Chicago Blues Festival Triggers A New Exploration Into Concert Genealogy

A soggy Saturday in the Windy City couldn’t keep us from enjoying a day of excellent blues roots tunes. And the rain certainly didn’t stop me from connecting our Blues Fest experience to a famous blues-influenced rock band either. All in all, I’d say it was a pretty good day for concert fans who love the blues.

As we announced on Friday, the Chicago Blues Festival was rocking the lakefront all weekend in the Windy City. And since this was my first time, I was super stoked about celebrating and revisiting the roots to some of my favorite rock and hip hop music.

We heard tons of great blues musicians tear it up and we saw throngs of fans groove and dance around in the rain while the band jammed and juked. And as the rain poured down from the heavens, the celebratory scene made the festival feel like a big joyous blues baptism.

One of my favorite moments at this year’s Blues Festival was watching guitar legend Bobby Parker play. During Parker’s set I pulled up his wiki on my Droid (hopefully Blues Fest, will also have an Android mobile app next year) and read that Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page had seen Parker play in Los Angeles circa 1970.  And as legend has it, Page was inspired by Parker’s playing and offered Parker a deal to record a demo which Parker unfortunately never completed.

So as Parker wailed, squealed on his guitar and rocked us with his classic hit “Watch Your Step,” I thought to myself, “Hey, that’s pretty cool. As a concert fan, I have something in common with Jimmy Page because we both saw Parker play and we were both inspired by his live show…”

And on top of that, my “Bobby Parker” moment answered some of the questions I’ve had ever since I read Hammer of the Gods: The Led Zeppelin Saga. In the book, you get a great idea of how and why the blues inspired Jimmy Page and Led Zeppelin. But unless you were actually there at the same show Page experienced in 1970, you really didn’t get a true feeling of what Page might have felt when he saw Parker play. And I feel as though I had a glimpse into that moment during Parker’s set.

And even though this alleged “Page seeing Bobby Parker play” moment isn’t specifically mentioned in Hammer of the Gods, nonetheless during that moment at the Blues Festival I was inspired to write this post and share with you a concept that I’ve been thinking about for a long time: concert genealogy.

What is Concert Genealogy?

The reason I’m telling you this is that, coming up on future posts, we’re going to be exploring the concept of “concert genealogy.”

I won’t go into the full details on this post because the concept of concert genealogy will take awhile to explain and explore, and I don’t have it all figured out just yet. Which is why we’ll be diving deeper into all the facets of how concertgoing and genealogy go together.

But I Will Tell You This

As I know it now, concert genealogy is the process of connecting fan experiences throughout rock concert history. And like the practice of regular genealogy builds out a family tree and connects family members, concert genealogy seeks to connect both fans and artists by pulling together and cataloging the details about when and where concert fans have experienced live music throughout the history of concertgoing.

Like I said, concert genealogy is a massive topic and that’s why I’ll be sharing it with you in pieces on future posts.

And as we go along, I expect us to redefine and expound on what it is and why it’s important to concert fans. And what excites me the most is the opportunity to discover and explore it with you.

That said, I invite you to share your thoughts. And I especially invite anyone who has a deep knowledge of genealogy to leave feedback and reference links in the comments below.

I regularly participate in several concert and music fan sites/forums like Wolfgang’s Vault and Sound Opinions. And what goes on in those forums is directly related to the essence of concert genealogy. And if you’re a part of similar concert fan communities, you’re most certainly invited to share your insights and comments, too.

Without a doubt, I’ll always remember my “Bobby Parker and Jimmy Paige” scenario at The Chicago Blues Fest because it was the moment that inspired me to start this journey with you.

Let’s Start Our Exploration

What do you think? Does the idea of concert genealogy interest you? Would knowing how you’re connected to other concert fans and artists through concert history be meaningful to you?

All photos by Colleen Catania

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