Friday, June 22, 2012

Blues on the Fox festival created many musical memories


I am still on a high from the musical feast presented at last weekend's Blues on the Fox festival in downtown Aurora.

Saturday's musical offerings were a tasty smorgasbord - a healthy dose of the blues, along with a smattering of gospel and music from the Big Easy.

Chicago's own Shemekia Copeland got things started in strong fashion as she brought her roof-rattling vocals to the stage.

"I fell in love with the blues at an early age," she told the crowd. "I remember going to school singing Koko Taylor songs."

Highlights of her set included a searing version of "Ghetto Child," made famous by her father, the late Johnny Copeland.

At one point in her show, Copeland stepped away from her mike and her voice still carried out to the appreciative crowd, a testament to just how powerful her voice is.

Next up were the Lee Boys, who turned the festival into a rollicking church service with their uplifting gospel-tinged sound.

Chicago Blues: A Living History, an all-star group comprised of Lurrie Bell, Billy Boy Arnold, John Primer, Billy Branch and Carlos Johnson, created many musical highlights, with Arnold showing he is still a musical force at the age of 76 and Primer playing the deep blues he learned as a member of Muddy Waters' band.

The party ended on a perfect note with New Orleans musicians Art, Charles and Cyril Neville performing together as The Nevilles. Not even a rainstorm which cut their set short could dampen the good feelings they created as they played some of their best known songs.

For a few minutes at least, the Fox River was transformed into a sleepy bayou as the crowd enthusiastically joined them in singing "Fire on the Bayou."

One can only hope that the rest of the summer's musical offerings match the excitement created at the Blues on the Fox festival.