AUBURN – Of all the blues musicians actively touring today, one elderly gentleman stands out among his peers. As former band leader and saxophonist for legendary bluesman Howlin’ Wolf, Eddie Shaw played a significant role in the history of Chicago blues.

Shaw and his band The Wolf Gang will perform at the Midnight Blues Club and Restaurant Sunday, July 3, as part of the club’s 2005 Sunday Night Blues Series.

Shaw celebrated his 69th birthday with area blues fans March 23 at the Cellar Door, and will return to kick off a summer lineup of world-class blues entertainment.

“I’ve had the pleasure of playing in central Maine many, many times over the years,” Shaw said just before his March performance. “I played here in the 1970s and 1980s and always had some great fans come out to the shows. Now some of those old friends are coming up to me to reminisce. I love to see them come enjoy the show and hope they’ll return on Sunday, July 3.”

During the big blues revival of the 1950s and 1960s, Shaw was driving the movement. His experience touring with Howlin’ Wolf placed him at the focal point of the resurgence, since artists likeWolf and Muddy Waters were leading the way. Yet Eddie did not achieve his rightful spot in blues history on the merits of others; his own talents are renowned and vast, as well.

Shaw plays tenor and alto sax, harmonica and is an outstanding singer/songwriter. His songs have been recorded by such stars as John Hammond, Magic Sam, Otis Rush, Willie Dixon, and his longtime friend Howlin’ Wolf. He arranged the music on “The Howlin’ Wolf London Sessions,” which featured Eric Clapton, as well as Muddy Waters’ famous “Unk and Funk” album. Shaw also did much of the writing for Willie Dixon’s “Catalist” album.

Shaw’s numerous awards over the years are impressive, and include Most Outstanding Musician in the Horn category by Living Blues Magazine in 1996. A native of Benoit, Miss., he now makes his home in Chicago.

Band members include his son, Eddie Vaan Shaw Jr., who is one of the best blues guitar players in the business. Vaan Shaw Jr. has recorded music of his own, including CDs “Morning Rain” and “The Trail Of Tears.”

Lafayette “Shorty” Gilbert has been Shaw’s bass player for more than 20 years and is a strong vocalist. Tim Taylor, son of the late Eddie Taylor, handles the drums.

Among the artists scheduled to perform at the Midnight Blues Club, 34 Court St., in July, August and September are Debbie Davies, Tab Benoit and Ana Popovic.

All ages are welcome.

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