Bobby "Blue" Bland - Loan a Helping Hand (Duke 185)
Loan A Helping Hand
In 1984 Dan Greer and Fred Ford got together and formed an organization named 'Friends United To Preserve Musical Heritage International'. The idea, Dan told me, was to relate the rich history of Memphis music in the words of the people who made it in the first place. They created an event called the Music Pioneer Awards and Ford, the go-to baritone man in Memphis for generations, became their first honoree (once Dan convinced him it was alright). Fred has since left us, but the organization (now called simply United Music Heritage, Inc.) continues on with a board that includes folks like Percy Wiggins and Earl Randle.
I met Dan Greer at the Willie Mitchell Memorial Celebration in January, which is where he started thinking about putting together the incredible Twenty Fifth Anniversary Music Pioneer Awards that will be held at The New Daisy Theater on Beale Street this Thursday, August 12th. "Too many of us are passing," he said, "it's time to do something." The event will honor Carla Thomas, Don Bryant, Ann Peebles, The Mad Lads, The Temprees, Ruby Wilson and The Lee Twins among many others all backed by the incomparable Hi Rhythm, along with a horn section led by Ben Cauley.
In a word, Wow!
As if that weren't enough, the centerpiece of this year's awards will be a tribute to one of the cornerstones of Memphis music, Bobby "Blue" Bland. Bobby, who turned eighty this past January, was one of the original Beale-Streeters, and his absolute giant of a voice has influenced all those who came after him. The show will feature killer vocalists like J. Blackfoot and Percy Wiggins performing his music... can you imagine?
As Greer told the Commercial Appeal; "You won't find another show like this, you couldn't pay these people enough to come in and do this. But they come in and do it out of love for the city and the music."
This is one of those many, many times I wish I lived in Memphis.
The Twenty Fifth Anniversary Music Pioneer Awards:
August 12, 2010
New Daisy Theater, 330 Beale St.
Reception: 6 p.m. Show starts at 7 p.m.
Tickets: $50, available at the New Daisy box office
United Music Heritage, Inc