Chicago blues treasure Li’l Ed Williams (Li’l Ed and the Blues Imperials) jumps in my car for a burger, as well as conversation about the blues and his career. Before I started rolling tape, I had to shatter Ed’s illusions of what Car Con Carne was about (“I didn’t know what to expect. I thought you might pull up in a limo”).
It’s worth mentioning here that you should see Ed play. He’s got some big Chicago gigs coming up:
B.L.U.E.S. (1/6 and 1/7)
Opening for Buddy Guy at Buddy Guy’s Legends (1/20)
So anyway, we got our food to go from The Dogout in Bannockburn (2567 Waukegan Rd, Bannockburn, IL 60015). He got a cheeseburger. I got a Polish.
We talked about:
*Ed and food: He has lots of songs about eating
*BBQ. Ed goes big when he does his summertime backyard BBQs.
*Concert preparation(“I used to try setlists”)
*38 years and counting with the Blues Imperials (“We are family now”)
*Lessons learned from blues legends like James Cotton and Muddy Waters (“I have a high respect for those guys… they played from their heart and they played with feeling and happiness.”)
*Rolling Stones covering the blues (“It brings the blues up a step”)
*The difference in playing clubs today (drinking’s less fun, and you can’t smoke)
*His relationship with Conan O’Brien, and their first meeting
*The new album, “The Big Sound of Li’l Ed and the Blues Imperials”
*The (truly) surprising place Ed goes for BBQ
*The Li’l Ed and the Blues Imperials difference: They’re *fun*
*His darker days and falling into drugs (“God gave me a second chance”)