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True Blue
from Ellis Kell
Argus/Dispatch blues columnist

September/October 2007


Unity Fest in the Rock Island District on September 22 and 23, and is presented by the Education Department of the Elks Club / Esquire Lounge #1648 and the Elite Temple #1265. The fest is co-sponsored by Modern Woodmen, Stern Beverage and the Mississippi Valley Blues Society. Saturday night it's the Rhythm City Playboys featuring Hal Reed at 6 pm. Soul and blues master Bobby Rush and the Bobby Rush Revue headline the evening.

Children ten and under will be admitted to Unity Fest for free. Adult admission will be $8.00, with a $1.00 discount for MVBS members. Unity Fest goes 10am-midnight on Saturday, 10am-5pm on Sunday, and features something for the entire family. Afternoon programs will be geared to the children, with games, activities, local sports figures, and multi-cultural entertainment. Proceeds from Unity Fest will help make it possible for underprivileged and disadvantaged kids to visit Disney World in Orlando, Florida. For more information, contact Ruben at (563) 349-1760 or Mike at (563) 529-1393.


Hawkeye Herman will conduct a free workshop on his Blues In the Schools program, Oct. 6 at the River Music Experience, 129 Main Street, Davenport. The workshop will teach interested musicians and area educators how to become involved with the Blues in the Schools programs, and how to create their own curriculum. This full-day workshop will be help in the second floor Performance Hall at RME, from 9 am to 4 pm, with an hour break for lunch. This program is presented and sponsored by the Mississippi Valley Blue Society, and hosted by RME.

Michael 'Hawkeye' Herman created his Blues in the Schools curriculum in 1980. He has also taught guitar for over 25 years. In 1998, the artist was recognized for his achievement in education by receiving the Blues Foundation 'Keeping the Blues Alive' Award. Hawkeye believes more musicians and educators now need to get involved, due to the growth of the program nationwide. "There's a need for more blues educators, as more blues organizations offer Blues In the Schools programs that need to be staffed by the small number of available musicians who are also educators."

Musicians and educators interested in registering for this special workshop can do so by e-mailing at mvbs@mvbs.org, This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it or by phoning the MVBS office at 563-32-BLUES. Deadline for registration is Oct. 1st .


"Raw," Bobby Rush (Deep Rush Records) This is bare bones Bobby Rush, acoustic and pure. Shawn Kellerman adds to the mix on dobro. This new collection features classic blues tunes by Muddy Waters and Sonny Boy Williamson II, but the most of the tunes are Bobby Rush originals. While Rush has been on the scene for over 50 years, he has only recently performed as a solo. Make sure you catch him live and full-strength at Unity Fest, Sept. 22 in the Rock Island Arts & Entertainment District! For more information, visit www.bobbyrush.net/deeprush/ on the web.

"Long Time Coming," Nappy Brown (Blind Pig Records) Nappy Brown is an essential American roots music artist. Sean Costello, Junior Watson, and Bob Margolin back Nappy Brown on this reprisal of his classic songs, such as "Don't Be Angry," and "The Right Time." Nappy Brown says... "This is the first time in 30 years I've had the chance to do my music with cats that understand it. This is the best record I have done since 1955!" We have to agree with Mr. Brown - this is the one to add to your collection! For more information on this artist, visit www.blindpigrecords.com

"The Essential Magic Slim," Magic Slim (Blind Pig Records) Magic Slim epitomizes the Great Migration of blues music from south to north. Magic Slim's incendiary guitar and houserockin' vocals are legendary. This collective is the definitive real deal, folks, and we therefore declare it a true blue primer and required listening for Blues 101! For more information on this artist, visit www.blindpigrecords.com

"A Night at Tipitina's," Mem Shannon (NorthernBlues) Mem Shannon has inspired the New Orleans greats. Fats Domino, Professor Longhair, the funky Meters and the Neville Brothers. "A Night at Tipitina's" is the artist's first live CD. There couldn't have been another choice for the venue for this live recording, besides Tipitina's. Mem brought along some monster players for this live recording, and the sound quality is top shelf. Make sure you get yo'self a heapin' helpin' of this one real soon! For more information on this artist, visit www.northernblues.com

Don't bother lookin' for me no more, 'cause I'm already seven miles south on Highway 61. Until we meet again at this crossroads - peace, love & blessings to all, and...

Blues to 'ya!

Local musician Ellis Kell writes about blues music both local and national in ‘True Blue’, each month in the Entertainment section of The Dispatch and The Rock Island Argus. He is also Director of Programming & Education for River Music Experience, a not-for-profit center dedicated to preservation, education and celebration of American Roots music, and hosts ‘Currents at the Crossroads’ music segment of WQPT’s Life & Times.


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