Anderson’s ‘Born in Chicago’ blues doc bows at SXSW

Blues stars in “Born in Chicago”

John Anderson’s new soulful documentary about Chicago’s greatest contribution to American culture – the blues – rolls out at the buzz-greasy SXSW Music Festival on March 13 in Austin, Texas.

“We think Austin – where music is so important – is a great place to launch,” says Anderson. “This is a music film, but it looks at the cultural and social upheavals of its time. We’re lucky being able to make it now when the main guys are still around to talk about it.

 The project grew when Timm Martin of Out of the Box Records asked Anderson to a Chicago Blues Reunion (Barry Goldberg, Nick “The Greek” Gravenites, Harvey “The Snake” Mandel, and Corky Siegel) show at Fitzgerald’s in 2004.

“I said to Timm, ‘If you ever want to make a movie about these legends, count me in,’ Anderson recalled. “These four – along with Michael Bloomfield, Paul Butterfield, Elvin Bishop, Charlie Musselwhite, Steve Miller and Jim Schwall, would change popular music – and who knows what they accomplished?”

Born In Chicago tells two interlocking stories – first, how white, middle-class kids ventured deep into smoky South Side nightclubs to learn the music and forge bonds with Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf and Sonny Boy Williamson II. And then, how these musicians went on in bands like Janis Joplin’s, The Electric Flag, and Canned Heat to bring straight proof Chicago blues into rock and roll.

The film bursts with great performances and interviews, vintage and current, with Bob Dylan, Keith Richards, Hubert Sumlin, Michael Bloomfield, Eric Burdon, Buddy Guy, Sam Lay, Harvey Mandel, Jim Schwall and Jack White.

Anderson produces/directs a variety of content

Marshall Chess, scion of the fabled Chicago family who ignited the post-war blues explosion at Marshall Chess of famous blues Chess RecordsChess Records, narrates. Producer John Beug won an Emmy for Eric Clapton Crossroads Guitar Festival Chicago. Barry Goldberg co-produced. Exec producers for Out of the Box are Timm Martin, Chris Stewart, Bert Moreno and Elliot Rabinowitz.

Anderson, an Emmy-winning and Grammy-nominated director, editor and executive producer, made Brian Wilson Presents SMiLE and The Beach Boys: Doin’ It Again.  He continues to produce music videos for his band, The Cleaning Ladys — celebrating their 35th anniversary this year — as well as documentaries and other genres.

“We’re really looking forward to our home turf Chicago premiere at CIMMfest in April,” Anderson said.

For the first Chicago showing of Born In Chicago, check or  The CIMMfest schedule will be announced March 20. For media, contact Bob Merlis


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