Saturday, November 15, 2008

Come on, baby don't you want to go...

By John Stephan

In August of this year, I traveled to Chicago to visit friends and check out the blues clubs. I heard Willie Davis and the All-Star Blues Band at Buddy Guy's Legends club. The place was jam-packed and the band was loud and proud. Great typical Chicago style blues - nothin' fancy, but the crowd loved every minute of it.

A new location has been planned and was announced in the club's August calendar. The first thing that's evident is the diversity of acts who are booked there, although all are firmly rooted in the blues. With a central national location and the deep heritage of Chicago, the clubs don't need to compromise with the music, as much as they do here in Seattle.

I heard a group at the "Blues" room at House of Blues. That band was so stale, they probably wouldn't last very long here. Very "Disney-fied", to quote Mark Hoffman, author of "Moanin' At Midnight." The next night or so, I then proceeded to Kingston Mines, to hear Eddie Shaw and the Wolf Gang. I'm telling you right now, Eddie sounded as good as when I heard him with Howlin' Wolf at Sicks' Stadium, right here in Seattle in 1975. Kingston Mines has two stages, so when they change acts, everyone goes into the adjoining room. When I left around 4:30 AM, the place still was packed with about 400 blues fans. Lots of younger folks, mind you.

John Stephan and Eddie Shaw

I visited Twist Turner's new studio - fabulous, indeed! Originally from Seattle, Twist moved to Chicago about 25 years ago, and has made quite a name for himself as a drummer, producer, and recording engineer. Try to top that! His latest release by ZZ Hill, Jr. , "Goin' To Mississippi," is up for some major awards. Check out Twist at

Chicago has always been special to me, as my father, uncle and aunt lived in the Maxwell Street area from 1928-1934. I hung out on Maxwell Street in 1972, when it was still intact as the Sunday street musician/flea market mecca. it's long gone, now, but anybody who tries to tell you that the blues is dead should spend some time in Chicago. Granted, most of the gigs are in the outlining area, but that's merely an indication of the cost of rent in town - a typical phenomenon all around this great land of ours.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Mike and John,

It's great to come to your site, Mike, and read encouraging posts like this one from John. It is also so cool to me that after so many years playing you love the music as much as ever - both of you. Thanks. Susan (in the Caribbean, missing Seattle blues)