Also Announced: Megadeth on August 10, Dionne Warwick on August 16, and the Fox Valley’s Best 4th of July Celebration
Friday evening’s headliner is Taj Mahal with opener Ana Popovic kicking off suburban Chicago’s largest summer blues festival. Gates open at 6 p.m. Popovic starts at 7 p.m.
Saturday’s starring act is Robert Randolph and the Family Band, with Coco Montoya, Ronnie Baker Brooks and Jamiah Rogers paving the way with a full day of rocking live blues. Gates open at 2 pm. Jamiah Rogers opens Saturday’s quadruple bill at 3 p.m. Don’t wait to get your tickets, blues fans. Early bird tickets are only $10 per day if purchased through May 31. Regular tickets are $20 per day starting June 1 and on-site. Children 12 and under are admitted free to Blues on the Fox but must be accompanied by an adult 18 years or older.
Also newly added to RiverEdge’s already busy summer concert schedule is Megadeth, the hard rockin’, head-bangin’ band that literally pioneered thrash metal, on Saturday, August 10. See them rip through smash hits from seminal metal albums like Killing Is My Business…And Business Is Good!, Peace Sells…But Who’s Buying? and their latest, Dystopia. Gates open at 6 p.m. Concert at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $35-$60.
Plus, the one, the only, Dionne Warwick, a legendary cornerstone of American pop culture and music, will perform Friday, August 16. Gates open at 6:30 p.m. Concert at 8 p.m. Tickets are $30-$50, with VIP packages from $164-$269.
Don’t forget, RiverEdge Park is home to the best July 4th event in all of the Fox Valley, the City of Aurora’s official Fourth of July Celebration. This year’s all-ages event on Thursday, July 4, boasts the world’s No. 1 Bruce Springsteen tribute band, Bruce in the USA, the City of Aurora’s always-spectacular fireworks display, food trucks and vendors and cold drinks. Gates open at 5 p.m. Concert begins at 7:30 p.m. Admission is free.
“The energy, pride and patriotism in downtown Aurora for the Fourth of July is palpable,” said Mayor Richard C. Irvin. “In 2019, the family-fun atmosphere from the parade will extend right into our evening fireworks festivities with new and exciting events and activities everyone can enjoy. As we celebrate our country, our community will come together like we always do – as ONE AURORA and AURORA STRONG!”
RiverEdge Park is located in 360 N. Broadway, right across the street from Metra’s Aurora Transportation Center in downtown Aurora. Tickets for Blues on the Fox, Megadeth and Dionne Warwick go on sale Tuesday, April 2 at 10 a.m. online only at RiverEdgeAurora.com. Starting Tuesday, April 16 at 10 a.m., tickets can also be purchased via phone at 630.896.6666 or in-person at RiverEdge’s satellite box office, Paramount Theatre, 23 E. Galena Blvd., Aurora, open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday–Saturday. Fees not included.
RiverEdge Park season sponsors are Dunham Fund, Bud Light Music and City of Aurora. Park sponsor is Hollywood Casino Aurora. Blues on the Fox is sponsored by Old Second Bank and Rush Copley Medical Center.
23rd Annual Blues on the Fox Festival – Day One
Friday, June 14
Gates open at 6 p.m.
Ana Popovic (7 p.m.)
Award-winning, hard-touring, guitar slinger and singer Ana Popovic fell in love with American blues as a kid, starting back home in Belgrade, Serbia (ex-Yugoslavia). She then moved to the Netherlands to study at the conservatory of jazz and world music. After more than 10 years in Amsterdam, in a single-minded pursuit of her art and career, she relocated to Memphis, Tennessee to record and work with Southern musicians. Two years ago, she moved her family to Los Angeles, California where she now lives.
Called “one helluva guitar-player” by Bruce Springsteen and nominated for six Blues Music Awards, Popovic has appeared on the covers of Vintage Guitar and Guitar Player magazine. Her albums Can You Stand The Heat and Unconditional were USA Today Picks-Of-The-Week and featured on NPR Weekend Edition. Nearly all of her albums reached the top of the Billboard Blues Charts. She and her six-piece band have toured tirelessly, sharing stages with B.B. King, Buddy Guy, Jeff Beck, Joe Bonamassa and many others.
She is back on the road promoting her new album, Like It On Top, that focuses on empowered, successful, inspiring female role models. “I hope that my music inspires others to motivate ladies all over the world to be successful, energetic, empowered women on a mission, and to motivate men to give them that chance,” Popovic says. Like It On Top, produced by four-time Grammy winner Keb’ Mo’, opened #2 at the iTunes most downloaded US blues albums and peaked at #2 of the Billboard Top Selling blues albums chart. anapopovic.com
Taj Mahal Quartet (9 p.m.)
American singer, guitarist, and songwriter Taj Mahal, born Henry Saint Clair Fredericks on May 17, 1942 in New York, New York, is one of the pioneers of merging blues and world music. He combined acoustic blues and other African American music with Caribbean and West African music and other genres to create his own distinctive sound.
Taj Mahal (the name came to him in a dream) grew up in a musical family. His father, of Jamaican background, was a jazz musician and arranger. His mother, a schoolteacher, sang gospel music. While a student at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, in the early 1960s, he began exploring the origins of African American music and focused on acoustic blues. Following graduation, he played in folk clubs until he moved to California in 1965 where he teamed up with Ry Cooder to form the band Rising Sons.
Returning to solo performing, he released his first album, Taj Mahal, in 1968. This and other albums recorded during the next several years – notably Giant Step/De Ole Folks at Home (1969) and Recycling the Blues and Other Related Stuff (1972) – featured blues songs infused with ragtime, reggae, gospel and other sounds. Mahal typically accompanied himself on a steel guitar but also played a number of other instruments, includeing electric instruments, tubas, steel drums and the kalimba (thumb piano), often in unexpected combinations.
Mahal has recorded several dozen albums. An anthology, In Progress & In Motion (1965–1998), was released in 1998. He explored world music on Mumtaz Mahal (1995), Sacred Island (1998) was a delve into Hawaiian music, and he partnered with Malian kora player Toumani Diabaté on Kulanjan (1999). He also scored the films Sounder (1972) and Sounder II (1976), in which he also had acting roles, and the play Mule Bone (1991), originally written by Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston. He received Grammys for best contemporary blues album for Señor Blues (1997), Shoutin’ in Key (2000) and his duet album with Keb’ Mo’, TajMo (2017). tajblues.com
23rd Annual Blues on the Fox Festival – Day Two
Saturday, June 15
Gates open at 2 p.m.
Jamiah Rogers (3 p.m.)
The Jamiah Rogers Band – Jamiah Rogers, lead vocals and guitar; Dionte Skinner, drums; and Tony Rogers, background vocals and bass guitar – is one of the Midwest’s hottest bands and local favorites in the Chicago blues scene. In 2015, the band recorded their second CD Winners Never Quit, featuring 10 original songs written and produced by Rogers. The band has traveled throughout the US and Canada to play several international music festivals including the Montreal International Jazz and Blues Festival. In June 2017, Rogers released his junior solo CD Blues Superman. In 2018, the Jamiah Rogers Band toured France as part of the New Generational Blues Tour. jamiahrogersblues.com
Ronnie Baker Brooks (5 p.m.)
Ronnie Baker Brooks, the son of Texas and Chicago blues legend Lonnie “Guitar Jr.” Brooks, has been climbing the blues world’s ladder all his life. He was born in Chicago, and started playing guitar at age six. At 19, he joined his father, who by then had influenced some of the top bluesman of history: Jimmy Reed, the Fabulous Thunderbirds, Johnny Winter and Junior Wells. For 12 years the two would tour together, putting Ronnie out front with Eric Clapton, B.B. King, Buddy Guy and Koko Taylor. In 1998, when he was 32, his father told him to go solo.
Brooks already had a band by then, one he’d been touring on the side with since 1992. By 1998 he’d started a label; that year he made his first album, Golddigger. Take Me Witcha came three years later; his second album on Watchdog Records. Brooks broke out as his own champion on 2006’s The Torch. The Boston Herald called it “ferocious and unrelenting … the year’s best blues album.”
His newest album, Times Have Changed, brings a sound so big it could topple a Louisiana juke joint, carrying with it the weight of grown perspective and time spent perfecting old material. ronniebakerbrooks.com
Coco Montoya (7 p.m.)
Growing up in 1950s Santa Monica, California, Henry “Coco” Montoya listened to big band jazz, salsa, doo-wop and rock ‘n’ roll. He acquired a drum kit at age 11 and a guitar two years later. But guitar was secondary. Montoya turned his love of drumming into his profession while still in his teens and eventually became an in-demand drummer.
In 1969, Montoya saw Albert King perform at LA’s Shrine Auditorium and was transformed. Then, in the early 1970s, he saw Albert Collins and “his show just tore my head off.” Months later, Collins needed a drummer and he called Montoya. He remained in the band for five more years and began doubling on guitar. As disco began to take over and gigs began to dry up, Montoya left Collins’ band, but the two remained close friends. One night in the early 1980s, Montoya was jamming in a Los Angeles bar when John Mayall walked in. Soon after, Mayall needed a guitarist for the newly reformed Bluesbreakers, and he called Montoya. Filling the shoes of previous Bluesbreaker guitarists Eric Clapton, Peter Green and Mick Taylor would not be easy, but for the next 10 years he toured the world and recorded with Mayall.
By the early 1990s, Montoya had his own band. His debut as a leader, 1995’s Gotta Mind To Travel became an instant fan favorite. In 1996, he was nominated for four Blues Music Awards and walked away with the award for Best New Blues Artist. In 2000, Montoya’s Alligator debut, Suspicion, became the best-selling album of his career. After two more successful Alligator releases—2002’s Can’t Look Back and 2007’s Dirty Deal, Montoya signed with Ruf Records. Back home on Alligator with his latest release, Hard Truth, Montoya has hit the road, playing his heart out night after night for fans hungry for the real thing. cocomontoyaband.com
Robert Randolph and the Family Band (9 p.m.)
Many musicians claim that they “grew up in the church,” but for Robert Randolph that is literally the case. The renowned pedal steel guitarist, vocalist and songwriter led such a cloistered childhood and adolescence that he heard no secular music while growing up. If it wasn’t being played inside of the House of God Church in Orange, New Jersey—quite often by Robert and members of his own family, who upheld a long but little known gospel music tradition called sacred steel—Randolph simply didn’t know it existed.
Which makes it all the more remarkable that the leader of Robert Randolph and the Family Band—whose label debut for Sony Masterworks, Got Soul—is today an inspiration to the likes of Eric Clapton, Carlos Santana and Derek Trucks. It wasn’t until he was out of his teens that Randolph broke from the confines of his social and musical conditioning to discover rock, funk, soul, jazz and the jam band scene, forging his own sound by fusing elements of those genres.
“All music is related. Gospel is the same as blues,” he says. “The only thing that changes is in hardcore gospel people are singing about God and Jesus and in the blues people are singing about ‘my baby left me’ and whiskey.” By the early 2000s, Randolph had begun applying his dazzling steel guitar technique to secular music, and from that grew the Family Band. Their first album, 2002’s Live at the Wetlands, was followed by four studio albums and another live set.
The Family Band’s improvisational skills also quickly made them mega-popular among the jam-band crowd. Their upcoming album, Brightest Days, drops May 31. robertrandolph.net
Saturday, August 10
Gates open at 6 p.m.; Concert at 7:30 p.m.
Dave Mustaine founded Megadeth 30 years ago, pioneering the sound that would become known the world over as thrash metal. From the very beginning, the band proved to be the most lethal and audacious unit on the heavy music scene, pushing thrash to the limits of musical ferocity and instrumental virtuosity on early efforts like their 1985 debut, Killing Is My Business…And Business Is Good! and 1986’s seminal Peace Sells…But Who’s Buying? In the decades since, Megadeth have taken their place as one of metal’s most influential and respected acts. The band has sold 38 million albums, notched six consecutive platinum efforts—including 1992’s two-million-selling Countdown to Extinction—and garnered 12 Grammy nominations, while onstage they continue to be a world-dominating metal force, shaking stadiums from the U.S. to Bulgaria.
In 2017, the legendary metal outfit released their 15th studio effort Dystopia, which debuted at number three on the Billboard Top 200, number one on the Hard Music/Top Rock Chart, number two on the Top Album Sales chart, number two on iTtunes’ Top Albums chart and number one on iTunes’ Metal chart. Dystopia also won a 2017 GRAMMY® Award for “Best Metal Performance” for the title track. For more on Megadeth – Dave Mustaine, lead guitar and vocals; David Ellefson, bass; Kiko Louriero, lead guitar; and Dirk Verbeuren, drums – visit megadeth.com.
Friday, August 16
Gates open 6:30 p.m.; Concert at 8 p.m.
Dionne Warwick is a six-time Grammy Award-winning music legend who has earned more than 75 charted hit songs and sold over 100 million records. She was discovered by Burt Bacharach and Hal David in 1961, and went on to record 18 consecutive Top 100 singles including “Don’t Make Me Over,” Walk on By,” “Say a Little Prayer,” “A House is Not a Home,” “Alfie,” “Déjà Vu” and “Heartbreaker,” among countless others. She received her first Grammy in 1968 for “Do You Know the Way to San Jose?” Warwick became the first African-American solo female artist of her generation to win the prestigious award for Best Contemporary Female Vocalist Performance.
In 1985, she participated in the recording of “That’s What Friends Are For,” which became a number-one hit worldwide and raised awareness and major funds for AIDS research. Warwick also participated in the all-star charity single, “We Are the World” and performed at “Live Aid.” She continues to support many other causes such as The Starlight Foundation, children’s hospitals, world hunger, disaster relief and music education.
Warwick has been honored by AMFAR, the Desert Aids Project, and Clive Davis at his pre-Grammy party. She was also inducted into The Grammy Museum where a special 50th Anniversary career exhibit was unveiled. Most recently, Warwick released a star-studded duets album entitled, “Feels So Good,” featuring collaborations with some of today’s greatest artists. She was the recipient of the coveted and prestigious 2017 Marian Anderson Award for her career accomplishments and philanthropy. She was honored in a 2018 PBS television special, “Then Came You,” was named 2019 Ambassador to the Smithsonian Institute’s Year in Music and is a 2019 Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award recipient. dionnewarwick.us
City of Aurora’s Fourth of July Celebration
Thursday, July 4
Gates open at 5 p.m.; Celebration begins at 7:30 p.m.
Celebrate the Fourth of July with the music of an American icon. The world’s No. 1 Bruce
Springsteen tribute band, Bruce in the USA, is going to rock RiverEdge Park with its note-perfect, visually spot-on performance that started in Vegas and has traveled the nation. bruceintheusa.com
Bring the entire family to rock out to this free concert along the beautiful Fox River that ends in the City of Aurora’s spectacular fireworks display. There will be food trucks and vendors on-site, and cold beverages will be available for purchase, including adult drinks at our bars, all making for the best July 4th Celebration in the Fox Valley.
Tickets are already on sale for the following concerts this summer at RiverEdge Park:
Kings of Chaos – Lou Gramm (original member of Foreigner), Dee Snider (Twisted Sister), Sebastian Bach (the original voice of Skid Row), Warren DeMartini (Ratt), Gilby Clarke (former member of Guns N’ Roses), James LoMenzo (White Lion and Megadeth), Kenny Aronoff (John Fogerty, Chickenfoot and John Mellencamp)
Saturday, June 22
Brian Wilson presents Pet Sounds: The Final Performances with special guests Al Jardine and Blondie Chaplin
Sunday, June 23
‘80s on the Fox – Eddie Money, Starship featuring Mickey Thomas, Patty Smyth & Scandal and The Romantics
Saturday, June 29
Dark Star Orchestra
Friday, July 5
Downtown Alive! American English
Friday, July 12
Brandy, En Vogue and Arrested Development
Saturday, July 20 *Online only. Phone and in-person sales begin April 2.
Tedeschi Trucks Band’s Wheels of Soul tour with special guests Blackberry Smoke and Shovels & Rope
Sunday, July 21
The Mavericks with special guest Los Lobos
Friday, July 26
Downtown Alive! Hollywood Nights – A Bob Seger Experience
Friday, August 9
Get the Led Out: The American Led Zeppelin Experience
Friday, August 23
Poi Dog Pondering
Saturday, August 24
Stay tuned for more exciting RiverEdge Park summer 2019 concert announcements.