Let me hear ya say , "YEAH !", now let me hear real blues fans say, "Helena Yeah ! "
The 24rh Anniversary of the Chicago Blues Fest is in the books and we had over ˝ a million visitors if we had one. Six to seven hundred thousand would be a better guess for those in attendance at the Blues Fest this year.
KOKO TAYLOR is the place to start. Koko did the Boogie Woogie Stomp theme justice and got it right in gear. This was the biggest Thursday night crowd in years. Koko put on a show for the ages.
With it being almost Monday morning, post Chi-Blues Fest, I'll try to be brief.
Phil Guy welcomed the downtown working guy to the fest at 4:30pm on Thursday, a tall task, but Phil was feeling SEXY.. I could get back to Phil but I better tell ya now before you forget. Phil Guy is one hell of a bluesman. Pick up his new CD "He's My Blues Brother" on Black-Eyes Records (BE001) in a location near you.
The Blues Fest itself usually kicks off Thursday at the U.S. Cellular Front Porch Stage about 11:30am with Blues In The Schools. This year is no different. I encourage you to get involved in your local schools and support the blues there as well. Google, "Blues in the Schools".
It isn't easy to catch all the Blues artists and blues information when you come to Chicago. With age setting in, and a desire to kick back some cold ones with a Bloody Mary or two, catching all the acts is near impossible. Chicago is a party town, and when you toss in the after-sets in the South Loop and Buddy Guy's Legends, you can't help realize that Chicago is the Olympics of the Blues.
If you have been to a Chicago Blues Fest and experienced the nightlife you know what I mean. Even at night the City looks great. Chicago's new Millennium Park, just to the north west of Grant Park, is a great place to relax with friends after the fest. If you have never been to the Chicago Blues Fest I strongly encourage you to book early. We are a world-class city and the Mayors Office of Special Events hosts' world-class events. We are talking blues here so lets get on with the story.
There is always gonna be an act you want to catch that you won't. This year I really wanted to catch Mr. Drink Small, but I missed him. Pick you up some Drink Small here on this site or at your local music store. Another to mention, without hesitation, is Jimmy "Duck" Holmes. Jimmy "Duck" is described, by the best, as old fashion gut-bucket blues. Personally,…….. I agree, and conjure thoughts of John Lee Hooker on the front porch in Mississippi back in the 50's or so.
I was able to Catch Jimmy at The State of Mississippi Juke Joint Stage on the South end of Columbus Drive. Turns out he was easily one of the best of the fest. This year it seems that Broke and Hungry records hooked up with the State of Mississippi and put on a great show at the Juke Joint Stage. No lie, The State of Mississippi and the Visitors Bureau are fantastic additions and sponsors of the Chicago Blues Fest.
't easy to toss the largest free admission blues festival in the World. A city must thank its sponsors. If I had a vote, I'd vote The State of Mississippi was the best blues sponsors this year. No disregard to the State of Louisiana, U.S. Cellular, Dominicks Finer Foods, The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), 7 Eleven, The Billy Goat Tavern, Best Buy, Robinson's Ribs (YumYum !) and BlueCross BlueShield of Illinois. There are many sponsors that deserve thanks, but this ain't free advertising.
Lets get back to those acts on the Juke Joint Stage, Thursday Chainsaw DuPont ,John Primer, "Duck" Holmes and a Chicago Jam. Friday: "Duck" Holmes, Terry "T" Willians Duck again and another Chicago Blues jam. Saturday and Sunday blues fans would hear more from "Broke & Hungry" records itchy and scratchy blues.
I did learned that Jimmy "Duck" Holmes is from Bentonia, Mississippi, as is Skip James and Jack Owens. "Duck" owns the Blue Front Café in Bentonia and learned under Jack Owens. It's no wonder that Jimmy "Duck" Holmes was one of the best acts of the fest. I also learned that he'd rather be on a Legendary Rhythm and Blues Cruise than take a fast airplane to anywhere.
I'm goin with Zac Harmon as another best act to have caught at this years Chicago Blues Fest. Mr. Harmon, not to be confused with Illinois Senator "Don" Harmon, was absolutely kick freakin glass. Zac Harmon has won many awards in the last year or two. He lived up to all of them and more, what a great show on Sunday at the Front Porch.
Truth be told, the " STAND-OUT " line-up of the entire fest was at the U.S. Cellular Front Porch Stage on Sunday. Starting at 1:30 was Cephas and Wiggins, 3:30 was James Cotton and from 5:30 to 7 pm Zac Harmon. The only thing to end the night would be Bobby Rush with his booty shaken women. Hella-hugha and good night from Chicago, The Olympics of Da Bluez.
I just gotta keep ya reading cause that's only part of the story.
Ok, I tell ya what, fight it out amongst yourselves if Koko Taylor or Magic Slim ought to be in the top four acts of the close to100 that performed at the fest.. I'll give it to both of them so I can put Billy Branch and the Sons of the Blues in the top 5.
Billy Branch, Billy Branch, The whole dad gum tree, Billy Branch, deserves the accolades of the Blues Foundation in 2008. This man plays harmonica better than anyone else in the world at this time. Billy is supported by Ariyo, from Japan on keyboards, Mose Rutes on Drums, Nick Charles on Bass Guitar and Mirama on the Git-Fiddle. Billy and Chicago celebrated 30 years of "The Sons of the Blues" on Friday night June 8th ,2007. It was a great show, Billy learned harp from Junior Wells and Carrie Bell (god rest his soul). I heard the Willie Dixon boys but I did not hear John Lee Hooker's children, Zachia and John.
I hope Chicago does not turn it's back to the Hookers. This is the blues Capitol of the blues world after all.
I know Zac Harmon and Ronnie Baker Brooks put on a show at the Hot House on Saturday night, but I wasn't there . That would have been a place to be for an after set in Chicago during the 2007 Blues Fest. The best place to be on Friday was at Buddy Guy's for Magic Slim.
Last year I told you that the best place to be for the after-sets in blues for Chicago was right there at Buddy Guy's, for Magic Slim (2006). This year it was Buddy Guy's again with Billy (the whole dad gun tree) Branch on Saturday. I've heard Billy a jillion times but none better than Saturday night, with 5 new songs.. Pick up "Billy Branch. Live @ Rosa's" with the Son's of The Blues. Listen to a new look at the family blues tree.
This dog was Woof Woofin' with various kittens amongst the attendees……..dudes and chicks alike make a trip to "Ole Chi-Town" for the annual blues fest and stopped by the Jolly Roger with the Red Eyes. Bring the family, my nieces & nephews had a rockin' good time. Chicago is a family friendly city, just because Bobby Rush comes to town doesn't mean we can't host the Olympics, (Bobby Rush, not to be confused with Illinois U.S. Congressman Bobby Rush).
Bobby Rush is an easy #6 if not the best performer at Chicago Blues Fest. I know he had the best Kitty up on stage. Oh Lordy Lordy, If you ain't been to Chicago Blues Fest , what is keeping you back ? Chicago welcomes you! ! Amtrak will train ya , Southwest will fly ya, Chevron will fill your tank, Pontiac will carry ya, and Barry Dollins of the Mayors Office of Special Events is to thank.
I wish to take this moment to thank Mayor Daley and the City of Chicago for being such gracious hosts and wish us the best for the 2016 Olympic Bid. Breeze & Freak, The Blindman's Blues Forum, The Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise, The State of Mississippi, Jackson Dept. of Tourism & "Broke & Hungry Records". I'd like to thank the Chicago Police Department, the security detail and the volunteer crew that kept the Park looking good.
I strongly encourage you to visit Chicago and experience all our world-class city has to offer. Chicago ain't all about the blues, but it is an undistinguishable part of what we are as an American City.
Chicago blues fest starts in Richton Park the week beforewith"Blues-N-Bones" and ends the following week with "Blues on The Fox" in Aroura.
Chicago is the Olympics of Da Bluez.