Local Wire

Chico Chism

Legendary blues drummer Chico Chism turns 79 years old on May 23, and details from much of his seven-plus decades on Earth still remain a mystery. We know that Chism was born on a riverboat in Louisiana, to a mother of Cherokee ancestry. We know his birth name is Napoleon, and that he started recording as "Chico" in 1957. We know he's played with a plethora of notable blues musicians, including a lengthy stint with the incomparable Howlin' Wolf. Chism may never fill in the gaps in his private past -- he's always been very secretive about his background -- but Rhythm Room owner Bob Corritore managed to salvage a slew of his studio recordings for this new compilation. The CD contains seven tracks Chism recorded with The Wolf Gang (Howlin' Wolf's band) shortly after Howlin' Wolf died in 1976. Saxophonist Eddie Shaw does double duty as vocalist on all the tracks, while Chism glues the tunes together with his expert timing and slick rudiments. The bulk of the other tracks were culled from Chism's Cher-Kee Records label (now defunct), and include four tracks by Highway Man, two by Eddie Burks, and a 1978 recording of "Coo Fannie Coo," the only song in the collection that features Chism on both drums and vocals. The album's both a tribute and a testament to the musical legacy of Chism, who's still kicking around the blues bag after all these years.
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Niki D'Andrea has covered subjects including drug culture, women's basketball, pirate radio stations, Scottsdale staycations, and fine wine. She has worked at both New Times and Phoenix Magazine, and is now a freelancer.
Contact: Niki D'Andrea