“The blues tells a story. Every line of the blues has a meaning.” – John Lee Hooker
Saturday November 28, 2020 Volume 1, Issue 30
Tune in and watch Jimmy Johnson LIVE, for his 92nd Birthday Celebration at Delmark Records, happening now:facebook livestream.
“Heart of the Blues” by Joanna Connor
Joanna Connor is a weekly contributor to bBluesNote with her column “Heart of the Blues.” Joannais 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.
Note: Joanna’s mother, Bobbi, passed on November 18, 2020, at the full age of 90.
“This column isn’t an easy one to write, yet the memories flow freely. I didn’t discover the blues through rock records or an older sibling. The blues was part of the soundtrack of my life for as long as I can remember hearing music, courtesy of a petite lady- part beatnick, part classic Jewish mother , 100 percent in love with great creative expression, whether it be literature, theater, photography, painting, cinema and most importantly- music, my mother, Bobbi Karman.
My mother had rhythm, my mother had ears, my mother could sight read and play piano quite well, and she often took us to friends’ houses, because we couldn’t afford a piano. She would let loose and reminisce I suppose. My brother and I would lay on the floor underneath the piano dreaming away as well, soothed by her sensitive hands. My mother had soul. She refused to live totally by the script that society passed on to her. Jazz and blues were her favorite lovers, deep and dark and passionate, I believed that was what always lay under her surface as well.
My first jazz/ blues memory is hearing Louis Armstrong. My second is hearing Taj Mahal. My third is going to see every Newport Jazz Festival. The greats – Ella, Dizzy , Miles, Sonny, Buddy, Sarah, Dexter, music a little past my understanding, but left it’s impression nonetheless.
Clark University- my mom was a secretary in the psychology department and also was slowly earning her bachelors after dropping out of Purdue University after two years, because the racism and antisemitism was too much too tolerate back in 1948. So there she was decades later. And there we were: attending blues shows there starting at the ripe old age of 10 for me and seven for my brother. Our inaugural concert- Buddy Guy and Junior Wells. I will never forget the wild abandon I witnessed that night shooting out of Buddy’s guitar and the deep soul ringing out of Junior’s harmonica. Many others were to follow : Sonny Terry and Brownie McGee, Son Seals, Big Twist and the Mellow Fellows, Bonnie Raitt, Ry Cooder, Big Mama Thornton, Paul Butterfield, Albert Collins, James Cotton – all seen before I was 17.
If you have read my previous post on Kingston Mines, you know and can appreciate that mom would later see me play with many of the artists I mentioned.
My favorite memories of her are the last two years she spent, almost 90 years old, hanging out with me at all my local gigs, a celebrity in her own right- beloved by many. I can see her – her frail self, still capable of dancing, still in tune with the rhythm, still able to lose herself in the music that meant so much to her, still able to feel the joy and knowing first hand the great stories of the blues, experienced through her eyes as a woman who was unafraid to ignore boundaries, a woman who loved every hue of humanity, a woman who found the cultures of the world food for her soul. I thank you Ma. Thank you for it all.
Dave Specter (At Home Chicago Blues Musical Director) performing at At Home Chicago Blues Trading 4s Concert 10/1/20
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. FOR WEBSITE, CLICK HERE.
“Listen to the Music” by Marty Weil @ChiBluesHistory
My 5,000 Twitter followers often ask me to recommend Chicago blues albums, but there’s never enough room in a Tweet to provide a satisyfing list. Luckily, I have the space here to provide a baker’s dozen that I think you’ll enjoy:
1965 Junior Wells Hoodoo Man Blues (Delmark) 1966 Big Mama Thornton with the Muddy Water Blues Band (Arhoolie) 1971 Hound Dog Taylor and the HouseRockers (Alligator) 1969 Earl Hooker 2 Bugs and a Roach (Arhoolie) 1969 J.B. Hutto & The Hawks with Sunnyland Slim Hawk Squat (Delmark) 1966 Sippie Wallace Women Be Wise (Storyville) 1962 Howlin’ Wolf Howlin’ Wolf (Chess) 1966Variety of Artists Chicago/The Blues/Today (Vanguard) 1972 Little Walter Boss Blues Harmonica (Chess) 1964 Muddy Waters Folk Singer (Chess) 1969 Fred McDowell I do not play no rock ‘n’ roll (Malaco Records) 1961 Freddie King Let’s Hide Away and Dance with Freddie King (King Records) 1960 Big Joe Williams Piney Woods Blues (Delmark)
Junior Wells’ Chicago Blues Band With Buddy Guy – Hoodoo Man Blues (Full Album)
Marty Weil is the editor of@CHIBLUESHISTORYon Twitter. Marty is a blues researcher, educator, and social media influencer.
Instructor of the Week: Harlan Terson Take Lessons with Chicago Blues Masters
Harlan Lee Terson has been a familiar figure on Chicago’s musical landscape for 40 years, recording and touring internationally with some of Chicago’s greatest blues artists. If you’re ready to add more Blues to your style, sign up for online lessons.
“…one of Chicago’s great blues bassists.” – Bass Player Magazine
Harlan Terson: “Got My Mojo Workin'” Bass Guitar Lesson