Muddy Waters (1913-1983) was frequently considered the father of Chicago blues. Born in Mississippi and discovered there in 1941 by musicologist Alan Lomax, he moved to the Windy City in 1943 and proceeded to refine and redefine the sound of the blues, inspiring not just future artists in the genre but, significantly, those who later created rock-and-roll. In July 1974, some of the country’s premier blues artists joined together onstage in Chicago to celebrate the Muddy Waters legacy with the man himself. On April 21, Legacy Recordings will issue Muddy Waters and Friends’ Soundstage: Blues Summit in Chicago, 1974 on DVD for the first time ever. This 1974 episode kicked off the original 13-season run of Soundstage, opening the doors for other Season 1 performers like Randy Newman, Harry Chapin, Jose Feliciano and The Pointer Sisters. Soundstage still exists today in modified format, with an episode featuring Brian Wilson airing later this year on PBS.
Soundstage: Blues Summit in Chicago, 1974, produced by Ken Ehrlich of Grammy Awards fame, features Muddy Waters alongside contemporaries Willie Dixon, Koko Taylor, Junior Wells and Pinetop Perkins. The younger generation of bluesmen was represented by Mike Bloomfield, Buddy Miles, Johnny Winter, Dr. John, and Nick Gravenites to create a truly historic assemblage of talent.
The press release quotes Ehrlich: “This first edition of our Soundstage series definitely stands the test of time. The same greatness that these blues legends like Muddy Waters, Willie Dixon, Junior Wells and Koko Taylor showed in this iconic gathering of blues greats continues to influence current generations of blues players and fans. The only difference is that now, 40 years later, the other artists on the show like Johnny Winter, Mike Bloomfield, Dr. John and Buddy Miles have now achieved similar legendary status as those first generation blues artists they came to honor back in 1974.”
Waters himself performs “Blow Wind Blow,” “Long Distance Call,” “Mannish Boy” and “Got My Mojo Workin’” on the program, as well as a duet of “Hootchie Kootchie Man” [sic] with Willie Dixon. Willie teamed with Koko Taylor for “Wang Dang Doodle.” Nick Gravenites and Junior Wells are featured on “Messin’ with the Kid,” while Wells tackles “Stop Breaking Down.” Mac Rebennack, a.k.a. Dr. John, brings his N’awlins-honed brand of the blues to “Sugar Sweet,” and Johnny Winter – one of the countless artists influenced by Waters to meld blues and rock – offers “Walking Through the Park.” Mike Bloomfield, Phil Guy, “Snake Boy” Johnson and Robert Margolin sit in on guitar; Jerry Portnoy and Junior Wells play harmonica, Buddy Miles and “Big Eyes” Smith handle drums, Calvin “Fuzz” Jones and Rollo Radford are on the bass, and Dr. John and Pinetop Perkins man the keyboards.
The landmark Soundstage: Blues Summit in Chicago arrives on DVD from Legacy Recordings on April 21 and can be ordered at the links below!
Soundstage: Blues Summit In Chicago, 1974 DVD (Legacy, 2015) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. TBD)
- Blow Wind Blow – Muddy Waters
- Long Distance Call – Muddy Waters
- Messin’ With The Kid – Nick Gravenites & Junior Wells
- Stop Breaking Down – Junior Wells
- Mannish Boy – Muddy Waters
- Wang Dang Doodle – Willie Dixon & Koko Taylor
- Walking Through The Park – Johnny Winter
- Hootchie Kootchie Man – Muddy Waters & Willie Dixon
- Sugar Sweet – Dr. John
- Got My Mojo Workin’ – Muddy Waters