2012 Blues Fest – Workshop and BluSKool Performers Print
Music - Mississippi Valley Blues Festival
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Wednesday, 20 June 2012 05:45

David Horwitz (blues photography): Saturday, June 30, 2:30 p.m.

Photographer and educator David Horwitz of Tucson, Arizona, has been traveling to clubs and festivals for decades in search of great blues music for his ears and visual images to capture on film. The winner of the 1999 Blues Foundation’s Keeping the Blues Alive Award for Photography, David has spent more than 25 years capturing moments of the blues masters. His works have appeared in countless publications. Last year, he was inducted into the Arizona Blues Hall of Fame. This is his 25th year of shooting the Mississippi Valley Blues Festival, and the free photo exhibit near the workshops will showcase David’s work. – Ann Ring

Hawkeye Herman (stories of the blues): Sunday, July 1, 5:30 p.m.

With more than 40 years of performing experience, Michael “Hawkeye” Herman exemplifies a range of possibilities in acoustic blues, and personifies versatile musicianship, originality, and compelling artistry as a blues storyteller. This workshop will showcase what he’s learned about the blues from his mentors.

As a child in Davenport, Michael Herman listened to the blues on the radio. Hawkeye spent much of his time as an aspiring blues musician in the late 1950s through the early 1970s listening to blues records, going out to see live performances, and seeking out older blues musicians for advice and lessons whenever the opportunity afforded itself. He was fortunate to sit at the feet and learn from many icons of the blues: Son House, Bukka White, Mance Lipscomb, Lightinin’ Hopkins, Furry Lewis, Sam Chatmon, John Jackson, Brownie McGhee, “Cool Papa” Sadler, Charles Brown, Yank Rachell, T-Bone Walker, and others. In the course of this blues “schoolin’” and being “brought along” by these wonderful artists, Hawkeye kept hearing one particular idea that seemed to permeate and define every encounter with these experienced elder statesmen of the music, uttered by each of them in their own way: “Play it like you feel it, son.” – Karen McFarland

David Berntson (BluSKool): Saturday, June 30, 2:30 p.m.; Sunday, July 1, 3:30 p.m.

What would the Mississippi Valley Blues Festival be without blues educator and harpist David Berntson? David brings it. Originally from Galesburg, Illinois, this Tulsa (Oklahoma) Blues Club founder, prevention educator, and drug/alcohol counselor continually shares his enthusiasm and passion for the blues with young people and adults. David presents Blues in the Schools at a number of venues, including alternative schools for at-risk students. Look out when he digs out his gigantic harmonica! His passion and love for kids is unstoppable, and he leaves kids of all ages with something more than what they came with.

David is an endorsee for Hohner harmonicas and has taught harmonica classes through adult continuing education at Tulsa Community College for more than 10 years. He also teaches children’s harmonica classes for the Tulsa parks-and-recreation department. – Ann Ring

Winter Blues Academy Kids with Hal Reed & Ellis Kell (BlueSKool): Saturday, June 30, 3:45 p.m.; Sunday, July 1, 4:45 p.m.

Blues harpist, guitarist, singer, bandleader, and educator Hal Reed was born in Mississippi just a few miles from the Delta, where he grew up influenced by his grandfather, a talented Southern folk-blues artist who, in addition to inspiring young Hal’s love for the blues, taught Hal the need to pass it on from generation to generation. Reed is a veteran musician on the Quad Cities scene. He’s fronted various bands, and took one of them to the International Blues Challenge in Memphis.

Ellis Kell, director of programming and community outreach at the River Music Experience in Davenport, is also a pillar of the Quad Cities blues scene. As a guitarist, songwriter, and bandleader, he’s kept the Ellis Kell Band together for 22 years. Ellis and Hal conducted a very successful Blues in the Schools residency a few semesters back, and this is their fifth year collaborating with graduates of the River Music Experience’s Winter Blues program at BlueSKool. – Karen McFarland

Maggie Brown (BlueSKool, history of the blues in song and dance): Saturday, June 30, 5 p.m.; Sunday, July 1, 6 p.m.

Maggie Brown is a tremendously talented singer and performer using her gift to not only entertain but educate, as well. I learned this firsthand when I saw her workshop at a Polyrhythms Third Sunday Jazz Series event. Maggie is the daughter of the late Oscar Brown Jr. – a world-renowned composer and social activist, and a legendary giant on the jazz scene. Mr. Brown passed on his artistic integrity to his daughter, who now uses her own voice to create images that excite and inspire. For 19 years, the songstress has nationally toured her one-woman show, Legacy: Our Wealth of Music, which follows the history and evolution of African-American music and covers a wide range of musical forms.

Maggie will be spending the week before the festival at an after-school program in the Quad Cities, teaching kids about the history of the blues through song and dance. – Karen McFarland

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