The Wake Forest Listening Room

An Evening with Johnny Burgin

All Ages
Friday, January 31, 2025
Doors: 6:45pm Show: 7:30pm

“His guitar style is raw and rude and real – on the vocal side, a nice original style– he’s damn good!”                        –Elvin Bishop

“I’m knocked out! I already liked what you were doing, but you’ve really moved WAY up. What did you do, go to the crossroads or something?” –Charlie Musselwhite

An adventurous musician who’s never shy about taking chances.  
–Marty Gunther, Blues Blast 

This veteran blues musician has been on a roll of late turning out one exceptional album after another.
–David Mac, Blues Junction

–Jim Hynes, Glide Magazine 

Johnny’s ego-free dedication to the music is refreshing.  In a world where everyone wants to be a superstar, Johnny shines brightly.  He is truly an old-school bluesman.
–Bill Wilson, Reflections in Blue

Johnny Burgin had a bang-up year in ’23, earning a BMA Nomination for Best Traditional Blues Artist and playing 200 dates across the US, Mexico, Japan and Europe.  But if you’d told him this would be his career when he was in High School,  he wouldn’t have belived you.  Johnny grew up in Misssissippi and South Carolina and went to University of Chicago with the intention of becoming a writer.  When a friend took him out to a West Side ghetto club to hear the blues singer Tail Dragger, it was a conversion moment.  The blues came to life for Johnny and he fell headfirst into the vibrant Chicago blues scene.

Choosing the blues clubs over the library, Johnny eagerly absorbed the lessons from the blues masters who practiced their craft nightly.  By persistence and practice, Johnny gained a spot in Tail Dragger, and started gigging and recording with  traditional blues veterans like Sam LayBilly Boy Arnold, and Pinetop Perkins.   By the late 90s, Johnny was working regularly in Chicagoland blues clubs under his own name.  Johnny started a Monday night residency at The Smoke Daddy in Wicker Park, featuring vocalist Jimmy Burns.  The band featured other future blues notables who were also at beginning of their careers, such as Kenny Smith on drums and Martin Lang on harp, and they created quite a buzz.  They packed the club every Monday with a younger, hip crowd, as well as blues veterans stopping by to sit in such as Dave MeyersJesse FortuneBarkin’ Bill, etc.  Their success led to a record deal with Delmark and the first of several European tours.



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