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Stars, famous and not-so-famous, descend on DC for huge inaugural parties

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It's called the Big Shoulders Inauguration Ball. This unhyped event is being held at the Black Cat nightclub. Sure, it's a ball. But a different kind. One web site recommends attendees wear "formal thrift-store attire".

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As they put it, "Yes, ladies, now's the time to break out that 100-year-old lacy number with the inconspicuous coffee stain on the left shoulder."

Sweet Home Chicago

It's not Hollywood either. It's Chicago. All Chicago. As in windy-city musicians like Andrew Bird, Ted Leo, Tortoise, Waco Brothers, Eleventh Dream Day, Jon Langford, Sally Timms, David "Honeyboy" Edwards, Ken Vandermark, Freakwater, Icy Demons, and Judson Claiborne.

Well, we're not that hip. We confess, we had to Google them. All except one. David "Honeyboy" Edwards.

Living legend

As Monitor colleague Mark Guarino described him, at 93 years of age, this grammy-winning bluesman is "considered the last living link to country blues, which is the deepest root of all American popular music."

He was a friend of legendary blues musician Robert Johnson, is a member of the Blues Hall of Fame, still tours domestically and internationally, and was in last year's movie, "Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story."

Writes Guarino, "He lived on various plantations where his family picked cotton for a living – until he learned to play guitar and struck out on his own at 16, hopping freight cars and crisscrossing 13 states, playing for anyone who’d pay on the street, at parties and dances, and eventually settling in Chicago in 1956.

"Honeyboy was a kind of a heroic exemplar for certain people who didn’t have a whole lot. You could be poor but you could still possess yourself. He offered Delta people an image of what it would be like to be free.”

"Indeed, says Edwards, “I made enough money on [Friday, Saturday and Sunday], I didn’t have to go into the fields to work. People working and I’m laying up in the house.”"

Hasn't changed much

After playing for nearly 80 years, he hasn't slowed down that much.

"Edwards still has a certain swagger. Rick Sherry, a harmonica player half Honeyboy’s age who frequently accompanies Edwards, observes that Edwards’s stage demeanor – with his spontaneous but slow, fingerpicked style of traditional acoustic blues – is more languid cool than a sign of any frailty.

"“I’ve never taken a solo from Honeyboy but don’t want to. With Honeyboy, you’re backing him up all the time. Even if I wanted to [solo], he’d change chords within the riff,” says Mr. Sherry. “It puts you in a little Zen thing. It’s given me the ability to play with anyone because your ears are totally tuned in.”"

Sold out

By the way, the show's sold out. We imagine, however, videos will start popping up on YouTube shortly after the performance. And enterprising fans can always find a way to get in.

Read more about Honeyboy here. Or watch a video below.

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