Corky Siegel

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Corky Siegel
Siegel in 1975.
Siegel in 1975.
Background information
Birth nameMark Paul Siegel
Born (1943-10-24) October 24, 1943 (age 77)
OriginChicago, Illinois, United States
GenresBlues, third stream, classical crossover
Occupation(s)Musician, composer
InstrumentsHarmonica, piano
Years active1964–present
Associated actsSiegel-Schwall Band
Chamber Blues

Mark Paul "Corky" Siegel (born October 24, 1943) is an American musician, singer-songwriter, and composer. He plays harmonica and piano. He plays and writes blues and blues-rock music, and has also worked extensively on combining blues and classical music. He is best known as the co-leader of the Siegel-Schwall Band, and as the leader of the Chamber Blues group.[1][2][3]

Musical career[edit]

Corky Siegel's professional music career began in 1964, when he met guitarist Jim Schwall. Both were studying music at Roosevelt University in Chicago. The two became a duo, performing blues music. They landed a regular gig at Pepper's Lounge, where well known, established blues musicians such as Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, and Willie Dixon would often sit in.[4] After a while the duo became a quartet, the Siegel-Schwall Band.

The Siegel-Schwall Band enjoyed increasing popularity, and by 1967 were touring nationally, playing at large rock venues like the Fillmore West and sharing the bill with famous rock bands.[5][6] Between 1966 and 1974, they released ten albums. After 1974, they stopped playing concerts, but the band re-formed in 1987. They released two albums of new material.[7] Until "Siegel-Schwall lovingly disbanded" in March 2016, they still played occasional live dates and featured drummer Sam Lay and bassist Rollo Radford; Lay played with Siegel in the Happy Year Band of 1973 which also featured Chicago blues guitarist Albert Joseph.[8]

The idea of combining blues and classical music was first suggested by classical conductor Seiji Ozawa. Ozawa brought together the Siegel-Schwall Band and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. They first performed "Three Pieces for Blues Band and Symphony Orchestra", by William Russo in 1968. In 1973, the band and Ozawa released a recording of this work performed with the San Francisco Symphony. In 1975, Siegel and Ozawa, with the San Francisco Symphony, first performed another William Russo work, "Street Music: A Blues Concerto". A recording of this piece was released in 1979.[9]

Inspired by his collaboration with Ozawa, Corky Siegel formed Chamber Blues in 1988. The group's music combines elements of classical, blues, and jazz. The band consists of a string quartet – two violins, a viola, and a cello – along with percussionist Frank Donaldson, and Siegel on harmonica and also sometimes doubling on piano. As of early 2019, Chamber Blues has released four albums,[10][11][12][13][14] and still tours nationally and internationally.[15]

Siegel has also worked on numerous other musical projects. In 2004, he was a member of the Chicago Blues Reunion band, which released the album Buried Alive in the Blues.[16]


With Peter Krammer, Corky Siegel wrote a book for musicians and music students, called Let Your Music Soar: The Emotional Connection. It was published by Nova Vista Publishing in 2007.


For Siegel's recordings with the Siegel-Schwall Band, see Siegel-Schwall Band.

  • Corky Siegel – Corky Siegel (1974 – Dharma)
  • Street Music: A Blues ConcertoSan Francisco Symphony and Corky Siegel (1979 – Deutsche Grammophon)
  • Out of the Blue – Corky Siegel (1980 – Stuff)
  • Goodbye California - Corky Siegel (1984 – Skitzo/Frenia Records [re-release of Out of the Blue])
  • Corky Siegel's Chamber Blues – Chamber Blues (1994 – Alligator)
  • Complementary Colors – Chamber Blues (1998 – Gadfly)
  • Solo Flight – Corky Siegel (1999 – Gadfly)
  • Corky Siegel's Traveling Chamber Blues Show – Chamber Blues (2005 – Alligator)
  • Buried Alive in the Blues – Chicago Blues Reunion (2005 – 33rd Street)
  • Different Voices – Chamber Blues (2017 – Dawnserly)


  1. ^ Corky Siegel at AllMusic
  2. ^ Corky Siegel interview on YouTube on WTTW public television
  3. ^ Corky Siegel biograpny Archived December 25, 2009, at the Wayback Machine at the official Siegel-Schwall Band web site
  4. ^ Widen, Larry (2005). Tombstone Blues. Apple Core Publishing Group. pp. 55–60. ISBN 1-4116-4823-4.
  5. ^ Concert review of the Siegel-Schwall Band at the Fillmore West, Billboard, March 27, 1971, pp. 28, 44
  6. ^ Milano, Dean (2009). The Chicago Music Scene: 1960s and 1970s. Arcadia Publishing. p. 47. ISBN 0-7385-7729-4.
  7. ^ Siegel-Schwall Band at AllMusic
  8. ^ "Corky Siegel: The Siegel-Schwall Band". Siegel, Corky. June 13, 2017. Retrieved January 17, 2018.
  9. ^ "Corky Siegel's History and Tall Tales — The Symphonic Blues" Archived September 5, 2009, at the Wayback Machine,
  10. ^ "Corky Siegel's Triple Blues Threat", National Public Radio, December 17, 2005
  11. ^ Bessman, Jim. "Siegel Makes Concerts Crystal Clear" Billboard, February 12, 2000, pp. 38–39
  12. ^ "About Chamber Blues" Archived June 30, 2010, at the Wayback Machine,
  13. ^ "Corky Siegel: Shop". Siegel, Corky. Retrieved January 17, 2018.
  14. ^ "Press Release: Different Voices". Siegel, Corky. 2017. Retrieved January 1, 2019.
  15. ^ "Corky Siegel Concert Dates 2018 -2019". Siegel, Corky. 2018. Retrieved January 1, 2019.
  16. ^ Fricke, David. Buried Alive in the Blues review, Rolling Stone, November 17, 2005

External links[edit]

  • Corky Siegel, the official website of his musical endeavors, including Chamber Blues and the Siegel-Schwall Blues Band