Chicago Bluegrass & Blues Fest


The Avett Brothers
The Congress Theater, in conjunction with newly-formed KingTello Presents, is proud to announce the inaugural Chicago Bluegrass & Blues Festival ( While rooted in the foot-stomping influences of bluegrass and blues, the Festival will transport the concertgoer through the genre-defying evolution of music today. The one-day event, held on Saturday, November 22 from noon to midnight, will serve as a tribute to two schools of music that continue to shape and inspire contemporary rock, jam band, funk, folk, roots, Americana, and indie cultures.

Against the backdrop of an official Chicago landmark and one of the last of the classic "movie palaces," fans will be treated to a party with a purpose, featuring two stages and 16 bands for less than the typical price of the headliners alone. Newgrass legend and longtime Jerry Garcia collaborator David Grisman and his David Grisman Quintet will be sharing the headlining duties with surging festival sensations The Avett Brothers and their massive following of rowdy devotees. The Avett Brothers have recently teamed up with legendary producer Rick Rubin, and signed with American/Columbia Records, home of Tom Petty, Johnny Cash, and The Black Crowes.

Tickets for the festival go on sale on at an early-bird price of $31 this week through the event's website,, and

The Chicago Bluegrass & Blues Fest will offer a musical reprieve from the merciless Chicago Winter by adapting elements of a summer music festival to the historic and intimate indoor setting. The Chicago Bluegrass & Blues Fest stands alone as the only music festival experience offered during the otherwise depressing Chicago winter. In addition to 12 hours of two stages worth of nonstop music, the day's activities will also include a pickin' circle, Chicago's largest live-art exhibition and indoor gallery, charitable raffles, an improv comedy showcase, and one of the Midwest's leading alternative DJs.

The main stage will feature the co-headliners, as well as festival favorites Ha Ha Tonka, Chicago Blues giant Lil Ed & The Blues Imperials, Chicago alt-country mainstays Dollar Store and Majors Junction, and country's Next Big Star Competition winner Billy Childers. The participation of artists from both Alligator Records and Bloodshot Records marks a rare collaboration between two independent Chicago labels universally considered leaders in their respective genres.

The opening spot on the main stage will feature the winner of "LAST BANJO STANDING," an online contest that will scour Chicagoland to find the top bluegrass/blues artist.

The Pavilion Stage will feature some of the best musicians from the local Chicago music scene, as well as Nashville bluegrass veterans including Blue Mother Tupelo, Blackdog, How Far to Austin, Mike Mangione, Cobalt & the Hired Guns, Lindsey O'Brien & Friends, Jessica Lee, and Blue Room Hero.

And while the festival will serve to break a band or two, festivalgoers will get to save a heart. A portion of each $31 ticket will be donated to the Saving tiny Hearts Society, a non-profit organization that raises money for grossly under-funded, crucial, life-saving research of congenital heart defects (CHD), America's #1 birth defect. Nearly one of every 125 babies born in America each year is affected by a Congenital Heart Defect.

[Published on: 10/8/08]

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Grateful Fred starstarstarstarstar Wed 10/8/2008 08:34AM
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Grateful Fred

Sounds like a fun time and great that they're raising money for a worthwhile charity without fleecing those buying tickets. Wish I could make it!

Marcsmall Wed 10/8/2008 09:11AM
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No Cornmeal?

schofizzl Wed 10/8/2008 09:29AM
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Conjugal Burning starstarstarstarstar Wed 10/8/2008 09:36AM
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Conjugal Burning

i would enjoy Grisman, Avett bros, and Cornmeal if they were playing. sounds righteous even without the latter. By the way, Grace Potter is smokin hot! Wave that flag

WidespreadMule3 Wed 10/8/2008 10:36AM
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lil ed and the blues emperials!! they're epic! and avett brothers! that's intense! i wish i could go!

r0llingst0ned starstarstarstarstar Wed 10/8/2008 10:59AM
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I was hoping for Cornmeal too, but Mike (producer of the fest) stated that the band already has a gig planned for that day and that he wasn't able to get them on the bill. I don't mind going for the Grisman Quintet though, as I have yet to see them live. Plus it's the first fest of its kind in Chicago, and for charity as well. Gotta support live music and good causes!!

mesaxi starstarstarstarstar Wed 10/8/2008 11:27AM
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We need Cornmeal, I aint goin otherwise.

Add sexfist (henhouse prowlers) too!

Brooklynn starstarstarstar Wed 10/8/2008 11:33AM
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i love the Avett Brothers, they put their heart and soul into every song, i guess some take it as screaming.. i take it as passion. cornmeal would be a great addition however:)

Kindskatz Wed 10/8/2008 12:46PM
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Vote Josh Phillips Folk Festival into this festival:

PickinKind Wed 10/8/2008 01:05PM
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yeah thats what im sayin, wheres the cornmeal at?

granola Wed 10/8/2008 02:06PM
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mall8239 star Wed 10/8/2008 02:43PM
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Emo Wed 10/8/2008 05:30PM
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Too bad one the voting site you can't do a write in of cornmeal.

footie Wed 10/8/2008 05:33PM
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A Chicago Bluegrass Festival without Cornmeal. Come on.

MadonMDR Wed 10/8/2008 09:35PM
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What's up, Mike, the organizer of the show here. Have to set the record straight on a few things. First off: Cornmeal was one of the original three bands offered a spot as part of this show. The show was literally planned around them, the avetts, grisman, and majors junction (friends of mine, friends of Cornmeal). However, our only potential date ran way too close to an annual gig they have every year, and they unfortunately had to decline. Next year though, it's a promise.

And read the description of the show..... it's a TRIBUTE to the fact that all of the styles of music represented on this bill are derivations of bluegrass & blues music and culture. Without those two original styles, these current incarnations of roots music wouldn't exist. But these currents incarnations are equally merited. See what I'm sayin'?

rsmclain starstarstarstarstar Thu 10/9/2008 05:09AM
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For a real bluegrass festival in a real bluegrass state check out Carolina Bluegrass Festival which is working with a non profit as well called Stop Hunger Now. Check out the site:

Del McCoury Band, Tony Rice, Rhonda Vincent and many others...being it is a one day event as well this would be well worth the trip. But hey I would go check out some David Grisman too at the CBBF but I live in NC so that is too far...good luck though!!!

MyFavBandIsTheBestYoursSucks starstarstarstarstar Thu 10/9/2008 09:21AM
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Wish I could make it for this one, I love traditional bluegrass music, but you bluegrass purists tend to get a little pretentious over the term Bluegrass. Music evolves, get over it.

MadonMDR Thu 10/9/2008 10:56AM
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And yes, Grace Potter is really hot. I tried to get her for this show as well. one time I saw her at a street festival with my mom and it was extremely uncomfortable because I was practically drooling all over her.

Jenn K Thu 10/9/2008 11:33AM
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Jenn K

I can't wait. Vote for Cobalt and the hired guns to play main stage! Should be good times!

mmmFriedFrogLegs starstarstar Thu 10/9/2008 12:46PM
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lovin' the "last banjo standing" concept