Who's Singing the Blues Now?

By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 8, 2008 7:00 PM CST
Marie Dixon, widow of blues legend Willie Dixon, sits in front of a photograph of her husband Willie, and other players at the old Chess Records building on April 8, 2008, in Chicago.   (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)
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(Newser) – Chicago has bid adieu to old blues music and welcomed a new legion of players, many foreign-born, who are transforming the city's low-down tradition, the Christian Science Monitor reports. Largely abandoned by blacks, the blues has moved from Chicago's shuttered South- and West-Side clubs to the friendlier, gentrified North Side—where players from Japan and Israel can be seen jamming with white musicians.

Some old-school Chicagoans feel blue about the trend, decrying electric sounds, lack of soul, or a disconnect with past greats. "There is a crisis," says one bar owner who updates a database on dead blues players. But guitarist Shun Kikuta sees today's music as a transition: "We still do play the 12-bar style, but the sound is much heavier," he says, thanks to "funk and rock influences."