The City of Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events has announced the Petrillo Bandshell line-up for the 33rd Annual Chicago Blues Festival taking place June 10–12, 2016 in Grant Park. The free admission three-day festival opens on Friday, June 10 with a celebration of Alligator Records’ 45th anniversary, and concludes on Sunday, June 12 with a special tribute to legendary bluesman Otis Rush featuring notable friends and other musicians he has influenced throughout his career. Other festival headliners include Fred Wesley & The New J.B.’s, Irma Thomas and Ronnie Earl & The Broadcasters. The full schedule will be announced later this spring.
Friday, June 10 – Alligator Records 45th Anniversary Celebration
The festival opens on June 10 with a salute to Chicago’s Alligator Records who, in 2016, celebrates 45 years of “Genuine Houserockin’ Music.” The Chicago Tribune says Alligator is “America’s most revered blues label.” Rolling Stone says, “Alligator Records has reached dizzying heights in celebrating the blues.”
6:00pm – Tommy Castro & the Painkillers. The San Francisco Chronicle says Castro plays ““funky Southern soul, big city blues and classic rock… silvery guitar licks that simultaneously sound familiar and fresh.” DownBeat calls the band’s new album, Method To My Madness, “a high water mark in their career.” Castro will be joined by special guest, Chicago bluesman Tornozo Cannon. He’ll unleash songs from his Alligator Records debut, The Chicago Way.
7:00pm – Longtime favorites Lil Ed & the Blues Imperials will bring their raw and rowdy blues back to the main stage. The Chicago Sun-Times says, “A party band in the best sense of the word…the hottest purveyors of bottleneck boogie to come out of Chicago since Hound Dog Taylor.” The band’s most recent CD is 2012’s Jump Start. Harmonica master Corky Siegel will join the band as a special guest for an unforgettable collaboration.
8:15pm – Shemekia Copeland, whose 2015 album Outskirts Of Love received a Grammy nomination, will headline the tribute. USA Today says, “Shemekia captures the timelessness of the blues while spinning it forward with remarkable maturity.” She will be joined by guest Curtis Salgado, the award-winning vocalist and harmonicist whose new Alligator CD, The Beautiful Lowdown, will be released on April 8, 2016.
Saturday, June 11 – Soul/R&B Night
6:30pm – Grammy-winner Irma Thomas’ career has spanned over five decades since her first hit in 1960, You Can Have My Husband But Don’t Mess With My Man.
8:15pm – Fred Wesley & The New J.B.’s. Wesley is best known as the music director, arranger, trombonist and a primary composer for the legendary James Brown from 1968 to 1975.
The evening’s opening performance begins at 5:30 p.m. and will be announced at a later date.
Sunday, June 12 – Tribute to Otis Rush
Legendary blues guitarist Otis Rush arrived in Chicago from Mississippi in the 1950s after seeing Muddy Waters perform while visiting his sister. Rush worked tirelessly to establish himself as an innovative blues guitarist, bandleader, singer and songwriter by playing with the legendary bluesmen of the day. Rush set new standards and influenced countless blues and rock musicians, including Carlos Santana, Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Led Zeppelin and many others. A fearless electric guitarist, Rush was a leader in creating the modern, R&B influenced Chicago blues we know today as the West Side Sound.
5:00pm – Ronnie Earl & The Broadcasters open the night. As an award-winning blues guitarist, Ronnie Earl learned from Rush and considers him to be the greatest musical influence on his career and life.
6:30pm – Eddy “The Chief” Clearwater brings his West Side blues to the main stage.The New York Times says, “Clearwater is equally adept at Chuck Berry-style guitar as he is at deeper blues style. He’s a fine singer who puts on a wild, exciting show…the sort of exuberant entertainer who can turn a concert into a party.”
8:00pm – Friends, artists and surprise guests will come together to celebrate Otis Rush with a special tribute featuring the confirmed artists to date: Jimmy Johnson, Abb Locke, Brian Jones, Carl Weathersby, Bob Stoger, Sumito Ariyoshi, Big Ray, John Kattke, Mike Wheeler, Lurrie Bell, Shun Kikuta, Eddie Shaw, Sam Burton, among others. The entire lineup and additional guests will be announced at a later date.
A complete line-up and schedule for all stages, as well as preview events, will be released this spring.
For more information, please visit chicagobluesfestival.us.