Who knows how these things happen – and frankly, my dear, who cares – but this weekend, the blues make an impressive showing in Springfield. For those of you who just returned from a time warp and somehow missed the 20th century (it was a blast!), the blues is a music genre credited to African-Americans, stemming from rhythms and rhymes based on cultural conditions originating in the Southern United States many years ago.
Coming from an amalgam of ancient and contemporary song styles, the basic twelve bar form of a specific I-IV-V chord progression is unarguably the most influential music of our time. As the progenitor of jazz and rock-n-roll, and therefore all that grew from those dominant styles of music, blues is the big daddy and the mother of all popular music, still going strong in many ways today.
Headlining our blues celebration weekend is the Illinois Central Blues Club’s 26th Anniversary Celebration, this Saturday at the K of C Hall on Meadowbrook and Iles, featuring the incomparable Lil’ Ed and the Blues Imperials. The Chicago-based band, exemplary in musicianship and well steeped in the blues, delivers the pedigree of Ed Williams as the nephew of legendary Chicago slide guitarist J.B. Hutto, giving Lil’ Ed not only a raising in the culture of the blues, but the blood and bones of being born in the ways of the music. And how about a hand for the good work of the ICBC, continuing through thick and thin, to bring blues music and the expansive world it contains to central Illinois and beyond.
Continuing our blues marathon, some area artists that attended the International Blues Challenge in Memphis last month perform this weekend around town. Tombstone Bullet (Cory Brown, Mary Jo Curry, Mike Gillette, Rick Hardin, Damien Kaplan and Mike Rapier), chosen as one of 12 from 130 bands to compete in the Beale Street Blues Kings after their IBC performance, opens for Lil’ Ed on Saturday at the ICBC celebration. Robert Sampson & Blues Gumbo play the Trading Post on March 10 to honor Robert’s achievement of again reaching the finals in Memphis. With a collection of experienced local musicians including Lorrie Eden, Ed Eden, Art Carey and Tom Lewis backing Sampson and adding to the repertoire, the group lives up to its self-proclaimed promotion of being, “more than your average blues band.” Too bad all this happens on one night, but that’s the way the blues ball bounces this weekend.
On Friday, March 9, the Blues Expressions play the bar at the Brookhills golf course on Old Jacksonville Road just west of the Bradfordton Road turnoff. Marcus Taylor, Frank Parker, Charles Tiner, Tony Young and Adrian Muex, Sr. made it into the semi-finals in Memphis and play a good batch of originals along with the standards that make the band click and clack with good music.
The Rockin’ Johnny Band from Chicago plays Rochester’s Walnut Street Winery on Friday. Head guy Johnny Burgin emailed me from a tour in Spain (nice!) and received a positive write up in the Chicago Tribune not long ago. They play really hip and good blues-beat music, and they have a new blues record due out on Delmark Records in April.
In other blues-based variations, on Friday check out Murder of Crowes at Catch 22 (and Tuesdays at Bob’s Butternut Hut) and the Mudbugs at Kuhl Tyme Korner in Jacksonville. On Saturday, see the Fubar Blues Band at Crows Mill Pub and Thin Ice at Rocki’s in Auburn. Then on Sunday, catch Robert Sampson at Hill Prairie Winery in Oakford, with Todd Wolf at the ICBC weekly Monday show at the Alamo. Oh yes, and The Blues Brothers Tribute comes to Sangamon Auditorium on Saturday.
So this weekend, please choose not to lose and don’t refuse to do your blues dues.
Contact Tom Irwin at email@example.com.