Corky Siegel makes classical-blues music work | WBEZ
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Eight Forty-Eight

Corky Siegel's Chamber Blues make classical and blues sing together beautifully

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Corky Siegel. The name is as “Chicago” as Maxwell Street or Wrigley Field. He’s been playing music professionally since 1964 when he teamed up with his fellow Roosevelt University student, Jim Schwall. For nearly a decade, the Siegel-Schwall Band churned out their special brand of acoustic blues, before giving it a break.

But before disbanding in 1974, they had their first taste of genre-blending when they teamed up with the San Francisco Symphony and The Boston Pops.

That morphing of sounds seemed natural to Siegel, but when he told people that he was going to move further in that direction with his music, many strongly advised against it. They told him that nobody would be interested in a blues-meets-classical music sound.

But Siegel felt that the blend would – at the very least – appeal to a niche audience. He was wrong. But, so were the naysayers. I did far more than appeal to a "niche" audience. The acclaim and audience he received for this “chamber blues” style he created far exceeded expectations.

Siegel and members of his Chamber Blues ensemble joined us on Eight Forty-Eight for a special performance, and to talk about the sound he’s developed and perfected over the past several decades.

Corky Siegel's Chamber Blues perform a pair of shows (4pm and 7pm) this Sunday at Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago's Lincoln Square neighborhood.

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