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Siegel-Schwall Band

Paul Butterfield and Elvin Bishop were not the only white dudes who formed a blues band in Chicago in the early '60s. Corky Siegel and Jim Schwall formed the Siegel-Schwall Band in the mid-'60s in Chicago and worked as a duo playing blues clubs like Pepper's Lounge, where they were the house band. All of the great blues players would sit in, all the time. Siegel played harp and electric Wurlizter piano, with an abbreviated drum set stashed under the piano; Jim Schwall played guitar and mandolin. Both sang.

Siegel was born in Chicago on October 24, 1943; Schwall was born on November 11, 1942, also in Chicago. Siegel met Schwall in 1964, when they were both music students at Roosevelt University; Schwall studying guitar, Siegel studying classical saxophone and playing in the University Jazz Big Band. Siegel first became interested in the blues that same year. Schwall's background ran more to country and bluegrass. The Siegel-Schwall Band approach to music (and blues) was lighter than groups like Butterfield or Musselwhite, representing somewhat more of a fusion of blues and more country-oriented material. They seldom played at high volume, stressing group cooperation and sharing the solo spotlight. When the Butterfield band left their in gig at Big Johns on Chicago's North Side, it was the Siegel-Schwall Band that took their place. Signed by Vanguard scout Sam Charters in 1965, they released their first album in 1966, the first of five they would do with that label. Bass player Jack Dawson, formerly of the Prime Movers Blues Band joined the band in 1967.

In 1969 the band toured playing the Fillmore West, blues/folk festivals, and many club dates, as one of several white blues bands that introduced the blues genre to millions of Americans during that era. They were, however, the first blues band to play with a full orchestra, performing "Three Pieces for Blues Band and Symphony Orchestra" in 1968 with the San Francisco Orchestra. The band later signed with RCA (Wooden Nickel) and produced five albums in the next several years. They broke up in 1974.

In 1987, the band re-formed and produced a live album on Alligator, The Siegel-Schwall Reunion Concert. Jim Schwall is a university professor of music and lives in Madison, Wisonsin. Corky Siegel has been involved in many projects over the years that fuse classical music with blues, including his current group, Chamber Blues, a string quartet with a percussionist (tabla) and Siegel on piano and harmonica. And on rare occasions, the old band still gets together and performs. ~ Michael Erlewine, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

Saw them several times at the Quiet Knight, and loved their energy and humor. Made this young man a fan of the blues.
Saw Corky in Milwaukee many years ago (c. 1975, The Blue River Café?). Still a fan.-
It was great hearing these guys again - - take me back would go to see them in Madison, Wi as well as the Dells where ever I could catch them.
scottmidwest c a n v a s
Corky is a genius on the Harp...Love all of their music !!
Great harp!
Corky and Jim........s a w in a drugged haze in the 1960's and again the 'reunion' in 1987. Paths have crossed several times and still luv 'em! Reminds me of home. Thank You for including on Chicago Blues! One of the undiscovered treasures from sweet home......CH I C A G O !
Man! I like it!!
bbadsenji
Saw them several times when I was in college in the early 70s... and still love 'em.
This band is the reason I play the Blues. I saw them perform in '69 and they made me forget all about the Beatles!
Love it my name is Pauline
they're great fun. always dug schwall's cardboardy sounding guitar.
Great, saw them many years ago, great show
love these guys. used to see them in chicago in the 70's. just bought the complete vanguard recordings of their work, 4 albums on 3 cd's. i remember russ chadwick on drums.
diggin' it...haven't heard Siegel-Schwa l l since the70's
cmicbarron
A nice piece of Chicago Blues!
We loved them at the north side clubs like the Quiet Knight and Alice's Resturant. We talked to Radford after a set and he was so cool! His version of Corina was ??? You had to be present as I can't describe it in words. He moved me!!!! I'm still looking for Corina. The band sure could jam. I saw them many times in the late 60's and early 70's and even bought their records. Paul from the northside of Chi town.
mars55
I have to agree with Larry Glines. Radford wasn't a mere bass player, either, he was a vital, central player in the band--which when I used to see them in the early 70s, was louder and more electric, more often, than what the review suggests. Radford's funky "Corina" was probably S-S's best-known song. (Speaking of research, who was the drummer? Sorry--I don't remember.)
Rollo Radford played bass...your research sucks.

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