“My idea of heaven is a place where the Tyne meets the Delta, where folk music meets the blues.” – Mark Knopfler

January 9, 2020   Volume 1, Issue 3
Bring the Resilience of Blues Into Your Life
Play Blues with At Home Chicago Blues
Blues is a multi-faceted American music form which has influenced genres from rock-n-roll to folk, to jazz and pop. At its core, it expresses resilience. Learn Chicago Blues with Chicago Blues Masters. 

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Pete’s Pic / “Blues in Action”
by Peter M. Hurley
Celebrating Bob Stroger’s Birthday

The man with a long history and a long memory, Bob Stroger is the bass players’ bassist. He’s backed every blues star in the book at one time or another, most notably in long road stints with Eddie King, Otis Rush, Mississippi Heat, and Odie Payne’s band. He also recorded with Rush, Jimmy Rogers, Eddie Taylor, Eddie Clearwater, Sunnyland Slim, Lousiana Red, Buster Benton, Homesick James and Snooky Pryor. “Blues is my life and my thing is having fun,” says Stroger.  “If playing music didn’t make people smile, I wouldn’t be doing it. I’ve had my share of trophies but my real trophy is my audience.” 
To watch Mr. Stoger on the bandstand is to experience the blues drawn from a deep well of music rooted in Mississippi and further nourished playing blues and r&b on Chicago’s West Side. Heck, the man lived in an apartment behind blues mecca Silvio’s during his teenage years. It’s no wonder he gravitated to the bass for all its thumping bottom that emanated throughout the neighborhood.  

Among his many recordings, check out Bob Stroger’s work with Eddie King in 1960 on J.O.B. Records’ “Love You Baby”: 
and “Shakin’ Inside.” 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fmK3dHP3lq0  …PLAY IT LOUD and dig the bass.

This photo taken at Motor Row Brewing, September 2016. 

-© Peter M. Hurley  
Mr. Hurley is a contributing photographer and writer for Living Blues Magazine and the staff photographer for Chicago Blues Network. His recent book Blues Legacy: Tradition and Innovation in Chicago, in collaboration with Blues historian and author David Whiteis, showcases his work in the field. His passion for blues music began with the Chess Studios’ sound of Bo Diddley and continues to this day. Visit Peter’s Website here.
What’s on your wall? Grab your At Home Chicago Blues Trading 4s 2021 Calendar, featuring photographs by Peter M. Hurley, as well as dates in Blues History, curated by Marty Weil.
Get the Calendar
At the Chicago Blues Network Store, there’s oodles of great stuff, from the Calendar to CDs and Photographs of your favorite Chicago Blues Masters.
“Heart of the Blues”
by Joanna Connor 
Joanna Connor is a weekly contributor to bBluesNote with her column “Heart of the Blues.” Joanna is a Guitar Instructor with At Home Chicago Blues. To learn more about Joanna visit her website or watch her videos. To take lessons with Joanna, click here.
I couldn’t solo on the guitar. For years. I sat dumb struck for innumerable hours by a record player in the woods in Massachusetts assuming I would always remain a singer and a rhythm guitarist. It was like trying to decipher a mysterious code that my ears couldn’t some how connect to my guitar neck. But I will tell you – I was a good rhythm guitarist. It was my creative canvas. It was my delight. And I was a natural. I still feel it was the one musical gift that was just that – a present from the One who created and assembled what became me. Perhaps it was passed down from the hills of Donegal, or the land of Israel. Perhaps it was the mash up of the two. After all I descended from two peoples that were oppressed and passionate, two distinctive cultures that produced and still do today, an abundance of musical people. 

Looking back, I consider it a blessing in a way that I spent several years tackling nothing but rhythm guitar. It influenced every musical decision I made; how I approached every song I played, how I interacted with the rhythm section, how in the future I would choose and build my own rhythm sections. I took that skill with me to Chicago and built on it, refined it. It was what also helped me immeasurably in landing innumerable backing gigs.

How do you internalize this musical communication and compositional skill? How do you explain this art? Well, you can start with a dissection of drum patterns. Then proceed to analyze the locking components between the bass and drums. And perhaps most crucially, begin an aural and visual survey of the vast and varied stylings of the players that came before you and the players among you. 

The rhythmic interplay between Robert Johnson’s guitar and voice, the seeming voodoo spells being cast between Hubert Sumlin and Howlin Wolf, the idiosyncratic style of Luther Tucker with James Cotton, the Mississippi magic between Jimmy Rogers, Otis Spann and Muddy Waters, the way Magic Sam effortlessly accompanied himself, and later the teams of Mike Bloomfield and Elvin Bishop, the blues drenched riffs of Keith Richards and Jimmy Page that were the foundation of classic songs. The brilliance of Steve Cropper at Stax, the fiery and down-home interplay of the Allman brothers, the stunning brilliance of Jimmy Nolen for James Brown, the syncopation of Michael Coleman, Rico McFarland, the voicing of Anthony Palmer…there are too many to mention, all bringing that attack, that propulsion, that hang time between the notes, the architects of phrases. 

Thankfully, I eventually unlocked some of the secrets of soloing. But to this very day, the rhythm is what I latch onto in my soloing, the rhythm guitar is my place of pleasure and joy. As Jimi Hendrix said “If you can’t feel and play the rhythm, then you’re not a guitarist.”

Learn Blues with Joanna Connor
In Memorium: Lucky Peterson
and Mojo Morganfield

by Marty Weil @ChiBluesHistory
A Tribute to Lucky Peterson

In a year beset by tragedy, the blues world lost Mojo Morganfield and Lucky Peterson in 2020—two artists in the prime of their careers.

Lucky Peterson was a blues musician since he was a young boy. In 1971, Lucky Peterson (age 6), became the youngest recording artist to hit the Billboard R&B charts. The song was co-produced by Willie Dixon. It landed Lucky an appearance on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. Peterson blossomed into a solid blues player, backing stars like Etta James and Otis Rush and fronting his own groups on albums and in propulsive live shows. His latest album, “50: Just Warming Up!,” was released in 2019. Brett Bonner, editor of Living Blues magazine, had Lucky Peterson on the cover just last year. Bonner called Peterson “an incredibly talented multi-instrumentalist,” one who, he noted, was popular in France as well as in American blues clubs.

Mojo Morganfield Tribute – “It’s Good To Be King”

The loss of Mojo Morganfield hit closer to home. The youngest son of Muddy Waters, Mojo was just beginning to embark on his blues career when he collapsed at his home in Waukegan, Illinois, where he lived with his wife Deborah, whom he’d married earlier in 2020. It was at that happier time when I exchanged texts with Mojo. We had become friendly on Twitter. On the social networking platform, Mojo had shared his enthusiasm for his new Delmark single “It’s Good to Be King.” He was looking forward to a new full-length CD that was being produced by Grammy winner Michael Freeman.

Morganfield and Peterson weren’t the only musical artists that we lost in 2020, but their passing is representative of the wounds we all suffered in a year filled with tragic, terrible losses.

Marty Weil is the editor of @CHIBLUESHISTORY on Twitter. Marty is a blues researcher, educator, and social media influencer.
Featured Chicago Blues Lessons
More videos available with
At Home Chicago Blues
Instructor Dave Specter walks you through “Smokestack Lightning,” one of Howlin’ Wolf’s most well-known songs and a Chicago Blues classic. 

Dave Specter: “Smokestack Lightning” Guitar Lesson

Dave Specter is the Musical Director of Chicago Blues Network and hosts Trading 4s shows. He hosts “Blues from the Inside Out,” a monthly podcast featuring top names in blues and roots music from a unique, artist-to-artist interview perspective and often includes live studio performances and jam sessions. Listen to podcasts here.

Instructor Johnny Burgin gives you tips and tools of the trade as he shares this song “Low Tide” by Freddie King. 

Jonny Burgin: “Low Tide” Chicago Blues Guitar Lesson

Dave Specter and Johnny Burgin are just some of the Instructors here to help you. Join students from far and wide that come to At Home Chicago Blues to build their music skills together. 
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