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Chicago Blues Festival 2007

DAY 1 -----

-- Photo Gallery of Days 1 & 2 --
Day 1 of the Chicago Blues Fest was a spectacular kick-off. The weather window brought balmy breezes off Lake Michigan, and as the sounds of legends wafted across Grant Park, newcomers and veterans alike were irresisistibly drawn to Chicago, an icon on the Blues map. One of our first stops, being the 'blues history seeking' music lovers we are, was the "Centennials Memorial", with Jim O'Neal, Larry Hoffman, Michael Frank and Bob Porter.

The topics focused on the lives and andecdotes of some of the blues partriarch's we've lost recently -- Henry Townsend, Homesick James, Robert Lockwood Jr., and many more. As is tradition at STLBlues, we strive to learn about the bands we haven't heard of. This year was no exception, as we caught the sounds of the 'Boogie Woogie Stomp' over at the Louisiana Bayou Station and Social Club stage.

The evening kept growing in musical momentum, with the Chicago Jam Station firing up on the 7-11 stage. A highlight was Ruby Harris and his electric violin blues - something you must enjoy live to appreciate what a violin contributes to the Blues.
Ending the evening was Chicago Royalty - the legendary Koko Taylor. Her signature song 'Wang Dang Doodle' pleased the Blues lovers on hand, as they witnessed a living legend practice her craft in a city that absolutely adores her!

DAY 2 -----

Day 2 featured some of the blues greats, and some unknowns to STLBlues. Carlos Johnson and the Serious Blues Band The No Static Blues band featuring Mary Lynn and Renee Lane, Jimmy 'Duck' Holmes, Johnnie Mae Dunson, the list goes on and on! Fantastic 75 degree weather and blue skies were made to order for the setting, as blues fans from everywhere poured into Grant Park. Blues in the Schools Harpist Billy Branch, a founder of the Blues in the Schools program, led a group of Mississippi children who came to Chicago for a class with him. Other great shows we caught were The No Static Blues Band featuring Mary, Lynn, and Renee Lane, Jimmy "Duck" Holmes, and Johnnie Mae Dunson and and Jimi "Prime Time" Smith (In the 50s and 60s Johnnie Mae Dunson occasionally wrote songs for Jimmy Reed or drummed in his band, and today she's still out there leading a band as a dynamic singer.)

DAY 3 -----
-- Photo Gallery of Days 3 & 4 --

Day 3 continued with great weather and cool blues. It's great to see the City of Chicago make an event like this happen year after year. Both Mississippi and Louisiana were represented by stages showcasing their talent, with their respective tourism booths promoting the rich Bobby Rushmusical culture both states are famous for! Multi-instrumentalist, singer--songwriter, and educator Fruteland Jackson celebrated his 54th birthday.

Other acts included Elmore James Jr. with Cadillac Zack, David Dee & Family- known for his song "Going Fishing," the 'Homemade Jamz' Blues Band - a family band consists of three siblings out of Tupelo, Ms., 8, 12, and 15 years old, New Orleans Icon Irma Thomas & the Professionals, and legendary Magic Slim and the Teardrops!

DAY 4 -----

Sunday, Day 4 opened appropriately with some gospel. Melvia "Chick" Rodgers & Her Gospel Harmonizers Melvia "Chick" Rodgers was a favorite on the north-side circuit until a few years ago, when she left the blues and returned to gospel, her original inspiration. The 'Harmonizers' were an absolutely perfect complement to Melvia's talented vocals.

Other acts were Cephas & Wiggins, who showcased their Piedmont style of acoustic blues, Mississippi-born guitarist Zac Harmon, Henry Gray & the Cats - he recorded as a sideman with Jimmy Reed, Little Walter, Billy Boy Arnold, and spent 12 years with Howlin' Wolf, David "Honeyboy" Edwards - the blues' last living link to Robert Johnson, Bobby Rush doing a rare solo acoustic set, followed by his always entertaining big show!

The Chicago Blues Fest remains a jewel in the blues world, drawing 750,000 fans from all over the world to the sound of the Blues and the beauty of Grant Park. Make plans now to attend the 2008 Chicago Blues Fest, it's truly world-class!

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