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The Chicago Blues Festival opened today as temperatures soared into the nineties, with the City's streets and sidewalks clogged with pedestrians and vehicles headed to a day of fine entertainment and music.  As I approached Grant Park, the sounds of blues music could be heard from four stages in Grant Park and surrounds.  Because the Festival was celebrating the 45th anniversary of Alligator Records' founding, the music had a decidedly electric feel to it.  

For me the highlight was seeing Corky Siegel (no relation) perform with Sam Lay.  I remember booking the Siegel Schwall Blues Band several times when I was in High School.  Corky has definitely aged, but haven't we all.  He was the master today when it came to blues harp.  It was also good so see Sam Lay back behind the drum kit.  In recent years, he has been performing with guitar in hand.  Will Tilson joined Siegel and Lay on acoustic guitar.  He is one of the most charismatic performers I've seen in sometime. Rounding out the group was Marcella Detroit, adding vocals, harp, and a very cool looking pair of sunglasses.

One of the more interesting performances involved about 30 kids from the Chicago Public Schools playing harmonicas and singing Sweet Home Chicago.  Kudos to the Festival organizers for giving these kids some stage time.

As for the Festival:  The stages are well positioned to avoid sound bleed.  The crowd was friendly and enthusiastic.  I even had a nice chat with a couple who came from Melbourne, Australia specifically to see the Festival.  This was not their first time, which says something about Chicago Blues.

Back tomorrow for Bob Stronger

Jamiah Rodgers on Guitar

Doubling Up on Guitar and Harp

Curtis Salgado Testifying 

Corky Siegel on Blues Harp

Will Tilson Squeezes Out the Sparks

Siegel and Tilson in the Moment

Corky Siegel Moves to the Piano

Marcella Detroit on Blues Harp Wearing Some Pretty Cool Shades

Fruteland Jackson on Acoustic Guitar

"Coming At You, Baby"

Lee Dillon on National Steel Guitar

Laying Down the Foundation

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Copyright 2016, Jack B. Siegel.  All Rights Reserved

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