|Rolling Stone March 14, 2013|
Years ago, before I began an 'official' graduate program, I dabbled for a year in a Master's of something or another and rather non-specific. I believe that they called the course Liberal Studies. Sounds about right. All of the classes were very interesting and diverse. One in particular was excellent, and it was named, 'The City.' We learned all sorts of stuff about the rise of cities in the United States. Each of us had to do a formal, final project. Mine was an easy topic to choose ... Marshall Field's department store. I was working there at the time, and it's connection to the rise of the city of Chicago is storied. I enjoyed the work, and the class seemed to as well when I made my presentation. I think that I even had a few artifacts to share. I worked in the State Street store, the original, and was a part of the huge transformation of the space. My boss, a wonderful man, took me on an odyssey of sorts through construction and into the dark corners of the floors that probably hadn't been seen for decades. We picked up little treasures along our way, and I was able to use them for my presentation.
I bring this up as one woman in the class chose the blues as her topic. Interesting. She gave her spiel, and then she took out an acoustic guitar and treated the class to several country blues songs that led to what became the Chicago blues, Memphis blues, etc. What made me think of this is that Jack White, who is a blues aficionado, talked about bringing some old blues men back to life on his record label. One of the groups, Mississippi Sheiks, was "hugely popular in the Twenties and Thirties, the Mississippi Sheiks played string-and-fiddle country blues on steam-for-then records like "Bed Spring Poker."Well, this little lady in class belted out some of her own steamy-for-now songs. Sitting in a class room at the time, it seemed sort of strange, but beautiful all the same.
So if I ever get to Jack's secret lair, I think that I'm gonna be a saucy country blues singer. I want it pressed on vinyl so that I can bring it home and play it on my suitcase record player. That could be the end and all of a music career for me, for sure.
Note: the bands highlighting at the bottom of the article can all be found on ITunes ... it's worth a listen. The bands are Charley Patton, Blind Willie McTell, and the aforementioned Mississippi Sheiks.