The HepKats perform classic blues songs for charities like Ronald McDonald House, Lurie Children's Hospital, Shriners Children's Hospital, Misericordia, and many more, bringing music to lift the spirits where it is needed the most. The band performs traditional arrangements of songs by Robert Johnson, Son House, Willie Brown, BB King, Kokomo Arnold, Bill Broonzy, Arthur Crudup, Mamie Smith, Blind Willie McTell and more. Each song is introduced with a bit of history about the song and the writer. The shutdowns of 2020 and 2021 have limited our appearances for kids and their families, so as things are opening back up, we're booking more live shows for the public, and we look forward to getting back to what we love, performing for sick kids and their families.
The Blues are a uniquely American art form that first emerged in the South in the late 1800s. The primary influences of blues music were Gospel music, popular folk tunes and ballads of the English settlers, African influenced work songs, and field hollers, which were improvised songs to break the monotony of long hard days of labor under oppressive circumstances. The idea is that singing away your sorrows makes them easier to bear, which was communicated in emotional and intense lyrics accompanied by simple instruments like banjos, fifes, fiddles, and by the early 20th century, cheap guitars bought from the Sears catalog. Blues singers were well versed in many styles such as rag-time, show tunes, and ballads, and often performed for both black and white audiences. Early recordings of blues from the 20's, 30's and 40's influenced British bands like the Yardbirds, Cream, Rolling Stones, the Who, and Led Zeppelin, and inspired the guitarists of the British pop music "invasion" of the US in the 1960's. For more great information on blues, go to www.blues.org, the Blues Foundation in Memphis, TN. While you are there, please consider supporting the HART Fund, which provides medical and health support to blues artists in need.
Ronald McDonald House Charities of Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana provide a home away from home for families with sick children being treated at nearby hospitals. There are over 200 RMC houses around the world. The largest is in Chicago, and supports Lurie Children's Hospital. The HepKats are looking forward to returning to their regular monthly gigs at RMC, where they are joined by children dancing, playing the toy piano, and having fun! To volunteer or donate to the Ronald McDonald Houses in Chicagoland, go to
Please also consider joining with Joe Bonamassa's education and relief efforts to help bring blues to the schools and help Blues musicians in need at
The HepKats are Karl Maurer on guitar and vocals, Mitch Straeffer on bass, and Larry Beers on drums. All are long time Chicago residents with long involvement in local music. Maurer has led in the Overtones since the late 80's and is a former board member of the Blues Foundation in Memphis TN. He founded the HepKats 10 years ago with long time musical partner Mitch Straeffer. Their first shows were at the Gallery Cabaret and Phyllis' Musical Inn. Straeffer is a professional musician, multi-instrumentalist, composer and bass instructor who has played in dozens of bands. Beers has performed with Nicholas Tremulas, Mucha Patza, and Sonya Dada. Both Straeffer and Beers are session musicians and widely recorded.
There is no experience like being a parent of a sick child. And nothing more stressful than a child who is so sick that they are hospitalized. We have been blessed to be able to perform for these families, and bring them what we believe are some of the best songs ever written and recorded.
While the shows at RMC and Lurie Hospital are not open to the public, we do have public performances listed on this website. If you are interested in being notified about our shows, please add your name to our email list. We send out a monthly update with pictures of past shows and information about upcoming shows.
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