Big Bill Broonzy

Amsterdam Live Concerts 1953

Mississippi-born Big Bill Broonzy was a blues guitar player, singer, songwriter, early civil-rights activist and musician’s musician. He played acoustic guitar, but after moving to Chicago in the ’50s, his fusion of gospel, jazz, blues, rural folk and big-city rhythms laid the foundation for Muddy Waters and other South Side legends. Broonzy used blues as a stepping-off point for his own highly original music—bluesy, yes, but with a pop influence that allowed him to connect across racial and cultural barriers. Sadly, he’s been overlooked for the past 40 years, which makes this two-CD set worth celebrating. Recorded at the height of his popularity, it brings Broonzy’s authority across on every track: a larger-than-life presence that still dazzles us with its power all these years later.