Photos: Champaign Blues, Brews and BBQ Fest

by Carl Abernathy on June 29, 2015


I didn’t make it to the merchandise tent after Janiva Magness’ set at the 2015 Champaign Blues, Brews and BBQ Festival. I imagine, though, that most of the guys at the festival got in line after Magness sang “I Need a Man.”

Magness seduced with her ballads and shimmied on her upbeat tunes. She was wonderful. So were the other acts – all of them led by women – at the two-day festival in Champaign, Illinois.

Here are some photos from the festival:

Janiva Magness  (Click photo to enlarge)
Janiva Magness
(Click photo to enlarge)

Janiva Magness (Click photo to enlarge)
Janiva Magness
(Click photo to enlarge)

Carolyn Wonderland (Click photo to enlarge)
Carolyn Wonderland
(Click photo to enlarge)

Carolyn Wonderland (Click photo to enlarge)
Carolyn Wonderland
(Click photo to enlarge)

Ana Popovic (Click photo to enlarge)
Ana Popovic
(Click photo to enlarge)

Ana Popovic (Click photo to enlarge)
Ana Popovic
(Click photo to enlarge)

Sena Ehrhardt  (Click photo to enlarge)
Sena Ehrhardt
(Click photo to enlarge)

Sena Ehrhardt  (Click photo to enlarge)
Sena Ehrhardt
(Click photo to enlarge)

Joanna Connor (Click photo to enlarge)
Joanna Connor
(Click photo to enlarge)

Shaun Murphy (Click photo to enlarge)
Shaun Murphy
(Click photo to enlarge)

Laura Rain & the Caesars (Click photo to enlarge)
Laura Rain & the Caesars
(Click photo to enlarge)

Adrianna Marie & Her Groovecutters (Click photo to enlarge)
Adrianna Marie & Her Groovecutters
(Click photo to enlarge)

Sara Hall of Upshot sings "Happy Birthday to a young festival audience member (Click photo to enlarge)
Sara Hall of Upshot sings “Happy Birthday to a
young festival audience member
(Click photo to enlarge)

No Solid State (Click photo to enlarge)
No Solid State
(Click photo to enlarge)

An audience member plays  his harmonica as a band performs. (Click photo to enlarge)
An audience member plays
his harmonica as a band performs.
(Click photo to enlarge)

Ana Popovic (Click photo to enlarge)
Ana Popovic
(Click photo to enlarge)

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Photos: Rachel Kate and Jeff Shepherd

by Carl Abernathy on June 17, 2015

Jim Voelz of Mom & Pop Productions brings a lot of fine shows to Lafayette. Rachel Kate and Jeff Shepherd, who played at People Brewing Co. Tuesday, were among the best acts he’s booked.

Rachel Kate has a beautiful voice, which meshes well with the spunky spirit with which she attacks her songs. Shepherd’s voice is rich and clear; he sounds like a throwback to country’s golden era. Close your eyes and you’d swear you were sitting in Ryman Auditorium in the ’50s.

Here are a few photos from their show.

Rachel Kate at People's Brewing (Click photo to enlarge)
Rachel Kate at People’s Brewing
(Click photo to enlarge)

Rachel Kate (Click photo to enlarge)
Rachel Kate
(Click photo to enlarge)

Jeff Shepherd (Click photo to enlarge)
Jeff Shepherd
(Click photo to enlarge)

Jeff Shepherd (Click photo to enlarge)
Jeff Shepherd
(Click photo to enlarge)

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Photos: Chicago Blues Festival, 2015

by Carl Abernathy on June 14, 2015

Work kept me from attending the Friday session at the 2015 Chicago Blues Festival. And rain almost kept me away entirely – Friday afternoon on my way to Chicago I drove through the worst rainstorm I’ve ever seen.

I’m glad I made it. The weather Saturday afternoon was perfect (not too hot and the rain held off until we headed back to my friend’s house in the suburbs to watch the Blackhawks. And the musical acts were amazing.

I used to see Johnny Rawls three or four times a year, but it’s been nearly two decades since I last saw him. He’s better than ever. And his daughter nailed versions of Aretha Franklin’s “Chain of Fools” and The Staple Singers’ “I’ll Take You There.”

I’m sorry I missed Jarekus Singleton’s set – a couple of my former students told me it was astounding – but I’d already seen him twice this year and it had been awhile since I saw Vickie Baker. She was terrific; her sassy soul set was my friend Diana’s of the day. I always try to see Lurrie Bell whenever I can because he’s one of my favorite bluesmen in Chicago. Austin’ Walkin’ Cane and Marquise Knox were a lot of fun, too.

I had to hustle back to Indiana Sunday to pick up my dog, but I’m hoping to hit all three days (and the evening shows) at blues fest next year.

Here are some photos from the 2015 Chicago Blues Festival.

Johnny Rawls (Click photo to enlarge)
Johnny Rawls (Click photo to enlarge)

Johnny Rawls  (Click photo to enlarge)
Johnny Rawls
(Click photo to enlarge)

Johnny Rawls  (Click photo to enlarge)
Johnny Rawls
(Click photo to enlarge)

Lurrie Bell (Click photo to enlarge)
Lurrie Bell
(Click photo to enlarge)

Lurrie Bell  (Click photo to enlarge)
Lurrie Bell
(Click photo to enlarge)

Vickie Baker (Click photo to enlarge)
Vickie Baker
(Click photo to enlarge)

Vickie Baker (Click photo to enlarge)
Vickie Baker
(Click photo to enlarge)

Austin Walkin' Cane (Click photo to enlarge)
Austin Walkin’ Cane
(Click photo to enlarge)

Destini Rawls  (Click photo to enlarge)
Destini Rawls
(Click photo to enlarge)

Tambria Baker (Click photo to enlarge)
Tambria Baker
(Click photo to enlarge)

Guitarist Johnny McGhee (Click photo to enlarge)
Guitarist Johnny McGhee
(Click photo to enlarge)

Chicago Blues Fest fans (Click photo to enlarge)
Chicago Blues Fest fans
(Click photo to enlarge)

(Click photo to enlarge)
(Click photo to enlarge)

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Photos: Muddy Roots Spring Weekender

May 24, 2015

I went to the 2015 Muddy Roots Spring Weekender in Nashville, Indiana, because I’ve wanted to see LC Ulmer for a long time. He didn’t disappoint. At 87, he’s still an incredible guitarist and blues singer. His music is raw and unpredictable. Close your eyes and you’d swear you’re in a ’30s era juke joint, […]

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New Orleans Jazz Fest 2015 in photos

May 5, 2015

This year’s New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival might have been the best I’ve attended. The sky messages above the fairgrounds helped; they seemed to put everyone in a good mood. But this year’s festival, at least for me, was all about the Nevilles. I didn’t get to see Charmaine Neville perform this year (I […]

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Photos: Nellie McKay in Lafayette

April 23, 2015

Nellie McKay just might be the funniest woman in America. She gets my vote, at least. Armed only with a ukulele, a grand piano and a portable Hammond organ on Wednesday night at Duncan Hall in Lafayette, Indiana, McKay humorously eviscerated entitled young rich folks, feminists and conservatives. She defended Mother Earth and praised Eddie […]

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Photos of James Hunter Six at City Winery

April 5, 2015

I have a friend, a well-respected jazz guitarist, who idolizes James Hunter. It’s easy to see why. Saturday night at the City Winery in Chicago, Hunter and his band, The James Hunter Six, shimmied and sliced their way through their repertoire of songs that explore the intersections of soul, blues and rock. Their sound pays […]

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QuinTango and Emmanuel Trifilio at The Jazz Kitchen

March 29, 2015

It’s been awhile since I’ve heard a great tango band. QuinTango, a tango quintet performing at the Jazz Kitchen in Indianapolis with Argentine bandeon master Emmanuel Trifilio, moved me to tears several times, especially when they played the songs of Astor Piazzolla. It was a beautiful show. Here are a few photos from the evening.

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Phil and Dave Alvin at Lafayette Brewing Co.

March 2, 2015

At the Lafayette Brewing Company tonight Phil and Dave Alvin performed Big Bill Broonzy songs from their new album, old Blasters tunes and a few Dave Alvin numbers. All were spectacular. Thanks to Friends of Bob, a local music cooperative, for booking the show.

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Photos of Robbie Fulks at Duncan Hall

January 25, 2015

On Saturday night Robbie Fulks, Shad Cobb (fiddle), Don Stiernberg (mandolin) and Chris Scruggs (bass) delighted the folks at Duncan Hall in Lafayette with a mix of country, bluegrass and folk. Thanks to Friends of Bob, one of the country’s best community music cooperatives, for booking the show.

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Photos from the Purdue Jazz Festival, 2015

January 19, 2015

I always try to catch some high school bands at the Purdue Jazz Festival. They sounded great. And the Purdue Jazz Band is one of the best collegiate jazz bands in America, even though Purdue doesn’t have a music school. Here are a few photos from Saturday’s competition and workshops with pros.

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