Illinois Entertainer July 2017 - Page 26

Continued from page 18 spirituals and protest songs, all with blues undertones. A dazzler from her crystal pure vocals to her fiddle and banjo pick- ing, Giddens gripped the crowd with old and new politically charged tunes includ- ing “Birmingham Sunday” about the 1963 church bombing that killed four little girls and a masterful version of the Staple Singer’s “Freedom Highway.” Chicago’s own Ronnie Baker Brooks returned to the blues fest main stage like a prince claiming the throne. Wearing a t- shirt emblazoned with his late and leg- endary father Lonnie Brooks who passed away in April, he proceeded to take up the mantle that Lonnie passed to him. Joined by his brother Wayne Baker Brooks, the Brooks family dynasty com- manded the crowd with an emotional tribute of Lonnie Brooks classics topped off with a rousing rendition of his signa- ture ‘Sweet Home Chicago,” made even more entertaining with a guest harp solo from Billy Branch. As the link between the orginal post war generation of Chicago blues musi- cians and those that followed, Branch served as a sort of roving elder statesman for the fest connecting classic blues with newer forms. His Friday show displayed his 40 years of blues dedication, complete with backup singers, horn section and even dancers. Former Sons of the Blues members Lurrie Bell, Carlos Johnson and Freddie Dixon made guest appearances, but it was the appearance of 6th ward alderman Roderick Sawyer, who present- ed Branch with a proclamation for his 40 26 july 2017 years of spreading blues culture, that seemed to surprise him the most. Evoking the days of Theresa’s Lounge and Junior Wells, Branch did a medley of hits, includ- ing a tribute to the late harp icon James Cotton. His harp playing with fiery and melodic but his most pivotal song at the blues fest wasn’t a blues song at all. Che’ ‘Rhymefest” Smith was a contro- versial choice as a headliner and his show did nothing to dispel the questions. Strolling out in a linen ves [\]Z\]BYܘKH[[Y 8'^HH\”[YY\[x&[[Y][Y\B[H\ 'H[]HY [XYق^Z[[\H\[[ܙYXB][ۈوY\[\ H^YYBZY\ˈ\[ XܘYY[\Y[[\[Y[8'\Y[X]['H[8'\\['H\B[Y[]^HYXH[HY\™\ ]\۸&][[H[XY\‘ܘ[[^KP]\ ][[ۙ8'ܞx'BHH8'[Xx'H[X]HX\ۛX[ۈ]Y[\[Y\\[[ۜ]Y [H\Y\\\[HX[ۈوHۙ]Y[YHX[[H\ۙX][\XK\]X[Y[\[ۂ[\[YH]\]Y\\Y]\H[\Y\[[HY\H]\\ۙK\YY[YY\Z\”[]ۋ]\HZ\\\HZB[YH]]۝[\ܘ\HY\Y[[ܙ[Y[]\YH\]BܛܛYYHۈ]\^H]HXBZH]Yx&\[[[[\]X[B[\ۋ[XY[]X]]\[Z]H\ݙY]^x&]HܙX]YHܛX\[˜Y\\\ܛ\