one single.
There’s more than Mavis at Blues Fest: other must-see acts include Texas Johnny Brown, Floyd Taylor, and the Rising Star Fife and Drum Band