Live On Maxwell Street . . .

A little while ago I came up with a concept called "Sweet Home Chicago", a guitar that reflects the city's Blues heritage. Working on that project was enormously gratifying because I learned so much about Chicago's past, especially life in and around Maxwell Street, the spiritual home of electrified, Chicago Blues. Maxwell Street runs east to west and intersects with Halsted Street just south of Roosevelt Road and, until quite recently, was the venue where countless Blues bands and performers could play their music. Apart from the Blues, Maxwell Street is also famous for its historic market and “The Maxwell Street Polish”, a delicious sausage sandwich topped with grilled onions and yellow mustard.

Maxwell Street became popular for Blues musicians in the 1950s and '60s when store owners encouraged them to set up their amplifiers and equipment near their storefronts, so shoppers, lured by the chance to hear great Blues music, could be enticed inside to buy their goods. If you want to get a feel of what Maxwell Street and its music was like in those days, this fantastic film clip captures the spirit perfectly. Sadly, those days are now gone as large parts of Maxwell Street are now home to the University of Illinois at Chicago. Higher education is now the name of the game.

In order to preserve the soul of Maxwell Street, I thought it would be cool over the next few weeks to design a number of guitars that echo Maxwell Street in all its historic glory. The first guitar in the collection is "West Side Soul", a guitar inspired by the late Koob Veneman and his company, Kapa Guitars. Veneman was a Dutch immigrant who settled in Edsmonston, Maryland, and from 1963 to 1970 he built some great looking guitars that are much sought after today by guitar connoisseurs and collectors alike. "West Side Soul" is my modern day interpretation on Koob's best selling model, the “Continental”. I have always admired this guitar because she oozes attitude and street credibility. To me, her sunburst finish is reflective of all the old billboards and posters that adorned Maxwell Street advertising “The Maxwell Street Polish”. For that reason alone she was worth reviving. As always, many thanks for your support. SR

Preserving the Soul of Maxwell Street.

Update . . .

Since writing this page I have now added two further concepts to the collection. The first is “The Stingray”, my contemporary take on the Gretsch Corvette, a guitar that looks right at home on Maxwell Street! The second concept, “The Flathead”, is my take on the Teisco Zenon Audition, a really cool Japanese import from the late 1960s. I have included “The Flathead” because Japanese guitars were becoming very popular at the time because they were relatively cheap to buy and sounded great, thanks to the Gold Foil pickups. Chicago Blues great, “Hound Dog” Taylor, probably did more than any other artist to promote Japanese guitar design in the late ‘60s. SR