While the first annual Chicago Bluegrass & Blues Festival seemed to offer very little in the form of traditional Bluegrass or Blues music, from an enjoyment standpoint the festival was a success and headliners, the Avett Brothers, were the main reason behind that success.
Just placing the Avett Brothers in the headlining spot signaled that this was not going to be any sort of traditional bluegrass or blues festival but in the end this worked in the festival's favor. There is probably a reason that, as the festival website states, "In fact the most traditional aspect of the festival David Grisman, probably most well know outside of bluegrass circles for his collaborations with Jerry Garcia, seemed almost oddly out of place.
When one typically thinks of bluegrass music, thoughts of the Congress Theatre do not usually follow but they did a good job of giving the venue a festival atmosphere. With a stage set up in the lobby and vendors lined up along the wall as you enter into the main room it certainly did not have the usual feel of the congress. The nicest feature of the festival may have been the space to move about the venue, although I am not so sure the people collecting cash would have felt the same. The ticket price turned out to be a steal because the Avett Brothers alone would have been worth the $30 ticket price. While there are definitely some kinks to work out if the festival continues, one can only hope the festival proved a success from a financial standpoint so this can become an annual event.