A blog by the staff of the Thomas Ford Memorial Library
Dean Milano spent Tuesday evening, April 10, at Thomas Ford singing Chicago-penned songs and telling us stories about a vibrant period of local musical history. If you missed the program, don’t also miss his book. Here is a slightly updated review that I wrote when the book was new.
I arrived in the Chicago area in the early 1980s, just after the period detailed in The Chicago Music Scene: 1960s and 1970s by Dean Milano. Still, I heard several of the musicians that Milano included in his 2009 Images of America book. We have even had a couple of them play at our Friday at the Ford concert series. Turning through the photo-filled pages, I wish I had an iPod loaded with music from all the identified singers, instrumentalists, and bands. There was a lot of Chicago folk, blues, country, jazz, and rock.
Milano is a veteran musician himself and appears in a handful of the photos. His presence in them helps make a point about Chicago musical acts – the lineups were always changing. Bands would often change singers, lead guitarists, or drummers. A substitute bass player might be needed for a gig at a jazz club. Some talented musicians appear in several sections of the book with folk, jazz, and rock acts, as they often crossed the fuzzy lines separating the musical genres. The word “fusion” is used by Milano several times.
Like other books of the Images of America series, The Chicago Music Scene is 128 pages of photographs with captions, telling a broad story of a place through pictures. In such a book, the writing of the captions is critical, and I wish Milano had had a little more editing. I am confused as to who the individuals are in some of the group pictures. I am not certain Milano himself knows in every case. Still, he takes us back to a time and place that some of us would like to visit. The Chicago Music Scene will entertain many people who grew up in the area. – Review by Rick