Music News

Blue’s Coming Back

Chicago Blues Festival
Grant Park
Chicago, IL
June 12-14
After 32 years of long standing music tradition the Chicago Blues Fest brings some of the country’s most prominent players that have helped shape the Blues world and music as we know it today. Outside of Bob Margolin, former Guitarist for Muddy Waters, and Marty Sammon, current keys player for Buddy Guy, we were graced by one of the last living legends Buddy Guy himself. Guy provided nothing short of an inspirational performance to a rain soaked audience upward of several thousand. “…cool it down…I want to hear some hand clapping…”, said Buddy to his band of which he was firmly obliged by the audience.
I was given the opportunity to speak earlier in the day with the chief organizer of Blues Fest, Jeneene Brown-Mosley, who is currently in her 4th year holding this role and 29th year as an administrator of in the Chicago Department of Cultural affairs. “I was excited,” said Mosley when told that she would be taking over for this highly anticipated event. “The most interesting things [about this role] are when you are trying to keep the integrity of the tradition of the Chicago Blues Festival while letting people know that there is a new generation of blues and, so, trying to keep that going.” This is important, “… to keep the young people involved as some of our artists are passing away…” How true as the music world has most recently lost one of its most recognizable personalities, BB King. Mosley went on to tell us more about the tribute on Sunday evening for Muddy Waters.

Bob Margolin tearing it up at Chicago Blues Fest
Bob Margolin tearing it up at Chicago Blues Fest

Bob Margolin was gracious enough to answer a few question about the tribute that he would be playing that night while in between sets on the Windy City Blues Society Stage. “I miss him [Muddy Waters]… “ “but I gotta keep playing..” Margolin, once side man to Muddy Waters, played only hours before Marty Sammon, now side man to Buddy guy, took to the same stage. Sammon stated, “This festival is what it’s about” headlining the WCBS stage that Sunday afternoon. Both Margolin and Sammon took the main stage and were well received, giving the audience a stellar performance to hold on to until next year. Dave Madlener, director of the Windy City Blues Society, made a point to say that “Each year we get the chance to hear them do what they love and they just keep getting better…”
But, what of Blues today? Where is the genre going? And who do we see leading the way to infuse the foundations of Rock and Roll back in to the masses? Will Jacobs, one of the younger and steadier Blues musicians running in the Chicago Blues scene today had this to say about the movements new direction “You see a lot of people finding the Blues through Johnny Lang and Gary Clark Jr. [who is playing Lollapalooza this year] and work their way back to players like Albert King and BB King. “ “I see younger people coming into places like Kingston Mines, Blues on Halsted, and Blues Chicago and that’s great, but where is it on the radio?” Currently Jarekus Singleton, as Jazz influenced Blues artist, is one of the few along with Jamiah “On Fire” and the Red Machine that are currently making a name for themselves on the national circuit. From having quick moments with all of these artists it seems that the general consensus of the future direction of Blue in the mass public lies within the Soul R&B.
Maybe. From a point of view shared by artists that have wonderfully devoted their lives to this genre, yes, this could hold, but as a music lover I feel that this may be a bit hasty. When walking outside of the grounds just beyond the gates to CBFest I my ears peaked with profound interest at the sound of a ruckus that could be described as Psycho-Delta Blues. An amazing duo, know as Tyrannosaurus Chicken [], consisting of Smilin’ Bob Lewis and his god daughter, Rachel Ammons, two native from Arkansas that some how seemed to just burst out of the trees while busking their uniquely profound style of Delta Blues. “ Back home [Arkansas] they call us Pyscho-Delta,” said Lewis. A sound that has been cultivated over the past 7 years which has just this past year taken to the road. They were featured at CBFest on the Windy City Blues Society stage on Friday to a packed crowd, then spent the rest of the weekend keeping to one of the oldest Blues traditions; busking on the street for everyone to hear. He wails on a series of stringed guitars, banjos, dobros, and a Telephone receiver microphone , while she fiddles with the fire of someone looking to escape their body flailing her hip long hair around the stage. A party whether you like it or not. They have headlined smaller Midwest festivals like MOLOVE (Missouri), Hillberry(Arkansas), Big BAM Ride (Missouri), and a slue of venues along the way to enthusiastic crowds. Their music left no foot un-stomped. Their sound was unique, fresh, intoxicating, and, yet, rooted in Delta Blue tradition. Definitely worth checking these two out!
With so many opinions as to what truly makes up a sound to classify it as something or not like everything in life it must evolve if it is to survive. And with newly found gems such as Jamiah “On Fire”, Jarekus Singleton, and Tyrannosaurus Chicken we have begun to see the genre shift into a new age and leave its…..