On this special evening, two old friends reunite to play the blues they learned and played together on the West Side of Chicago in the early 1990s: Rockin’ Johnny Burgin and Sugar Brown. Both were undergraduates at the University of Chicago, and both were sidemen for the famed West Side singer, Taildragger. In that band (the La-Z Boys), Rockin’ Johnny played guitar and Sugar Brown played harmonica; in fact, it was Taildragger who gave Sugar Brown his stage name. In 1994, Sugar Brown left Chicago to do historical and philosophical research in Japan, while Rockin Johnny remained in Chicago, quickly becoming a well-known guitar ace in the Chicago blues scene, a Delmark recording artist, and playing with Sam Lay, Jimmy Burns, Mary Lane, and countless others.
Fast forward twenty-five years: Rockin’ Johnny Burgin is one of the hardest touring and well recognized traditional Chicago blues guitarists and singers today. Since his start in the 90s on Chicago’s West Side with blues singer Taildragger, he has become a leading blues attraction throughout the United States and Europe. He’s been featured in major media outlets such as The Chicago Tribune, WGN’s After Hours with Rick Kogan, The Illinois Times, and KPFA’s Blues by the Bay. Rockin’ Johnny is a Delmark recording artist with seven CDs to his credit, including his latest critically acclaimed release, Neoprene Fedora, Johnny currently does close to 250 shows a year worldwide and is also in demand as a session player and has recorded with many blues greats including Billy Boy Arnold, Taildragger, Paul DeLay, Jimmy Burns, Andre Williams, Eddie Taylor Jr., Jimmy Lee Robinson and others.
Sugar Brown emerged as a fresh, authentic and original voice in North American blues in 2013 with his victory in the prestigious Toronto Blues Society Talent Search, and with his debut album, Sugar Brown’s Sad Day. This was followed by his nationally acclaimed second album, Poor Lazarus (2015). Then in early 2017, Sugar Brown reached the finals of The International Blues Challenge in Memphis. He then called his old friend, Rockin Johnny, and said, “Let’s record an album together in Toronto.” The result is, “It’s a Blues World…Calling All Blues.”