Biergarten Blues with Lil’ Ed & The Blues Imperials & Blue Sunday at Rathskeller
June 22 @ 6:00 pm - 9:00 pm
$15 tickets at the door. Enter through the bar area and head back to Omaha’s best patio! Lawn chairs welcome!
In Chicago, a city overflowing with unrivaled blues talent, world-renowned Chicago blues royalty Lil’ Ed & The Blues Imperials have been standing tall for almost 36 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.”
The Big Sound Of Lil’ Ed & The Blues Imperials is the latest release from one of the world’s most raucous party bands. The Chicago Tribune said, “…rare is the band that is as tight and explosive as Lil’ Ed Williams’ road dogs. The Imperials aren’t so much a blues band as garage-rockers. Somebody should put them on tour with Pearl Jam or Foo Fighters.” No living blues band embodies the joyous raw spirit and gritty toughness of “genuine houserockin’” Chicago blues better than Lil’ Ed & The Blues Imperials. The band (Ed Williams, his half-brother, bassist James “Pookie” Young, guitarist Michael Garrett and drummer Kelly Littleton) continues to make blues history, carrying the Chicago blues flame once ignited by the likes of Muddy Waters, Elmore James, and Ed and Pookie’s legendary uncle, slide guitar king J.B. Hutto.
The Big Sound Of Lil’ Ed & The Blues Imperials features Lil’ Ed Williams’ incendiary guitar playing and soulful, 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 the album’s 14 songs (those two being written by Ed’s uncle and mentor, J.B. Hutto).
Born in Chicago on April 8, 1955, in the heart of Chicago’s tough West Side, Ed grew up surrounded by music. He was playing guitar, then drums and bass, by the time he was 12. Growing up, Ed and his half-brother Pookie received lessons and support from their famous uncle, who taught the boys how to feel, and not just play, the blues. “J.B. taught me everything I know,” says Ed. “I wouldn’t be where I am today without him.”
Adding to the legend is Ed’s storybook rise, taking him from working at Chicago’s Red Carpet Car Wash to entertaining thousands of fans all over the world. A two-song recording session for Alligator in 1985 quickly turned into an on-the-spot full album contract (and 28 more songs) when the band floored Alligator president Bruce Iglauer with their raw and raucous sound. Twelve of those songs became the band’s debut album, Roughhousin’, released in September of 1986.
Since then, Lil’ Ed & The Blues Imperials toured virtually non-stop, have been celebrated by press and radio, and earned new fans with every performance. They have even made multiple appearances on Late Night With Conan O’Brien. According to The Chicago Tribune, “Williams represents one of the few remaining authentic links to pure Chicago blues.”
Live, Lil’ Ed & The Blues Imperials simply can’t be beat as Ed breaks out the most authentic electric slide-guitar blues being played today. Garrett’s risk-taking rhythm guitar work and Littleton’s unpredictable, old school drumming perfectly complement Lil’ Ed’s and Pookie’s rambunctious playing. Their energetic and spontaneous live show remains legendary among blues fans worldwide. Guitar Player says, “Lil’ Ed Williams is the musical descendent of slide legends J.B. Hutto, Hound Dog Taylor and Elmore James. The band is a snarling boogie-blues machine.”
They have played the Chicago Blues Festival multiple times, and have appeared at The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, Portland’s Waterfront Blues Festival, The Tampa Bay Blues Festival, The San Diego Blues Festival, The Pennsylvania Blues Festival and dozens of other festivals around the country. Satisfying worldwide demand, they have performed at festivals in Canada, Great Britain, France, Spain, Sweden, Denmark, Poland, Japan, Australia, India, Turkey and Panama.
With The Big Sound Of Lil’ Ed & The Blues Imperials (the group’s ninth Alligator release), the band continues to bring their blistering Chicago blues to fans new and old. 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.”
Blue Sunday opens the show at 5:30.