Lil’ Ed & The Blues Imperials Bring Big Sound to Town

“Rough and ready blues played with unmitigated intensity … Swirling, snarling, riveting slide … The Blues Imperials pound out riffs and rhythms like they’re overdosing on boogie juice. Scorching and soulful, joyous and stomping.”

That’s how “Living Blues” describes Alligator recording artists Lil’ Ed & The Blues Imperials, who will bring their sound to BluesDay at River City at 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 9.

And along with a rousing night of blues, Bruce Wheeler, producer of BluesDay at River City and the Heritage Music BluesFest, plans to announce the 2018 lineup.

BluesFest is set for Aug. 10-12 at Wheeling’s Heritage Port. Early Bird passes are available online until March 9, but are always available at BluesDay events through the festival.Alligator recording artists Lil’ Ed & The Blues Imperials are touring in support of their latest CD, “The Big Sound of Lil’ Ed & The Blues Imperials.”

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 James “Pookie” Young, guitarist Mike Garrett and drummer Kelly Littleton — deliver gloriously riotous, rollicking and intensely emotional blues.

The band recently won the coveted 2017 Blues Music Award for Band of the Year, the same honor they received in 2009 and 2007. They received the Living Blues Award for Best Live Performer three times in five years. In 2017, they were named Blues Band of the Year by Blues Blast Magazine.

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Born in Chicago on April 8, 1955, in the heart of Chicago’s tough West Side, Williams grew up surrounded by music. He was playing guitar, then drums and bass, by the time he was 12. Growing up, he and his half-brother James “Pookie” Young received lessons and support from their famous uncle, J.B. Hutto, who taught the boys how to feel, and not just play, the blues.

“J.B. taught me everything I know,” said Ed. “I wouldn’t be where I am today without him.”Since the band signed with Alligator Records in the mid-1980s, Lil’ Ed & The Blues Imperials have toured virtually non-stop, have been celebrated by press and radio, and have earned new fans — known internationally as “Ed Heads” — with every performance. They have 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 Lil’ Ed breaks out the deepest back-bends, the highest toe-walks and 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.

For tickets or more information about BluesDay or BluesFest, visit