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Chicago Blues Festival 2019 – Check Out The Starpower This Year!

Chicago Blues Festival 2019 – Check Out The Starpower This Year! – Michelle S.

The 36th annual Chicago Blues Festival promises a celebration of Chicago’s rich blues music legacy, and the lineup of headliners and side stage performers announced Tuesday by the City’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events is testament to that and more.  The fest runs June 7-9 at Millennium Park, and will feature live performances on six stages, including the Pritzker Pavilion. Admission to the festival is free.

Among this year’s headliners are the legendary Bettye LaVette, Charlie Musselwhite, Bobby Rush, Lurie Bell, Ruthie Foster, and the Jimmy Johnson Blues Band.  With a diverse lineup celebrating the blues’ past, present and future, the Chicago Blues Festival shares the great Chicago-born music tradition with the world while shining a spotlight on the genre’s contributions to soul, R&B, gospel, rock, hip-hop and more.

Music begins each day at 11am at the Budweiser Crossroads Stage, the Visit Mississippi Juke Joint, the Front Porch and the Park Grill Stage. The Jay Pritzker Pavilion will feature headliners from 5 to 9pm.  “Each year national and local artists celebrate the city’s rich blues tradition while shining a spotlight on the genre’s contributions to soul, R&B, gospel, rock hip-hop and more,” said Mark Kelly, DCASE Commissioner, in Tuesday’s official announcement.

Also, worth checking out is “Rosa’s Lounge,” just north of Cloud Gate (“The Bean”), which will showcase Chicago blues legends and emerging artists who have called the eponymous near Northwest Side music venue “home” for the past 35 years. The music showcase runs 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.  The Chicago Blues Festival will be open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. For complete details, visit

Friday, June 7, 11am–9pm

Charlie Musselwhite will be joined by Bill Boy Arnold. The famed harp player has jammed on stage with all the greats. Shortly before winning the GRAMMY® Award for Best Blues Album for their collaboration Get Up! he and Ben Harper played at the White House for President Obama and the First Lady, in a salute to Memphis soul.

The Jimmy Johnson Blues Band with special guest Rico McFarland will mark Mr. Johnson’s 90th birthday.  Bobby Rush will headline the night. The GRAMMY® Award-winning artist was named by Rolling Stone “The King of the Chitlin’ Circuit” for his vigorous touring schedule and energetic show.

Saturday, June 8, 11am–9pm

Latimore, the R&B singer, songwriter, pianist and Blues Hall of Famer will kick off the stage.  Don Bryant will take the stage. Bryant started his career as a gospel music artist at an early age and found soul at Hi Records in Memphis, TN. Most recently, he was invited to perform with the Memphis-based soul homage outfit The Bo-Keys.

Bettye LaVette, the award-winning and legendary soul artist will headline. One of very few of her contemporaries who were recording during the birth of soul music in the 60s, LaVette is still creating vital recordings today.

Sunday, June 9, 11am–9pm

Larkin Poe, the American roots sister duo poised to make their mark with the 2018 release of Venom & Faith, will take the stage

A special tribute set for the late Mike Ledbetter will be performed by blues guitarist Mike Welch, bandmates and friends. Ledbetter had been invited to perform at this year’s festival with the Welch–Ledbetter Connection before his untimely death in January.

Ruthie Foster will headline the closing night. The award-winning artist’s latest artist’s latest album Joy Comes Back, described as “some folk, some blues, some soul, some rock, some gospel,” illustrates Ruthie’s genre-spanning talent.

Keeping the Blues Alive

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