'Born in Chicago' Documents 60's Blues Proteges & Mentors

Tuesday, 30 July 2013 06:07 AM Written by 

In a world where blues seems to be everywhere, it's hard to remember that wasn't always the case.  In England, a small, dedicated group of musicians who became Stones, the Animals, along with John Mayall, Eric Clapton and many more were hardcore devotees of the music, whether they heard it on vinyl or when someone like Muddy Waters or Howlin' Wolf toured the UK.

In Chicago, a small group of white kids fascinated with the music, gutsy enough to venture into the tough South Side taverns and bars, connected with iconic players like Muddy, Wolf, Little Walter, James Cotton, and younger players including Junior Wells and Buddy Guy.

Those players, Paul Butterfield, Charlie Musselwhite, Mike Bloomfield, Elvin Bishop, Steve Miller, Corky Siegel, Barry Goldberg. Harvey Mandel and Nick Gravenites, went on to make history and leave a deep, indelible influence on the entire notion of white blues but beyond that, they had a huge impact on 60's rock just as the Stones, Clapton and others did. 

Examples: The Butterfield Band was the controversial "electric" group behind Dylan at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival. And their later, extended jams ("East-West" and "Work Song") left a huge impact on the San Francisco bands of the 60's, Santana, the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane in particular.  The Steve Miller Band as formed in SF was known as the "Steve Miller Blues Band."

At long last, the saga of that interaction has been captured in the new documentary Born In Chicago, which tells the story of how these young musicians met and bonded with bluesmen who weren't yet well known beyond their African American fan bases, and how the younger players became legends and made legends out of their mentors.   While Butterfield and Bloomfield are gone, the others tell the story here.

The film's trailer:

And an indepth story from the New York Times.

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