10-stop tour of Chicago musical history
Chicago's Department of Cultural Affairs launched "Music Lives Here" this summer, a list and map of 50 historical music sites around town.
Why it matters: Compiled by Aaron Cohen, author of "Move on Up: Chicago's Soul Music and Black Cultural Power," the project organizes Chicago's vast musical history into an easy format for learning and enjoyment.
The downside: "The list could have easily gone to number 100," he tells Axios.
Between the lines: We asked Cohen if he could boil it down to a 10-site tour for Axios readers along with songs to go with them:
♜ Chess Records: 2120 S. Michigan Ave.
- "Jewish immigrants Leonard and Phil Chess established the premier Chicago record label here, where many of the best blues, soul and jazz artists found a home."
- Tracks: Jackie Ross, "Selfish One";Howlin' Wolf, "Spoonful."
🪕 Old Town School of Folk Music: 909 W Armitage Ave.
- After leaving a tiny storefront in Old Town, the venerable folk music performance and educational space moved here in 1968 and later expanded to Lincoln Square.
- "Students who went on to wide acclaim include John Prine and Steve Goodman."
- Tracks: John Prine, "Sam Stone"; Steve Goodman, "City of New Orleans."
🎸 Muddy Waters' House: 4339 S. Lake Park Ave.
- When Muddy Waters moved up to Chicago from the Mississippi Delta, he plugged in to become one of the world's most popular and influential blues stars.
- His longtime home is being redeveloped to honor Waters' music and legacy.
- Tracks: "Got My Mojo Working" and "Rolling And Tumbling."
🪘 Puerto Rican Congress of Mutual Aid: Division and Mozart St.
- Carlos Ruiz established the Congress of Mutual Aid in the 1950s to give Puerto Rican migrants in Chicago a cultural hub.
- Over the next decade, his Ebirac Records would document the city’s burgeoning salsa bands.
- Tracks: Justicia, "Stone Flower:"; Ebirac All Stars, "Plena Matrimonial."
🚂 Soul Train Studio: 141 W. Jackson Blvd.
- The original home of Don Cornelius' groundbreaking television dance show, "Soul Train," where Chicago music royalty would show up for Cornelius and play their songs.
- Tracks: Curtis Mayfield, "Move On Up"; Chi-Lites, "(For God’s Sake) Give More Power To The People."
☘️ Irish American Heritage Center: 4626 N Knox Ave.
- If you want to watch — or learn — traditional Irish music and dancing, this is the place to be. The center also features a few stellar pubs.
- Tracks: Frank Quinn, "If You Are Irish (Come Into The Parlor)"; Liz Carroll, "Never Far Away."
🎶 Vee-Jay/Brunswick Records: 1449 S Michigan Ave.
- Before Motown, Vee-Jay was America's primary African American-owned record company, distributing John Lee Hooker, The Impressions, The Staple Singers and even, briefly, The Beatles.
- After its 1966 demise, Brunswick set up shop here and continued releasing great Chicago soul.
- Tracks: Gene Chandler, "Duke Of Earl"; Barbara Acklin, "Love Makes A Woman"
🎹 First Church Of Deliverance: 4315 S Wabash Ave.
- This was the first church to feature the Hammond organ with gospel music.
- Rev. Clarence Cobb broadcast his choir and Sunday night services from here, which spread his music and message far and wide.
- Tracks: Myrtle Jackson, "He's Sweet I Know"; Irma Gwynn, "I Told Jesus."
🎤 One-Derful Records: 1827 S. Michigan Ave.
- George and Ernie Leaner ran one of Chicago's most successful Black-owned labels during the 1960s.
- Home to great R&B and gospel artists, it also hosted the first known studio recording of the soon-to-become Jackson Five.
- Tracks: Five Du-Tones, "Shake A Tail Feather"; McKinley Mitchell, "The Town I Live In."
🇲🇽 La Villita (Little Village) Arch: 3123 W. 26th St.
- Little Village was one of the first areas to showcase upbeat dance music duranguense, created by immigrants from the Mexican state of Durango.
- First developed in suburban Aurora, the music and dance (pasito duranguense) took off here then spread through Latin America.
- Tracks: Los Horóscopos de Durango, "Dos Locos"; Grupo Montez de Durango, "Lágrimas de Cristal."
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