Last weekend was blues weekend in Chicago. Along with the Chicago Blues Festival, several CD’s were recorded around the festival, of which I took a small part. The Chicago Blues Legends recorded their second CD at Joy Ride Studio both during before and after the festival, where they closed the show Saturday night with a beautiful set of music. The group includes Billy Boy Arnold (Bo Diddley’s harp player), John Primer (A Muddy Waters Band veteran), Billy Branch (leader of Sons of The Blues) Lurrie Bell (Son of Carey Bell, another Muddy Waters Band veteran) and Carlos Johnson and Matthew Skoller, Chicago blues band leaders and many others. Guest stars included Magic Slim, Buddy Guy and James Cotton.
Besides all the great playing, the part that stood out to me was the fact that these guys just came in and played. They knew their parts and knew how to play them. Guest stars were told the song that they were going to do and what key it was in- and each guy nailed it in 2 takes (either take could have been used). The band did over 20 songs in two days. Contrast that to some bands I know that take a month or two in the studio to make a CD.
Speaking of James Cotton – while I was waiting for him to arrive, I was looking around the office I was shooting in for something to read and chanced upon an issue of Vanity Fair. It was the November, 2002 music issue, with about 40 pages of great portraits of the hot musicians of the time. Included in the spread was a two page photo title “Hot New Artists.” Remember, this was from 2002! Out of the 12 people on the page, only 3 have any kind of career today, and only one (John Mayer) is successful today. I only remember 2 other people on the page (Michelle Branch and Vanessa Carlton) and had no idea who the rest of them were. Does anyone remember City High? Tweet? Lamya? I certainly don’t. So is this an indictment of the music business or is Vanity Fair just really lame?