Chain O’ Lakes Blues Festival
ICC to host fall event
The Chain O’ Lakes Blues Festival returns to Indian Crossing Casino Friday and Saturday, Oct. 1-2.
After being canceled in 2020, the live music event is celebrating its 10th anniversary.
Indian Crossing Casino (ICC) is a historic dance hall built in 1925. The early definition of casino is “gathering place” and this is not a gambling facility.
Over the years, ICC has hosted some of the greatest entertainers, including Glenn Miller, Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Jimmy Dorsey, Les Brown, the Beach Boys, the Everly Brothers, Woody Herman, Neil Young, Bobby Vinton, Herman’s Hermits and Ricky Nelson.
ICC is located on the Chain O’ Lakes at E1171 County Trunk Q, Waupaca.
This year’s weekend lineup features six bands.
Friday, Oct. 1
• 7 p.m. – Jay Stulo Band: Stulo has been playing, fronting and leading blues bands since the late 1980s.
He has toured the nation several times and released five CDs. Sulo first picked up a guitar at the age of 14, learning some basic chords from his father, a early rockabilly guitarist. He joined his first working bar band, Gypsy Rose, at the age of 17.
He toured with blues legend Luther Allison, then later with James Solberg, co-founded The Mighty Aces in 1996 and toured full-time for a decade leading The Jay Stulo Band. After taking some time away from music in 2006, Stulo picked up his guitar returned to the stage in 2016.
Influenced by multiple genres, Stulo’s music is described as “versatile, high-energy guitar pyrotechnics, rock-tinged hooks and gut-bucket vocals.”
• 9 p.m. – Reverend Raven & The Chain-Smoking Altar Boys featuring Westside Andy: Born and raised on south side of Chicago, the Reverend has been playing the blues since 1971 when he first saw Freddy King play in Chicago.
After a 15-year hitch in the Navy, Chief Raven moved to Milwaukee where he began collaborating with Madison Slim, long-time harmonica player for Jimmy Rogers. Since 1990, he has opened for B.B. King, Gatemouth Brown, Pinetop Perkins, Koko Taylor Band, Junior Wells, Elvin Bishop, Sugar Blue, Lonnie Brooks and many others at festivals and at Buddy Guy’s Legends, where he has been on rotation as a headliner for 20 years.
The Reverend won the Wisconsin Music Industry (WAMI) award for best blues band in 1999, 2000, 2004, 2005, 2008, 2010 and 2015. They also received the People’s Choice Award in 2006, 2008 and 2010 and were nominated as artist of the year and best blues band in 2011 and 2012. They were nominated by Blues Blast Magazine for best blues band of the year and song of the year in 2011. The band has been voted the Best Blues Band In Milwaukee by The Shepherd Express Reader’s Poll every year from 2013-17.
Westside Andy Linderman has been the band’s featured harmonica player since 2015. He’s played more than 10,000 gigs over some 45 years, working with a who’s who of the blues: Luther Allison, Ben E. King, James Cotton, Pinetop Perkins, Barrelhouse Chuck, Hubert Sumlin, The Doobie Brothers, Richie Havens and the University of Wisconsin 250-piece band.
Saturday, Oct. 2
• 3 p.m. – The Incorruptibles: The blues trio has Jimmy McCarthy on guitar and lead vocals; Amy Ashby on upright bass and lead vocals; and Bill Siebert on drums and backing vocals.
McCarthy has nearly 40 years of experience on the Wisconsin blues scene, having played with Bojo Gray, Night Train, Perry Weber and The Wonder Rods, Cadillac Pete and The Heat and Perry Weber and The Devilles. He has shared the stage with such blues luminaries as Nick Moss, Madison Slim, Billy Flynn and Hubert Sumlin.
His love of vintage rhythm and blues and early rock and roll – and a fortuitous encounter with Ashby – led to the formation of The Incorruptibles in 2012.
Ashby began playing electric bass at age 12. She played jazz all through middle and high school and attributes those years to building the solid, technical foundation of her playing today.
She attended open blues jams, started playing in bands while still in high school and has been an active musician ever since.
Since relocating to Milwaukee in 2010, Ashby has been playing upright bass as a primary instrument, singing lead vocals and branching out into other American roots music.
Siebert spent the last 35 years playing drums locally and on the road. Between the ages of 20-28, he toured extensively throughout the United States. Over the years he has played with groups such as The Shuffleaires, Cadillac Pete and Heat, Milktrain and Big Bob & The Ballroom Blitz.
• 5 p.m. – Madtown Mannish Boys: A Madison-based band steeped in Chicago-style blues, The Madtown Mannish Boys perform with raw exuberance and driving rhythms. They are influenced by artists like Muddy Waters, Junior Wells, Otis Spann, Paul Butterfield and Little Walter.
The band includes Andy Smith on lead vocals, Paul Schwoerer on harmonica, Jesse “Honey Boy” Steinberg on guitar, Tim Payne on bass, John Payne on drums and Todd Phipps on keyboards.
Madison Magazine named them Best Blues Band of 2020, finalists for Best Blues Performer and Best Blues Album in the 2020 MAMA awards and finalist for Best Blues Artist in the 2019 WAMI awards.
• 7 p.m. – Big Al Dorn and the Blues Howlers: Born and raised on the east side of Milwaukee, “Big Al” began his career playing on the street corners for what little money he could make until a chance encounter with local music blues artist Reverend Raven catapulted him into local stardom.
Big City Rhythm & Blues Magazine described “Big Al” as “one of Wisconsin’s premier harmonica and guitar players.”
He is joined on stage with Benny Rickun on harmonica and guitar, Bobby Sellers Jr. on drums and vocals and Rick Smith on bass.
• 9 p.m. – Lil’ Ed and The Blues Imperials: Born in the heart of Chicago’s west side in 1955, Lil’ Ed Williams comes to the blues naturally. His uncle, Chicago slide guitar king and master songwriter J.B. Hutto, taught him how to play the blues.
Lil’ Ed is joined by his half-brother, James “Pookie” Young, on bass, guitarist Mike Garrett and drummer Kelly Littleton. The band has been together for more than 30 years, performing thousands of concerts and producing nine albums.
They have played the Chicago Blues Festival multiple times and have appeared at The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, Portland’s Waterfront Blues Festival, the Tampa Bay Blues Festival, the San Diego Blues Festival, the Pennsylvania Blues Festival and dozens of other festivals around the country.
They have also performed in Canada, Great Britain, France, Spain, Sweden, Denmark, Poland, Japan, Australia, India, Turkey and Panama.
Lil’ Ed and The Blues Imperials took home the Living Blues Award for Best Live Performer in 2011, 2012 and 2013. They won the prestigious Blues Music Award for Band Of The Year in 2007 and 2009.
Tickets for Friday night are $20 in advance or $25 at the door. Tickets for Saturday are $25 in advance or $30 at the door. A weekend pass is $30 in advance or $35 at the door.
Advance tickets are available now until noon Friday, Oct. 1. Tickets purchased online will be held at “Will Call.” Pick-up at the ICC will begin at 6 p.m. Friday, Oct. 1; or at 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 2.
Advance tickets can be purchased online at www.ChainOLakesBluesFestival.com or by calling 715-258-7343. Advance tickets are also available for purchase at ICC. Individuals under 21 years of age will not be admitted to the festival. Chairs are provided at the event.
Food service will be available during the festival at the ICC.
The event will include complimentary shuttle service from Waupaca area lodging facilities to and from the festival.
Additional information about the area can be found at www.VisitWaupacaChainOLakes.com.