December 18, 2019
Chicago’s Only Indoor Winter Blues Festival featuring Renowned Blues Talent
on Four Stages, January 31-February 2.
A galaxy of Chicago’s biggest blues stars will perform Friday, January 31 through Sunday, February 2 at Hey Nonny at 10 S. Vail in Arlington Heights for the inaugural Hey Nonny Winter Blues Summit. Leading the headliners is a unique performance by blues legends, brothers Jimmy and Syl Johnson. The Winter Blues Summit will take place on four stages all within an indoor walk from Hey Nonny.
“Just about every Chicago blues great will be appearing at the Winter Blues Summit,” said Hey Nonny co-owner Chip Brooks. “This will be the coolest indoor blues festival in the world – you park right next door and then once you’re inside, you don’t have to go back outside all day.” There is a large municipal parking garage with free parking right immediately south of Hey Nonny.
Joining Jimmy and Syl Johnson on the Blues Summit stages will be the Kinsey Report, Toronzo Cannon, Li’l Ed and the Blues Imperials, Joanna Connor, John Primer, and more than a dozen Chicago blues greats. “The Summit’s largest stage will be in the Metropolis Grand Ballroom, right upstairs from Hey Nonny,” said co-owner Chris Dungan. “That room will hold up to 400 for the Winter Blues Summit. We’ll also have shows in the Ballroom’s Campbell-Vail Room, and in the cozy Big Shot Piano Lounge right downstairs from us.” With four stages, there will be non-stop action for blues fans, beginning with the kick-off show by the Corey Dennison Band at 6 p.m. on Friday, January 31.
The Winter Blues Summit will also feature a panel discussion on Saturday, February 1 at 4:30 p.m. by some of Chicago’s greatest sidemen, including Bob Stroger, Rico McFarland, Donald Kinsey, Marty Sammon, and Billy Flynn. All of which together have toured and recorded with every major blues star from Buddy Guy to Otis Rush to James Cotton to Albert King, Pinetop Perkins to Kim Wilson and, in Kinsey’s case, Bob Marley. Joining the panelists will be filmmaker Scott D. Rosenbaum, who will follow the panel discussion with an exclusive screening of his award-winning film Sidemen: Long Road To Glory.
The Winter Blues Summit is also unique in that a 3-day pass includes not one, but two Blues Brunches. Both Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Hey Nonny and the Metropolis Ballroom will offer pass holders an eye-opening Blues Brunch with live music to get the day going. While beverages are not included, special Blues Bloody Mary’s and other specialty drinks will be available at the brunches.
On Sunday the Winter Blues Summit will close out with an early afternoon session by Li’l Ed and the Blues Imperials in the Metropolis Ballroom. “We’ll be done with everything by 2:30 in the afternoon,” said Brooks. “It is Super Bowl Sunday and we want patrons to be able to go to their football parties.”
Tickets for the full 3-day Winter Blues Summit include the sidemen panel discussion, screening Long Road to Glory and two Blues Brunches — are $175 each. But, through Christmas Eve, the 3-day Winter Blues Summit pass will be on sale for $159. One-day passes are also available. All tickets – and the full Winter Blues Summit line-up — are available at www.HeyNonny.com.
The Winter Blues Summit sponsors include the Chicago Blues Guide, Illinois Entertainer, Victoria Amplifiers, WDCB radio, Chicago Organ Company, and Bluesin Chicago.com. Wingate by Wyndham in Arlington Heights is the official hotel sponsor of the event offering a special room rate of $79 for ticket holders. Attendees can call 847-434-0300 and ask for room rate for the Blues Summit. The Winter Blues Summit is co-produced by Hey Nonny and Straight Arrow Productions.
Brothers Jimmy and Sylvester “Syl” Johnson were born and grew up in Holly Springs, Mississippi, but moved to Chicago in the 1950’s, where they quickly became part of the exploding Chicago electric blues scene with pioneers Muddy Waters, Willie Dixon, and Little Walter. Through those early years, Jimmy Johnson played with Freddy King, Albert King, Magic Sam, Otis Rush and Eddy Clearwater. Syl Johnson also played with Magic Sam (his neighbor), as well as Billy Boy Arnold, Junior Wells, and Howlin’ Wolf. He went on to release the hit records “Different Strokes” and “is it Because I’m Black” on the Twinight record label. He also recorded “Take Me To The River” and “We Did It” for the Hi records label. In the 1990’s, Syl Johnson became one of the most sampled artists in the hip-hop world by artists such as Wu Tang Clan, the Geto Boys and Public Enemy. Jimmy Johnson is 91 and Syl Johnson is 83, and the two eminent brothers have not appeared together in years. The Hey Nonny Winter Blues Summit will re-unite them backed by one of the finest collection of blues players going today the Big Time Friends.
Donald Kinsey will be fronting his Kinsey Report band at the Hey Nonny Winter Blues Summit. Kinsey is the son of famed Chicago blues star, Big Daddy Kinsey. While Donald Kinsey is steeped in Chicago blues, and has played and toured with blues stars such as Albert King, he achieved even greater fame as a member of Bob Marley’s band, the Wailers. Kinsey has also toured with Peter Tosh and Roy Buchanan.
Li’l Ed Williams was born and raised in Chicago, and brought to the blues by his famous uncle, J.B. Hutto. Ed’s swirling, snarling slide guitar playing, searing singing, and ebullient spirit have, with his band, the Blues Imperials, graced the stages of blues clubs all over Chicago, as well as festivals all over the world (and Hey Nonny’s stage last New Year’s Eve). Li’l Ed and the Blues Imperials have twice been named the Blues Music Awards Band of the Year. Li’l Ed records for Alligator Records.
Toronzo Cannon was born and bred in Chicago, growing up in on the south side near the Robert Taylor Homes and the famous Theresa’s Lounge. After coming up playing guitar with Wayne Baker Brooks, L.V. Banks and Joanna Connor, Cannon formed his own band in 2001 and since then, has toured the world with his blazing Chicago blues style. During the day, when not touring, Cannon drives a C.T.A. bus. His 2016 album The Chicago Way was nominated for a Blues Music Award as 2017 Album of the Year. Cannon records for Chicago’s Alligator Records.
Joanna Connor was born in Brooklyn, New York and raised in Worcester, Massachusetts, but has called Chicago home for her entire musical career. She is a virtuosa guitarist. Since she formed her own band in 1987 at age 25, Connor has been tearing up the Chicago blues scene, appearing regularly at Kingston Mines, as well as touring the country. She records for M.C. Records.
Hey Nonny is the new Chicago-favorite music venue and Midwestern bistro, which opened in 2018 in Arlington Heights. It has already established a national reputation as the best small music venue in the Chicago area.
Straight Arrow Productions is a long-time producer of Chicago music events, recordings and national tours. Formed in 1982 as a festival production company Straight Arrow has expanded into all avenues of music production including Artist Management and Talent Coordination.