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Taking a look at the Numero Group label’s new Light: On the South Side release, Jason Cherkis also took to some tippling. At the suggestion of the label’s co-founder, Ken Shipley, he dug into the hefty book-and-LP set—-featuring songs and Michael L. Abramson’s photographs from Chicago’s mid-’70s funk-blues scene—-with some Crown Royal and can of Schlitz. Cherkis writes:
I realize that this exercise is almost racist: the Crown Royal, the Schlitz, and the Kools are all stereotypes of a certain experience, a certain scene. But there’s a point: They are all bridges to Pepper’s. So I stick with it, gulp down the cheap beer, turn the pages, and admire the men with Eddie Murray sideburns and the pimp scepters. In a few years, crack would take over and the blues would start to sound a lot like a Disney version. I don’t see anyone lavishing a box set on the House of Blues.
I want to keep staring at Abramson’s pictures.
Johnny Pepper opened the original Pepper’s in 1956 with a $500 loan from Ford Motors. He played host to the Chess record label’s masters and the wannabes, the harp heads and the guitar gods never to find a flock. The joint changed locations, grew a theme for Mondays called “Blue Monday,” and its owner eventually joined up with a harmonica player/label owner/drug dealer. The club stayed true, taking in feminism, funk, and a killer house band all within its small dance floor.
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