As you all may have read in an Austin Weekly News interview with Michael Romain last year, I’m working with producer/director Darryl Pitts to complete our feature film about Larry Taylor’s West Side Blues family.,-actor-Leon-hope-to-dramatize-Chicago’s-blues-legacy–/   We shot two thirds of the film last summer, featuring Leon and Guy Davis.  More on this in a blog post very soon.


But former West Side 5th district state senator Rickey Hendon has beaten me to the punch with his very own video, singing his very own R. Kelly-style song,  “Bring Back the Blues.”  He invited a bunch of his friends to act as extras in a Friday night club scene. We had a ball, grooving through the 4 minute film. Through disputes, breakups, makeups, and fights, Rickey soulfully keeps on singing his song. His lyrics honor West Side legend Howlin’ Wolf, soul singers Tyrone Davis and Johnny Taylor. The song also sneers at radio DJs who refuse to spin blues tunes.  He also filmed a second video, featuring step dancers, later that same day at the same club on Chicago Avenue.


Rickey—the producer, singer and actor— had the filming humming along, right on time, all of us  singing along on the song’s refrain, “The blues don’t die.”  He dressed in three different outfits for the stage. They don’t call him Hollywood Hendon for nothing.


I’m looking for the West Side to reclaim the most powerful blues in the world.  Give some recognition and work to the second generation of urban blues men and women who came up under the Wolf, Magic Sam, Harold Burrage, Larry’s stepdad Eddie Taylor, and other West Side music heroes. Then let these baby boomer train younger musicians and singers. That way the blues will NOT die and the legacy will stay where it belongs—in the heart of African American Chicago.


Meanwhile, I can’t wait for Rickey’s video, which is now being prepared for broadcast via the internet.   


The blues don’t die, blues don’t die…


"Barrelhouse Bonni" McKeown, the author of "West Side Blues Blog," has played piano and written about blues music for over 15 years.  She has led classes for young and old on...