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Chicago Blues Guide Newsletter Jan. 2022

New Contest: Win prizes from Bob Corritore & Vizztone!

Buddy Guy/ photo: Roman Sobus

DATELINE: January 19, 2022

“Dearly Beloved/ we are gathered here today/ to get through this thing called life.”

--- Prince

“Nobody told me there’d be days like these.” --- John Lennon

“Damn right I’ve got the blues.” --- Buddy Guy

Welcome to the New Year. There’s no predicting what 2022 will bring us as we cautiously peak behind the door that leads to the road that lies ahead. And what do we see…


Winter 2022 CONTEST

Subscribe to our mailing list and be entered to win this fabulous prize package from Bob Corritore's From the Vaults series and SWMAF/Vizztone Records!


5 CDs from Bob Corritore:

  • Honeyboy Edwards & Various Artists: Downhome Blues Revue

  • ​Louisiana Red & Bob Corritore: Tell Me 'Bout It

  • Kid Ramos & Bob Corritore & Various Artists: Phoenix Blues Sessions

  • Henry Gray & Bob Corritore & Various Artists: Cold Chills

  • Dave Riley & Bob Corritore: Travelin' The Dirt Road

The Chicago blues scene as it now stands…

As of Jan. 3, 2022 all music venues (also restaurants, bars, health clubs and other indoor entertainment places) in Chicago and Cook County are required to check for vaccine cards and masks for entry. Some venues will accept recent negative covid tests as well (call ahead to make sure). All of Chicago’s blues clubs and several venues that feature blues in the ‘burbs already had adopted this policy going back to October when the delta and omicron variant started spreading like wildfire once the outdoor shows were done for the season.

Even with this strict policy some of our favorite venues were affected by breakthrough infections suffered by staff and musicians. Sadly Hey Nonny in Arlington Hts. and Epiphany in Chicago closed their doors for the month of January. The former will reopen Jan. 28 and the latter opens Jan. 27.

Quite a few shows were cancelled or postponed between Christmas and New Year’s, with musicians and or/staff suffering from breakthroughs. And that continues to be the case.

FitzGerald’s in Berwyn had to close for over a week in early November due to a couple breakthroughs for vaccinated staffers, including booking agent/band leader Donnie Biggens, even though FitzGerald’s has maintained a policy of checking for vax cards or negative tests for patrons to enter the indoor spaces since September.

Sadly, Biggins couldn’t seem to catch a break in 2021. He and his team recently transformed the former Tonic Room into the Golden Dagger music venue. In December, the Golden Dagger caught fire and burned down. FitzGerald’s came to the rescue and hosted a fundraiser featuring many generous bands to help out in December.

Good news for FitzGerald’s came in January when the Blues Foundation in Memphis announced the winners of the Keeping the Blues Alive Awards, a very prestigious honor. FitzGerald’s original owner Bill FitzGerald along with new owner Will Duncan will receive the KBA honor in May when the Blues Music Awards and International Blues Challenge 2022 will be held. The IBC, normally held in Memphis in February, was postponed due to covid concerns.


Bobby Rush & Buddy Guy/ photo: Lynn Orman

After having to close for at least a week in December due to covid breakthroughs among staff, Buddy Guy’s Legends reopened in time for a New Year’s Eve show with Mike Wheeler Band and NuBlu Band. And now the annual tradition continues: it’s Buddy Time in Chicago as the guitar hero headlines his namesake nightclub/restaurant each Thursday-Sunday, January 6-30, featuring top opening acts like Bobby Rush, John Primer and Mike Wheeler.

For the first time ever, the club offered a choice of reserved seating or standing room only tickets (SRO very limited) for the Buddy shows. Reserved seating guarantees that fans won’t have to lineup outside for hours in freezing temps, as used to be the protocol when the first come, first serve seating was the policy. These coveted seats were snapped up as soon as they went on sale. SRO tickets are still available for some shows.



Derek Trucks & Susan Tedeschi/ photo: Stuart Levine

Another January in Chicago staple is the annual Tedeschi Trucks Band residency at the Chicago Theater. The ultimate blues rock jam band will take the stage for two weekends: January 21-22 and 28-29.

Watch for Susan and Derek to sit in with Buddy at Legends while they are in town!

Read Linda Cain’s review of TTB’s 2020 show, right before covid hit us.

Speaking of Tedeschi Trucks Band, you can see an exclusive showing of the documentary Learning to Live Together: The Return of Mad Dogs & Englishmen at The Venue in Aurora on January 23.

Buy tix HERE.

The feature-length concert film and documentary recalls the story of Joe Cocker’s epic band in 1970, a massive traveling rock ’n’ soul commune/circus that traversed across the country in a private jet for two magical months -- and then it was over. Many attempts were made over the years to reunite the Mad Dogs, but it never happened. Until years later when Tedeschi Trucks Band successfully recruited 12 of the original Mad Dogs, including Leon Russell, Rita Coolidge and Claudia Lennear, plus guests Chris Robinson (Black Crowes) and Dave Mason (Traffic). The concert documentary tells the story of the original Mad Dogs and the electrifying reunion hosted by Derek, Susan and the 12-piece TTB.

Things to look forward to!

EARLY WARNINGS: Mark your calendar for major blues events in 2022

APRIL 2022

April 23: Juke Joint Festival in Clarksdale, MS

April 21-24: related Juke Joint events

MAY 2022

It will be a full week of blues this May in Memphis as the Blues Foundation celebrates the Blues Music Award nominees and winners on Thursday, May 5 and are Back On Beale with IBC beginning Friday, May 6. Patty Wilson Aden stepped down as the President and CEO of the Blues Foundation. She is succeeded by Judith Black, as of Jan. 1.

IBC Important Dates: Friday, May 6: Quarterfinals Night 1 Saturday, May 7: Quarterfinals Night 2 Sunday, May 8: KBA Ceremony, Youth Showcases, & Semifinals Monday, May 9: IBC Finals at The Orpheum


June 9-12: Chicago Blues Fest 2022, FREE, Millennium Park, Chicago

Details are TBA

June 10, 11,12: Blues & Brews Festival, Mundy Park/The Venue, Aurora

Friday: Ivy Ford, Bear Williams, Toronzo Cannon

Saturday: Joey J. Saye, Dave Herrero & Anne Harris, Mike Wheeler Band, Kinsey Report

Sunday: Album Covers Presents: Robert Cray/ Strong Persuader

June 16-19: Bonnaroo in Manchester, TN

June 17-18: Blues on the Fox, RiverEdge Park, Aurora, IL

Friday: Shemekia Copeland, Kenny Wayne Shepherd

Saturday: Buddy Guy, Billy Branch & Sons of the Blues, Mindi Abair & The Boneshakers, Melody Angel


Aug. 19, 20, 21: McHenry Rotary Club Blues, Brews & BBQ Fest, McHenry, IL

Friday: Jimmy Nick, John Todd Band

Saturday: Sharon Lewis & Texas Fire, Kashmir, Hot Rocks

Sunday: Mike Wheeler Band, Delta Rising

Aug. 20: RiverEdge Park, Aurora

Boz Scaggs, Robert Cray

Women of the Blues: Teeny Tucker, Shaun Murphy, Tia Carrol, Donna Herula, Gina Meeks, Amanee Avery

Aug. 27: Moose-a-Palooza, Batavia, IL

Lil Ed Blues Imperials, Michael Charles, Head Honchos, Tin Fiddle Band

All net proceeds from the event help the Batavia Moose Lodge support Mooseheart Child City and School.

Aug. 25-28: Big Blues Bender, Las Vegas

(normally held the weekend after Labor Day in Sept. but has been moved to August)


Berwyn Blues Festival at FitzGerald’s Berwyn, IL

Dates TBA


In terms of live music, 2021 was most definitely an improvement over 2020.

In the year of the big shutdown and pre-vaccinations, some clubs got creative and held outdoor performances. Venues like FitzGerald’s, Hey Nonny and The Venue in Aurora helped us keep our sanity by reconfiguring their outdoor spaces to accommodate patrons who could social distance, eat and drink and watch live music. Unfortunately Chicago’s blues venues remained shuttered, although Rosa’s offered streaming live performances that allowed fans worldwide to enjoy Chicago blues bands and generously tip them. Famous artists like John Primer and Jimmy Johnson streamed live from their basements to stay in touch with fans and friends and fill the virtual tip jar since their gigs were all cancelled. This helped us get through Winter 2020-21 when there were no more live outdoor shows.

2021 brought us the vaccine, and by Spring there were many more opportunities to hear live music outdoors. In May, Chicago Blues Guide was finally able to celebrate its 13th Anniversary with its annual staff party and blues jam, after many postponements.

Summertime was filled with many outdoor festivals such as the massive Lollapalooza, but not Chicago Blues Festival which was cancelled in 2020 and 2021. Things started to seem like they were going back to normal, especially when in August indoor venues began to open up again. All of Chicago’s venerable blues clubs -- Buddy Guy’s, Rosa’s, Kingston Mines, Blue Chicago – welcomed patrons, at first with limited capacity and masks. Sadly B.L.U.E.S. on Halsted never reopened. The property has been for sale for years and negotiations with a potential buyer came to a halt when covid hit.

Although Chicago Blues Fest couldn’t go on in June of 2021, the city of Chicago’s DCASE rallied with a Chicago in Tune series, with blues shows in August that included mini-festivals in neighborhoods where the blues was born: The South Side’s Bronzeville and West Side’s Austin district. Delmark Records held a Blues Festival during Labor Day weekend on its grounds at 4121 N. Rockwell on the Northwest Side. Although the events were not well publicized and didn’t always run smoothly, they at least offered fans and bands an opportunity to celebrate Chicago’s blues heritage, including real deal traditional blues artists like Mary Lane, John Primer, Mud Morganfield along with contemporary blues stars like Mike Wheeler and Melody Angel.

University of Chicago’s Logan Center celebrated the blues Oct. 15-17 with a wide variety of events, both live and virtual. A Sons and Daughters of the blues concert included sets by Ronnie Baker Brooks, Shemekia Copeland, Demetria Taylor, Lurrie Bell and Steve Bell. Also Bobby Rush, Billy Branch, George Freeman, Melody Angel and others performed live.


Cash Box Kings & Shemekia Copeland/ photo: Dianne Bruce Dunklau

2021 marked the 50th Anniversary of Alligator Records and Chicago’s Millennium Park celebrated the venerable label founded by Bruce Iglauer in 1971 with a free one-night concert featuring local Alligator artists with special guests: Nick Moss Band w/ Jason Ricci & Wayne Baker Brooks, Lil’ Ed & The Blues Imperials w/ Billy Branch, and Cash Box Kings with Ken Saydak & Shemekia Copeland. It was as close as Chicago was going to get to a taste of Chicago Blues Fest in 2021 and the fans that packed the park showed their appreciation with much applause, cheering and multiple standing ovations.

The following month, Schaumburg’s Al Larson Prairie Center for the Arts also feted Alligator Records’ 50th Anniversary with an enthusiastically received show on Oct. 23 by Billy Branch & Sons of the Blues, Nick Moss Band w/ Jason Ricci, and Toronzo Cannon & The Chicago Way.


Bette Smith Band/ photo: Howard Greenblatt

FitzGerald’s couldn’t host its longtime beloved American Music Festival during July 4th week for the second year in a row. But instead, they went all out in September and inaugurated the three-day Berwyn Blues Festival, Sept. 24-26, curated by in-house booking agent Donnie Biggins, a musician with impeccable taste who always knows what the diehard fans want to hear.

It was such a hit that owner Will Duncan promises the fest will return in 2022.

Bluesday Tuesday returned to FitzGerald’s big indoor stage in November 2021. Due to the pandemic the popular monthly show had to be held outside on the Fitzgerald’s patio stage during spring through early fall. It had to be cancelled in the winter months, since indoor shows were not considered safe yet. A most enthusiastic crowd turned up for December’s Bluesday Tuesday, hosted by DJ Tom Marker, with Mike Wheeler Band and special guests.

And that was the year that was. Hopefully 2022 will be much better.


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