Celebrating 40 Years of Chicago B.L.U.E.S. on Halsted

The last Sunday of every August is the annual B.L.U.E.S. BBQ, which celebrates friendship and the tradition of Chicago Blues, at B.L.U.E.S. on Halsted. Big Ray manages the grilling, including his famous burgers which are entirely gigantic, and there’s a generous spread of potluck dishes, ranging from salads to desserts! This event, open to the public, also gives an upfront view of the real fellowship shared with the wonderful Chicago Blues musicians and their families. Heck, it’s really a giant family reunion, which also happens to be open to the public.


Marty Sammon Band included Randall Mathews (guitar), Kenny Hampton (bass) and Rick King (drums), with guest Carlos Johnson (guitar).
Billy Flynn Band included Rick Kreher (guitar), E.G. McDaniel (bass), and Andrew ‘Blaze’ Thomas (drums), with guests including Carlos Johnson (guitar), Robert Stroger, Milwaukee Slim, and Jimmy Burns (guitar).
Both bands and their guests served some of the best blues music anyone could have possibly asked for!


There were many sentimental and concerned moments shared between performing musicians and the audience, as well as during fellowship between musicians and friends.  For months now, many people have known of the pending sale of B.L.U.E.S. on Halsted. The mutual expressed concern today was: “this may be the very last one, after 40 years of having such a great tradition.”  

Carlos Johnson explained, from the stage, how he has played with every musician featured on the venue’s wall of framed photos, while also discussing what a great honor it is to be part of such a meaningful annual BBQ event. Then he explained the uncertainty of the annual BBQ, after today, due to the pending change in owners.

I had an opportunity to talk with one of the new owners (sale is pending), Dr. Daniel Ivankovich, aka ‘Chicago Slim.’ He is very committed to the rich history and tradition of both Chicago Blues Music and the Chicago Blues Scene: “It is my hope to continue this annual BBQ at B.L.U.E.S. on Halsted, for years to come. I mean look around here, and see the fellowship only those of us in this big family share, and that is what’s important. While we need to take care of some building renovations, we definitely want to keep this annual BBQ going!”   

I look forward to the 2020 Annual B.L.U.E.S. on Halsted BBQ, otherwise known as the only giant family reunion honoring Chicago Blues, at 2519 N. Halsted, Chicago, IL 60614.

Published by sweetmusicchica

I am a journalist and photographer, covering artists, events, and music. I love to capture energy and passion of musicians in both my photography and writing. All genres of music remain the soundtrack of my life, as I cut my teeth on a combination of Motown, Soul, Blues, Rock’n’Roll, and Country. My spare time is spent enjoying my vinyl collection with my cats & Corgi’s.

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1 Comment

  1. Pude estar en agosto de 2016, fue una emoción enorme haber estado en este emblemático lugar del blues en el mundo !!! Por mil años más !!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

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