Normally I might tell folks I hope they don't get the blues for the holidays, but when it comes to great blues music, I'd certainly change my tune.
One of my favorite travel memories is of visiting Chicago was heading over to Buddy Guy's Legends nightclub for a show starring contemporary blues great, Shemekia Copeland.
It was a special pleasure then to reconnect with the electrifying Copeland while revisiting the Windy City's historic and current lively blues scene via a virtual guided tour by reading the new book, Exploring Chicago Blues: Inside the Scene, Past and Present by Chicago journalist (and fellow travel blogger) Rosalind Cummings-Yeates.
I loved this enthusiastic and knowledgeable exploration of the Chicago blues scene with Cummings-Yeates. Her book certainly rekindled my desire to revisit Chicago for another taste of the city's rich blues heritage and contemporary blues musicians carrying forward the musical torch of the blues today.
I particularly liked the way that Cummings-Yeates organized her book into two major parts.
The first part gives readers a good grounding in the history of the blues in Chicago, and this is as far as many other books I've seen on the subject go.
The second part of the brings readers up to date with the city's current blues scene, including advice about noteworthy new blues artists, the best clubs for hearing the blues, how to enjoy attending a blues festival in the city and the best places to score a little soul food as you embark on your tour for a taste of the blues.
Cummings-Yeates has the gift of making her prose read like a personally guided tour of the best of the blues music, artists and clubs. Reading her book may be the next best thing to heading out to tour the Chicago music scene with a knowledgeable BFF.
Can't make it out to Chicago any time soon, or don't know where to start with your exploration of this richly historical music scene and its most exciting newcomers? Check out the section at the end of the book that offers more than a dozen suggestions for single CDs and CD sets that will give you a good basis for understanding and appreciating Chicago's blues, past and present.
I enjoyed reading Cummings-Yeates assessment of Shemekia Copeland, a young up-and-coming blues artist who is definitely a favorite with me.
Copeland officially assumed the title as "Queen of the Blues" during the Chicago Blues Festival in 2011. Koko Taylor, who Cummings-Yeates says kept the blues alive for generations of blues women, previously held the title as "Queen of the Blues" until her passing in 2009.
Copeland's shows mix powerful performances of familiar blues anthems and standards, as well as newer songs like one of my favorites, "Sholanda's", which tells the humorous tale of a local beauty salon where women meet, primp and share the latest gossip.
Love the music of artists like Copeland, Howlin' Wolf, Etta James, Willie Dixon, Koko Taylor, Memphis Minnie and more? You'll love this book.
Look for Exploring Chicago Blues by Rosalind Cummings-Yeates at your local bookstore or on Amazon.
Want to learn more about this book and the Chicago blues scene? Check out the Exploring Chicago Blues page on Facebook.
To learn more about Rosalind Cummings-Yeates and her work, check out her resume and more at her Web site.
Thank you to The History Press for providing me with a copy of this book for review purposes.
© Dominique King 2014 All rights reserved