At 65 years in business and counting, Bob Koester is the undisputed dean of the independent blues and jazz label founders. A proud, but adaptable, “moldy g,” Koester has steadfastly loved Dixieland jazz, but also nearly every other musical variation on blues and jazz he ever encountered in its native habitat.


Begun in 1953 in St. Louis, the label was originally named for that city’s famed Delmar Boulevard, and rst produced recordings of Dixieland bands and blues pianists. After relocating to Chicago in 1958 and appending Koester’s “k” to the name, Delmark became internationally known for its recordings of such blues musicians as Junior Wells, Big Joe Williams, Sleepy John Estes, Magic Sam, and J.B. Hutto, as well as for groundbreaking jazz recordings by Sun Ra, the AACM, and many more.


Koester has also rescued and re-issued many obscure and previously unissued recordings after purchasing rights to defunct labels. His label and former record store, the Jazz Record Mart, became launch pads for the careers of many employees who became label owners, promoters,
musicians, and music journalists. At 85 years of age he still keeps a hand in the business while
focusing on his new store, Bob’s Jazz and Blues.


Bruce Iglauer is one of those aforementioned JRM employees who left to follow his passion. He began Alligator Records in 1971 in order to capture Hound Dog Taylor, his favorite barroom blues performer, on wax. To this date he has issued nearly 300 albums and built Alligator (now in its forty-seventh year!), into the most successful contemporary blues and roots label in the world today.

During his career he has served on many blues foundations, some which he helped found, including the National Association of Independent Record Distributors (NAIRD, later AFIM). Along the way his recordings have received more than forty Grammy nominations, of which three have won Grammy awards.

Dick Shurman is first and foremost the producer behind many of the great blues al- bums to come out of Chicago in the last several decades, on Delmark, Alligator, and other im- prints. He shares a 1987 Grammy with Bruce Iglauer for co-producing Showdown!, a collab- oration between Albert Collins, Robert Cray, and Johnny Copeland. Dick is also a blues historian and a prolific writer of liner notes, features, and news, who has been a regular contributor to Blues Unlimited, Living Blues, Block, and Juke Blues. He has been recognized with many honors for his contributions to both recorded music and the history of the blues.

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