The mere mention of the word, “anniversary” conjures of all kinds of family-related images. There’s the patriarchs, the progeny and the time-honored traditions they hold near and dear to their heart.
Such is the case with the Delmark Records family as they've been busy celebrating their 60th anniversary in various incarnations throughout the year. And surviving more than a half-century in the ever-changing music industry is certainly a cause for celebration.
Although Delmark has been lauded as the county’s longest running independent label, founder Bob Koester and company certainly aren’t content to sit on their laurels in some stuffy banquet hall. Not hardly. Because Delmark’s crew of talented blues performers have been busy making music at a variety of cool venues around the city.
Whether it’s entertaining fans crammed in and around the record bins at the annual Delmark Blues Brunch or tearing into some mean blues riffs at Reggie’s, the long-running anniversary tour shows no signs of slowing down.
The latest gathering of Delmark artists will take place at S.P.A.C.E in Evanston on Friday, August 23. On that night, this intimate venue will be filled with a who’s who of Chicago blues including Lurrie Bell, Toronzo Cannon, Dave Specter, Linsey Alexander, Mike Wheeler, Blyther Smith, Jimmy Burns, Taildragger, Sharon Lewis and others.
The most poignant moment of the evening will be the introduction of Eddie C. Campbell who is scheduled to take the stage with Godson Lurrie Bell. In January, Campbell suffered a severe stroke while on tour in Germany. Devoted blues friends, fans and family members mounted a fund-raising campaign to bring him home via a medical flight and help with his therapy and other expenses.
One of the highlights of the mission to bring Eddie C. home was an evening at Rosa’s Lounge where a long list of blues luminaries donated their time to play on Eddie C’s behalf. In keeping with the familial theme that surrounds the Chicago blues scene, the event was quickly organized by a group of Campbell’s close friends with emcee duties falling to Campbell’s producer and “brother,” Dick Shurman.
Blues scholar and Dominican University Professor, Dr. Janice Monti was not surprised to see so many rally around Campbell. Following the February fundraiser she noted that, “the blues community is really special” and added “there is a tremendous sense of heritage” and that musicians and fans alike wanted to show their respect for a blues musician of Eddie C’s caliber.
Delmark’s Director of Promotions, Kevin Johnson, noted that although Eddie C. might not be strong enough to play the guitar, he will probably sing a bit and play some harp alongside Bell.
All in all, it promises to be a memorable evening for music fans as S.P.A.C.E serves as the place to hear a full slate of great blues. And with tickets starting at a mere $15.00, it’s a great bargain, too. Doors open at 6:30 with the show starting at 7:30.
Although the round of Delmark anniversary parties might be winding down, Johnson added that, “you never know. We still haven’t had a jazz show, so we shall see!”
Fans should also stay tuned for a pair of 60th Anniversary compilations as Delmark plans on releasing retrospective albums covering both blues and jazz recordings. The blues compilation will include previously unreleased tracks by Magic Sam, Little Walter, Jr. Wells and others.