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12:30-1:45pm Al Spears & The Hurricane Project

With roots in Chicago’s West Side, guitarist Al “Hurricane” Spears absorbed blues records growing up, but it was only after many years working day jobs did he realize what the music meant to him and how much he could give back to it. In 1992 when he was in his mid 30s, he picked up the guitar for the first time and kept forging ahead. Spears became a regular at the jam sessions at Carter’s Place in Lockport and the Harlem Avenue Lounge in Berwyn. Nowadays, he’s a regular at such Chicago venues as Rosa’s. His own sound combines the grit of classic blues with the finesse of jazz improvisation. Onstage partners have included such local heroes as Toronzo Cannon, Lurrie Bell and Mike Wheeler. Their encouragement led to Spears forming his own own Hurricane Project. (AC)

2:00-3:15pm Vino Louden

The list of artists whose music has been graced by the passion-fueled, exploratory elegance of Vino Louden’s guitar is daunting – start with Mighty Joe Young, Bobby Rush, Koko Taylor, Otis Clay, and go on from there. More recently, though, having returned himself to health after sustaining life-threatening injuries in Taylor’s 2008 bus accident, he has struck out on his own as a front-line bluesman, harnessing the musical (and life) lessons he learned from those mentors to forge a sound comprised of equal parts technical virtuosity, naked emotional honesty, and soul-sanctifying celebration of life. Born in Hayti, Mo., Louden came to Chicago at a young age, and he soon began accompanying an uncle to venues where the blues was being played. By the time he was 20, he was proficient enough on guitar that Mighty Joe Young recruited him, setting him on the career trajectory that would pair him with some of the music’s most legendary figures. Today, leading his own band (and occasionally offering stripped-down acoustic sets, as well), he carries his hard-earned message of victory and perseverance—the essence of the blues —both citywide and internationally.  (DW)

3:30-4:45pm Jamiah “Dirty Deacon” Rogers and the Dirty Church Band

Jamiah “Dirty Deacon” Rogers grew up in Chicago’s southern suburbs in the early 2000s, but his deep love of a much earlier generation’s soul and blues shows that magic happens when timeless music meets irrepressible talent. While he started playing drums in his father Tony Rogers’ band, he proved to also be a guitar prodigy when he was given that instrument at 7 years old. By the time he was 15, he started leading the power trio that called itself Jamiah On Fire & The Red Machine and quickly developed a following and performed throughout the world. He has focused on writing as much as playing and produced his first EP, Born Again Blues, in 2021 and started touring with his three-piece Dirty Church Band. Rogers is currently planning a new album and along with his guitar pyrotechnics expect to hear moving ballads and some down-home funk. As their name reveals, this group treats music with its own combination of reverence and slightly naughty fun. (AC)

5:00-6:15pm The Mike Wheeler Band

If life is a feast, then Mike Wheeler’s music is a smorgasbord. His guitar leads, while  deeply blues rooted, are rife with influences adapted from diverse sources – ascents and linear explorations colored by curlicues, offshoots, and sidelong jabs into unexpected harmonic and chordal thickets, as well as bluesy string-bends and blue-note wails – brightened by emotional exuberance and optimism of spirit, an optimism that’s also reflected in Wheeler’s lyrics. That’s what experience like his can do for a musician: By the time Wheeler dropped Self Made Man (Delmark) in 2012, he’d put in more than twenty years as a first-call sideman, both live and in the studio; one of his most notable associations was his tenure with the funk-blues powerhouse Big James Montgomery and the Chicago Playboys. The result was a finely-honed ability to both take charge and, when necessary, lay back and let the music (and musicians) speak and sing freely – a gift he continues to show when he plays behind a vocalist like Demetria Taylor or Mzz Reese. Here, though, we showcase him at the helm of his own power-packed ensemble – each of whom qualifies as a front-line star in his own right –- delivering the kind of blues-rich, celebratory set that has made them one of the hardest-working blues bands in Chicago and earned them accolades nationwide and overseas. (DW)

6:30 - 7:45pm Last Call with WDCB Radio and Ivan Singh

For this Last Call set, WDCB Radio hosts Ivan Singh, an Argentinian guitarist who has made Chicago, and its music, his own. He specializes in the four-string batata box slide guitar, which lends him a distinctive sound that also echoes Latin American roots. While Singh was growing up, his mother brought home B.B. King and Buddy Guy records and hearing them got him to start playing guitar at the age of 5. Singh released his self-titled debut album in 2019, singing in Spanish his own blend of blues, R&B with some hints of salsa. He went on to tour the world, including sharing stages with his early heroes. Upon moving to Chicago about two years ago he has collaborated with new friends in the blues community, including John Primer, Jimmy Burns and Mike Wheeler. His group has become a featured act at such local venues as Rosa’s. (AC)


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