Contemporary blues outfits don’t come any finer than Lil Ed & the Blues Imperials, who have been preserving and updating the classic Chicago sound for nearly 30 years. Fronted by diminutive but dynamic lead singer and guitarist Lil’ Ed Williams, the Imperials are proud sons of the West Side, the very same turf that once nurtured blues greats like Magic Sam and Otis Rush. Williams’s elaborate guitar calisthenics in particular have made the Imperials a top draw at concert halls and festivals hither and yon, shaping the Imperials into one of the flagship artists of Alligator Records. The group’s ninth album for the label, last year’s The Big Sound Of Lil' Ed & The Blues Imperials, has earned them nominations for Best Band and B.B. King Entertainer of the Year (Williams) at the upcoming Blues Music Awards in Memphis.