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Chicago/The Blues/Today! with guest Marty Weil

Updated: Mar 30, 2023

Music Rewind welcomes blues historian Marty Weil to discuss the three volume anthology: Chicago/The Blues/Today!

A moment in time that resulted in a perfect snapshot of the blues scene of mid-1960’s Chicago. Featuring legends: Junior Wells, Otis Rush, Otis Span, Johnny Cotton, J.B. Hutto, Homesick James, Johnny Young, Johnny Shines, Big Walter Horton, and others.

Album: Chicago/The Blues/Today! Artist: Various Year: 1966

Our Guest, Marty Weil, operates @ChiBluesHistory on Twitter. A great channel to follow for amazing bits of blues history.

Find the each volume below;


Transcription as follows:

Hello, and welcome to Music Rewind. The podcast where we live to tell the story behind our favorite albums. I'm your host, Steve Epley at each episode. We invited guests on to tell us about their favorite music album how they discovered it and what makes it special to them joining me today is author historian Marty Weil. Marty is an award-winning writer, Chicago, Blues historian and published author. You can find Marty at his fascinating Twitter page at Chicago Blues History @ChiBluesHistory, which is a treasure Trove of History. Bits of all things. Chicago Blues, welcome already. And thank you for being on the show. Thanks to you. So I'm not happy to be here. Excited to talk about the album today and thanks for the warm. Welcome. That's what you're looking forward to diving into this one. This one may lead us away from our usual concept of of one album and delve more into a specific genre but will jump right into it. What is your favorite album? And how did you discover it to where the album is Chicago? The blues today. What's a 3 Disc set and it's really a unique album. In the sense that it's a sampler has produced by a Rider music, historian named Samuel Charters. And she put this together for a couple thousand dollars after convincing, Vanguard to go with an idea that they do probably wouldn't work. It was already fired from a Prestige folklore for try to float the idea of there. So he was unemployed and 65, you got to Grand and he decides to put together this 9 artist stampler what was going on in the small clubs, around Chicago to server capture the best of that music scene in the mid-60s. And says, this is, you're not the typical album where an artist has established or labels getting behind him. So literally a producer and a writer who goes out and then he handpicks these these artists to come into the studios and they were working at a great Studio RCA Studio. Chicago, very large, expanse of which gives himself album such a unique sound. So, I don't know what the album when I discovered it, because it led me to discover a number of Blues artist. I didn't really know about her having her before. Yeah, I was pretty amazed at the the light up on here in that I had maybe heard of one or two in passing that, I didn't really have a deep enough knowledge to all these but I but I heard of a few I heard of the Otis rush. I heard of Junior Wells but the the light up blue me away. Once you start listening to all of these and when it all comes together, it's pretty amazing. And not only that, but they have amazing contributors to this as well. The artist featured on it are as you mention Junior. Well. So, I was fortunate to see live lady who do Otis Spann. James Cotton Otis Rush homesick, James Johnny, Young and Johnny shines and big Walter Horton there through the leaders. Those in the section leaders in each of those guys have A one-on-one session in the store, for 3 hours. It was all they had and then they had contributors special guests such as Buddy Guy, Willie Dixon, and Charlie Musselwhite. If I was a jump. So they have this, this enormous group of people, basically shuffling United Studios 57 years ago, this November so I didn't night like this, they probably work. We're recording in Chicago this album for the seven years ago. That's pretty amazing. So soon table charters of the guy that put all this together. Why did he Like what was hella intent? Sure, sure. We see. She was actually looking to capture. Was he was he had been hearing in the clubs in Chicago. All this amazing talent that existed and he wanted he wanted to bring that sound to to an album form which is basically. This is a document that you've created a music document that he's created to capture this year old that was quickly coming to a close. You have to remember the British Invasion was upon us and that's true changed. Since the mid-fifties, considerably Blues, walk, still thriving in, on the Southside in these clubs was withering. Basically. And so this was a way, basically, to kick the blues off for a new year and it really existed from the end of the war to going to the pub or charge, make this element 65 in that he was able to serve kick this. The blues into high gear again. Because, you know, this was this album, was this Covered by people. Like, you know, Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix. In fact, Jimi Hendrix holds the album up in a very famous photo of him in his Paris apartment. It is also holding in Elmore James, album up those two albums in a way our line because Elmore James sort of Hearts, this album Elmore James certainly in 65, would have been included heading that died on homesick. James and Scout, which I think is why homesick James is included in this. He was not well known but he was the Accolade of Elmore James. Like I said, who died, just years before. He could have been on this out. And he certainly would have been really kicked his career into high gear as well, because it really set up a stage for people who wear, it really worked very well. Now, I'm the oldest man comes out from behind the pant, you know, from Pine to the Muddy Waters Band piano that has been sitting at four years and so a lot of chances we'll discover to go through this weren't around to be hurt. So we'll talk. We'll talk about that more of it. If it's a fascinating document, in that sense. Yes, I was going through the names that I noticed that these guys, either died young for various reasons or, or they literally play till they died later in life. Right. And they were able to in large part because some of these guys were eating middle-aged hadn't played in a while we're out of the music business in some cases. And so then they got to resurrect their careers on each individual as we get as we get into each of their sessions. But yeah you'll see that it's an unusual situation in which most people who Listen to album saw their lives. You know, it's either some debut on a major label by a man that's got huge backing and a lot of money. And and or it's a band this well established as put out dozens of albums and you know you don't really think about it and maybe a couple hits on it. You want to hear the rest but this wasn't this wasn't designed that way at all real quick. How did you discover this album to someone turn you on to her to just kind of come across it in your you through your life? Are you getting back to Blue? Been researching the blues? And of course I was reading Samuel Chargers work and then I started started thinking about him and He didn't need to be found. This album is also mentioned in a couple of biographies of where it really impacted people's career. I think alligator guy who started alligator was influenced by by it down. A lot of different worlds, album van insolence, like a whole generation of Natalie artist, but other writers and producers and and it just became sort of the essential album to have if you were in that Blues world. That's cool. You're one of the questions I was going to ask you was going to be if you weren't what do you recommend as far as the starting point for anyone to get into Chicago Blues in this album answers. That question, does Miss Muddy Waters and Howlin Wolf? And that's because they were on the chess label. They couldn't get free to do this. This was a strictly like they were tied up. Yeah so you know other than you know other than been missing but yeah this I would certainly direct people to this album if they just want to hear what it was like. In the mid-60s with who was new and fresh on the scene and also people who had fallen out of the business but we're bringing something to the scene in the clubs and not on record and now they're right now, they were again. Alright. So how do you listen to the album? Do you do Shuffle router? Do you go straight through when you put it on three discs in so long. So I hardly ever goes to show. How do you say Shuffle? I usually Shuffle. I had certain pieces that I pulled out of it and put on other playlist and stuff cuz you know it's a commitment you were going to listen to All 3 discs you know which I have lately. I've been I've been real deep dive into all 3 discs here all 42 tracks and there are different ones that I have pulled out as you said, put on to our own, my own separate playlist via, but this is also a great just Shuffle. Just put this to all 42 tracks on shuffle and you've got Long duration of just create Blues playing in the background. So we're not a bad track, so she's in a bad way, you know, and then don't hit the other thing is he's got souly had a chance to do four or five songs apiece. So it's hard to like it sick of them because it's it's kind of an EP, a bunch of BP's tight, you know, there were tied together, almost if you want to think of that, I think of it that way. But yeah, let's been solely through this. But yeah, what you want me to walk me through it from, can go, we can go front back and talk about the the artist mainly in the mini standout tracks, you want to mention is called Little Chicago. Basically she's volume want. The whole thing is sort of Chicago, the blues today. He kicks off with you with Junior Wells. Be my baby. When playing golf. You did good in Wells was probably the heart attack at that time in Chicago. Yet just come out the year before with hoodoo man blues, which is considered a masterpiece and Buddy Guy put together. And so he was really, really hot. And so she's he leaves off the Record cuz he really was cago that moment, you know, I think he was she really was coming on strong and yet, so much talent. And I also thought I had some credibility and thinking that perhaps James Brown had studied him and copies him. And we really basically his acne on their own hoodoo, man. I think she had to take so long shot at the back button. Junior, well certainly certainly is amazing on this and she sounds so good again cuz it's in the RC Studios. Not often, was he? In some cases, the recordings were Hit or Miss in terms of quality of course, Hooda Math lose was, was fantastically record is a beautiful album skins. I would also points out that album. If they were looking for something, you just get started with it and I do believe as well. As soon as I mentioned before we start recording, that is definitely a gigantic interweb of connections between all of these guys. And then, if Sonny, Boy Williams comes up a lot throughout all of the histories and he starts out talking about Sonny Boy, Williams on the very first track, that's how I could sign, but also had had recently died died around the same time, is Elmore James. So these guys are seriously on their mind doing it. When they went into the studio to record this, No Junior Wells. Like I said, I was fortunate enough to get to see him. Play with Buddy Guy while they were still relatively young and 85. And I had to say that, that that was sort of the spark that Lit the fire under me to get into doing loose history. Because that, that that night, it was at a college in a small room and not many people there and they had nowhere to go after the show and put because they were stuck in the middle of the central Illinois and they live on the South Side, they work it was searched and they played a couple hours and they said, you know, you guys really don't really know. The blues is what we're going to teach you and they fit like a whole other set. With Buddy Guy did, he did interpretations of other great, bluesman guitar work and they told stories and he just hung out and I was like, so overwhelmed their process. Like I want to I want to study the blue. I want to I want to learn about when I went to that show of the Blues fan when I left, you know, I kind of had this aspiration to become of the Blues and story, so yeah. Search me quite deeply and then give JB shoot away. That's why I had not heard up going in, to listen to this album. He had been working as a janitor for 11 years, leading up to the recording session. So there's no plunger I hadn't heard of them. That's a very heavily influenced by Elmore James. He sounds a lot like Elmore James and it's something since his she comes close to matching Elmore on this album. I think he's also the uncle of a bluesman in Chicago, in a little lad cool with his band of call Lil Ed & Blues Imperials. And speaking of rap battles, I know that little red fan and I own a little Edge says, which is a hat, like a fez hat. These are there any way to jbq do you know, launches the rest of the kids back in the music business in a big way and is in high demand. After this ad and Otis Spann was in Muddy, Waters Band and was considered Like, Mondays closest, man, I mean, has made his buddy called him his main line, man, if you lived in motty's basement for many, many years span did, And this was three years this when this was made if he was still three years away from breaking off on his own and going solo stayed with Muddy till 69, I think span is most famous in my mind for the music, he did it at Newport with lot to get with Muddy Waters and she actually made up music on the spot to go with poet. Langston Hughes lyrics at Newport 1960. Langston Hughes in fear that Newport would do to the last show at Newport Muddy Waters show and it's a long story. But there was a riot there, the previous day and any of that Langston Hughes hand's span lyrics. It had written on these IBM punch card and spandex up music on the spot. It's on the album. The Muddy Waters. Newport 1960, goodbye Newport. So here against man is brought to the fore, as a leader and foreshadows what it will be great albums from him, you know, in two years in the seventies, dispensette was one of the standouts from you of all three volumes it. It kind of Caught me off-guard. Cuz the first two were. We're, we're very much when I was expecting as far as the old Chicago or delta blues version amazed, all amazing tracks. And then all this pain comes in with this Southside piano and it was, it was amazing. I loved it, I could listen to that piano all day. You have to understand, it's got to be one of my favorites along with Lake, Memphis slim, but she's absolutely fantastic. He was Irreplaceable really in that band. And so you want me somewhere, like maybe standout tracks on this on this on this thing inside Usher? Yeah, well, I prefer volume. What, what are you staying at tracks that? Well, on Chicago. Do you know? Well soon, he'll call me J B Gyros. Please help. And then over two spans span stop. At 3. I picked out. What about you will find the Pick 3 just to go on that Trend. It would have to be it hurts me too from Gia Wells that that when I like love mainly because I also like the government mule version And I hit me right away. That's that's where I know that track and I love this. Double check that gives you may need a today. If I'm wrong, but that was part of the whole show me, how do please help and then also that spans stop. Great, you're very much alike there. Now, I'm just to the blues if you could have James Cotton and I also was fortunate to see James Cotton play a live. And I saw him at opening night of cotton Chicago which you're not on, but if he said, open the club for whoever owned it and you know, course, his nickname was mr. Super heart. You also played in Muddy, Waters Band. And he was a disciple of the harp player Sonny Boy Williamson to and cotton of course. Well, I mean, cotton play, just one of those legendary figures. Have you played in on somebody else comes in. Many people actually, got a classic rock, is kind of a sweet spot for the show it. And so the song Diamond Sword with Janis Joplin you play with Gregg Allman Elvin Bishop, Joe Bonamassa, Paul Butterfield Grateful Dead, b.b. King Freddie, King Keith Richards, Santana, Taj Mahal, Johnny Winters and others. That's all over the place. Yeah, well I sent place to renew pretty much everybody Cover the Waterfront there. Yeah, I know he's, he was so he had a brilliant career and of course, he doesn't really upset on this. I particularly liked his sound on this West, Helena Blues. I think it's a beautiful song that he does on the, on the album here. And then Otis Rush, is that this is the next step is the next leader to go up and his showcase. Showcases, the emergence of the West Side sound. I like to call it Westside soul, but she was a major influence on a number of rock and blue stars like Michael Bloomfield, Peter Green Clapton, I can't quit you, baby. I mean this LP wash the whole European tour farosh. So I did also, like I said, establish solidify that westside sound, so it's different shade yourself. Someone in the south side, we're talking about differentiation of blocks or miles in distance, but in terms of music, maybe it was someone unfollow but much larger golf because I think really blues-rock emergence for Westside Soul cuz it serviced Blanding. Yeah, well I mean, it's oldest rush if you were going to quite somebody to who was King from the classic rock shower, I think they would mostly focused on Otis rush and he said think they would resonated in the sounds of Clapton like I said in your computer, green of the original Fleetwood Mac and so forth. Willow and you can't get away from Led Zeppelin on this one. Exactly knows. I can't quit. You baby will be as soon as I started. It knew right where we going? Yeah, he cut through the heart of Europe when he died, right. After this album come out. You know, you see, Hendrix holding it in Paris and I was was known especially amongst the musicians of that time frame. And certainly was psychedelic rock musicians were flocking to this album was not a minute. It was not a didn't jam and that's X-Men people who were in The know and we're speaking to several music out found since that's upset. The blue side is too wrapped up with on st. James Dimension, Elmore James had died on home. Sick, Kane his couch, and a heart attack at age, 45 in Homesick, James slide guitar. He takes us all the way back to Robert Johnson. I need to see if you really loved the slide guitar. Homesick James, I recommend his album Blues on the Southside. Now, can you know what, What charges was try to do? Is that like show you different groups, but different even neighborhoods with, in Chicago, in their how, their sounds were slightly. Different homesick is certainly different than all this truck but I also chose, I can't quit you baby as my standout tracks and then this just as well as homesick shames, somebody's been talkin Don't even talk is great. I do like dust my broom a lot. I thought that was a great track but also from most rush, I like the rock that instrumental trap. Oh yeah. I know that's a great training. Often overlooked. Wait you got a good ear for this sort of thing. That's a really excellent kick. Have a sleeper, picked a great instrumental. I did want to mention that so Rocket 88 from Johnny cotton, I like that. That's a remake of the 50s. You know? Ike Turner Rocket 88 which was considered the first like one running for the first rock song. I don't like I don't know which one is really really want to go. That's why they love me or leave in West Helena Blues, it just it didn't fit to me. It was it just seemed really off cuz I loved all the other track but that would just seem like a belonging to another album rock and roll album. I mean, that's in the most rockabilly, it is a rock and roll song. So whether it was the first or not could be argued in his, I get all the time. But that's that's that's that's okay. and then industrial course wasn't today, until you got the call today, until you've got Got me or Johnny Young. And so the really interesting thing about him is he retired from music business in the 1950s and this album a whole second act which lasted until his death in 73. Use one of the few mandolin players that was active in blues music. After what war there was some mandolin on albums on 78 pre-war, but after the war, he was one of the few in here, have recorded the RC Studios again, I got to go back there cuz the sound is just rich and ensure that Blues Madeline is so rare. I don't know anybody who played damn sure something will come up with players but she he was he was really the best and the only what I heard that I got to destroy the first time listening or hearing that I was like wow that you listed in the whole new like Stratosphere like you just never stopped delivering the goods. And so then and then you get here comes Johnny shines. The Johnny shines goes all the way back to you, you know, Robert Johnson. You're a he was a running buddy of his shoe or yeah. They were all together for being asleep together in to what extents, that just available, because we only have died inside of them. Did you light shines? His I'm too wet to plow gives you because you're a lot more of what this isn't. Much more traditional sound does a pre-war sound and eat that? You think that I registered? I don't think everybody's cup of tea but I think this is another one that we was working in construction. That guy, that guy we had until this album, was finally hit the net, brought him into the Limelight, or if you look at it, just didn't make any money and he was, he was also. Yeah. Me and help a lot of jobs, but yeah, just finally, get got him sitting on the college and, and our new international tours and interview, he's able to then, get back to music. And then go see how did it wraps up with the Walter who was a guest on other other groups, tracks and big Walter? Is somebody Willie Dixon? Who I admire lot said was the best soccer player. Never heard. Big Walter had to change his nickname to convert a little Walter cuz big Walter said, you can't be too. And try to Walters & Gordon, which I don't think you particularly care for cuz he, he liked big Walter, but he can often be found. I found still busting on Maxwell Street while they were making this album and down the road from there, as well. She just played with everybody. I love the Walter. He's my favorite car player of all times. Well, okay, the little bit of trivia I saw that he was actually on screen on the Blues Brother the movie. That's right back. And John Lee Hooker, Hooker jobs in the final version because he got tired of the multiple takes any any left. That's the kind that builds the water wasn't. It's why he wasn't it commercial success? At least that little Walter was his little Walter with promoting himself. How do we a little Walter, could sing and big Walter? Could I have the number of other reasons that they Walter didn't become a successful? But he was an amazing are playing. His music is Harbor is on so many tracks and they make somebody a make-or-break, somebody track is harp. So he'd always like Willie Dixon in that, you don't really realize the impact. He had on so much music but you did. And he's just I love his work on this album actually to pick any of his songs is bad. I don't think this is his best stuff is on this out but we forgive me solid elsewhere. But on this time I picked out, you know, I got mine by Johnny shines. I mean by Johnny Young and then dynaflow Blues by. Johnny shines is a two things. I really liked on this on the side. I did have I got money time and a half for blues. Highlighted is as well as my black mayor and yes I can take Walters my bag. That's at that's actually one of his best tricks I should. I should I should rescind that that's really one of his best tracks. So you know I don't mean to diminish the album just you guys just the three little tracks and I think it's almost feels like was bolted onto the end of the little bit but I also like the land on my shoes and clothes so much so much. And like I said when he denied all back to the beginning you can drill just put this on shuffle to thaw out for the evening and you got yourself a a hole Blues playlist. The ready? Yeah that's right. It's a special, special album. A lot of great stuff on there. Are there any lyrics said that stand out to? You is special or things that you are worth remembering of that nature. Yeah, two things are going. Well, you mentioned one was just be spoken tribute to Sonny Boy, Williamson, to at the very beginning of the of the album. And then I think it's important to point out in your wells, Vietnam protest, that's a very early protest song in the world had really not gotten gotten going and there wasn't many people out against it and 65 November 65. So that was a very early for the Viet Cong Blues. Who do the grand slam down? You don't have no reason to fight baby but I think I broke some ground definitely. But yeah, I had, I'm not I'm a button. Are there any tracks that you skip? That you're not a fan of me. It's okay to say no on that one on shuffle low all the way to sometimes. Last question before we move on to a short list, but has your lover, this album changed over time at all. That compared to when you first discovered it to now, Yeah, when I first discovered I was like blown away and how is it that I never heard of this. That was my reaction and I got to tell everybody about it. She now it's more of like why weather in historical document. This thing is and how important it is as a as a document in every sense of the word. So that lets her have a deep respect for what the charges was able to accomplish with a couple thousand dollars. And it's a real it's it's it's certainly I think one of the best albums of the second half of the twentieth century almost a time capsule. And high-quality wanted that it's not something that's scratchy or half the tracks may feel cut off or anyting. It's it is a high-quality historical document. Based on what was there at the time. It's beautiful. Yeah, I agree. It's, it's really cold and it captures the city of Chicago as dinner. Time capsule sense as well to the South side and that's the year. I was born, I was born Pictures of my life. I was, I was, I was alive and kicking when they were doing this. My financial Guard Armory was in Crestwood Illinois. So I was, I was over in that area once a month for quite a few years. We know it sounds Cicero me, maybe, 15 minutes of Cicero and you're close to the city. It's it's so steeped in history. It's it it's amazing. Really their sister around every corner and I take pride in coming and you know I have my roots are there. Many generations, I still have family that lives there. So you know it's an important place in my heart. So short list, what album is Major shortlist but not the top. Yeah, I picked up a couple of albums that, you know, I talked to her about another podcast with the Holly Wolf's rocking chair album. Certainly one that from Chasse that that I think Tribune, everybody's collection and then Big Mama Thornton with the Muddy Waters, Band, including Muddy Waters. That's an album that everybody should hear. It's what big monitor with sound like if she had muddy water muddy, muddy waters and it's fantastic and then he won't lose. I would recommend we lose from Junior Wells. I would also recommend blues guitar boss by Hubert someone and then the last one and Otis Spann record, the blues never died. So those would be the ones I would, I would pick if I had other choices and I'm more time. I saw steady. I will definitely dive into some of those cool. I'm glad you enjoy this album. Before we wrap this up to start listening to what you're working on, if they can find anywhere or anything you would like to pitch. Well, I mean, I just do the Blues research as a hobby and, you know, this is an interest, so I'm not really picky anything. Other than you can join the ride at on Twitter by following me @ChiBluesHistory. CH I lose history and be happy to have you want. I got 10,000 followers and it's been a really amazing way to interact and talk with people who are into the blues and talk about Alvin's like this. So it's and thank you so much for the opportunity to do it on your show. Appreciate Steve, I really do appreciate it. I expect every one of your ten thousand followers to listen to this episode enjoy this as much as I have been doing it with you. Thanks a lot and it was a pleasure to sit and talk to you about Chicago the blues today. Take care. See, thanks bye. I'd like to thank you for listening to music rewind the podcast from the cereal Media Group. If you enjoyed today's episode, there are many ways to help a show such as our patreon or affiliate links in the show notes. Easiest way though to give the show a reading or comment, wherever you listen, we really do appreciate it. Thank you again. And as I always say, listen to the full album until next time, A podcast from the Sidereal Media Group.

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