Sunday, June 10, 2007

Chicago Blues Festival - Day 3

When Saturday morning rolled around, I was dead tired, but I got up and made the trek back downtown. I arrived to catch the last half of Elmore James Jr's set with the infamous Cadillac Zack. It was nice to see the legendary Willie Young playing the saxophone. It was a very enjoyable set filled with traditional Blues that took the audience on a trip back to the 50's. Very raw. Very powerful.

I styled and profiled down Jackson Blvd to catch Wanda Johnson with Shrimp City Slim. I hung out for about three songs. This set did nothing for me, so I hit the road.

I ended up seeing the Homemade Jamz Blues Band. These kids were great! Way better than a lot of music that passes for Blues in this crazy mixed up world. These kids were phenomenal. Ryan Perry, 15 (guitar and vocals), Kyle Perry, 12 (bass), Taya Perry, 8 (drums) play with skill and soul. They are capable of delivering pure emotion that many performers way older can't seem to muster.

A bit later, I took a stroll and checked out David Dee and the Hot Tracks. I wasn't expecting much, because the name of the band sounded kind of 80's-ish. I was surprised. This group was really impressive. Strong soulful vocals. Excellent musicianship. Very tight performance.

After a few songs, I realized that I was going to miss Drink Small's set. I raced down the street and saw one of the most powerful solo performances that I've seen at the Chicago Blues Festival, since John Lee Hooker appeared solo at the Front Porch Stage about two decades ago. Nothing, but deeply powerful Blues.

After three days of walking, my feet were starting to hurt, so I decided to hang out near the State of Mississippi Juke Joint Stage and the Front Porch Stage fro the rest of the day. I was rewarded by some excellent music and another great solo performance by Alvin "Youngblood" Hart.

The Chicago Harmonica Project - Part II sounded sort of intriguing. I wasn't sure what to expect, since some of the names were unknown to me. I knew the band backing them up would be good with Rick Kreher, Illinois Slim, E.G. McDaniel, Mark Brumbach and Twist Turner. Plus, Harmonica Hinds and Little Arthur are always worth seeing.

Harmonica HInds started off the festivities. He sounded really good sporting some really nice post-war style tone. Harmonica Hinds reminds me of the guy that got into a time machine in the early 1950's and showed up here 55 years later.

Next up was Big D. Mr D ripped through some uptempo Little Walter tunes. This guy sounded fantastic playing through an old Super Reverb. He sort of resembled the Jake Blues or the Blues Brothers, but you cant judge a book by looking at the cover. This is quite talented, showcasing some monstrous tone.

Next up was Charlie Love. He played some Sonny Boy Williamson-style harp which differentiated him from the previous harp players. Charlie Love is a good harmonica player. He was one fo the better singers during this set and he has years of experience leading an excellent band which frequently appears at the Kingston Mines. He brought up a guest who has been very influential and an inspirational teacher. Jeff Stone joined him on the stage for a song.

Jeffrey Taylor followed these guys. He wasn't the best harp player on stage, but he used the instrument to good effect to punctuate his tremendous singing.

Last up was Reginald Cooper. This guy is a good harmonica player and an excellent singer. He's the type of guy that makes you wonder, where the hell has he been hiding and why hasn't he been discovered before. His voice was as smooth as silk and he delivered his set expertly. I would have liked to hear from him.

They finished up the set with a multi-player jam, which I expected to be a disaster, but it sounded good with each player taking a turn.

It was a very nice set.

From there I caught a portion of the set by Khalif Wailin' Walter. I hadn't seen Walter in ten years when he would sit in around town. He relocated to Germany and I hadn't heard anything from him in a while.

He sounded really good. His guitar playing is very modern sounding. Backing him was Roosevelt Purifoy. That dude really gets around.

Finally, I dropped in at the Chicago Jam Station to catch a little bit of Guy King, Kenny Smith and Calvin Jones. This was a nice mellow way to end the day concluding my visit to the 2007 Chicago Blues Festival.

But I wasn't through hanging out in Chicago just yet.

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