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Blues Fest 2007: Festival Offers Workshops, BlueSKool PDF Print E-mail
Music - Feature Stories
Wednesday, 27 June 2007 02:28

David Horwitz, workshop 1 p.m. Saturday

David has been traveling to festivals and clubs for years in search of great blues music for his ears and visual images to capture on film. This year he shot the Legendary Blues Cruise, and served as a judge at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, Tennessee.

Recipient of the 1999 Keepin' the Blues Alive award for photography, David has spent more than 35 years capturing the offbeat moments of blues performers. His work has appeared in countless national and international publications, and in many collections including the Delta Cultural Museum, the Chicago Blues Museum, and the Living Blues Archive.

A blues lover since a teen, David prefers backstage candid shots and what he calls "between the acts" - those moments when the artist is reflecting on what others in the band are doing, or the moments when they are not performing. "It's those special moments that I try to get on film," he says. "You can't nail down the music on film but, once in a while, you get lucky and can capture a special moment in the life of a bluesman."

In his free workshop, while not "Photography 101," David will teach all ages some basics of blues concert photography and talk to participants about his 35-year career in the field.

- Phil Koehlhoeffer



Catfish Keith, BlueSKool 3:45 p.m. Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday, workshop 5:30 p.m. Saturday

Catfish Keith loves National guitars, and National Reso-Phonic Guitars, Incorporated, loves Catfish Keith. If you go to its Web site and click on the "Tips & Tricks" link in the "Artists & Answers" section, you'll see a picture of, and an article by, one of our Saturday and Sunday BlueSKool and workshop performers. They chose Keith because of his international reputation as a modern master of the instrument with a deep reverence for the blues. We chose him for our festival for the same reasons.

Praise for his talent comes from near - "Keith's brand of Delta blues radiates an infectious, life-affirming buoyancy" (Daily Iowan) - and far: "Catfish Keith was a solo revelation, playing subtle versions of lost blues songs using the classic small acoustic and National steel guitars on which he invoked the hard, complex picking and chord work of the original country bluesmen." (The Guardian)

And deep: "For Catfish Keith, a resonator guitar is an organic extension of his body, an instrument he plays intuitively and with absolute authority." (Living Blues)

Besides his three scheduled appearances, Keith promises to show up at the Blues Central Tent periodically to give the National guitar we're raffling off a few test drives.

- Stan Furlong


For more information, visit (



Hal Reed, BlueSKool 2:30 p.m. Saturday and 3:45 p.m. Sunday

Blues harpist, guitarist, singer, and educator Hal Reed was born in Mississippi just a few miles from the Delta, where he grew up surrounded by legends of blues music. Among them was his grandfather, a highly talented Southern folk-blues artist who, in addition to inspiring young Hal's love for the blues, taught him about African-American music and culture and the need to pass it on from generation to generation. Hal also learned about African-American musical heritage from his father (James T. Reed), his grandmother, and his uncle, the legendary Lester "Big Daddy" Kinsey.

Hal eventually moved to East Moline, where he has constantly led blues bands, starting with The Everlovin' Blues Band, followed by Hal Reed & Bad Luck, and finally his current band, Hal Reed & the Mob, which won the 2004 Iowa Blues Challenge in Des Moines.

Among the many blues artists and bands Hal has performed and toured with are Big Daddy Kinsey & the Kinsey Report, Little Jimmy Reed, Billy Branch, and the Burnside Family.

Hal is recognized as a talented blues educator. Along with Daniel Burnside, Hal conducted workshops at a number of schools in the Quad Cities area. The results were so successful that the MVBS selected Hal for a one-week Blues in the Schools residency in celebration of Black History Month in February 2007, during which Hal and Donald Kinsey taught more than 3,000 students and teachers at 10 schools about the blues.

- Jimmie Jones


For more information, visit (



David Berntson, BlueSKool 5 p.m. Saturday and 5 p.m. Sunday

David Berntson of Tulsa, Oklahoma, is an educator and a musician. In 1987, David founded the Tulsa Blues Club, a not-for-profit blues-appreciation organization. Through David's leadership and direction, the Tulsa Blues Club began its "Blues in the Schools" program and was presented with a Keeping the Blues Alive in Education award by the Blues Foundation in 1991.

David presents Blues in the Schools at many Tulsa-area schools, including alternative schools for at-risk students. In addition, he has taught harmonica classes through adult continuing education at Tulsa Community College for more than 15 years. He has also presented programs in conjunction with the King Biscuit Blues Festival in Helena, Arkansas, and has facilitated children's workshops at the Bishopstock Blues Festival in Exeter, England. In April 2005, David was the Artist-in-Residence for the Mississippi Valley Blues Society's Blues in the Schools program.

David has performed in many Tulsa bands, including the Tulsa Blues Club House Band, the Hydramatics, and Blue Combo. He and slide guitarist Bob Parker currently perform as the Duo-Sonics. A native of Galesburg, Illinois, David has his musical roots in the Midwest, with Oklahoma and Texas blues influences.

David travels with hundreds of harmonicas, which he provides to students free through his endorsement arrangement with Hohner harmonicas.

- Karen McFarland

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