Blues Fests in the Mid West by Raul Watson Photos by Sheila Kennedy-Kaiser

Posted on 8/14/2010 by rajuligan

Can you get too blue? Is it possible to get too much of a good thing? Is there a chance that this true American Genre of music can be overconsumed?

I guess I am an addict, because I found that if one blues festival is good, then three must be great. I only regret that I could not attend them all in their entirety.

Chicago, once again, showed it is the premier venue for blue, celebrating the centennial of Howlin' Wolf this year. The twenty seventh edition suffered no damage from the rain. Plenty of blues addicts there that weekend. The man klicking attendancewill attest to that. His numbers read over seven thousaand when I looked at them Saturday night. The Creekside Blues and Jazz Festival in Gahanna, Ohio (near Columbus), however, collected some great talent this year as well. As for the Canton, Ohio Festival; it was a blast.

Chicago is definately a greatness magnet when it comes to the A-List. James Cotton with Matt "Guitar" Murphy, Willie's son Bobby Dixon, the Sugar Blue Band, Lurrie Bell, Billy Branch, Lohn Primer, Ramblin' Jack Elliot, Billy Boy Arnold and Guitar Shorty all came for the invasion of Chicago's lakefront.
The Howlin' Wolf Alumni headlined Friday night at the Patrillo Music Shell with members of the Wolf Gang and Eddie Shaw.

Carl Weathersby and Larry McCray cut heads on the Gibson Guitar Crossroads stage Sunday followed by Roy Roberts with his guest, the powerful and sexy Barbara Carr. Then, if that wasn't cool enough, you could take a small intermission and see Bobby Rush bring his blind snake thing on the Mississippi Juke Joint Stage. Reminding everyone what it means to be old school cool.
On Sunday night Barry Goldberg powered up his B-3 to play with a hall of fame cast including Harvey Mandel, Corky Siegel, Nick Gravenities, Charles Mussselwhite and Sam Lay. No one personifies the Mississippi bluesmen's migration to Chicago like Musselwhite.

Then, on the Patrillo stage, blues fans got to enjoy the hip-hop influenced style of T.K. Soul. While not including the raw rap you find with Grady Champion, the Terrence Kemble artistic creation known as T.K. Soul is taking the blues to its next generation sound. Find him at

The thing I really enjoyed about Chicago was the question and answer sessions with blue greats like Ramblin' Jack Elliot.
Since we're pimping websights, please check out how fifty years in the business can create a "battle-scarred hard-ass" like Guitar Shorty at

I got a little of Cincinnati flavour at Creekdide with Sonny Moorman. A deciple of Lonnie Mack and successor to Big Ed Thompson, listening to Sonny's power trio made me look around for some Burbank's Bar-B-Q. Check out the way he channels the command of Freddie King at He is blues royalty in my town, and showed central Ohio why on Saturday night just before audiences got a big plate of Cajun blues from tab Benoit. Boiled by Bayou but brought to blues fans at festivals from Tennessee to Colorado to Arizona, Benoit makes a "Good Gumbo" with a show-worn Fender semi-acoustic that looks much older than he is. Order some up at

Unless you've seen the Jimmy Vincent Band, you can't know how his four piece machine savagely chomps up licks and puts out sound. Following Ray Fuller and the Blues Rockers, Jimmy and his stratocaster came out strong Friday Night on the Creekside Blues Stage. He plays a mean dobro and harp, as well , in front of Sam Romagnoli on the Hammond Organ, Dustin Smith on drums and Bob Dutton on bass guitar. See for yourself at I can't avoid the site. His music calls to me like chocolate nicotine.

Getting to see Grady Champion was a joy, and seeing him in both Chicago and Columbus was good for my blues jones. With Robert johnson's Mississippi purr and a mastery of harp akin to onny Boy Williamson. He leads his highly combustible band with a sparked personality and a gift for showmanship. They've been jamming together over a decade since forming in Canton, fifteen miles north of Jackson Mississippi. It is easy to see how they claimed top prize in the 26th annual International Blues Challenge.

Jared Booty from Memphis sat in with Grady at Creekside. His guitar work is astounding, but he also plays drums, sax and flute. He's worked with Rufus Thomas, Al Green, Terence Trent Darby, Bob Dylan and Ronnie Wood. I asked him what he was doing after this gig and he answered, "spreading the blues in my own way to the universe, via bus, planes, cars and bicycles." A noble endeavour, I must say.
Grady will be featured in the upcoming movie "Rites of Springs." He can also be enjoyed at As long as performers keep busy, we blues-a-holics shall remain in drink.

I hope I do not offend my friend Pat McLaughlin by telling you this. The prettiest bass player in the blues game is his Molly Young. She's with them a year and a half and already controls crowds on the band's behalf. I asked the Memphis native if the blues were really propietary to her hometown as the legend says.

"Well..." thoughtfully rolling her eyes. "We just call it music."

Neither a Ford nor a chevy man, Patrick sets his Les Paul on fire after setting down a smoking Strat. The Ohio guitar hero and his Tennessee rhythm section is fixing to bust at the seams.. the subtle way he and his band command an audience is merlinesque in it's magic. With Gary Williams on drums and Tom DeLorenzo on percussion, they reminded me how much more a second percussion player can add to a show. Not high-energy or ballad based, Pat is always making a statement with his music... the statement being, here's the music! He's just one blockbuster hit song away from a radio attack, and that song may be "Which Way to Go" from the album he's working on now. Look for big things at

They ended the afternoon withPatrick's own versions of "Messin' With The Kid" and "Feels Like Rain." Messers Walker, Guy and Hiatt would have approved.

After Sean Carney on Sunday, I had the priveledge of viewing Patrick's roots for myself. It's a little blues club a couple blocks away from the festival called The Dolphin. How convenient. And how full of talent. The best two guitar display I had a chance to witness in two weekends of festivals.

Richard Boals, "The Blues Guru" playing guitar, blowing harp and singing scat is truly an Ohio treasure. Sharing the stage with "Hot" Rod Cave, they host an open mic blues jam that is worth the trip. Patrick and his keyboard player, Adam Constantine, are both alumnis of Richard Boals and the Souls.

On their way from Hawaii to Switzerland, Sean Carney and his band swung throughtheir hometown of Columbus to play a private 95th birthday party for Janine Wilson'e grandmother. While in town together, they swung by the Creekside festival to headline. It was good to see Sean in his homeland, and they reunited with a couple of decent horn players. Makes me wonder what his trio would be like with a little muscle &
Its a country kind of blues Janine paints, but there's no mistaking the twelve bar mentality and bridge building nature to the compositions that makes her okay with purists. "It should Be Me," written with Max Evans is award winning. Just ask the people at Mid-Atlantic. Promoting her new album, "Wakin' Up," is her job now, and she is scheduled to start recording her next in january. look for her to play guitar on the next one. Now an intregal part of D.C.'s music scene, Janine couldn't have been more happy her hometown blues festival co-incided with her grandmother's birthday.

Sean looked like he was enjoying himself, as well, but no one ever looks like they're enjoying themselves than his bass player. He dances with his upright like a Disney character. They playes the slowest, but funkiest, version of "Walkin' the Dog" I had ever heard. And his song "29 Ways" kicked ass.

Two weekends, three festivals,a nd nearly forty seperate shows.
I'm still hungry.

I had a blast collecting pictures of your blues fest t-shirts. I'd like to continue the collection. If you have a cool shirt, official or bootleg, send me a picture. Next year before festival season we'll publish the entire collection. If you can't send me a picture, meet me at one of the festivals next year and Sheila will take your picture.

American Blues News Staff

What makes American Blues News unique is our coverage across America. Here is our lineup:

Mon: Memphis Correspondent - Robert "Nighthawk" Tooms
Nighthawk is our resident globetrotter and man behind the scenes, as he tours with the Reba Russell Band.

Tues: New York Correspondent - J. Blake
Blake is the American Blues News review and interview guru. You may catch him out and about in NY playing the blues.

Wed: National Correspondent - Monica Yasher
Monica is our executive director and artist interview specialist. You can catch Monica singing the blues around Pittsburgh or working on some country music songs in Nashville.

Thurs: Washington, DC Correspondent - Virginiabluesman
Geraldo offers inteviews and reviews. You may have seen him at an Ana Popovic concert or conversed with him on her websites, as he offers administrative support with her music.

Fri: Northeast Photographer - Nelson Onofre
Nelson offers a Friday column of blues photography and pictorial support for the interviews covered by the team.

Jim Stick in Colorado
Jim will be focusing on the Blues Festivals in the beautiful state of Colorado, and the artists that live and visit there.

Maureen Elizabeth, our resident art correspondent, will be focusing on blues art as she explores the creation of CD covers, or speaking with artists who also have a love of creating pictorial art in addition to their music! She may also feature some of her good friends in the Pittsburgh area. In her love of art, you may find Maureen's photography accompanying writer's articles on our pages. Maureen is also our marketing director.

Pittsburgh correspondent and photographer, CR Bennett, will share the Pittsburgh scene with all of you. You may also see CR's pictures accompanying other writer's articles.

We head to the big state of Texas! Abby Owen, our Texas correspondent.

Another big area to cover, the West Coast with Casey Reagan, Casey will feature many artists and events on this ocean's shores.

Lastly, we have our roving blues entertainment writer,
Chef Jimi.

And of course, we will surprise you sometimes!

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