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Blues You Can Use

Not many people think of harmonicas when the topic of classical music comes up. Blues harmonica player Corky Siegel has been hard at work changing that.

Long-known for his harmonica prowess, Siegel began playing blues clubs in his 20s alongside legends like Muddy Waters, Willie Dixon and Howlin' Wolf. That is, whenever he wasn't fronting his own acclaimed blues group, the Siegel-Schwall Band.

Not long after this career was taking off, Siegel branched into the classical-blues hybrid and in 1973 recorded an album with Seiji Ozawa conducting the San Francisco Symphony.

Siegel has gone on to lay down more than a dozen albums' worth of "chamber blues" – which Siegel explains is different from the classical/blues mix of jazz in that chamber blues keeps the two styles distinct while allowing them to work together.

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Listen to Corky talk about performing at the restored Sandwich Opera House, and see get down with the Corky Siegel Blues Band.

Then check out Blues photographer James Fraher.

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Watch Corky Siegel play "The Unfinished Jump" with the West End String Quartet and percussionist Frank Donaldson on the inaugural broadcast of Arts Across Illinois: CenterStage in 2001.

 

Related Podcasts

Jazz/Blues Podcast

Music Podcast

 

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Siegel and his Chamber Blues orchestra.

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The Siegel-Schwall Band: Rollo Radford, Jim Schwall, Sam Lay and Corky Siegel.

 

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