Monday, November 10, 2008

Maxwell Street Radio

It was a Sunday open air market of music and flea bit items. Caught a good film [DVD] about Maxwell Street in the '60s. It is called "Chicago's Legendary Maxwell Street ... And This Is Free." Very vivid depiction of the Chicago Blues. Of course, now, piano players wasnt on Maxwell Street. Didnt no piano players play in the street. But Robert Nighthawk, Johnnie Young and J.B Hutto [his hand anyway, I think; this is a wild guess - maybe it's Homesick James] appear. Lots of gospel too. Much in the way of Hucksterism. It is not a representation of what the blues would be like in a South Side Club in the '60s or '70s , but it is a more accurate representation than most any blues show you may go to today.

I got down there once when it was way past it's prime. Remember this guy who had this giant collection of hub caps on sale. The joke to me in those days was selling so many hub caps. That was a very prominent stolen item back in time.

There is a CD accompanying the DVD with J.B.Hutto, Floyd Jones, Blind Percy. others. There is a booklet also, that includes an intersting piece by George Paulus.

Paulus recalls one day skipping church on Sunday to go with a friend to Maxwell St. This vignette struck me..

Some Sundays later we walked into Maxwell Street Radio, also a record shop. There were dead or half dead televisions piled precariously on tables, on the floor, in corners and yes they sometimes reached almost to the ceiling. This was where TV's came to die or be resurrected. Radios fared no better ... they were carefully balanced on shelves and atop TVs. There must have been years of repairs. The floor was wood, varnish long since worn away with nail heads gleaming ...

The store also sold records; it also had been the site of recordings. Demo Acetates.

The sides of the [wooden sales] counter were decorated with vintage promo pictures of Muddy, Little Walter, Jimmy Rogers ... all the Chicago greats plus photos of other R& B stars.

The proprietor spins some 78 rpms that were sparkling new. The boys by ‘the fragile shellac.’

~~~~~~ ~~~~~

P.S. While researching this [looking for a picture of Maxwell Street Radio] I came across an interesting account of Tempo-Tone records, the one on which Sunnyland and Floyd Jones cut "Hard Times

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