I was just in Chicago this past February on a Jazz Safari but was happy to go for a little dejavu and bring a new group of JAZZ.FM91 donors to Chicago again for the Blues Fest.
It’s a festival that lasts just one weekend with a bunch of stages…and everything is free! I’m not a blues aficionado…so we took along Danny Marks, host of BLUZ.FM who gave some history about how the blues came to Chicago and gave some tips on acts to check out.
My two favourite acts from the festival were The Southern Comfort Brass Band who, on top of being a major party also had some incredibly soulful group harmonies.
Also, Dr. John headlined one evening and played a solid set of party tunes. Key word here: Party!
On Saturday night I took all 34 people to three clubs. We began at the Tortoise Club and enjoyed a set by The Mark Burnell Trio. Mark is a pianist and educator…he has taught at four Universities (including Northwestern and Yale) and provided a wonderful soundtrack to a tasty meal.
Then over to Jazz Showcase, my favourite jazz club in Chicago, for a set by Jeremy Pelt Quintet. Jeremy and I have met many times in the past seven years and he gave props to the station from the stage. His music would be perfect for a movie soundtrack: Especially his solo trumpet work on ballads.
Finally, we hit the loudest room in town, Kingston Mines. Hundreds of twenty-somethings drink to excess while partying to the blues. The venue has two rooms so every time one band finishes the next starts immediately. Vance “Guitar” Kelly and his band were highly entertaining playing blues and funk. I was pulling shapes on the dance floor to a Rick James tunes one minute – then in the next room enjoying Eddie Shaw half an hour later. Eddie is a 77 year old sax player and singer who began with Howlin’ Wolf, Ike Turner and Muddy Waters when he was a kid.
And of course, wherever I travel I look forward to having some “Fun With Statues”. On this trip I couldn’t help but notice everyone was doing it! I think the field of creepy statues are just begging people to get creative.
Also this past week…I checked out a few excellent concerts in Toronto before heading out of town. Carolyn Credico sang at Toni Bulloni in Yorkville.This delicious and reasonably priced restaurant features live music Tuesday and Saturday in June. (They’ll be back with live music in September)
I also caught Mary McKay at The Reservoir, Canadian Jazz Quartet at Kama, Don Francks at Old Mill and Colin Hunter at The Jazz Bistro.
And finally, my pal Archer was in town for a bit and it was great to see her. She’s now gone back to London England and as much as I’d love to get over there for a visit, that seems like a crapshoot with my crazy schedule so I’ll just hope she’s back in Toronto this Christmas!