Bonni's 2020 year end report and THANKS  

A  big THANK YOU to everyone who donated in 2020 to keep the boogie going . thanks to you I'm on track to have my novel  edited (see "Chicago Blues Plantation" below,  and be ready for musical opportunities.  Read my year end report /fundraiser to catch up  HERE

New Novel in the works: Chicago Blues Plantation 


A Novel under construction by Bonni McKeown 


Chapter 1: Two Brothers 

Marcus Sr., Mississippi Delta, October 1948 

Saturdays in October, the cotton bosses paid off. Marcus Manning and his younger brother Luther, guitars strapped across their backs, headed to Rendell to cash in. Just in their teens, the Manning brothers had built a musical reputation around the Delta. People pointed them out—Marcus, the tall, dark and rangy one; Luther, shorter, more…

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My Austin Weekly News Blog "West Side Blues" 

Local neighborhood papers these days are rare, but since I've had the privilege of writing a blog and news articles for the Austin Weekly News. Mainly I write about  people, arts and culture of the West Side of Chicago.  Austin is located on the far west of the West Side.  It turned very quickly from a white working class area into a Black neighborhood in 1970, right as the Great Migration era was ending and jobs were beginning to leave the city.  People here have survived in a slow economy ever since. The…

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Chicago still isn't promoting blues on West and South Side 

Three years ago in 2017, I spearheaded, with West Side  travel agent Crystal Dyer, a series of community talks on West Side blues and culture.

This was after a Crain's Business article showed the city is losing millions for failure to promote its local music.

In 2020, Mayor Lori Lightfoot launched "Year of Chicago Music" and spent thousands of dollars on a cute logo, "Music in the Key of Chicago."  The program was set to highlight 18 days of downtown festivals of various genres, which arenow in question due…

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The New Normal. Time for some Rhythm 'n' Rage! 

The New Normal



The fraying of nerves

as democracy crumbles--

“The new normal.” “Get used to it.”

Work til you’re 85, chained and indexed,

Minimal wages.


Get used to schools that teach nothing

but how to stand in line.

Get used to poison rivers

Smelling like licorice.

Get used to city hall

abandoning neighborhoods

to build stadiums 

Roman circuses. No bread involved. 

Get used to Daddy Mega Warbucks

sucking in tax dollars,

exhaling fire: bombs and drones;

Get used to Big Brother

perching on your…

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Tribune critic: Black blues clubs essential to art form 

Tribune critic Howard Reich points out that Black clubs are essential to the art form


Chicago Tribune music critic Howard Reich, in a long article Nov. 27, 2011,  nudged the arts community toward recognizing and promoting the blues as a Chicago treasure. 

"How long," Reich's article asks, "can a music that long flourished on the South and West sides —…

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Endangered Blues V: Black sons and daughters of blues need more promotion 

Aug. 25 to Sept. 1:   A time at the end of summer to look into the history of the blues, find out how greed and racism are impacting the music, and envision a new future of peace, justice and fun.

 What's wrong with this picture? It's the cover of a 1969 album "Fathers and Sons" produced by Marshall Chess, featuring Muddy Waters with some of his talented young white blues students. 

 Yes, people of all ethnic groups can play and enjoy the blues. I'm blessed to play the piano. But blues is an art form rooted…

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Endangered Blues Part IV: Big Biz Squashes Out Good Music 

  This month Latin jazz musicians are suing the Recording Academy over a controversial decision to eliminate two dozen Grammy awards categories for ethnic and roots music jazz-grammy-elimination-1005304552.story

  Some observations of Chicago Tribune jazz critic Howard Reich, just before the 2011 Chicago Blues Fest, shed some light on the under-valuing of American roots music. Like many things it can be traced to the…

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Endangered Blues III: The Unhandy Truth about Blues Foundation 

Look around the country at the lineups at so-called “blues festivals.” You’ll often find they’re headlined by a rock star or by one of a handful of famous aging African American blues men or women.  The rest of the lineups tend to be white bands. Where are the baby boom generation of Chicago’s African American musicians—the ones who learned directly from Howlin Wolf and Muddy Waters? Do they exist?

 Yes. They’re here! But they’re not getting hired or promoted, thanks in large part to a national organization…

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