Chicago Blues: A Living History – 2010 Grammy Nominee

“An engaging, updated introduction to the world of Chicago blues… Captures the musical spirit of the city and traces its development through the past 50 years. This album celebrates the past by breathing new life into it. ” ~ PopMatters

On Sunday January 31st, 2010

they’ll be handing out the 52nd Annual Grammy Awards. There are two categories: Best Contemporary Blues Album & Best Traditional Blues Album that for the most part relate to this blog… I wanted to briefly mention one of this year’s Grammy nominees – Raisin’ Music’s Chicago Blues: A Living History. Produced by Larry Skoller, this extraordinary and fresh voyage through blues history is sure to generate some cool moments for most fans of the blues. It’s also a terrific collection for those who are new to the genre and looking for a vibrant and entertaining reference to Chicago’s distinctive blues history.

During the late 40s and early 50s, a change of style from the Mississippi Delta sound was taking place which eventually saw the Chicago music scene as the dominant voice of the blues. This was mostly due to the migration of thousands of African-American farm workers from the south to the industrial cities of the north like Detroit and Chicago during World War II. In search of a better life, a number of talented blues musicians like Muddy Waters and John Lee Hooker were part of that historic trip north.

Chicago Blues: A Living History – Nominated For Best Traditional Blues Album

It all came together in April of 2009 when local veterans Billy Boy Arnold, John Primer, Billy Branch and Lurrie Bell successors of the Chicago Blues landscape teamed up to pay tribute to the evolution of Chicago Blues from 1940-1991. Together they lead a fantastic group on songs made famous by legends like Big Bill Broonzy, Elmore James, Willie Dixon and Buddy Guy just to name a few. During this past summer of 2009, the band toured Europe and played to packed crowds at fifteen major music festivals in seven countries.

The Living History Band

Billy Flynn – Guitar
Matthew Skoller – harmonica
Johnny Iguana – Keyboards
Felton Crews – bass
Kenny “Beedy-Eyes” Smith – drums

Special Guests

Carlos Johnson – guitar and vocals
Mike Avery – vocals

I believe we can all learn something about life and communication by exploring the history of the blues. Any natural art forms’ roots should always be recognized and we need to acknowledge the historical context which blues developed. All popular music today is based on the blues and without that knowledge people are missing out on the fundamental aspects like jazz, rock ‘n’ roll, soul and R&B which derived from it. Its down-home honest/raw energy is medicine for the soul. The music assembled on this disc can’t help but make you feel good…

I’ll resist the temptation to elaborate further and let the music and videos featured in this post speak for itself… I know I’ll be paying close attention to this category come Grammy time on Sunday January 31, 2010. If you’re interested in further information and band bios you can go to Chicago Blues: A Living History website by clicking here…

Do you have any favorite Chicago blues artists which are featured on this disc? Please feel free to add your comments below. Your input will further enhance the post and is always appreciated.

The Blues Blogger

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14 years ago

This , to me , is one of the best!!! There was nothing like Chicago Blues — during the mid 1950– wonderful music– Love this — Thank you so much

Marcel Lemieux/starflight

Many nationality have a far cry of injustice,hardships and more in my country we have the french,the acadians and the indians..they all do marvelous music ..but nothing come,s close to the roots of blues..they are king in the field of feeling and story music telling…a great blog and writing …
….i read all and felt for a beer and blues music..nothing can out-run or out -lodge the blues..its all roots and guts…superb….which i could be in Chicago..thank you

Annamaria( bluesemotion)

Wowwwwww… I do love Chicago blues and the story about!!! This is a great gift to me, SUPER !!! Thanks
a lot .

14 years ago

Very different kind of post but excellent all the same. Chicago blues are guitar riffs – or at least that’s how I’ve always thought of them. Without the incredible guitar innovations of the classics, we just wouldn’t have our music today.

I’ll be watching the Grammies too — at least this part.

Alan Eisenberg
Alan Eisenberg
14 years ago

Well I was lucky enough to live in Chi Town and got to go to the southside to the great blues clubs. On Maxwell st, they’d get together and jam. I loved seein’ Buddy Guy and Junior Wells at my leisure.I just love the Chicago sound and the music it has inspired.. To this very day, I gotta get up and dance when I hear it. Thanks BB for spotlighting this.

14 years ago

Speaking of Best Traditional Blues Album Grammy Nominees, I almost missed The Mick Fleetwood Blues Band because I tend to focus on discovering new (to me) contemporary blues artists. Mick Fleetwood returns to his first love – the blues. Blues Again plays homage to several old Peter Green standards and frontman Rick Vito is simply superb on vocals and guitar. Vito’s interpretation of Black Magic Woman [8:38] is a highlight and one of best I have ever heard. Blues Again is just straight-up blues-rock played by old pros who are steadily whittling away the rock to get closer to a purer blues. Notes: This is a mostly a “live” album recorded at the Sheldon Concert Hall in St. Louis, Missouri in February of 2008. The Blues Again [Import] version has 3 bonus songs including Green’s The Supernatural.

Happy Trails, Duane

D Kore
D Kore
14 years ago

Duane, are you for real? The Mick Fleetwood Blues band is a let down….a big wank. The album is a vanity album of good recordings but on the whole it’s safe and stale where it should have danger and life. The album is like a neo-blues version of painting -by -numbers.

As far as Black Magic Woman goes, …just let it go. Santana and co. pulled it out long ago and hands down does the best version of that song….ever. (sorry Peter)

But what is more of a bummer on this album is that none of the songs are a “new” version of an old standard. There is no new look at these age-old gems and that makes it careless, flippant and decaying. They didn’t “buy” any of these songs and it shows.

The entire album just sounds like tired selections Pro-tooled together. Vito’s guitar playing is passable but not altering or soul- blistering. You get the feeling that you’ve heard all these looks and licks before.

As for the singing,Vito’s voice is thin and meek (autotune) and in concert he’s a giant let down on the mic and should stay clear of posing as a Frontman for a blues act. Vito is not believable and tosses out words as mere filler between his soloing and doodling. Vito can not and does not do both instruments justice.

Even the famed Fleetwood doesn’t stand out as any thing new or interesting. Many of his parts sound phoned-in and there’s a missing Fleetwood element that his playing is noted for. Some of the his other mates perform like any other hired guns: whacking away and offering no real meat.

All in all, the Mick Fleetwood Blues Band is dull, boring and forgetful. Someone should tells these old well-to-doers
that you can’t fake the blues, even if you once had the blues way back when….

14 years ago

What’s with this DCore (above), with such a vitriolic attack on Rick Vito and the Mick Fleetwood Blues Band? Vito’s work on The Blue Again album is, as Duane said, simply superb. (Judging by the intensely personal tone of his spew, I wonder if DCore is actually from the ‘cult’ of the California-Pop era of Fleetwood Mac, some of whom still detest Vito for trying to revive the band’s original blues sound.)

The Blue Again album is a joy, and certainly worthy of its nomination.

Personally I was hoping for the Chicago Blues: Living History to win – what a great homage to the heart, soul, blood and guts of Chicago Blues – but I didn’t mind seeing Ramblin’ Jack Elliott take it, with his rich history and decades of great blues. It’s all good.

Great Blog!