This year's Chicago Blues Festival celebrated the life and music of Howlin' Wolf on the centennial of his birthday with special performances and jam sessions by many of his former band members. Highlights included a discussion of Wolf with former band member Eddie Shaw and Wolf's daughter Barbara Marks. Shaw had a wealth on anecdotes about Wolf.
Later that evening at the Petrillo Music Shell, Shaw led a group in a "Wolf" jam session that included Jody Williams, Sam Lay, Abb Locke, Corky Siegel and Hubert Sumlin. What a sight to see these legendary bluesmen having the time of their lives as they paid homage to Wolf.
Saturday's highlights included David "Honeyboy" Edwards performing at the Mississippi Juke Joint stage and the Sugar Blue band at the Gibson guitar stage in the afternoon. With harmonica in hand , Sugar Blue worked his way through the audience to the pleasure of all present.
The Petrillo Shell featured Nellie "Tiger" Travis and her multinational band as they excited the crowd with some down home "Chicago" style blues. Nellie also took the opportunity to pay homage the Koko Taylor , the queen of Blues who died about this time in 2009. Perhaps the most exciting performance of the two days this observer witnessed was that of guitarist Carlos Johnson and harmonica man Billy Branch. These two were on fire and appeared to enjoy each moment on stage. Their extended solos were exceptional.
If this year's festival is any indication, the Blues in Chicago is here to stay. With Buddy Guy recently opening his new club at Wabash and Balbo, in the south loop, and an abundance of clubs throughout the City, it appears that the demise of "blues" has been grossly exaggerated.
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