Photos © 2018 by: Roman Sobus
Now in its 22nd year, the annual Blues on the Fox festival has attracted music and blues fans from all over the state and even the country. Featuring some of the hottest artists singing the blues and up-and-comers destined for stardom, Blues on the Fox pays tribute to musicians John Lee “Sonny Boy” Williamson, Tampa Red, Big Bill Broonzy and others who recorded their historic sound at the Leland Hotel in downtown Aurora. Pay tribute to the past, rock out with the present and prepare for the future of blues at Blues on the Fox.
FRIDAY, JUNE 15
Gates: 6 p.m.
7 p.m. – Samantha Fish
“An impressive blues guitarist.” “Sings with sweet power.” “Kicked down the door of the patriarchal blues club.” The critics can’t get enough! Samantha Fish is a musical force that refuses to be confined to a box. This soulful, rootsy singer exploded onto the scene in 2009 and is already on her fifth studio album, Belle of the West. While she doesn’t peg herself as a traditional blues artist, it’s her deep love for the genre that’s at the heart of who she is and what she does. Samantha is an expectation-defying artist with a lot to say. Listen closely.
9 p.m. – Elle King
Elle King’s got the blues, and she’ll make you question everything you thought you knew about it. With a hard rock edge and debut album that dropped just three short years ago, earning her two Grammy Award nominations for Best Rock Performance and Best Rock Song for her Billboard Top 10 hit Ex’s and Oh’s, Elle King is quickly tearing up the charts. At just 13, Elle began playing guitar and then later took up the banjo. Soon she released her first EP, and since then it’s been a non-stop dizzying ride. Frank and fearless, tender and rowdy, Elle’s music is unbeatable and unstoppable.
SATURDAY, JUNE 16
Gates: 2 p.m.
3 p.m. – Brandon “Taz” Niederauer
14 years old. Let that sink in for a moment. Brandon Niederauer – nicknamed Taz – is just 14 years old and has already played in the most legendary places in America with some of the most prominent musicians of our time. Brandon’s love for music began when he watched the film School of Rock and realized he wanted to play guitar. And four years later, he was cast in the Broadway production of School of Rock. Since then he’s played with Greg Allman, Buddy Guy, Stevie Nicks, Lady Gaga and so many more. If you want to see a rising star, be sure to check out Taz.
5 p.m. – Toronzo Cannon
Toronzo Cannon is a Chicago Transit Authority bus driver by day, and an amazing blues player by night – or whenever he’s on tour either in the United States or on another continent shredding the guitar like it stole his girl. With influences from the likes of B.B. King, Al Green, Jimi Hendrix and many other legends, Toronzo has honed his style into a biting, singing guitar sound that’s all his own. Hailed as a modern blues master with compelling and forceful singing, Toronzo is one of the hottest blues performers on the Chicago scene.
7 p.m. – Sonny Landreth
Eric Clapton calls Sonny Landreth not only one of the most underappreciated musicians on the planet but also one of the most advanced. With praise like that, you don’t need another reason to see this blues master and slide guitarist. Since 1981, Sonny has released 17 albums and collaborated with some of the biggest names in guitar: Mark Knopfler, Eric Johnson, Derek Trucks, Eric Clapton and more! This virtuoso guitarist may be underappreciated, but when you see him live, you’re gonna be in awe at the incredible craftsmanship and skill.
9 p.m. – Aaron Neville
Having one of the most evocative and recognizable voices in American music, Aaron Neville is an international ambassador of New Orleans R&B, though his soaring falsetto sounds at home in many styles. Coming of age in the incredibly creative 1950s Crescent City R&B scene, Neville gained national attention with his 1966 hit “Tell It Like It Is,” the stirring ballad and #1 hit, as well as with the Wild Tchoupitoulas, a touring Mardi Gras celebration that led to the creation of the Neville Brothers band — an institution that would confirm Neville’s iconic status.
Over his four-time Grammy-winning solo career, Neville has scored a string of hits including “Tell It Like It Is,” memorable duets with Linda Ronstadt including “Don’t Know Much” and a hugely popular cover of Main Ingredient’s “Everybody Plays the Fool.” With his latest album, Apache, a solo album that makes the case for Aaron Neville as the most holistic of soul men. Its hard R&B side matches anything the Neville Brothers ever recorded for true grit, while still allowing plenty of space for a singer who’s arguably the most distinctive vocal stylist on the planet to tell it like it is.