Madison Blues Legend Paul Filipowicz to be Inducted into the Chicago Blues Hall of Fame

Features 02 Oct 2015

Paul FilipowiczMadison Blues Legend Paul Filipowicz to be Inducted into the Chicago Blues Hall of Fame


In Madison, we all know that Paul Filipowicz is the real deal and has been for forty some years. Now, the guitarist, singer, harmonica player, songwriter, bandleader will be inducted into the Chicago Blues Hall of Fame.

The ceremony takes place this Sunday, October 4th 2pm at Buddy Guy’s Legends 700 Walbash St, Chicago, IL. Other inductees include; Sam Lay, Tail Drager, Jody Williams and more. There will be live performances by the Hall of Fame inductees.

Filipowicz began music by playing the harmonica and learning to transpose that to guitar. He is self-taught and plays with his fingers, not a guitar pick. Filipowicz has recorded several albums which you can check out at his website (Read a review of Paul’s last CD, Saints and Sinners , here).

Filipowicz has befriended many famous blues players over the years, notably Lonnie Brooks and Luther Allison. You can read about that in this great interview conducted with him in 2012 by Michael Limnios.  Below is an excerpt from that interview:


I play amplified single note guitar driven blues songs that are based on Mississippi blues progressions. Much like the early Chicago blues players. I also am heavily influenced by the Texas guitarists Lightin Hopkins, T-Bone Walker, Freddy King and Albert Collins. I had the honor to see both Albert Collins and Freddy King numerous times and they both had a huge impact on me. Both of them were completely immersed in there interments and music. Both very aggressive guitarists.

My sound; I consider myself a West Side Chicago blues guitar player.  Early on I was into Sonny Boy and Wolf and Muddy so I checked out who was on guitar on the records and most everybody playing bass and drums included were from Mississippi.  So I started checking out musicians from Mississippi. I got to see Wolf a few times.  I saw Muddy at least 10 times and he had different guitar players with him every time.  All of them killer.  Sammy Lawhorn had this huge tone, really a sweet tone. Jimmy Dawkins was with him when I saw him in Bolder CO. 1973 or 74. I also saw Muddy in Denver, CO, around this time and “Guitar Junior” – Lonnie Brooks was playing guitar with him.  He sounded a lot like Freddie King on that show.

All this time I was traveling and. I would catch every blues show I could where ever I was. But I had to come back to the mid-west to catch real blues. Man nothing like seeing “Willie Dixon” live. As a performer he put on one of the best Chicago blue shows of them all.  So I started catching all the younger Chicago guitar players that were traveling a lot at the time. Otis Rush, words can’t describe the feeling he would put on a room. Buddy Guy & Junior Wells, Son Seals would light it up. He even did fancy dance steps when he was young. Very aggressive sound. Fenton Robinson was another cat that was real nice to me.  He had that T-Bone walker thing but did his own thing on top. I saw him in 71 with Charlie Musselwhite and I haven’t been the same since.

Freddie King was another nice cat. I would catch him every chance I got. He was fabulous high energy at all times. It was a shame what they did to him. The last time I saw him the led him out on stage and he didn’t even know where he was. He was dead a few months later.  He should have been in the hospital. I had an ulcer explode once so I know what he was going through.

Lonnie Brooks also helped explaining about song writing and hooks. Luther Allison was like a big brother to me. What a great guy he was, besides one of the greatest guitar players ever.  He also told me about that inner voice. We would talk for hours. All of these people and experiences helped shape my sound.  Aggressive no holds barred blues guitar like I heard when I was coming up. I also love the Texas players. Of course T-Bone walker was the Grand Daddy of all electric guitar players. His phrasing is still the industry standard for real blues guitar players.

Lightin Hopkins is not known for his electric playing but if you hear it you won’t believe how hot he played.  You can still find some of his albums with him playing electric. Then there’s his nephew the great Albert Collins.  Seen him a bunch. Words don’t describe him.  All these guys gave a “FEEL” and that’s what blues is.  It’s a “Feel”.

Also, On October 24th through the 31st, Paul has been invited to perform on the sold-out Legendary Rhythm And Blues Cruise from Ft. Lauderale to Key West, New Orleans and Cozumel. Filipowicz will be hosting the prestigious closing night Ceremonial Jam.

Filipowicz poster October 2015

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About the author

Rick Tvedt

Rick is publisher of Local Sounds Magazine, formerly Rick's Cafe, Wisconsin's Regional Music Newspaper. He is also the Executive Director for MAMA, Inc., a non-profit organization that produces the Madison Area Music Awards and raises funds to promote youth music programs.

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