Aurora's Blues on the Fox happily has people singing the blues
This weekend, look to the Fox for blues. The Fox River, that is.
Aurora's RiverEdge Park, overlooking the scenic waterway, will host an impressive roster of blues artists Friday and Saturday, June 14 and 15, at the 23rd annual Blues on the Fox festival.
Headliners include Taj Mahal, Coco Montoya and Robert Randolph, with blues guitar artistry a main focus, said Jim Jarvis, vice president of programming and sales for the Paramount Theatre and RiverEdge Park.
"It's very much a breadth and scope of various blues artists," Jarvis said. "The whole festival comes out of paying homage. Our roots are really deep in blues here in Aurora."
A quick history lesson: in 1937 and 1938, blues greats recorded for the Bluebird record label in Aurora's Leland Towers, then known as the Sky Club. Big names included Sonny Boy Williamson, Big Joe Williams and Tampa Red.
Back to the present: Friday night's lineup opens with Serbian musician Ana Popovic, "a woman who is one of the most amazing guitar slingers," Jarvis said.
Next up on Friday is Taj Mahal, a Grammy winner who mixes genres such as Cajun, calypso and Caribbean music to forge his distinctive sound.
"That night, we bring in blues royalty," said Jarvis of Taj. "We had him probably six years ago as a headliner and he's back again."
The party continues Saturday with Chicagoan Jamiah Rogers.
"He's 22 years old. He started playing drums when he was 3 years old," Jarvis said.
When he was 16, his father introduced him to former Jimi Hendrix bassist Billy Cox.
"He played some guitar for him and Cox brought him on stage that night to close the show playing 'Red House,'" Jarvis said.
Ronnie Baker Brooks, son of the late Lonnie Brooks, is next on the bill.
Jarvis said Brooks had been on the road with his father and played with Eric Clapton, BB King and other blues stars.
"He put out a killer blues album a couple years ago called 'Times Have Changed,'" he said.
Coco Montoya will perform Saturday.
"The dude is known as the blues master. He's a powerhouse guitarist," Jarvis said.
The festival closes out with a performance by Robert Randolph and the Family.
"They combine blues, funk, soul and jazz," Jarvis said.
Concertgoers are encouraged to bring chairs and blankets.
Food trucks will be on-site and beer will be available for purchase. Jarvis said a crowd of 4,000 is expected Friday and 7,000 people are expected Saturday.
"The cool thing about a blues fest is that blues lovers love all sorts of different music," Jarvis said. "It's just a fun atmosphere."
23rd annual Blues on the Fox festivalWhen: 7 p.m. Friday, June 14, and 3 p.m. Saturday, June 15
Where: RiverEdge Park, 360 N. Broadway, Aurora
Tickets: $20; free for children 12 and younger accompanied by an adult
Info: riveredgeaurora.com and (630) 896-6666