Sayonara Amerika, Sayonara Nippon

A Blue New Year?

Posted in Music by bourdaghs on the December 30th, 2011

The year 2011 took a heavy toll on Chicago blues: the deaths of Hubert Sumlin, Pinetop Perkins, David “Honeyboy” Edwards and Willie “Big Eyes” Smith contributed to the sense that an era was passing rapidly. Will the art survive, and if so, in what form? Howard Reich of the Chicago Tribune published an important series of extended pieces over the course of the year on the present state of the local blues scene, well worth checking out:

“21st Century Blues: Can an Ancestral Art Form Survive?” (June 5, 2011)

“Chicago Camp Teaches Kids Blues 101” (August 20, 2011)

“Playing the Blues in Black AND White” (November 26, 2011)

“Is This the Twilight of Blues Music?” (Dec. 28, 2011)

In fact, there is a rising generation of excellent mid-career blues artists–Michael Burks, Shemekia Copeland, Sean Costello and Larry McCray immediately come to mind. Alligator Records just celebrated its fortieth anniversary and is still going strong (as also reported by Reich in the Trib). We are also blessed with the continuing presence of many strong veteran performers: we have tickets to see Eddie “The Chief” Clearwater at SPACE up in Evanston on January 28, for example. In other words, the music is hardly dead–but it is, as Reich reports, in critical condition.

The City of Chicago has, incidentally, just announced that the 2012 Chicago Blues Festival will be held June 8-10.

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