A monthly digest of blues news
View this email in your browser
JAN 7 – APR 7 2022
Dear Blues Friends,
Before I get into the most recent blues news, I have some of my own news. I will be taking a short break from this newsletter—but plan to resume with the April 8 issue. I normally don’t bore you with the mundane details of my personal life, but the events of the past six months have shattered my heart in a million pieces and shaken me to my core. In June 2021, I lost my oldest son to suicide, and then in rapid succession in December I lost my adorable Siamese (the Travelin’ Toot) and my dear husband, Michael.  It has been a lot to handle. And no, I am not OK, but yes, I will eventually get there. The overwhelming love and support from family and friends, and the kindness of strangers has restored my faith in humanity and helped me through some pretty dark days.
––Karen Murphy
Michael McCann Murphy
For almost 30 years––from Chicago and Lawrence, KS, to Phoenix and back to Chicago––we have been on a glorious adventure that abruptly ended Dec. 12 outside the Epiphany Center for the Arts. We had just left the Bears Watch Party featuring the Nick Moss Band with Curtis Salgado when Michael suffered a massive heart attack right outside the venue. He was 70.
It was a horrifying experience, but I will be eternally grateful that, right up until the very end, we were together having fun. We first met in high school in the 1960s on Chicago’s South Side at a party neither of us wanted to attend––and found our way back to each other almost 25 years later in our early 40s, each with two kids in tow.
In 1969, in the month before we departed for different universities, we went to Ravinia on Aug. 6 to see Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention for our birthdays (Aug. 5 and 7). We went our separate ways after freshman year in college after I said no to his marriage proposal. It seemed like the right answer at the time.
Fast forward to the 1990s. On our first date as so-called adults, I tested his limits by dragging him to see The Cramps, followed by Son Seals at Blues Etc. He passed the endurance test with flying colors. A few years later, he flew down to Florida to meet me with only a blender, margarita mix, tequila and shorts––and, on the beach at sunset, he asked me once again to marry him. That time I said yes. As he often reminded me, we could have been married 50 years if only I had accepted his first marriage proposal.  If only….
When we moved back to Chicago in 2011 after 16 years away, Michael revived an early interest in photography to join me in pursuing my passion, promoting the local blues community with this newsletter and our photographs. As a former wedding photographer, he actually enjoyed “herding cats” to get some great side shots while I only cared about the performance shots. I did have to teach him a thing or two about the blues (yes, he had heard of Buddy Guy), but he was an enthusiastic learner and sidekick that never complained (OK, almost never) no matter how many nights I dragged him out to hear music or how many festivals I decided we had to attend. My older son, who always had a unique way of expressing himself, once told me, “You and Michael are old as F***, but you run around like teenagers.” Probably….
In retirement, he was an enthusiastic home chef, the “Cookie Man” for the local blues community when a birthday was being celebrated, a spinner of Irish fairy tales (aka slightly enhanced retellings of our adventures) and the keeper of the blues birthdays database for chicagoBLUESnews.
In an earlier life, he had been a DJ in Michigan, a TV producer in Canada, an advertising executive who mentored many young associates, a rock drummer and a fanatic Grateful Dead fan who also loved Tito Puente and Ginger Baker. He also was a loyal alumnus of Mt. Carmel High School in Chicago (Class of 1969) and Michigan State University (1973). In my life, he was my high school sweetheart, my almost constant companion, my soulmate, my biggest supporter, my photography sidekick, my dependable chauffeur when I lost interest in driving in Chicago and my beloved husband of 27 years.
In many ways, we were as different as night and day, but we respected those differences and both delighted in the road less traveled, no matter where we wandered. Like the much-repeated Dr. Seuss quote, “Sometimes you will never know the true value of a moment until it becomes a memory.” In the end, I just have one thing to say to my favorite husband: Thank you, Michael. You’ve left me with a lifetime of great memories. It was even better than I could have ever imagined.

PHOTOS (Clockwise from top left): Michael and I, circa 1969; Michael as an adult; the famous cookie (even the cookie seems to have a smirk); and Michael with our beloved Siamese, Tootie.
As he always wanted, Michael will be buried next to his beloved grandmother in Lansing, MI. There will be a Celebration of Life sometime later this year in Chicago (most likely in late spring), open to all who would like to attend or have a memory to share. Date/Location TBD. There also will be a Happy Hour Jan. 20 in Phoenix in Michael's honor. If you are in the area and want to attend, email me for more info.

Since the last newsletter, we also said goodbye to:
Bruce Bromberg

Grammy award-winning blues record producer; after a lengthy battle with Alzheimer's

Alfonso Eugene "Doc" Dockery, 68

Local Waukegan musician and actor, entertainer and entrepreneur
NOTE: A Celebration of His Life Memorial Service will be Held at 3pm, Saturday, Jan. 8, 2022, at the Bradshaw & Range Funeral Home, 2513 W. Dugdale Road, Waukegan, IL. 

Wanda Young, 78

Lead singer of the Marvelettes; of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)

Leonard Nelson Hubbard (aka Hub), 62

Bassist for The Roots (1992–2007); after a long battle with blood cancer

Joe Simon, 85

R&B singer who won a Grammy for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance for The Chokin' Kind

Stonewall Jackson, 85

American country music singer and musician; due to complications of vascular dementia

Michael Nesmith, 78
Songwriter, actor, producer and novelist best known as a member of The Monkees; of natural causes

Garth Dennis, 72

Jamaican musician and founder of Black Uhuru; of unknown causes

Curtis Brown, 95

Father of local guitarist, Tony C. Brown, who is a former member of Low-reen and the Maxwell St. Market Blues Band
WAY BEHIND SCHEDULE. This is usually the issue that I look back at the last year and we pick our favorite photos and remember those who have left us. I will get to that together at some point, but right now I would rather NOT look back. Just trying to stay positive.

HERE WE GO AGAIN. At press time, both the International Blues Challenge, which was scheduled to be held January 18–22 in Memphis, has been postponed along with the Grammy Awards, which was going to be held Jan. 31 in Los Angeles. And, in Chicago, both Epiphany Center for the Arts and Hey Nonny are closed for most of the month of January. You know why. I kinda expect more closings so call first before you venture out. Please stay safe.

THIS WAS A NO-BRAINER. Congratulations to FitzGerald's and current owner Will Duncan, who received one of the Keeping the Blues Alive awards for 2022 from The Blues Foundation. Duncan has continued––and improved upon––the house that Bill FitzGerald built back in 1981.

THINK GOOD THOUGHTS. Jimmy Johnson, 92, our beloved Barroom Preacher and probably most positive blues guy in Chicago, suffered a stroke in late December. According to an update on Johnson's Facebook page today:
"Jimmy had one physical therapy class, couldn't make two. His balance was off and his blood pressure dropped when he was trying to walk. Two speech classes he did well. A little annoyed at the help; he says they all talk too loud: 'Do they think I am deaf?' They say he is having trouble swallowing. His wife Sherry will bring him some more of his favorite soup and a nutritional drink today."
Keep him in your prayers.
Jimmy Johnson photo © chicagoBLUESnews/Karen Murphy

TOO MUCH FUN. Before COVID turned the world upside down, I was looking at this fest in San Diego that looked like too much fun.The good news is that, after a two-year break, Gator by the Bay is back on. The Louisiana-inspired four-day music and food fest will be held May 5–8 at Spanish Landing Park in San Diego.

CONGRATS, BRUCE. Alligator boss Bruce Iglauer received the "In Honorem" Award from the Charles Cros Academy in France on Friday, Dec. 17. According to the Académie Charles Cros (ACC), "Members of the Jazz and Blues and Soul commissions have unanimously agreed to award this distinction to Bruce Iglauer, founder of Alligator Records, the independent label which has carried the colors of the blues high for 50 years, on the occasion of the release of 50 Years of Genuine Houserockin' Music (Alligator/Socadisc)." The award has been presented annually since 1948. Lucky Peterson supposedly was a previous winner but I cannot find anything online that confirms that.
Bruce Iglauer photo © chicagoBLUESnews/Karen Murphy

GOOD IDEA. Liz Mandeville has joined the roster of Blues Pros Talent and Peach Music Group (I think they are the same company). Liz is in fine company with this group. Congrats!

NEW LEADER. Judith Black has been named the new president and CEO of The Blues Foundation in Memphis. She took the reins on Jan. 1, succeeding Patty Wilson Aden.
In the beginning of December, Michael and I photographed two birthday parties and went to two different venues to see Curtis Salgado while he was in town playing with Nick Moss. Nick Moss and Curtis Salgado together are magic.

DEC 8 @ The Water Hole
Hazel Thomas 65th Birthday Bash

DEC 8 @ Reggie's
The Nick Moss Band with Curtis Salgado

DEC 9 @ Rewired Pizza
Heather Falduto's Birthday Jam with Rob Moore

DEC 12 @ Epiphany Center for the Arts
Bears Watch Party
The Nick Moss Band with Curtis Salgado
Bernard Allison | Highs and Lows
RELEASE DATE: 2.25.22 (Ruf)

Jools Holland | Pianola. PIANO & FRIENDS
RELEASE DATE: 10.6.21 (Arts Music)

Katie Henry | On My Way
RELEASE DATE: 1.28.22 (Ruf)

Keb' Mo' | Good to Be...
RELEASE DATE: 1.28.22 (Rounder)

Jose Ramirez | Major League Blues
RELEASE DATE: 3.4.22 (Delmark)

Luther "Guitar Junior" Johnson | Once in a Blue Moon
RELEASE DATE: 10.9.21 (CD Baby)
This is a live recording from a bar in Florida
The next chicagoBLUESnews:  
FRIDAY, APR 8 2022

(Mails on THURS, APR 7)
 chicagoBLUESnews Online Calendar 

Know about a gig I don't? Give me a heads-up.
Updates to the calendar are made regularly––not just once a month and includes shows in nearby states and festivals all over the map that just look fun to me. 
Right now I have no great ideas about where to go to see live music except these two options:
SAT, JAN 22 @ 7PM
Erwin Helfer's 86th Birthday Celebration
with special guests John Brumbach, Katherine Davis, Skinny Williams, Pastor Donald Gay, Elsa Harris and more
Old Town School of Folk Music, Szold Hall

If you have never seen Buddy, don't miss one of these shows. Or, if you just love Buddy, pick a few dates.

Please use the ONLINE CALENDAR for other ideas––but be sure to check before you go that the venue is still open in these crazy times.

As mentioned above, both Hey Nonny (until Jan. 28, 2022) and
Epiphany Center for the Arts (until Jan. 27, 2022) have temporarily closed.
This page has several links where you can find music–live and virtual.
Just a few fun links to distract you from the world we currently live in.
Write Me a Few of Your Lines
Donna Herula Band

Harmonicon White Mountain Boogie and Blues Festival 2015
Sugar Blue, Billy Branch and Jason Ricci
I always go back to this doesn't get any hotter than this (and yes, that's Rico McFarland on guitar)!

Interview/Performance: Howlin' Wolf (1971)
Big Duke's Flamingo, Chicago

Taj Mahal & Keb' Mo' Band (San Javier, 2017)

The birthday list will be back as soon as I can decipher the massive database created by
my sidekick.

In the meantime, everyone celebrate everything

(All newsletters mail on Thursday, the day before the issue date)

Next newsletter is planned for APR 8–May 5.


Send me a note at
You are receiving this blues newsletter because you love the blues and asked to be on the mailing list. If you are no longer interested, you can unsubscribe at any time. Chicago Blues News is written and distributed by Editorial Director Karen Murphy monthly, with the exception of previously announced vacation plans. Its content cannot be reproduced in any form without written permission in advance. The weekly deadline to submit information for possible inclusion in the newsletter is Wednesday at Noon, the day before the mailing date.
Copyright © 2022 Chicago Blues News, All rights reserved.

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp