About the Blues
By Liz Lottmann
I felt like I was a member of Blues Traveler in October, I was traveling around chasing the blues so much. In September I went to Indianola, Miss., for the grand opening of the B.B. King Museum. A little public disclosure here – I wanted also to be sure that all my blues friends attending the museum’s opening would come next door to the Gin Mill for a drink and lunch. Hubby and I have a personal interest in seeing that business do well, but even without that, being at the grand opening of what will be a legendary stop on the Blues Trail was a privilege we just couldn’t miss.
The first day, the museum was open only to B.B. King and his invited family and friends. But of course, you know me, I’ll try to get in anywhere. So I strolled through the men in tuxes and women in lace and satin, wearing my usual blues outfit of pink hightops, jeans and a festival t-shirt, and got far enough to get a photo of B.B., smiling at all the excitement. After being nicely asked to leave because I couldn’t provide a pass, I headed to the Gin Mill and found Hubby buying drinks for some of the museum staff. And since this is the blues world, a beer will buy you anything, meaning the staff gave us all-access passes to all the museum events. Suh-weet!
Next evening there was a concert at the museum. I walked into the lavishly laid-out concert tent and saw quite the line-up. Sitting in chairs across the entire front of the stage, jamming unrehearsed songs, were Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Keb Mo, B.B. King, Robert Cray and Bobby Blue Bland.
I learned something that night. If you’ve been lifelong friends and blues legends to boot, you can be extremely politically incorrect with each other. B.B. was making fun of Bobby Blue Bland because he couldn’t remember lyrics to one of the songs. Bobby suffers from Alheizmer’s, but that was no excuse for B.B. Bobby was laughing, too and Robert Cray pitched in to help Bobby out.
The museum is exceptionally well put-together. I learned a lot about B.B.’s life. When you’re out on the Blues Trail, you should make the museum a must-see.
In October, Hubby and I went to the King Biscuit (er, the Arkansas Blues and Heritage Festival) in Helena. As is our custom, we checked in first with Sunshine Sonny Payne and then strolled down Cherry Street and stopped to chat with our friends from the Grammy-winning Blue Shoe Project. As we were talking, Pat Morgan (Pinetop Perkins’ and Willie Big Eyes Smith’s manager) came up and said, “Hey, Ozark Blues Society! My heroes!”
I have no idea what would make us her heroes, but it sure was nice to hear. Maybe it’s because OBS has continually booked Arkansas artists at our Blues in the Natural State Festival, many of whom are artists that she manages.
I saw many friends from Northwest Arkansas: R.J. and Heidi Mischo, Caleb Henry and many others whose names I won’t mention because they probably don’t want to know I saw them doing what they were doing. But it’s all just Biscuit Blues partying to me!
As usual, I was hanging backstage at the main stage with Jim “Dr. Blues” Rose, an OBS board member. Jim manages the backstage area during the entire festival, and he’s the one I rely on for getting me in to talk with the artists and get their autographs on our raffle guitar. This year was no exception, and besides being able to catch up with old friends, I was able to get some great autographs. It’s funny, because I’ve been collecting autographs for so many years now, that when artists see me walking up to say hello, they start groping their pockets to find a Sharpie. They know the guitar raises money for our society and helps fund our Blues in the Schools program, and they’re always glad to sign our guitars.
Ozark Blues Society’s Blues Challenge was Oct. 27 and we know now what a jaw-dropping collection of NWA talent will represent Northwest Arkansas at Memphis’s International Blues Challenge. The winner of the Best Self-Produced CD is Ocie Fisher and the Hipp Dogs. The duo going to Memphis is Isayah (Warford) and Kory (Montgomery). And the band that will go to Memphis is Oreo Blue. If you plan to go see these wonderful artists compete in Memphis, you should reserve your hotel room now. Hurry, because I bet there are only three rooms available in the entire downtown area for that weekend. IBC is the largest, most well attended blues event in the world. It takes place on Beale Street and more than140 bands will be competing. You shouldn’t miss it!
Keep an eye out for news of our Membership and Fundraising Party coming up at George’s Majestic Lounge. I’ll have more details for next time.
About the Blues