Living Blues Living Blues #233 : Page 7

BLUES NEWS Founded by Jon Gindick in 2010, the Sonny Boy Legacy Music Education and Performance Programteaches guitar, bass, keyboard, vocals, and harmonica to the children of Tutwiler, Mis-sissippi, the tiny, impoverished Delta town ten miles east of Clarksdale where blues harmonica hero Sonny Boy Williamson is buried. Gindick is from California but fell in love with the Mississippi Delta. “It is a magical, mystical place, a place where life slows down to the loping rhythm of the blues, and it is a place time forgot. But there is a steep price for that in the lives of its poorest citizens.” He started putting on a five-day Blues Harmonica Jam Camp three times a year at the Shack Up Inn in Clarksdale in 2009, and as part of the program, he would visit Sonny Boy’s gravesite in Tutwiler. He says, “I was moved by the legacy of the place, and also by the poverty. I wondered what I could give back.” He sought out the Tutwiler Medical Clinic, the subject of an LA Times article, and met with Sister Anne Brooks, the nun who runs the clinic. She helped Gindick come up with an idea for how he could give back to the community: he would start a music program for children at the Tutwiler Edu-cational Center. Run by Sister Maureen Delaney and the help of grants and donations, the center provides poetry and photography classes, a Blues school in Tutwiler TROy CaTCHINGS, CLaRkSDaLE PRESS REGISTER Members of the Tuwiler Blues School perform at Ground Zero, Clarksdale . computer lab, a basketball court, and a huge community room for meetings and recitals. Gindick created the Sonny Boy Club to fund his program, backed by his own dona-tions and contributions from his Jam Campers, namely Ed Masterson. Soon they had enough money to buy instruments and to hire teach-ers Heather Crosse, Lee Williams, and Dave Dunleavy. They were lucky finds—Williams is one of the best drummers in the Delta, Crosse is a bass player, vocalist, and band leader, and Dunleavy is an accomplished guitarist. TROy CaTCHINGS, CLaRkSDaLE PRESS REGISTER Bluesman Lee Williams teaching bass basics to young musicians . The teachers come out to the center twice a week. The goal of the program is to teach the kids how to play their instruments, help them start bands, enjoy the fun that music has to of-fer, and also reap the educational rewards that come with learning to play music. Gindick says, “We have kids studying drums, studying bass guitar and 6-string. They are singing. They are being musical, and able to build their brains around that special connection between movement, sound, intervals, rhythm, teamwork, self-expression and fun. Plus, they are in a band!” The students also have performed at festivals in Tutwiler and Clarksdale. While the children in Tutwiler might not all have the opportunity to attend college, learning an instrument will be an immeasur-able asset to their education, self-confidence, and personal growth. According to Gindick, the program serves around 40 children and runs on about $10,000 a year, with every penny being used to buy instruments and pay teachers. To find out more about the program and the Tutwiler Educational Center, visit http:// bluesharmonicajamcamp.com/sonnyboy.html and http://www.tutwilercenter.org To make a contribution, you may visit or send a check to the Tutwiler Educational Center, designating that the donation go to the Sonny Boy Club. –Camilla Aikin October 2014 • LIVING BLUES • 7

Blues News

Camilla Aikin

Founded by Jon Gindick in 2010, the Sonny Boy Legacy Music Education and Performance Programteaches guitar, bass, keyboard, vocals, and harmonica to the children of Tutwiler, Mississippi, the tiny, impoverished Delta town ten miles east of Clarksdale where blues harmonica hero Sonny Boy Williamson is buried.

Gindick is from California but fell in love with the Mississippi Delta. “It is a magical, mystical place, a place where life slows down to the loping rhythm of the blues, and it is a place time forgot. But there is a steep price for that in the lives of its poorest citizens.”

He started putting on a five-day Blues Harmonica Jam Camp three times a year at the Shack Up Inn in Clarksdale in 2009, and as part of the program, he would visit Sonny Boy’s gravesite in Tutwiler. He says, “I was moved by the legacy of the place, and also by the poverty.

I wondered what I could give back.” He sought out the Tutwiler Medical Clinic, the subject of an LA Times article, and met with Sister Anne Brooks, the nun who runs the clinic. She helped Gindick come up with an idea for how he could give back to the community: he would start a music program for children at the Tutwiler Educational Center. Run by Sister Maureen Delaney and the help of grants and donations, the center provides poetry and photography classes, a computer lab, a basketball court, and a huge community room for meetings and recitals.

Gindick created the Sonny Boy Club to fund his program, backed by his own donations and contributions from his Jam Campers, namely Ed Masterson. Soon they had enough money to buy instruments and to hire teachers Heather Crosse, Lee Williams, and Dave Dunleavy. They were lucky finds—Williams is one of the best drummers in the Delta, Crosse is a bass player, vocalist, and band leader, and Dunleavy is an accomplished guitarist.

The teachers come out to the center twice a week. The goal of the program is to teach the kids how to play their instruments, help them start bands, enjoy the fun that music has to offer, and also reap the educational rewards that come with learning to play music.

Gindick says, “We have kids studying drums, studying bass guitar and 6-string. They are singing. They are being musical, and able to build their brains around that special connection between movement, sound, intervals, rhythm, teamwork, self-expression and fun. Plus, they are in a band!” The students also have performed at festivals in Tutwiler and Clarksdale.

While the children in Tutwiler might not all have the opportunity to attend college, learning an instrument will be an immeasurable asset to their education, self-confidence, and personal growth.

According to Gindick, the program serves around 40 children and runs on about $10,000 a year, with every penny being used to buy instruments and pay teachers.

To find out more about the program and the Tutwiler Educational Center, visit http:// bluesharmonicajamcamp.com/sonnyboy.html and http://www.tutwilercenter.org

To make a contribution, you may visit or send a check to the Tutwiler Educational Center, designating that the donation go to the Sonny Boy Club.

Mississippi Blues Commission Benevolent Fund aids Musicians in need

Many of the most important historical sites associated with the blues are located in Mississippi, and the state’s Blues Trail, established in 2005, has to date erected nearly 200 markers documenting this cultural significance.Yet the hard reality is that many of Mississippi’s living blues artists still struggle to make ends meet.“If you actually experience going around [to] some of these communities,” says Dr. Edgar Smith, “you see that there are a number of these musicians who are really in bad shape financially. And we decided that we needed to do something in Mississippi somewhat similar to what’s done in Memphis [with] the Blues Foundation. We felt that Mississippi, being the ‘home of the blues,’ should have something of that nature to support its musicians.

“So [in 2010, the Mississippi Blues Commission] set up a committee, and I was asked to be chairman of that committee, to really begin to see how we could collect funds and distribute them to needy blues musicians. In order to be able to do that, we had to get the legislation changed so that the Commission could raise and extend funds. That was done through Representative [Willie] Bailey, who was on the Commission at the time; he spearheaded that action. And that’s how the Benevolent Committee was set up.”

The Blues Musicians Benevolent Fund is supported primarily by the sale of Mississippi Blues Trail license plates, a $10,000 yearly gift from the Mississippi Blues Marathon, and private donations. As of this writing the Committee has distributed 20 grants, most for $500-$1,000 each. “We’ve gotten a couple of people that we have given two grants to, but we’ve done 20 grants totaling $18,664.75,” says Smith. “Now, that odd number comes in there because one of our grants went to one of the former Funk Brothers, Eddie Willis, who needed [a lift] for his wheelchair to put into his van. One of the donors to our fund donated $3,000 in such a way that I could use anyway that I wanted to, so we were able to give Willis $3,664.75 to pay for the lift.”

Smith hopes to raise enough money to establish a musicians’ service center in Mississippi that will provide legal, medical, and other forms of assistance as well as financial. “I grew up in Hollandale and Vicksburg, and so the blues has been in my blood ever since I was a kid. I grew up next door to the biggest single juke joint in the town. So I’m dealing with the music and the people; so I know the people. As Mississippi reconnects with the blues, we must also bring the musicians along.”

Mississippi blues musicians who wish to apply for aid can access the application at http://www.msbluestrail.org/pdfs/

musicians_aid_form.pdf. State residents can order a Blues Trail car tag from their local tax collector’s office.Individual donations can either be made out to the Mississippi Blues Foundation, a 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization, and mailed to Dr. Edgar Smith at 5934 Paddock Place, Jackson, MS, 39206; or they can be submitted via PayPal at http://www.msbluestrail.org// mississippi-blues-trail-donations. For more information, visit the Blues Trail website or contact Dr. Smith at 601-713-2756.

–Melanie Young

Ottawa Bluesfest reaches Milestone

The 20th anniversarytook place July 3–13 and brought blues fans from Canada and around the globe to hear from veteran performers and newer blues artists. This festival has long embraced the idea that offering a broad range of music brings people of all ages and all musical tastes to visit a variety of stages—introducing everyone to new music. Fest executive/music programming director Mark Monahan says, “It turns out that a lot of people like a lot of different kinds of music.”

Blues fans, and those who just stopped by to hear what was going on at a nearby stage, were able to catch Little Freddie King, Johnny Nicholas, Thornetta Davis, Selwyn Birchwood, David Maxwell, Paul Osher, John Mayall, John Nemeth and the Bo-Keys, Gary Clark Jr., Trombone Shorty, and many more bluesmen and women who made their way to the fest.Meanwhile, headliners included radio regulars Lady Gaga, Blake Shelton, Procol Harum, the Killers, Blondie, and Snoop Dogg. These acts attracted a younger audience with divergent musical interests. Canadian blues bands also appeared including the harp-driven Firebelly, which ended up commanding a large crowd.

Despite more than 300,000 people arriving over the ten days and making their way to multiple stages, there was a small-town, welcoming feel to this nonprofit festival that is set on a beautiful site along a river. As an added bonus, this year featured perfect weather.

The Texas Horns, including former Blacktop Records Producer Kaz Kazanoff, worked with more than a dozen bands and had their own fans who followed them while they worked the stage behind the rock/soul act Vintage Trouble and later backed relative newcomer Long Tall Deb. Kazanoff says he has enjoyed being introduced to many new bands over the 15 years the Texas Horns have worked the Ottawa Bluesfest.

Because many artists play more than once, there are opportunities for impromptu jams. Among many others, Maxwell backed King on keyboards and Nicholas played guitar and harp behind his longtime friends the Texas Horns.

As the blues struggle to find an audience, Monahan and his team have developed a model that honors the blues and encourages all festival goers to enjoy a wide range of music.The money they make also helps fund Blues in the Schools and talent contests. Many of the blues artists who played Ottawa talked about how pleased they were to find a high profile gig and the opportunity to reach new fans.And, many could be found backstage carefully watching Mayall or checking out Shorty’s set.

—Scott M. Bock

A sacred steel supreme

The sacred steel gospel group the Campbell Brothers (Darick on lap steel, Phil on guitar, Chuck on pedal steel, Phil’s son Carlton on drums, and Daric Bennett on electric bass guitar) presented the world premiere of their Sacred Steel Supreme at the Lincoln Center Out of Doors Americanafest NYC Festival at the Damrosch Park Bandshell in New York City on Friday, August 8, 2014. This version of John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme has been over 13 years in the making: the idea began in 2001, when producer/music junkie Bill Bragin included the Brothers in his legendary Wall-to- Wall Miles Davis marathon at New York’s Symphony Space. Bragin, now at Lincoln Center, commissioned them to bring the piece to fruition. In turn solemn, swinging, joyful, and transcendent, A Sacred Steel Supreme offers a beautiful new take on Coltrane’s long-revered masterpiece.

—Jack Vartoogian

Read the full article at http://digital.livingblues.com/article/Blues+News/1823554/226901/article.html.

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