The Chicago Blues Festival is an annual event held in June that features three days of performances by top-tier blues musicians, both old favourites and the up-and-coming.
It is hosted by the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, formerly the Mayor’s Office of Special Events, and always occurs in early June.
CHICAGO BLUES FESTIVAL
The event has always taken place at Petrillo Music Shell in Grant Park, adjacent to the Lake Michigan waterfront east of the Loop in Chicago.
Chicago has a storied history with blues that goes back generations stemming from the Great Migration from the South and particularly the Mississippi Delta region in pursuit of advancement and better career possibilities for musicians.
Created by Commissioner of Cultural Affairs Lois Weisberg, the festival began in 1984, a year after the death of McKinley Morganfield, better known as Muddy Waters, who is generally considered “the father of Chicago blues”.
Each year the organisers choose a theme, generally to honour a recently departed blues musician. Obviously, Chicago blues acts are common.
Also, in keeping with the blues’ influence on other musical genres, there are some soul, jazz blues and blues-rock acts.
free blues festival
Since those early beginnings, the festival has risen to a status that the City of Chicago bills as the world’s largest free concert of its kind.
The Chicago Blues Festival is the largest free blues festival in the world and remains the largest of Chicago’s Music Festivals.
During three days on five stages, more than 500,000 blues fans prove that Chicago is the “Blues Capital of the World.”
Past performers include Bonnie Raitt, Ray Charles, B.B. King, the late Bo Diddley, Buddy Guy and the late Koko Taylor.
The Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events is now accepting submissions starting September 1st through December 31st, from performers in the Chicagoland area or a 300-mile radius surrounding Chicago, for consideration to perform at the Chicago Blues Festival.
Plan to stay overnight. Festival partner, the Essex Inn, is located just across the street from Grant Park on Michigan Avenue.
Chicago Blues Festival, Grant Park Jackson & Columbus Chicago, IL 60602