‘Born in Chicago’ pays loving tribute to the origins of Chicago blues

Harvey Mandel at Park West

Born In Chicago, the music documentary with deep roots in the Chicago music and production communities, will have its U.S. premiere October 11, 2021 at the 44th Mill Valley Film Festival.  The film is produced by Northbrook, IL-based Out The Box Records.

Co-directed by Grammy-nominated Chicagoan John Anderson (Brian Wilson Presents SMiLE) and San Francisco-based Bob Sarles (BANG! The Bert Berns Story), the film tells the story of a small group of tough, white Chicago teenaged musicians who, in the early 1960s, took their love of the blues into the blues clubs on the city’s south and west sides.  They were treated like sons and encouraged by the original masters, including Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf, and they went on to play a key role in bringing the hard-edged, electrified Chicago blues to rock and roll.

Encompassing a wealth of explosive archival performance footage and no shortage of players steeped in blues heritage, Born in Chicago pays loving tribute to a distinctly American art form. This joyous doc traces the origins of Chicago blues from the Deep South to the South Side, as white prodigies such as Paul Butterfield, Mike Bloomfield, and Barry Goldberg seek out and fall in with Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Buddy Guy, and other Black legends, learn from them, perform with them, and introduce their musical tradition to a new generation of fans. Proving the blues revival of the 1960s went beyond Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, and The Rolling Stones, directors John Anderson and San Francisco’s Bob Sarles (Bang! The Bert Berns Story, MVFF 2016) meticulously showcase the era and conditions that made Chicago the epicenter of the American blues scene. Enthusiastically narrated by blues fan (and Blues Brother) Dan Aykroyd. –David Riedel

Thirteen years in the making, Born In Chicago first screened in rough-cut form at Columbia College’s Film Row Cinema in 2010.  It had its World Premiere during a successful 2020 run on U.K.-based Sky TV, and is the third in a trilogy of Chicago blues films helmed by Anderson, including Sam Lay In Bluesland (2016) and Horn From The Heart: The Paul Butterfield Story (2019).

Other Chicago connections to the film:

Exec. Producer: Timm Martin of Out The Box Records

Producer:  Barry Goldberg

Cinematographer:   Aaron Hui

Camera:  Frank Krochmal, Chris Delira, Alicia Healy, Alan Thatcher, Dan Martin, Paul Chilsen, Pete Biagi, Tom Piozet, Alejandro Marin

Starring:  Chicago Blues Reunion (Nick Gravenites, Harvey Mandel, Barry Goldberg, Corky Siegel), Charlie Musselwhite, Michael Bloomfield, Elvin Bishop, Sam Lay, Hubert Sumlin, BB King, Buddy Guy, Eric Burdon, Steve Miller, Marshall Chess, Keith Richards and Bob Dylan.   Written by Joel Selvin.


Bob Sarles and John Anderson, Co-Directors, Born in Chicago, will be available for an onstage conversation.