There have been a lot of amazing acts at the Bradenton Blues Festival over the years, but few have been more outright entertaining than Lil’ Ed and the Blues Imperials.
The Chicago-based blues band, fronted by Lil’ Ed Williams, plays high-energy blues and boogie. The fez-wearing Lil’ Ed is a delight to watch, and his whole band is a treat to listen to. The band’s current lineup, which includes Lil’ Ed’s half-brother James “Pookie” Young on bass, has been the same since 1989 (although they had a hiatus of seven years in the 1990s).
The band will be back in the area on Saturday for a show at the Blue Rooster in Sarasota.
The Chicago Sun-Times, whose writers know their hometown blues music, described the music of Lil’ Ed and the Blues Imperials as “a bazooka assault of foot-stompin’ blues and slow-burnin’ knee-bucklers.”
Lil’ Ed released a couple of solo albums on a small label during the band’s hiatus, but all the Blues Imperials albums have been released on Alligator Records, one of the most prestigious labels for blues artists. The band’s latest, its 10th including a “best of’ compilation, is last year’s “The Big Sound of Lil’ Ed and the Blues Imperials.” Critics have praised the album for Lil’s Ed’s virtuosic slide guitar work and his emotional singing and songwriting.