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Review Fri Jun 08 2007

Chicago Blues Fest Day 1: Reviews

The first day of the Blues Fest didn't blow me away except in the literal sense (gusts of up to 40 miles per hour plagued the performances and seemed to impact sound quality).

The lunchtime crowd enjoyed Super Percy's set, which battled sound gremlins which often made the vocals difficult to hear. Seems to me Percy ramped down his usual funk level for the mostly-white crowd, but he redeemed himself at the end of the set when he launched into the originals that always raise the roof at his southside home base, Lee's Unleaded. The crowd here responded with copious booty shaking (sometimes not a pretty sight).

Later in the afternoon, Larry "Li'l Mud" Williams, one of Muddy Waters' many progeny, did a crowd-pleasing set with a band led by former Waters guitarist John Primer and harmonica player Mojo Buford. The set had all the pitfalls of "reunion" sets, but had high nostalgia value, and on occasion Williams' resemblance to his dad was haunting. I have to reserve my judgment on his occasionally over-hyped mannerisms, because he's still a rookie -- he's only been singing for a little over two years. With more seasoning he could become a formidable force.

Soulster Willie Clayton delivered an acrobatic vocal performance opening up the Main Stage, demonstrating a range and nuance that isn't always part of the Southern Soul genre.

I had heard that Jimmy Dawkins may have been feeling under the weather, which may explain his disappointing set at the Petrillo Bandshell. Dawkins teased me but didn't please me with a show that never seemed to really get rolling, despite some nice vocal turns by Nora Jean Bruso. Guitarists Keith Scott and Billy Flynn, part of the backing band, seemed to hold back a bit in respect for one of the elder statesmen, but maybe they shouldn't have -- this set never quite reached a steady boil.

"Under the weather" seemed a bit of a theme for the night, as Koko Taylor, the Queen of the Blues, struggled through a set while the crowd had one eye on an ominous sky, which seemed poised for thunderstorms. Her touring band, the Blues Machine, was in top form, with guitarist Vino Louden opening on guitar with a sort of postmodern impression of Dawkins-style syncopated rhythm chording in a high-energy arrangement of "Help Me", the Rice Miller blues standard. The band comported itself well in a difficult circumstance, since Taylor's health has been tentative lately and it seemed that she was having trouble delivering the set with the vigor she's made her reputation on. She soldiered on through several secondary album cuts and "Hey, Bartender", before exiting somewhat abruptly and leaving the band to finish up with a pretty pedestrian "Sweet Home Chicago". She gets points for even making the gig here (anyone would be happy to have her stage presence, especially at 78), but this was a force-of-will show, not a force-of-nature performance, and a reminder that the second generation of urban blues artists is beginning to wane. One can only hope that there is enough young talent to captivate another generation of blues fans the way that Taylor has.

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

Read this feature »


  Chicago Music Media

Alarm Magazine
Big Rock Candy Mountain
Boxx Magazine
Brooklyn Vegan Chicago
Can You See The Sunset From The Southside
Chicago Reader Music
Chicagoist Arts & Events
Chicago Music Guide
Chicago Singles Club
Country Music Chicago
Cream Team
Dark Jive
The Deli Chicago
Jim DeRogatis
Fake Shore Drive
Gowhere Hip Hop
The Hood Internet
Jaded in Chicago
Largehearted Boy
Little White Earbuds
Live Fix Blog
Live Music Blog
Loud Loop Press
Oh My Rockness
Pop 'stache
Pop Matters
Resident Advisor
Sound Opinions
Sun-Times Music Blog
Theft Liable to Prosecution
Tribune Music
UR Chicago
Victim Of Time
WFMU's Beware of the Blog
Windy City Rock


Abbey Pub
Andy's Jazz Club
Aragon Ballroom
Auditorium Theatre
Beat Kitchen
Bottom Lounge
Buddy Guy's Legends
The Burlington
California Clipper
Concord Music Hall
Congress Theater
Cubby Bear
Double Door
Elbo Room
Empty Bottle
Green Mill
The Hideout
Honky Tonk BBQ
House of Blues
Kingston Mines
Lincoln Hall
Logan Square Auditorium
Mayne Stage
The Mutiny
Old Town School of Folk Music
Park West
The Promontory
Red Line Tap
Reggie's Rock Club & Music Joint
The Riviera
Thalia Hall
The Shrine
Symphony Center
Tonic Room
Uncommon Ground
The Vic
The Whistler

  Labels, Promoters
  & Shops:

Alligator Records
Beverly Records
Bloodshot Records
Dave's Records
Delmark Records
Drag City
Dusty Groove
Flameshovel Records
Groove Distribution
He Who Corrupts
Jam Productions
Jazz Record Mart
Kranky Records
Laurie's Planet of Sound
Minty Fresh
Numero Group
mP Shows
Permanent Records
Reckless Records
Smog Veil Records
Southport & Northport Records
Thick Records
Thrill Jockey Records Touch & Go/Quarterstick Records
Victory Records

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Transmission is the music section of Gapers Block. It aims to highlight Chicago music in its many varied forms, as well as cover touring acts performing in the city. More...
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