Covering dozens of blues artists in the Secret History of Chicago Music has taught me that a few of the cliches about old-time bluesmen are rooted in reality. Many such musicians indeed began doing grueling labor in the fields as children, and many built their own first instruments. Often they started playing on the street […]
A few months ago, when I saw that blues guitarist J.B. Ritchie had passed away on November 23, 2021, I made a mental note to dig into his story. First I checked out a few tracks—his style straddled rock ’n’ roll and the blues, and he sure could play! I couldn’t find much at all […]
Melvia “Chick” Rodgers-Williams is a dynamic, versatile blues and soul vocalist with a pretty sparse recorded legacy (mostly under her maiden name, Melvia “Chick” Rodgers). She’s deft and audacious enough to take on warhorses such as “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and Aretha Franklin’s “Dr. Feelgood,” retaining the power and feel of the originals while making […]
Gene Barge has done his most influential work as a sideman or producer, but he’s just as important as any of R&B’s marquee stars.
Holle Thee Maxwell’s long career has taken her through several genres and across the world—but it’s never made her a star.
By the early 90s Lurrie Bell didn’t even own a guitar anymore, but now he’s got a shelf full of Blues Music Awards.
Blues guitarist Jimmy Johnson, still going strong at 91, released his newest album just four months ago.
The Blues Festival diversifies its lineup for 2019, with suave and sexy R&B star Latimore, deep-soul legend Don Bryant, genre-defying singer Bettye LaVette, and many more.
The Blues Festival spurs dozens of special events around town, including shows by Jamiah Rogers, Lurrie Bell, and Lynne Jordan—plus three historic photo exhibits.
Soul-blues superstar O.B. Buchana brings a distinctive grit to his tales of all-night escapades.
Chicago musician and actress Melody Angel blends blues, old-school rock ’n’ roll, R&B, hip-hop, and more to create a style all her own.
Whether on well-chosen covers or her signature song “Cookies,” Chicago blues singer Mzz Reese prefers nuance and subtlety to pyrotechnics.
Memphis vocalist Karen Wolfe has adopted the persona of a vintage blueswoman—feisty, independent, and ready to call out no-good men.
Florida soul-blues veteran Latimore outlasted disco decades ago, and on his most recent album he applies his inimitable voice to the Great American Songbook.
Bettye LaVette debuted with a hit soul single in 1962, but she’s long since transcended genre, singing blues, country, pop, funk, rock, and more.