Chicago Bluegrass and Blues Festival Begins Friday

Chicago Bluegrass and Blues Festival Begins Friday
CBB.jpg

The Chicago Bluegrass and Blues
festival
is back for the third straight year and it's growing
bigger than ever. This weekend, the festival will host its biggest headliner yet-- Edward Sharpe and the
Magnetic Zeros
.

"We've expanded to three
days, we've incorporated the Double Door and Lincoln Hall into the show, [we've
booked] more bands...35 bands instead of 25,"said Michael Raspatello, creator of
the festival.

The festival, which launched
in 2008 with just three stages at Congress Theatre in Logan Square, has
expanded to comprise the two other venues, as well as more time and more acts.

Chicago bands and national acts will fill the stages. The
crux of the event is exposing listeners of all ages to music inspired by the blues
and bluegrass genres.

"I kind of got the dorky inspiration
to teach other young music fans about the roots genre," said Michael Raspatello,
the creator of Chicago Bluegrass and Blues Festival. "That's why [I chose] the contemporary
headliners that appeal to the younger crowd, but also get a younger, 19-year-old
fan in front of a guy like Honeyboy Edwards, when that would never otherwise happen."

The indoor festival is intended
to bring the feel of an outdoor music fest.

"It seemed like that kind of
style of music and that atmosphere exists for only three months in Chicago, but
there's those genres of music playing throughout the winter in Chicago," Raspatello
said, explaining how he conceived the festival. "But there's not really a
gathering of them in any way like there is throughout the warm months in the
Midwest and the warm months everywhere else."

This year fans will have in
and out access so they can come and go throughout the festival and admission
for children under 12 will be free on Saturday.  Traditions like the "Last Banjo Standing" competition will return.

Donnie Biggins , the
original banjo competition winner, has since formed The Shams Band and founded the
Chicago Roots Collective.

"This festival isn't just about
the headliners; it is about the community that builds within it," Biggins said.
"We are friends with one another. We have played together. And most importantly,
we have worked hard together. Gaining the attention of the larger Chicago audience
seems only natural when people come together to work as one."

The Shams Band will open for
Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros at Congress Theatre on Saturday-- a
milestone in the band's career.

"We
are gonna bring our energy and passion to prove to Chicago that our music isn't
just a hobby, it is our way of life," Biggins said.

Michael
Harrison Berg of the Chicago-based band Van Ghost echoes Biggin's sentiment.

"The CBB fest helps support
and maintain these traditions as well as spotlight the artists from Chicago
that are doing their part to pave the way for younger acts coming up behind
them in the same vein," Berg said. 
"As a performer on this third  annual winter CBB festival, Van Ghost and I feel like we are
part of this culture and artistic movement that is surrounding us all
."

Other
notable bands to play at festival are Grace Potter and the Nocturnals and The Skatalites.

Tickets
are available at clubtix.net. A three-day pass is $50, a two-day pass is $42.50,
and day-passes vary in price.

CHICAGO TRIBUNE VIDEO

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