CBF
Home
History
Mission
Activities
News
Merchandise
Links
Thanks
Donations
Contact Us

History

Many who were still around at the end of the tumultuous 1960s are aware of the new blues scene that burgeoned out of the ashes on the north side of Chicago in the 1970s. Permanent residents as well as those who were temporarily in Chicago attending college or otherwise preparing for their careers recall with fondness the enjoyment and sometimes solace they found in the rich and diversified neighborhood blues clubs on the north side of Chicago. It was possible to go from one club to another and hear a different style of Chicago Urban Blues each hour of the evening. It was not unusual to hear Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Jimmy Reed and other originators of the Chicago Urban Blues style on a regular basis, as well as a vast array of very talented but lesser known Chicago blues musicians. Virtually every Chicago Blues Artist active in Chicago during the decade of the 1970s (as well as guest stars from other parts of the country) played one or more of these clubs on a regular basis.

Despite all this, little notice of this decade remains today. Few studio recordings or even amateur club recordings were made during this era when many of the seminal Chicago Urban Blues Masters were in their prime. The large record companies and entertainment corporations had not yet recognized the commercial advantages of this thriving vibrant blues scene. When they did in the late 1970s and early 1980s, control of the clubs began to pass from the original neighborhood owners or management to other interests, and thus the format and character of the clubs began to change. As these clubs changed or otherwise ran their life-course, and as some of the Chicago Urban Blues masters began to pass away, a rich part of blues history passed, leaving very little physical record for history.

When we found that the few remaining artifacts, posters, photos and master recordings in existence from this exiting era were being allowed to deteriorate, the Chicago Blues Foundation was formed.* CBF directed its efforts toward acquisition for the purpose of restoration, preservation and presentation of this material for future generations of musicians, enthusiasts and historians. Some master tapes recorded at Chess and other famous Chicago studios by independent producers were obtained, baked to stop deterioration temporarily and transferred to permanent digital archival material. We restored and preserved musical instruments and began to digitally scan posters and photos of the artists and clubs into a database and properly packaged the originals for archival storage. We began public display of this material through loans to established museums such as The Museum of Science & Industry during its "Sounds of Chicago" celebration throughout the summer of 1998.

With the urgent need at hand to restore, preserve, catalog, and properly archive these items, the goal of The Chicago Blues Foundation has been (and will continue to be) restoration and archival work, until the deterioration danger has been eliminated. However we endeavor to make the material extemporaneously available to the public through our web site as we proceed with our restoration.

The Chicago Blues Foundation while being a 501(c)(3), a non-profit funding organization, considers itself to be primarily a motivating entity that persuades other companies to restore and reproduce 1970s blues material even when not commercially feasible. Our board members are not salaried and they have personally donated most of the funds, materials and effort needed for our projects to date. Other companies donate the cost of audio sampling of some of our restorations, while our site provides visual sampling of some of that material as well as the opportunity to own copies of the material in exchange for a fully tax deductible contribution.

*In the 1960s when blues fell out of favor in Chicago, our founder began the work of creation, restoration, preservation and presentation of all things related to Chicago Urban Blues. The founding of the Chicago Blues Foundation in 1996 was part of his effort to have that work continue past his lifetime and to preserve for posterity all available original Chicago Urban Blues material. His ultimate goal was to make the material continually available to the public, even when not commercially feasible. (For information on the founder of the Chicago Blues Foundation and links to other pivotal blues people and organizations, see our LINKS page.)