Mississippi Valley Blues Society

Photo of a band playing in Davenport at the Blues Fest

Blues Education

The Mississippi Valley Blues Society has one of the most active Blues Education programs of any Blues Society in the country. Each year, the Blues Society plans and coordinates 4-9 weeks of Blues in the Schools programming. Some of the artists who have participated in our Blues in the Schools program include David "Honeyboy" Edwards, John Jackson, Billy Branch, Henry Butler, Willie King and the Alabama Blues Project, Hawkeye Herman, Rev. Robert Jones, Rich DelGrosso and Fruteland Jackson.

BlueSKool is an area designated for children’s workshops at the Mississippi Valley Blues Festival. Harmonicas are given to all attendees and at least three blues educators are chosen to conduct the programs.  BlueSKools at the Festival will benefit another 500+ participants.  The very nature of what we make available—Blues in the Schools, a world-class festival with educational components, sponsoring blues artists—requires us to hire and provide lodging for a number of professional performers and blues educators throughout the year.

The 2016 Blues in the Schools artists in residence visited at least 30 area schools with approximately 300 children each, and open-to-the public sites. This year we would like to expand the program to include 4-5 week-long artist residencies. A typical week-long residency includes 10-12 performances and workshops in schools, libraries and/or community centers in the Quad Cities and surrounding areas. In addition, each residency will include an Open-to-the-Public presentation (for all ages). All performances are free, and expose a wide segment of our community to blues-related music and the rich history and heritage of that music.

Blues Education Events

BlueSKool Lineup (Saturday, July 1):

2:30 p.m. Hand and Heart Drumming

4:00 p.m. Winter Blues All-Stars

5:30 p.m. David Berntson harmonica lessons with Bobby Greenshoes

Lineup Bios

Hand and Heart

Hand and Heart Drumming

Philip Seward, drummer and facilitator, is an accomplished hand drummer and percussionist. He has been playing hand drums since 1976 and has performed lecture demonstrations and team-building exercises in the Pacific Northwest since 1996.

Philip is now bringing his experience to the Midwest. Schools, corporations, at-risk youth, under-served children, and communities can benefit from having a drum circle or lecture demonstration to promote diversity, empowerment, leadership, team-work, and productivity.

His seminars are dynamic and inclusive. Within minutes he has an entire class or group drumming on the beat and in time. Philip takes children on an exploration into the diverse nature of African drumming with a sociological and historical perspective of the experiences of Africans in America.

All Stars

Winter Blues All Stars

Every year the River Music Experience, in downtown Davenport, holds its annual Winter Blues program. This program features workshops for area youth aged 8 to 18. Its concentration is vocal and instrumental workshops (guitar, bass, harmonica, keyboards & drums), as well as concentration on blues composition and improvisation.

These sessions are lead by RME's Bret Dale with Hal Reed of the Mississippi Valley Blues Society, and feature other veteran blues musicians from the region as special guests for these workshop sessions. The focus is on sharpening one's individual skills and expressing oneself through the blues roots form - by learning how to improvise, and also through the composition of original blues lyrics and music.

The Winter Blues All Stars is a group of this program's stand out participants that are essentially handpicked for their superior skill and abilities.

Come see these young "up and comers", and someday you'll say, "I saw them back when".



The Duo-Sonics of Tulsa, Oklahoma, bring a unique blend of blues and roots music to the stage. Featuring David Berntson on harmonica and Bobby "Greenshoes" Parker on guitar, the Duo-Sonics interpret classic blues in an exciting, high-energy show.

Both performers have been on the music scene for over 40 years, performing nationally and internationally, and they truly know how to connect with an audience. Whether playing a slow blues dripping with amplified harp and slide guitar, a fine boogie-woogie, or a finger poppin' jump blues number, this duo can really sing and swing.

Vocal harmonies, tasty guitar licks and full-bodied harmonica tone are coupled with a great passion for the Blues, making the Duo-Sonics a dynamic and entertaining musical experience.

Photo of three musicians playing at the Quad Cities Mississippi Valley Blues Festival