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Hitting The Streets

By Scott Smith in Arts & Entertainment on Jan 31, 2005 7:32PM

An article in The Chicago Journal last week detailed the efforts of a Japanese television crew that sought to document the last vestiges of the Maxwell Street blues scene. The authenticity of the current scene could most charitably be described as “in question” (if for no other reason but its presence on Canal Street rather than Maxwell Street. Fortunately, the flag for Chicago blues is still carried nightly by an army of local musicians in the city’s dives and haunts and by local blues label Alligator Records.

Lookin' like a bluesman shouldFormed by former Delmark Records employee Bruce Iglauer in 1971, his musical labor of love has continued to thrive due to its association with legendary and groundbreaking artists like Albert Collins, Shemekia Copeland, Floyd Dixon, and Koko Taylor. Tomorrow, Alligator releases Deluxe Edition by blues harp virtuoso Charlie Musselwhite. It's been a good year already for Alligator: Musselwhite’s album joins records by Corky Siegel’s Travelling Chamber Blues Show and Roomful of Blues and follows labelmate Mavis Staples’s Grammy nomination for her Have A Little Faith album. Staples will also be appearing with fellow Chicago nominee Kanye West during a performance at the Grammys in February.

Here's a sampling of some other recent and future releases from Chicago record labels:

Last week, the debut album from The Black MariaLead Us To Reason—was released on Victory Records. Currently on tour throughout their native Canada with Sum 41, The Black Maria favor happy, lilting ditties like "Our Commitment’s A Sickness" and "Rats In The Prison."

After teasing the ska-punk masses with a pair of shows back in December, The Blue Meanies finally get an expanded and enhanced reissue of their classic album Full Throttle out in the streets on February 8th. Available now at the Thick Records website, the album features three bonus tracks along with new packaging and videos.

Finally, File 13 Records went halfway around the world for two upcoming street releases in February: Bologna Italy’s own Franklin Delano and Tokyo’s My Way My Love. Both bands are set to tour the U.S. in the first half of this year.

Image: Alligator Records