I think the blues will always be around. People need it.
-Johnny Winter

MVBS Presents Rev. Robert Jones Blues in the Schools Residency, Feb. 8-12

Rev. Robert JonesFor over 25 years Robert Jones has been a champion of American Roots music, with a special emphasis on traditional African American music. He is also a storyteller, a preacher, an artist, and a teacher. The Mississippi Valley Blues Society presents Robert Jones as its February Blues in the Schools artist-in-residency February 8-12 for workshops at  area schools and open-to-the-public performances:

  • Wednesday, Feb. 10, 6-8 p.m., Cool Beanz, 1325 30th St., Rock Island, IL
  • Thursday, Feb. 11, 6:00 p.m., River Music Experience, Davenport, IA

Robert Jones says, "Stories, spirituals, blues, work songs, field hollers, country music, folk songs, gospel and original songs are all a part of fabric of America's culture. This is the music that gave the world blues, jazz, R&B, bluegrass, rock and even Hip Hop. They give insight into the way that we have lived and the ways that we continue to live together. I feel it is the responsibility of the artist to pass along and to build upon that which has been learned from earlier generations."

Robert Jones plays guitar, fiddle, harmonica, quills, banjo and mandolin. He's played with John Hammond, the Holmes Brothers, Hubert Sumlin, Cephas & Wiggins, Keb Mo', Jorma Kaukonen, Jack Casady, Howard Armstrong, Nappy Brown, Roy BookBinder, David Bromberg, Chris Smither, Guy Davis, Pinetop Perkins, Saffire, and Willie Dixon. This faculty member at Wayne State University, Port Townsend Blues Week. and Fur Peace Ranch is the recipient of the international Blues Foundation's 2007 Keeping the Blues Alive award for Education and was the 2010 Teller-in-Residence—National Storytelling Center, Jonesborough TN.

Robert Jones was born in Detroit, Michigan in 1956. His father was from West Pointe, Mississippi and his mother hailed from Conecuh County, Alabama. Consequently, Robert grew up in Detroit in a very Southern household. Early on Robert Jones fell under the influence of his maternal grandmother's record collection. He grew up listening to and loving a wide variety of music, especially the blues.

The Mississippi Valley Blues Society Presents the Chris O’Leary Band, Sunday, Feb. 14 at Harley Corin's

Chris O'Leary BandThe Mississippi Valley Blues Society presents blues harp player/vocalist Chris O’Leary and his seven-piece band on Friday, February 14, at Harley Corin’s, 1708 State Street, Bettendorf, IA on Sunday, February 14. The evening of blues will start at 5:00 p.m. The cost to see this performance will be $10 if you are a Mississippi Valley Blues Society member, or $12 if you are have not joined the Blues Society (application will be available at the door).

Chris O’Leary and his band have been impressing audiences around the New York’s Hudson Valley and Capital Region with blues and roots music since 2009. O’Leary’s musical background includes a 6-year stint as lead singer and front man for Levon Helm and the Barnburners. O’Leary has also appeared on stage with the Fabulous Thunderbirds, Jimmy Vivino, and Albert Lee.

As any good student should, O’Leary not only absorbed the lessons he learned while fronting for Levon Helm & the Barnburners, he put that tutelage to good use. He won the 2011 Blues Blast Music Award for Best New Artist Debut (For his album, Mr. Used To Be) and was also nominated in the same category at that year’s Blues Music Awards (BMAs) in Memphis.

Chris’ sound can easily be defined as traditional blues, but there’s more to O’Leary’s tunes than strictly Chess-era blues. His time with Helm will understandably never be forgotten and it continues to have a major impact on the way that O’Leary creates music to this very day. But there’s something more eclectic and more modern contained within the body of his songs that make them uniquely their own thing, giving them their very own legs to stand on.

Mississippi Valley Blues Society Fundraiser Features Maxwell Street Movie Night at the River Music Experience, Feb. 18

The Mississippi Valley Blues Society has announced a Blues Movie Night on Thursday, February 18, 2016, from 5:00–8:00 p.m. at the River Music Experience, RME Hall, 129 N. Main Street, Davenport, IA. The all-age show admission is $20.00 which includes admission to the 90-minute film, one complimentary drink, and heavy hors d´oeuvres.

Cheat You FairCheat You Fair: The Story of Maxwell Street is a documentary produced, written, and directed by Philo Ranstrom. The 2006 film details the history of Chicago's Maxwell Street community, including the partnerships between blacks and Jews on Maxwell Street and how they influenced modern music.

Maxwell Street is considered to be the birthplace of the "electric, urban blues", a style of music which led directly to rock & roll. During the Great Migration (African American), Chicago became an arrival point for thousands of African-Americans, and Maxwell Street was a place where blues artists could earn a living playing for tips in the streets. Because so many artists were playing the blues in one relatively small area, Maxwell Street became the place to learn and to compete with other artist, which accelerated the blues movement, worldwide.

Featured are interviews and performances with blues artists, Bo Diddley, Buddy Guy, Junior Wells, Charlie Musselwhite, Jimmy Lee Robinson, Eddie Burks, Frank Scott Jr., Tony Mangiullo and 99-year-old Uncle Johnny Williams. Chicago author Studs Terkel, Little Italy activist Florence Scala, and Maxwell Street icon Nate Duncan, are also featured. During the making of this film, several of the principal subjects died, including Terkel, Scala, Duncan, Robinson, Burks, Williams, and Diddley, and this film includes their last interviews.

The film will be followed by a question and answer period with Ellis Kell, who was an advocate for the Maxwell street market’s preservation before it was demolished by the University of Illinois, Chicago. Ellis Kell also wrote “Muddy’s Tears on Maxwell Street”, a song about the neighborhood’s destruction.

Funds raised from the movie night will be used to further the Mississippi Valley Blues Society’s mission of “keeping the blues alive” in the Quad City area. After funding shortfalls forced MVBS to cancel their annual Blues Festival in 2015, events such as Blues Movie Night will will help to keep the Blues Society a strong and vital part of our community.