Tuesday, October 21, 2014

(Slightly) Off-Topic: 2120 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago

2120 S. Michigan is now a privately-owned blues museum (picture taken in 2008).

I'm re-reading Nadine Cohodas's excellent Turning Blues Into Gold: The Chess Brothers And The Legendary Chess Records.  The amount of great R&B that came out of 2120 still astonishes me:
Muddy Waters, Little Walter, Howlin' Wolf, Chuck Berry, Etta James, and more.  The Rolling Stones recorded a few tracks at 2120 in 1964, as a kind of tribute to their own heros.  As well they should have.

2120 was fairly luxurious digs for an independent label.  Chess had formerly been in a storefront at 4858 South Cottage Grove.  The earlier blues hits by Muddy, Walter, and Wolf were recorded at Universal Studios.  At 2120 the business offices and inventory were downstairs; the recording studio was upstairs.  Although it was long and narrow, not an ideal shape, it was refurbished as a sound-proof studio and upgraded at least once.  The control room overlooked the street through the large windows seen above.

I've made my own pilgrimage to 2120.  For me, the building is a memorial to the idea that extraordinary things can be done in the most ordinary surroundings.  And I've already found some obscure Chess singles on iTunes.  After finishing the book this time, I'm gonna use the index to ransack iTunes for a new road mix.

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