The 32nd annual Chicago Blues Festival is almost here. This year the fest will be on June 12, 13 & 14. There will a tribute to Muddy Waters and Willie Dixon on the main stage on Sunday. Clearly the day to be at the fest will be on Saturday. Not only will Buddy Guy be the headliner, but it’s the best single day lineup of talent in years.
The fest opens on Friday at 11:15 A.M. on the Crossroads Stage with the fine guitar licks of Quintus McCormick. The headliner on the Petrillo Stage later in the evening is Jimmy Johnson’s brother Syl Johnson. He will be preceded on that stage by Zora Young and Clarence Carter.
Other Friday must see highlights include Studebaker John & the Maxwell Street Kings on the Front Porch Stage at 1:30 P.M. At 4:00 P.M. former Muddy Waters guitarist John Primer steps onto the Jackson Mississippi Rhythm & Blues Stage. John will also play on Sunday with the Muddy tribute show. It might be hard to leave John’s performance, but Eddie Shaw & the Wolfgang go on at 4:30 back on the Front Porch Stage.
Moving on to Saturday, the great Buddy Guy will headline on the Petrillo Stage at 8:05 P.M. You won’t want to miss a bit of this stage’s offerings leading up to Buddy. It’s advised to get there before Toronzo Cannon goes on at 5:30 P.M. Toronzo is the best new generation guitarist in town. Don’t get in his way or its likely one could get run over by this CTA bus driving power guitarist.
After Cannon is done get ready for the legend Taj Mahal. Taj plays multiple instruments and incorporates African and Caribbean music into the blues giving it a world music feel. His parents were musicians and farmers. Early on he was torn between farming and music. He made the right choice. He’s had a career that started over 50 years ago. His debut record was released in 1968.
By the time Guy hits the stage, the crowd will already be jacked up and his performance will deliver them to the guitar lovers promised land.
Other highlights on Saturday include Jarekus Singleton and Shawn Holt & the Teardrops on the Crossroads Stage starting at 2:30 P.M. On the Front Porch Stage look for Lurrie Bell, harmonica legend Paul Oscher’s Trio and the Cash Box Kings. Lurrie starts it off at 1:30 P.M.
Sunday is usually the day to get there early and leave early, but not this year. Who would want to miss the special tributes to Muddy Waters and Willie Dixon? These are the men who did the most to shape Chicago Blues. Starting off on the Petrillo Stage will be Billy Branch and the “Chief”, Eddy Clearwater at 5:00 P.M.
The first tribute will honor Willie Dixon with a number of family members along with the incredible harp playing of Sugar Blue, guitarist Cash McCall and drummer Andrew “Blaze” Thomas.
The Muddy Waters tribute will feature both of his sons, Mud Morganfield and Big Bill Morganfield. Former alumni appearing will be John Primer, Rick Kreher, Bob Stroger, Paul Oscher and Jerry Portnoy.
Make those plans now for a weekend of fun in the sun. If anyone would like a guided blues experience, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can plan a customized blues adventure especially for you.