In the late 1970s and early 1980s, British blues fan Alan Harper became a transatlantic pilgrim to Chicago. "I've come here to listen to the blues," he told an American customs agent at the airport, and listen he did, to the music in its many styles, and to the men and women who lived it in the city's changing blues scene. Harper's eloquent memoir conjures the smoky redoubts of men like harmonica virtuoso Big Walter Horton and pianist Sunnyland Slim. Venturing from stageside to kitchen tables to the shotgun seat of a 1973 Eldorado, Harper listens to performers and others recollect memories of triumphs earned and chances forever lost, of deep wells of pain and soaring flights of inspiration. Harper also chronicles a time of change, as an up-tempo, whites-friendly blues eclipsed what had come before, and old Southern-born black players held court one last time before an all-conquering generation of young guitar aces took center stage.
"...in this gem of a book, he imparts his passion and knowledge in a witty, intelligent, revealing and honest manner. It’s a real page-turner..."--Record Collector
"Like a great concert that makes you want the owner to leave the bar open for one more round, one more encore. A tip of the pork pie hat to Alan Harper."--American Blues Scene
"Harper’s book, packed with interviews with club owners, musicians and magazine editors, and illuminated throughout by his own thoughtful and sensitive reactions to the many gigs he attends all over the city, is as enlightening as it is racy, as much an unblinking (and often engagingly self-deprecating) eyewitness account, full of telling detail, as an intriguing social history, dealing with such burning issues as authenticity, racial politics, music-industry practices, the difficulties of making a living as a blues player in an increasingly rock-dominated world."-- London Jazz News
"Harper absorbed Chicago blues utterly and wholly, and in this gem of a book, he imparts his passion and knowledge in a witty, intelligent, revealing and honest manner. It's a real page-turner."--Record Collector
"Part memoir, part history and part. . . bluesological lament for a time and place that we will never see again."--Goldmine
"Harper's memoir is beautifully wrought, and populated with an array of vivid and memorable characters… Flecked with insight, wit and warmth, it proves to be an evocative portrait of a bygone era."--MOJO
"Harper shares his stories of searching for the blues in Chicago in his crisply told, energetic, and vibrant memoir."--No Depression