Socially Sparked!

Down to the Roots Deep in Muddy Waters

Blues Guitarist Bob Margolin, – a former bandmate of the legendary Muddy Waters, © Joseph A. Rosen

We’re getting down to the roots  deep in Muddy Waters with award-winning guitarist/vocalist Bob Margolin for a crystal clear picture of the man, his music and his vision. Coming off the heels of his new album “My Road,” and receiving two Blues Blast Magazine Awards in 2016 — Best Male Blues Artist and Best Traditional Blues Album for “My Road” – it’s all bright and sunny on this legend’s Blues Highway.

Born in Boston in 1949, Bob Margolin began playing guitar at the age of 15. Influenced by Chuck Berry, he straight away started playing in local rock and blues bands. The legendary Muddy Waters hired him to join his band in 1973, where he stayed put until 1980. Margolin’s incredible journey playing with the legendary bluesman introduced him to the Chicago Blues sound and led him around the world and back — all the while honing his craft and forging a path to his own musical footprint. To learn more you can visit

Recently, I sat down with the man himself during a break from the Muddy Waters Tribute — performed by The Nighthawks featuring Bob Margolin — at New York City’s Iridium Jazz Club. Here’s what he had to say:

All About Bob: an interview by Abbe Sparks

Bob Margolin playing his Telecaster

On his favorite guitar: It’s an old Telecaster. It owns me and demands fidelity. Muddy had one; a 1957 guitar that he painted red. Always wanted one and in 1992, I found one in North Carolina that became mine in 1993.


On Muddy Waters: Muddy Waters influenced a lot of musicians, including me. We do tributes to him, but nobody can really duplicate exactly that magic or – to use, the best word, really for it – that ‘mojo’ that Muddy Waters had.


On the Muddy Waters Tribute at Iridium: I knew him well enough from being in his band and from being around him that I know he would appreciate it that people were carrying on his music and that people love to listen to it more than ever!


On his newest album: ‘My Road’ is my ride through modern challenges, the ironies and lessons of aging, achieving true love, mourning, my band’s distinctive signature sound, a childhood epiphany, my seven years in Muddy Waters’ band, and exploring the darkest sides of life with friends who have been there.” – Bob Margolin from his website’s about page.

On the song Heaven Mississippi and Terry Abrahamson from ‘My Road’originally, my good friend Terry Abrahamson wrote this song and asked me to make a demo for B.B. King to record. We realized that B.B. wouldn’t be recording anymore. I loved Terry’s song  so I re-wrote it with Terry to make sense for me and it’s on my new album.   Sadly, we realized that B.B. might not record again.  I loved Terry’s song, so I changed his lyrics to reflect my life and experiences instead of B.B.’s…


“Bob Margolin is a major part of Blues history…and the generosity with which he shares that history has energized the spirit and legacy of Muddy Waters in ways that I know would make the old man proud and humbled. I’m lucky to have a friend like Bob to share my memories of so many magical times…and even luckier to have the chance to work with him on a few more.”  — Terry Abrahamson, lyricist, photographer, director and author of In The Belly of the Blues


Bob Margolin deserves the Sunday Spotlight as a musician and lyricist that has Socially Sparked our lives as well as a musician keeping the Blues alive.  Cannot wait to see what Mr. Margolin has in store for us next. – Abbe Sparks is Socially Sparked  @sosparkednews

**This story originally ran in Socially Sparked News on 12/25/16.

Entertainment, Arts & Music Events

No Turn on Red – Gig at Jerry’s

WHAT:  No Turn on Red – Gig @ Jerry’s

Justin Gruby's photo.

If you’re in Chicago this weekend, check out this funk New Orleans Blues Fusion ‪‎Band in Wicker Park at Jerry’s.  Hear the Band’s new sound!

WHEN: Saturday, November 8 @ 9:45pm

WHERE: Jerry’s, 1938 W. Division Street, Chicago


Justin Gruby-  Saxophones
Larry Glenzer 0 Trumpet
Amir Arrington – Bass
Bob Rodriguez – Guitar
Dave Dakich – Guitar
Bob Bechstein – Drums
Jeremy – Keys
Mary Porzelt – Vocals

PRICE: free, no cover!

RSVP: facebook events

Entertainment, Arts & Music Events


Chicago Blues Mamas cordially invites you to attend APAP Showcases

You are cordially invited to attend APAP Showcases

featuring the Royalty of the Blues




Holle THEE Maxwell & Nellie TIGER Travis


a Salute to Women in The Blues including

Koko Taylor & Billie Holiday


Saturday, January 12th, 55 BAR, 55 Christopher St. NYC

Holle THEE Maxwell & The Michael Packer Band

2:00 pm – 5:00 pm


Sunday, January 13th, NY Hilton, Morgan Suite, 2nd Floor

Holle THEE Maxwell & Nellie TIGER Travis

with the Michael Packer Blues Band

7:00 pm, 7:45 pm, 10:30 pm


Monday, January 14th, PARIS BLUES, Harlem

10:30 pm special guests of the John Cooksey Band


Meet us at Booth #112 ~ New York Hilton

Let us know you’re coming ~ Text @ 847.452.6469 ~ email @

and we’ll have a CD sampler for you while supplies last

‘FIRED UP & READY TO GO’ (available at the NY Hilton showcase only)


Meet two of the Blues Mamas



Lynn Orman Weiss & Fran Allen-Leake, Producers

Orman Music Group & LJet Productions






Latest News

Stay Tuned for More Blues, Jazz & Rock ‘n Roll in the White House?

Music to My Ears…

So elequently stated by Chicago Tribune arts critic Howard Reich, I felt compelled to share this story/plea and put an added spin on it.  Three music genres — Blues, Jazz and Rock ‘n Roll — play such an important role in our history on a multitude of levels, we must continue to share these legendary artists and their music with all.  So, blues, jazz and rock ‘n roll  music lovers, fans, aficionados, journalists, bloggers, historians and the like  please feel free to share these sentiments and put your own two cents in.  And, without further ado, below is Howard Reich’s article:

Obama’s next four years: Tune in to jazz

Howard ReichArts critic12:16 p.m. CST, December 11, 2012


Barack ObamaJazz musician Herbie Hancock, left, and members of OK-Go are onstage as President Barack Obama celebrates his 50th birthday during a fundraiser at the Aragon Ballroom in Chicago last year. (Scott Strazzante/Chicago Tribune / December 11, 2012)
Howard ReichArts critic12:16 p.m. CST, December 11, 2012


Any president’s second term offers another shot at fulfilling dreams that got away the first time around.

So while President Barack Obama is strategizing on immigration, unemployment, the deficit and, oh yes, the fiscal cliff, I’d like to add one more little item to his to-do list: teaching the White House to swing again.

Four years ago, when Obama was elected, jazz lovers hoped that he might end an eight-year jazz drought at the executive mansion and, in so doing, send a message to the world about the value of America’s homegrown art form. Not since Bill Clinton lived at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue had the country’s most famous residence honored the music so robustly.

Clinton invited jazz veterans such as singer Joe Williams, pianist Dorothy Donegan and saxophonist Illinois Jacquet to share the spotlight with ascending stars such as trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, saxophonist Joshua Redman and vocalist Bobby McFerrin. They convened on the White House South Lawn on June 18, 1993, to play music and hear Clinton lift the presidential megaphone to trumpet the beauty and significance of this art.

“It’s especially important that we should be together here in America’s house to celebrate that most American of all forms of musical expression, jazz,” Clinton told the gathering, which was later broadcast on PBS. “Jazz is really America’s classical music. Like our country itself, and especially like the people who created it, jazz is a music born of struggle but played in celebration.”

Well said, but Clinton wasn’t the first chief executive to take to the bully pulpit on behalf of jazz. Fifteen years earlier to the day, in 1978, President Jimmy Carter presided over one of the greatest jazz gatherings anywhere, bringing to the South Lawn no less than pianist Eubie Blake (who was 95), trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie, singer Pearl Bailey, drummers Max Roach and Louie Bellson, and bassist Charles Mingus, among other luminaries, for an event also broadcast on PBS and covered around the world.

“That was the best jazz concert the White House has ever seen,” Carter told Time magazine in 2007, and no one disputed it.

During the event, Carter, a peanut farmer-turned president, vocalized with Gillespie on — what else? — “Salt Peanuts.” When Carter finished riffing, Gillespie asked if the president could come out on the road.

To which Carter quipped, “After tonight, I may have to!”

But the gathering had its serious moments, too. Mingus, seated in his wheelchair, famously wept as Carter sang his praises, and the president spoke eloquently about what jazz, and the musicians who sacrifice so much to play it, means to this country.

“What you have given America is as important as the White House and the Capitol building,” Carter said, affording a noble art form a degree of official respect it rarely receives in the nation that created it.

Nothing remotely like the Carter and Clinton jazz marathons occurred during the presidency of George W. Bush, though clearly every president has a right to indulge his own musical tastes. What’s the fun of being leader of the free world if you can’t invite to the White House the musicians who mean the most to you?

But the prospect of an Obama presidency stoked hope among jazz aficionados, and not only because of his African-American heritage. More important, Obama’s mixed-race lineage echoed the autobiography of jazz, which emerged at the dawn of the previous century when black and Creole cultures intermingled in the hothouse known as New Orleans. Only by merging the musical practices of self-taught black artists and their formally trained Creole colleagues could a music as sophisticated yet accessible, as complex yet freewheeling as jazz come to life.

Like America itself, jazz emerged as the most democratic of the arts, a language that gave each player a chance to stand up and solo — to speak out — as well as a requirement to work within the larger group for the greater good: musical democracy in action. If the aesthetic and technical demands in jazz were quite high from the outset, that only coaxed players to work that much harder and strive for something better, another all-American ideal.

Had Obama initiated a jazz summit at the White House, its power might have superseded the Carter and Clinton events, for it would have resonated with America’s larger breakthrough in electing its first African-American president. Moreover, a jazz event in an Obama White House could have featured American-based players with international roots, such as the Panamanian piano wizard Danilo Perez, the Puerto Rican tenor saxophone giants David Sanchez and Miguel Zenon, the Chilean vocalist Claudia Acuna, the Israeli clarinetist Anat Cohen, and others.

More than ever, jazz has become a global language, but America remains its sacred ground, the arena where all jazz musicians want to play. An Obama jazz event would have projected America’s best face at a time of global strife and recession.

Now Obama has a second chance. Let’s concede that he had his hands full navigating a potential economic meltdown, health care legislation, two wars, the Arab Spring and the recent election season. Perhaps a case even could have been made that a jazz celebration on the South Lawn would have struck the wrong note at a time of economic distress (though I would have argued that music stands as a powerful, uplifting antidote to hard times).

With Obama entering his second term, however, there are no more reasons to delay. If, as Obama often says, the economy is improving, if our wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are indeed winding down, Obama should set an optimistic tone for the next four years with a music that, as Clinton said, is “born of struggle but played in celebration.”

Surely the time has come for Obama to make a major cultural statement. As a president who has said he loves John Coltrane and Frank Sinatra, as a chief executive from Chicago — a city that has been defining and redefining jazz since at least 1910, when Jelly Roll Morton arrived here from New Orleans — Obama needs to convene his own jazz gathering on White House South Lawn.

Four years ago, shortly after Obama was elected, I wrote in these pages that “if Obama hopes to bring the sound of Chicago and the spirit of cooperation to Washington, he could start with jazz,” adding that he also should expand jazz programs at the National Endowment for the Arts and persuade the Kennedy Center Honors to pay greater heed to the music.

With both the sound of Chicago and the spirit of cooperation in short supply in the capital, Obama should try to start resetting the tone with a jazz gathering that he’s uniquely positioned to present.

As the Charlie Parker tune proclaims, “Now’s the Time.”


Latest News

Blues Mamas for Obama make history in Chicago

Blues Mamas for Obama make history in Chicago

History was made in Chicago on election night…

Chicago Blues Mamas For Obama Election Night Show Adds a Whole Lotta’ Spice to Sweet Home Chicago 
One Night, One Stage, 10 Blues Divas do Chicago &  Obama Proud!

Chicago, November 12 — President Obama’s victory wasn’t the only history made on election night. The Chicago Blues Mamas for Obama now legendary election night performance at Mayne Stage can be added to the list as 10 of Chicago’s Blues Royalty united together for the first time on one stage singing to a packed house for Obama and women’s rights. Daughter of the queen of the blues, Cookie Tayler, NFL hall of famer Mike Jennings, and golden voice of Bluesville on Sirius/XM Big LLou Johnson co-hosted the night. As 10 of the city’s most noted Blues Mamas sang “Sweet Home Chicago” with the election results streaming behind them on stage, the announcement was made: projected to win -President Barack Obama! Fired up and ready to go — co-host Mike Jennings battle cry of the night turned into an electrifying moment on stage and off at Chicago’s Mayne Stage election night party — the place to be short of a ticket to McCormick Place. Captured on tape, this historical moment in history is now a live music video performance. Featuring the Chicago Blues Mamas For Obama: Deitra Farr, Shirley King (daughter of the blues), Sharon Lewis, Shirley Johnson, Katherine Davis, Nellie ‘Tiger’ Travis, Holle ‘Thee’ Maxwell, Liz Mandeville, Ellen Miller and Peaches Staten with special guests. The brainchild of Producer Lynn Orman Weiss, Orman Music & Media Group, Chicago Blues Mamas for Obama is a presentation of Orman Music & Media Group and LLJet Productions in association with Abbe Sparks Media Relations, LLC.

Entertainment, Arts & Music Events Latest News

Chicago Blues Mamas for Obama 2012!

Orman Music & Media Group and LJET Productions Presents:



CHICAGO, October 26 – History will be made in Chicago and the nation on Tuesday night November 6th when for the first time ever,10 of the city’s most noted Chicago Blues Mamas will join in solidarity for a concert at The Mayne Stage, 1328 W. Morse, Chicago.  Hosting the historic concert is beloved Blues Mama Koko Taylor’s daughter, Joyce Threatt (Cookie Taylor) with continuous election night coverage by Charlie Brown, NFL Alumni Director, who will provide election result play by plays. The 10 Chicago Blues Mamas include: Deitra Farr, Shirley King, Sharon Lewis, Shirley Johnson, Katherine Davis, Nellie ‘Tiger’ Travis, Holle “Thee” Maxwell, Liz Mandeville, Ellen Miller and Faye Peaches Staten.


Chicago’s Blues Royalty add a l’il sugar and a whole lot of spice to “Sweet Home Chicago” — President Obama’s hometown when, for the first time ever, 10 Chicago Blues Mamas take the same stage to sing the blues for Obama and women’s rights and issues.

Spend Election Night with Chicago’s Blues Royalty including: Deitra Farr, Shirley King, Sharon Lewis, Shirley Johnson, Katherine Davis, Nellie ‘Tiger’ Travis, Holle “Thee” Maxwell, Liz Mandeville, Ellen Miller and Faye Peaches Staten.

WHEN:     Tuesday, November 6, 2012; 7:00pm (ELECTION NIGHT)

WHERE:   Mayne Stage, 1328 W. Morse Avenue, Chicago

TICKETS:$13 online (includes $3 service fee), CALL: 773.381.4587 or VISIT: BOX OFFICE 

$10 cash only at Door




PHOTO OPP:   Chicago Blues Mamas Royalty: Deitra Farr, Shirley King, Sharon Lewis, Shirley Johnson, Katherine Davis, Nellie ‘Tiger’ Travis, Holle “Thee” Maxwell, Liz Mandeville, Ellen Miller and Faye Peaches Staten; Joyce Threatt (Cookie Taylor) and Charlie Brown, NFL Alumni Director

INTERVIEWS:   Available on request

CONTACT:   Lynn Orman Weiss @      847.452.6469

Abbe Sparks @          224.567.9166


Blues News: Sugar Blue Featured

Sugar Blue a soaring voice for the blues

By Howard Reich, Arts critic, Chicago Tribune, October 23, 2012

Last May, during a conference on “Race, Gender & the Blues” at Dominican University, the master harmonica player Sugar Blue addressed the theme in an impassioned, unforgettable soliloquy.

Lamenting that blues increasingly has been expropriated by white performers and entrepreneurs, Blue proclaimed that he refused to stand by and let it happen.

“This is a part of my heritage in which I have great pride,” he said, reading his prose-poem to a crowd of scholars, musicians and aficionados. “Paid for in the blood that whips, guns, knives, chains and the branding irons ripped from the bodies of my ancestors as they fought to survive the daily tyrannies in the land of the free, where some men were at liberty to murder, rape and lay claim to all and any they desired.

“From this crucible the blues was born, screaming to the heavens that I will be free, I will be me.

“You cannot and will not take this music, this tradition, this bequest, this cry of freedom and dignity from bloodied, unbowed heads without a struggle.”

No statement at the conference matched the ferocity or eloquence of this one, and the enthusiasm of the audience response suggested Blue had put words to what many attendees were feeling. Part of the power of his statement owed to his standing in the field, for he has lived the blues life since the dawning of his career, in the 1960s. He has been heard around the world, most famously via his solo in the Rolling Stones hit “Miss You,” and he has battled addiction and its deleterious effects on his career.

Clean for more than a decade, he says, Blue remains as committed to enlightening listeners about the black identity of the blues as he was during the Dominican University conference, when his prose-poem captivated listeners.

“I wrote it after Honeyboy passed,” says Blue, 62, referring to the Delta blues legend David “Honeyboy” Edwards, who had spent more than half a century in Chicago before dying last year at 96.

“It seemed to me that there are a lot of people that love the blues but know little about its origins and have no concept as to how closely it is tied to the black experience,” adds Blue, who will mark the release of his newest album, the two-CD set “Raw Sugar Blue: Live” with shows Friday and Saturday at Rosa’s Lounge, on West Armitage Avenue.

“And it seemed to me that it’s very, very important to make a statement about that … because this (music) is of the black experience and always will be. And the fact that it has become universal is a wonderful thing, because it says how important and influential and powerful this music is.

“But it must be remembered that though you are welcome to the house, do not try and take the home. Come on in, visit, enjoy, do your thing. But remember whose house you’re in.”

Like his words, Blue’s art speaks fervently of black musical culture, but not only of the blues. A great deal of jazz sophistication courses through his harmonica playing, the legacy of his childhood and early career in Harlem, where he was born and raised. His mother’s tenure as a dancer at the Apollo Theater and later a clubowner there, as well as his stepfather’s friendships with various musicians, meant that jazz and blues giants routinely whiled away the hours in the family home. The towering jazz saxophonist Dexter Gordon, the veteran blues singer Bobby “Blue” Bland and others populated Blue’s childhood (he was born James Whiting).

And though Blue was largely self-taught on harmonica, the influence of jazzmen such as saxophonists Buddy Tate and Paul Quinichette (both famously of the Count Basie band), guitarist Tiny Grimes and others in New York convinced him that he needed to hone his technique to a high polish.

A period in Paris starting in the late 1970s deepened his jazz connections, enabling him to work with no less than saxophonists Stan Getz and Steve Lacy and vibist Lionel Hampton, as well as hooking him up with the Stones for the celebrated “Miss You” track and others.

By the early 1980s, Blue sought advice from expat blues pianist Memphis Slim and realized he needed to move to ground zero for the blues: Chicago.

“He said, ‘Well, son, it’s like this,’ “remembers Blue. ” ‘You played with all the jazz cats. Now you played with the top rock-and-roll band in the world. And now anything you’ll do in Paris will be down. You can’t go up from there.

” ‘If you were older, I’d suggest you stay here and rest on your laurels, play out your time. But you’re a young fellow. I think you should go to Chicago and you should go meet and hang out with some of these great blues harmonica cats. You can play, no question. But there are things these old-time players can teach you about the blues that you can’t get on records, because this music is passed from man to man and from heart to hand.’ ”

A couple months later, Blue was in Chicago, playing and touring in Willie Dixon’s band, eventually sitting in with Junior Wells, James Cotton, Big Walter Horton (toward the end of his life) and other pioneers. But Blue also “got wrapped up in an addiction that really almost destroyed me,” he says. “At some point, I realized that if I stayed her, I would die here.”

So in the late 1990s Blue signed up for the Crossroads Centre Antigua that Eric Clapton established, he says, got cleaned up, returned to Chicago and – just like Dexter Gordon’s character in the classic jazz film “‘Round Midnight” – fell right back into his old habits. A subsequent hiatus in Switzerland restored Blue’s his health and persuaded him to stay for awhile in Europe, where in 2004 he befriended the bass player who would become his companion in 2005 and his wife earlier this year, Ilaria Lantieri.

It was Ilaria, a medical doctor who became smitten with the blues and decided to devote her life to it, who persuaded Blue not only to return to recording a few years ago but to do it in Chicago. Since then, the two have been inseparable, touring the country in their camper, playing roughly 80-100 dates a year in the U.S. and around the world.

Though they own a house in Memphis, they’re on the road so much that they rent it out and still regard Chicago as their home base.

“We’re doing good, but we always like to do better,” says Lantieri of their performance schedule. “We have a steady trend of growth. We do one or two tours a year in Europe, we just did South America, we’re negotiating for Asia. Our bags are always packed.”

Both remain devout about the blues.

“When it gets down to this music, it’s the forerunner of jazz, R&B, funk, fusion, rap and all the rest of it,” says Blue.

“As Willie Dixon said so well: ‘The blues are the roots and the rest are the fruits.’ ”

Sugar Blue plays at 9:30 p.m. Friday and 10 p.m. Saturday at Rosa’s Lounge, 3420 W. Armitage Ave.; $15-$20; 773-342-0452 or