IN THE DARK with Brother John Kattke
It's now 2021, and concert venues have been silent for months. The echoes of cheering fans and loud amplifiers are all that remain in our memories of these once-packed halls. We're doing what we can to change that. Back in December, we took over a historic Chicago hall, and invited several area musicians to rip it up on stage. No rules- just an empty venue, a camera crew, and the spotlight.
While he was born in Minneapolis, MN, John has been living in Chicago since 1976. Known by most as Brother John, he has been a resident musician at Buddy Guy’s Legends in Chicago for 30 years. He has played with Eric Clapton, Steve Miller, the Black Crowes, and many more!
Brother John is well-versed in a variety of musical styles, and his favorites are a "gumbo mix of blues, jazz, funk, rock, and Latin." He recalls that his stringed instrument obsession began with the ukelele. After this, he progressed into playing the fiddle, which eventually led to the guitar- a move that was influenced heavily by his older brother who had all of the best guitar-centric rock records from Santana to Hendrix.
John is also an accomplished keyboard/organ player, and when asked what his favorite gig was, he told us of a few very memorable shows.
"The Montreaux Jazz Festival with Buddy Guy, although I was the keyboard player in his band. I had a several memorable gigs with Otis Rush also, opening for Plant/Page at the United Center and Pearl Jam at Soldier Field. I’ve played at the Chicago Blues Fest about a dozen times, that’s always a blast. And the “Message in Blue” record release party I did with Dave Specter at Evanston SPACE was incredible, with Otis Clay singing a few songs. There were also a few shows at the old Buddy Guy’s Legends with Matt “Guitar“ Murphy, one of the most amazing guitar players I’ve ever worked with! And just plain a cool guy to boot."
When John joined us on stage at Thalia Hall he performed an impromptu piece based loosely on a traditional Chicago blues boogie. As he typically works with bands or doing vocal gigs, he chose this piece because it was an instrumental he feels right at home with when playing solo.
As you'll see in the video, John is playing a gorgeous Gibson 1988 ES 347. John is the the second owner after buying it used in ‘89 or ‘90. "It’s currently in the shop because I slipped on the ice and the headstock broke, even though it was in the case." When asked what he loves most about our beloved six string, he responded: