“The blues are the roots. Everything else is the fruits” – Willie Dixon
When you ask anyone if they’ve ever heard blues music, they instantly think about Chicago electric blues. They think of amplified electric instruments including guitar, bass, and harp (harmonica). You can find blues history, culture, and music all over Chicago…
Chicago was home to Chess Records. Leonard Chess wanted to make “race music” and as a result found a home for Chicago blues to flourish. You can still take a drive past Chess Records and even take a tour (Chess Records). Leonard would record various musicians who traveled up from the Delta, most famous including Muddy Waters, Little Walter, and Howlin Wolf.
However, Willie Dixon was the mastermind behind Chess Records because he is responsible for writing most of the blues songs people recognize today. Think of some famous blues songs off the top of your head…most likely, you’ll find them linked to Willie Dixon (Willie Dixon Song list).
Chess Records also recorded Rhythm & Blues and Soul.
Here are just some of the artists that recorded with Chess:
Willie Dixon, Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Little Walter, Etta James, Big Maybelle, Memphis Slim, Pinetop Perkins, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Bo’ Diddley, John Lee Hooker, Slim Harpo, Otis Rush, T-Bone Walker, Amos Milbourne, Koko Taylor, Magic Slim, Johnny Winter Jimmy Reed, Bobby Blue Band, Buddy Guy, Eurreal Montgomery, Junior Wells, Albert King, Freddie King, Lowell Fulsom, Z.Z. Hill, Eddie Boyd, Solomon Burke, The Four Tops, Chuck Berry, Percy Mayfield, Irma and Rufus Thomas, Ike Turner
Where can I go to hear blues music in Chicago?
As Willie Dixon said, blues is the roots…so if you listen you’ll hear blues everywhere. I’ll dedicate a post to the various places to go for blues music in Chicago, but for now, we’ll look forward to seeing you at Bluetopia.