For Chicagoan Frank Blinkal, a day-and-night club job at
Buddy Guy’s Legends gave him a front row seat and unprecedented access
to some of the greatest names in Blues — Otis Rush, Lonnie Brooks and
Junior Wells, not to mention Legends’ illustrious owner.
Trixie Whitley was destined for a creative life. She's the
daughter of acclaimed Blues/Folk singer/songwriter Chris Whitley and his Belgian wife Helene Gavaert, whose Gypsy lineage
brims with painters, sculptors and musicians.
Sometimes it only takes a well-placed reference to bump an
artist up to the next level. French-born guitarist Stephane Wrembel was
already enjoying an acclaimed career when director Woody Allen tapped
him to score the theme of his 2011 Academy Award-winning film Midnight in Paris, which he performed live to the millions who tuned into the ceremony’s telecast.
A native Texan, Ruthie
Foster’s family tree was ripe with Gospel singers, but she quickly
absorbed the Lone Star State’s other musical identities, like Folk,
Blues, Country and Rock, to which she added her own soulful spin.
Very few people fit the true definition of prodigy, but
Joe Bonamassa could be the poster child for prodigies. By age 7, after
three short years of playing guitar, Bonamassa was regurgitating
note-perfect renditions of Stevie Ray Vaughan and Jimi Hendrix.
JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound’s sophomore album, Want More,
might sound like some lost artifact from Otis Redding’s archive, but
the Chicago quartet is young enough to be Redding’s grandchildren and
have only been working their Indie Rock corner of Chicago Soul since
Any band with decent musical
aptitude and a passion for the days of sheet music stores, phosphates
and the Charleston can churn out covers of songs gleaned from thrift
shop 78s and attract a sizable, loyal audience. The real gift is
taking that Hot Jazz/Country Blues/Ragtime/Western Swing inspiration
and translating it into original and completely contemporary songs;
Pokey LaFarge and the South City Three possess that gift.
Although Natural Child
coalesced back in 2009, they sound like they’ve been around forever.
Almost stereotypically young, the Nashville trio’s influences date to
their parents’ record collections and that sense of musical classicism
is infused with an appropriate dose of hormonal rage and rebellion.