The Blues smorgasbord


John Hammond performing

Blues Guitarist John Hammond performs at the 2011 Blues Music Awards in Memphis TN. Not normally seen by the audience is the sound engineer in the pit below the stage. He coordinates with the board engineer on the hall floor. They make the music sound cool. Hammond was the winner of the Blues Music Awards "Acoustic Artist of the Year" award. As one listened to him play, it was no mystery why he won the prize.

Once a year, Blues aficionados  from around the globe gather in Memphis TN to bestow awards on those whom they believe have eclipsed everyone else in certain categories for the past twelve months. The event is the Blues Music Awards, a function of the Blues Foundation. This  year, due to some really good friends, we were a part of that crowd May 5, 2011.  The night rocked!

Smokin' Joe Kubeck

See Blues pictures at Corndancer dot-com

Before venturing further, may I suggest that you go to the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot-com where this story started and get in on the beginning. You will see pictures of performers Steve Miller and Buddy Guy, along with Smokin’ Joe Kubeck, whose thumbnail picture you see to the left. We will wait here for your eventual return.

As would be expected, you saw everything from designer togs to thready jeans, but it being a blues event, that’s exactly what one would expect. The crowd was milling around imbibing and chatting while perusing silent auction items, a staple at non-profit organization events. Attendees were seated 10 to round tables. We were fortunate to be seated with friends who are members of the Memphis Blues Society.

Janiva Magness

Janiva Magness, a former Best Female Contemporary Artist and BB King Entertainer of the year, wowed the crowd with her energetic vocals. She tours with her band and makes around 200 appearances a year. In her spare time she is a foster children advocate.

The Steve Miller Band was the opening act. He was followed by the likes of Buddy Guy, the Mannish Band, Janiva Magness, Karen Lovely, Willie  “Big Eyes Smith” and a host of other performers. Their acts punctuated the awards and kept the place rocking.

The Nighthawks Acoustic Blues Band

The Nighthawks Acoustic Blues Band,winners of the Acoustic Album of the Year for their "Last Train to Bluesville." They clearly demonstrated why they won.

See more Blues pictures

Check out the our three galleries of pictures from the 2011 Blues Music Awards. You’ll see Steve Miller, Buddy Guy and a host of other famous blues performers.

Blues Music Awards Gallery-1, 37 pictures

gallery thumbnail

Blues Music Awards Gallery-2, 20 pictures

2011 Blues Music Awards Gallery-2

Blues Music Awards Gallery-3, 29 pictures

2011 Blues Music Awards Gallery-3

 Speaking of punctuation, my enjoyment of the performance was temporarily punctuated by a waiter dropping a charger full of plated dinners on my person. I heard this strange noise and saw cheese and macroni, fish, green beens and rib meat, plates and lids tumbling into my lap. The wait staff was about to panic, but I assured them that all was well as I wiped cheese and macaroni from the back of a Nikon D300. Nothing was hurt but my feelings, so I laughed and told them to be cool.

Flooded house

Flooded residence on Arkansas Highway 1, north of DeWitt, Arkansas. We were on this road because the White River was over a bridge on I-40.

Due to the recent rains that have turned the Delta into a large pond dotted with islands of dry land, we took a detour route to Memphis which added about 45 minutes to the trip. Not too bad. Mostly a pleasant drive through the Delta. The pictures here are on the trip back.

Your own personal levee

Just a bit further down the road, we saw a residence where the owners took matters into their own hands. They built a levee around their house and barn which appears to be in the neighborhood of 15 to 20 feet AGL (above ground level).

Homemade levee around house

Ready for high water. Enterprising homeowners built their own levee.

Levee around delta home

Closeup of your own personal levee.

Since this is primarily an agricultural area, people are no strangers to working with dirt and have the equipment to do the job. Driving on, just outside DeWitt, we saw a tall plume of black smoke. If there was a fire, I wanted to see and shoot it.

House on fire

A burning house in DeWitt, Arkansas. I visited with neighbors who told me the fire was set deliberately to destroy the house.

We found the fire. After the neighbors told me it was deliberately set, I wondered why. Taking a second look at the flaming structure, I noticed that is was covered with old late 40s asbestos siding. Not a bad idea, but asbestos is not terribly flammable. Good luck folks.

land leveler towed behind pickup

Just east of Humphrey, Arkansas on Highway 152, we ran up on a pickup towing a land leveler which was as wide as the highway.

 Just 25 miles or so from home, we came up behind a land leveler being towed by a pickup. The driver did not notice us at first, but we eschewed honking the horn anyway. He finally saw us and carefully pulled to the right to let us by. I say carefully because that sucker would mow down mailboxes in a heartbeat.

A few minutes later, on the final run for home, we were not so fortunate. We came up behind a wide load personified as the dump body of one of those huge strip mine dump trucks which will hold approximately a small town. We followed him for about 15 miles when we reached an alternate route. Finally made it home in one piece. The dogs were glad.

Thanks for dropping by,
Joe Dempsey,
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind

http://www.joedempseyphoto.com/
http://www.joedempseycommunications.com/
http://www.corndancer.com/joephoto/photohome.html

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Blues in the Night


blues band in memphis

An impromptu band at a recent Memphis Blues Society jam session bears a resemblance to the Lil' Ol' Band from Texas, ZZ Top. Their music, vintage blues, played with primordial passion, crawled into my person. I welcomed the visitation. Musicians, left to right: Greg Gumpel, guitar; Brian Wells, drums, "Evil," bass; and Josh Roberts, guitar.

Blues, one of the few unique American art forms, according to numerous denizens of Memphis, got its start in their fair city. Nearby, their Mississippi brethren will probably argue that the birthplace was a few miles further south. Most of the rest of us acknowledge that the beginnings were in the neighborhood of both. Thank goodness I don’t have a dog in that fight. I just love the music and could care less about the geography thereof.

Before we venture further, this treatise got its start on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot com. Click here to go there and see a couple of blues pictures and read about the blues experience.

blues singer and bass player

Memphis blues singer Red Velvet is accompanied by bass virtuoso Leo Goff in the soon to be legendary September 16 Jam Session of the Memphis Blues Society.

Speaking of which, the September 16  Memphis Blues Society  jam session which I attended was one of those rare events for which the stars, the moon, asteroids, the shifting winds, the Mississippi River flow, the smog level, the mosquito reproduction rate, and the ghost of W. C. Handy all come together and sprinkle Neil’s Bar and Grille with blues pixie dust. Having breathed deeply of these unseen cosmic colloids, a hastily assembled, impromptu band held forth with a toe-tingling music session to remember. The audience, similarly entranced swayed with the tunes and lyrics. Especially the one couple on the dance floor clinging to each other and moving as one.

Josh Roberts

At the ripe old age of 13, Josh Roberts first laid his hot little hands on a guitar. It was like bacon and eggs, 'taters and gravy and, or coffee and a cup. They were simply meant to be together. As his fingers negotiate the fretboard like a spider and he plucks the strings with frenetic energy, the blues spew forth and wing their way around the room.

The Blues Society holds these sessions twice monthly at 7:30 – 11:00 p.m. on the first and third Thursdays. There is an open invitation for blues musicians to perform. A Blues Society band starts the action for one set and then the volunteers come forth to wail. Normally, at about 9:00 p.m. any professional musicians present are invited to come forth and do their thing. And on the 16th, did they ever. Like McArthur, ” . . . I shall return.”

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE!

Every week we shoot more pictures than we can post, so we put those suckers up in a high resolution galleries, one for folks with a PC and one for folks with Macs and I-Phones. This week there are 19 bigger and better pictures from this event. PC, click here. Mac, I-Phone or PC, click here.

Thanks for dropping by,

Joe Dempsey
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind
http://www.joedempseycommunications.com/
http://www.joedempseyphoto.com/
http://www.corndancer.com/joephoto/photohome.html