Living Blues Magazine, Issue #274

Bob Koester, The Jazz Record Mart, & Delmark Records

My segment of the article appears on page 37, and is transcribed below.

Full quotation courtesy of Living Blues Magazine

“I first met Bob Koester at Seymour’s Record Mart, which was on Wabash in the Loop. I was drawn there by a radio ad on a jazz station - don’t ask me which one! It was at Seymour’s that I was exposed to the very first blues LPs, which were just coming out on Chess, such as The Best of Muddy Waters and The Best of Little Walter. Subsequently, of course, Koester opened the Jazz Record Mart at 7 West Grand and was issuing a lot of blues and jazz on his Delmark label. It was at the JRM that I first met Big Joe Williams, John Lee Granderson, Homesick James, Charlie Musselwhite, and Michael Bloomfield. I think around 1964 or 1965 I worked behind the counter for a while, and learned how to pack and ship 78 rpm records properly. I also served as one in a series of night watchmen. In return, you could stay on a cot in the basement rent free. I believe Big Joe was probably the first night watchman, followed by Charlie, and then myself, and at some time after that, James Osterberg Jr. (Iggy Pop). Koester used to show short film reels in the basement, such as the Bessie Smith’s St. Louis Blues piece, or J. B. Lenoir bits. Original artwork for a Speckled Red LP could be seen on the basement wall. It was also amazing to see Big Joe’s guitar sitting down there. I used to run out and buy bananas or pound cake for Joe, the only thing he could eat before he got his dentures. Bob also let my band rehearse in the basement on a regular basis. Needless to say, there were plenty of great records to listen to, and Bob was a walking encyclopedia of record knowledge. He would always be arranging small forays to blues clubs, and I was thus introduced to Theresa’s Lounge (48th and Indiana), where on my first visit, Junior Wells had me sit in on harmonica and vocal. As a result, in 1965, I played some gigs there - even though I was not quite 21 at the time, the age enforcement was somewhat lax on the South Side. At one time, Bob expressed interest in recording me for Delmark, but I wound up on Fillmore Records with Elvin Bishop instead. Without a doubt, Bob Koester, the JRM, and Delmark were a major influence on the Chicago (and international) blues and jazz scene, a true subcultural mecca and hub for musicians and music lovers. I’m sure this presence was life-changing for many of us, especially those of us who were just coming of age. On my website, at, is a photo taken by Bob Koester, showing my band rehearsing in the JRM basement, along with a short description. Also seen in the image is the movie screen where Bob used to project his short films. - Applejack Walroth”