In recognition of Black Music Month, we honor the vast contributions of African-Americans to American music. From jazz to rock to hip-hop, the African- American influence on music and music culture is unparalleled. However, few genres of music exemplify our impact more than the Blues. Originated on Southern plantations in the late 19th Century, Blues music traveled North in the 1910s and 1920s and later became one of the music’s most popular forms. Chicago became one of its epicenters.
The Chicago Historical Museum takes a historical look into the Chicago Blues scene with its exhibit “Amplified: Chicago Blues”. “Amplified” displays rare photography from the expansive collection of Raeburn Flerlage- an industry record distributor and avid blues fan that gained extraordinary access to Chicago’s most famous blues musicians. Music greats Muddy Waters, Howlin Wolf, Little Walter and John Lee Hooker are just a few of the groundbreaking artists captured behind Flerlage’s lens. Viewers are also treated to memorabilia of the 50s and 60’s blues era.
Photos and artifacts aside, “Amplified” is more than just a stroll down memory lane for old school blues lovers; or a history lesson for the new school. It keeps it with fun with interactive touches that allow visitors to get a feel for the blues experience. Visitors can make their own album cover, sing karaoke along with blues classics, get a lesson in playing the guitar, or play a soundboard in the “Amplified” recording studio.
With it’s impressive blend of blues education and entertainment, “Amplified: Chicago Blues” is a good time for all ages. Check it out at the Chicago Historical Museum through Aug. 10.