If It Were Not for the Blues

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Chicago Blues Musicians


If it were not for the blues, other forms of music like rock, country, hip hop and funk, would not exist, says Sugar Blue.  The Fox Valley area, and Aurora in particular, lays claim to part of that northern migration of southern blues musicians who followed the train tracks or the Mississippi river to Chicago.

In the two year time period of 1937 and 1938, a group of Chicago blues musicians and St. Louis Blues musicians came together and recorded over 300 sings for Bluebird Records. Most of those songs were done in one or two takes. These were some of the early influences of the Chicago Blues scene who paved the way for legends like Muddy Waters, Howlin’ wolf and many others. In turn, the Chicago Blues scene inspired later generations of musicians like the Rolling Stones, the Who and many others.

The Fox Valley Music Foundation grew out of the Fox Valley Blues Society which “rediscovered” those Leland Towers recordings and were inspired to start Blues on the Fox that will celebrate its 20th Anniversary this year over Father’s Day weekend, June 17th & 18th. What started as a local street festival has turned into a premiere Blues festival that brings out some of the best Blues and blues-related artists that carry on the tradition that is rooted in the south and the migrant musicians who established Chicago as a Blues crossroads.

Abive is a Spotify list of the Leland Tower recordings that can have been re-recorded by artists as diverse as Muddy Waters, Willie Nelson, the Rolling Stones, the Wood Brothers, Chris Izaak, Elvis Presley and the Grateful Dead. This is the Fox Valley/Aurora contribution to the Chicago Blues scene and the world of music.

The Foundation will celebrate that great tradition with its inaugural Blues on Water Street day festival taking place in Batavia on June 11th in anticipation of Blues on the Fox the following weekend. The Foundation is also involved in sponsoring many other events in the month of June and over the summer. But, in the meantime, consider the important role that the Chicago Blues scene has played in the history of music that is captured in this short YouTube video.


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