Chicago original revs up the blues

Apr 02, 2014
Studebaker John

Rockland — The weekly blues series continues April 14 with a 7 p.m. show by Studebaker John. Admission at the door will be $10.

Studebaker John Grimaldi was born in Chicago in 1952 and has lived his whole life there. An avid music fan as a youngster, he learned to play several instruments, first the harmonica, then the drums and, in his late teens, the guitar. He came of age in the 1960s, so was part of the rock ‘n’ roll generation. It was a time when musical boundaries and barriers were being broken down, and elements of different styles were combined into something new and vibrant that filled the airwaves of AM radio. His work in his family’s plumbing business sometimes took him to the Maxwell Street open-air market, where he heard street musicians playing a raw electrified blues for tips.

The music he heard on Maxwell Street drew him in and he started hanging out at clubs on the South and West Side to catch live acts. One memorable night, he saw a performance by Hound Dog Taylor that resulted in a personal epiphany: he had to play slide guitar.

Studebaker John built a reputation as a performer with an exciting, propulsive guitar style and also developed into a fine blues harpist and vocalist. He became a sought-after sideman and session musician, but his songwriting passion led him to focus on recording his own music. He has put out more than a dozen albums of all original music, most recently on Delmark, the oldest existing Chicago-based blues label. Pubgoers can expect plenty of original steamy blues and smokin’ blues/rock, incorporating Chicago, boogie, swamp, swing and harmonica blues.

Upcoming in the weekly series are: April 21, Johnny Rawls ($10); and April 28, Harper ($15). For more information, visit northatlanticbluesfestival.com and click on the Time Out Blues link. Also on the site is information about this summer’s fest, July 12 and 13. Advance blues festival tickets are $25 for either day or $50 for the full weekend.

Courier Publications’ A&E Editor Dagney C. Ernest can be reached at (207) 594-4401, ext. 115; or dernest@courierpublicationsllc.com.

Comments (0)
If you wish to comment, please login.