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The best of the weekend’s blues outside Millennium Park

Your extracurricular options include Eddie Shaw, Peaches Staten, L’Roy, and Eddy “the Chief” Clearwater.

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Eddie Shaw - COURTESY CHICAGO DCASE
  • Courtesy Chicago DCASE
  • Eddie Shaw

It’s never difficult to see live blues in Chicago, and during the Blues Festival it’s even easier—the city’s blues clubs pull out the stops all weekend, and even venues that don’t specialize in the blues get in on the action.

This list isn’t here to remind you of those facts but rather to point out the special events and notable shows among the glut of offerings. On Thursday, June 8, Muddy Waters’s sons Big Bill Morganfield and Mud Morganfield perform at the dedication of a ten-story-high Muddy Waters mural at 17 N. State by Brazilian street artist Eduardo Kobra (part of the Big Walls project by Columbia College and the Wabash Arts Corridor). They’ll front a band led by former Waters guitarist Rick Kreher, and the event begins at noon.

Also on Thursday, the Original Chicago Blues All Stars—formerly Willie Dixon’s backup band—present the Original Blues All Stars Awards from 6 to 11 PM at Motor Row Brewing, where they have a regular gig. The group describes the awards as honoring “musicians who have devoted their lives to uphold the Chicago Blues Tradition,” and recipients include late guitarist Lonnie Brooks, guitarist Eddie C. Campbell, saxophonist Eddie Shaw, drummer Sam Lay, and vocalist Mary Lane. Motor Row will be pouring its new All Stars Pale Ale for the occasion.

Reggie’s Music Joint hosts afterfest shows all weekend, most notably the annual Chicago Women in the Blues Festival on Friday—it starts at 7 PM and features the likes of Peaches Staten, Tracee Adams, Shirley King, and Liz Mandeville. And at Rosa’s Lounge on Sunday you can catch a set by Christone “Catfish” Ingram, a teenage guitar prodigy from Clarksdale, Mississippi, who won the Artie “Blues Boy” White Youth Scholarship in 2015.

Two veterans who haven’t gigged Chicago for a while return during the festival: Eddy “the Chief” Clearwater, an early Chuck Berry fan who was among the first bluesmen of his generation to graft rock ’n’ roll onto the postwar Chicago style, plays at Buddy Guy’s Legends on Friday. And Eddie Shaw, former saxophonist and bandleader for Howlin’ Wolf, makes a rare appearance at the Kingston Mines on Friday and Saturday.

A few neighborhood venues that don’t advertise widely have also booked Blues Fest shows worth mentioning. For those who’d like to escape the crowds and heat in the park for a few hours but keep listening to the blues, Lemelle’s Luxury Lounge features vocalist Shorty Mack on Saturday afternoon. At the Odyssey East, vocalists Sydney Joe Qualls and New Orleans Beau hold forth on Friday and Sunday; they’re backed by the Source One Band, anchored by bassist Joe Pratt and featuring the esteemed Sir Walter Scott on guitar. Rooster’s Palace, formerly the 007 Lounge, showcases vocalist Little Harvey with Joe B. & the Shot Gun Band on Friday and soul-blues stylist Willie White on Saturday. Vocalist Mzz Reese performs at Dr. J’s on Friday and Sunday nights, and Vance Kelly & the Backstreet Blues Band hold it down at Ted’s Place on Sunday. In case you still don’t need a night in after festival weekend ends, the fantastic L’Roy appears at Linda’s Lounge on Monday night. As always, it’s wise to call these smaller clubs in advance to make sure the show is happening.

Thursday, June 8

The Chicago Blues All Stars host the Original Blues All Stars Awards
6 PM, Motor Row Brewing, 2337 S. Michigan, free

Big Bill Morganfield & Mud Morganfield
Performing at the dedication of a Muddy Waters mural by Eduardo Kobra.
Noon, 17 N. State, free, all ages

Friday, June 9

Chicago Women in the Blues Festival: Joan Gand, Tracee Adams, Ivy Ford, Donna Herula, Shirley King, Dia Madden, Liz Mandeville, Jeannie Tanner, Countess Williams, Ellen Miller, Peaches Staten, Ms. Trysh
7 PM, Reggie’s Music Joint, 2105 S. State, $12

Eddy “the Chief” Clearwater, Nick Moss, Steepwater Band
6 PM, Buddy Guy’s Legends, 700 S. Wabash, $20

Little Harvey, Joe B. & the Shot Gun Band
9 PM, Rooster’s Palace, 600 N. Kedzie, 312-342-0179, free

Larry McCray, Eddie Shaw
9 PM, Kingston Mines, 2548 N. Halsted, $15

Sydney Joe Qualls & New Orleans Beau
9 PM, Odyssey East, 9942 S. Torrence, 773-530-7543, free

Mzz Reese
9 PM, Dr. J’s, 3241 W. Chicago, 773-826-2140, free

Saturday, June 10

Shorty Mack
3-7 PM, Lemelle’s Luxury Lounge, 1801 W. 87th, 773-614-8677, free

Larry McCray, Eddie Shaw
9 PM, Kingston Mines, 2548 N. Halsted, $15

Willie White
9 PM, Rooster’s Palace, 600 N. Kedzie, 312-342-0179, free

Sunday, June 11

Christone “Kingfish” Ingram
9:30 PM, Rosa’s Lounge, 3420 W. Armitage, $10-$15

Vance Kelly & the Backstreet Blues Band
7 PM, Ted’s Place, 5813 W. Madison, 773-378-8389, free

Sydney Joe Qualls & New Orleans Beau
8 PM, Odyssey East, 9942 S. Torrence, 773-530-7543, free

Mzz Reese
9 PM, Dr. J’s, 3241 W. Chicago, 773-826-2140, free

Monday, June 12

L’Roy
9:30 PM, Linda’s Lounge, 1044 W. 51st, 773-373-2351, free

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