Some of the best-kept secrets of the Chicago blues scene will get a turn in the spotlight tomorrow at the 2003 Hines Farm Blues Fest.
“I think this year's lineup is going to be really good because it showcases some Chicago musicians who aren't that well known but are really talented,” said Dan “Mudfoot” Hubbs, a Toledo blues artist who organized the festival.
Headlining the show will be the Crazy House Band featuring Little Al Thomas, a 72-year-old singer from Chicago's South Side, Little Arthur Duncan, and Eddie Taylor, Jr.
Thomas, who has been a Chicago favorite for decades, made his debut recording in 1999 with “South Side Story” on Cannonball Records.
“Little Al Thomas is like a jewel, an under-recorded jewel, that hardly anybody knows about,” Hubbs said.
Taylor is a guitarist who follows in the footsteps of his famous father, Eddie Taylor, Sr., who played guitar with such blues icons as John Lee Hooker and Jimmy Reed.
Duncan, a singer and harmonica player, is returning after headlining last year's blues festival at Hines Farm.
“There had been a lull of about 10 years between festivals at Hines Farm and [club owner] Henry Griffin and I decided it was time to organize another fest,” Hubbs said.
Last year's event drew about 600 blues fans to Hines Farm, the historic club in a rural area east of Swanton. From the 1940s through the mid-1970s, Hines Farm was a nationally known blues venue and social club from that drew such prominent artists as Hooker, B.B. King, Count Basie, and Freddie King.
Over the last few years, the club, which is slowly being restored by Griffin, has been the site of a monthly blues concert. It received a publicity boost when it was the subject of a documentary that aired in February on WBGU-TV.
“That program helped spread the word,” Hubbs said. “I've been hearing from people who never knew about Hines Farm and from people who knew about it but didn't know that events were still going on there.”
Hubbs, who plays harmonica and sings with the King Notes, said he originally was interested in rock and roll but switched to the blues in 1985 when he first heard the sounds of the Griswolds - the Toledo blues aces who will play at Hines Farm tomorrow - and the late Toledo singer-guitarist Big Jack Reynolds.
“I was so inspired by their music that I decided right then that I wanted to play the blues,” Hubbs said. “I liked the feeling that the blues evoked inside me and I found Big Jack's style of playing to be very captivating.”
The Hines Farm Blues Fest runs from noon to midnight tomorrow at Hines Farm, 3950 South Berkey Rd., Swanton. Gates open at 11 a.m.; admission is $15.