By ERIC SCHELKOPF
Combining sassiness with sexiness and fiery vocals, Chicago blues legend Holle Thee Maxwell commands a stage in her own unique style.
Fortunately for all of us, there will be two opportunities to catch her live this week. Maxwell will perform at 2:30 p.m. Friday, June 10, on the Bud Light Crossroads Stage, East Jackson Boulevard and South Lake Shore Drive, as part of the Chicago Blues Festival.
More information is available at www.explorechicago.org.
Later in the day, Maxwell will perform at Reggie's Music Joint, 2105 S. State St. as part of the Women In The Blues showcase dedicated to the memory of the late Koko Taylor.
Peaches Staten, Liz Mandeville, Vivian Vance Kelly, Demetria Taylor, Ramblin' Rose, Dia Madden (and Cruise Machine), Donna Herula and Ebonie Taylor also are on the bill. Hosting the evening is Joan Gand and Blue Road, which will back up the ladies.
The show starts at 8 p.m.and tickets are $10, available at www.chicagoblueswomen.info.
Maxwell has been a strong force in the blues over the years. She recorded singles under the name “Holly Maxwell” in the 1960s and 1970s for the record labels Constellation, Curtis Mayfield’s Curtom Records, Smit-Whit, and Star. Her songs such as “Only When You’re Lonely," “One Thin Dime," “Never Love Again," “Suffer," and “Philly Barracuda” were regional hits across the country.
She has a long musical resume, which includes working with critically acclaimed jazz musician Jimmy Smith and musicians like The Temptations, Johnny Taylor, The Spinners, The Dells and Fred Williamson, and replacing Tina Turner in the Ike Turner’s band.
I had the recent pleasure of doing an e-mail interview with Maxwell.
Q - Why do you think Chicago is still such a vibrant place to make and perform music?
Chicago is THEE Blues coming from down south to up north. Chicago is THEE place where songs of depression, suppression, and slavery could be and still can be sung freely.
Q - You will be performing with other female musicians in a show dedicated to the memory of Koko Taylor. Can anybody replace Koko? What made her a great performer?
Can you replace Little Richard, Jimmy Smith, Ike Turner, Aretha, Etta, Billie Holliday, Michael Jackson, Sammy Davis Jr., Ella Fitzgerald, Jimmi Hendrix and me? Yes!!! Holle Thee Maxwell can and IS replacing Holly Maxwell!!!! For Holly Maxwell IS for Holle Thee Maxwell to REINVENT!!
No. Koko Taylor will never be replaced, for she IS THEE QUEEN of THEE RAW GUT Kiss MY ASS Blues!
Q - You've been involved in so many projects and worked with so many different people over the years. What are some of your favorite memories?
That question IS to be saved for THEE books I AM writing and planning to write.
Q - What do you think you bring to the blues that no other artist can?
What I bring to the blues is class, stage presence, and professionalism polished and groomed, while combining sexyfullness to it all.. I AM not easy to be categorized musically. I AM not depressed, so I feel I bring a brand new blues by/with entertaining THEE blues, and not blues singing.
Also, I need to inform you that at the age of 12 years young I AM THEE first/last/only child to be presented at THEE Civic Opera House singing German, Italian, and French fluently. Also, I am the first/last/only person to perform live in flight on a 747 jet plane flying from Chicago to Spain in 1972.
Q - What are your current projects? What keeps you going?
My current projects are to get Chicago, my birth place, to finally support me in all I now can do, to stop/slow down senior citizen abuse, and I would tell you my next goal but I know to keep my mouth shut. LOLOL.
Q - What will it take for the blues to continue to survive?
It will take America to give us our roses before we die for we should be able to by now smell our greatness.
Black music is to and will survive when it is demanded by musical living legends such as myself, and this is from THEE race horses mouth. I AM taking mine now, can't you tell???? Before we bleed to death from THEE thorns that keep pricking at us still.