Thursday, May 21, 2009

Maxwell Street: The Last Performance

Maxwell Street's Last Gasp.
48 Hour Blues Marathon on Maxwell St. (06/10/01)

In light of the recent Chicago Sun-Times expose on Maxwell Street (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3) we felt compelled to post our photos from the her last days.

The last bid to save the Home of Chicago Blues, knocked down and fenced off courtesy of UIC - tearing down history so that they can teach it.

For those who do are unaware of her storied history, Maxwell Street was the incubator for the blues, and as a consequence, much of the music that we have today. This is the corner where stood - Big Bill Broonzy, Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, John Lee Hooker, Benny Goodman, etc ... Countless artists performed, experienced it on this street or were otherwise influenced from what has happened here.

A mere sliver of the flavor that was Maxwell St.
(NE corner of Halsted and Maxwell). There will never be anything like it.

Maxwell Street is were waves of immigrants would come (Russian, Jewish, German, Irish, Polish, Italian, African-American, Mexican). It also represented the American entrepreneur at it's most basic level. This area represented so much to so many. Maxwell Street was one of the very few areas to survive the "Great Chicago Fire" - but it could not survive "progress".

The Blues Keepers standing ground on Maxwell's last performance.

In 2001, Maxwell Street played host to the music one last time. These are the photos. All of what you see here is now part of a $750 million dollar development called "University Village". You can read about what has gone on since, on the front page of today's Sunday Sun-Times. Our American history has been sacrificed for "business as usual" ... as usual.

The blues, complete with black sock mic windscreen. We can remember catching performances, tucked away in the alley, being blown away by dudes on dented harps, drum kits made of duct tape and toothless keyboards. Man they would burn it down. The blues doesn't get any better than that. That was Maxwell St.

Images from Maxwell Street.

Getting down n' dirty.

Maxwell St. kicked iTunes ass!

Down Home is right.

Progress. Multi-million dollar condos now stand in the womb of the blues (rock, punk, hiphop, R&B, Soul, house, etc...)

Little Scotty and his wife reminicing and rapping (in the blues context) about Maxwell St., on the corner where it all began. In the background: Clearly, the redevelopment was well under way at the time of these photos.

Maxwell Street Bling.

One of the terra cotta storefronts, which is now sitting in a landfill, when it sould be sitting in the musuem.

more Maxwell St. bling.

They teach civil engineering at UIC don't they?

Resident's pleas written on the walls.
Wonder how Daley's graffitti blasters missed this one?

Jimmie Lee Robinson makes his entrance.
Jimmie passed on July, 6th, 2002.

Jimmie gettin' down on the corner, with the vultures hovering over him. Those signs in the the background read "Welcome to University Village" wiping out any hint of what stood there. Rebranding is putting it mildly.

Where there once stood a stage... Big Bill Broonzy, Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Howlin' Wolf, Benny Goodman, the Chess brothers, Louis Armstrong, etc ... the Blues Brothers, "mission from God", must have fallen on deaf ears.

more of the vacated storefronts.

still breathing.


The blues...

Little Scotty performs "Goin' Down to Maxwell Street"

Kanye aint got nothin' on Scotty.

A trunkload of Maxwell St. memmories covering up the electrical extension chords that make it all happen.

The sun finally sets on Maxwell Street.

The reason that the blues in not a history lesson. Beatboxing the blues accapella

The Maxwell St. Polish.

Gettin' served.

"Don't Detroy Us"
All that was left and now is gone.

Jimmie Lee Robinson's son packing up dad's car.
More progress.