Thursday, February 2, 2012

Mavis Staples will headline this year's Chicago Blues Fest

Chicago's own Mavis Staples will headline the 29th annual Chicago Blues Festival, which will run June 8 to 10 in Grant Park

Other headliners include Texas Johnny Brown on June 8 and Floyd Taylor on June 9. Staples will close the festival on June 10.

More than 60 years after she began singing with her ground-breaking family group, the Staple Singers, she is more popular than ever. In 2011, Mavis Staples won the Grammy for “Best Americana Album for "You Are Not Alone," produced by fellow Chicagoan, Jeff Tweedy of Wilco. 

At the Petrillo Music Shell, on June 8, blues fans will be treated to a centennial celebration of Lightnin’ Hopkins. A renowned Texas blues guitarist from Houston, Hopkins died in 1982. Fellow Houston bluesman Texas Johnny Brown headlines with his unique, soulful guitar sound. Texas natives, Reverend KM Williams, Milton Hopkins (Lightnin’ Hopkins cousin) and Jewel Brown open the evening’s salute to an iconic artist.

Floyd Taylor headlines the Petrillo Music Shell on June 9. Born in Chicago, Taylor is the son of soul and R&B legend Johnnie Taylor. He spent many years learning from his father, shaping his talent as a “soul man” in his own right. With his father’s death in 2000, the torch was passed.

Not to be forgotten, the Petrillo will open on Saturday with a special tribute to “Honeyboy” by Paul Kaye.  Kaye toured and performed with David “Honeyboy” Edwards up until his death in 2011. Edwards was the last of the Delta Bluesmen and the last direct link to Robert Johnston. 

Following the tribute to “Honeyboy" is Muddy Waters Disciples; Pinetop Perkins, Willie Big Eyes Smith and Mojo Buford will be remembered on the Petrillo stage in a set featuring: Muddy Water’s son, Mud Morganfield; Willie Big Eyes Smith’s son, Kenny Smith; Bob Margolin, Barrelhouse Chuck, Lil Frank and Bob Stroger.

Women have their day on June 10 with all female performers at the Petrillo Music Shell. Prior to Staples taking the stage, festival goers will be treated to a tribute to the Queen of the Blues, Koko Taylor, who died in June of 2009. Koko will be remembered in a special performance on Sunday night by a select group of blues women featuring Melvia “Chick” Rodgers, Jackie Scott, Deitra Farr and Nora Jean Brusco.

A special tribute to Hubert Sumlin on June 9 at the Front Porch Stage will be a must see for blues fans. The set will feature Steady Rollin Bob Margolin, Eddie Shaw, Kenny Smith, Dave Spector, Johnny Iguana, Bob Stroger & Bob Corritore. 

In June 2011, Honeyboy and Hubert Sumlin were scheduled to perform together at the Chicago Blues Festival during a tribute to Robert Johnson; they were both unable to perform due to health issues. Both died in 2011.  

Sumlin was best known as the lead guitarist for Howlin’ Wolf and he inspired some of the great rock guitarists of the era:  Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton and Keith Richards. 

The full line up will be announced at a later date. The 29th Annual Chicago Blues Festival is presented by the city of Chicago and produced by the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events.

More information is available by going to