Older African American ladies dressed to the nines, Southern gentlemen in flashy Saturday night clothes, lowdown, gutbucket down-home blues and a sweaty juke joint atmosphere… the Music Maker Revue is the Buena Vista
Social Club of the blues. Sebastian Danchin (Blues historian, author of Blues Boy, the unofficial B.B. King biography)
MUSIC MAKER RELIEF FOUNDATION THE ETHICAL BLUES REVUE
The young fans—mostly White middle-class students— who started the Blues revival movement of the 1960s had such a romantic vision of the African American rural South that they naturally thought the blues would die with the ageing pioneers they had just rediscovered. And as such blues giants as Mississippi John Hurt, Son House, and Bukka White disappeared one by one, the world of blues aficionados became convinced this was truly the end of an era.
If Tim Duffy ever entertained romantic ideas about the blues, they vanished when he saw the depressing conditions in which lived Guitar Gabriel, the man that ignited the initial flame for the Music Maker Relief Foundation. “There was a pungent smell of urine, hundreds of spent lighters on a coffee table, a broken TV set, and cockroaches everywhere,” as was then described the dilapidated apartment that Gabriel shared with an elderly girlfriend. Yet the minute the old man picked up his guitar and started singing, he turned his miserable surroundings into an ode to sheer beauty.
Through Guitar Gabriel, Duffy did not just discover the transformational power of the blues. He also found out about the regular haunts of the old North Carolina bluesman, the living music that was still being played every weekend in drink houses and juke joints throughout the South, the many men and women who’d practiced their art anonymously for decades. Instead of starting another profitable revival, Duffy decided to repay these unsung heroes for their artistic generosity in a more ethical way by launching the Music Maker Relief Foundation, a non-profit organisation whose proceedings help the artists in their everyday needs: food, housing, medical bills, a decent funeral on the day of the great rendezvous…
For the past 15 years, with the moral and financial backing of people like B.B. King, Eric Clapton and Taj Mahal, the MMRF has brought dozens of artists to the attention of blues fans. In addition to the various recordings made by the Foundation, Duffy has started the Music Maker Revue, a flamboyant show that takes spectators all the way to the drink houses of the South.
For nearly two hours, the very best Music Makers step into the limelight one after the other, playing by themselves, or to the accompaniment of the MMRF house band, while their cohorts encourage them from the side of the stage, in the comfortable setting of an improvised juke joint.
The Revue players have colorful names such as Drink Small, Sweet Betty, Whistlin’ Britches and Little Pink Anderson, and their showmanship leaves nothing to be desired: one-man-band Adolphus Bell with his sparkling crown, Beverly Guitar Watkins who was playing her instrument behind her back before Jimi Hendrix ever laid hands on a Stratocaster, frail-looking Captain Luke and his incredible, booming voice…
Today, thanks to the Music Maker Revue, these blues griots get rave reviews wherever they appear, from Brazil to Australia and Europe. Through their artistic commitment and integrity, these veterans exude the generosity, poetry and fun that was once the privilege of the blues pioneers who preceded them, from Charley Patton to Robert Johnson and Blind Boy Fuller.
Drawing on their deepest Southern roots, the Music Makers breathe new life into the blues tradition, placing their music in the age of globalisation and ethical trade. In the process, they make our souls richer.
- Dr Burt: http://www.musicmaker.org/artists_profile/Dr.-G.B.-Burt
- Eddie Tigner: http://www.musicmaker.org/artists_profile/Eddie-Tigner
- Alabama Slim: http://www.musicmaker.org/artists_profile/Alabama-Slim
- Pat Wilder: http://www.musicmaker.org/artists_profile/pat-wilder
- Albert White: http://www.musicmaker.org/artists_profile/Albert-White
- Pat "Mother Blue" Cohen: http://www.musicmaker.org/artists_profile/pat-cohen
- Pura Fé: http://www.musicmaker.org/artists_profile/Pura-F
- Ardie Dean: http://www.musicmaker.org/artists_profile/ardie-dean
- Nashid Abdul-Khaaliq
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