Beginning with Napster and continuing through Spotify, the nemeses of independent record labels have been legion over the past few decades. The deaths of brick-and-mortar retail chains, including Tower and Borders, have made releasing new music even more of an uphill climb. Yet Pravda Records has weathered it all and continues to thrive. The Chicago […]
Tag: Syl Johnson
The second-biggest news about Bandcamp this week
Friday, March 4, is the 20th installment of what’s become known as Bandcamp Friday, when Bandcamp passes along its usual share of revenue to the independent artists and labels selling music through the site. But that occasion was overshadowed somewhat this morning, when Bandcamp CEO Ethan Diamond announced that the company is “joining” Epic Games. […]
A tribute to Syl and Jimmy Johnson
Chicago shaped Jimmy and Syl Johnson, and the brothers stayed grounded here even as they became global heroes. The singer-guitarists moved up from Mississippi after World War II and played blues and R&B, carving out their own spaces within those sounds. They had outwardly contrasting personalities and their careers took different paths; they worked together […]
Soul singer Jackie Ross is so much more than a one-hit wonder
Jackie Ross had a smash with “Selfish One” in 1964—but that just happens to be the best-selling single from her decades of great songs.
Blues guitarist Jimmy Johnson is much more than just Syl’s big brother
Blues guitarist Jimmy Johnson, still going strong at 91, released his newest album just four months ago.
Pieces of Peace cut most of their brilliant soul-funk for other people’s records
Chicago soul-funk band Pieces of Peace didn’t put out their only album till 35 years after they broke up.
If you see one set this Blues Festival, make it Jimmy Johnson
At 90 years old, Mississippi-born guitarist Jimmy Johnson is a walking master class in modern blues greatness.
R&B singer Syleena Johnson channels her rootsier side at Chi-Town Blues Fest
Syleena Johnson became a force in mainstream R&B in the early 2000s, landing several chart hits and working alongside such figures as Busta Rhymes, Kanye West, and R. Kelly. But in many ways the singer, daughter of Chicago soul/R&B/blues legend Syl Johnson, has always sounded like a roots woman: her voice is supple and resonant, […]
Entertainment lawyer Jay B. Ross fought for the people who made the music he loved
An expert negotiator, he went to bat for stars as big as James Brown and Muddy Waters, but he also clawed back royalties for countless forgotten artists who’d never gotten their due.
Session drummer Morris Jennings played on Electric Mud, the Super Fly soundtrack, and scores of other records
As a house drummer for Chess Records in the late 60s, Morris Jennings kicked off a five-decade career that never brought him into the spotlight himself.
At age 88, late-blooming guitarist Jimmy Johnson enters his fifth decade in the blues
Jimmy Johnson—older brother of Syl—started out playing soul, but he came into his own as a bluesman in the late 1970s.
The Reader’s guide to the 32nd annual Chicago Blues Festival
More people turn out for Blues Fest than for Pitchfork and Lollapalooza combined—and here are a couple dozen reasons why, including Syl Johnson, Shemekia Copeland, Clarence Carter, Chick Rodgers, and Buddy Guy.
Scharpling and Wurster revive ‘Rock, Rot & Rule’ for the Reader
To help celebrate the return of The Best Show, the Reader asked Tom Scharpling and Jon Wurster to revisit their first collaboration, the famous “Rock, Rot & Rule” sketch, which predated the show by several years—and still stands as one of the great moments in the history of trolling. Wurster played fictional blowhard Ronald Thomas […]
Gossip Wolf: The Thalia Hall team launches the Promontory in Hyde Park
The Thalia Hall team’s new Hyde Park venue, the Mopery’s new identity, and more
Reader’s Agenda Sat 4/19: Chicago Zines, 20×2 Chicago, and Record Store Day
What’s on the Reader‘s Agenda for Saturday, April 19