in conversation with writer/broadcaster Neil Tesser
Thursday, September 19, 2019
Chicago native and blues legend Corky Siegel has been doing exactly that over the course of six decades.
When he formed the Siegel-Schwall Band in the rollicking 1960s, he galvanized Chicago music and helped pave the way for a generation of white blues. That band headlined shows across the country; Janis Joplin and Santana opened for them.
And in 1973, they reached out to classical-music audiences by recording Three Pieces for Blues Band and Symphony Orchestra with the San Francisco Symphony, then conducted by a youthful Seiji Ozawa.
Siegel’s harmonica wails and struts. When he sings, his voice slides in with the same sly sophistication he brings to his compositions. His elfin presence and puckish humor personalize every performance, whether it be in a small blues combo, or his innovative Chamber Blues — in which he blends a string quartet and Indian percussion into a global blues fusion — or as guest soloist with the world’s great symphony orchestras.
A recipient of the Chicago Lifetime Achievement Award, Corky’s tunes have graced movie soundtracks and been set to ballet. In 1988, figure skaters at the Winter Olympics performed to his music.
It’s been 55 years since he first lit up the blues landscape and Corky shows no signs of slowing down.
A natural storyteller, Corky will speak with music journalist Neil Tesser about his remarkable life and the lessons he’s learned. And of course, he’ll dazzle with the harmonica during one of the most colorful hours you’ll ever enjoy.