Bringin’ Blues to The Grand

The Alligator Records Blues Festival, March 3-4, is an entire weekend of rockin’ blues! Let’s meet the performers of this unique weekend.

Call our box office at 1-866-96GRAND to order tickets, or click on the titles of each event to order online!

MARCIA BALL: March 3rd at 8 PM

Born in Orange, Texas in 1949 to a family whose female members all played piano, Marcia Ball grew up in the small town of Vinton, Louisiana, right across the border from Texas. She began taking piano lessons at age five, playing old Tin Pan Alley and popular music tunes from her grandmother’s collection. But it wasn’t until she was 13 that Marcia discovered the power of soul music.

The Texas-born, Louisiana-raised musical storyteller’s groove-laden New Orleans boogie, deeply soulful ballads and rollicking blues have won her an enormous, loyal and still-growing fan base. She’s received a total ten Blues Music Awards (and a whopping 44 nominations),seven Living Blues Awards, and five Grammy Award nominations. She has been inducted into both the Gulf Coast Music Hall Of Fame and the Louisiana Music Hall Of Fame.

 

TORONZO CANNON: March 3rd at 8 PM (opening act)

Toronzo Cannon was born in Chicago on February 14, 1968, and grew up in the shadows of the notoriously tough  Robert Taylor Homes. Theresa’s Lounge, one of the city’s most famous South Side blues clubs, was nearby. As a child, Cannon would stand on the sidewalk outside the door, soaking up the live blues pouring out while trying to sneak a glance inside at larger-than-life bluesmen like Junior Wells and Buddy Guy. He also heard plenty of blues growing up in his grandfather’s home, and listened to soul, R&B and contemporary rock on the radio.

Cannon’s first three albums — 2007’s My Woman (self-released), 2011’s Leaving Mood (Delmark) and 2013’s Blues Music Award-nominated John The Conqueror Root (Delmark) — document his rise from promising up-and-comer to star-in-the-making. Toronzo Cannon has become one of Chicago’s most recognized and most popular bluesmen through the sheer force of his music, his songs, his live charisma, and maybe most impressively, his passion for what he is doing.

LIL’ED AND THE BLUES IMPERIALS: March 4th at 2 PM

In Chicago, a city overflowing with unrivaled blues talent, world-renowned Lil’ Ed & The Blues Imperials have been standing tall for almost 30 years. The band’s big sound, fueled by Lil’ Ed’s gloriously rollicking slide work and deep blues string bending, along with his rough-edged, soulful vocals, is as real and hard-hitting as Chicago blues gets. 
Lil’ Ed Williams comes to the blues naturally. His uncle, Chicago slide guitar king and master songwriter J.B. Hutto, taught him how to feel, not just play the blues. Nine albums and thousands of performances later, Lil’ Ed is now universally hailed as a giant of the genre. Lil’ Ed and The Blues Imperials—bassist (and Ed’s half-brother) James “Pookie” Young, guitarist Mike Garrett and drummer Kelly Littletonhave remained together for nearly 30 years (an extraordinary feat for any group), the band fueling Ed’s songs with their rock-solid, road-tested, telepathic musicianship.

MORELAND AND ARBUCKLE: March 4th at 2 PM (opening act)

Guitarist Aaron Morelandco-founder of the groundbreaking Kansas-based trio Moreland & Arbuckle—describes their music as “gritty blues and roots rock from the heartland.” Moreland, along with harmonicist/vocalist Dustin Arbuckle and drummer Kendall Newby, electrify raw Delta and Mississippi Hill Country blues, folk, and traditional country with unrelenting punk rock energy washed in hard-hitting Southern soul. Their songs are expertly executed with musical muscle and fifth-gear urgency. When they perform more traditional blues, they play with the same decisive command. With each of their six previous releases, the band has grown musically and lyrically, creating a signature sound while earning a large and loyal worldwide fan base. Their legendary raw and raucous live shows are played with wild abandon. 

CORKY SIEGEL’S HARMONICA BLUES SUMMIT: March 4th at 8 PM

Corky Siegel is known internationally as one of the world’s great blues harmonica players, and is a celebrated composer, blues pianist, singer, songwriter, band leader and author.

Along with the likes of John Cage, Steve Reich, Phillip Glass, and Meredith Monk, he is the recipient of a Meet the Composer/Reader’s Digest Commissioning Program for New American Music grant for chamber music composition resulting in his Chamber Blues ensemble’s popular Aunt Lila’s Suite; he has also been honored with the Illinois Arts Council Fellowship Award for Music Composition, the Chicago Music Awards’ Lifetime Achievement Award, and induction into the Chicago Blues Hall of Fame.

Corky continues to appear internationally as guest soloist with symphony orchestras including the New York Philharmonic, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Orquestra Metropolitana De Lisboa in Portugal, the Orchestre Symphonique de Montreal, the NHK Symphony in Japan, and the Philadelphia Orchestra with Maestro Charles Dutoit. He has performed many symphonic collaborations with Doc Severinsen, and also tours frequently with Dr. L. Subramaniam, India’s greatest Eastern classical violin virtuoso: These “global fusion” tours have further featured some of the top names in jazz including Ernie Watts and Larry Coryell.

SELWYN BIRCHWOOD: March 4th at 8 PM (opening act)

Selwyn Birchwood, Florida’s rising young blues fireball, is a guitar and lap steel playing bundle of pure energy. He delivers his original songs with a revival tent preacher’s fervor and a natural storyteller’s charisma made all the more impactful by his raw, unvarnished vocals. Birchwood plays high-octane bluesat once deeply rooted, funky and up-to-the-minutewith true passion and honest emotion. With his band feeding off his drive and exuberance, the striking 6’3” 29year-old with his trademark Afro roams the stage (often barefoot), ripping out memorable guitar licks with ease. His ability to win over an audienceany audienceis proven night after night on the bandstand. With his warm, magnetic personality, Birchwood is as down-to-earth as his music is fun, thought-provoking and vital. His mission is to spread his music far and wide, to share his joy, to play his heart out, and to push the blues into the future. “There’s nothing I’d rather be doing than playing the blues,” he says. “And I try to convey that with every song and with every performance.”

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