Lincoln T 'Chicago Beau' Beauchamp
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Lincoln T 'Chicago Beau' Beauchamp

Brookfield, Illinois, United States | INDIE

Brookfield, Illinois, United States | INDIE
Band Blues Spoken Word


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"BluesSpeak by Lincoln 'Chicago Beau' Beauchamp"


The Best of the Original Chicago Blues Annual
Author: Edited by Lincoln T. Beauchamp Jr.

Pub Date: 2010
Pages: 192 pages
Dimensions: 8.5 x 11 in.
Illustrations: 61 Black & White Photographs

Greatest hits from Chicago's essential guide to the global blues scene

This incomparable anthology collects articles, interviews, fiction, and poetry from the Original Chicago Blues Annual, one of music history's most significant periodical blues publications. Founded and operated from 1989 to 1995 by African American musician and entrepreneur Lincoln T. Beauchamp Jr., OCBA gave voice to the blues community and often frankly addressed contentious issues within the blues such as race, identity, prejudice, wealth, gender, and inequity.

OCBA often expressed an explicitly black perspective, but its contributors were a mix of black and white, American and international. Likewise, although OCBA's roots and main focus were in Chicago, Beauchamp's vision for the publication (and his own activities as a blues performer and promoter) embraced an international dimension, reflecting a broad diversity of blues audiences and activities in locations as farflung as Iceland, Poland, France, Italy, and South Africa.

BluesSpeak includes key selections from OCBA's seven issues and features candid interviews with Koko Taylor, Eddie Boyd, Famoudou Don Moye, Big Daddy Kinsey, Lester Bowie, Junior Wells, Billy Boy Arnold, Herb Kent, Barry Dolins, and many more. The volume collects work from literary artists such as Eugene B. Redmond, Quincy Troupe, Kalamu Ya Salaam, Julie Parson Nesbitt, and Hart Leroy Bibbs. Also featured are heartfelt memorials to bygone blues artists, insightful observations on the state of the blues in Chicago and beyond, and dozens of photographs of performers, promoters, and other participants in the worldwide blues scene.

"This collection strikes an excellent balance between interview, blues reportage, and literary work and will be of interest to blues fans, scholars of black literature, and anyone interested in community arts."--Barry Lee Pearson, coauthor of Robert Johnson: Lost and Found

Lincoln T. Beauchamp Jr. is a Chicago-based musician, writer, publisher, record producer and promoter. Muddy Waters gave him the name "Chicago Beau," and he has recorded and performed with some of the most respected names in music, including Memphis Slim, Archie Shepp, Pinetop Perkins, Fontella Bass, the Art Ensemble of Chicago, the African choir Amakhono We Sinto, and Frank Zappa. - University of Illinois Press

"BluesSpeak, reviewed by Chris May"

Blues Annual
Lincoln T. Beauchamp Jr. (editor)
192 pages
ISBN: 978-0-252-03440-4 cloth
ISBN: 978-0-252-07692-3 paper
University of Illinois Press

Launched at the 1989 Chicago Blues Festival, Original Chicago Blues Annual was the brainchild of writer and blues musician Lincoln T. Beauchamp. Also known as Chicago Beau, a name he was given as a teenager by guitarist and singer Muddy Waters, Beauchamp published six more editions of the magazine before closing it in 1995. From the outset, OCBA was special: a title which gave voice to blues men and women unmediated by the predominantly white-owned blues publishing and recording world. In addition to interviews with musicians, OCBA published fiction, faction and poetry written by insiders, some of them—such as harmonica player Julio Finn and reed player Joseph Jarman—better known as musicians.

Blues Speak: The Best of the Original Chicago Blues Annual collects highlights from each of the magazine's seven editions, presented chronologically and with brief prefaces by Beauchamp. The OCBA salon included some of Chicago's most talented and lively-minded blues practitioners, along with Jarman and several other members of the Art Ensemble of Chicago, and their contributions—either as essayists or interviewees, and sometimes as both—still make for engrossing reading. Blues Speak includes valuable interviews with singer Koko Taylor, pianist Pinetop Perkins, percussionist Famoudou Don Moye, trumpeter Lester Bowie and harmonica players Billy Boy Arnold and Junior Wells, among others.

Beauchamp's core founding concept for OCBA was to remove artists from under the microscope of critics. In his words, it included "no record reviews, performance reviews, or gossip written by individuals whose backgrounds and lifestyles rarely, if ever, touched the lives of Black people." Inevitably, this meant that most of the contributors were black, but OCBA was not racially exclusive: Beauchamp also included the work of white contributors and blues insiders. The several examples in Blues Speak include a sympathetic 1990 interview with Alligator Records' founder Bruce Iglauer, published to celebrate the label's 20th anniversary, and an essay by the veteran jazz writer Mike Hennessey (author of definitive biographies of drummer Kenny Clarke and tenor saxophonist Johnny Griffin), on the Art Ensemble of Chicago.

OCBA interviewees were candid on the issue of race and their own experiences of racism, talking more openly to Beauchamp than they typically would to white journalists. Lester Bowie's interview is particularly useful, as is one with Beauchamp himself, conducted by Julio Finn. Bowie's interview concludes with some colorful opinions on the Rolling Stones—"I think the motherfucking Rolling Stones ought to build a six-block recreational cultural facility for Black folks on the West Side where they made their money from...(the group) needs to go down to them joints with a basket of money and pass out a few million dollars"—but Bowie's own early experiences, and defiance, of racism make for the most telling reading. Also memorable are his recollections of life on the road with his first wife, singer Fontella Bass, then, in the mid 1960s, riding high on her hit single "Rescue Me," and the early years of the Art Ensemble of Chicago.

Blues Speak includes 61 photographs of OCBA subjects and contributors, most of them taken by Beauchamp. Along with the text, they evoke a raw and vivid portrait of the blues, its history and practitioners. Even those blues enthusiasts already versed in the music's literature are likely to gain new insights from the book; newbies couldn't begin their studies with a better guide.
- All About Jazz

"A Lament for the Blues in Their Back Yard"

Chicago News Cooperative
A Lament for the Blues in Their Backyard
Published: June 10, 2010

Buddy Guy said he worried about the blues.
He worried even as he oversaw the finishing touches on the new location of his club, Buddy Guy’s Legends, which is part musical venue, part museum. He is worried that his club cannot provide enough exposure for all the musical talent that comes through Chicago, and worried that young people are not exposed to the music he has loved all his life.

He is worried, in short, that the city’s long, proud reign as the world’s unequivocal blues capital might be fading into memory.

When Mr. Guy arrived here in 1957, it was the heyday of Chess Records, Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf, and there seemed to be a blues venue — like the 1815 Club, Theresa’s, the Blue Flame Lounge — on every other corner. Some were no more than tiny rooms that could fit 35 people if no one took a deep breath.

There were so many clubs, Mr. Guy said, “you couldn’t count them all.”

One reason the clubs thrived, he said, was because “back then, everybody had a job.” People could afford to go out, and everybody wanted to hear the famous Chicago blues.

“When the Beatles started, they came here,” Mr. Guy said. “When the Rolling Stones started, they were on 21st and Michigan, trying to find Chess Records.”

Those days are long gone. The relocated Legends, which opened its doors on May 28 at 700 South Wabash Avenue, is one of the city’s few remaining venues dedicated to live blues. Mr. Guy hopes his club will provide emerging blues musicians with the kind of exposure he got playing at the 708 Club and the Blue Flame.

“If there wasn’t a club when I came here, nobody was going to see me walking down 47th Street and say: ‘There goes Buddy Guy. One day he’s going to be a guitar player,’ ” said Mr. Guy, an energetic 74. “I had to go into those clubs and play.”

Lincoln T. Beauchamp, known as Chicago Beau, is a musician, magazine publisher and author of a book about the city’s blues history. The blues community that once flourished on the South and West Sides, Mr. Beauchamp said, fell victim to changing social and economic conditions.

“Pre-integration, the black community was a lot more vibrant,” he said. “Along 47th Street and Cottage Grove, you had a community that was able to sustain itself, and the blues and jazz clubs were part of it, not just socially but also politically.”

“Now, as gentrification takes place and the neighborhoods crumble,” Mr. Beauchamp said, the social fabric changes and the clubs disappear. “You’ll probably never again see the same kind of deep, soulful pulse coming from the neighborhoods, because the neighborhoods aren’t there anymore.”

For the most part, Mr. Beauchamp said, younger black musicians are not drawn to the blues. “They’re not completely detached from it,” he said, “because it’s part of who we are. But it’s just not what inspires them.”

Bruce Iglauer, president and founder of Alligator Records, a major blues and roots record label, said he had watched the blues in Chicago become a tourist attraction — sanitized, prepackaged music for “middle-aged white people who discovered it during college,” he called it.

Blues players and their fans are aging, Mr. Iglauer added, and they are not being replaced.

“Chicago radio stations don’t play the blues, so young people aren’t hearing it anywhere,” he said.

Although he gives the city credit for continuing to back the Chicago Blues Festival, the annual three-day series of free performances that begins Friday in Grant Park, Mr. Iglauer said the city could be doing “so much more” to support club owners.

The day before opening night, Mr. Guy showed off his club to Mayor Richard M. Daley, who stopped by for a tour and to pay homage to Mr. Guy.

“People come here and the first thing they want to do is hear the blues,” Mr. Daley said. “That’s the big selling point. They come from all over the world — heads of state, diplomats.”

Growing up in Louisiana, Mr. Guy was a teenager when his family got a phonograph. He then saved up and sent away for the 78 r.p.m. records of the songs he heard on the radio.

When he came to Chicago, Mr. Guy could play the guitar — “one or two licks” — but he had chosen the city for its promise of steady work and good pay. The music, he said, was secondary.

At night, however, he went to blues clubs and watched his heroes strut the small stages, lamenting lost loves and hard times. One day, he said, “they were asking me to play with them.”

Five decades later, he is still playing an international festival circuit that would exhaust most people half his age. But Chicago is home.

“When I got here, it was September,” Mr. Guy said, “and the birds were flying south, back to Louisiana and Texas and Florida. And I told the birds, ‘You’re smarter than I am.’ ”

Then he started working with the city’s top blues players.

“And now they’ve all left me here,” he said. “Someone’s got to carry on.” - New York Times

"Does the Blues Need a Pick-Me-Up?"

Does the Blues Need a Pick-Me-Up?
An American art form may be dying—or is it?

Is the blues dying? That’s the question the Chicago Tribune’s Howard Reich put to Lincoln T. Beauchamp Jr., a.k.a. Chicago Beau, a blues musician; radio DJ Steve Cushing; and the author David Whiteis. All of them admitted that this venerable American musical invention, now in its second century, was ailing. But they also insisted that reports of its death had been greatly exaggerated. Yes, they said, the titans of the field—Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf—were long gone. Clubs that specialized in hosting blues artists were having a rough time. The blues didn’t get much airplay anymore. Despite all their enthusiasm, it all sounded quite dire.

“People have said to me over the years, ‘My grandmother listened to that stuff,’ ” said Beauchamp. “I’ve always held that if some of the real prominent African-Americans would speak up and say this is a big part of our culture, better than basketball, that would get the attention. I think that it’s silently, quietly being listened to in African-American communities, but in pockets. But it’s not being done to the degree where it gets the attention, because we’re not the ones that put the money behind it. We put the money behind hip-hop and so forth.”

Cushing questioned the authority of upcoming bluesman wannabes and criticized their lack of training and resulting lack of respect for the tradition they work in. “What you’ve got today are people who are coming to blues and playing blues who were never students of blues or listening to blues,” he said. “They came from soul and rock ’n’ roll and rap, so what they play sounds not like the blues we’ve known in years gone by. I think the music is the worse for it.“

But the more I reread this story, the more I wondered if their despair and even their spirited defensiveness wasn’t somehow misplaced. Or rather, if they weren’t all looking in the wrong places for signs of health.

OK, if the blues can’t thrive in Chicago, the home of electrified blues, then where? I would suggest starting with something such as YouTube—and not the videos of musicians such as Eric Clapton but with kids you’ve never heard of, or middle-aged men and women who are not professional but who are all playing, some with astonishing skill, that music we call the blues. These are all unknown musicians, but there must be hundreds, if not thousands, of videos, filmed in living rooms and dens across the world, showcasing people playing the blues.

Before radio became ubiquitous, success in music was measured in sheet-music sales. Money was being made, of course, but more important, everyday people were making music—in the living room, on the front porch, at church socials and dances. These people were not professionals. They played for their own pleasure and the pleasure of their friends and neighbors, and they sometimes made a little money. Where do you think the first couple of generations of blues musicians—and country-music performers—came from? Radio and then records, tapes, and CDs put a dent in the performing skills of the masses but, in the long term, never completely extinguished the urge of people to make their own music. YouTube and MySpace are all the proof you need of that.

The true beauty of the blues is that it can be played by a maestro or a child. The results will be different, but the form—12 bars, three chords—is so wonderfully simple and accessible that it continues to attract people to this day. The odds that any of these acolytes will get rich aren’t good, but in some way that just proves how healthy the scene is. People aren’t playing the blues because they think it’s a ticket to the big time. They’re doing it because they love it. OK, yes, if you post a video of yourself playing “Rolling and Tumbling,” there’s a certain look-at-me thing going on. You’re asking for attention. But if you hadn’t spent hours learning and rehearsing that song—if you didn’t love the music well enough to put in the time—you wouldn’t have made the video in the first place. This isn’t air guitar or Guitar Hero. These are everyday people woodshedding with music they love. What could be a surer sign of a music’s health?

- Newsweek



2010 Chicago Beau Sessions Vol 1.with Deitra Farr, Larry Burton, Sunnyland Slim, Jimmy Dawkins, and others.
Ouch! Do THAT Again Records. 001

1969-2005 Chicago Beau and Archie Shepp
Black Gypsy
America Records, re released on Verve (Universal)

1971-2005 Art Ensemble of Chicago
Certain Blacks
America Records, re-released on Verve (Universal)

2000 Art Ensemble of Chicago and the Tradition of Blues
AECO Records

1998 Chicago Beau / Last of the Sa Boom Boom Gypsies

1997 KATALYST Live Sessions '97

1996 Chicago Beau / Bluesville Memories
GateKeeper 001

1993 Chicago Beau and Friends
Having a Fit Over Your Love
GBW CD 009

1993 Pinetop Perkins, Chicago Beau and the Blue Ice Band
Platonic CD 004

1992 Famoudou Don Moye

1991 Chicago Beau
My Ancestors
GBW CD 004

1991 Jimmy Dawkins, Chicago Beau and 'Blue Ice' Bragason
Blues From Iceland (Originally released as 'Blue Ice')
Evidence 26064

1972 Julio Finn Blues Band
Deal for Service
Barclay Records

1970 Archie Shepp
Pitchin' Cans
Fantasy Records

1969 Archie Shepp
. BYG /Charly Records



Lincoln T 'Chicago Beau' Beauchamp
Ambassdor of African American Roots Culture


Lincoln T 'Chicago Beau' Beauchamp was born on the south-side of Chicago on 13 February 1949, into a house of music. The recordings of Dinah Washington, Coleman Hawkins, Miles Davis, Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald and others inundated his senses from the beginning.

From the age of 10 until 15, Beau studied tap-dancing with the great Afro-Cuban dancer and choreographer, Jimmy Payne. He participated in many Cabaret-type shows that were popular during that era. A show could consist of performances by Afro-Cuban dancers, magicians, tap dancers, Jazz and Blues performers, and drill teams. These shows gave young people the opportunity to participate with professionals in a community setting. There was little distinction in the taste of the audience, people of all ages appreciated the same talent.

Beau was becoming quite a tap-dancer (sometimes still used in his shows), but it was the Blues and Jazz elements of these shows that really held his interest. He became so interested in Blues that he began sneaking around to Blues clubs after school to listen to Blues bands rehearse. On famous 47th street, he would slip into the 708 Club that sizzled at night with artists like Muddy Waters, Howling Wolf, Sonny Boy Williamson, Big Mama Thornton, Little Walter, and Billy Boy Arnold. Up the street from there was the Sutherland Lounge that featured Jazz and Blues acts such as Ella Fitzgerald, Joe Williams, Esther Philips, Von Freeman, E Parker McDougal, Louis Armstrong, Dexter Gordon, Dizzy Gillispie, Chico Hamilton, Philly Joe Jones, and nearly everyone that had a name.

Little did Beau know at the time that some of these performers he watched and listened to would have a permanent impact on his life: Billy Boy Arnold gave him harmonica lessons (they later recorded together), and Muddy Waters gave him his name, ‘Chicago Beau.’

After spending three years from the age of 17 playing harmonica and singing in small clubs, mining and logging camps, and on street corners from Chicago, to Boston, to Nova Scotia, to Amsterdam, he moved to Paris where he met, performed and recorded with Archie Shepp in August, 1969, at age 20. Beau considers the first recording with Shepp to be the beginning of his professional career.

For over 40 years Chicago Beau has recorded and performed with some of the most respected names in music including Archie Shepp, Memphis Slim, Billy Cobham, Art Ensemble of Chicago, Cal Massey, Anthony Braxton, Sunny Maurry, Pinetop Perkins, Jimmy Dawkins, Johnny Shines, Billy Boy Arnold, Fontella Bass, Habib Koite, James Carter, Lester Bowie, Philly Joe Jones, Famoudou Don Moye, Jeanne Lee, Deitra Farr, Willie Kent, E. Parker McDougal, Amina Claudine Meyers, Amakhono We Sinto Choir of South Africa, Frank Zappa, Sunnyland Slim, and others.

As a record producer Beau has recorded some of Chicago's finest Blues artists including Valerie Wellington, Billy Branch, Junior Wells, Willie Kent, Deitra Farr, Shun Kikuta, Tommy McCracken, and Katherine Davis.

Chicago Beau received the CLIO award, the American advertising industry’s highest honor, for his music that was used in the 1991-92 National Basketball Association Champions, Chicago Bulls, cable television campaign.

Chicago Beau is committed to the literary side of Blues culture. In 1988 he founded Literati Internazionale, a publishing company dedicated to Blues writing and multi-culturalism. To date he has published over fifteen journals, books, and magazines that have included contributions from nearly one-hundred writers and artists including Gwendolyn Brooks, Eugene B. Redmond, Quincy Troupe, Alejo Carpentier, Hart Leroy Bibbs, and Henry Miller. As a writer, Chicago Beau has written numerous articles and three books: Great Black Music-The Art Ensemble of Chicago, Blues Stories, and BluesSpeak: Best of the Original Chicago Blues Annual, published in March 2010 by the University of Illinois Press. He was working with trumpeter Lester Bowie on his Autobiography at the time of his death. Excerpts from this work will be published soon.

Chicago Beau speaks at Universities, Schools, and Music Festivals on several topics including:

'Conversations with Blues Elders and Ancestors;' based on interviews, and friendships for over four decades.

'The Evolution of Blues as Language and Literature’

'The Absolute Necessity for Africans in the Americas to be Staunch Curators of their Musical Heritage.'

Selected Chicago Beau Performance and
Lecture Venues

Festival of Twentieth Century Music, Spain
Murcia Jazz Festival, Spain
Burghausen International Jazzwoche, Germany
ESPOO International Jazz Festival, Finland
(10 years in various roles: performer, speaker, emcee, instructor)
Bordighera Jazz Festival, Italy
Chicago Blues Festival, United States
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