CHICAGO, IL -The headliners have been announced for the 33rd Annual Chicago Blues Festival happening June 10-12 in Grant Park.
The free admission three-day festival will open on Friday, June 10, with a celebration of the 45th anniversary of Chicago’s Alligator Records, and conclude on Sunday, June 12, with a special tribute to the legendary Otis Rush featuring notable friends and other musicians he has influenced throughout his career. The festival headliners throughout the weekend include: Shemekia Copeland with guest Curtis Salgado, Lil’ Ed and the Blues Imperials with guest Corky Siegel, Tommy Castro and The Painkillers with guest Toronzo Cannon, Fred Wesley and the J.B.s, Irma Thomas, Eddy “The Chief” Clearwater and Ronnie Earl & The Broadcasters.
The full schedule will be announced later this spring.
The festival opens on June 10 with a salute to Chicago’s Alligator Records for 45 years of what the label describes as “genuine houserockin’ music.” Deeply rooted in the blues, several of the label’s renowned recording artists will perform at the Petrillo Music Shell to kick-off the festival.
2015 GRAMMY nominee Shemekia Copeland will headline the tribute with a sizzling performance of her many hits since her debut in 1998. Having been called “the next Aretha Franklin” by CNN, Shemekia Copeland has a passion for the blues along with a vision and personality that’s just as strong and unflinching as her incredible voice. She will take the stage at 8:15 p.m. along with guest Curtis Salgado, the award-winning blues icon and Alligator artist.
Before Copeland takes the stage, the Petrillo Music Shell will open at 6 p.m. with Tommy Castro & The Painkillers. The group’s funk and blues sound will delight fans with their guitar licks and high-energy performance. Their most recent release is 2014’s The Devil You Know is full of grit and rocking soul. Hot off the recent release of his new album, The Chicago Way, Toronzo Cannon will make a guest appearance with the band as one the label’s emerging stars.
Always a crowd favorite, at 7 p.m. Lil’ Ed and The Blues Imperials will bring their rowdy blues show to the Petrillo Stage. Having released their first album Roughhousin’ in 1986, Lil’ Ed and The Blues Imperials have not slowed down. They have garnered many blues awards for their performances and have a legion of ever growing fans who proudly call themselves “Ed Heads.” Bluesman Corky Siegel will join the band for a special collaboration and provide his special style of blues to the evening’s mix.
Headlining the evening on June 11 at 8:05 p.m. is jazz and funk trombonist 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. Throughout his amazing career, he has collaborated with George Clinton, the Count Basie Orchestra, Van Morrison, De La Soul and others. The members of the New J.B.s are accomplished musicians from around the world with solid credentials in funk and jazz. With Fred Wesley leading, they are inspired by the fabled James Brown J.B.s and generate heat in every performance.
Best known as “The Soul Queen of New Orleans,” Irma Thomas will take the sage at 6:30 p.m. Thomas’ career has spanned over five decades and the GRAMMY winner is not slowing down. Since her first hit in 1960, “You Can Have My Husband but Don’t Mess With My Man,” she is still receiving accolades Most recently she was named the “Soul Blues Female Artist” at the Blues Music Awards in 2013 and 2014.
The evening’s opening performance begins at 5:30 p.m. and will be announced at a later date.
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.
The evening will begin at 5 p.m. with Ronnie Earl & The Broadcasters. As an award-winning blues guitarist, Ronnie Earl learned fromRush and considers him to be the greatest musical influence on his career and life.
The tribute continues at 6:30 p.m. with Chicago legend Eddy “The Chief” Clearwater. Known as a blues-rocking showman with his left-handed, upside-down guitar playing and his signature Indian headdress, Clearwater is among the very finest bluesmen performing today. He’s a frequent performer at the Chicago Blues Festival and this year his guitar mastery and rock-fueled blues will be on full display for a true taste of West Side blues.
At 8 p.m., 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 Stroger, 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.
The Chicago Blues Festival is FREE and open from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. daily. The Petrillo Music Shell will feature headliners from 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. on Friday, June 10; 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. on Saturday, June 11; and 5 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. on Sunday, June 12.
Beginning each day at 11 a.m., the Bud Light Crossroads Stage, the Jackson Mississippi Rhythm and Blues Stage and the Front Porch contribute to the festival’s reputation as an internationally acclaimed event. The line-up at these stages specifically highlight local and national musicians that celebrate the genres rich tradition and heritage.