Corky Siegel and Chihsuan Yang: Classical Blues

Corky Siegel and Chihsuan Yang: Classical Blues
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Yellow Moon Cafe

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Who: Corky Siegel and Chihsuan Yang
What: blues, classical music
When: 2015-03-28
Legendary Chicago blues musician Corky Siegel will return to Southern Illinois when he performs with
Brian Wilson

Legendary Chicago blues musician Corky Siegel will return to Southern Illinois when he performs with acclaimed violinist Chihsuan Yang Saturday, March 28 at Yellow Moon Café in Cobden.

Siegel has performed music since the mid-1960s, most notably as a founding member of the Siegel-Schwall Band. He and his bandmates had the chance to learn firsthand from the masters when they landed a gig playing at a Chicago club where blues greats Muddy Waters, Willie Dixon, Buddy Guy, and Howlin’ Wolf often performed. The Siegel-Schwall Band was signed to Vanguard Records in 1966, and released ten albums until breaking up in 1974.

The group reunited in 1987, and Siegel still tours occasionally with them. He is also a member of the string quartet Chamber Blues as well as the Chicago Blues Reunion, and has collaborated with several major symphonies.

Siegel loves each of the creative projects he’s involved in, but he’s particularly fond of the solo show he’s been doing, in some form or another, since 1975.

“Solo is unique in that the medium of silence, which is really what powers the music in the first place, is very, very present,” Siegel told Nightlife. “With a solo artist, it’s very present and powerful. When I went solo in 1975, it was following a whole career of performing with a high-intensity, physical blues band. So I was able to be a solo performer without any other instrumentation, piano or harmonica, because I had a lot of honor of silence. And it was there to support me, and it did and it was really fun.”

For this concert, Siegel will share the stage with Chihsuan Yang, a young musician from the Chicago music scene who has worked with Brian Wilson and Kings of Leon and has performed around the world at the Montreal International Jazz Festival, South by Southwest, and Lollapalooza.

“She is a very, very in-demand musician for chamber music, symphonic, and also rock ‘n’ roll.... She’s a great personality to be around,” Siegel said. “She makes people happy.”

Siegel says he’s excited to be back in Southern Illinois at the Yellow Moon.

“To me, the best thing about the show, the thing I’m most excited about as a performance, is the Yellow Moon, because it’s so intimate, so close, that the audience always feels like a celebration,” he said.

He also shares a unique connection to the venue. During the 1970s, he used to perform at a popular music club in Northern Illinois called Harry Hope’s, run by the family that later bought the Yellow Moon.

Siegel said he still thinks back to those times fondly and has discovered that same sentiment shared by several others.

“It’s one of the greatest memories of concertgoers I run into, as well as performers, from Muddy Waters to John Prine to Stevie Goodman,” he said. “We had a lot of wonderful performers in folk, blues, jazz. I played there four or five times a year, maybe more.”

Siegel said he’s happy to keep busy with his many and varied projects, including touring with the Siegel-Schwall Band.

“It may not be regular, but it’s forever,” Siegel said of the group. “There’s a lot of really important reasons why we will continue to play. We don’t reach out for performing, but when people call, we feel that if somebody really wants to do this, then it’s sort of the right thing.”

Siegel adds that while there have been certain decisions he has made during his long career that he has regretted at times, it’s all worked out for the best in the end.

‘I’m doing exactly what I want pretty much when I want, and fearlessly trying to be an artist and express myself and share my individuality,” he said. “I get to do and live and I’m really happy. I turned down a lot of stuff in my life, and I didn’t know it then, I wasn’t conscious of it, but when you accept an offer from someone who’s very wealthy and very powerful, it’s not likely you’re going to be steering the boat.”

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who: Corky Siegel and Chihsuan Yang

what: blues, classical music

where: Yellow Moon Café


when: Saturday, March 28