Your Complete Guide to the Chicago Blues Scene

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Chicago Blues Guide HOT shows
No HOT Shows to announce at this time due to COVID pandemic
Gibson guitarNEWS: Grants & Resources for Musicians impacted by COVID-19

Here's a list of where to turn for help. Keep checking back for updates.
Blue Chicago broken windows from lootingNEWS: Chicago's Blues Clubs face uncertain future

Three clubs vandalized while pandemic, protests and looting threaten reopenings
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Duke Robillard Blues Bash CD
Red Hot 'n Blues Reviews
Marty Gunther runs down 15 sizzlin' new releases for January 2021
Dave SpecterFEATURE: Dave Specter Interview

Specter speaks out against injustice, with help from Billy Branch and Brother John, on new Delmark release
Shemekia Copeland Uncivil WarFall 2020 CD REVIEWS

Shemekia Copeland, Johnny Iguana, Elvin Bishop & Charlie Musselwhite, Nora Jean Wallace, Martin Lang
Vanessa Collier CD artRed Hot 'n Blues Reviews

Marty Gunther runs down 15 sizzlin' new releases for December
John Nemeth CDCD REVIEWS: Red Hot 'n Blues Reviews

Marty Gunther runs down 15 sizzlin' new releases for November
Sugar Ray & The Bluetones CDCD REVIEWS: Red Hot 'n Blues Reviews

Marty Gunther runs down 15 sizzlin' new releases for October
Denise LaSalle book coverFEATURE/ Book Review
Always The Queen: The Denise LaSalle Story

by Denise LaSalle with David Whiteis

LaSalle's autobiography is a compelling page-turner, full of twists and turns that comprise her fascinating life and career, which parallel the timeline of music history and civil rights. Her struggles and determination are nothing less than inspiring.
Blues Legacy book cover by WhiteisFEATURE/ Book Review
Blues Legacy: Tradition and Innovation in Chicago
by David Whiteis

Whiteis delves into how the current and upcoming Chicago blues generations carry on this historic musical legacy. Drawing on in-person interviews, Whiteis places the artists within the ongoing social and cultural reality their work reflects and helps create.
Blues Before Sunrise book coverFEATURE/ Book Review
Blues Before Sunrise:
Interviews from the Chicago Scene by Steve Cushing

For over 40 years, Steve Cushing’s radio show, “Blues Before Sunrise” has been the gold standard for serious blues lovers. Here are transcriptions of dozens interviews from the show with historic blues figures.
John Primer by Eric KriesantFEATURE: John Primer Interview/Part 1

Chicago Blues Hero drops new album

World famous blues star Primer was on top of the world until the world changed. Keeping the blues alive takes on new meaning in 2020.
John Primer by Jennifer NobleFEATURE: John Primer Interview/Part 2

Chicago's real deal blues icon speaks his mind on Muddy Waters, Magic Slim, The Rolling Stones, young blues rockers & more.
Derek Trucks & Susan TedeschiLIVE REVIEW: Tedeschi Trucks Band, Chicago Theatre, Jan. 25, 2020
Billy Branch by Jenn NobleFEATURE: Billy Branch Interview

Branch performs Chicago Plays The Stones live, releases new CD tribute to Little Walter

photo: Jennifer Noble
Rolling Stones on small stage
LIVE REVIEW: Rolling Stones June 21 & 25, 2019 at Soldier Field, Chicago
The fates aligned, with Mick Jagger's quick recovery from heart surgery, to kick off the band's tour in the Home of the Blues. Chicago blues gave the band its name and 50 years later the Stones are still giving back to the blues.
Coco MontoyaFEATURE: Interview with Coco Montoya

Montoya to release new Alligator CD & perform at Blues on the Fox
Mary Lane by Lee Ann FlynnFEATURE: Mary Lane Interview

Mary Lane has been singing the blues for over 60 years with little recognition. Now at age 83, it's her turn to be a star.
Bitten by the Blues bookBOOK REVIEW: Bitten By The Blues: The Alligator Records Story

The story of the blues is impossible to tell without also telling the story of Alligator Records. Co-written by label founder Bruce Iglauer and Patrick A. Roberts, this fascinating memoir is essential reading for even the casual blues lover.
Lindsay BeaverFEATURE: Lindsay Beaver Interview

Drummer Lindsay Beaver, Alligator Records' newest artist, is multi-talented and Tough As Love, with a little help from her famous friends
Koko Taylor & Bruce IglauerFEATURE: Alligator's Bruce Iglauer was Bitten by The Blues and lived to tell about it!

Inspired by seeing Hound Dog Taylor & The HouseRockers at age 23, Bruce Iglauer founded Alligator Records in 1971. In his new memoir, Bitten By The Blues, the president of the world's largest indie blues label recalls his 50 years in the business working alongside many blues legends.
Buddy Guy by Jenn Noble
LIVE REVIEW: Blues Heaven Festival 2018, Denmark
It may seem strange to find an international blues fest in northern Denmark, but "Blues Heaven" just celebrated its 13th anniversary with major acts like Buddy Guy, Robert Cray, Don Bryant & The Bo-Keys, Joanna Connor, Walter Trout, Welch-Ledbetter Connection & more. Check out our review and photos.
Nora Jean Bruso on deck
LIVE REVIEW: European Blues Cruise 2018
Toronzo Cannon & The Chicago Way, Carl Weathersby, Nora Jean Bruso, Liz Mandeville, Wayne Baker Brooks, Rip Lee Pryor, Fabrizio Poggi & more

The Chicago Way meets the Italian Way on board a luxury liner to cruise the Mediterranean while a nonstop blues fest ensues.
Jimmy Nick on lawnFEATURE: Jimmy Nick Interview

His new CD is titled:
Dangerous Decisions and Bad Things
Yet this rising young star's career choices are quite the opposite!
Lurrie Bell by Jenn NobleLIVE REVIEW: Chicago Blues Fest 2018/ Day 1

Now in its 2nd year in Millennium Park, the 37th Annual CBF paid tribute to Delmark Records 65th Anniversary with an all star lineup.

Lurrie Bell/ photo: Jenn Noble
Samantha Fish by Howie GreenblattFEATURE: Samantha Fish Interview

Blues Music Award Winner Samantha Fish returns to Blues on the Fox Fest 2018

photo: Howard Greenblatt
Mud MorganfieldFEATURE: Mud Morganfield Interview

Like father like son, Mud Morganfield chose an all-star cast of Chicago blues players for his new CD and release party on April 5 at SPACE.
Buddy Guy & Bobby Rush by RomanLIVE REVIEW:
Buddy Guy & Bobby Rush

The first show of Buddy's annual winter residency 2018 kicked off with some very special guests for a very special cause. Sparks flew when these ageless icons combined forces.
Survivor: The Benny Turner Story book coverBOOK REVIEW: Survivor: The Benny Turner Story

Benny Turner may not be a household name, but his older brother the late Freddie King is a blues legend. Benny's life and story are forever intertwined with the history of American Blues and its biggest stars. Benny personally tells us his story, like we are having a barstool chat. It's a tale filled with love, poverty, wealth, fame, heartbreak and survival.
Benny Turner by Lee Ann FlynnLIVE REVIEW: Ann Arbor Blues Fest 2017

Blues lovers revive this historic festival, begun 50 years ago, with an all-star lineup, including: Benny Turner (photo), Nick Moss Band, Norman Jackson Band, Hank Mowery, Eliza Neals & The Narcotics, Chris Canas, Alabama Slim & more.
Wanda Jackson by RomanLIVE REVIEW: Wanda Jackson at City Winery

At age 79, the Queen of Rockabilly remains an inspiration whose influence spans generations from Elvis to Adele.
Gravenites & Goldberg by HowieLIVE REVIEW:
Chicago Blues Reunion at Arcada Theater

Each time that Nick Gravenites, Barry Goldberg & Harvey Mandel reunite for a concert, it's a joyful homecoming and celebration of the blues. Joined by special guests Sugar Blue & Rob Stone, the CBR brought the house down.
Art of the Blues book cover smallFEATURE: The Art of the Blues

The Art of The Blues:
A Visual Treasury of Black Music's Golden Age by Bill Dahl is a lavish, stunning book that truly lives up to its title and then some. Read our review.
National Blues Museum neon signFEATURE: National Blues Museum in St. Louis Gives Chicago a "Blues" Print for Success

A trip to St. Louis' year-old blues museum provides a lesson in how Chicago can live up to its title as the "home of the blues."
Corky Siegel by Jenn NobelFEATURE: Corky Siegel Interview

Harp virtuoso features familiar friends on new Chamber Blues CD.

photo: Jennifer Noble
Ronnie Baker Brooks by Howard GreenblattFEATURE: Ronnie Baker Brooks: The Interview

Greg Easterling caught up with the busy Chicago blues star, who had just stepped off the Blues Cruise in time to celebrate his birthday and his new CD, his first in 10 years!

What took Ronnie so long? Read the story to find out.
Toronzo CannonLIVE REVIEW: Toronzo Cannon at Buddy Guy's Legends, w/ opener Jimmy Nick

This rising blues star closed out the year with a hometown set that showed why he is becoming an international favorite who can name Buddy Guy among his fans.
Maurice John Vaughn by Jenn NobleLIVE REVIEW: 2016 Frederikshavn Blues Festival, Denmark
Now in its 11th year, this major international blues fest, known as Blues Heaven, easily earns that title with acts like Ruthie Foster, Corey Harris, Robben Ford, The Original Chicago Blues All Stars w/Holle Thee Maxwell, Roy Rogers & more.
Joanna ConnorFEATURE: Interview with Joanna Connor

Chicago's guitar goddess has played around the world, recorded for multiple labels and backed everyone from Jimmy Page to Buddy Guy. Still she remains under the radar. But a viral video and new CD shine a light on this remarkable artist.
Charlie Love on guitarLIVE REVIEW:
Chicago Blues Party w/ Jeff Stone, Charlie Love
(photo), Tomiko Dixon & guests at Penny Road Pub

Since he moved back to Chicago, ace harp blower Stone has been bringing South Side blues to the 'burbs. Maurice John Vaughn & Demetria Taylor joined the party, too.
Henry Gray headshotFEATURE: Interview with Henry Gray

At age 91, the piano legend is a true blues survivor who continues to defy the odds and thrive

Delmark 55th DVDREVIEWS:

CDs: Mississippi Heat, Sharon Lewis, Ronnie Baker Brooks, James Cotton, Mud Morganfield, Dave Specter, Dave Weld, Charlie Musselwhite, Nick Moss Band, Cash Box Kings, Buddy Guy & more.

DVDs: Honeyboy Edwards, Muddy Waters, JJ Grey & Mofro, Tail Dragger, Delmark's 55th Anniversary, Maxwell Street, Son Seals, Jimmy Burns & more.

LIVE BLUES:  Stevie Wonder, Etta James, B.B. King, Buddy Guy, Pinetop Perkins, Joss Stone, Ryan Shaw, Mavis Staples, Booker T & the MGs, John Nemeth, more.

Willie DixonLIVE REVIEW: Big Head Blues Club w/ Mud Morganfield, Billy Branch, Ronnie Baker Brooks, Erica Brown presents: The Songs of Willie Dixon, Nov. 2, 2016, Arcada Theater

What's a blues lover to do when the Cubs are playing Game 7 of the World Series at  the same time as one of the best shows of the year? Check out our review for the answer.
Magic Dick & Shun NgFEATURE: Magic Dick & Shun Ng Interview

J. Geils harp master Magic Dick teams with young guitar whiz Shun Ng for new CD and tour into new musical territory.
Matthew Skoller small picFEATURE: Matthew Skoller Interview

Blues harp master Skoller's new CD, Blues Immigrant tell modern epic blues tales and more.
Mike Wheeler small photoLIVE REVIEW: Mike Wheeler Band at FitzGerald's

The hardest working blues man in Chicago and his killer band pulled out all the stops, with help from special guests, for "Bluesday Tuesday" in Berwyn.
LIVE REVIEW: European Blues Cruise 2016
European Blues Cruise
Set sail for a trip around the Mediterranean with Billy Branch & Sons of the Blues, Carlos Johnson, Stacy Brooks, Mitch Woods, Bill "Howl-N-Mad" Perry & Shy Perry and more. Won't you let us take you on a sea cruise?
Holle Thee Maxwell small photoLIVE REVIEW:
Holle Thee Maxwell & The Original Chicago Blues All-Stars at Motor Row Brewing

It's always cause for celebration when a new venue books authentic blues acts, especially when they are a part of music history.
John Mayall by JennFEATURE: Interview with John Mayall

At nearly age 83, the "Godfather" of British blues shows no sign of slowing down, while keeping up a hectic pace of touring and recording.
Guy King at SPACE by Jenn NobleFEATURE: Interview with Guy King

Blues star on the rise: from the Holy Land to Blues Capitol Chicago, King comes full circle.

photo: Jennifer Noble
Derek TrucksLIVE REVIEW:
Blues on the Fox 2016

The Aurora blues festival celebrated its 20th anniversary in style with no rain-outs and a stellar lineup: Robert Cray, Marcia Ball, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Los Lobos, Larry McCray & Leland.

photo: Jennifer Noble
Otis Rush grabs mic at Chicago Blues Fest 2016LIVE REVIEW: Chicago Blues Festival 2016: Tribute To Otis Rush, Ronnie Earl & The Broadcasters, Eddy "The Chief" Clearwater

photo: by Jennifer Noble
Heart photo by Roman SobusLIVE REVIEW: Heart with Mindi Abair & The Boneshakers at Genesee Theater

The royal ladies of classic rock sounded and looked timeless for a night of women power. Openers Mindi Abair & The Boneshakers with Sweet Pea Atkinson turned in a powerful set and made many new fans.
The RidesFEATURE: Interview with Barry Goldberg

About to embark on a new tour with his bandmates in The Rides--Stephen Stills and Kenny Wayne Shepherd-- Goldberg keeps Chicago and the blues close to his heart.
Jorma Kaukonen smallFEATURE: Interview with Jorma Kaukonen

The venerable folk-blues-roots guitarist discusses his new CD, Rev. Gary Davis, John Lee Hooker, Fur Peace Ranch and Hot Tuna. He pays homage to his recently departed bandmates from Jefferson Airplane, Paul Kantner & Signe Anderson.
Webb WilderFEATURE: Interview with Webb Wilder

Eccentric roots rocker, known for songs like "Human Cannonball," pays homage to his home state with new CD and a local show.
Dave Weld by JennFEATURE: Interview with Dave Weld

A true blues survivor, who has done it all and seen it all, Dave Weld and his band The Imperial Flames are back with a sophomore CD for Delmark Records. Weld has paid his blues dues and lived to tell us about it.
Shemekia Copeland by JennFEATURE: Interview with Shemekia Copeland

Blues star Shemekia Copeland returns to home base with a new CD on Alligator that captures her artistic maturity and social conscience.

photo: Jennifer Noble
Toronzo Cannon by JennFEATURE: Interview with Toronzo Cannon

This rising star just signed with Alligator, plays all over the world and drives a CTA bus. How does talented Toronzo manage his seemingly double life?

photo: Jennifer Noble
Mavis StaplesLIVE REVIEW: Blues on the Fox 2015

Mavis Staples, North Mississippi Allstars, Otis Taylor, Royal Southern Brotherhood & more.

photo: Jennifer Noble
Lazer LloydFEATURE: Interview with Lazer Lloyd

Israel's Lazer Lloyd is not your usual blues-rock guitarist. He had many career choices in the U.S. but ended up "Rockin' in the Holy Land" and beyond to spread hope around the world. He will perform at Buddy Guy's Legends on Nov. 4.
Otis on guitarFEATURE: Interview with Shuggie Otis

Musical prodigy and the son of late legend Johnny Otis, Shuggie's early music influenced the likes of Prince and Lenny Kravitz. Always ahead of his time, the multi-talented artist has been rediscovered and is hitting the comeback trail. He will perform at City Winery on July 17.
NEWS: R.I.P. Riley B. King:
Sept. 16, 1925 - May 14, 2015

B.B. King & Peter Frampton
Blues fans around the world mourn the passing of the King of the Blues.
Photo: Dianne Bruce Dunklau captured a tender moment with B.B. King holding Peter Frampton's hand at RiverEdge Park, Aurora in 2013 for Frampton's Guitar Circus Concert.
Devon Allman by Roman Sobus smallFEATURE: Interview with Devon Allman

Although his tenure with Royal Southern Brotherhood winds down after four years, Allman has plenty in store as he returns to his solo career. His new CD, Ragged & Dirty, displays his "love affair" with Chicago and the blues.
Mavis Staples wails by JennLIVE REVIEW: I'll Take You There: Celebrating 75 Years of Mavis Staples

A star-studded cast from many musical camps descended upon Chicago to pay homage to one very special lady.
Jarekus SingletonLIVE REVIEW:
Jarekus Singleton at SPACE

What makes this rising young star so special that Alligator Records snatched him up? Roving reporter Liz Mandeville scoped out this uniquely talented artist to find the answer.
Blues in Modern Days book coverFEATURE: Book Review/ Blues in Modern Days: 31 Artists in Their Own Words

Authors Terry Mullins & Bob Kieser have interviewed and photographed dozens of today's living blues artists from all corners of the U.S. Here are 31 of them "in their own words."
Johnny Winter B&W horizontalFEATURE: Winter in July

Indiana's poet laureate George Kalamaras pays tribute to the late Johnny Winter. Exclusive photos!
Nick Moss & Michael LedbetterLIVE REVIEW -- Nick Moss Band, Kevin Purcell & The Nightburners

What do you get when two great hometown blues bands are jammin' on the same stage on the same night?  Blues on the Prairie Concert proved to be a family style night of soul satisfyin' music and more.
Charlie Love by JennFEATURE: Inside the Blues with Liz Mandeville

Charlie Love heads to Durban, South Africa as Blues Ambassador.
Charlie recalls his long journey from Chicago's South Side to this premiere international blues festival.
Selwyn Birchwood smallFEATURE: Interview with Selwyn Birchwood

It's no wonder this rising young blues star never stops smiling; his career is on a roll and for good reason.
Dave Specter verticleFEATURE: Interview with Dave Specter

Specter spent his youth learning and performing with blues legends. His new Delmark CD features one of them, Otis Clay. "Spec" recalls the lessons he learned from teachers Hubert Sumlin, Sam Lay and more.
Tom MarkerFEATURE: Interview with Tom Marker

WXRT DJ and Blues Breakers host has been keeping the blues alive since 1984. Tom explains how the blues bug first bit him and recalls legends he's met over the years.
Bobby Rush kicksFEATURE: Interview with Bobby Rush

The ever youthful soul-blues legend tells the truth about his life in show biz along with tall tales about preachin', sellin' cotton, playin' the chit'lin' circuit, Chicken Heads, other heads, shady record deals and the list goes on...
Bobby Rush small photoFEATURE: Bobby Rush's Grammy nod: A victory for The Blues

Muddy Waters tunesmith Terry Abrahamson celebrates Bobby's Grammy nomination with a nostalgic remembrance of "Chicken Heads". PART 1
Chicago Slim wails guitar smallFEATURE: The Blues Doctor is in! Good guys wear black.

Dr. Dan Ivankovich, a.k.a. Chicago Slim, mends bones in the city's poorest 'hoods by day and plays the blues at night.
Mud Morganfield by JennFEATURE: Interview with Big Bill Morganfield

Blues is in the blood of this multi-talented award-winning singer, songwriter and guitarist who happens to be the son of Muddy Waters.
Donald KinseyFEATURE: Interview with Donald Kinsey

From Gary to Jamaica and back, musician Donald Kinsey keeps the music moving forward. The celebrated artist talks about his family band, Big Daddy, Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Albert King and more.
Joanne Shaw Taylor live shotFEATURE: Interview with Joanne Shaw Taylor

British blues-rock artist Joanne Shaw Taylor is currently touring as part of Ruf Records Blues Caravan Tour.

The multi-talented young lady talks about her dream career so far, with more to come.
Liz Mandeville with frattoireFEATURE: Interview with Liz Mandeville

Renaissance woman Liz Mandeville was inducted into the Chicago Blues Hall of Fame in 2013. A year, prior she started her own record label and began a new path in her career as a blues singer, songwriter, guitarist, record label owner, author, speaker and painter.
Pierre LacocqueFEATURE: Interview with Mississippi Heat's Pierre Lacocque

Miss. Heat founder and harp player Lacocque isn't your typical blues man. He's lived all over the world, but never felt at home until he discovered the blues in Chicago. The band celebrates its 20th anniversary with a new CD on Delmark, and sets at Blues Fest 2013 and Delmark's annual Blues Brunch.
Buddy & Hopkins comic headshot FEATURE: Welcome Buddy and Hopkins!

The further misadventures of Buddy and  Hopkins are featured regularly on our website, thanks to talented artist Jason Nocera. Click on the photo to find out what kind of trouble they get into this month.
Magic Slim old photoLIVE REVIEW: A Night For Magic -- A Tribute to Magic Slim

It was a magical night at the Mayne Stage for one of the finest blues all-star lineups in recent memory, all playing to honor the late Morris "Magic Slim" Holt.
Alvin Lee smallFEATURE: Poetry by George Kalamaras

Our resident blues poet  pays homage to the recently departed guitar great Alvin Lee
Belly of the Blues book cover
FEATURE: Book Review
Terry Abrahamson's In the Belly of the Blues

 The author's life changing musical journey into “The Belly of The Blues” is chronicled through his iconic B&W photos and his written memoirs in this very enjoyable hardback.
J.B. RitchieFEATURE: Interview with J.B. Ritchie

 J.B. Ritchie has been playing the blues for nearly five decades. His wild ride of a life story would make a great screenplay.

Big Llou Johnson FEATURE: Interview with Big Llou Johnson

 "Bringing sexy back to the blues"

 The voice of B.B. King's Bluesville radio network releases his debut blues CD.

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