From Country to Blues
view image
Posted by: KirkWest | Categories: Blog

I grew up in Iowa, so there was country all around; country in the air; country music on the radio. It was what I grew up with. But it was the age of Rock n Roll, in the fifties and sixties so that was what I was driven to understand and embrace.

It was my home on the South Side of Chicago.

Kirk West

So when I was 18 years old I moved to Chicago because I knew that was where Paul Butterfield was. And sure enough all that Blues was there waiting for me.
Chicago was the center of it. Well, on the North Side were the clubs for hippies and white kids. The West Side clubs were a little bit rougher. Actually a whole lot rougher and the South Side blues clubs were a little more… warm and inviting than the West Side clubs.
My favorite joint was The Checkerboard Lounge. I have seen hundreds of show at The Checkerboard. I’m not really sure you would call them “shows” because it was just a night at The Checkerboard with Lefty Dizz, Junior Wells, Dion Payton, on and on and on and on; B.B. Odom, Phil Guy, Magic Slim. The names just go on and on.
But it was the place.
It was 43rd Street.
It was the South Side.
It was where it was shaking loose.

Many pictures on this website were taken at The Checkerboard. I hung out at The Checkerboard after bigger shows…you know show up at 11 o’clock at night.
Saw Chuck Berry there
Saw The Rolling Stones there
Saw Muddy Waters there.
Talked to Keith Richards for an hour at the bar there.
The Checkerboard meant so much to us, my wife Kirsten and I were married on the stage of the Checkerboard Lounge in September of 1991.
So it was all good. You’ll see lots more and I will tell you lots more stories about The Checkerboard.
It was my home on the South Side of Chicago.

No comments yet