Chicago's legendary Maxwell Street was home to an open-air market that thrived for decades. It was there that the Chicago blues was born as African-American street musicians, who had fled the rural South for the city, played regularly on the dirty corners, empty lots, and broken sidewalks. Together, they hammered out a hard-driving, electrified sound that influenced the world. This documentary captures the tail end of the last great era of blues music on Maxwell Street. Artists like Arvella Gray, Jim Brewer, John Henry David, Coot Venson, Floyd Jones, and Carrie Robinson may look a little worse for the wear as they play among the rubble of Maxwell Street on their beat-up instruments, but their raw, hard-hitting, and gritty music defines the essence of the Windy City. New York gave birth to the smooth sounds of Tin Pan Alley, New Orleans struts its up-tempo jazz, and Nashville relaxes to the twang of country, but the Chicago blues will hit you where you live.
Raul Zaritsky/Linda Williams---USA---1981---56 mins.