15th Chicago Blues Festival - First Day
Fri Jun 5 15:25:32 EDT 1998
The 15th Chicago Blues Festival got started yesterday with a bang
from....Ray Charles? No, GUITAR SHORTY!!!! Sure, Ray was very
good, but Shorty, filling in for the ill Charles Brown, kicked ass!
(And did not one, but, TWO flips!.
My baby and I got to Grant Park about 4:00 and got into line for the
Petrillo Band Shell, then got our seats. Then we went over to the
Juke Joint Stage to hear the last song from Harmonica Hinds. Then
we saw some Blues In The Schools stuff at The Front Porch Stage
which was cute and then my baby went back to the Band Shell to camp
out while I wondered around some more.
Over at the Crossroads Stage I witnessed the Uppity Blues Women
acting very uppity and justifying, through song, women being called
"bitches." When they mentioned Hillary Clinton I knew it was time
for me to split before I got into a fight.
Seeing Roy Hytower at the Juke Joint stage was much more personally
satisfying. Roy was performing solo with guitar and harmonica and
then he spotted Bill Branch in the crowd. Whew, baby daddy, things
then really heated up. Billy fetched his harmonica bag and got up
onto stage with Roy for a few numbers. I love seeing Billy play!
The February 16th House of (Sometimes) Blues Junior Wells tribute
was one of the best blues shows I've ever seen in the past 23 years
and Billy was one of the main reasons! He was very good yesterday
After that (and being taped for the Fox Chicago news), I went back to
the Band Shell to join my honey and some new friends watching the
magnificent Pinetop Perkins with Willie "Big Eyes" Smith. I am so
glad we continue to see Pinetop perform.
Then Guitar Shorty's band came out. They played one tune before their
leader emerged from stage left kicking butt in his purple suit. I
think partly the audience went nuts because many of them had never
seen or heard him before and they were thrilled by what this relative
unknown could do. He got extra points from the audience for all his
usual tricks, like playing the guitar with his derriere, and then
going out through the audience. Then he did the big running start,
and a flip in the air. I was very satisfied - especially that he's
made some more fans. But then he did another flip!
The weirdest thing of the whole day for me was the woman sitting
in back of us who plugged her ears with her fingers during the
second half of Shorty's show, besides sitting there reading during
most of it. I thought it was especially disrespectful of her to plug
her ears during the medley of The Star Spangled Banner and Battle
Hymn of The Republic. We were 25 rows back - not right next to
any PA speakers or guitar amps.
So I figured she was probably a big Ray Charles fan. But, no, when
Ray was groovin', the stick-in-the-mud didn't get into it much. Go
home if you won't support your team, dammit!!
Ray put on a good, but rather short show - less than an hour. He
stopped twice to get mics for the Rayettes and other PA stuff right.
He did his famous tunes like "Georgia" and "What'd I Say?" and some
people danced in the aisles in wild abandon. Mabel John joined him
for a couple of numbers and the interplay was very good. We enjoyed
the show very much.
Word is that Charles Brown was hospitalized for exhaustion and is
Wild Bill Irvin
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