Date:   9/1/2004

Siegel-Schwall Reunion Band - - back in a big way!

The legendary blues-rock band from the 60s & 70s who helped define the Chicago blues music scene has reunited after many years and will be bringing the best of the best to the stage of the historic Thrasher Opera House on September 10 & 11, at 7:30 pm. 


The Siegel-Schwall Blues Band featuring co-founders Corky Siegel and Jim Schwall, along with Sam Lay and Rollo Radford, will be performing the very songs that put them on the charts all those years ago, which resulted in a huge audience of dedicated blues fans – still strong and dedicated as ever, today.


Sometime around 1965, the two met while in an elevator while attending Roosevelt University’s Chicago Musical College.  Corky was learning blues harp, Jim was already proficient on guitar, but he was interested in learning the Chicago blues style.  Corky recalls, “It seems that we stepped out of the elevator on the 5th floor, right on to a street in Hyde Park with harmonica, guitar and a few tunes in hand - -  looking for a place to try our stuff.  We slid into this little beatnik coffee house off the Harper street strip.  This was to be our first public performance that would plant the seed for a flashy career in music making with the Siegel-Schwall Blues Band. 


Soon after, Siegel and Schwall got a steady gig at the Pepper’s Show Lounge.  They were the house band for all the blues masters who would come by and jam on Thursday nights.  “Here we were, two young guys learning about the blues from the ones who created it!  What fortune.  What seems like the very next day, we got a record deal on Vanguard Records and that set the beginning of our music industry career in vinyl and stone,” says Corky.


The band, created out of a mutual love of the blues, was an instant success.  Their fan base included Ted Nugent, Van Morrison, Johnny Winter, Crosby Stills Nash & Young and Janis Joplin, all of whom tried to recruit them to play with their own bands.


Siegel-Schwall Blues Band continued to perform in major rock palaces and clubs throughout the 60’s and 70’s, and recording on the Vanguard label.  Then in1974, at the height of their career, they took a sabbatical that lasted longer than they expected allowing them to pursue individual interests including educational careers.     


When they re-formed the band for a reunion concert for a Chicago radio station a few years ago – it was quite clear . . . the fans wanted more. Since then, Siegel-Schwall has been back in a big way.  


Joining the reunion band will be longtime friend and member, bassist Rollo Radford, who recorded with Siegel-Schwall on 7 of their 12 albums. Radford’s professional career began at age 19 when the legendary jazz vocalist Dinah Washington gave him his start.  After serving in the Army, he returned to join the very popular Top 40’s sensation, Martha and the Vandellas.  



Radford’s past television performances include the rock show hit, “Midnight Special”, the show “Soundstage” along with Muddy Waters, and on Public Television’s “Great Performances”, with Siegel-Schwall, Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops Symphony.  Radford has also toured with rock and roll legend Chuck Berry.  Mr. Radford has lived in New Orleans for a number of years where he has performed with the Neville Brothers and many other great performers on Bourbon Street. At present, he divides his time between concert performances and teaching students in the Chicago public school system. 


Sam Lay is one of the most celebrated virtuoso drummers in blues history and a mainstay since the late 1950’s. He began his auspicious career in 1957 as drummer for the Original Thunderbirds and soon after became the drummer for the legendary harp genius, Little Walter.  In the early 1960’s, Mr. Lay began recording and performing with the founding fathers of blues, Willie Dixon, Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters.  The recordings Lay made during this time are considered to be among the definitive works from the careers of Waters and Wolf.  


In the late 1980’s, Lay was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in Memphis.  He was recently inducted into the Jazz Hall of Fame in Los Angeles, and the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.  He has been nominated for numerous coveted W.C. Handy Awards including the award for “Best Instrumentalist” for 1998.  Among his many other accomplishments, include a recent feature of Lay on a PBS-TV broadcast on the “History of the Blues” produced by Academy Award winning directors, Martin Scorsese and Spike Lee.


The Green Lake State Bank, along with special support by the Heidel House, is sponsoring this exciting reunion of blues masters. Tickets for the concert are $20 on Friday and $22 on Saturday and can be purchased at the Thrasher office (located next to the Opera House), Knowledge Emporium, Green Lake State Bank, Bull Moose Mercantile (Princeton), and Ripon Drug, or by calling 920-294-4279. On-line ticket sales are also now available at 







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