The 36th Annual Chicago Blues Festival Full Lineup Celebrates Chicago’s Rich Blues Music Legacy June 7-9 in Millennium Park

April 9, 2019

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


Experience Chicago’s rich blues music legacy at the 36th Annual Chicago Blues Festival happening Friday, June 7 to Sunday, June 9 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 the local and national blues artists in the city’s premier outdoor music venue.

Admission to the Chicago Blues Festival is free. For complete details, visit

As the birthplace of house, gospel music, urban blues and other beloved genres, Chicago invites music lovers from around the world to celebrate its music legacy at three consecutive weekend festivals – the Chicago House Conference and Music Festival (May 23–May 25), the Chicago Gospel Music Festival (May 31 and June 1) and the Chicago Blues Festival (June 79) – on stage in Millennium Park, at the Chicago Cultural Center as well as in music venues and clubs throughout the city.

“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 9pm each evening. Music and entertainment throughout the park will begin at 11am 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.


Additional Stages

In addition to the main Jay Pritzker Pavilion, local and national blues musicians celebrating the genre’s rich tradition and heritage will perform throughout the day and evening at:

The Budweiser Crossroads Stage presents a high energy mix of electric blues, blues rock, country blues and R&B on the South Chase Promenade, daily 11am to 5:30pm. On Friday, June 7, the stage will feature two Chicago Blues Festival debuts, 2018 GRAMMY® Award-nominated artist Bombino at 4:15pm and Thornetta Davis, Queen of the Detroit Blues, at 1:30pm. Two veteran blues guitarists come together when Guy King with special guest Chris Cain perform at 2:45pm. On Saturday, June 8, Dave Alvin & Jimmie Dale Gilmore with The Guilty Ones will make their festival debut at 4:15pm. Rico McFarland, Carl Weathersby & Kenneth “Hollywood” Scott will play a special collaboration at 1:30pm. On Sunday, June 9, Delmark Records artist Omar Coleman on the harp will take the stage at 11am, followed by later in the day Chicago blues guitarist and Alligator Records artist Toronzo Cannon at 2:45pm.

The Visit Mississippi Juke Joint showcases the sounds of the Delta blues on the North Chase Promenade, daily 11:15am to 5:30pm. On Friday, June 7, the stage will open with the Jimmy Burns Band at 11:15am and close with Kenny “Beedy Eyes” Smith, the hardest working bluesman in Chicago, at 4:15pm. On Saturday, June 8, fans will get a chance to experience Blues Hall of Famer John Primer & The Real Deal Blues Band performing at 1:45pm, followed by the festival debut of Mississippi blues singer O.B. Buchana at 3pm. On Sunday, June 9, Mississippi blues legend RL Boyce will bring his hill country blues to the stage at 12:30pm Jackson, Mississippi for his festival debut and bluesman Zac Harmon will make a return performance 3pm.

The Front Porch Stage highlights homegrown, Chicago-based blues artists,  with a few surprises, in Wrigley Square, 11am–9pm on Friday, June 7, and Saturday, June 8, and 11am–7:30pm on Sunday, June 9. On Friday, June 7, the stage will kick off at 11am with Blues in the Schools with Katherine Davis, Tim Gant, Tino Cortes, Alan Burroughs and Stone Academy. At 3:30pm, son of Muddy Waters, (Joseph) Mojo Morganfield & The Mannish Boyz will perform, followed by Mzz Reese at 5pm. On Saturday, June 8 there will be a special tribute to Chicago blues piano master Otis Spann at 2pm. Dom Flemons, known as the American Songster and co-founder of the GRAMMY® Award-winning Carolina Chocolate Drops, will perform at 3:30pm. Bridges to the Blues with Art of Culture, Inc., will feature young, emerging musicians at 5pm. On Sunday, June 8, festival goers will get a double treat with master blues pianist Erwin Helfer at 12:30pm and Ivy Ford, an International Blues Challenge 2019 finalist, at 5pm.

The Park Grill Stage features an array of acoustic and electric soloists, duos and trios in an intimate setting on The Park Grill Plaza, daily from 2 to 4:45pm. Performers include renowned blues artists like Eric Noden, Don Flemons, Harmonica Hinds, among others.

Just north of Cloud Gate from 11am to 9pm daily, Rosa’s Lounge showcases Chicago Blues legends and emerging artists that have called Rosa’s Lounge home over the last 35 years.


Bridges To The Blues 2019

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, 6–8pm, 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 today's 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–2pm. The market, open from 9am to 3pm every Sunday, offers unique finds and souvenirs along with the best Latin street food in Chicago. For complete market details, visit

The Chicago Blues Festival is FREE and open from 11am to 9pm daily in Millennium Park.

For complete details, visit, join the conversation on Facebook at Chicago Blues Festival and follow us on Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat @ChicagoDCASE (#ChiBluesFest).


The Chicago Blues 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

  • 7:45–9pm - Bobby Rush
  • 6:30–7:30pm - Jimmy Johnson Blues Band
  • 5–6:15pm - Charlie Musselwhite with special guest Billy Boy Arnold


Budweiser Crossroads Stage

  • 4:15–5:30pm - Bombino
  • 2:45–4pm - Guy King with special guest Chris Cain
  • 1:30–2:30pm - Thornetta Davis
  • 12:15–1:15pm - Benny Turner and Real Blues
  • 11am–12pm - Joanna Connor


Visit Mississippi Juke Joint Stage

  • 4:15–5:30pm - Jam Session with Kenny “Beedy Eyes” Smith
  • 3–4pm - Grady Champion
  • 1:45pm–2:45pm - Karen Wolfe
  • 12:30–1:30pm - Keith Johnson “Prince of the Delta Blues" & The Big Muddy Blues Band
  • 11:15am–12:15pm - Jimmy Burns Band


Front Porch Stage

  • 8–9pm - Vance "Guitar" Kelly & The Backstreet Blues Band
  • 6:30–7:30pm - Breezy Rodio
  • 5–6pm - Mzz Reese
  • 3:30–4:30pm - Mojo Morganfield & The Mannish Boyz
  • 2–3pm - Kenny Smith & The House Bumpers
  • 12:30–1:30pm - Bob Stroger
  • 11am–12pm - Blues in the Schools with Katherine Davis, Tim Gant, Tino Cortes, Alan Burroughs and Stone Academy


Park Grill Stage

  • 4–4:45pm - Jimmy Nick & Don’t Tell Mama
  • 3–3:45pm - Eric Noden
  • 2–2:45pm - Gerry Hundt’s Legendary One-Man Band


Rosa’s Lounge

  • 11am–9pm

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

  • 7:45–9pm - Bettye LaVette
  • 6:30–7:30pm - Don Bryant
  • 5:15–6:15pm - Latimore


Budweiser Crossroads Stage

  • 4:15–5:30pm - Dave Alvin and Jimmie Dale Gilmore with The Guilty Ones
  • 3–4pm - Billy Boy Arnold
  • 1:30–2:45pm - Rico McFarland, Carl Weathersby and Kenneth “Hollywood” Scott
  • 12:15–1:15pm - Marquise Knox
  • 11am–12pm - Melody Angel


Visit Mississippi Juke Joint Stage

  • 4:15–5:30pm - Jam Session with Kenny “Beedy Eyes” Smith
  • 3–4pm - O.B. Buchana
  • 1:45pm–2:45pm - John Primer & The Real Deal Blues Band
  • 12:30–1:30pm - Super Chikan
  • 11:15am–12:15pm - Jesse “Guitar” Robinson


Front Porch Stage

  • 8–9pm - Lurrie Bell
  • 6:30–7:30pm - Morry Sochat & The Special 20s
  • 5–6pm - Bridges to the Blues
  • 3:30–4:30pm - Dom Flemons
  • 2–3pm - Chicago Blues Piano Master—A Tribute To Otis Spann
  • 12:30–1:30pm - The Joel Paterson Organ Trio featuring Chris Foreman
  • 11am–12pm - Mary Lane


Park Grill Stage

  • 4–4:45pm - Doktu Rhute Muuzic
  • 3–3:45pm - Harmonica Hinds
  • 2–2:45pm - Dom Flemons


Rosa’s Lounge


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

  • 7:45–9pm - Ruthie Foster
  • 6:30–7:30pm - The CONNECTION: Mike Welch & Friends
  • 5:15–6:15pm - Larkin Poe


Budweiser Crossroads Stage

  • 4:15–5:30pm - Roomful of Blues with special appearance by guest vocalist Lynne Jordan
  • 2:45–4pm - Toronzo Cannon
  • 1:30–2:30pm - The Kinsey Report
  • 12:15–1:15pm - Melvin Taylor & The Slack Band
  • 11am–12pm - Omar Coleman


Visit Mississippi Juke Joint Stage

  • 4:15–5:30pm - Jam Session with Kenny “Beedy Eyes” Smith
  • 3–4pm - Zac Harmon
  • 1:45pm–2:45pm - Jarekus Singleton
  • 12:30–1:30pm - RL Boyce
  • 11:15am–12:15pm - The Fred T & Chris Gill Band


Front Porch Stage

  • 6:30–7:30pm - Mike Wheeler Band
  • 5–6pm - Russ Green
  • 3:30–4:30pm - Ivy Ford Band
  • 2–3pm - Cash Box Kings
  • 12:30–1:30pm - Erwin Helfer
  • 11am–12pm - Willie Buck


Park Grill Stage

  • 4–4:45pm - Tom Holland & The Shuffle Kings
  • 3–3:45pm - Rick King’s Royal Hustle
  • 2–2:45pm - Chicago Bound Blues Band


Rosa’s Lounge


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–2pm - Dave Herrero


Planning Your Visit to the Chicago Blues Festival

This summer season, Millennium Park will implement additional security measures designed to improve the visitor experience at the park. Outside alcohol will be prohibited at the six Jay Pritzker Pavilion events with the highest attendance, including the Chicago House Music Festival on May 24–25; the Chicago Blues Festival on June 7–9; the Chicago Mariachi Festival on June 30; the Grant Park Music Festival Independence Day Salute on July 4; the Broadway In Chicago Summer Concert on August 12; and the Chicago Jazz Festival on August 29–September 1.

Visitors will have additional food and beverage options at various price points available for purchase inside the venue at the events where outside alcohol is restricted. Subject to bag search at the security perimeter, guests will continue to be allowed to bring their own food and non-alcoholic beverages to all events in Millennium Park.

Visitors are encouraged to take CTA to Millennium Park. To plan your route, visit For those parking, Millennium Park Garages are located at Millennium Park Garage and Millennium Lakeside Garage at 5 S. Columbus Drive, Grant Park North Garage at 25 N. Michigan Ave. and Grant Park South Garage at 325 S. Michigan Ave. Pre-purchase parking at and save up to 50% off drive-up rates.


NOTE TO MEDIA: Media credential requests for any of the Chicago Music Legacy festivals must be submitted by email to All requests are a due one week prior to the festival start and acceptance notifications will be sent accordingly. Submission of a request does not guarantee admission. Credentials only provide working media access to media seating and photo pit; they do not include back stage access. Each media outlet is limited to one press and one photography credential as space is very limited. Visit the pressroom on the website for details – Chicago Blues Festival Press Room for rules.


Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events

The Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) is dedicated to enriching Chicago’s artistic vitality and cultural vibrancy. This includes fostering the development of Chicago’s non-profit arts sector, independent working artists and for-profit arts businesses; providing a framework to guide the City’s future cultural and economic growth, via the 2012 Chicago Cultural Plan; marketing the City’s cultural assets to a worldwide audience; and presenting high-quality, free and affordable cultural programs for residents and visitors. For more information, visit


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