My Aunt Stella left first. It was 1964 and she was ready to be out of Mississippi. She was over it. She, along with countless other blacks during the great migration, knew if they wanted better opportunities in life… they’d have to get out of the Jim Crow South.
So she left, and eventually my other younger aunts left, and one by one my father’s brothers and sisters began to spread their wings outside the cognitive and physical limits of Mississippi, aiming to start a new chapter of hope, a hope they stored in the urban-city-promises of the midwest, north east and west coast.
But life wasn’t quite as they dreamed. Racist and illegal home lending laws set blacks who actually could afford to move out of southern states back six steps the wrong direction, into overcrowded, underfunded public housing.
As Dick Gregory explained 7:32 in Chicago Blues Documentary, “A black man pays more for a basement apartment than a white man pays for a note on their house.” Unregulated, racist housing laws allowed whites to maneuver however necessary to exploit blacks fiscally, ultimately out of their homes and into what became the projects.
And it was this story, this experience, this relentless plight of heartache, met with the reaching to find the will to continue, that caused these Mississippians to reach back with that same motion and grab their guitars and sing about it, shout about it, strum and pick about it, to holla about it. The ol country blues had reached Chicago, and its evolution possessed something so radiant, raw, honest and powerful inside it, the world of music would never be the same.
This Chicago blues had rock in it.
The musicians originally used powered amps and electric guitars to hear over the loud crowds in downtown clubs, but eventually, the grit and power of those electronics became a pervasive part of their stylings.
The Chicago blues had gospel in it.
As Muddy Waters said 13:38 into the documentary, “You gotta go to church to get this sorta thing in your soul you know.” Blues and gospel are of the same cloth. Blues is the lament, gospel is the solution.
Chicago Blues Documentary did one extraordinaire job of giving context to the lives and stories that spawned the evolution of blues, its kinship with gospel, and how it begat the birth of rock n roll.
You’ll find a young Buddy Guy, JB Hutto, Junior Wells, Muddy Waters and Johnnie Lewis, along many others, living as working class men, telling their own stories thru the blues, just trying to make it one day at a time in Chicago.
You can’t rate or put a price on this footage. I dunno what else to say, you just gotta watch: