It’s officially spring, which is always a relief in Chicago, but the threat of World War III, the stubborn persistence of the pandemic, and the new flood of horrifying Republican anti-trans legislation more than justify continuing the Winter Blues series for a few more entries. No underrecognized Chicago blues artist deserves a spot in the […]
Snowstorms, cold snaps, the most contagious wave of COVID-19 yet—it’s clearly time for the Secret History of Chicago Music to begin its yearly Winter Blues series. That’s where I cover the city’s great unheralded blues artists, many of whom gigged constantly but barely had the means to get by, let alone record their music. Many […]
Big Maceo’s heyday as a recording artist lasted just five years, but his output includes some of the most widely covered songs in the history of the genre.
Billy Boy Arnold might be best known as Bo Diddley’s 1950s harmonica player, but he’s 25 years into a comeback of his own.
Singer and pianist Georgia White made dozens of classic records for Decca from 1935 to 1941, then fell off the map in the 1970s.
Even when Willie “Big Eyes” Smith won a Grammy at the end of his life, he shared it with pianist Pinetop Perkins.
Country bluesman Washboard Sam was reputedly Big Bill Broonzy’s half brother, and recorded with Broonzy and Memphis Slim—but the rise of postwar electric blues put an end to his popularity.
This popular blues harpist maintained a long partnership with legendary guitarist Big Bill Broonzy, but ended up eclipsed by the likes of Howlin’ Wolf.
Bluesman Ernest “Little Son Joe” Lawlers was overshadowed by his wife, the great Memphis Minnie, but you might remember his “Black Rat Swing.”
Despite a big hit in 1948 and a career renaissance in the 60s, bluesman Arbee Stidham is all but forgotten today.
He his biggest hit as raunchy bluesman Georgia Tom Dorsey, but today he’s known as “the father of gospel music.”
Doctor Clayton cut just 30 tracks, but they helped plant the seeds for rock ‘n’ roll.