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A massive collection of vintage blues musician photos is coming to the Chicago History Museum

Written by
Grace Perry

It’s rare for a cultural movement to both shape a city’s soul and directly influence an art form’s evolution. But as home to the Chicago blues tradition, our city can boast just that. While the blues are ingrained in the fabric of our city, Chicagoans don’t usually have the opportunity to dig into the genre’s rich history. Beginning in April, you can explore a vast collection of images taken by renowned blues photographer Raeburn Flerlage in the Chicago History Museum’s new exhibition, “Amplified: Chicago Blues.”

Flerlage lived in Chicago from the late 1950s through the ’70s, and during that time got a front-row seat to an exciting musical community. Snapping images of artists such as Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, BB King, Joan Baez and Bob Dylan—including live shows, portraits and candid shots—Flertage captured the heart of Chicago for nearly two decades. Excerpts from Flerlage’s journals and personal letters, as well as photos of the Bud Billiken Parade and freelance work he completed for record companies, are available now through the museum's online research center. Even if you don't consider yourself a blues fan, “Amplified: Chicago Blues” offers a fascinating deep-dive into our city’s cultural history.

“Amplified: Chicago Blues” runs from April 7, 2018 to August 10, 2019 at the Chicago History Museum. If you just can’t wait, check out the online collection of Flerlage’s work here.

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