This past weekend’s adventure was a quick, 24hr, trip to the heart of Chicago and the heart of the Blues, Chess Records. 2120 S Michigan Avenue is still the physical building and has been repurposed as the Willie Dixon Blues Heaven Foundation.
My reason for going was to support and meet Kirk West and his wife Kirsten. Kirk is a professional photographer, amoung many other things, and recently published a book through Kickstarter called “The Blues In Black & White”, with photographs of the Chicago blues scene during the 70’s and 80’s. It’s a fascinating look at the legends of blues through his lens.
I had recently purchased a print of his and, as is my way, I called to place the order directly with Kirsten. When it comes to art, or music, or getting something signed, I prefer to do it in person or call versus just an anonymous order online. Anyway, we had a wonderful chat about their showing in St Louis and how Kirk was a native Iowan, as I am. She mentioned that they would be headed to Chicago and I told her that I would make plans to make it happen.
I arrived a little late and came in while Kirk was giving a wonderful background about the book and photos.
Once he had finished, Kirk walked the crowd and talked to people while John Primer played guitar and sang and accompanied by harmonica player, Steve Bell. It was awesome to hear Chicago blues, in Chess records, in it’s simplest and most powerful form…Amazing.
I wandered through the halls, taking photos along the way, and trying to soak in all the nuances. I made about 4 trips up and down the stairs before finding Kirk back downstairs. My friend and local Chicago native, Mark Vormittag, grabbed Kirk and introduced us and Kirk graciously signed the book and took a picture with me and the previously mentioned print. He was accommodating, and genuine with each person that he interacted with. It was a real pleasure to meet him and his wife.
Kirk and Kirsten have a studio in Macon, Ga to showcase Kirks work and are the architechs behind The Big House museum in Macon.
I was also lucky enough to snag a photo with Jaqueline Dixon, President and CEO of Willie Dixons Blues Heaven and, Willie Dixons daughter.
I’ve listed links below that you can click on to find more out about, and support all these wonderful endeavours.