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updated: 4/6/2012 11:37 AM

Moving Picture: Libertyville blues legend reminisces

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  • Barrelhouse Chuck Goering plays "Barrelhouse Woman" Wednesday, March 7, at Katerina's nightclub in Chicago. He learned to play the blues from piano legends Sunnyland Slim, Pinetop Perkins, Blind John Davis and Little Brother Montgomery.

       Barrelhouse Chuck Goering plays "Barrelhouse Woman" Wednesday, March 7, at Katerina's nightclub in Chicago. He learned to play the blues from piano legends Sunnyland Slim, Pinetop Perkins, Blind John Davis and Little Brother Montgomery.
    Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer

  • Barrelhouse Chuck Goering plays "Barrelhouse Woman" on the piano in his Libertyville basement. He's played piano with blues greats B.B. King, Bo Diddley and Buddy Guy.

       Barrelhouse Chuck Goering plays "Barrelhouse Woman" on the piano in his Libertyville basement. He's played piano with blues greats B.B. King, Bo Diddley and Buddy Guy.
    Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer

  • Barrelhouse Chuck sings "Ain't Nobody's Business" as blues legend Erwin Helfer plays the piano Wednesday, March 7, at Katerina's blues bar in Chicago. Chuck started his career as a teenager playing with Bo Diddley.

       Barrelhouse Chuck sings "Ain't Nobody's Business" as blues legend Erwin Helfer plays the piano Wednesday, March 7, at Katerina's blues bar in Chicago. Chuck started his career as a teenager playing with Bo Diddley.
    Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer

  • Barrelhouse Chuck Goering plays "School Days" Wednesday, March 7, at Katerina's blues bar in Chicago. He has appeared more than a dozen times at the Chicago Blues Festival.

       Barrelhouse Chuck Goering plays "School Days" Wednesday, March 7, at Katerina's blues bar in Chicago. He has appeared more than a dozen times at the Chicago Blues Festival.
    Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer

  • Barrelhouse Chuck Goering plays "My Own Lonesome Blues" Wednesday, March 7, at Katerina's blues bar in Chicago. He's a recording artist with The Siren Records with a critically acclaimed recording "Got My Eyes On You."

       Barrelhouse Chuck Goering plays "My Own Lonesome Blues" Wednesday, March 7, at Katerina's blues bar in Chicago. He's a recording artist with The Siren Records with a critically acclaimed recording "Got My Eyes On You."
    Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer

  • Barrelhouse Chuck Goering sings "My Own Lonesome Blues" Wednesday, March 7, at Katerina's nightclub in Chicago. He played with blues legend Erwin Helfer, taking turns playing sets on the piano throughout the evening.

       Barrelhouse Chuck Goering sings "My Own Lonesome Blues" Wednesday, March 7, at Katerina's nightclub in Chicago. He played with blues legend Erwin Helfer, taking turns playing sets on the piano throughout the evening.
    Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer

  • Video: Moving Picture: The Piano Man

 
By Gilbert R. Boucher II

Chuck Goering can't read sheet music.

At an early age, Goering was kicked out of his music class, where he was learning to play the drums. Then his piano teacher refused to teach him after a couple of lessons because she felt that he wasn't very good.

Somewhere along the way, Goering became "Barrelhouse" Chuck and a legendary blues piano player.

While living in Florida, Barrelhouse Chuck became enamored with the blues when heard his first Muddy Waters record featuring Otis Spann on piano. While still a teenager, he formed his own band and opened for Willie Dixon, B.B. King, and Muddy Waters. Eventually, he caught the attention of Bo Diddley and they began playing shows together.

"Bo Diddley would come around just to see me play and invite me to his house. He said to me 'Chuck, you got that Chess sound," reminisced Barrelhouse Chuck. "And as a kid, I got to open up for B.B. King. I was about 18 and it was a huge thing to open up for him!"

Chuck wanted to be in the heart of the blues so he took a gamble in 1979 and drove to Chicago to seek out the great blues piano player Sunnyland Slim. Over the next 16 years in Chicago, he developed his talents playing the piano by studying with Sunnyland Slim and other great blues piano players like Blind John Davis, Detroit Junior, Erwin Helfer and Little Brother Montgomery.

Just recently Barrelhouse played at New York City's Apollo Theater joining an all-star lineup of blues guitarists and musicians for the "Howlin' For Hubert" benefit concert.

Barrelhouse Chuck recalled the rehearsal before the show.

"Keith Richards walks in. He comes right by the piano and he says 'I know who you are. You're Barrelhouse Chuck. Man, you got love in your eyes.' And then he gives me a big hug."

During the show, Barrelhouse pounded the keys of his piano as Richards, of the Rolling Stones, stood side stage leaning on the piano and watching him play.

It has been a pretty good run for the blues legend who can't read music.

The blues memorabilia collection of local blues legend Barrelhouse Chuck Goering can be seen at "The Blues: From the Heart & Soul" exhibit on display at the Lake County Discovery Museum near Wauconda from February 18 to August 19.

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