Chicago Blues

“Chicago blues” developed in the early part of the 20th century during the “Great Migration,” when African-Americans from the south–including some from Mississippi who played Delta blues–moved to northern cities like Chicago in search of work. While early Chicago blues musicians played their acoustic guitars and harmonicas on street corners, South Side clubs (that mainly catered to African-Americans) invited them to perform inside and added microphones and amplification so large crowds could hear them; soon, North Side musicians and audiences “discovered” blues and a thriving, highly commercial scene developed. By the ’40s Chicago blues artists started using a broader array of scales in their improvising than their Delta blues ancestors, advancing the genre beyond its original manifestation as an electrified form of down-home Southern blues.

[Watch bass player WILLIE DIXON perform “Sittin’ and Cryin’ the Blues” in 1963 | Watch HOWLIN’ WOLF play “Shake It For Me” | Watch SONNY BOY WILLIAMSON play harmonica on “Nine Below Zero“]

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