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True Blue from Ellis Kell
Argus/Dispatch blues columnist



May 2000

I recently learned the facts of the plight of Manny Lopez - the Quad-Cities' very own premier jazzman and true blue master of the golden horn - reaffirming in detail that which I had already been told bits and pieces of by other musicians in our area. The gist of it all is that one of the most talented and devoted musicians ever to come out of this area has been playing in pain for quite some time. It will suffice here to say that Manny is doing much better now, but can still use all our prayers and support. A letter from Sam and Susan Gnatovich, of Wells Fargo lounge in Moline (where Manny has performed many times over the years), more than adequately expresses just how those of us in the Quad Cities' entertainment community feel about Manny...

April 22, 2000

Dear Manny,

At this writing, we would like to take this time to thank you, for your musical talents and the outstanding performances you have given to all in the Quad Cities during the years.

Along with the gift of talent, you also have the perfect gift of being such a warm, caring, and generous person, which has graced many an occasion. We have been blessed with you being within our lives and times.

Since the first time you performed on our stage here at Wells Fargo, we felt the strong and sincere emotion which was delicately placed within each note. You have always extended the love of music...music, sweet music - which in turn passed such love to all.

We would like to pass our thoughts and prayers your way. It was quite a shock to learn of your current trials in life. We are confident you will continue your strong and capable path in life. We are here for you. If you need anything, please do not hesitate to call. As you know, our lives somewhat take control of our time. In our chosen profession, our business owns our time - leaving little time to spend with the people we dearly love. We love you. Keep strong and aim for the highest goal. In our eyes and hearts...you are a winner.

With all our love... God bless you...

Sam & Susan Gnatovich

I certainly couldn't have said it better myself - so I won't even try. What I will say, however, is this: Manny Lopez not only an extremely talented and devoted musician, but he is also an extremely proud individual. He has never done it for the sake of the limelight - only for the sake of the music. I know he would never want anyone's pity, nor does he want to be singled out and have attention drawn to the trials and tribulations of his private life. It's like Manny told me a long time ago (after I told him I was certain I would see him perform someday as special guest on 'The Tonight Show'), "All I want to do is play my horn" Even though Manny's home base at Sessions Jazz Club in Rock Island is due to close its doors on May 13th, we hope and pray that Manny will go on playing for many, many years to come. Whether or not you have ever heard Manny Lopez and his jazz band, we encourage you to stop by Sessions real soon and show your support. Just enjoy the music - 'cause that's all Manny would want you to do.

Those new young blue-bloods just keep on gettin' younger - and hotter all the time! Ms. Shannon Curfman rolls in to the Adler Theatre for one show on Friday, June 16th at 7:30 p.m. As evidenced on her highly successful indie release, "Loud Guitars, Big Suspicions," the 14-year old Fargo, North Dakota native belts out the blues, rock and R&B like a voice beyond her years. She has also collaborated and recorded with long-time friend and young 'Prince of the Blues' Jonny Lang. Tickets are still available at the Adler Theatre Box Office, all Ticketmaster locations, or can be also charged by phone at (309) 326-1111. All tickets are priced at $13.00.

New Blues Fer Youz'...

"Bite Me," Smokin' Joe Kubek featuring Bnois King (Bullseye Blues - BEYE 9617) Smokin' Joe always keeps the pedal to the metal, and this new collection is no exception. Kubek's hot Texas guitar blends with the true blue vocals of Bnois King, and the result is hot rockin' Blues. Kaz Kazanoff guests on tenor sax and Blues harp. Fat horns are courtesy of Les Izmore and Gary Slechta. Smokin' Joe and Co. are keepin' the Blues alive and well, and servin' it up smokin' on the platter!

"Vu-du Menz," Corey Harris & Henry Butler (Alligator Records - ALCD 4872) A rich gumbo of Blues fusion, featuring the versatile young Corey Harris and New Orleans' pride and joy Henry Butler. This new collection is a vital combination of tradition and contemporary vision - delivering a Blues hybrid for the new millennium. This CD will no doubt be one of the most significant new Blues releases of 2000.

I've done rambled on way too long here, and must be movin' on down the road. Keep both your hands on the wheel, your eyes on the horizon, and until we meet again at this crossroads...

Blues to 'ya!

s
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