It's stories of life. It's true-to-life experiences. All you got to do is listen to the lyrics, and you'll see that they are related to some true-to-life experience of somebody - me, you and anybody else that hears it.
-John Cephas

Blues Education News

News, Upcoming and Past Events from the MVBS Education Committee.

Open to the Public Blues in the Schools Event with the Duo-Sonics, Wednesday, May 3 at the River Music Experience

duo sonicsThe Mississippi Valley Blues Society invites you to a Free and Open-To-The-Public night with the
Duo-Sonics on Wednesday, May 3, at the River Music Experience. This program is being presented as part of the Mississippi Valley Blues Society Blues-In-The-Schools program.

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.

MVBS Presents TJ Wheeler for Blues in the Schools April 18-22 with Special Public Concert Thursday, April 21

tj wheelerThe Mississippi Valley Blues Society welcomes musician/educator TJ Wheeler as the artist-in-residence for Blues in the Schools April 18 through 22. Besides presenting his Hope, Heroes, and the Blues program at Quad-City area schools, Wheeler will be working closely with Bettendorf students in all kinds of music groups from jazz band and smaller blues/soul combos to the full stage band, culminating in a concert at Heritage Church on April 21. Wheeler’s residency is made possible by major funding from the Riverboat Development Authority, and it includes two free and open to the public sessions:

·         Thursday April 21 at 1:30 - Bettendorf Public Library, 2950 Learning Campus Dr., Bettendorf IA
·         Thursday April 21 at 7:00 - Concert at Heritage Church, 2700 Middle Road, Bettendorf IA

Wheeler is excited to be collaborating with students under the guidance of Bettendorf Schools Music Director Michael Dynes. For the April 21 concert they’ve already decided on a Count Basie-like Big Band Blues/ Swing Jazz number and some West Side urban blues, along with a Doug Beach blues chart called "Cut to the Chase" and a Berg arrangement of "Blue Train." Don’t be surprised to hear a version of Jimi Hendrix’ “Let Me Stand Next to Your Fire” at the concert too.

A recipient of the Blues Foundation’s Keeping the Blues Alive Award in Education, Wheeler is a treasure of American Roots music, a living, one-man Juke Joint. He performs his gumbo of Blues, Jazz, Ragtime and more on a wide variety of instruments, including the 7-string guitar, ukulele, tenor banjo, gas can guitar, 1-string diddley bow, tap percussion, and kazoo. He takes his audiences to the blues of the Mississippi Delta and New Orleans second line jazz, to his own original blues and jazz compositions. Wheeler brings these musical genres to life in his interactive performances, and students of all ages around the world have been enlightened by his knowledge of the history and stories behind the music.

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.

Hawkeye Herman's Updated Blues Bibliography

hawkeye herman by bob pennellDear Blues Friends,

There's been considerable growth in the public's interest in “alternative” genres/styles of music (blues, folk, bluegrass, old-timey, ethnic/world, etc.). I’m not going to try to analyze the phenomena, but I rejoice in it. When the consumer demands variety, the wise shopkeeper responds.

Besides playing and listening to the music, I enjoy reading biographies, autobiographies, various blues related historical material, and watching blues on video. I would like to see a bigger 'catalog,' variety, and selection of blues related books, literature, periodicals, and videos in the bookstores.

I'm frequently asked, “What books can I read to learn more about the music and the people of the Blues?” That’s a tough question, as there are many hundreds of titles. I don't have time to read everything that's available. I enjoy reading, but I’m no book reviewer. The purpose of this blues related book and video list is to give folks a 'taste' of the broad variety of blues related books, literature, and video that are available. The list is not "complete," and it's always growing. Even though the list is quite long, please take your time looking it over. I'm pretty sure you'll see a number of titles and subjects that will pique your interest.

In some cases, the list includes the author(s) name(s), publishing company name(s) and city. Though many of the books/videos are only listed by the title and author(s), with that basic information, all you have to do is walk into, or call, your local book store and ask if you can place an order. Even easier, use any of the major online/Internet book selling web sites (, Borders, Barnes & Noble, etc.). When book retailers start getting people ordering books in this way, they will start to think about stocking a wider selection of music related books in their stores. You can try this same technique at your local library, as well. Ask if you can talk to a person in the “collection development / acquisitions” department. Show them your blues book and video want list!