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Barrelhouse Bonni: News

Blues for a New Mayor - April 13, 2019

AustinTalks, the internet newsletter sponsored by Columbia College, printed Bonni's blues recommendations for incoming Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot.

Larry Taylor series at Water Hole - March 12, 2019

During the Feb/March 2019 Black History series at the Water Hole - Chicago's Juke Joint at 1400 S. Western, Bonni shared the stage with Blues Legend Larry Taylor. Guests West and South Side blues singers Mzz Reese and Merv Murphy; blues masters and visiting local Blues Legends/sons of blues including such as Elmore James Jr.,  Eddie C. Campbell Jr., Bobby Slim James.  in this VIDEO,  Larry sings/howls "Tell Me Baby", in Howlin Wolf's "Smokestack Lightning / Commit a Crime" groove, March 11 with Odie Payne III and Freddie Dixon (sons of Odie II and Willie Dixon) as guests on drums and bass.  Joe B led the band on guitar for the series.

Local Black Business women gave five-minute talks about their businesses during February: Crystal Dyer, travel agency, Gone Again Travel and Tours; and Valerie Leonard, consultant, Nonprofit Utopia.


Nonprofit Blues with Valerie Leonard - January 30, 2019


On a cold day in January 2019 nonprofit and neighborhood development consultant Valerie Leonard of Nonprofit Utopia interviewed each other at Chicago Hope Cafe about how they can help make things better. 

Bonni on Blues education

Valerie and Bonni on James Crow!

Blues for good in the Hood - August 28, 2018


Can live blues music make a park safer?  It sure helps!  Check out Bonni's Austin Weekly News Blog and watch s VIDEO of her playing with Larry Taylor's band in Hubbard Park with the BUILD nonprofit program "Light in the Night."


Bonni gives annual IL Quaker lecture - July 5, 2018


Each year one of the members of meetings gathered in the regional Illinois Yearly Meeting of Friends gives a talk about their life's spiritual journey. In her  Plummer Lecture June 24, 2018 at ILYM, Bonni talked about how we can choose , every minute, to follow our ego or the Divine. Text of the whole thing posted by Oak Park Friends Meeting, where Bonni is a member.

She also led blues workshops and singalongs during the annual meeting at McNabb, IL.  


Bonni writes about cool people on West Side - January 8, 2018


In the fall of 2017, Bonni added freelance stories to her Austin Weekly News writings. She had a chance to interview the iconic couple Charlie Joe and Marie Henderson and their Out of the Past Records shop on Madison Street; Rosemarie Rodriguez at her Tee Snack Shop;  and Dr. Rashad Saafir who talked about the effect of hardships in the hood on people's mental health.

Blues for West Side Tourism - June 30, 2017


In summer 2017 Bonni helped organize a series of public discussions about blues, arts and culture for neighborhood development and tourism. Guest speakers have included Dr. Janice Monti, professor at Dominican who has led blues tours and symposia; State Reps. LaShawn K Ford and Camille Lilly; community and nonprofit guru Valerie Leonard; and bluesman Larry Taylor. Hosted by Crystal Dyer at Gone Again Travel and Tours.   Bonni and Larry also appeared on Valerie Leonard's "Nonprofit U" podcast . of June 19, 2017: Read about the continuing efforts on blues for community economic development in Bonni's West Side Blues blog


Good old music for today: Bonni at Chi Music Awards - May 4, 2017


Blues music for the benefit of Blues Communities! Bonni talks about her current projects including Larry Taylor's CD "New Chicago Sounds" and how the good old stuff never goes away.  VIDEO

Spreading the story of blues - January 13, 2017


Southwest Side newspaper gives a progress report on Barrelhouse Bonni... music, film, blues education and how blues brings people together!


The Rolling Stones got it HERE! - December 21, 2016


The new Rolling Stones new album "Blue and Lonesome" is all Chicago blues--including a song by the late Eddie Taylor Sr., stepfather of Larry Taylor, the bluesman Bonni works with.   We're raising money to complete Larry's second album. You can help bring this great old/new music forward in 2017!

Unity in Diversity Picnic - July 24, 2016


Barrelhouse Bonni and Larry Taylor's acoustic duo performed at the annual Beverly Unity in Diversity Picnic on the grounds of Unitarian Castle, 103 and Longwood. Thanks to all who helped make the picnic a success. Glad to be part of it!

West Side revives blues! - June 1, 2016

From Bonni's "West Side Blues" blog with Austin Weekly News. Austin is the farthest west neighborhood on the West Side.  Can blues lead to an economic and social revival in the neighborhood?

Congressman Davis hosting movie fundraiser! - March 26, 2016

Chicago, IL, March 26, 2016—   Congressman Danny K. Davis, Illinois 7th District, invites everyone to celebrate our city’s historic legacy of blues and soul music by supporting the Chicago independent movie The Rhythm and the Blues.  Davis and other officials are hosting a fundraiser April 3rd to help producers finish the film, which is two thirds complete and stars the actor Leon as the frustrated blues guitarist Eddie Taylor.


“When they hear about the West or South Side of Chicago, too often people think ‘Guns and Drugs’,” Davis said. “What might help us in solving our problems is to see the positive forces in our community. One of these cultural assets is our amazing music. My generation brought these blues from the South during the Great Migration, and the blues are still with us today.  Music helps us keep on keeping on. So not only during Black History month, but all year, let’s be thinking “Blues and Soul” instead of ‘Guns and Drugs.”


Shot last summer in Chicago with local supporting actors and professional crew, The Rhythm and the Blues is a 20 minute urban drama about a family of blues musicians trying to make it in the Windy City in the 1960’s. Producers are seeking around $30,000 to finish two to three more days of filming.  Guy Davis, an acoustic blues musician and actor, the son of the late Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis, plays the great Jimmy Reed, Eddie Taylor’s music partner on the road.  Local actors Dasaun Sanford and Melanie Loren play the roles of teenaged Larry and his mother Vera.


Joining Rep. Davis in hosting the fundraiser Sunday April 3, 2016, 4:30 pm until 9:00 pm at Ashunti Resource Center, 4350 W. 16th St., Chicago, will be The Rhythm and the Blues producer Bonni McKeown; State Reps. LaShawn Ford and Arthur Turner Jr.; County Court Clerk Dorothy Brown; former alderman Wallace Davis; present aldermen Michael Scott Jr., Jason Ervin, Chris Taliaferro and alderwoman, Emma Mitts, Cmsr. Richard Boykin, Water Rec. Cmsr. Barbara McGowan, State Sen. Patricia Van Pelt, former Ald. Ed Smith, plus Loretta Kidd, Larry Howard, Don Patterson, Lester Barclay, Urban Technicians, Mary Gardner, and a host of others.


Larry Taylor, on whose life story The Rhythm and the Blues is based, is one of current Chicago’s talented blues musicians—a West Side singer and drummer.  He’ll bring his Larry Taylor Blues and Soul Band to play at the fundraiser April 3rd.  Soul singer Cicero Blake will be a special guest singer. Former Ald. Isaac “Ike” Carothers will bring his saxophone.  Refreshments and a lucky drawing are offered. It will be a house-rocking great time. 


Those not able to attend the party April 3rd can still donate on line at the film’s website:


Larry Taylor brings it in Beverly - March 19, 2016

Southwest Chicago will never be the same!  The Larry Taylor Blues and Soul band, with Larry's uncle Jimmy Burns as guest, is invading the Horse Thief Hollow!


Barrel housing in Church??? - January 3, 2016

Barrelhouse Bonni, accustomed to quiet Quaker services, will try her hand at playing music at Beverly Unitarians in southwest Chicago on July 17. It's at the castle at 103rd and Longwood.

New Year, New Blues! 2016 - January 1, 2016

Kicking off the new year 2016 at the Good Times Lounge on the South Side with Larry Taylor and Killer Ray Allison's band: Doug on bass, Chris on drums.


Larry Taylor's 60th birthday - November 30, 2015

If not for my 12-year friendship with Chicago bluesman Larry Taylor, I would not know nearly as much about America's greatest roots music.  Larry carries a lot of history in his head and in his voice. Celebrate his 60th birthday with us, and support our efforts to win new fans for the blues, and keep the old!  

Larry  Taylor's Birthday Bash!

Sat. Dec. 12, 7:30 p.m.  -   2 a.m.

at the Water Hole, 1400 S. Western Av., Chicago IL 60608


Admission $5.00 (to pay the band!)

Special Guests: Little Johnny and Ms. Rodeo

Food from Ellie’s Cafe in southwest Chicago

Cash bar -  over 21

I helped produce his album (and another one on the way!) More about Larry:

Barrelhousing in Beverly Art Walk - October 10, 2015

During the Beverly Art Walk sponsored by the Beverly Arts Alliance OCt. 3,, Bonni could be found barrel housing in two locations--the Pelar Pop-up art gallery at 99th and Wood streets, and the Beverly Bakery, a local institution run by the Quigley family at 105th and Western .  Singers Gloria Shannon and Larry Taylor were special guests, and the occasion was written up in the Windy City Blues Society newsletter by Karen Murphy: 

Thrill Not Gone! The Best BB King Memorial - May 19, 2015

Read my column in the Austin Weekly News, May 17 2015.  The best memorial to BB might be for African Americans to re-inherit the blues.  With all our help!

Bonni working on blues movie - March 14, 2015

  Bonni wrote a script for a feature movie based on events in the life of bluesman  Larry Taylor and family: The Rhythm and the Blues.  Working with Darryl Pitts,  an experienced Chicago movie and TV producer, the film project has attracted  Hollywood and New York stars plus a lot of interest in Chicago's film community.   Actor LEON, who appeared as David Ruffin in the movie The Temptations, has  signed on to play a leading role : the late  blues guitarist Eddie Taylor, Larry's stepfather.  Leon joined the producers and Larry's band at a support party March 12 in downtown Chicago at Exact Publicity.   

LarryBonDarrylKMurphy312.jpg                LeonBonDaryl1_312_resized.JPG

Support Bonni's mission - December 11, 2014

It’s always been a challenge for an American artist of any type to make a living while maintaining one’s integrity. But it’s phony and boring not to do the real thing. Why bother? So your support means everything.  


You can donate tax-deductible through Fractured Atlas, a New York based arts organization which makes it possible to support the work of individual artists.  You can donate on-line at the following link, or contact Bonni about how to donate by check.

 DONATE by credit card online at this link, where you can also find a description of Bonni's arts project activities:

Bonni plays with Taylor Bros. - December 4, 2014

Sometimes when a talented musical family is in demand by everyone, you can't catch them playing together. In a rare moment, guitarist Eddie Taylor Jr. and drummer Tim Taylor appeared with  singer Larry Taylor as Larry's band played in the Windy City Blues Challenge, November 2014. Bonni played keyboard with them. 


Blues at the BBF social agency - October 11, 2014

Better Boys Foundation has served youth on the West Side since the late 1960s.  Bonni asked videographer Chris Wilkinson to record a 2013 concert there, featuring profound West Side blues singers Larry Taylor and Willie D. Freeman. BBF featured the resulting video in its 2014 summer film festival, Sundown in K-town. Here's an excerpt:

Maxwell Street Blues Bio's - September 1, 2014

During early 2014, Bonni pulled together research from books, on-line links and videos to write over three dozen blues biographies, and major descriptive stories for the Maxwell Street Foundation website. The foundation grew out of a group that protested the destruction of historic buildings and moving of the open-air market on Chicago's Near West Side.  From 1912 to 2001, the market brought all types of people together to buy, sell, and hear blues and gospel music on the street.

Bonni Blogs the Blues for Austin Weekly News - September 30, 2013

West Side blues history and today's talented players can be thought of as assets to this struggling community. Austin is the farthest-west neighborhood in Chicago.  The Austin Weekly News and Oak Park Journal are doing writing and advertising campaigns to bridge the gap.

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