Growing up in Chicago it was hard to stumble into a bar or a flea market or a concert in the park without running into some smoking blues music.
Famous for the post World War II migration to the city's South Side of a large number of southern blues musicians who electrified the music and added some northern rhythm, many of those legendary performers like Muddy Waters and Willie Dixon and Junior Wells and Howlin' Wolf and Hound Dog Taylor were still alive and performing at clubs I tried to first sneak into in the 1960's and later frequented in the 1970's.
A personal highlight for me was an up close and personal evening in 1973 spent drinking and listening to harmonica virtuoso Big Walter Horton, a tall, gangly man with a gaunt face, huge hands and a huge sound on the harp that seemed to emanate from the depths of Horn Lake, Mississippi where he was born in 1917.
The bible of that musical culture was "Living Blues" magazine, which started publication in 1970 and celebrated its fortieth anniversary this year. I found a few old early issues in the file the other day; I loved the advertisement (above) for Sunnyland Slim (whose b-side single "See My Lawyer" was put out by Bea and Baby's Records on South State Street)
It got me to wondering both where the magazine was today (online of course) and who are some of the pre-WW II era blues musicians that are still "Living" and making "Blues" music today.
Here is a partial list of what I found digging around; I'm sure you know of more:
Charlie Musselwhite, (1944) Kosciusko, Mississippi
Luther “Guitar Junior” Johnson, (1939) Itta Bena, Mississippi
Etta James, (1938) Los Angeles, California
Willie "Big Eyes" Smith, (1936) Helena, Arkansas
Buddy Guy, (1936) Lettsworth, Louisiana
James Cotton, (1935) Tunica Mississippi
Otis Rush, (1935) Philadelphia, Mississippi
Eddie “The Chief” Clearwater, (1935) Macon, Mississippi
Sam Lay, (1935) Birmingham, Alabama
John Mayall, (1933) Macclesfield, England
B.B. King, (1925) Itta Bena, Mississippi
Amazingly, these two nonagenarians - David "Honey Boy" Edwards, (1915) Shaw, Mississippi and William Joseph "Pinetop" Perkins, (1913) Belzoni, Mississippi - gave a concert yesterday at the annual Pintop Perkins Homecoming Jam held at the Hopson's Plantation in Clarksdale, Mississippi.
97 and 95 and just put out a new album! Now that's what I call living!