UIC student happy to sing the Blues Fest

Jacob Schulz

Jacob Schulz, a junior in urban and public affairs, performs at the Chicago Blues Fest Saturday.

Jacob Schulz was happy to be singing the blues at the Chicago Blues Fest last weekend.

Schulz, a junior majoring in urban and public affairs and a student worker at the Commuter Student Resource Center, performed June 8 with his band, Brother Jacob and His Blues Crew, at the Windy City Blues Society stage on Columbus Avenue near Monroe Street.

It wasn’t his first appearance at the Blues Fest — he’s appeared with other musicians —  but it’s the first time Schulz fronted his own band.

“I’m performing on my own, I’m a big kid now,” he says with a laugh.

Schulz says he learned to love from the blues from his babysitter, who always had music playing at her house. In third grade, his class made a field trip to House of Blues, where each student was invited to go up on the stage.

“They gave me the microphone and let me sing, and something just shook my soul,” he says.

His inspirations include Koko Taylor, Muddy Waters, Deitra Farr and Zora Young, as well as blues musician/educators Billy Branch and Fernando Jones, both UIC alumni.

He was a student at Jones’ Blues Camp and he met Farr when she came to his school as a teacher for Blues in the Schools, a music education program Branch founded.

“She booked me for my first gig when I was 12,” says Schulz, who lives in the Bronzeville neighborhood.

Since then, he’s performed at Millennium Park, the South Shore Cultural Center, Buddy Guy’s Legends and Rosa’s Lounge, among others. He’ll appear Aug. 25 at Lee’s Unleaded Blues, 7401 S. South Chicago Ave.

Brother Jacob and His Blues Crew includes Schulz on vocals, with guitar, keyboard, drums and bass. Their Blues Fest set will pay homage to classic, Chicago-style blues, he says.

Why did he choose to major in urban and public affairs?

“I’m actually a very political person, too,” he says. “This degree reflects my political side.”

For more on Brother Jacob and his blues, visit his website and Facebook page.

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