In Memoriam: Jim Schwall (1942 – 2022)

Jim Schwall (November 12, 1942 – June 19, 2022) was an American musician, singer-songwriter, and photographer. He is best known as a co-founder and member of the Siegel-Schwall Band.

Jim Schwall was born in Chicago, Illinois, and currently resides in Tucson, Arizona. A singer-songwriter, he plays guitar, as well as mandolin, bass guitar, accordion, and other instruments. He studied music at Roosevelt University. There he met Corky Siegel, and became interested in electric blues music. Schwall and Siegel formed a blues duo in 1964, playing at Chicago bars and clubs. They performed regularly at Pepper’s Lounge and at Big John’s, where well known, established blues musicians such as Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, and Willie Dixon would often sit in. The duo expanded to a quartet and became the Siegel-Schwall Band. Schwall’s amplified Gibson B-25 acoustic guitar was a distinctive component of the band’s sound.

The Siegel-Schwall Band became quite popular, and by 1967 were touring nationally, performing at large venues like the Fillmore West and sharing the bill with well-known rock bands. Between 1966 and 1974, they released at least ten albums. They were also noted for their collaborations with Seiji Ozawa, combining blues with classical music. After 1974, they disbanded, but the band re-formed in 1987. They played occasional live dates and released two albums of new material over the following decade.

Schwall was also the leader of his own blues-rock band, the Jim Schwall Band. This band formed in the mid-1970s, and versions continued playing live on an intermittent basis into the 2000’s.

Schwall has also been involved in numerous other musical projects. He plays guitar and accordion in the band So Dang Yang, and is the bassist for the Cajun Strangers. He holds a PhD in musical composition from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1993, and has taught music at the college level. As a composer, he specialized in ballet, opera, and other music for the stage.

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