Lil’ Ed & The Blues Imperials head back to BluesDays on Sunday

Lil Ed & the Blues Imperials

WHEELING — In Chicago, a city overflowing with unrivaled blues talent, world-renowned Lil’ Ed & the Blues Imperials have been standing tall for almost 30 years. The band’s big sound, fueled by Lil’ Ed’s rollicking slide work and deep blues string bending, along with this rough-edged, soulful vocals, will be back in Wheeling on Sunday at BluesDays at River City Restaurant.

“Lil Ed & the Blues Imperials has been nominated or won the Best Blues Band award 10 times in the band’s 30-year history,” noted Bruce Wheeler, who produces BluesDays at River City, as well as the annual Heritage Music BluesFest. “A band in the truest sense of the word, the Blues Imperials has been made up of the same four members for the last 30 years playing their unique version of Chicago Blues. The slide guitar work of Lil’ Ed, rock-solid rhythm of bassist James “Pookie” Young and drummer Kelly Littleton, and the risk-taking rhythm guitar work of Mike Garrett provide a 30-year history lesson of what true Chicago blues is all about.”

Lil’ Ed Williams comes to the blues naturally. His uncle, Chicago slide guitar king and master songwriter J.B. Hutto, taught him how to feel, not just play the blues. Nine albums and thousands of performances later, Lil’ Ed is now universally hailed as a giant of the genre.

The band’s latest album, Big Sound of Lil’ Ed & the Blues Imperials, is the musically electrifying, emotionally intense and downright fun new album from the band that Guitar Player calls “a snarling boogie-blues machine … they blow down the walls.” The CD features Lil’ Ed’s incendiary playing and playful, passionate singing, with the ragged-but-right Blues Imperials cooking like mad alongside 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, “[Lil’ Ed] Williams represents one of the few remaining authentic links to pure Chicago blues.”

The show starts at 8 p.m. For tickets or more information, visit


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