Chicago Blues Festival Will Feature Aaron Neville, Otis Taylor Band, Billy Boy Arnold, Bettye LaVette and Many Others

By Louise Burton on Jun 09, 2014 04:58 PM EDT

Chicago will once again become the blues capital of the world during the Chicago Blues Festival, held this year on June 13-15 in Grant Park. The 31st Annual Festival, which presents three days of top blues musicians on five stages, is the largest free blues festival in the world.

Headliners include Aaron Neville, Dr. John, the Otis Taylor Band and a special celebration commemorating the centennial of harmonica legend John Lee "Sonny Boy" Williamson, featuring Billy Boy Arnold and the Siegel-Schwall Blues Band.

Also headlining are Bettye LaVette, the Carolina Chocolate Drops, Willie Clayton, Nikki Hill and Theo Huff.

Here's a video that will give you a feel for what it's like to attend the Chicago Blues Festival, shot during a performance by Dave Weld and the Imperial Flames at last year's festival:

The Carolina Chocolate Drops will kick off this year's festival on Friday, June 13 at 6:00 p.m. at the Petrillo Music Shell. Originating from Durham, North Carolina, the trio is deeply rooted in the old-time, fiddle and banjo-based music which won them a Grammy Award for best traditional folk album in 2010.

The evening also holds a performance by the Otis Taylor Band, followed by a special tribute honoring harmonica legend "Sonny Boy" Williamson. Renowned harmonica player Billy Boy Arnold, who played with "Sonny Boy," will lead a group of musicians influenced by his harmonica "crossed-harp" style. Arnold will be joined by Corky Siegel's own Siegel-Schwall Blues Band, Billy Branch and others.

Blues singer Bettye LaVette headlines the Petrillo stage on Saturday at 8:15 p.m. Throughout her more than 50-year career, LaVette has recorded multiple hit songs, establishing her as one of the genre's great vocalists.

The Petrillo Music Shell also hosts R&B vocalist Theo Huff at 6:00 p.m. Following Huff is a star singer-songwriter and producer, Willie Clayton, considered by critics and fans alike to be one of the last great "Soul" men.

Opening the evening on Sunday at 5:45 p.m. is vocalist Nikki Hill. Hill and her band of musicians known as the "Pirate Crew" are quickly claiming a large following. Known as the "Southern Fireball," Hill will get festivalgoers up and out of their seats.

Dr. John and Aaron Neville will close the Festival on Sunday with the sound of the "Big Easy." Neville is back in the spotlight after the recent release of his new album, My True Story. Neville will revisit the doo-wop music he grew up with and created throughout his incredible career as a solo artist--and his role in the Neville Brothers, the First Family of New Orleans music. Neville will take the stage at 6:45 p.m.

Since the 1970s, Malcolm John Rebennack has been known to boogie and blues enthusiasts as Dr. John. Hailing from New Orleans, Dr. John's music is influenced by his southern roots, resulting in the creation of his own brand of "voodoo" music, which has made him a musical icon. Dr. John will close the Festival at 8:15 p.m.

The popular day stages contribute to the Festival's reputation as an internationally acclaimed event. Each stage features local and national blues musicians celebrating the genre's rich tradition and heritage. For the Festival's complete lineup, visit

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TagsChicago Blues Festival, Grant Park, Petrillo Music Shell, Aaron Neville, Otis Taylor Band, Billy Boy Arnold, Bettye Lavette, Dr. John, Carolina Chocolate Drops, Blues

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