Lineup for Blues on the Fox in Aurora includes Robert Randolph, Big Head Todd and the Monsters

This year’s lineup for Blues on the Fox in Aurora will feature some Chicago area legends, a blues artist from the United Kingdom and a man dubbed one of the top 100 guitarists of all time by Rolling Stone magazine, event organizers said.

Officials on Thursday announced the acts to perform at Blues on the Fox, set for Friday, June 14, and Saturday, June 15, at RiverEdge Park in Aurora.

Gates will open at 6 p.m. June 14, with Toronzo Cannon performing at 7 p.m., followed by headliner Robert Randolph at 9 p.m.

The gates on June 15 will open at 2 p.m. Wayne Baker Brooks will perform at 3 p.m., followed by Guy King at 5 p.m., Joanne Shaw Taylor at 7 p.m. and Big Head Todd and the Monsters at 9 p.m.

Jim Jarvis, chief marketing and programming officer for the Paramount Theatre and general manager of RiverEdge Park, said that the “goal this year was to mix it up. We always look for different styles.”

“One of the cool things about our lineup is everybody who is on that lineup could easily be a headliner for a Friday or Saturday night which is totally cool for us,” Jarvis said.

He noted that opening on June 14, “you’ve got Toronzo Cannon, the famous bus driver who finally got a break and took off huge in the blues and now travels the world playing it and that week he’s dropping a new album. He’s high energy, cool vocals, it’s great.”

The headliner that day is Robert Randolph, who plays pedal steel guitar and has worked with Elton John, Eric Clapton, Carlos Santana, Dave Matthews and John Mayer, among others.

“He’s been named one of the top 100 guitarists ever in music and has been around a long time,” Jarvis said. “He brings a different energy. He’s got gospel and some blues and some rock in it and so that’s a really cool balance for the opening of Blues Fest.”

The session on June 15 begins, Jarvis said, “with a guy who could easily headline as much as anyone else with Chicago- born and raised Wayne Baker Brooks, the youngest son of blues master Lonnie Brooks.”

Chicago Blues Festival

John J. Kim/Chicago Tribune

Wayne Baker Brooks performs during the Chicago Blues Festival last year at Millennium Park in Chicago. He is set to perform at the Blues on the Fox fest in Aurora in June. (John J. Kim /Chicago Tribune)

“He comes from one of the most famous blues families with his dad Lonnie and his brother Ronnie. If you talk about lighting a rocket – that dude walks out on stage and the energy and the vocals – everything about it is right there,” Jarvis said.

“Having him open it for us, it’s super cool that he does it,” he said. “There are some people who can headline who could never in a million years want to do something like that. That’s what cool about blues. Everybody who is a blues artist knows it’s all about the music and it doesn’t make a difference what position you’re appearing in.”

Guy King – a blues artist who moved here from Israel – will also appear that day with a voice, Jarvis said, that has a “silky, soulful, smooth sound.”

“He’s got a new album that’s dropping soon and he’s bringing this big band with a horn section and so it’s blues and jazz and R&B and a great balance,” Jarvis said.

Joanne Shaw Taylor will follow that night, a woman who Jarvis said “is the top blues person in the U.K.”

“She got discovered at 16 from the guitarist from the Eurythmics and life has never been the same for her since,” Jarvis said. “It’s the first time she’s ever played with us before, but if you look at any of the blues magazines she’s out there. Everyone talks about her.”

The two-day fest ends with Big Head Todd and the Monsters, a group that Jarvis said organizers “have been trying to get for years.”

“Those guys are such a cool mix of blues and rock and soul,” he said. “Buddy Guy himself took them out on tour with him and spent a year with them. They are a cool group to close (the fest).”

Jarvis said he is pleased with this year’s lineup for Blues on the Fox.

“Overall, I think this is one of the best, one of the coolest groups of artists we’ve had since I’ve been involved with this,” he said. “We ran this by folks working in blues magazines and blues folks in Chicago and everybody was like, wow, that’s just a great lineup.”

The event used to include five artists on Saturday, but “it became such a long day for folks,” Jarvis said, so this year will feature four acts on the final day.

Jarvis said efforts are made to make the fest “as affordable as possible” including guests being allowed to bring in their own food.

Tickets for Friday night, June 14, are $15 through May 31 and $20 starting June 1. Tickets for Saturday, June 15, are $20 through May 31 and $25 beginning June 1.

RiverEdge Park is at 360 N. Broadway in downtown Aurora, right across the street from Metra’s Aurora Transportation Center.

For tickets and information, go to; call 630-896-6666; stop by RiverEdge’s satellite box office at the Paramount Theatre, 23 E. Galena Blvd. in Aurora, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and until show time on show days at the Paramount; or purchase tickets on the day of the event at RiverEdge Park.

David Sharos is a freelance reporter for The Beacon-News.

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