Blues artists cross the span of time: From left, blues guitarist 'Kid' Andersen backs up Jewel Brown, vocalist, and Milton Hopkins accompanying Brown. Andersen still enjoys the bloom of youth, Brown was a mainstay and long-time vocalist with the Louis Armstrong orchestra, while Hopkins was lead guitarist in the B.B. King band for years. The three are performing in the 34th Annual Blues Music Awards (AKA "The Academy Awards of blues") in the Memphis Cook Convention Center on May 12, 2013.
Sunday, May 12, 2013
I wish I could claim authorship for the headline of this story. I cannot. Someone beat me to it. Nevertheless, those six words best define one of the few original American art forms, the Blues. There's no denying that the roots of blues are purely black and South — with the epicenter of the genre stretching along the eastern banks of the wide southern channel of the Mississippi River. At first, the Blues were confined to that niche of our population. Now that's all changed. Blues fans (and performers) come in all colors, sizes, ages, points of national origin, and just about anything else that purports to define individuality. Blues broadcasts are enjoyed by enthusiasts around the planet.
Devon Allman, son of Greg Allman, performs in his role of guitarist and singer in the Royal Southern Brotherhood Band at the 34th Blues Music Awards.
The Blues Music Awards, held annually now for 34 years, clearly demonstrates how the Blues slice across the grain of American entertainment. Jewel Brown, a vocalist with the legendary Louis Armstrong orchestra, and guitarist Milton Hopkins, a veteran of the B.B. King Blues band, performed on the same stage as Devon Allman, son of Greg Allman, who partners with Cyril Neville (of the brothers of the same name) in the Royal Southern Brotherhood band.
Devon Allman and Cyril Neville of the Royal Southern Brotherhood band belt it out during the grand finale at the recent 34th Blues Music Awards.
The Blues is unique among art forms, most of which thrive on appeal to fans of the form. Not so with The Blues, which bulldozes the walls of separation and grabs fans from every corner of the earth and a wide slice of its population.
That is not to say there is no separation within the form. Some folks in Memphis and Mississippi claim their respective real estate is truly the motherland of the blues. The rest of us don't really give a hoot as long as we are allowed to listen.
See more of the Blues Music Awards in these galleries:
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Most of the time, there is more to the Photo of the Week story than can be told in an essay. And most of the time there are more pictures to be seen. Presuming that some folk will enjoy being privy to this trove of information, I have created a blog, “Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind,” where I am showing and telling “the rest of the story." There are also some blatantly commercial mentions of some of the things we do to earn our beans and taters. Click on the Weekly Grist logo and go to the blog. — J. D.