BLUES LEGEND BUDDY GUY GIVES TOUR OF CHICAGO MUSIC HISTORY
Multimedia audio tour exploring Chicago’s musical roots has been downloaded by nearly 100,000 listeners within the first six months
CHICAGO Exploring the “Home of the Blues,” the Chicago Blues Audio Tour narrated by Chicago-local Buddy Guy has found an astonishing audience in just six months.
The podcast has been downloaded more than 97,000 times and is currently averaging over 1,000 downloads per day. The free, 50-minute tour combines an interactive map, tour stop directions, archival photos, video, music clips, and interviews a true multimedia experience unlike anything else available.
Listeners are able to follow the tour either by downloading to a portable media player or by virtually experiencing Chicago on a home computer. Available in Mandarin Chinese, English, German, Japanese, and Spanish, the tour is able to reach international visitors and devotees of Chicago blues wherever they are.
In September, the podcast was featured on the front page of iTunes, the most popular repository for podcasts in the world. The tour was also awarded a 2007 MUSE Award from the American Association of Museums recognizing outstanding achievement in museum media. According to the judges, “while [the tour] would offer an evocative introduction to a visitor on the streets of Chicago, it is strong enough to be educational and engaging no matter where the listener may be.”
As Buddy Guy explains about Chicago, “This is the place where people just like myself came from the South to create new lives and a new kind of music. The generation just before mine came up here playing folk music. But soon they traded in their acoustic guitars for electric instruments. And when they plugged them in, they created a new, urban sound, that we call Chicago blues.”
Through Buddy Guy’s insider perspective and interviews with blues musicians and historians, visitors experience the Chicago blues historic and societal relevance, the worldwide impact on music and culture, and the city’s contemporary scene. Incorporating archival photos, music clips, and video, the tour highlights ten historic locations including Maxwell Street, Chess Records, and Muddy Water’s former home. Listeners, from blues club aficionados to those less familiar with the Chicago blues sound, will discover something new from the explanation of Chicago blues and profiles of five Chicago blues innovators: Jimmy Yancey, Tampa Red, Willie Dixon, Muddy Waters, and Koko Taylor.
In addition, the tour illustrates how Chicago continues to influence the international blues sound. Visitors can experience “Sweet Home Chicago” at the city’s many music clubs, including Buddy Guy’s Legends. Celebrating its 25th anniversary this June 5-8, 2008, the annual Chicago Blues Festival is the largest free blues festival in the world and draws over 800,000 visitors. Also, the Chicago Blues Archives at the city’s Harold Washington Library preserves archival recordings of performances unavailable anywhere else.
The Chicago Office of Tourism produced the audio tour with the award-winning Acoustiguide, Inc. “We are pleased to have had the opportunity to work with the Chicago Office of Tourism on this project and are extremely happy with the results,” said Kathryn Glass, Acoustiguide vice president. “By the end of the first year, more than 150,000 people will have had the pleasure of hearing Buddy Guy talk about Chicago’s place in the history of the Blues, and that is something we are all very proud of.”
The Chicago Blues Tour is free and can be downloaded at www.downloadchicagotours.com or Apple’s iTunes. Media can find an electronic press kit for the tour at http://www.downloadchicagotours.com/bluesmedia/.
For information about the Chicago Blues Festival, the world’s largest free blues festival, visitors can call 312.744.3315 or visit www.chicagobluesfestival.us. Visitors and Chicagoans planning to entertain out-of-town guests can receive Chicago brochures, reserve hotel accommodations, and receive trip-planning assistance by calling 1.877.CHICAGO (1.877.244.2246) or visiting www.cityofchicago.org/tourism. Brochures and information on Chicago’s exciting events and activities are also available at the Visitor Information Centers. The centers are located at Chicago Water Works, 163 E. Pearson Street at Michigan Avenue, and the Chicago Cultural Center, 77 E. Randolph Street.
CHICAGO BLUES TOUR DESTINATIONS
1. Buddy Guy’s Legends When Buddy Guy opened this club in 1989, he wanted it to have the feel of a dark, authentic storefront music joint, an experience like going to a club when the Chicago blues were born.
2. The Illinois Central Depot Once Chicago’s largest train station, the Illinois Central Station became known as the Black Ellis Island, where many southern African American’s introduction to Chicago.
3. Maxwell Street Alive with business in the Maxwell Street market, musicians congregated here and played the music that defined several eras of the Chicago blues.
4. Vee-Jay Records Before Motown there was Vee-Jay Records, the largest and most powerful black-owned record label in America, recording the greats of R& B, doo-wop, and jazz in their studio on what was then known as ‘record row’ on Michigan Avenue.
5. Chess Records, Michigan Avenue Generations of musicians have come to pay homage at the place where all the greats of the Chicago blues tradition Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Koko Taylor, to name a few recorded their hits. Today, the building is home to the Blues Heaven Foundation started by blues legend Willie Dixon, whose mission is to promote and document the blues, educate children about its history, and to support working musicians
6. The State Street Stroll In the 1920s and 30s, people would dress their best and stroll down the street while music poured from the theaters, cafes, and “black and tan” nightclubs that lined the strip, notably the Pekin Theater, the Plantation Club, and the Apex Club.
7. 47th Street Now known as the ‘Chicago Blues District,’ this was the location of the famous 708 Club, one of the creative incubators responsible for transforming a kind of rural country blues into the highly-charged electrified blues unique to Chicago.
8. The Blues Brothers Mural Created for the well-known movie, “The Blues Brothers,” this site was the home of “Ray’s Music Exchange,” run by none other than Ray Charles in the film. The mural is an homage to the neighborhood’s musical heritage.
9. Chess Records, Cottage Grove Street The Chess brothers built their company in several storefront locations, including this one where Chuck Berry cut his demo for “Maybelline.”
10. The Original ‘House of Blues’ Muddy Waters’ house was a community center for the blues. Muddy often took in struggling musicians and would stage impromptu jam sessions on the front steps.