4th Annual Joliet Blues Festival 2021 Entertainment Schedule

Donna Herula and Tony Nardiello - 3:30 to 4:30pm


Donna Herula is a Chicago-born singer and acoustic blues slide guitarist who has a passion for playing traditional country and Delta Blues. Her influences are contemporary and original blues singers like Johnny Winter, Lucinda Williams, Son House, Bessie Smith and Rory Block. Donna and her husband Tony Nardiello are regular performers at local libraries, art shows and music festivals, showcasing their skill and talent with their authentic presentations of country and Delta Blues.

Donna teaches slide guitar at the Olde Towne School of Folk Music in Chicago and is a regular performer at blues clubs such as Buddy Guy’s Legends. Acoustic Guitar Magazine named her one of the “top 10 up and coming resonator guitar players.”


Donna has garnered an international following. She has performed at the 2014 Durban Blues Festival in South Africa, as well as the Chicago Blues Festival the King Biscuit Blues Festival in Helena, Arkansas. She was the co-winner of the 2010 and 2011 Chicago Blues Challenge in the solo-duo category. For more information see www.donnaherula.com

The HepKats - 5pm to 6pm


The HepKats are Karl Maurer on guitar and vocals, Mitch Straeffer on bass, and Larry Beers on drums. Their energetic performances include songs that highlight 100 years of blues, including Ma Rainy, Kokomo Arnold, Robert Johnson, Roy Brown, and the three Kings.

Maurer has given presentations at local libraries discussing the history blues music. He is a former trustee at the Memphis based Blues Foundation and participated in the construction of the Blues Hall of Fame in Memphis TN.

Bassist Mitch Straeffer is a professional musician, composer, and instruction who has performed jazz, rock, blues and country formats. Maurer and Straeffer formed the HepKats in 2012.

Drummer Larry Beers has performed and recorded with a Sonia Dada, the Nicholas Tremulis Band, Mucca Pazza and many more. He is a highly sought-after drum instructor and skilled studio musician.

Prior to the pandemic, Maurer and Straeffer regularly performed as a blues duo for charities and local children’s hospitals, which they hope to return to soon.

For more information about the Chicago based HepKats see www.HepKatsMusic.com

Big Dog Mercer - 6:30 to 7:30


For close to two decades Marty “Big Dog” Mercer's heartfelt, southpaw Blues and soulful voice have growled through the Midwest music scene and abroad. Mercer's ability to combine emotional lyrics that tell stories of life and his aggressive guitar style and his slide guitar abilities makes him an artist unlike any other.

The 6'10”, 300 lb. man owns every stage he walks on and his personality is as large as his stature. One of the hardest working artists in the Blues business, Big Dog and his band perform hundreds of shows every year. He and his band have captured the attention of fans and critics alike. In 2018 and again in 2019 he toured the UK.

The Big Dog Mercer Band features Mary Mercer on guitar and vocals, Mike Dailey on the bass, Aiden Dehn on saxophone, and Myron “Doc” Robinson on Drums.


Mercer has received numerous awards. He has been inducted into the Chicago and Joliet Blues Hall of Fame. and released several acclaimed CDs: “Swamp Boogie” in 2003, “Attack of the Southpaw” in 2010, “Big Dog Mercer” in 2011 and “It Ain’t Easy” in 2016. For more information about Big Dog, see www.bigdogmercer.com


The Ivy Ford Band - 8pm to 9pm


Ivy Ford is one of the leading "youngbloods" of the blues and brings a refreshing yet classic interpretation to the music. She plays and sings with as much confidence as any of the bluesmen today and can belt out notes to fill a room and serenade a phrase sweeter than sugar. With her "Buddy Guy" polka dot Stratocaster, Ivy Ford always respects the tradition of roots and blues music while presenting it in a fresh way.


Ivy has appeared on ‘Hambone’s Blues Hour’ on 90.9 WDCB and ‘In a Nutshell’ radio show on 98.3 WRLR. She has participated in Buddy Guys Legends’ Artist series and traveled to Minneapolis, MN to perform at Artspace's 2013 Celebration at the Cowle Theater. Ivy Ford has been featured in Blues and Music News, Lake County Magazine and Blues Guitar Expert's online forum. She was a finalist at the 2018 International Blues Challenge in Memphis sponsored by the Blues Foundation.


Ivy has released two holiday albums as well as “Time to Shine”, “Live at Mickey Finns”, “Harvesting my Roots” and “Club 27.” Hear her latest single “Hypocrisy” as a free download at her website. Ivy plays piano, alto saxophone, drums, bass guitar and guitar. The Ivy Ford band includes Willie Rauch on bass and Dave Axen on drums.


To follow or check into Ford's shows and happenings go to www.Facebook.com/IvyFord or Twitter at #MissIvyFord. For more information on Ivy Ford, see www.ivyfordmusic.com