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Chicago Blues Festival Options
johnnymac
Posted: Sunday, July 18, 2010 2:23:56 PM
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A couple of years planning a six week USA journey came of in June. The idea was to take in as many musical highlights as we could but ultimately it was about the Chicago Blues Festival, a three day free party in Grant Park.
Starting in Vancouver we did a few days in Seattle, taking in the Experience Music Project and as much Jimi as we could find, then on to the festival.
We arrived the same day as the Chicago Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup so the city was pretty much pandemonium to start with without adding the festival. Our first day in Chicago had Otis Taylor doing a lunchtime promo concert in the music pavilion on Grant Park. I have been a long time fan of Otis Taylor, having several early CD's but this new (or should I say advanced) Otis is a class act, playing banjo and guitar and supported by a violinist (Ann Harris, who is part of his current band and an act in her own rite!!!) this was a great cameo performance to a small crowd and whet the appetite for thing to come.

The festival proper is a five stage event, a few small stages and the full (and seated!!!) sound shell where the main evening acts were. You could buy a beer via a ticket system and a food offer that would only rival Bluesfest.
The festival was a tribute to Howling Wolf and many contemporaries were here to celebrate.
My first concert was on the Juke Joint stage to watch Sam Lay...but no drum kit, just Sam on guitar...in his words 'when a man has rent to pay and food to by he does what he has to do!!!' This was followed by a band called Steve J and the Blues Eruption and these guys really moved along with some awesome guitar work.

Then it was to the sound shell and a Tribute to Howling Wolf, with such alumni as Corky Seigal, Hubert Sumlin (unfortunately on an oxygen tank???), Sam Lay, (still guitar) and Eddie Shaw on sax!!!!!

And then the six piece band that is Otis Taylor 2010. The angry man has gone and this was a sophisticated and slick show with nothing missing....just sensational.
Then the reason for the day....The James Cotton band fired up and Jimmy's slow moving frame came on stage to a standing ovation. This fulfilled a dream for me to see James Cotton and he didn't disappoint and he introduced a guitarist called Matt Guitar Murphy who I had never heard of but blew me away.

The following day was an early start to see David Honeyboy Edwards and now at 95 year old, he drew a huge appreciative crowd and kick ass with a great set.
It was a bit damp today but wanted to see the the lady that they are calling the new Queen of Chicago, Nellie tiger Travis and that was worth the damping. This girl can sing and she did a few Koko Taylor songs to enforce the fact she had arrived...great voice...exceptional band!!! Then the skies opened up, (what is it about blues festivals and rain!!!) and without marquees it was home for a warm shower, missing Bobby Parker, Billy Branch, Lurrie Bell and Co. Should have come prepared!

The Sunday started with Bobby Rush, with his brand of 'Rude Blues'. This is a full on hour, great crowd roaring at ever antic the man performed. it was fun but got a bit predicable with the sexual overtones. Then the find of the festival....Homemade Jamz!!!! i bought their first album a couple of years back but treated them as somewhat of a novelty act.......No way. This young trio move along, great songs, amazing instruments and a stage presence of the Jackson Five!!! BB King was right...the blues are in good hands!!!! Bring these guys to Byron ( oldest 18, sister on drums 11!!!!) they would be a hit!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The show was so much I was inclined just to wander about for the next couple of hours but did stop off for a part set of Guitar Shorty.

Then the highlight of the day for me.....The Chicago Blues Review....all the likely suspect including Nick Gravenites, Harvey Mandel ( the snake still rules!!!!!) and Sam Lay , culminating with Charlie Musselwhite, James Cotton and Corkey Siegal all blowing out the last three songs together including Sweet Home Chicago!!!!
A moment to remember.

This festival easy going, meet and chatted to many like minded souls, great music, easy to have a drink, easy to eat, high police presence so no strife, a very enjoyable hassle free few days. Thanks to all the posters that gave me advise on this, made the going easy.......much appreciated.


repete
Posted: Sunday, July 18, 2010 8:21:04 PM
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Thanks Johnnymac...great read! Sad to hear about Hubert Sumlin - what a privilege to see him some years back at bluesfest. Also, surely Otis Taylor must be near the top of Peter Noble's list for bluesfest 2011.

Hangin' out on Frenchmen
donaldhp
Posted: Sunday, July 18, 2010 9:19:19 PM
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Well done johnnymac......thanks a lot. Am totally green with envy ! Isn't Chicago a great place for music ( tall buildings and a big lake).
Cheers, Don
oldbilly1
Posted: Sunday, July 18, 2010 10:13:16 PM
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thanks for the post - sounds like a great trip and chicago sounds like a blast.
for a commonplace intro to matt murphy, just rent a copy of the blues brothers....
Sharleen7
Posted: Tuesday, July 20, 2010 5:33:51 PM
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For those of you on facebook, here's a great picture of Hubert & Pinetop:

http://www.facebook.com/#!/photo.php?pid=639561&id=1524750326&ref=notif&notif_t=photo_reply

and some encouraging words from Bob Margolin...
Quote:
My heart is full from hanging out and jamming with Hubert Sumlin and Pinetop Perkins tonight at the Austin Blues Society jam at Antone's in Austin tonight. Being around these sweet and deep Chicago Bluesmen is an inspiring thrill. It's amazing that we can do this in 2010, I've idolized them since I was a teenager. Pinetop sounds stronger and stronger thanks to his love of people and the care of Barry Nowlin and Pat Morgan. Hubert's guitar gives him spirit even as his lung challenges him. Bless them for their strength and spirit and their Blues music blesses us all.


Pinetop just celebrated his 97th birthday on July the 7th! He looks amazing!

EXCESS in Moderation
johnnymac
Posted: Saturday, July 24, 2010 3:47:50 PM
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Thanks for the tip Old Billy, will follow up.

Besides the Chicago Blues Festival I tried to grab as much music as I could but there were very few live shows happening in the cities I went. I missed seeing Jason Ricci by one day and also Buddy Miller and Patty Griffin in concert together by a day which really pissed me off.

As previously mentioned we did the Experience Music Project in Seattle which was a blast, the interaction extreme.
Also did the Rock in Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland which had a special feature on Springsteen going on and Johnny Cash's bus in the car park!!

We really gave the music a bit of a miss for a week or so opting for the tourist thing of Nantucket, Niagara, Boston, NewYork....statues, 911, waterfalls, etc...........
but did do the Hard Rocks in all cities and paid homage to John Lennon by visiting the Dakota Apartments and his Imagine Memorial in Central Park.

The music went back into overdrive when we got to New Orleans. No big names ......just great music everywhere in the bars. Blues, Jazz and Zydeco.
Did one bar with a huge man called Big Willy ( I kid you not!!) and the Essential Blues Band. this cat could really shout out a song and a band of real talent...this is the thing.........these guys are still plugging away in a bar for tips........unfair!!!
The highlight of 'Norlins' had to be a street band I saw, a 12 piece brass band of kids (two in wheelchairs) with one snare drum. belting out a sound to die for......... and a wine carton FULL of dollar bills from the crowd who were boggying down in a frenzy!!!

After new Orleans we drove onto Memphis, taking in a bit of the Blues Trail. First stop Tutwiler where we found the WC Handy plaque and a painted wall showing us the way to Sonny Boy Williamson's grave. I expected this to be sort of a memorial but it is a simple grave in an equally simple overgrown graveyard. The poignant thing being that visitors leave behind harps and whiskey bottles for him....very special.
Along the road from here was the legendary Crossroads and the obligatory photo session took place although I must say you are more likely to be hit by a truck than meet with the devil these days!

Our next stop was to be Parchmen's Farm (with John Mayall playing in the car!!) but found this bar called Hopsons in Belzoni, a converted building full of memorabilia which was the wildest of places with an equally wild owner who could not stop talking. By the posters around the wall they have had (and still do...Jimmy Vaughan was due next week!) great music here, and this was the plantation the Pine Top Perkins work on as a tractor driver. The Blues Trail has a plaque to him outside and also outside is the original car for the Blues Brothers movie!! All this in the middle of nowhere!

Stayed in Memphis that night and did the Beale Street bars and music, not actually the French Quarter but still was moving along with some real good bands and a pretty laid back atmosphere. Next morning was Elvis ) you can't go too far without seeing him in some manifestation!), Gracelands (over the fence), and Sun Records which I though would be small but in reality it is minute .........but with a giant history.
Out of the city and back to Clarksdale and on to Helena. This is real small town USA but eventually found the Delta Cultural Museum and the railway wall that has excellent drawings of all the legends of the area and in amongst them Levon Helms, Arkansas favorite son, (next to Bill Clinton!!) .
Inside the museum there is a display for everyone including Levon again!!!!! and these are very well presented with some great historical notes. This was all to brief but I was in search of the King Biscuit caravan and finally found it, derelict in a field...mission accomplished. For the purists, KFFA still broadcasts daily but from the museum and unfortunately we were only minutes late to actually get on air that day!! Bugger...could have plugged Byron!!!!

I thought that I would cover almost all of the blues trail in a couple of days but merely paid lip service to it... you would need a week and some to do it properly. The history is extreme and everyone only to happy to take about it....put it on your bucket list!!!!
More about my country part of the journey soon, as we do Texas big time.





repete
Posted: Saturday, July 24, 2010 11:12:38 PM
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Keep 'em coming!! Great read!

Hangin' out on Frenchmen
donaldhp
Posted: Sunday, July 25, 2010 1:58:50 PM
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Good stuff johnnymac !
Cheers, Don
johnnymac
Posted: Monday, July 26, 2010 5:44:08 PM
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Location: Titirangi, Auckland, New Zealand
To continue the saga, we sadly left the Blues Trail, not doing real justice to what we could have seen and headed for Texas and ultimately to Nashville.
We had booked in to stay in Music Valley, aware that the whole area including the Grand Ole Opry had recently been flooded and was under repair so nothing happening here tonight. It was quite late, but a few bars were open and in one a singer/songwriter peddling his wares in the corner. Asked for our favourite songs, and out came a barrage of tunes he had never heard off but we had a bit of banter with the guy talking about the Flatlanders and Mark Olson (and even Casey and Shano) but if you ain't George Strait or Toby Keith the bar didn't want to know!! Ended up doing a couple of Keith Urban songs, that Kiwi boy for Whangarei that hangs out with some Australian chick!!!!
The next day was an early start, into the main street and to the Country Music Hall of Fame. To be fair this was pretty predictable but very cool again with some great memorabilia and a retail shop with a huge CD and souvenir collection with walls lined with gold discs up to the 8 meter ceiling...impressive! The building is designed around a honky tonk piano and the keyboard assimilated as windows is a magic concept and very memorable.
Outside is another walk of fame, but not the Johhny Cash's and Willie Nelson's you would expect but more abstract artists like Guy Clark, John Hiatt, Rodney Crowell and even Bonny Raitt!!!
Then it was hitting the Honky Tonks.....probably a bit too early to hit them too hard but it wasn't stopping the Cowboys inside, lining up whisky and listening to great music at 11AM!!! The highlight was to go to Tootsies Wild Orchid, the bar that launched some of the greats including Willie Nelson. The people that had frequented this place of late was shattering....everyone from Kid Rock to Gretchen Wilson and beyond......I could have hung out here for days just taking in the atmosphere. A young country singer by the name of West Butler was signing for tips and whiskeys and the history on the walls made this memorable....even bought his CD!

We reluctantly left and went to the Ryman Theatre and took in a bit of the history of the place as where bluegrass was virtually invented. I had recently bought the Jonny Lang Live at Ryman CD but when I saw what had been on over the past weeks and what was due to happen only made me want to stay here more!!!

Robert Plant, Jerry Douglas, Dave Alvin et al....even Crowed House!!

My stay in Nashville was far too short, but it was on to Dallas (and the grassy knoll), San Antonio (and the Alamo) and music where we could find it.

the rest was the long journey to Vagas and finally LA and home but one of the funniest nights on the road was when we stopped at a real county diner ...very late and hungry............full of locals and truckers and a fair old bit of silence on our arrival. It had a juke box in the corner and we went up to it, eyed with suspicion, and for a buck put on Johnny Cash, Dixie Chicks, George Strait........ and them down home boys were mighty happy with us!!!

In our journey we did nineteen Hard Rock Cafes, three House of Blues, two BB Kings and one Buddy Guys!!!!God knows how many Bars with house bands/artist but still missed some that we had planned

A musical journey, you betcha!






jafa99
Posted: Tuesday, August 17, 2010 8:06:59 PM
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John
Did you make to the North Mississippi Hill Country Picnic?
Bob
Dan...
Posted: Wednesday, August 18, 2010 12:15:59 AM
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where on earth have you been hiding, bob?

The poster formerly known as Dan
jafa99
Posted: Wednesday, August 18, 2010 9:23:47 PM
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Dan... wrote:
where on earth have you been hiding, bob?

Travel, work, relationship, more travel, work. Haven't posted for over 12 months - incredible. Haven't seen a great deal of live music. Most out of the ordinary was a Mott the Hoople reunion concert in London.
waffles
Posted: Thursday, August 19, 2010 9:25:13 AM
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Location: lennox head
with all the other young dudes.

I don't want to hang up my rock n roll shoes
I get a good time feeling every time I hear those blues.
johnnymac
Posted: Sunday, August 29, 2010 9:09:28 AM
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Location: Titirangi, Auckland, New Zealand
Hi Bob, good to have you back!!!!!!!!!! Trust all is well with you.
Unfortunately didn't get there...arrived in New Orleans the Friday morning of Hill Country Picnic and just too far to drive.
I did all the spade work on it......camping gear and all.........maybe next time.............I am going back to do justice the the Blues Trail, dedicating over a week or two and will coordinate myself a bit better next time. In truth I didn't realise how long it took to get to places, particularly when we were cramming things like we were.
athurart09
Posted: Wednesday, September 15, 2010 1:47:49 PM
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Joined: 9/15/2010
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johnnymac wrote:
To continue the saga, we sadly left the Blues Trail, not doing real justice to what we could have seen and headed for Texas and ultimately to Nashville.
We had booked in to stay in Music Valley, aware that the whole area including the Grand Ole Opry had recently been flooded and was under repair so nothing happening here tonight. It was quite late, but a few bars were open and in one a singer/songwriter peddling his wares in the corner. Asked for our favourite songs, and out came a barrage of tunes he had never heard off but we had a bit of banter with the guy talking about the Flatlanders and Mark Olson (and even Casey and Shano) but if you ain't George Strait or Toby Keith the bar didn't want to know!! Ended up doing a couple of Keith Urban songs, that Kiwi boy for Whangarei that hangs out with some Australian chick!!!!
The next day was an early start, into the main street and to the Country Music Hall of Fame. To be fair this was pretty predictable but very cool again with some great memorabilia and a retail shop with a huge CD and souvenir collection with walls lined with gold discs up to the 8 meter ceiling...impressive! The building is designed around a honky tonk piano and the keyboard assimilated as windows is a magic concept and very memorable.
Outside is another walk of fame, but not the Johhny Cash's and Willie Nelson's you would expect but more abstract artists like Guy Clark, John Hiatt, Rodney Crowell and even Bonny Raitt!!!
Then it was hitting the Honky Tonks.....probably a bit too early to hit them too hard but it wasn't stopping the Cowboys inside, lining up whisky and listening to great music at 11AM!!! The highlight was to go to Tootsies Wild Orchid, the bar that launched some of the greats including Willie Nelson. The people that had frequented this place of late was shattering....everyone from Kid Rock to Gretchen Wilson and beyond......I could have hung out here for days just taking in the atmosphere. A young country singer by the name of West Butler was signing for tips and whiskeys and the history on the walls made this memorable....even bought his CD!

We reluctantly left and went to the Ryman Theatre and took in a bit of the history of the place as where bluegrass was virtually invented. I had recently bought the Jonny Lang Live at Ryman CD but when I saw what had been on over the past weeks and what was due to happen only made me want to stay here more!!!

Robert Plant, Jerry Douglas, Dave Alvin et al....even Crowed House!!

My stay in Nashville was far too short, but it was on to Dallas (and the grassy knoll), San Antonio (and the Alamo) and music where we could find it.

the rest was the long journey to Vagas and finally LA and home but one of the funniest nights on the road was when we stopped at a real county diner ...very late and hungry............full of locals and truckers and a fair old bit of silence on our arrival. It had a juke box in the corner and we went up to it, eyed with suspicion, and for a buck put on Johnny Cash, Dixie Chicks, George Strait........ and them down home boys were mighty happy with us!!!

In our journey we did nineteen Hard Rock Cafes, three House of Blues, two BB Kings and one Buddy Guys!!!!God knows how many Bars with house bands/artist but still missed some that we had planned

A musical journey, you betcha!






Thanks you for the post.

Watch Easy A Online Free
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