Chicago Blues Fest 2019 In Review [Photos & Recap]

By: Howard Greenblatt

The City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events hosted the 36th annual Chicago Blues Festival in Millennium Park. The weather was mostly beautiful, the crowds were enthusiastic and the music was hot.

Across multiple stages and three packed days, there was so much action, we couldn't contain it all in one post (check out Part Two here).

With dozens of kinetic shots, let's jump into a recap of some of the festival's highlights.


Guitarist Chris Cane flew in to Chicago to join Guy King on the Budweiser Stage.

There is always underlying excitement when two dominant lead players are on stage together.


One might ponder, “how polite are they going to be to each other?” while secretly hoping the answer is "not very."

Kane and Guy play similar styles of hard-edged, jazz-tinged blues that actually mix well together.


The son of Muddy Waters, Joe "Mojo” Morganfield, carries on the family musical tradition by fronting a killer band which includes Rick Kreher, who played in Muddy’s last band.

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Mojo recently released a four-song CD which has two covers of Muddy’s songs and two originals, one written by Terry Abrahamson, who also wrote for Muddy.

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Born in the birthplace of the blues, Charlie Musselwhite grew up in Mississippi hanging outside juke joints, soaking up the music and learning to play. Looking for work, he moved on to Memphis and wound up in Chicago where he befriended like-minded blues artists, including Billy Boy Arnold.

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When Charlie was invited to play the 2019 Chicago Blues Festival, it was only natural that he would bring Billy Boy to play with him. They were joined on stage by guitarist Rockin’ Johnny Burgin.

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Chicago's newly ignauraged Mayor issued a Proclamation that Friday would be Jimmy Johnson Day in honor of Jimmy’s 90th birthday. Obliging, Jimmy put together a stellar list of musicians to help him celebrate.


The superstar band consisted of seasoned guitar slinger Rico McFarland on lead guitar, Ari Seder on Bass, both Jesse Lockridge and Roosevelt Vell Purifoy Jr. played keys and Big Ray Stewart was behind the kit.

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Perhaps the Blues' greatest showman, Bobby Rush did not disappoint the Chicago Blues Festival crowds with a set that featured his trademark razzle-dazzle, an 82-year old stage leap, and plenty of raunch.


“Look at it move”, Rush says, pointing to his dancer’s rear. 


Check out Part Two of this recap here.

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