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Chit Chat: Blues & Roots festival to return to Batavia

BATAVIA – Something special for music lovers will be reprised, when the Blues & Roots on Water Street festival brings six acts to intimate indoor venues beginning at 4:30 p.m. June 10 at Kiss The Sky and Water Street Studios in Batavia.

Wayne Baker Brooks of the legendary Chicago blues family will headline the Blues Stage, while Jonas Friddle & The Majority, an eight-piece indie folk-rock band from Chicago, will star on the Roots Stage. The lineup will alternate between roots and blues.

Rounding out the Blues Stage lineup will be the Fox Valley's own Noah Gabriel and the Ladies of Leland, a band fronted by Scott Tipping and showcasing Mae Koen, Nora O'Connor and Mary Lou O'Brien. The Roots Stage also will feature the Chicago-based Leadfoot Band's bluegrass, and Bloomington native Chicago Farmer, who will perform folk and Americana.

Water Street Studios Executive Director Danielle Hollis said food will be available for purchase from River's Edge Bar & Grill in Batavia. Also offered will be beer from Solemn Oath Brewery and wine from Bright Angel Wines, with a signature cocktail provided by Whiskey Acres of DeKalb and Windmill Ginger Brew of Geneva.

Festival organizers are Water Street Studios, Batavia MainStreet and the Fox Valley Music Foundation, which is headed by Steve Warrenfeltz, owner of Kiss The Sky in Batavia, a fest sponsor.

He said Batavia's event was created as a prelude to the annual Blues on the Fox festival returning June 16 and 17 to Aurora. Warrenfeltz and others who created the foundation formerly organized Blues on the Fox until it outgrew its original site and is now part of the RiverEdge Park series managed by the Paramount Theatre.

"What [that] festival was intended to do originally was to promote blues music in the Fox Valley area, and draw attention to the Fox Valley's rich history – specifically … Leland recording back in 1937 and 1938," Warrenfeltz told Kane County Chronicle reporter Renee Tomell about the Bluebird Label sessions on the top floor of Leland Tower in Aurora.

The following is an edited version of the rest of their conversation.

Renee Tomell: How is the second annual Blues & Roots festival shaping up?

Steve Warrenfeltz: It's taking on a life of its own, much like Blues on the Fox did some 20 years ago.

Tomell: You limit ticket sales to 400?

Warrenfeltz: [To] keep it nice and quaint and comfortable. It becomes a little more special if the tickets are limited.

Tomell: Tell us more about the blues acts opening for Brooks.

Warrenfeltz: The preceding band Leland [is comprised of] artists that participated in the tribute project that we sponsored called 'The Leland Bluebird Sessions.' We did a tribute to those recordings, and released that earlier this year. Some of the musicians in that band played at Blues on the Fox last year. They're scheduled to not only perform here but in the Leland Fest in August in Aurora. [We're] putting a spotlight here on the ladies – the lead singers that were part of that project.

Tomell: What's on The Ladies of Leland program?

Warrenfeltz: They'll do some of the original recordings from the '30s, and I'm sure they're going to do some R&B numbers that are more modern – from the '50s, '60s, early '70s.

Tomell: Fill us in on the other blues artist.

Warrenfeltz: The opening act is Noah Gabriel. Noah is a very prolific writer and has released double digits in terms of numbers of albums in his young career. He is a singer-songwriter, blues-rock guitarist and rock guitarist.

Tomell: And what will the Roots stage offer in the way of sound and performers?

Warrenfeltz: Roots music to me … encompasses music that is indigenous to the beginning of music in America. Mountain … and country and bluegrass [are] enveloped by it, even – to me – early jazz. Early blues is rootsy. On the Roots stage at Kiss The Sky, the headliner is Jonas – originally from the [South]. He's a mandolin player and plays banjo. He grew up playing roots and mountain and bluegrass type of music. He's affiliated with the Old Town School of Folk Music. Now his band, The Majority, has gotten a lot of notoriety in Chicago and around the Midwest.

Tomell: And the other Roots Stage artists?

Warrenfeltz: The Leadfoot Band – they're a little bit more bluegrass, and Jonas is more mountain and rootsy. Chicago Farmer is a good friend of ours. He participated in the Leland project. He is old-timey, with a little bit of country and folk. [Audience members] will get exposed to some music [and artists] that they haven't been exposed to before. It should be fun.


5 p.m.: Chicago Farmer (Roots Stage)

6 p.m.: Noah Gabriel (Blues Stage)

6:30 p.m.: Leadfoot Band (Roots Stage)

7:30 p.m.: The Ladies of Leland (Blues Stage)

8:30 p.m.: Jonas Friddle & The Majority (Roots Stage)

9:30 p.m.: Wayne Baker Brooks (Blues Stage)

11 p.m." Party moves to River’s Edge Bar & Grill, 12 N. River St.

Sponsors and after-show gathering
Sponsors also include Music Matters, Kay Hollis Jewelers, Batavia Enterprises, WaveForm, Loco Logos Graphic Design, Barco Products and Drendel & Jansons Law Group. After the festival, the party will continue at River's Edge Bar & Grill in Batavia. To learn more, visit

If you go:

What: Blues & Roots on Water Street festival

Where: Kiss The Sky and Water Street Studios, 160 S. Water St., Batavia

When: 4:30 to 11 p.m. June 10

Cost and info: $25 in advance at the venues and at

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