Thursday, January 9, 2014

Blues in the Gainesville Night...



This very special evening began with the exhibition “Southern Soul: Unchained and Expressed.”  The show featured seven local visual artists who work in a wide range of styles, from na├»ve to academic. African American Artists Ayleen Harris, Emmitt Williams, Rootman, Ernest Lee, Ruben Wilkenson, Turbado and Roy McClendon, Jr. contributed their art for this exhibition. 

There was a reception for the artists in the Cofrin Arts Center from 6:00 - 8:00 p.m. Angela Terrell, noted gospel vocalist, provided entertainment during the reception. The reception was free and open to the public.

Following the reception there was a benefit concert "Memphis or Bust, an Evening of Blues" from 8:00 – 10:00pm in the Edith D. Cofrin Theater for Willie Green and the R. Mutt Blues Band, winners of the 2013 North Central Florida Blues Challenge who will be travelling to Memphis, TN to compete in the 30th annual International Blues Challenge, January 22 – 25, 2014.  Oak Hall’s fabulous student group Bluz Rebellion opened the show at 8:00pm. Next the legendary bluesman Willie Green took the stage, followed by the R. Mutt Blues Band.  Concluding the concert was an all-star blues jam featuring special guest, powerhouse vocalist, Sheba the Mississippi Queen.  The concert also featured artist “Ponz” (Robert Ponzio),  Chair of Fine Arts at Oak Hall School, who performed live improvisational paintings during the performances. The donation for this great evening of blues was $10.00.
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“Southern Soul: Unchained and Expressed”
is on exhibit at the Cofrin Arts Center from Jan. 10 to Feb. 21, 2014.
Gallery Hours: Weekdays from 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Oak Hall School is located off Tower Road at
8009 SW 14th Ave. Gainesville, FL 32607
For gallery and show information call (352) 332-360


Willie Green
Willie Green, Delta style bluesman, was born in Montgomery, Alabama in the early 1930's and worked for many years with a rural share crop family.  He learned the blues early on in his teens when he would hitchhike or hop a freight train to town to hear the old blues masters in the juke joints. He is self-taught on both harmonica and guitar. Willie has opened shows for John Hammond, Jr. (who calls him "the real deal"), Tommy Castro, Charlie Musselwhite, Maria Maldaur, John Lee Hooker, Jr., James Cotton, Eddie Kirkland, and many others including an outdoor opener at Veterans Coliseum for Eric Clapton. He now resides in Ocala, FL and plays regularly at the Yearling Restaurant in Cross Creek, FL.

The R. Mutt Blues Band
A two-time winner of the NCFBS Blues Challenge, the R. Mutt Blues Band performs an eclectic mix of traditional blues paired with soulful original music that pays homage to the golden era of 1950’s and 60’s electric blues. The group was formed three years ago by award-winning visual artist and bassist Richard Heipp, multi-instrumentalist, artist and songwriter Dan Stepp, and guitarist Paul Goble. They were joined in 2013 by drummer Rsi Pollard and filling out the band is the newest member, saxophonist Ben Grier.

Sheba the Mississippi Queen
Sheba was born Martha Booker with twin sister Mary Booker in Sunflower,   Mississippi. Sheba learned to sing the blues while her sister fell into her father's footsteps singing gospel music. Their father Leroy Booker, a gospel singer that traveled all over the south selling insurance, was called the singing insurance man. Virtually born to sing, Sheba the Mississippi Queen, aka Martha Booker, inherits a proud legacy of female blues belters, adding her own resonant chapter to the story with her wonderful, uptown-style album, “Butter On My Roll.”

2014 International Blues Challenge
The 2014 International Blues Challenge will be the 30th year of Blues musicians from around the world competing for cash, prizes, and industry recognition. The Blues Foundation presents the world's largest gathering of Blues acts. In 2013, 125 bands and 80 solo/duo acts entered the competition, filling the clubs up and down Beale Street for the quarter-finals which were held on Wednesday and Thursday, the semi-finals on Friday and the finals at the Orpheum Theater on Saturday. The IBC expects at least that many in 2014.

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