The Chicago-based singer’s long list of accolades also includes performing at the White House, a pair of Grammy Award nominations and, just a few months ago, induction into the New York Blues Hall of Fame.
Saxophonist Shaw has been at the top of the venerable Chicago blues scene since the mid-1950s. In recognition of the 72nd anniversary of Pearl Harbor Day, which is also Saturday, Shaw will welcome celebrated local blues singer and Army veteran Jesse Yawn to sing his emotive rendition of “Every Day I Have the Blues.”
Another superb Chicago blues man, Lil’ Ed Williams is a slide guitarist, singer and songwriter who with his backing band, the Blues Imperials, has been elating club and festival crowds for decades.
Hailed by critics as one of the “premier blues and R&B singers in the world today,” Janiva Magness is an artist of raw power, emotional complexity and seemingly endless technical ability. Blues Revue calls her “a bold and potent artist of the highest order, with a powerful, soulful voice…impossible to forget.” Whether performing her own songs or covering classics from her expansive repertoire, this 2009 B.B. King Entertainer of the Year leaves no stone unturned. Magness is a gutsy and dynamic musical powerhouse who can sing just about anything. With a life story that reads like a Greek tragedy, Magness has channeled her hardscrabble childhood into a decades-long music career that includes 11 critically acclaimed albums, over 23 nominations and numerous awards. Her latest CD, “Original,” has garnered her three more nominations for the Blues Foundation’s 2015 Blues Music Awards, including Best Contemporary Blues Album, Best Song, and Best Contemporary Blues Female Artist, a title she’s won twice before. On the road, Magness and her world-class road band are renowned for charismatic and electrifying performances that deliver “blues and soul with show-stopping authority,” (Los Angeles Daily News). www.janivamagness.com
The Philadelphia Inquirer has called harmonicist and songwriter Rick Estrin “one of the great characters in blues – a sharp-dressing, smooth-talking harmonica-playing hep-cat,” who is also “a deceptively subtle writer who can cloak pointed or sobering messages within the band’s good-time vibe.” In 2008, Estrin teamed up with guitarist Chris “Kid” Andersen, drummer/vocalist J. Hansen and multi-faceted instrumentalist Lorenzo Farrell to form The Nightcats. Since then, Estrin and his ensemble have been delighting audiences and critics alike with their fresh and modern original blues injected with a solid dose of gritty roadhouse rock n’ roll. Blues Revue magazine has called The Nightcats “one of modern blues’ most versatile bands,” and Living Blues says “Estrin’s harp work is masterful” and their music is “intelligently conceived and executed and hugely entertaining.” Estrin won the 2013 Blues Music Award for Best Instrumentalist–Harmonica–and, in 1994, won the Blues Music Award for Song Of The Year for his composition “My Next Ex-Wife.” Since their inception in 2008, The Nightcats have quickly become a favorite at major blues festivals around the world, including the Lucerne Blues Festival in Switzerland, the Caxias de Soul Festival in Brazil, and the Moulon Blues Festival in the Netherlands. In the United States they’ve played the North Atlantic Blues Festival, the Magic City Blues Festival and the Bayfront Blues Festival. Estrin also performed at the Chicago Blues Festival in 2011 as part of Alligator Records’ 40th anniversary concert. www.rickestrin.com
Once she stepped off a greyhound bus in Chicago in October of 1984, it took guitarist and vocalist Joanna Connor only a few months to take the city’s highly competitive blues circuit by storm. Chicago magazine hailed her as “the most exciting new talent on the blues scene.” The Chicago Sun-Times called her “a powerhouse guitarist with a sense of rock dynamics–her playing has a fire that is free of self-indulgence.” Connor and her searing slide guitar work have been raising eyebrows of blues aficionados and critics everywhere ever since. As the Boston Globe noted, “She brings a revved-up rock flavor to the blues with a desire to move the music forward, not just embalm it.” The Joanna Connor Band has gone on to become a frequent attraction not only at leading blues nightspots, but also as a featured act at major festivals in the U.S. and Canada. Connor has also developed a strong following in Europe, Brazil, and Japan as a result of many overseas appearances. Connor’s latest Blind Pig CD, “Slidetime,” displays her maturity as a songwriter, with all 11 original compositions. This recording also features her trademark gritty guitar work and strongest, most impassioned vocals to date. www.joannaconnorband.com
Best known as a co-founder of Royal Southern Brotherhood, multi-Blues Music Award-winner Mike Zito is one of those rare talents who can sing like nobody’s business, write gripping songs, play a mean Gulf Coast style guitar, and also has the stage presence to draw in any audience. In 2012, Zito debuted his new band The Wheel, featuring Scot Sutherland on bass, drummer Rob Lee, and Jimmy Carpenter on saxophone and went on to record a brand new album for Ruf Records. In 2014, Mike Zito and The Wheel’s album, “Gone To Texas,” was nominated for a Blues Music Award in the “Rock Blues Album of the Year” category. The band’s latest release, “Songs From the Road,” is winning critical acclaim with its live version of the crunchy, gritty truthful performances that have become hallmarks of Zito and his band. American Blues Scene called it “Zito’s best solo work to date. His technique, songwriting, and musicianship improves vastly from each album to the next, and ‘Gone To Texas’ is the culmination of a lifetime of learning and growth.” www.mikezito.com
The Long Island Blues Society called Larry Garner “an undiscovered treasure lurking in the bayous,” and Real Blues has labeled him “perhaps the most talented blues songwriter alive today.” Garner’s blues career began when a detour on his evening commute home landed him at a blues jam at that legendary Baton Rouge hotbed of blues, Tabby’s Blues Box. Garner, who had dabbled in guitar since boyhood, began moonlighting at the Box and the rest is history. Garner and his Boogaloo Blues Band won the 5th Annual International Blues Challenge in 1988, and they have toured extensively ever since, winning over legions of fans worldwide who have come to appreciate Garner’s brand of imminently listenable blues akin to those of B.B. King. Garner was inducted into the Louisiana Blues Hall of Fame in 2002 and the BBC has honored Garner as its Bluesman of the Year and named him its Blues Songwriter of the Year three times. Garner was also twice named Real Blues Magazine’s Bluesman of the Year. As Big City Blues says, “If you haven’t discovered the blues brilliance of Larry Garner, then you should jump on this bandwagon. These are blues for today, good to the last note stuff.” www.larrygarnerbluesman.com
In his hometown of Clarkesdale, Mississippi, James “Super Chikan” Johnson is probably best known for his regular gigs at Morgan Freeman’s Ground Zero Blues Club, and for being Freeman’s favorite blues artist. Hal Horowitz of the Blues Revue says Super Chikan is “fun, frisky, sexy, danceable, and as loopy as you’d expect from a guy who plays instruments fashioned from discarded metal and who grew up chatting to poultry.” The nephew of fellow blues musician Big Jack Johnson, Johnson spent his childhood working on his family’s farms in the Mississippi Delta and twiddling around on his first musical instrument, a rudimentary “diddley bow.” Johnson’s fondness for the chickens on the family farms earned him the nickname “Chikan Boy.” As an adult, Super Chikan began driving trucks for a living, composing songs during the long stretches on the road. He released his first of several albums in 1997 and in 1998 was nominated for the Blues Music Award for Best New Artist. Super Chikan has since toured and performed at festivals around the globe. He has been nominated multiple times for various Blues Music Awards and, in 2010, his album “Chikadelic” won the Blues Music Award for Best Traditional Blues Album. Super Chiken, who Juke Joint Soul calls a “chronic blues party,” also received five Living Blues Critics Awards and in 2004 received the Mississippi Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts. www.superchikan.com