An Interview with Robert Koester: Owner of Delmark Records


Chicago’s diverse and supportive music scene is one of many reasons we’re proud to be based in this city. From hip-hop to rock, Chicago embraces all genres, but is most known for its mark on Jazz and Blues history. From King Oliver to Herbie Hancock, many great artists have spent pivotal moments of their careers in. For nearly one hundred years, The Windy City has remained the jazz and blues capital of the world. Not only that, but it continues to flourish with groundbreaking artists, legendary venues, and independent record labels.

Delmark Records, one of the industry’s most respected and influential Jazz and Blues labels, has called Chicago home for nearly 60 years. This past January, we had the chance to sit down with Bob Koester, owner of Delmark Records and the world’s largest Jazz and Blues record store, Jazz Record Mart. Bob Koester is a walking encyclopedia of Jazz and Blues history. It was amazing to hear about all of the artists he has not only worked with, but put up in his basement as well (including Big Joe Williams and Iggy Pop).

Recently, Koester sold Jazz Record Mart’s collection to online retailer Wolfgang’s Vault. Though the collection is safe and sound, vinyl fans know shopping online doesn’t compare to thumbing through decades’ worth of record crates at the store itself. Losing an institution such as Jazz Record Mart makes us that much more passionate about supporting local business and helping keep vinyl alive.

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