Sunday, June 13, 2010

Buddy Guy Getting the Blues about The Blues

From an article in the New York Times:
When [Buddy] Guy arrived [in Chicago] in 1957, it was the heyday of Chess Records, Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf, and there seemed to be a blues venue — like the 1815 Club, Theresa’s, the Blue Flame Lounge — on every other corner. Some were no more than tiny rooms that could fit 35 people if no one took a deep breath.


“Pre-integration, the black community was a lot more vibrant,” [musician Lincoln T. Beauchamp] said. “Along 47th Street and Cottage Grove, you had a community that was able to sustain itself, and the blues and jazz clubs were part of it, not just socially but also politically.”

“Now, as gentrification takes place and the neighborhoods crumble,” Mr. Beauchamp said, the social fabric changes and the clubs disappear. “You’ll probably never again see the same kind of deep, soulful pulse coming from the neighborhoods, because the neighborhoods aren’t there anymore.”


Bruce Iglauer, president and founder of Alligator Records, a major blues and roots record label, said he had watched the blues in Chicago become a tourist attraction — sanitized, prepackaged music for “middle-aged white people who discovered it during college,” he called it.
I always think of the scene in The Blues Brothers where Maxwell Street is full of people, first, listening to John Lee Hooker and, then, dancing to Ray Charles and the Blues Brothers Band. Thanks to the University of Illinois at Chicago, that street scene is no longer there.

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