“It’s big, it’s outgoing, it’s tough, it’s opinionated, and everybody’s got a story.” —Anthony Bourdain, on Chicago
June 9, 2021  Volume 2, Issue 27
Guitar Instructor Joanna Connor on Elmore James’s “Dust My Broom”
Classic Video Lessons by Chicago Blues Masters
Our Most Popular Video

Joanna Connor, the Chicago Blues Master and Guitar Instructor with Chicago Blues Network who just released her album 4801 South Indiana Avenue, on Joe Bonamassa’s record label, is sailing ahead. With over 30K views on YouTube, check out Joanna’s lesson on this classic tune in the video below:
“Joanna Connor might be the best — or most original — blues-based
slide guitar player you’re likely to come across today. Or tomorrow.”

Joanna Connor: “Dust My Broom” Guitar Lesson

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Pete’s Pics “Blues in Action”
by Peter M. Hurley


Author, songwriter and educator Patricia J. Ricketts (not that Ricketts but the restaurateurs-of-old, they-were-here-first Ricketts) generously contributes this week’s column. Ms. Ricketts’ novel Speed Of Dark is due for publication in May of 2022.

Talent spiked with compassion and humor. That’s Holle THEE Maxwell. Legendary songstress of Chicago Blues and Paris Jazz, Maxwell’s musical entrée into the world of performance was opera. Yeah, opera! When asked how it informed her Blues style, she sang a scat line delivered in a Blues song. “Phrasing makes the difference” and establishes Maxwell’s style as unique.

“I’m alive when I’m singing onstage,” said Ms. Maxwell. “I tell the whole story, my whole being is in the song: my voice, my body. Barry Dolins, Deputy Director of the Mayor’s Office of Special Events and the coordinator of the Chicago Blues Festival for many years, once commented I remind him of a vaudeville act, putting everything out there—gesture, voice passion. And I took that as a compliment.” Totally agree. “When I’m up there I look into the audience’s faces. Look them right in the eye, then I take them on a musical journey with me.”

Ever talented, Ms. Maxwell has written a memoir of her life during her time spent with Rock impresario Ike Turner titled Freebase Ain’t Free, which chronicles the soulful excitement of performing with him and, ultimately, his spiral down into the world of drugs. Through it all, Maxwell kept her voice in tune and her audiences rapt.

In the next breath, she mentions the Blues somewhat wistfully. “I can’t sing anymore after a thyroid operation damaged my vocal chords three years ago.” She sighs then turns this situation into something humorous. “People used to claim I was a Blues singer, but I told them, I’m not a Blues singer because I don’t have the blues.” Then she adds with a wry smirk, “If my band ever left me, it was ‘cuz I run ‘em off.” She laughs. “But I got depressed after that operation. You could say I got the Blues then. Only now I can’t sing.” She hesitates, then laughs again. “So, I’m still not a Blues singer.”

Typical of Ms. Maxwell, she’s turned her own blues into something upbeat for others. Because she’s been homeless and without a job at different times of her life, she understands what others have experienced during this past pandemic year. So, she created MaxxemomMusic, the umbrella organization for Black Musicians Matters, which distributes food every other Thursday at The East Odyssey Lounge, 9942 S. Torrence Ave, Chicago, IL 60617. Still giving. Still making heart-to-heart connections with others.

Holle THEE Maxwell, Jazz and Blues songstress of talent, compassion and humor. Makes for a legend. Right?

– Patricia J. Ricketts

Photo taken at Motor Row Brewing, August 4, 2016.

– Peter M. Hurley


To donate to Black Musicians Matters: https://www.gofundme.com/f/black-musicians-matters

BMM on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ihAc7sxlfEA

Black Musicans Matters Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BLACK-Musicians-Matter-114840020260362/

BMM on WTTW: https://news.wttw.com/2021/02/25/how-chicago-artist-working-help-musicians-need

MaxxemomMusic: theemaxxemommusicgroup@gmail.com

For Freebase Ain’t Free book and t-shirts: PayPal.me/FreebaseAintFree or www.holletheemaxwell.love.

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 a 6th grade dance party discovery of Bo Diddley which led to Little Walter, muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf and so on. It continues to this day.
Visit Peter’s Website here.
Read more of Peter M. Hurley’s “Pete’s Pics” articles and view the colorful photos, just click the button below:
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Get Your Vote in! Jimmy Johnson and More
Living Blues Magazine’s “Living Blues” Awards
Vote Now (before June 15 deadline)
Each year, Living Blues magazine gathers the best of the Blues scene and puts the challenge in your lap to pick just one! Be sure to vote for your favorites (use the button below) by June 15th.

Nominees include Chicago’s Jimmy Johnson, John Primer, Lurie Bell, Buddy Guy and many more! Make sure your favorites get some joy!
Jimmy Johnson 
To Receive Award for Lifetime Acheivement on August 29th
Photo by Peter M. Hurley
Mark Your Calendar

On August 29, 2021, The Jus’ Blues Music Awards Show 2021 will be livestreamed on Facebook and YouTube. The event will pay homage to 2021 Jus’ Blues Honorees with a “Night of the Living Legends” celebration, including “tributes, performances and throwback appearances from Jus’ Blues Music Awards past.” – JusBlues.org

Chicago Blues Master Jimmy Johnson is selected to receive the Jus’ Blues “The Muddy” Lifetime Blues Award. Stay tuned to JusBlues.org for more info.
Jimmy Johnson in Trading 4s Concerts

Watch Jimmy Johnson and more Chicago Blues Masters at Chicago Blues Network Trading 4s. This show includes Dave Specter, Bother John Kattke, Johnny Burgin and Rick Kreher. Did we mention this is all in one place?! Enjoy the show!

Jimmy Johnson, Dave Specter, Johnny Burgin & Friends at Chicago Blues Network Trading 4s

Donna Herula “Bang at the Door” Album Release Party in Chicago Celebrates Slide Guitar
Featuring Katherine Davis and More
Blues Guitarist, Vocalist and Songwriter Donna Herula‘s recent Bang at the Door album release show on June 8th celebrated her slide guitar work, blues classics and original music in style. The show featured Blues Vocalist Katherine Davis and more!
The music highlights a musical palette that flows from acoustic blues through gospel, jazz to the electric Chicago blues style, with nods to New Orleans and country music influences. It is the first of her three releases to feature her heartfelt songwriting, focusing on the joys, tribulations, and problems that are part of the human experience.
– Mark Thompson, Blues Blast Magazine
Catch the spirit! Watch Donna Herula perform her original song featured on the album: “No Way Home” on the Chicago Blues Network Trading 4s stage:
Donna Herula “No Way Home” LIVE at Chicago Blues Network Trading 4s
Get the Album Here
The album recently made the Living Blues Radio Charts at #13!
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