CHICAGO (CBS) — The lunchtime crowd on the Daley Plaza was treated to a preview of this weekend’s Chicago Blues Festival.
As WBBM Newsradio 780’s Mike Krauser reports, the Erwin Helfer blues trio – led by its eponymous piano master – offered a taste of what is to come on Friday, Saturday and Sunday in Grant Park, at the 28th Annual Chicago Blues Festival.
“We are celebrating the Robert Johnson centennial, and with the legendary Honeyboy Edwards as the tribute on Friday, June 10, we will also have a tribute to Pinetop Perkins on June 11, and we will also be celebrating Alligator Records’ 40th anniversary with Shemeika Copeland, Lonnie Brooks – it will be a wonderful time,” said Jenine Brown Mosely, the coordinator fo the festival.
LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Mike Krauser reports
Robert Johnson was born May 8, 1911, in Hazelhurst, Miss., and made a number of landmark blues recordings in the 1930s. He trekked across the country – including a stop at Chicago – and played with David “Honeyboy” Edwards, now 95, in St. Louis. Johnson died in 1938 at the age of 27.
Pinetop Perkins, a blues piano player who worked with Muddy Waters and other legends, died this past March at the age of 97.
Alligator Records was the subject of a Chicago Reader feature article last month. Still operated from Chicago by its fonder Bruce Iglauer, Alligator has counted Big Walter Horton, Koko Taylor and other legends among its artists over the years.
Michelle Boone is the new commissioner of the city’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events. Monday was her first day on the on the job.
“I know a lot of people were worried and concerned about the Blues Festival and the Jazz Festival being privatized,” she said. But they remain in city hands.
The first ever blues festival in Grant Park was held in 1969, and featured Taylor, Waters, Junior Wells, Willie Dixon and Bo Diddley, among others. The Blues Festival in its current incarnation has been held annually at the beginning of June since 1984, and John Lee Hooker, Chuck Berry and Keith Richards have been among the many superstars to take the stage at the Petrillo Band Shell over the years.
The Blues Festival runs from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. each day it is in operation. As always, there are five stages.