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Chicago Blues Festival

The Annual Celebration of Blues Music That Takes Place Along The Lake In Grant Park

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It Was A Great Sunday Afternoon Of Blues & Roots Music

  • Jun 18, 2010
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     I didn't want to go to BluesFest but my buddy Tom wanted to go and I needed to get out of the house. So we jumped on the "el" and in about twenty minutes we were downtown and heading for the lakefront. Then just as we got there what had been an overcast sky opened up and the rain started falling. We found some trees and settled in under them. Tom wanted to go see someone called Rambling Jack Elliott and he slogged off in the rain. I could hear him and that was good enough for me.
     Fortunately the rain didn't last long and Rambling was sounding pretty good so I moved up to get closer. I was glad that I did because Mr. Jack is an excellent singer/songwriter, guitarist, and storyteller. His career spans almost seven decades and he mixes folk, western/cowboy with a touch of blues.  He has recorded over forty albums at one time lived with Woody Guthrie and was one of Bob Dylan’s mentors. After his set was over we wandered around trying some of the great food that was available.
     We got a program just in time to see that Guitar Shorty had just started his set so we hustled over to catch him. Guitar also has been performing since the 1950’s before he was 21 he had played with, among others, Ray Charles, T-Bone Walker, Big Joe Turner and Sam Cooke. Later he went on to get married and gained Jimi Hendrix as a brother in law. He delivered on outstanding set highlighted by sizzling guitar work and impassioned vocals.
     After his set we wandered off again and soon came across another stage where we could hear some more outstanding music. This time we were treated to a performance by Jarekus Singleton w/ Keisha Pratt. I’d never heard of them before and in fact had kind of been making fun of his name to Tom. But they could put the blues out that’s for sure. The highlight of their set was an outstanding version of “I Don’t Need No Doctor” a song made popular by British blues/rock band Humble Pie.
    Following the conclusion of that set we finally made it to the main stage where. Vivian and Vance “Guitar” Kelly with the Backstreet Blues Band was playing.  They did a mixture of soul and blues including a number of early seventies souls classics. The show reached a climax with the final number an awesome version of Prince’s “Purple Rain”.
    By then we were ready to head home and beat the gathering storm clouds. So it was a fine afternoon filled with blues, rock, soul, and cowboy music. There was also all kinds of great food, and other than the food it was all free. I had my video camera with me and filmed a couple of songs from each set. I’ll post one here and if you want more click on the link to  my MindsiMedia YouTube station.

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November 18, 2010
This sounds like an awesome concert event with great musicians and groups! I might try to go next year. I went to Lollapalooza last year and it just doesn't get any better than music on the lakefront in Chicago. Nice review!
About the reviewer
Mike Beyer ()
Ranked #5
Slowly becoming digitized man at one time I had thousands of records and cd's now I have about fifty cds I use in my car. Most of my listening is on Pandora where I have a number of stations that … more
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The Chicago Blues Festival is an annual event that features three days of performances by top-tier blues musicians, both old favorites and the up-and-coming. It is hosted by the City of Chicago Mayor's Office of Special Events, and always occurs in early June. The event has always taken place at Petrillo Music Shell in Grant Park, adjacent to the Lake Michigan waterfront east of the Loop in Chicago.

History of the festival

Chicago has a storied history with blues that goes back generations stemming from the Great Migration from the South and particularly the Mississippi Delta region in pursuit of advancement and better career possibilities for musicians.[1][2] Created by Commissioner of Cultural Affairs Lois Weisberg, the festival began in 1984,[2] a year after the death of McKinley Morganfield, better known as Muddy Waters, who is generally considered "the father of Chicago blues".[3] Each year the organizers choose a theme, generally to honor a recently departed blues musician.[4] Obviously, Chicago blues acts are common. Also, in keeping with the blues' influence on other musical genres, there are some soul, jazz blues and blues-rock acts. Since those early beginnings the festival has risen to a status that the City of Chicago bills as the world's largest free concert of its kind.[5] The Blues Festival is the largest of the city's music festivals.[5]

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