I have been wanting to see Westside Chicago legend, Jimmy Dawkins, for several years. The last couple of times I was in Chicago, Dawkins was touring in Europe so I was unable to catch him at one of the local Chicago blues hotspots. One of the few times that Dawkins visited Minneapolis several years ago, I did not get to see him because I was terminally delayed by a terrible snowstorm out in Excelsior, Minnesota. When I saw that Dawkins would be taking the stage at Cedarfest this year, I made sure that I was going to be in town to see him.
At Cedarfest, Dawkins was backed up by one of the finest blues combos in the Twin Cities, The Butanes. The Butanes have made a name for themselves nationally by backing a number of well known performers including Earl King, Robert Ward, Al Rapone and King Floyd. Since regular Butanes' singer Maurice Jacox was replaced by Dawkins, The Butanes' lineup on Sunday evening included Curt Obeda (guitar); Virgil Nelson (keyboards); John Lindberg (bass); and Dan Hostetler (drums).
The Butanes opened the show with three songs, sans Dawkins, with Lindberg and Obeda taking care of vocal duties. Song number four brought out Dawkins, complete in his bright red Butanes t-shirt, who, shortly thereafter broke into the classic "Everyday I Have The Blues." The first three songs with Dawkins were a little shaky, but when the band began playing "Me, My Gitar And The Blues," Dawkins and the band caught fire. Following a nice rendition of "Boogie Chillun'", Dawkins thanked the audience and left the stage, having played less than an hour. Given the time schedules for performers at Cedarfest, I was afraid that after waiting so long to see Jimmy Dawkins, my exposure to him was going to be seriously minimized. However, that was not to be the case. The Butanes stayed on stage and played one encore alone and then Dawkins was cheered back onto the stage for what I figured would be one more tune. However, his encore of "Feel So Bad" was followed by two more songs, "Five Long Years" and "I Got My Mojo Working." Dawkins' extended encore performance left me more satisfied, but definitely wanting more. This feeling was clearly shared by most of the crowd in front of the stage.
All in all, Jimmy Dawkins delivered what I had hoped for in what I had expected to be a fairly short set at Cedarfest. By my standards, one taste of Dawkins' music was definitely not enough and I hope that I can get to hear him again very soon at a club date here, in Chicago or at another stop during my travels.
This review is copyright © 1999 by Dave "Doc" Piltz, and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved.