#TBT: The Birth of a New Music Genre

Bob Dylan Live 1966 CD cover

Singer-songwriter and future folk icon Bob Dylan took the stage at the Newport Folk Festival on July 25, 1965, but instead of using his trusty acoustic guitar, he electrified the crowd by plugging in his guitar and having a full band back him. For this Throwback Thursday, let's take a look at his influence on other musicians. […]

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#TBT: American Top 40 Debuts in 1970

The Jackson 5 poses in 1969

For a lot of kids growing up in the 1970s and 1980s, nothing said Saturday better than Casey Kasem's voice on the radio counting down the week's hits from the Billboard Top 100. This Independence Day weekend, American Top 40 celebrates 45 years of playing the hits. So for Throwback Thursday, let's take a look at some of […]

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Anything but Standard

This season there are an unusual number of albums from major artists covering classics rather than new songs. These songs cover the gamut from 1930s show tunes to 1960s pop, but the overall vibe is nice and easy. Cheek to Cheek by Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga. They're one of the more unexpected pairings in recent memory, but […]

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Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey and the Queer Blues

Bessie Smith mural

"I went out last night with a crowd of my friends, they must have been women cause I don't like no men."—Ma Rainey, Prove It On Me Blues In the recently aired Bessie, the HBO film starring Queen Latifah about the "Queen of the Blues," Bessie Smith, it's apparent from the first scene that Smith's […]

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Celebrating B.B. King

Photo of B.B. King playing guitar

Today the world mourns the passing of B.B. King, one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century, a legend who brought an entirely new sound to the blues and showed the way for a generation of guitar artists. Known for his signature quavering guitar and short, flowing lyrics, King was regarded as a cross-genre […]

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#TBT: 1960s Sounds of Summer

People sit on the trunk of a car while other people stand in the background

Music permeates the summer landscape: it can be heard from car windows, at the beach and during street festivals. For Throwback Thursday, here are some of my favorite summer hits of the 1960s: In July 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act and the Beach Boys charted their first number one hit, […]

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Lyrics Are Poems Put to Music: Part One

Prompt 6 by miscellaneaarts
 Sorce: Flckr Creative Commons

As Women's History Month winds down and National Poetry Month starts, I thought this would be a good time to look at some important women in music, or more like women in music whose lyrics influence and inspire me. These women paved roads, ruined hearts and broke down walls. Their lyrics and music speak of passion, anger, rage and love. They sang the […]

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Remembering a Blues Legend: Muddy Waters’ “Mojo” at 100

Got My Mojo Working album cover

Nobody knew the blues like Muddy Waters. Although he was born in Mississippi on April 4, 1915, Waters spent a considerable amount of time right here in sweet home Chicago. It’s here that he electrified the blues with his slide guitar skills, making the blues sound like what it is today. He is widely regarded for making Chicago […]

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Mavis Staples: She’ll Take You There

Mavis Staples

On the occasion of the publication of Greg Kot's I'll Take You There, I thought I'd showcase some Mavis Staples' and the Staples Singers' discography here at CPL. But first, the book: Kot is a journalist for the Chicago Tribune, and it shows in his short chapters and succinct writing. While focusing mostly on the […]

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