Not a lot of alternative distraction here, if it’s Blues you want to hear, this the Festival for you. Held annually in June at the Petrillo Music Shell in Grant Park adjacent to the Lake Michigan Waterfront, this is the setting for the collection of the very best Blues Musicians in the world today. Since it’s conception in 1984, all the truly greats show up for this one.
Three days of fabulous Blues Music in the Park for free has attracted fans from around the world. It now claims to be the largest festival of it’s kind anywhere and over 500,000 fans in attendance over the course of the event. Only once in a while a genre of Soul or Jazz or Electric Music slips in but, it will somehow be Blues related.
The origins of Chicago’s ties to Blues Music dates back to early part of the 20th century with the “Great Migration” where many black musicians from the Mississippi Delta (where Blues are believed to have originated) moved up North to escape the poverty they faced in the southern states. Many of these Blues Artist settled in Chicago and among them was the Legionary McKinley Morganfield, you might know him as Muddy Waters. He is considered to be the father of modern Chicago Blues and after his death in April of 1983, this helped inspire Lois Weisberg, Commissioner of Cultural Affairs and other organizers to inaugurate the Blues Festival the following year.
An example of some the artists who have performed here over the years include Bo Diddley, B.B. King, Chuck Berry, Carl Perkins, Buddy Guy, Jimmy Rodgers, Keith Richards, Robert Cray, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Ray Charles, Johnny Lee Hooker and of course, this only names a few of them, there have been hundreds of show-stopping performances by the best in the biz. You can bet this tradition will continue year after year at the Chicago Blues Festival.