Illinois Entertainer July 2017 - Page 18

Of course, the Pritzker supplied supe- rior acoustics, seating and sightlines as long as you weren’t way in the back of the open grass section. The tent was a roomy, shaded improvement for the Mississippi Juke Joint stage, which had been shoved in a blazing hot corner when it was in Grant Park. However, the Crossroads Stage appeared to have taken its place for a badly placed stage. The sun poured down on the small stage and in the 90 degree heat, the chained together chairs and benches were a sticky mess. The sightlines were also skewed by milling crowds and vendor booths. The Harris Theater rooftop proved to be a cool loca- tion with lovely acoustics and views. However, it wasn’t an easy location to find since it’s technically above the park and not in it so many visitors simply skipped it and missed out on the amazing line-up. Overall, the new location was an improvement with acoustics, indoor bath- rooms, a line-up of food trucks next to the Mississippi stage and better aesthetics with landscaping and benches. As expect- ed, the real issue was space. No matter how creative the layout, there’s not enough room for both blues fans and tourists who have no interest in the blues fest. There were masses of people roaming the park, and blocking sightlines who had no idea that the fest was going on. This made navigating the fest much slower and more difficult than when it was in Grant Park. Once the city figures out how to address this, Millennium Park might be a blues fest winner. The line-up presented a varied collec- tion of classic blues performers and new- comers who spiced up a typically pre- dictable showcase. First time blues fest By Rosalind Cummings-Yeates BLUES FEST REVIEWED Photo by Ed Spinelli Left and Center, Wayne and Ronnie Baker Brooks the Blues Fest was that a lot of new fans listened to acts and genres that they may have never been exposed to. The layout of the fest took up every inch of the park, with the Pritzker Pavilion as the main stage, a tent on the north promenade for the Mississippi Juke Joint, a small stage on the south promenade for the Crossroads stage and the rooftop of the Harris Theater serving as the Front Porch stage. Some of these locations worked better than others. T he 34th annual Chicago Blues Fest reconfigured the largest outdoor blues fest in the world, musical and otherwise. The new location of Millennium Park brought some great facility improvements as well as spacing issues, and the creative line-up offered a fresh perspective of 21st century blues culture. As the centerpiece of Chicago tourism, Millennium Park is one of the most visit- ed spots in the city. What that meant for headliners Gary Clark Jr. and Rhiannon Giddens proved that you don’t have to be old to honor the blues. Clark, who was groomed on Texas blues growing up in Austin and honed much of his skill at the legendary Antone’s Blues Club. Although grounded with a solid blues foundation, he actually plays a blues/rock/soul hybrid with a sprinkle of hip hop. Closing out the fest on Sunday, Clark ignored the heat in a leather jacket and wool fedora, allowing his presence and prolonged guitar effects to supply enough cool for the packed audience. With his lanky frame commanding the stage, he played a layered set that showed he’s keenly aware of his star power. Highlights were his evocative take on Elmore James “Can’t Stop Loving You” and the riveting “Travis County,” an orig- inal from his 2012 Black and Blu album that details his experience of being stopped by cops for walking around his hometown as a black man. Accented with searing riffs, it’s an effective protest song, which is the hallmark of real blues. Despite an over reliance on distortion and flashy effects, Gary Clark represented the past and future of the blues well. Rhiannon Giddens started her career resurrecting long forgotten folk and coun- try blues with her Grammy Award-win- ning ensemble, Carolina Chocolate Drops. What started as a tribute to black Piedmont region fiddler Joe Thompson developed into an illustrious career pre- senting African American folk music that melded strings, jug bands and country blues to enthusiastic audiences. Giddens new solo album, Freedom Highway, expands her focus to include bluegrass, Continued on page 26 545 Penny Road • South Barrington IL • (847) 428-0562 • corner of Old Sutton & Penny Rd • www.pennyroadpub.com • Open until 4AM JULY 1 Coming Soon: Divinity Compromised, Scream King, The Revue, Falling From Forever, Sour Bruthers, Speed of Sound, Midnight Road, Stone Sen- ate, Convoy, Thinner Teed. THE KING OF MARS STONE SENATE FRI JUL 7 SAT JUL 8 FRI JUL 14 SAT JUL 15 FRI JUL 21 Hard Rock Hard Rock Rock Hard Rock Rock Silent Truth King Of Mars plus plus Tequila The Captain Aforementioned On My Six Mockingbird with Coopersmith and and with Product On The 1 Sudden Deth Flounder of Hate and Band and Sir Mango Ikillya Rat Salad O.N.S.E.T. and ALMA with Escape Is Not Freedom and Sunken Summer SAT JUL 22 SUN JUL 23 FRI JUL 28 SAT JUL 29 SUN JUL 30 FRI AUG 4 Rock Charity Benefit Rock, Pop Rock Showscase Hard Rock $2 Domestic Drafts 12 Stones SLAMMIN' SATURDAYS $3 Pabst Blue Ribbon 16 oz cans $4 Beck Cans Main Level Bookings Contact Kelly Boldt 847-754-6003 kellylyn@comcast.net IN AUG SAT JUL 1 SUNDAY THRU WED $2 Domestic Bottles JUDAS BEAST Tour Kickoff Show! SPECIALS TUESDAYS, WEDNESDAYS JULY 29 Bikini Bike Wash Midwest Music Support Showcase Vicious Circle with Average Joe and Judas Beast Rockstar 101 What Lies Ahead plus Bury Your Past and On My Six ALL AGES & 21+ SHOWS available every Friday & Saturday on our Underground Stage - Please contact kellylyn@comcast.net for booking info. 18 illinoisentertain