#191 - The Chicago Blues
In New Orleans, you land in Louis Armstrong airport and, when you step off the plane into the terminal, Satchmo and others are playing on the airport public address system.
In "Sweet Home" Chicago, by contrast, it's always a bit sad that you step off the plane and, leaving the terminal, the first thing you see in the city of the urban blues is not one of the progenitors of the musical form -- neither Muddy Waters nor Howlin' Wolf nor Big Bill Broonzy nor any other worthy artist -- but instead a minstrel act: the Blues Brothers.
Not that I entirely disapprove of the Blues Brothers. After all, they were a conduit to older blues artists for millions of younger, mostly white fans.
And though their act was comedic, it was filled with as much love as theft, which makes it part of the minstrel tradition, but in a way that continually calls forth the complexity of that troubling but quintessentially American art form created through the racial masquerade.
The Blues Brothers statues, part of the House of Blues CD store in Midway Airport's Terminal A, should not be removed; they should be joined in the airport by the musicians who inspired Belushi and Ackroyd to "put the band back together."
29 December 2007