Photo: Stephanie Bassos
Not many musicians have compiled as impressive a rsum in one idiom let alone multiple ones as composer-instrumentalist-bandleader Corky Siegel. Hes honored alongside figures like Willie Dixon and Howlin Wolf in the Chicago Blues Hall of Fame, and hes also the recipient of a Meet the Composer-Readers Digest Commissioning Program grant, putting him in the company of art-music luminaries like Steve Reich and Philip Glass. Despite his accomplishments, Siegel isnt one to ascribe himself any special significance.
Im a guy who plays the blues, he tells the Scene. Everything else Ive done is based on that. The blues has been the pedestal Ive worked from my entire life.
Siegel, who began as a saxophonist but switched to harmonica, was a key member of the school of white blues musicians who honed their skills in Chicago in the 60s. With guitarist Jim Schwall, he created the Siegel-Schwall Band, a pioneering unit that worked alongside other now-legendary musicians such as Michael Bloomfield, Charlie Musselwhite and Harvey Mandel. The Siegel-Schwall Band also often shared the stage with Chicago blues royalty during regular engagements at Peppers Lounge.
We were using the rhythm sections of Howlin Wolf and Muddy Waters a lot, Siegel recalls. There ...