Thunder Bay Blues Society Presents Premier Musicians from the Windy City

By Ken Wright

On October 19, the Polish Hall on Court Street will resonate with the sounds of Chicago blues as the Thunder Bay Blues Society proudly presents not one, but two of the Windy City’s premier blues acts. John Primer & the Real Deal Blues Band and the Ivy Ford Band will perform in the same venue for the very first time.

A double Grammy Award nominee, John Primer is a legendary pioneer whose guitar phrasing and slide technique helped to define the genre. His storied career began fronting the house band at the renowned Theresa’s Lounge on Chicago’s South Side, hobnobbing with Buddy Guy, Junior Wells, and Lonnie Brooks. He was a member of Willie Dixon’s Chicago Blues All Stars before graduating to guitarist and band leader for the great Muddy Waters and the unstoppable Magic Slim and the Teardrops. Primer has recorded with, opened for or played with the Rolling Stones, B.B. King, Derek Trucks, Gary Clark Jr., Koko Taylor, Chuck Berry, John Lee Hooker, Ray Charles, and James Brown among others. In 2016, he won the Blues Music Award for Traditional Blues Male Artist of the Year.

Wielding a black and white polka dot Fender Stratocaster and singing in a rich alto, Ivy Ford bends a string and caresses a note with aplomb. A Windy City favorite, this up-and-coming talent is turning heads in the Chicago blues community and beyond. A self-taught multi-instrumentalist, Ford epitomizes the next generation of blues artists, setting the bar high with her fresh take on blues, roots, and R&B. Earlier this year, Ford and her tight trio were finalists at the 35th annual International Blues Challenge in Memphis, Tennessee and appeared at the Chicago Blues Festival. She has two self-produced albums.

John Primer and Ivy Ford—one of the veteran blues men who lit the torch, and the young woman who is determined to carry it forward.