Southtown Star

The movie can play a part in bringing people together in this divisive age, says producer Bonni McKeown.  Darryl Pitts passes on his positive expectations too, in this neighborhood South Side article

Austin Weekly News, Chicago; West Side Blues blog

Chicago, IL, March 26, 2016—   Congressman Danny K. Davis, Illinois 7th District, invites everyone to celebrate our city's historic legacy of blues and soul music by supporting the Chicago independent movie The Rhythm and the Blues.  Davis and other officials are hosting a fundraiser April 3rd to help producers finish the film, which is two thirds complete and stars the actor Leon as the frustrated blues guitarist Eddie Taylor.

 "When they hear about the West or South Side of Chicago, too often people think 'Guns and Drugs'," Davis said. "What might help us in solving our problems is to see the positive forces in our community. One of these cultural assets is our amazing music. My generation brought these blues from the South during the Great Migration, and the blues are still with us today.  Music helps us keep on keeping on. So not only during Black History month, but all year, let's be thinking "Blues and Soul" instead of 'Guns and Drugs."

Endorsement from Dr. Cornel West

“I wholeheartedly endorse the magnificent film of the grand blues artist Eddie Taylor and his precious family. Please do all you can to support this powerful film.”

 --Dr. Cornel West

DNA Info

LAWNDALE — Blues musician Larry Taylor grew up in Lawndale during the '60s, with a strong appreciation for the community's value despite its hardscrabble exterior.

His stepfather, Eddie Taylor, was a legendary blues guitarist, and Larry was encouraged and supported by community members and fellow musicians.

“The thing that I loved about the era was a sense of black pride,” Larry Taylor said of his youth...

Soul Train mag

...Fans everywhere know Leon from his roles in soul and rock and roll-themed films like The Temptations, The Five Heartbeats and Little Richard, and he is happy to add a blues-related project to his resume.“That’s what I really love about this movie; the blues is a big part of our culture,”the actor said.“When you talk about the blues, it’s not just a form of music; it’s a form of expression for African Americans in this country.”


Illinois Entertainer

Despite the fertile ground of a rich blues legacy and an army of blues legends that call Chicago home, there have been very few cinematic narratives detailing Chicago blues history from the perspective of living blues musicians. Larry Taylor and Bonni McKeown decided to change that...

"Most of the time, what you see of the blues is very downtrodden and sad. I definitely don't want to make that movie," said Darryl Pitts...The story that I focus on for The Rhythm and the Blues is that you have to define what your success is...Larry overcame and his family coming together is the success."


Windy City Word

Nearly 100 top influencers gathered along with local Chicago celebrities to support Chicago’s newest film “The Rhythm and the Blues.” The film, which is set to shoot in the next couple of months, is set in the 1960’s and 70’s, and based on a true story of a Mississippi born family of blues musicians trying to make it in the Windy City.  Socialite and Public Figure George Daniels, Comedian George Willborn, Rapper & Artist GLC, and Craftsman Spokesperson Robert North , among other celebrities, were in attendance to support the new film.

Rolling Out

Nearly 100 top influencers gathered along with local Chicago celebrities to support Chicago’s newest film, The Rhythm and the Blues.

Based on the true story of a Mississippi-born family of blues musicians trying to make it in the Windy City, the film is set to shoot in the next couple of months. Producer Darryl Pitts plans to hire local Chicago actors and crew who will work alongside renowned blues musicians Guy Davis and Sugar Blue, along with several Hollywood stars.

George Daniels, iconic record store owner of George’s Music Room, comedian George Willborn, rapper and artist GLC, and craftsman spokesperson Robert North were among the celebrities.

Actor Leon (The TemptationsThe Five Heartbeats) says he looks forward to playing the lead role of Chicago-based blues guitarist Eddie Taylor...

Reel Chicago

Austin Weekly News, Chicago

Austin Weekly News:

"...The story of the Taylors is one that hasn't been told nearly enough, says veteran director Darryl Pitts. That's partly why he's currently campaigning to bring the Taylor's lives to film. The movie-in-progress is called "The Rhythm and the Blues" and it's loosely based on Larry Taylor's autobiography, "Stepson of the Blues."

"The film is really important because it deals with a music form that has really been forgotten in Chicago," said Pitts. "We've had everyone from Thomas Dorsey, Sam Cooke, Lou Rawls and even R-Kelly."

"I grew up in Chicago on the South Side," said Pitts. "I remember when my parents played the Blues. I always thought, 'Now everybody's going to get drunk and loud.' My opinion of the Blues was very small at that point." 

That was before he purchased his first song on an eight-track cartridge — BB King's "Never Make a Move Too Soon."

"It was a song about a man whose woman had left him with everything from a bill to an apartment that wasn't paid for," said Pitts. "I didn't realize that this was what the Blues is—the Blues is about frustration, about love, about pain. It's about all of those things..." 


Actor Leon Robinson Gives Supporters a First-hand Look

Chicago, IL – Nearly 100 top influencers gathered along with local Chicago celebrities to support Chicago’s newest film “The Rhythm and the Blues.” The film, which is set to shoot in the next couple of months, is set in the 1960’s and 70’s, and based on a true story of a Mississippi born family of blues musicians trying to make it in the Windy City. Socialite and Public Figure George Daniels, Comedian George Willborn, Rapper & Artist GLC, and Craftsman Spokesperson Robert North , among other celebrities, were in attendance to support the new film.

Hype Magazine

Hype magazine

... A lot of people think of Rhythm and Blues music only being in the southern back woods parts of the United States, but it has some of its strongest roots in Chicago.
In the 1940s and 50s with a significant movement of African Americans from the south to Chicago, they brought with them their culture of music.   At the time it was just Jazz and Blues, but then where the two overlapped, the world received Rhythm and Blues.  Rhythm and Blues told the stories of hard working poor people that also had to endure the issues of racism.  With the success of recent films such as The TemptationsGet on Up, and Little Richard, it is logical that soon there would need to be a film that honors Rhythm and Blues.  There is such a film that looks to accomplish that feat.  The film I am referring to is The Rhythm and The Blues: The Movie...

Austin Talks blog

Austin Talks:

When Larry Taylor, the stepson of blues musician great Eddie “Playboy” Taylor, learned a feature film would be made about his Mississippi-born family of performers, he wasn’t surprised.

“It was no shock to me,” said Taylor, who was born and raised on Chicago’s Westside.

Coming up in a family of musicians – his mother Vera Taylor was a blues singer, and stepfather Eddie a guitarist – he was no stranger to the entertainment industry, he said.

And through the film “The Rhythm and the Blues,” he hopes not only to show his life as a blues musician, but also reflect what it was like for him coming up in an era when blacks struggled socially and economically.

“I come up in the hard struggles here in Chicago, on the West Side,” Taylor said. “I went through many things. Experiencing gangs, drugs (and) the Civil Rights movement.”

It takes courage to display your whole life on screen, Taylor said, but he wants audiences to be inspired by his story.

Windy City Blues Society Newsletter

More about the upcoming home grown movie based on the life of a real Chicago blues family:

MARCH 12 | FUNDRAISER: The Rhythm and the Blues 

Supporters gathered at Exact Publicity at 161 W. Harrison for the first fundraiser for The Rhythm and the Blues, a new movie based on the life of local bluesman Larry Taylor. Below (top photo), Leon, who plays  bluesman Eddie Taylor in the film, charms the audience while Producer/Director Darryl Pitts looks on. Below (l-r) Larry Taylor, Producer/Writer Bonnie McKeown and Pitts. McKeown coauthored the 2010 book, Stepson of the Blues: A Chicago Story of Survival, on which the film is based. Filming has not yet started. 


Windy City Newsletter: event preview

CHICAGO STORY. The Rhythm and the Blues, a new feature film starring Leon (aka Leon Robinson) as bluesman Eddie Taylor (photo at right), is having a fundraiser Thursday, March 12, at 161 W. Harrison from 5:30-9:30pm. There will be live blues from Chicago-based blues singer Larry Taylor,whose life story forms the basis for the film. Leon and Director Darryl Pitts will also be on hand. The film is set in the 1960s and is based on the true story of the Mississippi-born Taylor family of blues musicians trying to make in the Windy City. Musicians Guy Davis, who will play Jimmy Reed, and Sugar Blue will also be involved in the film.

Letter of Support

As one whose family migrated to Chicago from Clarksdale, MS, and as one who grew up on Chicago’s West Side…, founding my real estate business on the West Side, representing the Eighth District in the state legislature, and still living and going to church here, I know the story of the West Side has yet to be told. The story is of interest to many.

 I understand that the story in TRTB portrays  family conflict, poverty and neighborhood violence that are faced and dealt with by the main characters, but these challenges are not allowed to ruin their lives.

 Furthermore, blues and soul music made on the West Side is admired by fans worldwide.  With this film, more people will get to hear more of this music. West Side musicians will get some long deserved recognition. The movie gives positive examples of mentors in the life of the main character, young musician Larry Taylor—including his grandmother, his first drumming teacher (one of Howlin’ Wolf’s drummers), a high school music teacher, a prison psychiatrist and a jailhouse lawyer. 

 I expect the movie, like the music, will bring people of various backgrounds together with positive feelings.  Please keep me informed of the progress of this extremely worthwhile project.

--IL State Representative LaShawn K. Ford, 8th District

From Blues and the Spirit Symposium founder

The Blues is undeniably the unifying principle for all of American music---for gospel, jazz, R&B, rock 'n' roll and hip hop.  It has left its footprints across Broadway and Tin Pan Alley and its power has seduced musicians and audiences across the globe. 

Critical race scholar Tricia Rose, speaking in the 2014 Blues and the Spirit Symposium about the significance of Blues, reminds us that we are not in this world as equals; we do not find ourselves on the same level or in the same circumstances. Power relations, economic or racial, shape our understanding of history and culture, and the stories we read and see about the Blues reflect these inequalities.  When we encounter these stories in isolation, without context, we imagine the gifts and the genius of individuals without an appreciation of the pain and suffering from which they come and that drive the meaning within their music.

When the story of American music is told, the significance of the Blues is too often marginalized and stereotyped, pulled out from its roots and appropriated from those who created it and who carry it in their bloodlines.  How could something so powerful and generative, so important to American identity and global culture, be so misunderstood?

Darryl Pitts’ film, The Rhythm and The Blues, revolves around the struggles and successes of Eddie Taylor Sr., his family, and other Chicago musicians, many of whom remain unheralded in the contemporary Blues Canon. Their own stories, their art and their cultural gift to the world for too long have been unacknowledged and unrecognized.  This film is the counter narrative to the misrepresentation.

BAPA Beverly Morgan Park Villager

BAPA Villager

Shadow and Act

The Englewood Film Festival improves the neighborhood by giving people to see a different side than the gloom and crime often reported, says producer/director Darryl Pitts, who  volunteers to talk with youth  about a healthier lifestyle.  He also advocates for jobs and education to give people hope in building a better neighborhood. "We know that great people can come from anywhere."

Rolling Out

Rolling Out interviews Darryl Pitts about his documentary "Kiss and Tell" which was renamed "Reel Black Love."  In a related Rolling Out story, actress Nia Long says romance is "close to God."