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Blues and Gospel Hit The Streets

By Scott Smith in Arts & Entertainment on Apr 28, 2005 5:32PM

While Lollapalooza is casting a big shadow over the other music events this summer, you don’t need to spend $85 (or $100 or $115) to see live music in the city. Metromix has posted dates for the various fests that celebrate local neighborhoods and musical genres this summer. Lineups for the neighborhood fests have yet to be announced but the schedules for the 21st Annual Chicago Gospel Music Festival and the 22nd Annual Chicago Blues Festival are out. Plus, they’re free.

2005_04_28_blues.jpgGospel Fest will be in Millennium Park from June 3rd through June 5th. The event is sponsored by the Mayor’s Office of Special Events and the makers of St. Joseph’s 81 mg. Aspirin. Nope, that’s not a joke. It’s not exactly a ringing endorsement of the lineup if there’s a pain reliever involved. But at least it sounds better than “the Day Stage presented by Bank One a JP Morgan Chase Company.” For us, the highlight of the fest will be an appearance by Solomon Burke on Saturday at the Pritzker Pavilion though his style has always been more straight-ahead R&B than gospel. On Sunday, tributes to Mahalia Jackson and the early pioneers of Chicago gospel will close out the fest.

The four-day Blues Fest takes place in Grant Park from June 9th through the 12th. Each day is designed to be a celebration of the centennial birthdays of Meade Lux Lewis, Jimmy Walker (not that Jimmy Walker), Major Merriweather, and the 95th birthday of Howlin’ Wolf. Chicagoist had no idea that former Rolling Stone Mick Taylor or John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers were still around yet there they both are on June 9th at the Petrillo Music Shell. As expected, local blues legends Buddy Guy, Mavis Staples, and Koko Taylor will be performing. But try and catch the Blues Poetry Showcase on June 9th or performers like Steady Rollin’ Bob Margolin (June 10th), Carey Bell and Latimore (June 11th) since they don’t come around too often.

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