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April 2013 Archives

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My everlasting image of Artie "Blues Boy" White did not come from a down home set I saw at the dimly lit East of the Ryan nightclub or hearing a dusty '45 that was in heavy rotation at the Checkerboard Lounge on East 43rd St.

It was served 'round midnight in the the spring of 1998 in the Malaco Records recording studio in Jackson, Miss.
Mr. White died April 20 in a Harvey hospice from complications of pneumonia. He was 76.

The long time Chicago resident had engaging Southern Soul hits like "Leaning Tree," "Don't Pet My Dog" and "My Dessert."
Mr. White had just finished a recording session in the spring of 1998.........

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Bad lookin' Badfinger, 1972.

One universal theme of music is how it becomes so personal.
We all have our inside pleasures. I'm geared up about seeing The Iguanas for the umpteenth time this weekend at Rock n' Bowl in New Orleans.

Award winning Chicago filmmaker John Anderson really goes off the chain with "Joey Molland: Liverpool to Memphis," which makes its world premiere at 1 p.m. April 21 as part of CIMMFest No. 5 (Chicago International Movies & Music Festival) a the Logan Theatre 4, 2646 N. Milwaukee Ave.

Molland, 65, is the last surviving member of Badfinger, the vintage era 1970-74......

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Charlie Musselwhite (l) and Mike Bloomfield in the' 60s.

The film "Born in Chicago" about the white Chicago teens (Michael Bloomfield, Paul Butterfield, Charlie Musselwhite, etc.) who migrated to the south side in the early 1960s to learn blues from the masters will make it's Chicago debut at 6 p.m. June 6 at the Vic Theater, 3145 N. Sheffield.

"Born in Chicago" includes interviews and /or performances from Bob Dylan, Buddy Guy, B.B. King, the late Hubert Sumlin, Jack White, Steve Miller, the ubiquitous Harvey Mandel, Sam Lay and others. "Born in Chicago" is narrated by Marshall Chess of Chess Records fame.

Following the screening a concert will feature the core band Chicago Blues Reunion (Nick Gravenites, Barry Goldberg, Mandel, Corky Siegel) and special guests Musselwhite, Eric Burdon and Elvin Bishop. Other stars will be announced.

"Born in Chicago" debuted at SXSW last month. It was slated to play at CIMMfest (Chicago International Movies & Music Festival) this weekend but was delayed in post production.

The film was directed by Chicagoan John Anderson ("Brian WIlson Presents SMilLE"), produced by Chicagoan John (producer of Eric Clapton "Crossroads" concert DVDs) and co-produced by Goldberg,. Executive producers are Timm Martin, Chris Stewart and Bert Moreno of Out The Box Records in Northbrook. The project was born in 2004 after Out of the Box invited Anderson to a Chicago Blues Reunion concert at FitzGerald's in Berwyn.

Tickets to the June 6 premiere, which features a pre-show dinner, go on sale the first week of May.

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James McCandless had a big workingman's heart that carried around life's humble glories.

The Chicago singer-songwriter was a fixture at dozens of Chicago music rooms including the Abbey Pub, the No Exit Cafe, the Old Town School of Folk Music, the Earl of Old Town and FitzGerald's in Berwyn, where he debuted his latest record "Lucky Day" in February. McCandless died April 16 after a fall in his north side home. He was 68.

The "Lucky Day" CD cover featured a photo of natty Mr. McCandless and his wife Dee on their 1985 wedding day.
Mr. McCandless was a craftsman who absorbed everything around him....

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Chicago used to be a far away magical place.

If you are a Cubs fan one of the better ways to detach yourself from the current dismal product is to read books about Cubs history. There aren't many happy books on all that, but there are times that are better than the ones we are living through. I was at yesterday's game where I endured five Cubs wild pitches in one inning, a ninth inning game tying home run and a Cubs game losing balk.

I went home to continue with the new "Mr. Wrigley's Ball Club (Chicago & the Cubs During The Jazz Age)," an exhaustively researched nugget by Roberts Ehrgott (University of Nebraska Press.) I even loved the Art Deco cover. Didn't Art used to play third base for the 1932 Cubs? Don't forget to tip your waitresses.....
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"Three Hard Boiled Eggs," painting by Jonathan Winters

When you watch late night talk shows, you see the joyful light of Jonathan Winters.
The comedian, television star and painter blurred comedy and reality with the snap of a finger and the beat of a big Midwestern heart.

Albert Brooks and Jim Carrey are Winters disciples as was Phil Hartman. In a rare 1989 interview in New York, David Letterman told me he liked Johnny Carson because he was so effortless, Steve Allen because he was a guy in a tie in a suit being "silly" and Winters because he was "uninhibited." "I just saw him at a restaurant in Los Angeles, where he cornered a group of people and was relentless," Letterman said. "He would not leave. At first, they were amused because they were just tourists having lunch with Jonathan Winters while he performed for them. But he would not stop performing. He just went on and on and on. You could sense a collective anxiety like, 'Gawd, how are we going to get on with our lives?'."

Winters died April 11 of natural causes at his home in Montecito, California. He was 87.

Winters played Robin Williams son on the hit television series "Mork and Mindy" and I remember my father taking me to see Winters in the comedypaloooza "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World" in Cinerama! .......

Not Being Bozo

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The Chicago Television Project does not clown around.

The group's previous endeavor was last November's heartfelt tribute to writer Studs Terkel in a re-enactment of his late 1940s early 1950s television show "Studs Place." The Chicago Television Project has the financial support of the Propeller Fund. The project is an arm of the popular Pocket Guide To Hell series of interactive walks, talks and re-enactments celebrating Chicago's history.

The project's second installment is the "Chicago Children's TV Show" which hits the stage at 3 p.m. (kids and families) and 5 p.m. (everyone else) Sunday, April 14 at the 60-seat Gallery Cabaret, 2020 N Oakley. Each show lasts 75 minutes. Shows are free.

The show will feature Kenneth Morrison as "The Clown," Martin Billheimer as "The Star" and Professor Justin Amolsch and his Big Brass Band.

"The Clown" and "The Star" sound like West Grand Avenue mobsters.
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It wasn't supposed to be this way........

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Chicago Cubs fans are good at tilting at windmills.

It is in our DNA.

Monday, April 8 marks my 41st consecutive Cubs home opener. I spend a few weeks before opening day combing through my Cubs archives and scorecards, retouching the past. There's a reality show in there somewhere.

I came across a 1978 letter I wrote to Cubs general manager Bob Kennedy after he traded "Tarzan" Joe Wallis, one of my favorite players. I complained about the Cubs giving up on the speedy, switch hitting center fielder--as if my small punky opinion would matter.....

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Photos courtesy of Wyonella Smith


Wendell Smith wrote a series of 1961 articles for the Chicago American that changed the fabric of baseball.

His Jan. 23, 1961 front page story for the American appeared under the headline "Spring Training Woes." Smith wrote in detail about the bubbling resentment among black players who suffered "embarrassment, humiliation, and even indignities" during spring training in Florida. Hank Aaron and Minnie Minoso were segregated from white teammates and families. White players stayed in some of South Florida's finest hotels such as the Sarasota Terrace in Sarasota.

Ernie Banks told Smith, "I am sure I am speaking for every Negro player in the big leagues when I say we are very grateful to the Chicago American for bringing this situation to the attention of the American public."

And this was already 14 years after Jackie Robinson broke baseball's color line.

"It was quite a series that Wendell wrote," Wendell's wife Wyonella said after a recent preview of the Jackie Robinson bopic "42." "His friends who were writers said he should have gotten a Pulitzer Prize for the series. Wendell broke it down. (The White Sox) Bill (Veeck) and Arthur Allyn refused to stay at those (white) hotels. They said they would go somewhere else.........

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Pervis Spann, a sharp dressed man, far left. (Courtesy of WVON)

Several years ago I was in the WVON-AM south side office of Pervis "The Blues Man" Spann when he called his rhythm and blues singing friend Bobby "Blue" Bland on speaker phone.

"Spann was the man!," Bland declared from East Memphis, Tenn. "He played everybody--blues, soul, rhythm and blues. He had a radio station WXSS-AM, 1030 in Memphis that gave competition to the stations around here."

Spann looked around his dusty office. He did not smile.

He looked foreword as he always did and said, "I am the first black American that built a 50,000-watt radio station on United States soil. And I built it in Memphis. It was like having twin boys (with WVON). This was in the 1980s. I could listen to my station in Memphis riding up and down the Dan Ryan expressway.
"Then I'd ride all over my native Mississippi listening to my station (He was born in rural Itta Bena, Miss.). Made me feel good. That's the reason, Bobby Bland, I didn't have no girl friends..........."

Dave Hoekstra

Dave Hoekstra has been a Chicago Sun-Times staff writer since 1985. His collection of Sun-Times travel columns, "Ticket To Everywhere," was published in 2000 by Lake Claremont Press. He was lead writer for "Farm Aid: Song for America" (Rodale Press, 2005) which commemorated the 20th anniversary of the Willie Nelson inspired effort.
He won a 1987 Chicago Newspaper Guild Stick O-Type Award for Column Writing. Hoekstra wrote and co-proudced the WTTW-Channel 11 PBS special: "The Staple Singers and the Civil Rights Movement," nominated for a 2001-02 Chicago Emmy for a documentary program/cultural significance.
He lives in Chicago.

RECORD ROW


Chicago's Record Row In addition to being a resource for archived stories, this is a place to share anecdotes about Chicago's Record Row, to network about Record Row developments and an opportunity for locals and tourists to comment on their experiences along Record Row.

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This page is an archive of entries from April 2013 listed from newest to oldest.

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