A message from Joanna Connor, Faculty Member At Home Chicago Blues:
“You may know that I am originally from Massachusetts. My prime motivation to move to Chicago was to study the musicians performing nightly in Chicago. No record could offer me what I was privileged to absorb.
I would have maybe stayed in Massachusetts if there had been the absolutely fantastic opportunity and technology available to me in the 80s that the At Home Chicago Blues offers now, https://athomechicagoblues.com.
You can be comfortably at home taking this in! There are many videos offering guitar lessons on the internet. But none of them can deliver the authentic experience of studying with a seasoned veteran of the fertile and world renowned Chicago Blues scene, including my weekly Zoom sessions with my students.
I spent many decades playing with blues luminaries such as Buddy Guy, Junior Wells, Luther Allison, Otis Rush and I would love to pass on some of the inspiration and insights I received to you.”
Thanks, Joanna. And now, try At Home Chicago Blues for one month for free! No registration, no credit card.
In 1952, Chicago author and radio host Studs Terkel presented a weekly show at Chicago’s Blue Note. One memorable night, when bluesman Big Bill Broonzy was late for the show, Terkel called Broonzy’s home to inquire about his headliner. “Bill is on the way,” Terkel was told, “to England!” (to perform with Mahalia Jackson).
The Blue Note in Chicago was a large, well-lit club, the size of three Loop storefronts combined. The club derived its name from the musical “Blue notes” which are notes that are sung or played at a slightly different pitch from the standard. Typically the alteration is between a quartertone and a semitone, but this varies depending on the musical context. “Like the blues in general,” wrote Peter van der Merwe, author of Origins of the Popular Style, blue notes can mean many things. One quality that they all have in common, however, is that they are lower than one would expect.”
Another blue note of note is Blue Note Records—an American blues and jazz record label owned by Universal Music Group and operated under Capitol Music Group. The label was established in 1939 by Alfred Lion and Max Margulis. There has been much sampling of classic Blue Note Records’ tracks by both hip hop artists and for mashing projects. In 1993, for example, the group Us3 designed the entirety of its debut album upon samples from classic Blue Note records.
Blue notes are used in many blues songs and conventional popular songs with a “blue” feeling, such as Harold Arlen’s “Stormy Weather.” Blue notes are also prevalent in English and Irish folk music. If Big Bill hadn’t been busy flying to Europe, Terkel would likely have heard more than a few blue notes during Broonzy’s scheduled set in 1952. As it turned out, Studs just had the blues that evening.
Marty Weil is the editor of @ChiBluesHistory on Twitter. Marty is a blues researcher, educator, and social media influencer.