Tag Archives: Maxwell Street

Maxwell street Chicago blues harpist Big John Wrencher


Maxwell street Chicago blues harpist Big John Wrencher

Big Joe Wrencher also known as “one arme John” was one of the best harmonica players of the Maxwell Street Market in Chicago.
Like Little Walter , Earl Hooker and Hound Dog Taylor , Wrencher was always around to play that Blues on Maxwell street with the boys. In 1958 Wrencher lost his left arm as a result of a car accident outside Memphis, Tennessee. His album Big John’s Boogie is one of my favorite!

Joe Wrencher originally from Mississippi travelled to St. Louis and Detroit before he settled in Chicago in the sixties. In Chicago Big Joe Wrencher became a regular at the Maxwell Street market, where he performed regularly. His performances at the Maxwell Street Market where featured on the Barrelhouse label recording Maxwell Street Alley Blues (1974).

Big John Wrencher – RUNNIN’ WILD
Steady boogie beat and bass… Grooving vocals

Boogie Chicago Blues from Maxwell Street

Big Joe Wrencher had a whole lot of boogie, in comparison to other Chicago blues musicians and that is what you will notice listening to his Songs. He had an innovative way of playing the blues with his powerful voice and strong boogie-style of harmonica playing.

Big Joe Wrencher back to Mississippi

Throughout his career Big Joe performed in juke joints and even went to Europe to play at some festivals. While playing around Europe and the US he kept returning to Maxwell Street. In 1977 He decided to return to Mississippi, In Mississippi Wrencher met with fellow bluesman in Wade Walton’s Barbershop in Clarksdale. Biog Joe Wrencher suddenly dropped dead from a heart attack at age 1954. His last bottle of whiskey is permanently ensconced on a shelf at Walton’s Barbershop.

Robert Crumb cover art

The Maxwell street alley Blues album was designed by blues enthusiast and illustrator Robert Crumb. Crumb made a cool graphic and cooler lettering for the cover art. Check the cover and work of Robert Crumb here.

Wade Walton’s Barbershop

Big John’s Boogie Album on Spotify

Big John Wrencher & Eddie Taylor ~ ”Telephone Blues’

Big John Wrencher – TROUBLE MAKIN’ WOMAN

Big John Wrencher – Rough tough boogie

Big John Wrencher – Maxwell street alley blues

Rubbin’ My Root – Big John Wrencher & His Maxwell Street Blues Boys

The Life and Times of Chicago’s Legendary Maxwell Street 1964

Find out more about the history of Maxwell Street by watching this documentary. a cool portrait of Chicago and Maxwell street in 1964.

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Hound Dog Taylor Blues Blog Slide Guitar

Lets Get Funky Blues Blog

Theodore Roosevelt  the 26th president of the United States was known for his  range of interests, his leadership as well as his “cowboy” persona. A man born in NatchezMississippi in 1915 with the same name Theodore Roosevelt Taylor would be known for his six fingers, his extraordinary guitarstyle, his Rock ‘n Roll band and contribution to the Blues, and Rock ‘n Roll. Hound Dog Taylor he ain’t a Cowboy but he sho’ plays like a motherfucker. A new Blues blog.

Blues music Blog

The Route To The North

Like many other blues musicians Hound Dog Taylor made the journey from the south to the north. But Hound Dog left the south because he was chased out of Mississippi by the Klan after having an affair with a white woman. He hide himself for one day, the next day he travelled to Chicago and never returned.

Gonna Send You Back To Georgia – Slide Maniac

Hound Dog Taylor picked up his guitar quite late. He originally played piano, but it would be until his twentieth when he started playing the guitar. And that decision is maybe the best he could make. Hound Dog is for me together with Elmore James the king of the slide guitar. An inspiration for many guitar players who adopted the blues and turned it into Rock ‘n Roll, Hard Rock or maybe Metal. The dirt that comes out of his guitar is fenomonal. Especially in “Gonna Send you Back To Georgia”.

Clubs on the Chicago Southside

Taylor started playing professionally in 1957, till that time he always kept a side job, like building TV cabinets. In 1957 he made the blues his main business, because he became the top hit in a lot of Clubs on the south side of Chicago. Like Little Walter and Sonny Boy Williamson too, Hound Dog played among others on the Maxwell Street Market. I think Hound Dag developed his slide style there. It could have resulted in the collaboration with Koko Taylor and Walter like this one:

The Houserockers

Hound dog Tayler  and the HouseRockers where a plain loud straightforward band. Music website elsewhere.co.nz wrote an article about Hound Dog citing a quote of Robert Christau where he referred to band as “the Ramones of the Blues”.

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Maxwell Street early Chicago Blues

Chicago 6.00 A.M, it’s the just before sunrise while a silent Maxwell Street awakes. Early in the morning the first amplifiers and harp-microphones are turned on. People walk by and the music start It’s the way I imagine Maxwell Street around the ’40 / ‘50. Garbage canes, maybe a firepit. It is, you tell me ‘Come early in the mornin’, baby ’bout the break of day’ Now ya oughta see me grab the pillow where my baby used to lay.

Early in the Morning

Bluesmen Sonny Boy Williamson I sings the blues traditional “Early In The Morning” on the corner of Maxwell street. The Chicago-Blues-sound develops, Sonny had to play loud because  other bluesmen played their tunes on ‘his’ corner. A amplifier helps to make yourself intelligibly. Because of that harp, guitar, drums and singers arise above the noise of fellow musicians, that noise of multiple bands on Maxwell Street made the Chicago Blues.

Maxwell Street Bands

Maxwell Street BLues Blog
woodwork: Todros Geller (Died in Chicago 1949-02-23)

There was this bluesmen born in Marksville Louisiana born Marion Jacobs , he played the harmonica on Maxwell street since 1947 too. Accompanied by fellow bluesmen Johnny Young, Othum Brown, and Big Bill Broonzy. Broonzy once said about Walter Jacobs. “He played harmonica ya’ know but he used to follow me to try to play the guitar. Me and him be playing together, we’d go out to make some money and he wouldn’t want to play the harmonica. He’d want to play what I was doing. So he finally learned.” Big Bill Broonzy also played the song “Early in the Morning together with Litthe Walter, and I’m for sure, he played it on Maxwell Street, or around the corners of the Jewish Market on the South side of Chicago where the Chicago Blues was born.

Sonny Boy Williamson was killed on the Chicago South side after a performance. Little Walter got stuck in a fight in a Chicago Bluesbar. It was not only fun on Maxwell street, but they made some incredible tunes there.

Junior Wells Maxwell Street

The heritage of Little Walter was difiicult but they found his successor on Maxwell Street.  Ten Years later Maxwell street is still the Same. Blues dogs like Muddy Waters passed by, are already part of the Chess Family and I can’t Be satisfied reached the #1 position on the charts. The world changed Maxwell Street did not. Junior Wells recorded the song Early in the Morning. He also moved from the south, Memphis to Chicago. After Little Walter quitted Muddy Waters band It was junior who took his place. Maxwell Street a community of Blues Musicians.

Continue reading Maxwell Street early Chicago Blues

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