WBEZ | Chicago Blues http://www.wbez.org/tags/chicago-blues Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Blues guitarist Magic Slim dies at age 75 http://www.wbez.org/news/blues-guitarist-magic-slim-dies-age-75-105679 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/RS7046_AP234385805241(1)-scr(1).jpg" alt="" /><p><p><em>Updated at 4:58 p.m.</em></p><p>Magic Slim, a younger contemporary of blues greats Muddy Waters and Howlin&#39; Wolf who helped shape the sound of Chicago&#39;s electric blues, died Thursday. He was 75.</p><p>He died shortly after midnight Thursday at a Philadelphia hospital, said his manager, Marty Salzman. The musician had health problems that worsened while he was on tour several weeks ago in Pennsylvania, Salzman said.</p><p>Magic Slim and his backing band, the Teardrops, performed a no-holds-barred brand of Chicago-style electric blues, led by his singing and guitar playing, and were regulars on the music festival circuit.</p><p>To Chicago musician Billy Branch, who had played gigs with him, Slim represented the last of what he described as raw, no-nonsense Chicago blues.</p><p>&ldquo;He was such an entertainer as much as he was a musician. And his personality was just so humorous and upbeat,&rdquo; Branch said. &ldquo;It was always a fun time when Slim was around.&rdquo;</p><p>Branch said Slim was so funny, he could make people laugh until they cried.</p><p>Slim&#39;s given name was Morris Holt. The Mississippi native established himself in Chicago&#39;s thriving blues community in the 1960s, but more recently lived in Lincoln, Neb.</p><p>Holt&#39;s story was one of persistence. Like many bluesmen from rural Mississippi, his early life revolved around the cotton fields, which he fled for Chicago in 1955.</p><p>But competition on the South Side was fierce in those days, and he moved back home after failing to establish himself.</p><p>He honed his skills to a fine edge by playing plantation parties and small gigs with his brothers, Nick and Douglas, as his backing band. They returned to Chicago, where they formed the Teardrops and refused to be dismissed.</p><p>Younger than many of the renowned bluesmen in Chicago, he maintained a career well into the 21st century. Magic Slim and the Teardrops won blues band of the year at the 2003 Blues Music Award, and he released a record of covers last year.</p><p>&quot;If you were going to take somebody who&#39;d never seen blues to one of their shows, it would be like putting them in a time machine and putting them in 1962,&quot; Marty Salzman said. &quot;No frills, no rock &#39;n&#39; roll. It was just straight-ahead, real-deal blues.&quot;</p><p>Holt came by the sound authentically. Born in Torrance, Miss., in 1937, he grew up in the cotton fields of the Mississippi Delta. His first love was piano, but he lost the little finger on his right hand to a cotton gin and switched to guitar. Like many of his contemporaries, he started out on a one-string instrument he made by nailing a piece of wire stolen from a broom to the wall.</p><p>He moved to Grenada at age 11 and met Magic Sam, an older guitarist and influential blues figure. Sam taught him about the instrument and gave him his first job as a bass player years later when he first moved to Chicago.</p><p>Holt didn&#39;t make his first recordings until 1966. He released his first album, &quot;Born Under A Bad Sign,&quot; on a French label in 1977. He put out his last album just a year ago on Chicago&rsquo;s Blind Pig records.</p><p>Jerry DelGiudice, Blind Pig co-owner, said that as Slim got older he was concentrating more on his guitar playing and was at the top of his game.</p><p>&ldquo;He was getting better and better and better,&rdquo; DelGiudice explained. &ldquo;He seemed to be enjoying it more. He seemed to be getting the recognition he deserved, finally.&rdquo;</p><p><em>WBEZ&#39;s Diana Buendia contributed to this story.&nbsp;</em></p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 22 Feb 2013 09:55:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/blues-guitarist-magic-slim-dies-age-75-105679 Buddy Guy: From the farm to fame http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-05/buddy-guy-farm-fame-99599 <p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center; "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/4398790979_52312e7131_z.jpg" style="width: 620px; height: 415px; " title="Buddy Guy performing at Buddy Guy's Legends in Chicago. (Flickr/Aaron Warren)" /></div><p>Buddy Guy: His name is as synonymous with blues music as that of his idol, mentor and father-figure, Muddy Waters. But Guy would be the first person to say he could never equal or surpass the musical prowess of &ldquo;Mud.&rdquo; That&rsquo;s the kind of man Buddy Guy is: humble and honest. His middle name should be &ldquo;Nice.&rdquo;</p><p>But he is also a determined man. From the day he heard his father&rsquo;s friend, Coot, play a beat-up, two-string guitar when he was a youngster living in a shack with his family in the small town farm town of Lettsworth, Louisiana, Buddy seemed to know that music was meant to be his life.</p><p>But the blues wasn&rsquo;t the first music that touched his heart &ndash; it was the singing of the birds. Guy grew up in the fields of a plantation, picking cotton alongside his dad. He loved and still loves the outdoors and nature.</p><p>How do I know this? I just finished reading Guy&rsquo;s biography, <a href="http://www.buddyguy.net/news/buddy%E2%80%99s-autobiography-%E2%80%9Cwhen-i-left-home%E2%80%9D-available-may-8"><em>When I Left Home: My Story</em></a>.</p><p>Guy takes the reader on a wonderful ride filled with humor, sadness, some regret, lucky breaks and, of course, music. I learn that Guy made his first two-string guitar by stripping some of the wire from the new screen window his mom, Isabell, bought. When he was 12 years old, his dad plunked down $4.32 to buy his son Coot&rsquo;s guitar.</p><p>Like many African-Americans in the first half of the 20<sup>th</sup> century, Guy left the south to come north to Chicago. He arrived on September 25, 1957, a small town young man with no prospects and enough cash to last maybe a month. But boy, what a ride. Guy came to Chicago when blues music was the music of choice for African-Americans, especially the working class who toiled away in the factories and needed release of all kinds after slaughtering cattle at the stockyards or making steel.</p><p>I believe Guy&rsquo;s breaks, in what he calls &quot;the crazy blues life&quot; of Chicago, were equal parts luck, humility and kindness. No, he wasn&rsquo;t a saint. But he also certainly wasn&rsquo;t rough and tumble like some of his early heroes and peers in the blues life.</p><p>Another of those talented characters was the father of Chicago blues: McKinley Morganfield, aka Muddy Waters. There&rsquo;s good reason Guy&rsquo;s book is dedicated to Muddy Waters, &ldquo;father to us all.&rdquo;</p><p>From the first night Guy met Muddy Waters, who was driving his red Chevy wagon outside the 708 Club, until Water&rsquo;s death in 1983 at the age of 70, Guy was always in awe of Waters and his creativity.</p><p>Guy hit Chicago at the height of blues in Chicago, then rode the waves of its decline in the African-American community and its ascendance among white fans around the world. Now at age 75, Guy is a legend. He may have slowed down some, but he continues to show no lack of energy and creativity when he picks up his guitar. I think after 55 years in Chicago, we can rightly call him one of our own and beam with pride.</p><p>He&#39;s my guest on <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em> Tuesday. Join us!</p><p style="text-align: center; "><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="338" mozallowfullscreen="" src="http://player.vimeo.com/video/43046857?title=0&amp;byline=0&amp;portrait=0&amp;color=ff0000" webkitallowfullscreen="" width="600"></iframe></p></p> Tue, 29 May 2012 08:29:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-05/buddy-guy-farm-fame-99599 Howlin' Wolf guitarist Hubert Sumlin dies http://www.wbez.org/story/howlin-wolf-guitarist-hubert-sumlin-dies-94624 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-December/2011-12-06/4775245722_e32e989670_b.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Blues lovers are mourning the death of Howlin' Wolf lead guitarist Hubert Sumlin, who died on Sunday in New Jersey from heart failure. He was 80 years old.</p><p>Sumlin was born in Greenwood Mississippi in 1931, later moving to Arkansas as young boy. He came to Chicago in the mid 1950's at the invite of singer Chester Burnett, better known as Howlin' Wolf, as part of the great northern migration of African American blues artists.</p><p>Sumlin played with Wolf's band from 1953 until the singer died in 1976. Despite a contentious relationship with Wolf, the duo were a match made in Delta Blues Heaven.</p><p>"Sumlin's guitar playing complimented Wolf's sound in some ways better than the earlier guys did," said Brett Bonner, editor at Living Blues Magazine. "Wolf was the aggressor, and Sumlin kind of balanced things out."</p><p>Bonner said Sumlin's sparse, sharp style of play - backing legends like Wolf and, for a time, Muddy Waters - helped define the sound of Chicago blues, what Bonner called a rough, muscular guitar and harmonica-driven sound. Sumlin was best known for his spots on Howlin' Wolf songs like "Killing Floor" and "Wang Dang Doodle".</p><p>As a solo artist, Sumlin was nominated for three Grammy awards, but he never won. In 2008, Sumlin was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame.</p></p> Tue, 06 Dec 2011 00:10:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/howlin-wolf-guitarist-hubert-sumlin-dies-94624