36th Annual Chicago Blues Festival Lineup Announced

Headliners include: Bobby Rush, Jimmy Johnson Blues Band, Charlie Musselwhite with Billy Boy Arnold, Bettye LaVette, Don Bryant, Latimore, Ruthie Foster, The CONNECTION: Mike Welch & Friends, Larkin Poe and many more

2019 Shaun Murphy 2

Experience Chicago’s rich blues music legacy at the 36th Annual Chicago Blues Festival happening Friday, June 7th, to Sunday, June 9th in Millennium Park (201 E. Randolph St.). The Chicago Blues Festival will celebrate the genre’s music legacy in Chicago with live performances on six stages by local and national blues artists in the city’s premier outdoor music venue.

Chicago Blues Festival 2019

“With a diverse lineup celebrating the blues’ past, present and future, the Chicago Blues Festival features live music performances on multiple stages in Millennium Park,” said Mark Kelly, Commissioner, Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events. “Each year national and local artists celebrate the city’s rich Blues tradition while shining a spotlight on the genre’s contributions to soul, R&B, gospel, rock hip-hop and more.”

Headliners on the Jay Pritzker Pavilion stage will perform from 5 to 9 p.m. each evening. Music and entertainment throughout the park will begin at 11 a.m. each day.

Friday, June 7 – Jay Pritzker Pavilion

Blues Hall of Fame member, Bobby Rush will headline the festival on opening day. The GRAMMY® Award-winning artist was named by Rolling Stone “The King of the Chitlin’ Circuit” for his vigorous touring schedule and energetic show. Before Bobby Rush takes the stage, the Jimmy Johnson Blues Band will mark the 90th birthday of Mr. Johnson, one of the genre’s legendary artists and member of the Blues Hall of Fame. The evening will lead off with Charlie Musselwhite joined by special guest Billy Boy Arnold. The famed Memphis harmonica player has won numerous awards and become an icon. Shortly before winning the GRAMMY® Award for Best Blues Album for their collaboration Get Up!, he and Ben Harper played at the White House for President Obama and the First Lady in a salute to Memphis soul.

Saturday, June 8–Jay Pritzker Pavilion

The award-winning and legendary soul artist Bettye LaVette will headline the Jay Pritzker Pavilion stage. One of the very few of her contemporaries who were recording during the birth of soul music in the 60s, LaVette is still creating vital recordings today. Opening the evening’s showcase are Don Bryant and Latimore. Don Bryant started his career as a gospel music artist at an early age and found soul at Hi Records in Memphis, Tennessee. Most recently, he was invited to perform with the Memphis-based soul homage outfit The Bo-Keys. R&B singer, songwriter, keyboardist and Blues Hall of Famer, Latimore will kick off the night. His electric keyboard comes complete with “string-bending” guitar sound effects.

Sunday, June 9–Jay Pritzker Pavilion

Ruthie Foster will headline the closing night of the festival. The award-winning artist’s latest album Joy Comes Back, described as “some folk, some blues, some soul, some rock, some gospel,” illustrates Ruthie’s genre-spanning talent. Also on the bill, a special tribute set for the late Mike Ledbetter by The CONNECTION with Mike Welch & Friends. Mike Ledbetter had been invited to perform at this year’s festival with the Welch–Ledbetter Connection before his untimely death in January. Larkin Poe, the American roots sister duo poised to make their mark with the 2018 release of Venom & Faith, will open the stage on the final evening.

Bridges to the Blues is a multi-generational program that challenges young Chicago musicians from multiple genres and diverse backgrounds to re-imagine the blues. Participants are invited to collaborate on original music and audition on Monday, June 3, 6–8 p.m., at the Chicago Cultural Center’s Claudia Cassidy Theater, for an opportunity to perform at the Chicago Blues Festival on Saturday, June 8. Program participants will learn Blues fundamentals, via Kenny “Beedy Eyes” Smith, one of todays’ best blues drummers as well as songwriting and performance best practices from Oscar and multi-GRAMMY® Award-winning artist Che “Rhymefest” Smith. This program is supported by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events (DCASE) and facilitated by Art of Culture Inc.

Before heading to the festival on Sunday, June 9, blues fans are encouraged to stop by Chicago’s historic Maxwell Street Market located at 800 S. Desplaines for live blues from Dave Herrero, noon–2 p.m. The market, open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. every Sunday, offers unique finds and souvenirs along with the best Latin street food in Chicago.

The Chicago Blues Festival is FREE and open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily in Millennium Park. The Festival is presented by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events and sponsored in part by Budweiser, Chicago Jazz Magazine, Chicago Transit Authority, Chicago Tribune, CLTV-ChicagoLand’s Television, Rosa’s Lounge, Southwest Airlines, Visit Mississippi, WGN-Television, 90.9fm WDCB Public Radio and 93XRT.

36th Annual Chicago Blues Festival Lineup

Schedule of performances is subject to change


Friday, June 7

Jay Pritzker Pavilion

7:45–9 p.m.                             Bobby Rush

6:30–7:30 p.m.                        Jimmy Johnson Blues Band

5–6:15 p.m                              Charlie Musselwhite with special guest Billy Boy Arnold


Budweiser Crossroads Stage

 4:15–5:30 p.m.                        Bombino

 2:45–4 p.m.                             Guy King with special guest Chris Cain

 1:30–2:30 p.m.                        Thornetta Davis

 12:15–1:15 p.m.                      Benny Turner and Real Blues

 11 a.m.–12 p.m.                      Joanna Connor


Visit Mississippi Juke Joint  

4:15–5:30 p.m.                        Jam Session with Kenny “Beedy Eyes” Smith

3–4 p.m.                                  Grady Champion

1:45 p.m.–2:45 p.m.                Karen Wolfe

12:30–1:30 p.m.                      Keith Johnson “Prince of the Delta Blues” & The Big                                                          Muddy   Blues Band

 11:15 a.m.–12:15 p.m.            Jimmy Burns Band


Front Porch Stage

8–9 p.m.                                  Vance “Guitar” Kelly & The Backstreet Blues Band

6:30–7:30 p.m.                        Breezy Rodio

5–6 p.m.                                  Mzz Reese

3:30–4:30 p.m.                        Mojo Morganfield & The Mannish Boyz

2–3 p.m.                                  Kenny Smith & The House Bumpers

12:30–1:30 p.m.                      Bob Stroger

11 a.m.–12 p.m.                      Blues in the Schools with Katherine Davis, Tim Gant,    Tino Cortes, Alan Burroughs + Stone Academy


Park Grill Stage

4–4:45 p.m.                             Jimmy Nick & Don’t Tell Mama

3–3:45 p.m.                             Eric Noden

2–2:45 p.m.                             Gerry Hundt’s Legendary One-Man Band


Rosa’s Lounge

11 a.m.–9 p.m.

Daily showcase of Chicago Blues Legends and emerging artists that have called Rosa’s Lounge home over the last 35 years.

Saturday, June 8

Jay Pritzker Pavilion

7:45–9 p.m.                             Bettye LaVette

6:30–7:30 p.m.                        Don Bryant

5:15–6:15 p.m.                        Latimore


Budweiser Crossroads Stage

 4:15–5:30 p.m.                        Dave Alvin and Jimmie Dale Gilmore with The Guilty Ones

 3–4 p.m.                                  Billy Boy Arnold

1:30–2:45 p.m.                        Rico McFarland, Carl Weathersby and Kenneth  “Hollywood”  Scott

 12:15–1:15 p.m.                      Marquise Knox

 11 a.m.–12 p.m.                      Melody Angel


Visit Mississippi Juke Joint Stage

 4:15–5:30 p.m.                        Jam Session with Kenny “Beedy Eyes” Smith

3–4 p.m.                                  O.B. Buchana

1:45 p.m.–2:45 p.m.                John Primer & The Real Deal Blues Band

12:30–1:30 p.m.                      Super Chikan

11:15 a.m.–12:15 p.m.            Jesse “Guitar” Robinson


Front Porch Stage

 8–9 p.m.                                  Lurrie Bell

 6:30–7:30 p.m.                        Morry Sochat & The Special 20s

 5–6 p.m.                                  Bridges to the Blues

 3:30–4:30 p.m.                        Dom Flemons

2–3 p.m.                                  Chicago Blues Piano Master—A Tribute To Otis Spann

12:30–1:30 p.m.                      The Joel Paterson Organ Trio featuring Chris Foreman

11 a.m.–12 p.m.                      Mary Lane


Park Grill Stage

 4–4:45 p.m.                             Doktu Rhute Muuzic

 3–3:45 p.m.                             Harmonica Hinds

 2–2:45 p.m.                             Dom Flemons


Rosa’s Lounge

11 a.m.–9 p.m.

Daily showcase of Chicago Blues Legends and emerging artists that have called Rosa’s Lounge home over the last 35 years.


Sunday, June 9

Jay Pritzker Pavilion

7:45–9 p.m.                             Ruthie Foster

6:30–7:30 p.m.                        The CONNECTION: Mike Welch & Friends

5:15–6:15 p.m.                        Larkin Poe

Budweiser Crossroads Stage


4:15–5:30 p.m.                        Roomful of Blues with special appearance by guest vocalist                                                           Lynne Jordan

2:45–4 p.m.                             Toronzo Cannon

1:30–2:30 p.m.                        The Kinsey Report

12:15–1:15 p.m.                      Melvin Taylor & The Slack Band

11 a.m.–12 p.m.                      Omar Coleman


Visit Mississippi Juke Joint Stage


4:15–5:30 p.m.                        Jam Session with Kenny “Beedy Eyes” Smith

3–4 p.m.                                  Zac Harmon

1:45 p.m.–2:45 p.m.                Jarekus Singleton

12:30–1:30 p.m.                      RL Boyce

11:15 a.m.–12:15 p.m.            King Edward


Front Porch Stage

6:30–7:30 p.m.                        Mike Wheeler Band

5–6 p.m.                                  Russ Green

3:30–4:30 p.m.                        Ivy Ford Band

2–3 p.m.                                  Cash Box Kings

12:30–1:30 p.m.                      Erwin Helfer

11 a.m.–12 p.m.                      Willie Buck


Park Grill Stage

 4–4:45 p.m.                             Tom Holland & The Shuffle Kings

3–3:45 p.m.                             Rick King’s Royal Hustle

2–2:45 p.m.                             Chicago Bound Blues Band


Rosa’s Lounge

11 a.m.–9 p.m.

Daily showcase of Chicago Blues Legends and emerging artists that have called Rosa’s Lounge home over the last 35 years.

Maxwell Street Market – 800 S. Desplaines

Noon–2 p.m.               Dave Herrero

Chicago Blues Festival