Friday, March 17, 2017

Windy City Blues by Renee Rosen

Paperback, 448 pages
Expected publication: February 28th 2017 by Berkley Books

Twenty-something Leeba Groski, has always considered music as a safe haven in a world where she struggles to fit in. So when her neighbor Leonard Chess, founder of Chess Records, offers her a job at his budding Chicago Blues label, Leeba recognizes this as an opportunity to find a place for herself. What begins as answering phones and filing becomes much more as Leeba comes into her own as a songwriter. As she falls more in love with the music industry so too does she fall for a black blues guitarist named Red Dupree.

With their relationship unwelcome in segregated Chicago and the two of them shunned by Leeba’s Orthodox Jewish family, Leeba and Red soon find themselves in the middle of the Civil Rights Movement and they discover that, in times of struggle, music has the power to bring people together.

My Thoughts…

Windy City Blues is a jazz story.   Yet, the real story is the lives of Negroes and whites in Chicago in the 1950’s.      Red leaves the south and moves to Chicago to make music.    He leaves behind a world where he had to use a separate bathroom, sit in a different area while waiting for a bus, and so much more.    Thinking the north would be different he quickly realizes that it is not all that different than what he left behind.    I found it interesting how accepting he was of his place in Chicago.   He accepted that the life he was living is what he should expect.  I felt like he could have pushed a little harder to get what he dreamed but yet knew there would be repercussions to doing so.  

The Chess Brothers, which ran Chess Records, were heroes to me.   They not only stepped up and support the minorities when others were turning their backs but they understood that their musicians were actually part of their families.    They respected, took care of, and went beyond that of a boss.   The brothers paid them fairly, promoted them tirelessly, and helped them out in their personal and professional lives.   

 I listen to music all day long.   My radio is always on yet I have not listened to much jazz music.    Windy City Blues makes me want to find a jazz station and just listen all day long.    The music aspect intrigued me.   I knew nothing about how records were made, sold, and promoted in the 1950’s.     When I finished this book I found myself wanting to learn more about the history of jazz in Chicago, the producing of music in Chicago, and Chicago itself during the 1950’s.   

Book Links

Advance praise for WINDY CITY BLUES:
"Renee Rosen's passion for her subject matter is evident in every single word of WINDY CITY BLUES. This novel about the rise of the Chicago Blues scene fairly shimmers with verve and intensity, and the large, diverse cast of characters is indelibly portrayed with the perfect pitch of a true artist."
—Melanie Benjamin, New York Times Bestselling author of THE SWANS OF FIFTH AVENUE

“A not-to-be-missed novel that hits all the right notes.”
RT Book Reviews, Book Club Top Pick

“Renee Rosen has written a fresh, exciting, and moving account to the Chess story. Even for someone who has lived much of it, I was still intrigued by this page-turner.”
Terry Chess, son of Phil Chess, the Co-Founder of Chess Records

“Renee Rosen does it again! With gorgeous authentic historical detail and star-crossed lovers you can’t help but root for, WINDY CITY BLUES is an up-tempo song of love, music, and the Civil Rights movement.”
—Stephanie Dray, New York Times Bestselling author of America's First Daughter

“Riveting reading, often heartbreaking, with moments of pure elation.”
—Shelley Noble, New York Times Bestselling Author of Whisper Beach

"Rosen captures the birth of Chicago blues from its shabby inception to its raucous success ...  I was engrossed by this novel.”
—Mary Morris, author of The Jazz Palace

“Rosen puts real characters on the stage and makes them sing and play for their lives. Racial conflict--black, white, Jewish--is front and center, making the struggles and triumphs as relevant to today's world as they were sixty years ago, strumming the same heartbreaking, soulful, all-too-human riff."
Sonja Yoerg, author of All the Best People

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