Lil’ Ed & The Blues Imperials

Lil’ Ed & The Blues Imperials photo by Paul Natkin.

Saturday, Sept 16, 2017
9:30-11:00 pm
South Stage

“Electrifying, raucous, pure Chicago blues….Lil’ Ed is a guitarist extraordinaire….slashing slide and flamboyant stage persona.” –Chicago Tribune

“Rough and ready blues played with unmitigated intensity…Swirling, snarling, riveting slide….The Blues Imperials pound out riffs and rhythms like they’re overdosing on boogie juice.  Scorching and soulful, joyous and stomping.” –Living Blues

In Chicago, a city overflowing with unrivaled blues talent, world-renowned Lil’ Ed & The Blues Imperials have been standing tall for almost 30 years. The band’s big sound, fueled by Lil’ Ed’s gloriously rollicking slide work and deep blues string bending, along with his rough-edged, soulful vocals, is as real and hard-hitting as Chicago blues gets. The Chicago Sun-Times says, “Lil’ Ed & The Blues Imperials are the hottest purveyors of bottleneck boogie to come out of Chicago since Hound Dog Taylor.”

Winner of the coveted Blues Blast Award for Blues Band Of The Year in 2016 and 2017. A full list of winners and nominees can be found here.

Lil’ Ed Williams comes to the blues naturally. His uncle, Chicago slide guitar king and master songwriter J.B. Hutto, taught him how to feel, not just play the blues. Nine albums and thousands of performances later, Lil’ Ed is now universally hailed as a giant of the genre. Lil’ Ed and The Blues Imperials—bassist (and Ed’s half-brother) James “Pookie” Young, guitarist Mike Garrett and drummer Kelly Littleton—have remained together for nearly 30 years (an extraordinary feat for any group), the band fueling Ed’s songs with their rock-solid, road-tested, telepathic musicianship.

The Big Sound Of Lil’ Ed & The Blues Imperials is the musically electrifying, emotionally intense and downright fun new album from the band Guitar Player calls “a snarling boogie-blues machine…they blow down the walls.” The CD features Lil’ Ed’s incendiary playing and playful, passionate singing, with the ragged-but-right Blues Imperials cooking like mad alongside him. Produced by Williams and Alligator president Bruce Iglauer, it is a tour-de-force of authentic, deeply rooted Chicago blues. Williams wrote or co-wrote all but two of album’s 14 songs, the other gems written by Uncle J.B. The Chicago Reader says the band’s music “is a soundtrack for dancing and celebration infused with a sense of hard-won survival. Williams attacks his lyrics like he attacks his guitar: with bare-bones intensity that makes each word sound like a matter of life or death.”

The group 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 both 2007 and 2009. The Associated Press says, “Williams fills Chicago’s biggest shoes with more life and heat than anyone on stage today.”

With The Big Sound Of Lil’ Ed & The Blues Imperials, the band continues to bring their blistering Chicago blues to “Ed Heads” new and old. Their infectious energy, joyful showmanship and masterful playing have been honed to a razor’s edge by their many years together. Lil’ Ed, Pookie, Mike and Kelly have seen sports stars and presidents, musical fads and fashion trends come and go. Meanwhile, their fiery music has more than stood the test of time. “We’re not band members,” says Williams, “we’re family, and families stay together.” Night after night, gig after riotous gig, the musical family called Lil’ Ed & The Blues Imperials bring their big, dynamic Chicago blues sound to fans across the country and around the world.

Content provided by Matt La Follette of Alligator Records.