Thirty-three–unlike 25, say, or 40–isn’t really a banner year, but the city of Chicago isn’t using that as an excuse to rest on its laurels. Hence the 33rd year of Blues Fest paying tribute to the legendary Otis Rush.
The event will take place at Grant Park on June 12 (the third and final day of the festival, which begins on June 10), and will feature several prominent blues musicians who either learned from or were influenced by Rush, who emigrated to Chicago from Mississippi in the 1950s after seeing Muddy Waters perform while visiting his sister. Playing with countless prominent musicians of the time while working to establish himself as an innovative guitarist/singer-songwriter, Rush boasts numerous high-profile acolytes, including Carlos Santana, Eric Clapton, and Stevie Ray Vaughan.
The schedule is as follows:
5 PM: Ronnie Earl & The Broadcasters. (As an award-winning blues guitarist, Ronnie Earl learned from Rush and considers him to be the greatest musical influence on his career and life.)
6:30 PM: Chicago legend Eddy “The Chief” Clearwater. (Known as a blues-rocking showman with his left-handed, upside-down guitar playing and his signature Indian headdress, Clearwater is among the very finest bluesmen performing today. He’s a frequent performer at the Chicago Blues Festival and this year his guitar mastery and rock-fueled blues will be on full display for a true taste of West Side blues.)
8 PM: Friends come together to celebrate Otis Rush with a special tribute. Confirmed performers include Jimmy Johnson, Abb Locke, Brian Jones, Carl Weathersby, Bob Stroger, Sumito Ariyoshi, Big Ray, John Kattke, Mike Wheeler, Lurrie Bell, Shun Kikuta, Eddie Shaw, Sam Burton, as well as other artists and surprise guests.
Head over to the city of Chicago’s website for the full weekend lineup as well as information about transportation, parking, and food vendors.