After a two-year hiatus, downtown Aurora’s 24th Annual Blues on the Fox Festival is roaring back this summer, with a killer line-up of longtime favorites and fresh new talent playing live blues on the banks of the Fox River, Friday and Saturday, June 17-18, 2022 at Thomas J. Weisner RiverEdge Park.
Friday night’s opener Shemekia Copeland kicks off suburban Chicago’s largest summer blues festival, followed by headliner Kenny Wayne Shepherd. Chicago blues legend Buddy Guy is Saturday’s star attraction, with Billy Branch, Mindi Abair and The Boneshakers, and Melody Angel paving the way for a full day of food, fun and fantastic live blues music.
RiverEdge Park is located at 360 N. Broadway in downtown Aurora, across the street from Metra’s Aurora Transportation Center. Tickets for Friday, June 17 are $25. Tickets for Saturday, June 18 are $35. All tickets are general admission. Fees not included. For tickets and information, visit riveredgeaurora.com, call (630) 896-6666, stop by RiverEdge’s satellite box office, Paramount Theatre, 23 E. Galena Blvd., Aurora, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday–Saturday, or purchase day-of at RiverEdge Park.
City of Aurora announces free Party on the Promenade event on Saturday, June 18 at Wilder Park, bringing more food, fun and music to both banks of the Fox River
Coinciding with this year’s Blues on the Fox Festival, on Saturday, June 18, the city of Aurora will host the Grand Opening of its new Wilder Park Promenade with a free event, Party on the Promenade, from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m.
“Aurora’s Blues on the Fox weekend is about to get much bigger, boasting a whole new vibe with the addition of Saturday’s all-ages Party on the Promenade, happening simultaneously on both sides of the Fox River,” said Aurora Mayor Richard C. Irvin. ”We can only do this because Aurora has realized its dream of having a beautiful new, $3 million pedestrian bridge spanning the Fox River, linking RiverEdge Park on the east to Wilder Park on the west. By bringing more food, fun and live music to Wilder Park on June 18, Promenade on the Park will make Saturday’s Blues on the Fox feel like it’s almost twice the size and twice the fun.”
Wilder Park is located on the west side of the Fox River at 350 N. River St. Party on the Promenade hours are 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. Admission is free. Food and beer trucks will be lined up along Wilder Park’s newly paved promenade, serving up a variety of festival fare including bar-b-que, burgers, brats, pizza, ice cream and more. Live music will play between sets across the river at RiverEdge Park, and activities for kids will make this grand opening party fun for the entire family. For more details, visit aurora-il.org/PartyatthePromenade.
How to rock your RiverEdge Park experience
For Blues on the Fox, the entire park is general admission. There will be limited bench seating on the sides of the stage with standing room in between. Bench seating is first come, first served. The rest of the park is general admission for bag chairs. Bag chairs and blankets are also allowed on the lawn areas. Children 12 and under are admitted free to Blues on the Fox but must be accompanied by an adult 18 years or older.
RiverEdge is located right across the street from Metra’s Aurora Transportation Center. Drivers can find paid parking in the Metra lot, with more public and private lots around the park and in downtown Aurora. Concessions include a diverse menu and bar with domestic and craft beers, wine, sodas, bottled water and more. Local food trucks also ring the back lawn. Outside food is welcome. No alcohol or other outside beverages are allowed, with the exception of two sealed bottles of unflavored water per person. Visit the Park’s Plan Your Visit page for more information, directions, parking options and outside food policies.
NOTE: Events at RiverEdge Park take place rain or shine, unless conditions endanger the safety of artists and the public. For the latest weather updates, follow @RiverEdgeAurora on Facebook and Twitter, call the RiverEdge Park Weather Line, (630) 723-2480, or text REPARK to 888777.
Friday, June 17
Gates open at 6 p.m.
Shemekia Copeland (7 p.m.)
“Shemekia Copeland is one of the great blues voices of our time,” raves the Chicago Tribune. “No one comes close to the sheer firepower that Copeland conjures at will.” With a recording career that began in 1998 at age 18, this award-winning vocalist has grown to become one of the most talented and passionately candid artists on today’s roots music scene. She has performed with blues royalty including B.B. King, Mick Jagger, Buddy Guy, Trombone Shorty, Gary Clark, Jr. and others. Her most recent album, the soulful and uncompromising 2020 release Uncivil War, tackles the problems of contemporary American life with nuance, understanding, and a demand for change. It also brings Copeland’s fiercely independent, sultry R&B fire to songs more personal than political. shemekiacopeland.com
Kenny Wayne Shepherd (9 p.m.)
Utter the phrase “blues rock guitarist prodigy” within earshot of anyone with even a small knowledge of the modern musical leaders and the first name they are most likely to respond with will be Kenny Wayne Shepherd. After all, the guitar aficionado started his musical journey at age seven. Today, Shepherd is an immensely popular recording artist, a consistently in-demand live act and an influential force in a worldwide resurgence of interest in the blues. The Louisiana born songsmith has sold millions of albums while throwing singles into the Top 10, shining a light on the rich blues of the past while forging ahead with his own modern twist on a classic sound. kennywayneshepherd.net
Saturday, June 18
Gates open at 2 p.m.
Melody Angel (3 p.m.)
Chicago south-sider Melody Angel has had a passion for rock-and-roll and the blues since she was seven years old. Her mother bought her a Fender Stratocaster from a pawnshop at age 15, then Angel taught herself to play and never looked back. In fact, she plays the same guitar to this day. Crediting Hendrix, Prince, Chuck Berry and more as her inspirations, Angel has been shredding her Stratocaster ever since. The Chicago Reader called her “the future of blues” who uses old school rock, R&B, hip-hop and of course the blues to create a sound all her own. melodyangelmusic.com
Billy Branch (5 p.m.)
Chicago’s own Billy Branch is a three-time Grammy nominee, an Emmy Award winner and one of the best damn blues musicians you’re ever gonna find. He was discovered by Willie Dixon, widely claimed to be the “father of modern Chicago blues,” bought his first harmonica at 16 and has never been without one since. He has played on over 300 different recordings with blues legends like Willie Dixon, Johnny Winter, Keb’ Mo, Lou Rawls, Koko Tayler, Eddy Clearwater and Taj Mahal, to name a few, including 15 albums under his own name. Don’t miss this chance to hear one of the few true masters of his genre and one of the greatest blues harmonica players in the world. billybranch.com
Mindi Abair and The Boneshakers (7 p.m.)
No one since Junior Walker has brought saxophone and vocals in one package to the forefront of modern blues like two-time Grammy nominee Mindi Abair and her band, The Boneshakers. One of the industry’s most sought-after saxophonists, Abair has been electrifying audiences with her dynamic live performances and sax prowess since her debut album in 1999. She was nominated for the 2019 Blues Music Award for Best Instrumentalist: Horn. In 2018 Abair won eight Independent Blues Awards including Artist of the Year and Best Blues Song for “Pretty Good for a Girl” featuring Joe Bonamassa. mindiabair.com
Buddy Guy (9 p.m.)
Chicago blues legend Buddy Guy needs no introduction. He’s one of the absolute titans of blues. He’s the man Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix and many more cite as inspirations. He’s a legend ranked by Rolling Stone as one of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time. At 85-years-young, he’s just as good as he’s ever been, and he’s been playing the blues for more than half a century. It’s no wonder he’s managed to win eight Grammy Awards, an induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the National Medal of Arts. If you love the blues, you love Buddy. buddyguy.net