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The 33rd Chicago Blues Festival 2016
Friday Evening 10th June
Petrillo Music Shell, Grant Park


 Tommy Castro & The Painkillers (with guest Toronzo Cannon)

Tommy Castro (born April 15, 1955, San Jose, California, United States) has been recording since the mid-1990s. His music has taken him from local stages to national and international touring. His popularity was marked by his winning the 2008 Blues Music Award for Entertainer of the Year. Castro began playing guitar at the age of 10 and was influenced and inspired by electric blues, Chicago blues, West Coast blues, soul music, 1960s rock and roll and Southern rock. His style has always been a hybrid of all his favorite genres. He names Mike Bloomfield, Elvin Bishop, Eric Clapton, B.B. King, Buddy Guy, Elmore James and Freddie King as guitar influences and Ray Charles, Wilson Pickett and James Brown as vocal influences.

He began playing professionally in Bay Area cover-song bands in the 1970s. In the 1980s he joined the Warner Bros. Records' band The Dynatones. Since 1991, he has led his own bands, featuring a drummer, bass guitar player and saxophone player (Keith Crossan has held the saxophone position for many years). As of 2009, he had added trumpeter Tom Poole and keyboards to the band. He was signed to Blind Pig Records label and released Exception to the Rule in late 1996. It won the 1997 Bay Area Music Award for Outstanding Blues Album, and Castro also took the award for Outstanding Blues Musician that same year. In the mid-1990s The Tommy Castro Band served as the house band for three seasons on NBC Television's Comedy Showcase (airing right after Saturday Night Live), bringing him in front of millions of viewers every week.

In 2001 and 2002, B.B. King asked Castro to open his summer concert tours. Castro received an open invitation to join King on stage for the nightly finale.

Castro has released albums on the Telarc, 33rd Street and Heart And Soul and most recently on the Alligator label, as well as on Blind Pig. His album Guilty of Love featured the last recording session for John Lee Hooker. In 2002 he was featured on the Bo Diddley tribute album Hey Bo Diddley – A Tribute!, performing the song "I Can Tell". In 2007 the readers of BluesWax (online magazine) voted Painkiller as BluesWax album of the year. It also won the 2008 Blues Music Award for Contemporary Blues Album of the Year.

In 2009, Castro joined the roster of Chicago's Alligator Records with his release Hard Believer, produced by John Porter. The album was described by Billboard as "irresistibly funky…it has a street-level grit and a soulful sincerity that's impossible to ignore." Blues Revue said Hard Believer is "a fine set of roadhouse-rockin' blues." Blurt says, "Hard Believer might just be the best yet from this veteran Bay Area blues artist."

In May 2010, The Blues Foundation awarded Castro multiple Blues Music Award honors for Blues Male Artist of the Year, Contemporary Blues Album of the Year, B.B. King Entertainer of the Year, and with his band, Band of the Year.

In 2011, Castro stripped down his band to a four-piece unit called the Painkillers, including keyboards, bass and drums as well as his own guitar and vocals. 2013's The Devil You Know, was recorded with this line-up plus guest appearances by Marcia Ball, Tab Benoit, Joe Bonamassa, The Holmes Brothers and Magic Dick. The album was reviewed by, saying "Castro brings fiery garage energy to everything. His guitar playing is fired up and roaring with a renewed sharpness that keeps the pot boiling. His voice is a soulful and versatile blue-collar growl. This album is full of the blues, but it's also like a full-charged blue-eyed R&B and soul review, making this one of Castro's finest releases."

Coming soon ....


  Lil' Ed & The Blues Imperials (with guest Corky Siegel)

Lil' Ed Williams (born April 8, 1955, Chicago, Illinois) with his backing band, the Blues Imperials, he has built up a loyal following. In childhood, Williams and his half-brother James "Pookie" Young received encouragement and tutelage from their uncle, the blues guitarist, songwriter and recording artist J. B. Hutto, and by 1975 the half-siblings had formed the first version of the Blues Imperials. Since 1989, the band's lineup has been Williams (lead guitar and vocals), Michael Garrett (rhythm guitar and vocals), James Young (bass) and Kelly Littleton (drums). Living Blues magazine described the band as "Rough-and-ready South and West Side blues...Ed's swirling, snarling slide guitar work can be riveting, and The Imperials pound out blues-rock riffs and rhythms behind him as if they're overdosing on boogie juice." Guitar Player called the band "a snarling boogie-blues machine."

A decade later, Alligator Records offered them the chance to record two songs for a forthcoming compilation album, The New Bluebloods. Producer and label owner Bruce Iglauer encouraged them to record additional material, and they cut a full album's worth of material at that session, released as Roughhousin' (1986). They then appeared at music festivals and toured widely. Their second album, Chicken, Gravy & Biscuits, was released in 1989, and their third, What You See Is What You Get, in 1992. At this point the group disbanded. Williams issued two solo albums, Keep On Walking, on which he was joined by Dave Weld, a former member of the Blues Imperials, and Who's Been Talking (1998), pairing Williams with Willie Kent.

In 1999 the release of Get Wild marked the group's reunion. It was followed by Heads Up (2002), Rattleshake (2006), Full Tilt (2008) and Jump Start (2012).

Lil' Ed and the Blues Imperials have appeared multiple times at the Chicago Blues Festival and festivals and clubs around the world. In June 2008, Williams played on Magic Slim's album Midnight Blues. In June 2009, Williams was a guest on the radio quiz show Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!, produced by Chicago Public Radio and National Public Radio,

Lil' Ed and the Blues Imperials have been nominated for eight Blues Music Awards as Band of the Year and have won that award twice.



 Shemekia Copeland (with guest Curtis Salgado)





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