Chicago Plays the Stones feat. Ronnie "Baker" Brooks, Billy Branch and friends
Crazy Marvin & the Blues Express
15711 Waterloo Road
Cleveland, OH, 44110
Doors 7:00 PM / Show 8:00 PM
This event is all ages
Watch & Listen
Chicago Plays the Stones
There is probably no more seminal association in the history of rock and pop music than those ties that bind Chicago’s electric blues with the Rolling Stones. Chicago blues is at the heart of what defines the Stones, who modeled their sound on the
gritty, urban, electrified and amplified music of Muddy Waters and other
Chicago blues pioneers.
This association created a kinship that has forever changed modern
popular music and culture in the USA, the UK and across the globe. This
musical love affair between the Stones and Chicago blues continues
today and, like an enviable marriage, seems to only get deeper and
stronger with age.
The bond between the Rolling Stones and the Chicago blues, one of
respect and mutual admiration, has been a two-way street. Without the
influence of Muddy Waters and other electric blues pioneers, the music
of the Rolling Stones would not exist as it does today. Conversely, it
was the Stones who, at the forefront of the British Invasion of the midnineteen
sixties, helped re-introduce the blues to American listeners
through their integration of this musical form. Both Muddy Waters and
B.B. King have publically attested to this; the legendary Buddy Guy has
recounted, “The Stones came back from England after they started
selling such tremendous amounts of records and told the Americans
who we were […] Without those guys we’d still be, I guess, less unknown
then what we are today. We owe them a lot of thanks because they didn’t
come back here and say this is new, we got it. They said, oh, no, you had
it all the time, and they woke up America to who we were.”
Keith Richards backs this up: “Muddy made you feel like you were
really part of it. He sort of brought you in. And Howlin’ Wolf was very much
the same. There was none of ‘Well, I didn’t know white guys could play
like that.’ We connected, and they were not particularly impressed about
what color you happen to turn out to be or whatever. Of course, Muddy
and the other guys did recognize that for some reason, the Stones had
brought this music back to America and re-popularized it. Or not so much
popularized it, just brought it to attention again. And for that, I’m eternally
proud, and that’s probably the only way I’m going to get in heaven.”
In June 1964, the Rolling Stones made a pilgrimage to the legendary
Chess Studios for a recording session. Chess was the inner sanctum of
Chicago blues where their heroes had recorded the music that would
put the Stones on the road to becoming the greatest rock and roll band
of all time. In 2016, after more than five decades, they would release their
first studio album in fifteen years, Blue and Lonesome, consisting of
twelve covers of classic Chicago blues songs. It seems the Stones can’t
get away from their Chicago roots even when they try; they describe Blue
and Lonesome as coming to life when, while warming up in the studio
with some Chicago blues before beginning a new original album, it felt
so good to them they decided to record a Chicago blues album instead,
a decision that would bring them back to their musical origins.
Our album, Chicago Plays the Stones, became the enthusiastic
response to Blue and Lonesome as a kind of musical love letter to the
Rolling Stones from three generations of today’s greatest Chicago blues
artists. I had been asked to produce Chicago Plays the Stones which
would be the first release on the Chicago Blues Experience record
label and in conjunction with “Exhibitionism, The Rolling Stones”, the
important retrospective of the group that would be coming to Chicago.
Ironically, we started developing this project before we knew about the
Stones’ future Chicago blues album.
Along with my co-producer and arranger Vincent Bucher, I had already
decided to approach this project, which would eventually prove to
be both echo and mirror of the Stones’ Blue and Lonesome album, with
the following concept. Instead of covering the Stones’ songs in their
signature style we would bring a selection of their songs “back home”
by covering them with a Chicago blues groove.
This would be a challenging proposition. Could we respect the integrity
of the expanded chord structures and melodies that identify the
songs of the Stones that aren’t part of the Chicago blues vocabulary?
Would we be able to communicate the core essence of Chicago blues
while maintaining the Stones’ true identity?
Another way of looking at this would be to imagine these same Rolling
Stones songs as played by their heroes, artists from the golden age
of Chicago blues like Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Little Walter, Jimmy
Reed, Willie Dixon, Sonny Boy Williamson I. Would they sound retro or
contemporary? Or something new, something to build on?
We find the answer here on Chicago Plays the Stones, thanks to our
illustrious artists who are, simply put, the greatest Chicago blues musicians
alive today. The list includes not only the tradition’s pioneers but
also their direct descendants—in all, three generations of musicians
representing the glorious past, present and future of Chicago blues.
And bringing this landmark project full circle, we are honored to have
Mick Jagger and Keith Richards on Chicago Plays the Stones. Their contribution
to this album—their performances and their superb songwriting—
is a testament to their career-long support of Chicago blues and to
their reverence for its musicians. Mr. Jagger and Mr. Richards did not
allow their superstardom to dominate their tracks; in deference to the
artists, they clearly preferred a supporting role. We sincerely thank them
for their generosity.
This album would certainly not have been complete without the participation
of the King of Chicago blues, the incomparable Buddy Guy,
whose long and lasting relationship with the Rolling Stones epitomizes
the kindred spirit that exists between the Stones and Chicago blues.
In addition to Buddy, we have the legendary Billy Boy Arnold, a Chicago-
born pioneer of the genre who at the age of fourteen took lessons
from the great John Lee “Sonnyboy” Williamson and became closely
associated with Bo Diddley.
This illustrious list is rounded out by Billy Branch, John Primer, Ronnie
Baker Brooks, Jimmy Burns, Carlos Johnson, Leanne Faine, Omar Coleman
and Michael Avery—each in their own right an undeniably vital artist
in the ongoing history of Chicago blues.
Chicago Plays the Stones also features the Living History Band with
Bob Margolin on guitar, Johnny Iguana on piano, Vincent Bucher on
harmonica, Felton Crews on bass and Kenny “Beedy-Eyes” Smith on
drums. I unabashedly consider this band the undisputed heavyweight
champion of Chicago blues backup groups. Between them they have
played with every celebrated Chicago blues artist of the last half-century.
All have been brought up musically on stage and in the studio by the
founding fathers of this tradition; their mastery of Chicago blues styles
I am grateful to all the phenomenal artists who made Chicago Plays
the Stones possible. Throughout the sessions, I was moved by how inspired
the musicians were by these great songs and above all their
desire to get inside the songs and make them their own. This should
come as no surprise since the essence of these songs is already part of
their own DNA.
Chicago Plays the Stones brings it all back to Sweet Home Chicago.
l a r r y s k o l l e r , p r o d u c e r
Crazy Marvin & the Blues Express
“Crazy Marvin” Braxton, born May 30, 1943 in Cleveland Ohio had music put in his soul, as do so many of the greats, by his mother and father who played the piano in church. He got started by blowing on a tuba, but quickly discovered a harmonica, won a talent contest at the famed Leo’s Casino in Cleveland, found himself on stage being introduced by Ray Charles at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, … and has been making folks smile and dance ever since.
Possessing the heart and mind of a naïve youngster, Marvin just has a knack for crazy light-hearted and musical FUN. Marvin has found himself in some crazy moments, rubbing elbows with famous musicians like Jimi Hendrix, Sly & The Family Stone, Buddy Miles and recalls the time he helped George Harrison push his broken down Volkswagen up Hollywood Blvd. in Los Angeles. No stranger to the Blues, he has worked many odd jobs, including a stint caring for horses at the tracks in Louisville, KY.
Marvin has been scuffling, playing the blues clubs around Cleveland, Ohio for decades, and still performs, with a pacemaker now installed, ….CRAZY MARVIN’s got the BLUES and is still “whippin’ n’ dippin’ and Gettin’ on down”.
Marvin will be the center of attention at the Beachland Ballroom in Cleveland, Ohio this coming Sunday, May 27th from 1 to 4 pm as the local Musician’s Union and Cindy Barber (owner/Beachland Ballroom) throw Marvin a Birthday Blues Bash to which YOU and the public are invited !
$32.00 - $62.00
Primarily Seated, General Admission
$45 Day of Show
VIP - SOLD OUT!