By Yolanda Perdomo, CBS Digital Producer

CHICAGO (CBS) — The Chicago Blues Festival starts Friday, rocking out a weekend of music celebrating Chicago’s historical ties to the musical genre with local, national, and international performers telling energetic and powerful stories through their songs.

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While headlining performers take to the stage at Pritzker Pavilion in the evening, other stages throughout Millennium Park will host dozens of performers Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. It is considered the world’s largest blues festival.

(Credit: City of Chicago)

The first Chicago Blues Festival was held in 1984, a year after the passing of music legend Muddy Waters. Since then, other notable performers have graced the festival stages in Chicago including Willie Dixon, Little Milton, Chuck Berry, KoKo Taylor, John Lee Hooker, and Buddy Guy, among countless others.


Guitarist Guy King performed Friday afternoon. He said the festival is special for him for many reasons.

“The Chicago Blues Festival is a wonderful festival with great live music. It’s a pleasure and an honor to part of it and it’s located at the city I call home,” said King, who is originally from Israel. “So after touring and performing nationally and internationally it’s great to perform here in Chicago for the fans.”

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(Credit: Guy King)

King, who counts Muddy Waters, B.B. King, Albert King, and Eric Clapton as some of his biggest influences, said meeting Otis Rush and Buddy Guy after arriving in Chicago was a great experience. While the music’s history is based in hardships, King said it’s a perfect reflection of life.

“It’s deep and rich and you just feel it inside. It’s about life, it’s about the story, the experiences, the feeling. All good music has this effect,” he said.

Photo Credit: Chicago Blues Festival

The event draws tens of thousands each day of the festival. This year’s headliners include Bobby Rush, Charlie Musselwhite (with special guest Billy Boy Arnold), Bettye LaVette, and The Kinsey Report. King said while the festival celebrates the blues, every kind of music fan will have a great time.


“You don’t need to be a blues fan to enjoy good music,” King said. “The Chicago Blues Festival will be featuring some great music for all people who love good music. Fast, slow, upbeat, and ballads, there will be something good for everyone to enjoy and feel.”

(Credit: Chicago Blues Festival)

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Click here for a schedule of performers, times and stage locations.