Sunday, March 5, 2017

Windy City Blues: A Novel by Renee Rosen

Windy City Blues: A Novel by Renee Rosen; Penguin Publishing Group. Copyright 2017. pb, 480 pp. ISBN: 9781101991121.  

Leeba Groski, daughter of immigrant Polish Jews, becomes a filer and receptionist for a new record company in Chicago, Illinois, in the post-WWII years.  She’s working for Leonard and Evelyn, mismatched partners who are spotlighting new talent in music specifically catering to colored (word used appropriately for that time) folks.  

The business collapses and a fluke accident enables Leonard and his brother to open a new music production company (the Chess brothers).  Leeba or Leah as she renames herself very slowly evolves into a fine writer for blues musicians.  Red Dupree (Jimmy Rogers in real life), a young black man, has come to Chicago to make his mark as an electric guitarist initially and then to write and have his music produced.   Acknowledged as a superb guitarist, he fails to get a contract for his own compositions.  However, after tremendous struggles, he gets hired as a band member for the notable “Muddy Waters,” and their music takes off.  Leah, Leonard and Phil make new friends and business contacts whom they will sign on as future “blues” stars.  

However, the equally dominant story behind the music concerns the virulent storm created by the fiery love, romance and marriage of Red Dupree and Leah.  They become part of the Freedom Riders movement and ultimately the Civil Rights Movement created by Dr. Martin Luther King.  

The majority of this fine novel contains a constant tension lowered at just the right moments with the magic of creating and playing music, as well as the passionate love and troubles of Red and Leah. 

Out of the suffering of racial prejudice arises a vibrant “sound” that changed the course of American history! Finely crafted historical fiction, Renee Rosen!

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