Music is to many of us the key to who we are. Over the years, tastes change, not just in volume, but type of music and sound. Way back when, let’s say the 1960’s, I was into the sounds of pop music- Elvis, The Beatles and typical “Rock ‘n Roll”. Towards the middle of the decade, when I went to work for The Marienthal Brothers, who owned “Mister Kelly’s, The London House and The Happy Medium, all great landmark clubs in Chi-town, I became more open to other types of music. Blues, Jazz and what was called “SOUL” became my favorites along with my love of Musical Theater (which I still enjoy today).
As I raised a family and became an “Adult”, my love of what was called “Doo Wop” back in the day, disappeared. Now that I am ripening in age and able to reach out to regain my past, and thanks to the eye -opening work that Ms Jackie Taylor brings Chicago at Black Ensemble Theatre, I am able to see that what was the music of Chi-Town, was truly the music that spawned the birth of Motown. As we are looking back, just how do we rekindle that love? We are about to find out.
Many of us are not aware that for many years there has been a museum with just that purpose. The Chicago Blues Museum, which at the present time is more of a travelling museum is about to land itself just to the south of Chicago in beautiful Munster Indiana at The Center for Visual and Performing Arts (this is where I see the musicals, AKA Theatre at The Center). They are bringing in a very special show- ONE NIGHT ONLY- December 29th (Thursday) called “The Signal: A Doo Wop Rhapsody” and I know that I for one am looking forward to that night. To add to the special and educational experience, the Chicago Blues Museum ( I told you it travels, until they land a new home) will set up in the other portion of the building in Munster, known as the South Shore Arts Gallery. The museum will continue to be there thru January 29th, 2017, so even if you cannot get to the special show, you still have an opportunity to head back in time and learn more about the music of “Motown Vs. Chi-Town”.
The actual name is “Motown Vs Chi-Town”, and the Indiana Connection and is curated by Gregg Parker, who is the founder of the museum and a fountain of knowledge about the companies of the old days that recorded in Chicago. I spent some time on the phone with him the other day as we talked about the “good old days”. He is deeply connected to the history, culture and geography of our country and the music that he calls the best. The exhibit explores the times and the lifestyles of the era- the nightclubs: The Club DeLisa, Checkerboard and 708 Club. It also looks at the Regal Theater where many talented people began their careers. Chicago was also home to Record Row where many a label began and prospered, long before Detroit took on the Motown name. Yes , it was a world filled with music from Chi-Town!
The display also looks at Soul and how it grew as Black-Americans, protesting their “second-class” citizenship status, and discrimination found that this music , “SOUL”, defined them. This was the 1960’s .There was a great deal of conversation during our interview and after talking with Gregg, I firmly feel that the best way to describe what is being offered is to tell you that Munster is less than one hour from the loop and has plenty of free parking. By the way, since it is in Indiana, dining experiences are lower than the city and gas is far cheaper (as are smokes for those of you who have not “kicked the habit”).
In this display one will be able to see what a living room in Bronzville ( South Side Chicago) looked like back in this period, posters from the night clubs, music footage, and a lot more. Learn more about the Jackson family, Gladys Knight and the city of Gary (and what it brought to the picture). The hours for this display are:
Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Sunday 12-4 p.m.
The Center for Visual and Performing Arts is located at 1040 Ridge Road in Munster- http://www.theatreatthecenter
219-836-1839 ext. 108
For Information on the Chicago Blues Museum call 773-723-5031
For the show, tickets are $30 /students $20 and includes admission to the exhibit ONE NIGHT ONLY- Thursday, DECEMBER 29th 7 p.m.