Traveling bluesman and storyteller showcases Black resiliency across mediums.
As the time is winding down, toward this cultural shift or reset, intense feelings arise. Reflections of the past and some of hopeful revolutions. The emphasis heavily remaining on who we are at our cores is critical, however where we choose to take ourselves on this journey rings louder. An alarm or reminder in a sense. To find a vehicle for our voices, to salvage our creativity while patching holes with tools found amidst our travels. For the Blues musician, writer and publisher, Lincoln “Chicago Beau” Beauchamp Jr., art across generations and oceans continues to be fuel for his creative mind.
The intro to our interview began with lots of energy and excitement from the artist. I could tell already that he was full of stories, with me eager to hear them. Knowing that so many of them may never get told just because there will never be enough time. Beauchamp’s stories began from his formative years living in southside Chicago. Art, music and culture were prominent in the structure of his talents, as he remained observant of his mother and father’s ties to the community and the life they lived. He found his footing in the music scene, watching and playing the Blues in respective clubs in Chicago as a teenager in the 60s. “My stage name was given to me by Muddy Waters.”, Beauchamp stated. With that stamp of fellow blues legend, the harmonica player and singer “Chicago Beau” was introduced to the world.
During this part of our conversation, Beauchamp also noted how scarce harmonica players have become in recent times. I had not wondered about that until now, almost assuming the art itself was just being maintained elsewhere and I just was not aware of it. A clear indication of his commitment to his craft and to this music genre after all these years.
Before entering his 20s, Beauchamp adamantly sought out to elevate his career in music and soon-to-be writer as he traveled to New York for the first time and quickly followed a path out to Europe. From there, his adventures advanced. Traveling and performing in new cities and countries, exemplifying his willingness to go. To move onward and upward in his experiences as a musician, writer, father and husband. And he has done it all!
In 2016 Beauchamp released his latest album, “Black Names Ringing”. The delivery for each track is phenomenal in its tantric ability to bring its audience closer, in perspective and sound. The project triggers a timely relevance and conversation regarding the whirlwind of complications that shot up in 2020. On the track, “My Ancestors”, Chicago Beau breathes a jolting attention through his harmonica then sends the story of his (and our) ancestors through a ring of victory with his vocals. I felt a rocking through my soul as “I am a Black Snake”, played loudly and saw a brand-new perspective on how the Blues receives and translates critical times between chords on, “You Can’t Send the Children to School”.
My growing appreciation for Beauchamp’s work spurred the same with the Blues genre he performed. The musician gives us a deeper look into his life and career with his first memoir, “Too Much Unconvenience: Recollection of a Blues Gypsy”. It outlines his life from his earliest memories with his parents and sister to his current endeavors. The work reveals his observations of life and the perseverance to roll with the unexpected. The book was also published in 2016, in Kansas City, Mo, where Beauchamp has resided for the past 6 years.
As the founding editor and publisher, Beauchamp’s most recent work, the first edition of Spandana, a marvelous compilation of art, poetry, short Stories, photography and interviews from voices across the world. Listed are 25 contributors, including myself, ranging beautifully in multiple art forms. The creativity displayed within its pages reflect a resistance the weight of the times, while being a reference guide to art and cultures of the countries they are produced. To be seen and held safely in the hands of strangers, finding kinship through the pages. Beauchamp opens with three poems of his own, with one sharing a oneness with his craft and the complexity of the story that the Blues carries through time. The last 2 stanzas of Beauchamp’s poem, “I, The Blues” still sits with me.
I, The Blues “Yes, I am Muddy Waters, Ida Cox, Bessie Smith, Howlin’ Wolf and Maceo. I am enough legend To fit the Great Wall I am the unbridled intensity of Black people’s creativity. I am the millions of African progeny On whom the sun will never set I am the peace of Uhuru And curator of my culture so widely Dispersed I am the art of life, I am Blues, I am Negritude” (Spandana, 19) Lincoln “Chicago Beau” Beauchamp’s life, music, writing and publishing has all influenced those around him to travel, explore and experience life. Who is to say what answers we find about ourselves when we are open to new intriguing sights? Our vision is ever evolving, cultivating a purposeful greatness through each small exploration. A wander lusting spirit is settled within each of us, making it easier to connect to the differing paths without becoming engrossed in whatever ugliness comes with it. This is also the time to choose to explore ourselves, our wants and needs wholly as time becomes more available to us. After all, isn’t that what the Blues is about, a migration of rhythm, rock and resilience.
Michelle L. Hill
Embodies the peace adventure yields, is home in the beyond, and establishes foundations needed for others to experience true wonder for themselves. Writer for The Black Sunflower.