press review

“Smoking slide guitar boogies and raw-boned shuffle”

Currently celebrating 30 history-making years together, Lil’ Ed & The Blues Imperials ply their musical talents with skills that have been honed to a razor’s edge. Mixing smoking slide guitar boogies and raw-boned shuffles with the deepest slow-burners, Lil’ Ed Williams and his Blues Imperials — bassist (and Ed’s half-brother) James “Pookie” Young, guitarist Mike Garrett and drummer Kelly Littleton — deliver gloriously riotous, rollicking and intensely emotional blues.

In the Shepherd Express, before Lil’Ed & The Blues Imperials’ performances as part of the Peanut Butter & Jam Concert Series in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on Thursday, August 16, 2018. Read the full story in the Shepherd Express

The North Atlantic Blues Festival “with style”

The 25th North Atlantic Blues Festival got off to a rousing start Saturday, July 14, under partly cloudy skies. Festival-goers enjoyed a light breeze, which kept things cooler than in some previous years.

And the music followed! “Blues Festival celebrates 25 years in style,” wrote Sarah E. Reyolds, who published photos of Lil’ Ed & The Blues Imperials for her review of the North Atlantic Blues Festival which took place in Rockland, Maine, on July 14 and 15.

Lil’ Ed takes the stage with his Blues Imperials Sunday afternoon, July 15, at the North Atlantic Blues Festival in Rockland © Sarah E. Reyolds

Photographers crowd in front of the stage to get a shot of Lil’ Ed and the Blues Imperials July 15 © Sarah E. Reyolds

Lil’ Ed and some of the Blues Imperials delight the crowd at the North American Blues Festival July 15 in Rockland © Sarah E. Reyolds

Read the full story on Knox Village Soup.

 

“Big sound, big entertainment, lots of fun”

Lil’ Ed & The Blues Imperials (3:15 p.m.) is known for big sound — and big entertainment. Expect great Chicago blues and lots of on-stage, and in-audience, fun.

Lil’Ed & The Blues Imperials will give some “Blues we can use”, according to Dagney C. Ernest, before his performance on Sunday, July 15, at 25th North Atlantic Blues Festival, in Rockland, Maine.

Read the full story in Village Soup Knox. 

“Most accomplished, longest running Chicago blues band”

Celebrating their 30th year, Lil’ Ed & The Blues Imperials have established themselves as one of the most accomplished, longest-running Chicago blues bands of all time.

The group released eight albums from 1986 and 2012 and won numerous awards including the prestigious Blues Music Award for Band of the Year in 2007 and 2009.

The band’s lineup has remained the same for three decades with front man Ed Williams (lead guitar and vocals), Michael Garrett (rhythm guitar and vocals), James “Pookie” Young (bass) and Kelly Littleton (drums).

Williams grew up on the west side of Chicago and was taught by his uncle J.B. Hutto, a legendary Chicago slide-guitarist, songwriter and recording artist. […]

By Jeffrey Zampanti, presenting the 17th season of Peanut Butter & Jam, in Kenosha, Wisconsin, where Lil’ Ed & The Blues Imperials will be performing on August 16.

Read the full story in Kenosha News

 

“Enjoyed Lil’ Ed
on Beale Street”

Celebrated the father’s 70th birthday with a trip to Memphis this weekend and enjoyed Lil’ Ed and The Blues Imperials at The Rum Boogie Cafe on Beale Street.

– By Chad Bishop, who made Lil’Ed & The Blues Imperials his “Musical Pick of the Week” as he also relived the biggest stories of Western Kentucky University athletics from this past year, on WBKO.

“Riotous, rollicking, intensely
emotional blues”

Currently celebrating 30 history-making years together, Lil’ Ed & The Blues Imperials (…] ply their musical talents with skills that have been honed to a razor’s edge. Mixing smoking slide guitar boogies and raw-boned shuffles with the deepest slow-burners, Lil’ Ed Williams and his Blues Imperials —bassist (and Ed’s half-brother) James “Pookie” Young, guitarist Mike Garrett and drummer Kelly Littleton— deliver gloriously riotous, rollicking and intensely emotional blues.

Their newest release, The Big Sound of Lil’ Ed & The Blues Imperials is musically electrifying, emotionally intense and downright fun. It features Lil’ Ed Williams’ incendiary guitar playing and soulful, passionate singing, with the ragged-but-right Blues Imperials cooking like mad alongside him. Williams wrote or co-wrote all but two of album’s 14 songs (those two being written by Lil’ Ed’s legendary uncle, Chicago slide guitar king and master songwriter J.B. Hutto).

In The Montgomery Advertiser, before Lil’Ed & The Blues Imperials show in Alabama this Sunday, May 20, at Capitol Oyster Bar in Montgomery, Alabama.

Chicago Tribune: “More fiery
and energetic every year”

“Lil’ Ed & The Blues Imperials is James “Pookie” Young, from left, Mike Garrett, Lil’ Ed Williams and Kelly Littleton.” Photo Paul Natkin

The only question for Chicago blues fans in January, is which Buddy Guy show to pick during the 81-year-old guitar hero’s annual run at his South Loop nightclub, Legends. One way to distinguish his 16 performances, at least in advance, is by the opening act — fortunately, the proprietor has put some thought into picking top names. […]

Lil’ Ed & The Blues Imperials. Although they’ve been steadily releasing albums and playing clubs and roadhouses since their first gig on the West Side in 1975, the Blues Imperials grow more fiery and energetic every year. Taught by his uncle, underrated Chicago bluesman J.B. Hutto, bandleader Ed Williams initially worked as a car-wash buffer to enable his music career; behind his colorful fezzes and jackets and party-time shows is a steady work ethic. The Blues Imperials roll out a stomping album on local label Alligator every couple of years — 2006’s Rattlesnake was a peak.

By Steve Knopper. Read the full story, in the Chicago Tribune

“Foot-tapping,
body-swaying blues”

Photo Paul Natkin

Lil’ Ed Willams and his Blues Imperials are planning dinner, musically speaking, for the Center for Performing Arts in Bonita Springs. Just listen to a few of their song titles: Chicken, Biscuits and Gravy and Icicles in My Meatloaf.

“That’s a true story,” Williams said, laughing about the last one. He was nestled in at home in Chicago doing interviews before another gig among his 115 a year. […]

A good story gets Williams’ creative juices going, and that creativity has served him through nine blues albums and tours around the world. The Dec. 8 show is the first venture into Bonita Springs, however, for Williams and his crew’s foot-tapping, body-swaying blues.

They roam a musical landscape that includes original tunes like the sassy “She’s Fine, She’s Mine,” blues ballads and booty-shakers like “Your Love is So Strong,” “I Can’t Have Nothin’ ” and “North Carolina Bound” and covers, perhaps of Albert Collins’ wryly funny “Master Charge” or Rufus Thomas’ “Walking the Dog.”

Williams figured he’ll even put a blues spin on a Christmas tune or two, such as “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town.” His holiday song, “I’m Your Santa,” which promises that certain someone a frisky Christmas, is bound to be on the list, too.

He’s also likely to cover a tune by his uncle, bluesman J.B. Hutto. A Blues Foundation Hall of Fame member and slide-guitar wizard, Hutto taught Williams about finding your own voice as well as honoring your role models. […]

By Harriet Howard Heithaus, before Lil’Ed & The Blues Imperials’ show this December 8, 2017, at the Center for Performing Arts, in Bonita Beach, Florida. Read the full feature article in the Naples Daily News

Lil’ Ed part of the Windy City
Live celebration

As part of WCL’s Chicago Music Series, we celebrated Lil’ Ed and The Blues Imperials 30th anniversary of performing together. They sang their classic Poor Man’s Song.

Full performance to be watched on Windy City Live

 

 

Lil’Ed to celebrate
30th anniversary
with the Blues Imperials

World-renowned bluesman Lil’ Ed Williams and his band, The Blues Imperials, will celebrate 30 history-making years together with a live performance at B.L.U.E.S. in Chicago on Friday, November 17th, 2017. The Blues Imperials, made up of Williams, bassist James “Pookie” Young, guitarist Mike Garrett, and drummer Kelly Littleton, have been traveling the world, delivering their brand of rollicking, and deeply emotional blues for three decades.

A group of special guests will be on hand to help celebrate this milestone. Alligator Records founder, Bruce Iglauer, will be on hand, and well as Williams’ label-mate, Toronzo Cannon. Hungry fans will be able to sample Williams’ and Garrett’s secret recipe barbeque ribs, which the musicians will be cooking prior to the show.

Lil’ Ed & The Blues Imperials won the Blues Music Award in 2017 for “Band of the Year,” making it the third time they’ve won the coveted award. They also received the Living Blues Award for “Best Live Performer” three times in five years. Their latest Alligator release, The Big Sound of Lil’ Ed & The Blues Imperials was touted as one of the ten best blues albums of the year.

Williams, whose uncle and teacher was the legendary Chicago slide guitarist J.B. Hutto, plays smoking guitar boogies and raw-boned shuffles, along with the deepest slow-burners we’ve heard. The Chicago Tribune says, “Williams represents one of the few remaining authentic links to pure Chicago blues.”

Over the course of nine Alligator Records albums and countless live performances, Williams has earned his place as one of the most honored bluesmen of his generation. A three decade anniversary is an achievement rarely matched in any genre, and almost unheard of in the blues.

By JD Nash, before Lil’ Ed & The Blues Imperials’ 30th Anniversary Celebration Concert this Friday, November 17th, at B.L.U.E.S. on Halsted in Chicago. Read the full story in American Blues Scene.