Logan Center Bluesfest kicks off Oct. 13 with Elvin Bishop’s Big Fun Trio

UChicago’s Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts launches its first Logan Center Bluesfest, an annual festival created to honor the South Side roots of the blues, on Friday, October 13 with a double-bill concert featuring Elvin Bishop’s Big Fun Trio, Wee Willie Walker, winner of two 2016 Living Blues Music Awards and Critic’s Poll Comeback Artist of the Year, and more.

Wee Willie Walker and Terrie Odabi (Photo By Rolf Jenni)

Continuing the Logan Center’s tradition of celebrating and promoting the rich cultural landscape of Chicago’s South Side, the weekend-long festival includes concerts, workshops, film, food, and conversations with local and national musicians and artists in spaces throughout the Logan Center, located on the University of Chicago campus at 915 E. 60th Street in Hyde Park/Woodlawn.

The Logan Center Bluesfest highlights programming include a “Bringing the Blues Back to the South Side” showcase hosted by Billy Branch; workshops and jam sessions led by legendary blues performers for professional and amateur musicians of all ages, including family-friendly offerings which culminate an in youth-led performance; and blues BBQ and brunch events paired with live music.The Logan Center Bluesfest will also host the Midwest film premiere of “Horn from the Heart: The Paul Butterfield Story” with all surviving members of the original Paul Butterfield Blues Bandparticipating in festival performances and a post-screening panel discussion. It was at the University of Chicago that Paul Butterfield (UChicago LAB ’60), Elvin Bishop (UChicago EX ‘64) and Mark Naftalin (UChicago AB ’64) first met and played together, forming the foundation of what would become a 2015 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee, the Paul Butterfield Blues Band.

Augmenting the weekend programming will be an expansive photo exhibition, entitled Chicago Jazz and Blues: A Photographers’ View, featuring photos by local Chicago photographers.    

The Logan Center commemorates its 5th anniversary in 2017-18. Following the Logan Center Bluesfest, UChicago’s Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts will host a series of performances by musicians and artists that reflect the diverse history of the blues tradition; a major archiving program to capture the stories of local and national blues artists; and workshops and educational programming to inspire the next generation of blues musicians and aficionados as part of a year-long anniversary celebration.

The inaugural Logan Center Bluesfest is organized by Leigh Fagin, Associate Director of University Arts Engagement, Logan Center and is generously sponsored by the Reva and David Logan Foundation and The Jonathan Logan Family Foundation.

The full schedule may be found below and at www.loganbluesfest.org.


Performance: “Acoustic Blues Lounge” with The Roots Duo

6:00 – 7:00 p.m. Free

Blues guitarist Eric Noden and harmonica virtuoso Joe Filisko have been performing and recording music as The Roots Duo for well over a decade. Their original blues songs, train imitations, and harmony singing are reminiscent of the 1920’s and 30’s when acoustic music was prevalent. A few of their influences are Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee, Big Joe Williams and Sonny Boy Williamson, and Mississippi Fred McDowell and Johnny Woods.

Pre-concert Interview

7:00 p.m. Free with ticket to 8:00 p.m. concert

Dick Shurman leads a pre-concert interview with Elvin Bishop.

Performance: Elvin Bishop’s Big Fun Trio, and Wee Willie Walker and Terri Odabi with The Anthony Paule Soul Orchestra

8:00 p.m. – $5 (21 and under)/$25 adults; purchase HERE

This double-bill features Elvin Bishop’s deep blues picking and slide guitar with Bob Welsh’s piano and guitar and Willy Jordan’s soul singing and cajun playing. Wee Willie Walker, winner of two 2016 Living Blues Music Awards and Critic’s Poll Comeback Artist of the Year, will be joined by Terrie Odabi, one of the most dynamic blues and soul women to have emerged from the Bay Area. Backing Walker and Odabi is the Anthony Paule Soul Orchestra, a full eight-piece band.


Workshop: Blues 101 with Fruteland Jackson (for ages 6-10 years old)

2:00 – 3:00 p.m. – Free, RSVP recommended

This workshop includes interactive singing, basic definitions of blues music and oral history, an introduction to various styles of playing the blues, and a Q&A period. Fruteland Jackson grew up in Chicago and created the award-winning All About the Blues Series’ Blues in the Schools program.

Workshop: Fernando Jones’ Blues Camp Day (for ages 10-15 years old)

2:00 – 3:15 p.m. – Free, RSVP recommended

Chicago Bluesman, author, educator, and founder of Blues Kids of America Fernando Jones presents an afternoon of intimate, hands-on music instruction for student musicians ages 10-15, culminating in a Blues Kids showcase performance from 3:30-4:00 p.m. All ages are welcome to watch the performance.

Workshop: The Blues Harmonica According to Joe Filisko

2:00 – 3:00 p.m. – Free, RSVP recommended

In this lecture demonstration, attendees will learn about the styles of traditional harmonica players from Sonny Terry to Sonny Boy Williamson. Joe Filisko is a master of all the classic blues harmonica styles. His highly prized work and expertise has earned him the rare honor of having his name on one of Hohner’s instruments — the just-released specialty harmonica, the Thunderbird. Filisko was awarded the “Harmonica Player of the Year” in 2001 by the Society for the Preservation and Advancement of the Harmonica.

Workshop: 1920’s and 30’s Blues Guitar Styles with Eric Noden

3:00 – 4:00 p.m. – Free, RSVP recommended

In this lecture demonstration, Eric Noden will demonstrate and discuss the guitar styles of Big Bill Broonzy, Papa Charlie Jackson, and Kokomo Arnold. This workshop is meant for 18+. Deeply rooted in the music of 20’s & 30’s blues pioneers, singer/songwriter and guitarist Noden’s style, favored by early bluesmen like Charley Patton, Reverend Gary Davis, and Blind Blake, is one that only a few contemporary bluesmen have mastered.

Workshop: Warming Up for Lyric and Emotion with Terrie Odabi

3:00 – 4:00 p.m. – Free, RSVP recommended

Learn about warming up one’s voice before singing emotion and lyrics from Terrie Odabi, 2017 Blues Music Award nominee for Best Soul Blues Female Artist and Best Emerging Artist Album.

Performance: Fernando Jones’ Blues Kids

3:30 p.m. – Free

Students from Fernando Jones’ Blues Camp Day workshop perform.

Performance: “Acoustic Blues Lounge” with Fruteland Jackson

4:00 – 5:00 p.m. – Free

Fruteland Jackson performs Americana, acoustic blues, folk, and traditional singer-songwriter styles from around the world. He is a three-time Blues Music Award Nominee and a recipient of the Blues Foundation’s “Keeping the Blues Alive” award.

Performance: Blues BBQ with Mike Ledbetter Trio – 5:00 – 6:30 p.m.

$10 performance only/$20 with dinner; purchase HERE

Mike Ledbetter has earned a reputation for being one of today’s best blues vocalists. As a trained opera singer and one who has sung in every conceivable genre, Ledbetter channels his range, intonation and phrasing into what he feels is the most emotional music, the blues. This trio features Ledbetter on guitar and vocals, Dan Carelli of the Sons of Blues on guitar and Steve Dougherty on drums.

Pre-concert Panel

6:30 -7:30 p.m. – Free with ticket to 8:00 p.m. concert

Billy Branch leads a pre-concert panel discussion with Jimmy Johnson, Eddy Clearwater, Corky Siegel, Lil’ Ed, and Melody Angel.

Performance: “Bringing the Blues Back to the South Side”

8:00 p.m. – $5 (21 and under)/$25 adults; purchase HERE

Three-time Grammy nominee Billy Branch hosts friends from across Chicago including Jimmy Johnson, Eddy Clearwater, Corky Siegel, Lil’ Ed, and Melody Angel. Backed by the Sons of Blues, Branch and friends will present unforgettable collaborations for old and new blues fans alike.

Pro-Am Jam led by Kenny “Beedy Eyes” Smith

10:00 p.m. – Free

Professional and amateur musicians alike are invited to join this one-of-a-kind jam session led by multi-award winning blues drummer Kenny “Beedy Eyes” Smith, son of the Grammy Award-winning blues drummer and singer Willie “Big Eyes” Smith (1936-2011).


Performance: Blues Brunch with Mark Naftalin

11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. – $20 including concert and brunch; purchase HERE

UChicago alum Mark Naftalin (AB ’64) is an award-winning American blues pianist. He appears as a band member on the first five albums by Paul Butterfield Blues Band alongside Elvin Bishop and was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2015.

Panel: “The Future of the Blues”

2:00 – 3:00 p.m. – Free

UChicago Professor Mickie Deitler moderates a conversation with panelists Billy Branch, Mike Ledbetter, Deitra Farr, and more.

Film Screening: “Horn From The Heart: The Paul Butterfield Story” – MIDWEST PREMIERE, co-presented by CIMMfest

4:00 p.m. – Free, RSVP recommended

The Midwest Premiere of “Horn from the Heart: The Paul Butterfield Story” from filmmaker John Anderson will include a pre-show performance of Paul Butterfield songs by local blues legends Corky Siegel and Sam Lay plus a post-screening discussion with John Anderson (filmmaker), Sandy Warren (film producer), Corky Siegel, Sam Lay (original band member), and Mark Naftalin (original band member and UChicago alum).


About the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts

The Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts opened its doors at 915 E. 60th Street in 2012 as both a physical manifestation of the University of Chicago’s commitment to the arts and the power of art to have impact in the community, and to make art more accessible to South Side residents, the University community, and beyond.

Situated in the dynamic Woodlawn neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side – at an intersection between the University of Chicago, distinguished cultural institutions, and a robust community of artists – the Logan Center has become a creative home for University students and faculty; neighboring youth and families; South Side cultural institutions; and local, national, and international artists.

Serving this diverse community of artists and art enthusiasts, the Logan Center boasts 184,000 square feet of state-of-the-art spaces for learning, making, and presenting art across disciplines, including: a 474-seat performance hall, 129-seat screening room, two student theaters, an exhibition gallery, digital production labs, a costume shop, a production shop, visual art studios, numerous teaching and practice rooms, and more.

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Banner photo is Elvin Bishop’s Big Fun Trio and Billy Branch.

Press Release provided by Silverman Group Chicago. 


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