Post from Ewa at Twoj Blues


June 8, 2021

When you grow up in a family which cherishes music (and all forms of art, really) more than anything, music becomes the center of your life. So when you get to the point in your life when you need to choose your MA Thesis subject, it is only natural that it will be music-related as well. For mine, I chose the life and career of Muddy Waters, with the Great Migration, the birth of Chicago Blues and, in consequence, rock’n’roll, as a background. Since I had visited Chicago many times long before even starting to write my thesis, the process of writing it felt like revisiting some of my favorite places. It was fun; it didn’t feel like obligation or work, at all (and yet I received a higher education title for it — what a great deal! :)) I can’t say I remember visiting Chicago for the first time as it happened when I was a little girl on family vacation. I do remember coming to the Blues Fest for the first time, which happened in 2001 when I was in my late teenage years. I remember the feeling of being immersed in music and American culture, but also in the wonderful melting pot of the great people working in the photo pit. It was a wonderful feeling. I went back to Chicago and to the Blues Fest many more times, and it always felt like being home (only more exciting!) Ewa Matysik

2021 Blues Fest Schedule


June 8, 2021

Here is the schedule for the 2021 Chicago Blues Festival! Times subject to change. This is an experiment meant to bring the Blues Festival to the neighborhoods where the Blues grew up.

Sunday, August 29, 2021


12pm-6pm on 43rd street for 5 blocks east of the Green Line  (300 to 500 east)

This FREE “Bronzeville Blues” event will present three stages of live blues on Sunday, August 29th in the neighborhood that is the cradle of classic Chicago Blues.

Performance Locations:

The Forum, 318-324 E. 43rd St Chicago, IL 60653

 Joe Filisko & Eric Noden

 Greasy Gravy Duo: Matt Hendricks & Rick Sherry

Harmonica Hinds

The Checkerboard stage, 423 E. 43rd St. Chicago, IL 60653 (original location, defunct)

 The “MOJO” Jam Session with Kenny “Beedy Eyes” Smith

John Primer and Real Deal Blues Band 

Melody Angel 

Big James & The Chicago Playboys 

Nick Alexander

Park 43 540 E 43rd St. Chicago, IL 60653

 Bob Stroger

 Mississippi Gabe Carter

Gerry Hundt’s Legendary One-Man Band

Sunday, August 29, September 5, September 12, September 19, 2021


2120 S Michigan Ave 


*6:00-8:30pm – outdoor performance in the Willie Dixon’s Blues Heaven Garden

Schedule of Events

Sunday, August 29   Joe Pratt and The Source One Band

Sunday, September 5   Sheryl Youngblood

Sunday, September 12  Vino Louden Band

Sunday, September 19   John Primer – duo performance


Music Lives Here – Historical Markers

Chess Records   2120 S. Michigan Ave.    320 E. 21st St.

Constellation Records  1421 S. Michigan

Jerry Butler’s Songwriters Works   1402 S. Michigan Ave.

One-derful Records  1827 S. Michigan Ave.

Vee-jay Records and Brunswick Records   1449 S. Michigan Ave.

Sunday, September 12, 2021


Chicago & Mayfield


Through the years, Chicago’s West Side has cultivated a rich and lasting blues legacy – some of our city’s most legendary blues venues have been located there.  To honor this rich and still-vibrant heritage, we will feature some of Chicago’s finest blues artists on Sunday, September 12, at the corner of Chicago and Mayfield in the heart of the city’s Austin neighborhood, beginning at 12:00 noon. Join us to celebrate the living legacy of Chicago blues!

12:00-1:00pmLarry Taylor (60 min)

1:20-2:20pmMary Lane (60 min)

2:40-3:40pmJimmy Burns (60 min)

4:00-5:00pmMzz Reese (60 min)

5:20-6:20pmVance Kelly (60 min)

6:40-8:00pmLurrie Bell (80 min)

Saturday, September 18, 2021

50th Anniversary of Alligator Records

Millennium Park    201 E. Randolph St.   Chicago, IL 60602



Lil’ Ed & The Blues Imperials, Nick Moss Band featuring Dennis Gruenling, Cash Box Kings with special guests, Shemekia Copeland, Billy Branch and Wayne Baker Brooks

Wednesday, September 1- Monday, September 6, 2021


The City of Chicago and CIVL (Chicago Independent Venue League) will partner to present and promote a FREE city-wide Blues club tour with 20 shows in 10 venues.  Programs will be free-admission, first-come, first-serve. COVID protocols and social distancing to be implemented and followed, as needed, per CDC guidelines.

Participating Venues:

B.L.U.E.S. on Halsted, Golden Dagger, Martyrs’, Reggies, Rosa’s Lounge, Taylor Street Tap, The GMan Tavern, The Hideout, The Promontory, The Quarry.

B.L.U.E.S. on Halsted – 2519 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614

Thursday, September 2   Joanna Connor   9:30pm   FREE  21+

Friday, September 3   Erwin Helfer with Katherine Davis   9:30pm (60-75 min set)  FREE  21+

Saturday, September 4   Rico McFarland   9:30pm   FREE  21+

Golden Dagger – 2447 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614

Saturday, September 4   Anne Harris & Dave Herrero (75 min)   6pm doors, 7pm show   FREE  21+

Martyrs’ – 3855 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago, IL 60613

Thursday, September 2  Jimmy Johnson Blues Band (75-90 min)   Dave Weld and the Imperial Flames (45-60 min)  START/END TIME TBD  FREE   21+

Friday, September 3   Mike Wheeler Band with Demetria Taylor (75-90 min)  Luke Pytel Band (45-60 min)  START/END TIME TBD   FREE 21+

Saturday, September 4   Mud Morganfield (75-90 min)   Chicago Bound Blues Band (45-60 min)   START/END TIME TBD    FREE  21+

Reggies Music Joint – 2105 S State St, Chicago, IL 60616

Friday, September 3   Billy Branch & The Sons of Blues (75 min)   Joey J. Saye Trio (45-60 min)   8pm doors   FREE   21+

Rosa’s Lounge – 3420 W Armitage Ave, Chicago, IL 60647

Wednesday, September 1   Pete Galanis Band featuring Dave Herrero (75 min set)  9pm   FREE   21+

Thursday, September 2   Chicago Wind featuring Matthew Skoller (75 min set)   9pm  FREE   21+

Friday, September 3   Nora Jean Wallace   7:30pm (75 min set)   FREE  21+

 Saturday, September 4   Jimmy Johnson with Billy Branch   7:30pm (60 min set)  FREE   21+

Sunday, September 5  Johnny Iguana’s Chicago Spectacular featuring Matthew Skoller, Billy Flynn, Bill Dickens, Michael Caskey

7:30pm (75 min set)   FREE  21+

Taylor Street Tap – 1358 W Taylor St, Chicago, IL 60607

Friday, September 3  The Kinsey Report (75 min set)   8pm   FREE  21+

The GMan Tavern – 3740 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60613

Saturday, September 4   Gerry Hundt   4-8pm  2-40 min sets with intermission

Sunday, September 5   The Smiley Tillmon Band featuring Kate Moss4-8pm   2-40 min sets with intermission

The Hideout – 1354 W Wabansia Ave, Chicago, IL 60642

Thursday, September 2   Devil in a Woodpile (75 min)   Erwin Helfer (60 min)   START/END TIME TBD

The Promontory – 5311 S Lake Park Ave W, Chicago, IL 60615

Thursday, September 2   Taildragger (75-90 min)   Jamiah Rogers (60 min) START/END TIME TBD

The Quarry Chi – 2423 E 75th St, Chicago, IL 60649

Sunday, September 5   Freddie Dixon’s Chicago Blues Allstars (75 min set)   5pm doors open, 6pm start

Monday, September 6  Michael Damani   5pm doors open, 6pm start



When did I first encounter the blues? 


June 8, 2021

It started years ago, towards the end of the 60’s, before I graduated from my high school. Our radio stations in – communist at that time – Poland never played the blues or any other music from the other side of the Iron Curtain.  However, we were somehow able to listen to the American radio station The Voice Of America. Its show „The Jazz Hour”  was the source of all the great music that I discovered back then. I’ll never forget hearing Julian “Cannonball ” Adderley playing “Why Am I Treated So Bad” at the DeLisa club in Chicago! The ambience was simply hypnotic… but I didn’t hear it in Chicago where I couldn’t go at the time — I first heard it on the radio!

This is also how I came across fashionable songs of the day by Chubby Checker, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and many others. I immediately knew that I wanted more of this refreshing and appealing music so I actively looked for it. I investigated the people who inspired the bands that I was listening to, which is how I learned about Muddy Waters, Robert Johnson, and many others. I bought my first foreign record at a black market (which was the only place to get them at the time) for a half of my month’s pay when I started working at a coal mine (I’m a mining engineer by education). It was “The Rolling Stones” — the band’s debut album. I still have it!

I first went to Chicago in 1998. I still vividly remember three extraordinary events I experienced then. They were: the fantastic show of Vance Kelly & The Backstreet Band at the Taste Of Chicago Festival in Grant Park; my first visit at the Blue Chicago Club where I saw John Primer with Pat Scott, and a Sunday morning walk through the legendary Maxwell Street that was soon to disappear. I returned to Chicago many more times, mostly to go to the Blues Fest, but I also remember well numerous other places connected where I encountered unforgettable music: Starlite Lounge, Lee’s Unleaded, Artis’s Lounge, Bossman Blues Center, Guess Who Water Hole, Highway 290 Sport And Juice Bar, Checkerboard Lounge at 43rd Street, Rosa’s Lounge, Mr Lee’s Pub, Katie’s Village Lounge, Wallace’s Catfish Corner, T-Zer’s Club, blues brunches at the Delmark Store or a jam session in Elmore James Junior’s garage. Chicago is one of my favorite places in the world. Going back to Chicago never gets old!

Andrzej Matysik Founder & Editor of „Twój Blues” Magazine (Poland)

Letter from the editor


June 8, 2021

Letter from the editor- My name is Paul Natkin. I have been a professional photographer for about 40 years in Chicago. I started out as a sports photographer, working with my father as the team photographer for the Chicago Bulls. But I always had an interest in music, especially Blues and folk. Growing up in my house, the radio was always tuned to WFMT, Chicago’s classical station- EXCEPT for 3 hours or so starting at 10:30 on Saturday night, and rebroadcast at 1PM on Wednesday afternoon. The show was called the Midnight Special, named after a Big Bill Broonzy song of the same name. It was a wonderous show of folk music, with a little bit of blues mixed in. Soon blues became a bigger part of it, as the Newport Folk Festival started bringing in more blues programming. As I listened to this great music, I realized that I had to meet and photograph these artists! The first concert I ever shot was by an barely know blues slide guitar player named Bonnie Raitt.(1976) After that I was hooked. I started bringing my camera to blues clubs and concerts, meeting managers and agents, who introduced me to record companies, and I was soon photographing my heros!! Two people helped me along this path, more than any one else:

  1. Scott Cameron- a manager in town who managed Muddy Waters and Willie Dixon and later Buddy Guy. He liked my work and started inviting me to Muddy shows.
  2. Bruce Iglauer, owner of Alligator Records- I cold called him one day and he agreed to see me. He liked my work also, and soon I was shooting album covers for him


I soon became very interested in the history aspect, through many conversations with Buddy Guy, one of the great storytellers of all time. I met him by accident while working with the rock band Journey, and we became friends. There were many priceless nights before his shows, where we sat around and talked about everything from politics to how to cook a squirrel. He told me about his arrival in Chicago from Louisiana, when after driving a tow truck during the day, he would grab his guitar, get on the bus and go to any number of blues clubs on the south side and ask to sit in for a few songs. Then he would walk to the next club and repeat. One night he met Muddy Waters outside the 708 Club and Muddy told him he would give him enough money to buy a sandwich if he got up and played. Soon established artists, most notably Otis Rush, were asking him up and a legend was soon built,

As I heard these stories, I started wondering where all of these clubs had gone. The answer seems to be that the music started to be marketed to a white, north side audience who weren’t prepared to go to the south side to hear the music that they loved. My hope with this website is to shine a light on the history of blues in Chicago, and also shine a light on the present and the future. If you are reading this and love the blues, this space is open to you to write a blog post about your experiences in the blues, or a news post about an upcoming recording or show that you are involved with. Just send it to me. PAUL@NATKIN.NET And I will post it.