chicago blues

You often hear the American’s talk about freedom and I think I got a lesson in what they mean on my trip to the three day Chicago Blues Festival (June 12-14).

The free part is that the festival is free. The freedom part comes from the fact that you have the freedom to come and go as you please.

I took advantage of this by spending some time at Buddy Guy’s Legends’ Club, where he runs a parallel festival, which although not free, was definitely worth the money.

I also got to go to one of Chicago’s older blues clubs, Blue Chicago for a set. I’m not sure how it has survived this long considering it only seats about 50 people.

I also was able to squeeze in a live Irish set at Fado, one of the city’s many Irish bars. After all, one can only handle so much of the Blues.

Getting back to the festival, it runs outside in a park along Lake Michigan, from 11am to 10pm each day. I can’t say how many hours of the festival I did see but let’s just say as a famous country singer did “I’m not as good as I once was.”

During the day the festival runs 5 stages with only one headlining stage running in the evening.

The festival this year was dedicated to Willie Dixon and Muddy Water as they would have both been 100 this year.

However, pretty well all of the artists paid homage to the recent passing of BB King, including the headliner, Buddy Guy. Most did this by playing some portion of “The Thrill is Gone.” Probably a fitting tribute but a little tiring after the third or fourth time.

Speaking of Buddy, he appeared to be in a nostalgic mood, as he played songs from many artists including the fore mentioned King and Cream. As usual Buddy, showed his excellent guitar and showmanship skills, pretty incredible for someone who turns 79 this year. It was also interesting to see his son take one lead guitar break.

I saw many other artists, too numerous to mention. I did learn one valuable lesson – in Chicago, just because they play early in the day doesn’t mean they are any less skilled. That was the case for my find of the festival, Dexter Allen. An excellent guitar player and singer, who played a portion of his set in the audience.

Chicago Blues Festival
Dexter Allen

For those of you that have a bucket list, drop the Chicago Blues Festival in.


Thank you Blake Wellner! We appreciate you sharing your thoughts on the show.

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