WBEZ | blues http://www.wbez.org/tags/blues Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Chicago Blues Experience Museum to open on Navy Pier http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-09-10/chicago-blues-experience-museum-open-navy-pier-112888 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/buddy guy Bryan Thompson.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>One thing that&rsquo;s not giving Buddy Guy the Blues? Something he&rsquo;s been waiting for looks like it&rsquo;s really happening... The backers behind a museum dedicated to Chicago Blues music is set to open on Navy Pier in 2017. &quot;Chicago and these great blues players should be remembered forever. I&#39;ve been pulling for this and talking about it for over 25 years and we finally got it. Thank God,&quot; Guy says.</p><blockquote><p><strong>Related: <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/sweet-home-navy-pier-112881">Sweet home Navy Pier?</a></strong></p></blockquote><p>The official word from a Navy Pier spokesperson is that it doesn&rsquo;t discuss prospective partners until a deal has been finalized. The group released a report evaluating the economic impact of the museum on the city, which will be called <a href="http://www.chicagobluesexperience.com/">The Chicago Blues Experience</a>. One of the people who will manage the museum is Terry Stewart. He ran Cleveland&rsquo;s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for 14 years. He joins us with his thoughts on what the museum could mean for Chicago tourism and the cultural landscape.</p></p> Thu, 10 Sep 2015 11:10:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-09-10/chicago-blues-experience-museum-open-navy-pier-112888 Sweet Home Navy Pier? http://www.wbez.org/news/sweet-home-navy-pier-112881 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Chicagotheater_BRC.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago may be known as the home of the blues, but there&rsquo;s never been a permanent space dedicated to its history, artifacts, and cultural heritage. That could soon change with the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.chicagobluesexperience.com/">Chicago Blues Experience</a>, set to open at Navy Pier in 2017.</p><p>WBEZ&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/chicago-blues-sweet-home-hard-find-111519">reported earlier this year</a>&nbsp;that Navy Pier was the rumored future site of an interactive blues museum, but most details were unconfirmed until now.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s high time that this attraction and celebration honoring Chicago blues happened here,&rdquo; said Sona Wang, a venture capitalist and Managing Director of the Chicago Blues Experience.</p><p>Although the blues didn&rsquo;t start in Chicago, the music found its groove on the city&rsquo;s south side during the Great Migration. There, legends like Muddy Waters, Howlin&rsquo; Wolf, Jimmy Reed and others electrified the blues for labels like Chess Records on S. Cottage Grove and later S. Michigan Avenue.</p><p>Some local fans say that&rsquo;s where a Chicago blues museum belongs. So why build one on Navy Pier and not where musicians actually lived and played? &nbsp;</p><p>Because, Wang says, Navy Pier with its nine million annual visitors is the city&rsquo;s number one tourist attraction.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s foot traffic is unmatched by any other attraction,&rdquo; said Wang, whose group is still finalizing the museum&rsquo;s footprint at the Pier, estimated at being somewhere between 50,000 - 60,000 square feet.</p><p>Aside from a museum, Wang says CBE will have two music venues and a restaurant. The same company that produced interactive exhibits for the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Ill. (BRC Imagination Arts) will also create exhibits for CBE.</p><p>According to Wang, more than 760,000 people are projected to visit the Pier for its interactive museum.</p><p>&ldquo;The Chicago blues is an international brand that many visitors who come to the city come here hoping to and expecting to experience,&rdquo; Wang said. &ldquo;[But] that doesn&rsquo;t always happen and isn&rsquo;t as accessible as it should be.&rdquo;</p><p>The numbers Wang referred to come from a study by the Anderson Economic Group, commissioned by the CBE to determine its economic impact for Navy Pier and the city of Chicago. AEG is the same firm the Obama Foundation used to bolster the case for building the Obama Presidential Library on the city&rsquo;s south side.</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><iframe frameborder="0" height="700" scrolling="no" src="https://drive.google.com/a/chicagopublicradio.org/file/d/0B3Vhva251XObbGxETkJsOW96c2s/preview" title="Economic Impact of the Chicago Blues Experience" width="600"></iframe></p><p>A space&nbsp;at Block 37 in the Loop was considered at one point. Wang says they&rsquo;ve raised most of the 45 million dollars for the project, but won&rsquo;t say who the individual and corporate donors are. Nor is it known what kind of artifacts will be on display for visitors to see.</p><p>A spokesman for Navy Pier, which is currently in the midst of a major overhaul, confirms that talks are underway with the CBE. Pressed for more details, the spokesman said the Pier will not discuss any prospective partner until a deal has been finalized. &nbsp;</p><p><br /><em>Follow WBEZ reporter Yolanda Perdomo on Twitter&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/yolandanews">@yolandanews</a></em></p></p> Wed, 09 Sep 2015 18:11:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/sweet-home-navy-pier-112881 The legacy of Willie Dixon on his 100th birthday http://www.wbez.org/news/legacy-willie-dixon-his-100th-birthday-112292 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Blues1-Dixon.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>This summer outdoor blues concerts are taking place on a site considered hallowed ground by blues fans.</p><p>Next to the legendary Chess Records building on South Michigan Ave. sits Willie Dixon&#39;s Blues Heaven Foundation. Dixon was a prolific songwriter and this is where his songs, like Little Red Rooster, Wang Dang Doodle and Hoochie Coochie Man were recorded by blues stars Howlin&rsquo; Wolf, Koko Taylor and Muddy Waters.</p><p>Dixon would have turned 100 this year, and to celebrate the foundation is making this <a href="http://wdbhf.org/the-week-of-willie">The Week of Willie</a>, with concerts around Chicago.</p><p>Fellow musicians and fans remember Dixon as a man who was generous with his time and talents.</p><p>&ldquo;He had a good reputation. People loved him,&rdquo; said his grandson Alex Dixon. &ldquo;The way he treated his musicians. He was happy the English guys were recording his music.&rdquo;</p><p>Dixon is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and this year was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. He became one of the first blues artists to successfully sue to get music royalties owed to him. Early in their careers, he and other blues artists had agreements with record companies that paid them a fraction of what they were owed.​</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s got an ugly intersection with race that African American musicians often found themselves taken advantage of,&rdquo; said Peter DiCola, a professor specializing in copyright law at Northwestern University.</p><p>Chicago bluesman Billy Boy Arnold knows this story. He wrote the song &ldquo;I Wish You Would,&rdquo; later recorded by Eric Clapton and the Yardbirds.</p><p>&ldquo;The publishing company got 50 percent and we got 50 percent. But they didn&rsquo;t tell us the significance of the publishing. That&rsquo;s where the real money was,&rdquo; said Arnold. &ldquo; I never did get the money I was due.&rdquo;</p><p>Stories like Arnold&rsquo;s inspired Dixon to start the Blues Heaven Foundation. The nonprofit is dedicated to taking care of blues artists and their heirs &mdash; the goal is to make sure they&rsquo;re getting music royalties they&rsquo;re owed.</p><p>Alex Dixon says in many ways, his grandfather was a preservationist. A person who saw the future and worked tirelessly to protect the past of a musical genre.</p><p>&ldquo;He always knew that blues was going to be around,&rdquo; said Dixon. &ldquo;He knew we&rsquo;d have to work extra hard to keep it up.&rdquo;</p><p>And that may be the most important part of Dixon&rsquo;s legacy, helping keep the blues alive for future generations.</p><p><em>Follow WBEZ reporter Yolanda Perdomo on Twitter </em><a href="https://twitter.com/yolandanews"><em>@yolandanews</em></a></p></p> Wed, 01 Jul 2015 08:21:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/legacy-willie-dixon-his-100th-birthday-112292 For Chicago blues, sweet home is hard to find http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/chicago-blues-sweet-home-hard-find-111519 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Blues-1-Muddy-Waters-creative-commons-photo-by-Kevin-Dooley.jpg" style="height: 219px; width: 320px; float: left;" title="Muddy Waters, circa 1971. The late music legend will be honored at this year’s Chicago Blues Festival (Kevin Dooley/flickr)" /><em>Updated 11:13 a.m.</em></p><p><em><em>(Editor&#39;s Note: After our story was published the Chicago Blues Experience&nbsp;<a href="http://www.chicagobluesexperience.com/" target="_blank">launched this official website</a>.)</em></em></p><p>Back in the 1950s Buddy Guy was a young guitarist living in Louisiana. Like others he eventually traveled north to Chicago, where the blues scene was thriving.</p><p>&ldquo;Muddy Waters, Howlin&rsquo; Wolf, all those great guys,&rdquo; said Guy. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s why I came here. To get a day job and go watch them play at night.&rdquo;</p><p>Those musicians not only inspired him to play, but to open the famed Checkerboard Lounge in the 1970s followed by Legends in the late 80&rsquo;s to keep the music alive. Guy says he&rsquo;ll never forget those early days watching <em>his</em> legends.</p><p>&ldquo;The beer was 25 cents a bottle when I came here. And when Muddy played there wasn&rsquo;t no cover charge. The beer was 35 cents,&rdquo; remembered Guy. &ldquo;So the 10 cents was going for the band members. Muddy Waters was in the band. And those were the greatest days of my life.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Guy just received a Lifetime Achievement award at this year&#39;s Grammys. But he and other artists in town say their music should be just as celebrated locally. And they wonder: If Chicago is the home of the blues, then why doesn&rsquo;t it have a permanent home honoring it?</p><div>The blues made important stops in Memphis and St. Louis, but Chicago is where the blues really came alive in the middle of the last century. That&rsquo;s when musicians like Muddy Waters came here from Mississippi, electrified their down home Delta Blues and recorded it for labels like Chess Records.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>You can still see remnants of this history around town. Like at the old Chess Records on S. Michigan Avenue and Muddy Water&rsquo;s former house at 4339 S. Lake Park Avenue.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><p>&ldquo;This is the house of the blues before there was a house of the blues,&rdquo; said Barry Dollins, former director of the Chicago Blues Festival, standing in front of the boarded up building. &ldquo;This was the rehearsal house.&rdquo;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Blues-4-Barry-Dollins.jpg" style="float: left; height: 373px; width: 280px;" title="Former Chicago Blues Festival Director Barry Dollins stands in front of Muddy Waters’ former home (WBEZ/Yolanda Perdomo)" />Muddy Waters bought the home in the 1950s at the peak of his career and lived there for 20 years. It wasn&rsquo;t just a home for Waters and his family. It was a gathering place for other musicians, where countless jam sessions were held.</p><p>Today the red brick two flat is in bad shape.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s just depressing just to see that X up there,&rdquo; Dollins sighed, pointing to a big red X affixed to the front.</p><p>That X means the house is abandoned and unsafe. It&rsquo;s been on and off the market for years. Dollins says the home could&rsquo;ve served as a historic space, much like the Louis Armstrong home in New York. A place where people can see where and how the musician lived and what inspired them.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s sad that there was no forethought in what the significance of this building is,&rdquo; said Dollins. &ldquo;And how it could&rsquo;ve been preserved and utilized.&rdquo;</p><p>In some ways, the neglected house is symbolic of the overall failure to erect a permanent space to preserve Chicago&rsquo;s music heritage.</p><p>&ldquo;Why don&rsquo;t we have a blues museum? It comes down to money,&rdquo; Dollins said. &ldquo;It takes millions of dollars to create a museum.&rdquo; &nbsp;</p><p>Steve Cushing is the host of the national radio show &ldquo;Blues Before Sunrise.&rdquo; He said Chicago deserves to have a blues museum, but he&rsquo;s not sure how viable it would be.</p><p>&ldquo;How would you pay for it and where would you put it?&rdquo; asked Cushing. &ldquo;It would seem that you would want it in a place that was related to the actual location of the blues. But if you put it on the south side, would tourists, would white folks go down there?&rdquo;</p><p>If something does ever get off the ground, it won&rsquo;t be called the Chicago Blues Museum. That&rsquo;s because local guitarist Gregg Parker copyrighted that title.</p><p>&ldquo;They call me the black Indiana Jones. If I can&rsquo;t find it, it doesn&rsquo;t exist,&rdquo; said Parker.</p><p>Parker once played with Mick Jagger and Buddy Miles among others, but now mostly collects artifacts for traveling exhibitions.</p><p>&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t need a building to do what I&rsquo;m doing. I own it,&rdquo; said Parker. &ldquo;The blues museum is a state of mind. It&rsquo;s not a building.&rdquo;</p><p>In fact, the address for Parker&rsquo;s museum&rsquo;s is a P.O. box number. He once had a storefront space but won&rsquo;t say why it closed. He gets a little defensive&nbsp;when asked when the public could see his whole collection.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m not going to tell you my itinerary,&rdquo; scoffed Parker. &ldquo;You might be a thief!&rdquo;</p><p>Parker shows how fragmented and disorganized efforts are to showcase the blues in Chicago. Many say the only way to get everyone on the same page &mdash; and all the artifacts under one roof &mdash; is for the city of Chicago to get involved. They point out that City Hall moved mountains for the proposed George Lucas Museum and the Obama Presidential Library.</p><p>So why hasn&rsquo;t it done more for the blues?</p><p>The Department of Cultural Affairs sent this statement: &quot;The City of Chicago celebrates its rich blues music heritage each year with the world renowned Chicago Blues Festival on the shores of Lake Michigan. More than 500,000 blues fans attend the festival each year, proving that Chicago is the &ldquo;Blues Capital of the World.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p><p>But some tourists at last year&rsquo;s free festival&nbsp;said they wished there was more to see while they were in town.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;ve been to Buddy Guy&rsquo;s place, but that&rsquo;s about it,&rdquo; said&nbsp;Karl Roque, who came all the way from the Philippines. When asked if he&rsquo;d like to see a museum dedicated to his favorite art form, Roque didn&rsquo;t hesitate. &ldquo;Yes. Why not? Maybe it&rsquo;s about time.&rdquo;</p><p>Buddy Guy agrees.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;ve been begging for it for almost 30 years.&quot;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Blues-3-Buddy-Guy.jpg" style="height: 373px; width: 280px; float: left;" title="Buddy Guy’s 78th birthday party celebration at his South Loop club Legends (WBEZ/Yolanda Perdomo)" />According to Guy he may not have to wait too much longer. Guy has been working with a group that&#39;s been trying to build a blues museum for a few years now. &nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;They already got the building on Navy Pier,&quot; said Guy. &ldquo;A blues experience museum on Navy Pier.&rdquo;</p><p>No one at Navy Pier would comment. A statement from Tim Wright, co-founder of the so-called Chicago Blues Experience, said they&rsquo;re close to finalizing the details, but can&rsquo;t confirm when.&nbsp;</p><p>In the meantime, another blues museum is moving full steam ahead. Built with a mix of public and private funds, the $13 million, 23,000 square foot space will feature interactive exhibits and a theater for live music.</p><p>But you won&rsquo;t find it in Chicago.</p><p>The <a href="http://www.nationalbluesmuseum.org/" target="_blank">National Blues Museum</a> is set to open this summer in St. Louis.</p><p><em>Follow WBEZ reporter Yolanda Perdomo on Twitter </em><a href="https://twitter.com/yolandanews"><em>@yolandanews</em></a> <em>&amp;&nbsp;</em><em><a href="https://plus.google.com/u/0/106564114685277342468/posts/p/pub">Google+</a></em></p></p> Mon, 09 Feb 2015 07:41:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/chicago-blues-sweet-home-hard-find-111519 Chicago bluesman Buddy Guy chosen for Kennedy Center Honors http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/chicago-bluesman-buddy-guy-chosen-kennedy-center-honors-104058 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/AP905221780317.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago blues legend Buddy Guy will receive Kennedy Center Honors this Sunday in Washington, D.C.</p><p>The Chicago blues community came together Tuesday to give him a musical send-off. Blues artist Eddy Clearwater, the Blues Kids of America and several other musicians took the stage at Jay Pritzker Pavilion to congratulate Guy.</p><p>Michelle Boone, commissioner of the city&rsquo;s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, said Chicago wanted to send Guy off in style.</p><p>&ldquo;Everybody was so willing to participate and wanted to show their love and be a part of something really special for a very special man,&rdquo; Boone said.</p><p>Buddy Guy&rsquo;s been playing the blues in Chicago since leaving his home state of Louisiana in 1957. He came to the city hoping to see Muddy Waters and Howlin&#39; Wolf play the blues in person.</p><p>After several months in the city, Guy found a steady gig playing guitar at the famed 708 Club in Bronzeville. He later became a session man at South Side record label Chess Records.</p><p>&ldquo;I came to Chicago 55 years ago, and [when] I got here, it was pretty cold,&quot; remembered Guy. &quot;I started listening to the music here, and I forgot how cold it got. 55 years later, I&rsquo;m still here, and I&rsquo;ll be here.&quot;</p><p>Guy owns Buddy Guy&rsquo;s Legends club in the South Loop, where he can be found performing when he&rsquo;s in Chicago.</p><p>He was chosen as a Kennedy Center honoree for his musical contributions. Numerous guitarists including Eric Clapton and Stevie Ray Vaughn cite him as a major influence.</p><p>On the Kennedy Center website, chairman David M. Rubenstein called Guy a &quot;titan of the blues.&quot;&nbsp;</p><p>&quot;[He] has been a tremendous influence on virtually everyone who has picked up an electric guitar in the last half century,&rdquo; said Rubenstein.</p><p>During his career, Guy has received six Grammy awards and has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In 2003, he received the National Medal of Arts for his contributions to blues music.</p><p>The bluesman will be joined in Washington this weekend by his fellow honorees including TV host David Letterman and rock band Led Zeppelin.</p><p><br />&nbsp;</p></p> Tue, 27 Nov 2012 18:30:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/chicago-bluesman-buddy-guy-chosen-kennedy-center-honors-104058 Lil' Ed & The Blues Imperials bring the genuine houserockin' music http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-06/lil-ed-blues-imperials-bring-genuine-houserockin-music-99892 <p><p>Those who know the Blues, particularly Chicago Blues, know the name J.B. Hutto.</p><p>Hutto was born in North Carolina in 1926, and the family relocated to Chicago when his father passed away in the late 40&rsquo;s. After returning from a tour in Korea (the army kind of tour, not the musical kind), Hutto became of disciple of the legendary Elmore James, jumping into the Chicago music scene, where he was on-then-off-then-on...then really on...for the next 30 years. &nbsp;He fronted bands of his own, was featured on the seminal 1966 3-record set <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Chicago-Blues-Today-Various-Artists/dp/B00000JKF2">Chicago/The Blues/Today!,</a> took over as leader of the Houserockers when Hound Dog Taylor passed away in 1975, and continued to record with bands in Boston and back in Chicago until he passed away at the young age of 57. &nbsp;Two years later, in 1985, the Blues Foundation inducted him into the Hall of Fame. &nbsp;<br /><br />Why am I giving you all this information about J.B. Hutto? Because the great slide man and vocalist, heir to the Elmore James legacy, taught everything he knew about music and performing to his nephews, Ed Williams, and his half brother James &ldquo;Pookie&rdquo; Young. &nbsp;The two formed a band, and the rest, as they say is history. &nbsp;Ed Williams is better known as Lil&rsquo; Ed. &nbsp;Pookie Still plays right along side him. The Blues Imperials are rounded out by Kelly Littleton on drums and Michael Garrett on rhythm guitar.&nbsp;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/RS5852_4949LilEdImperials02_byPaulNatkin-scr.jpg" style="width: 620px; height: 413px;" title="Lil' Ed &amp; The Blue Imperials Throw Down (Alligator/Paul Natkin)" /></div><p>Last year, when <a href="http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-04-26/40-years-blues-alligator-records-85684">I spoke with Bruce Iglaur for the 40th anniversary of his Alligator Records</a>, he told me the story of how he first met the band. &nbsp;He was looking for new acts to sign to the label, so he thought he&rsquo;d bring some folks into a studio and have them lay down a couple of tracks. &nbsp;If they were good, they&rsquo;d have a spot on a compilation record. &nbsp;Well, Ed and the boys just blew the roof off the place, and ended up cutting 30 tunes that night. &nbsp;12 of those songs became their debut album Roughhousin&rsquo; in 1986. &nbsp;Their new album, Jump Start, is their 8th.<br /><br />Most Blues bands come and go. &nbsp;The ones that last usually do so by rotating new members in and out on a regular basis. &nbsp;But <a href="http://www.alligator.com/artists/Lil-Ed-and-The-Blues-Imperials/">Lil&rsquo; Ed &amp; the Blues Imperials</a> have stayed true to each other as they have to their music, and have stayed together as a single unit since that first night in the studio with Iglaur. &nbsp;And their success is built on that relationship and the rough-hewn, house rockin&rsquo; sound that they learned at the feet of the masters. &nbsp;And now the students have become masters themselves.</p><p>We&#39;re happy to welcome the band to our studios for Thursday&#39;s <em>Afternoon Shift.</em></p></p> Thu, 07 Jun 2012 09:51:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-06/lil-ed-blues-imperials-bring-genuine-houserockin-music-99892 Remembering the life and music of Michael Bloomfield http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-12-21/remembering-life-and-music-michael-bloomfield-95021 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//segment/photo/2011-December/2011-12-19/MB c of Dave Glass.gif" alt="" /><p><p>Over the past 13 months, the Chicago Blues community lost a number of its legendary members. Little Smokey Smothers, Jeanne Carol, Pinetop Perkins, Honeyboy Edwards, Lacy Gibson, Big Eyes Smith and Hubert Sumlin.</p><p>The art form they created and perfected brought the name “Chicago” to every corner of the globe. Places that even Al Capone couldn’t reach.</p><p>It inspired guys like Bruce Iglauer, whose Alligator Records just celebrated four decades in the business, and guys like Michael Bloomfield.</p><p>On the 30th anniversary of Bloomfield’s passing, Jason Marck explored the life and music of the man some call “The Original Guitar God”.</p></p> Wed, 21 Dec 2011 15:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-12-21/remembering-life-and-music-michael-bloomfield-95021 Remembering Chicago blues legend Willie 'Big Eyes' Smith http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-09-20/remembering-chicago-blues-legend-willie-big-eyes-smith-92211 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//segment/photo/2011-September/2011-09-20/Big Eyes.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>On Friday, Sept. 16 the Chicago blues scene lost another elder statesman. <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em>'s Jason Marck offered this remembrance of Willie “Big Eyes” Smith.</p><p>In the last 12 months, Chicago blues fans said goodbye to Little Smokey Smothers, Pinetop Perkins, Lacy Gibson and Honeyboy Edwards. Recently and sadly, Willie “Big Eyes” Smith was added to that list.</p><p>Smith was born in Helena, Arkansas in 1936.&nbsp; At 17, after hearing Muddy Waters in a Chicago club, he was inspired to become a blues musican and moved north. He played harmonica in several bands around town. He formed a trio with the great drummer Clifton James and played in a quartet with the well-known Arthur “Big Boy” Spires. He also played with slide-guitar legend Johnny Shines, and with a then-up-and-comer recording for Chess Records by the name of Bo Diddley.</p><p>In the late '50s, there was more demand for drummers than for harp players--so Smith switched to drums. He occasionally filled in for Muddy’s drummer and officially joined the band in 1961. But by the mid '60s, he needed steadier money, so he put the kit away and drove a cab to pay the bills.&nbsp;</p><p>One night in 1968, Smith sat in again with Muddy’s band. The next day, Waters asked him to join as a permanent member; and he stayed in the drum chair for the next 12 years.&nbsp;</p><p>Alligator Records founder Bruce Iglaur had fond memories of Smith’s distinctive style<span style="font-style: italic;">: "</span>Willie was very proudly an old school drummer….he commented with his drums on everything that was going on in the song…that would just make you grin from ear to ear," Ingalur said.</p><p>Big Eyes, Pintop Perkins and the other members of the Muddy Waters outfit quit en masse in 1980 and formed The Legendary Blues Band. Smith recorded a series of albums with the LBB, and the group toured with the Stones, Clapton and Dylan.</p><p>Beginning in the mid '90s, Smith recorded as a leader--showing off his prowess as a singer--and went back to his original instrument, the harmonica. He won a string of Blues Foundation Awards and a Grammy in 2010 for his recording “Joined at the Hip” with Pinetop Perkins.</p><p>The drummer on that recording was destined to be the keeper of his flame, as Bruce Iglaur explained.</p><p>"Willie Smith’s legacy is being carried on beautifully by his son; it’ll be different every time and it’ll be great every time," he remarked.</p><p>Smith gained fame for his shuffle beat that became synonymous with Chicago Blues; but at the age of 75, Willie “Big Eyes” Smith shuffled off this mortal coil.</p><p>A <a href="http://wxrt.radio.com/2011/09/19/funeral-services-for-willie-big-eyes-smith-announced/" target="_blank">celebration </a>of the life and music of Willie "Big Eyes" Smith will be held at <a href="http://www.rosaslounge.com/" target="_blank">Rosa’s Lounge</a> in Chicago Thursday, Sept. 22. Funeral services take place Sunday, Sept. 25 and Monday Sept. 26.</p></p> Tue, 20 Sep 2011 14:20:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-09-20/remembering-chicago-blues-legend-willie-big-eyes-smith-92211 Remembering David 'Honeyboy' Edwards, the last of the Delta bluesman http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-09-01/remembering-david-honeyboy-edwards-last-delta-bluesman-91388 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//segment/photo/2011-September/2011-09-01/2260981717_950e230c24_b.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Earlier this week, Chicago said goodbye to a musician some hailed as the last of the Delta bluesmen. <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em>’s Jason Marck shared a remembrance of <a href="http://www.davidhoneyboyedwards.com/" target="_blank">David “Honeyboy” Edwards</a>.</p><p>“This record of roamin’ and rambling blues will be sung and played on the guitar by David Edwards, who lives near Cohomo Mississippi,” folklorist Alan Lomax began as he introduced David “Honeyboy” Edwards for a Library of Congress recording in 1942. Edwards died this week in his Chicago home.</p><p>Edwards was born in the Mississippi Delta and he learned to play the blues the old fashioned way.</p><p>“The veteran musicians would find young kids who had ambitions to play and would actually take them on the road with them,” Steve Cushing host of the syndicated program Blues Before Sunrise explained. In Honeyboy’s case, Cushing said, that was Big Joe Williams.&nbsp;</p><p>Early in his career, Edwards played with the likes of Robert Johnson, Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters. Sadly, those days weren’t well documented because he spent most of that time hopping from town to town just trying to make a living.</p><p>Edwards spoke to former WBEZ host and producer Dan Bindert in 2008; he was in a great mood that day—he was nominated for a Grammy, which he won days after the interview aired. In addition to talking about the blues life, he played a couple of songs, including “Catfish Blues.”</p><p>Honeyboy Edwards moved to Chicago in 1956 and played in local bars through the late ‘60s. In 1972, he met Michael Frank, a young blues fan and musician. The friends formed the Honeyboy Edwards Blues Band. A few years later, Frank would start Earwig Records and record Edwards many times over the next 30 or so years.&nbsp;</p><p>Edwards played in a variety of styles and his technique involved both intricate fingerpicking and attacking bottleneck slide. But he always stuck to his notion of what makes for good blues.</p><p>Edwards will be remembered for his music, awards and longevity; but Honeyboy Edwards he is also remembered as a genuinely good person.&nbsp; Again, Steve Cushing.</p><p>“I think Honeyboy was one of the nicest guys that I’ve met. And he was the first blues interview that I ever attempted, this was back around 1972 and I didn’t know what the hell I was talking about. And he was just so nice and so patient and I have liked him ever since then,” Cushing said.</p><p>David “Honeyboy” Edwards was 96.&nbsp;</p><p>Visitation for Honeyboy Edwards is Thursday September 1, 2:00 -7:00 p.m., There will be an open mic at the funeral home from 7:00-8:00 p.m., followed by a gathering of fans and friends at Lee's Unleaded 7401 S. Chicago Ave.from 8:00 p.m. until midnight.<br> The funeral is Friday at noon sharp, open to family and friends.</p><p>McCullough Funeral &amp; Cremation Services<br> 851 E. 75th St, Chicago 60619.<br> Tel 773-488-8900<br> &nbsp;</p><p><br> &nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 01 Sep 2011 07:45:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-09-01/remembering-david-honeyboy-edwards-last-delta-bluesman-91388 Chicago bluesman David 'Honeyboy' Edwards dies at 96 http://www.wbez.org/story/chicago-blues-musician-david-honey-boy-edwards-dies-91229 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-August/2011-08-30/AP070508064568.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>David "Honeyboy" Edwards, considered to be the last of a generation of musicians who brought music from the rural Mississippi Delta to the rest of America, died at his home in Chicago early Monday morning. He was 96 years old.</p><p>Honeyboy Edwards was born in 1915. He grew up in segregated Mississippi during Jim Crow. Though his dad was a share-cropper, the young Edwards did not work in the fields.</p><p>He figured out he could make more money by playing music on the weekends. But back then a black man would be thrown in jail if he was caught not working during the day. In 2008, Honeyboy Edwards told NPR's Andrea Seabrook that he just didn't go out until evening.</p><p>"I didn't come out until 5 or 6 o'clock in the evening," he said. "Sleep all day, sleep and cook and eat, stay in the house. That sun is hot, anyway. It ain't right out there."</p><p>Edwards left the hot son and tried to make a living on the road. He was a teenager when he learned from, and played with, older musicians like Son House and Robert Johnson who've since become legends.&nbsp;</p><p>In 2008, Edwards <a href="http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/david-honeyboy-edwards-still-going-strong" target="_blank">appeared on WBEZ's 848</a> to talk about how the blues should sound.</p><p>"Blues not supposed to be played fast. Blues supposed to be played slow," Edwards said. "And that's how a lot of people play the blues now. You don't be sit - your chords don't sit long enough to sound. You get down and get up too fast."</p><p><strong>"Honeyboy" Edwards performing at WBEZ</strong></p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/TRgg_9TmI-w" width="420" frameborder="0" height="345"></iframe></p><p>Video from Chicago Tribune's YouTube channel</p><p>Music critic and journalist Tom Piazza (his recent book <em>Devil Sent the Rain</em> is about the music and writing made in hard times) says Johnson and Son House were the pioneers of the Delta blues, a style that influenced everyone from The Rolling Stones to Bob Dylan.</p><p>"The Delta blues is some of the strongest and most concentrated blues that you can find, and life in the Mississippi delta during the time that musical form was coming up was about as tough as you could get," Piazza says. "And Honeyboy Edwards was probably the last living link we had to that era."</p><p>Edwards made his first recording in 1942 when musicologist Alan Lomax went to Clarksdale, Miss., and recorded him for the Library of Congress. He made a few commercial recordings in the '50s but mostly he made a living playing in small clubs in Chicago, where he eventually settled.</p><p>In his memoir <em>The World Don't Owe Me Nothing</em>, Edwards wrote that he'd been "hustling all his life," and by the '60s he was tired. So he got jobs working construction to support his family. He got back into music in the '70s when he met musician Michael Frank, who recorded Edwards.</p><p>Edwards always liked the raw simplicity of country blues. When he was 92 years old he told Dan Bindert of WBEZ in Chicago less is more.</p><p>"You don't have to play a whole lot of guitar to be a good blues player. Some people plays too much guitar," Edwards said. "Stack it on top of each other the way it don't — you're working too fast. Blues not supposed to be played fast. Blues supposed to be played slow."</p><p>"You could kill a man," said Honeyboy Edwards, with just one chord.</p><div class="fullattribution"><p>Edwards won a Grammy Lifetime Achievement award in 2010.</p><p>He died of congestive heart failure Monday in his Chicago apartment. A funeral is planned for Thursday.</p></div></p> Tue, 30 Aug 2011 12:03:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/chicago-blues-musician-david-honey-boy-edwards-dies-91229