The Bittersweet Player – Clear your browser cache to hear the latest play list.
By Brian Sidler – Former Music Writer for Chicago Music Magazine
(TCP)CHICAGO – In times past it’s been said, the blues had some babies called jazz and rock & roll.
New York City doesn’t have a real blues scene per se, so the Capitol of the Midwest Coast is more than happy to export our scene to their streets.
Recently, as all folks know, one of Chicago’s prodigal sons, Buddy Guy, received Kennedy Center honors. It’s about G-ddam time! How long does Clapton have to say something before someone takes him seriously? I mean really…people! Adding insult to injury, Letterman has the boys from Zeppelin in for an interview and doesn’t add Buddy to the segment? How quaint. Who knows? Maybe Buddy was already booked and couldn’t make it.
In the wake of that some recent NEWS shows covering the event have remarked that blues is losing ambassadors because “authentic” artists are dying with no one to fill their shoes. This is largely due to complete ignorance on the part of the editors from these NEWS desks because a) it’s not true and b) the blues community’s press machines enmasse have done a terrible job in projecting an image that fits the legacy. Let’s set aside from that irresponsibility the successful niche marketer and venerated Chicago blues label Alligator Records but, Bruce Iglauer can’t do all the lifting by himself.
The blues and R&B had finally become lionized well enough here in the states with the production of The Blues Brothers film, which has a cult status like few films produced here in Chicago, IL USA. The movie Cadillac Records also went a ways to capture Chicago’s influence with what Leonard Chess did. Someone ought to capture how Vee Jay Records had scared the be-Jesus out of Columbia during it’s heyday.
Blues music’s best fans are in Europe and the Asian pacific rim. Our exports to those theaters of operations are very successful mainly because the audiences there are reverent and “they get it.” Let’s face it, depression due to lack of economic opportunity is in ample supply. People need an outlet to cope with these issues, and nowhere is it found better than in “The Blues.” It’s easy to “get the blues” if you “ain’t got no money.”
APAP or the Association for Performing Arts Presenters is holding a conference at The Hilton in NYC January 11-15, 2013. As part of this years activities tying into the conference, Orman Music Group and LJet Productions is exporting with love from the Capitol of the Midwest Coast to New York City one of its powerhouse performers Holle Thee Maxwell. On the 12th of January 2013, Holle will be perfoming at 55 BAR 2-5 pm – 55 Christopher Street New York City, NY 10014 (212) 929-9883.
Now…let’s back track for a second or two. When you hear a contemporary singer like say, Cher, or Rhianna, or Christina Aguilera in the recent Cher produced film “Burlesque”, lead off a musical number with a shout that spans octaves of notes in a scat like arpegio reminiscent of a gospel Baptist church singer from Mississippi, you’re hearing the blues’ legacy. Make no mistake about it. Now, countless young female performers these days try to climb those stairs. Few are good enough to convince folks of their ability to ascend that staircase.
Think blues is just a museum music for only black performers? Blues isn’t a contemporary gig? Old hat, huh? Blues music works more than any other kind of musical performance in the world. Don’t believe us, ask Tina Terry from Piedmont Talent about a youngen by the name of Samantha Fish or the equally impressive Royal Southern Brotherhood, she’ll tell you where the money is at. By the way, Johnny Winter is still kickin’ it! Hey, Clear Channel’s offshoot Live Nation was quick to scarf up The House of Blues franchises nationwide. So again, follow the money, honey.
Anyway, the blues “tradition” legacy finds its capitol here in Chicago because of the days enshrined in many decades of photos from Chicago’s near west side, and what used to be known as Maxwell St. Also, it was the early migration from the southern black corridor to Chicago of all the greatest performers because the paying gigs were here, and still are. Sad to say Maxwell St. is now paved over and reconstructed for the student population attending the University of Illinois Chicago Circle campus life.
Here’s another thing; why is it that mostly all the promo has been about lionizing the male population of the blues pantheon and the women have been paid short shrift? Exactly, what’s that all about?
Owing to the national blues community’s lousy PR for decades, which includes all those cheesey magazines, it seems all they could achieve with any amount of efficacy is projecting the image of Koko Taylor, and that’s because Iglauer made sure of it. Like I said, he can’t do all the lifting himself. Other labels did not have the PR guns to do anything of note, so as to project images contemporary to Taylor’s status as “Queen of The Blues.”
Enter, Holle Thee Maxwell. Ya think “The Blues” has no one to carry the tradition forward?
Look at Holle’s chops. She graduated from the Chicago Music College at Roosevelt University, Chicago, Illinois. From there she went to the Julliard School of Music in New York City, where she graduated with two music major degrees. Voted “Queen of Entetaining Entertainers” at the Cannes Musical Festival, France. Holle sings in French, German and Italian spanning music spectrums from being an operatic mezzo to The Blues.
Both of these women incoprorate the kind of drama in their delivery requisite to put a blues song over. Plain and simple.
Proof of that? Spend ten minutes and watch these videos.
Holle is a major part of a pantheon for an initiative founded by the Orman Music Group called The Chicago Blues Mamas which was a genesis from Peggy Brown, Carol Marble, and Lynn Orman Weiss surrounding another group called The Blues Mama’s – an organization founded to promote women blues artists, originally conceived by Brown and Marble. Fran Allen-Leake of LJet Productions is the producing partner alongside of Orman Music Group. This is a collection of diva’s which include, Deitra Farr, Shirley King, Sharon Lewis, Shirley Johnson, Katherine Davis, Nellie Travis, Liz Mandeville, Ellen Miller and Peaches Staten, and of course, Holle Maxwell. On election night 2012 as the nation re-elected Obama, The Chicago Blues Mamas for Obama, a production title coined by the adroit publicist Lynn Orman Weiss, stormed the stage at one of the darling boutique theaters on Chicago’s north side, The Mayne Stage, which packed the house to the rafters.
So Maxwell in this particular revolve, is the diva from The Chicago’s Blues Mama’s who is going to bring the Blues Partayee to NYC, and you better get there early for either of these shows because the joints are going to be packed to see them.
Time to get down people of APAP, don’t get caught sleeping at the gate!
For media inquiries contact Abbe Sparks at this email: email@example.com
I’m Brian Sidler and I write about music, et al…