Wiregrass Blues Fest pays homage to blues heritage

AP News
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Posted: Apr 17, 2017 11:13 AM

DOTHAN, Ala. (AP) — The annual Wiregrass Blues Festival will pay homage to the history of the blues and the connection the music genre had with the wiregrass.

The schedule was released this week for the festival that kicks off April 21 with a pre-party meet and greet including entertainment by King Bee, The Dothan Eagle (http://bit.ly/2o9GRwm) reported. The two-day event will feature music and an art displays with shows at the Wiregrass Museum of Art.

Artist Kevin Hargrave will also display and sell his blues drawings and painting. Jenn Ocken, a world-known photographer will display her blues photography and sell and personalize her book of blues photography, "Blues on Beale Street."

The finale will include a jam session by all performers.

A Wiregrass Blues Festival chairman Terry Duffie said the festival's objective is to educate everyone on the roots of blues.

"Not only does this event help educate everyone on the roots that the blues have in our community, it also gives us the opportunity to help assist seventh-grade students who are in a school band, who otherwise could not afford to purchase a band instrument," Duffie said. "With assistance from the band teacher, identifying the talent and the student's need for assistance, we can help purchase the equipment. This is a very special program that I feel strongly about."

Troy University's Jeneve Brooks said the educational components of Blues in Schools program are an important aspect to the overall festival. She said the university contributed to the festival through a grant from the Alabama Humanities Foundation.

"These programs will take place in two Houston County elementary schools on April 21. These programs will be led by the 2017 Wiregrass Blues Fest's main headliner, Tas Crus and his band."

The Wiregrass Blues Fest has given education programs to almost 4,000 Wiregrass students in grades kindergarten through 12.

The event also spotlights two honorees to recognize during the event. One honoree is a living honoree and one is a deceased honoree, both of whom have played a huge part in the history of blues in the Wiregrass.

Honorees include Lenny Trawick and Lenny Pickett also known as James Founty, who died in 1967.

Dothan mayor Mike Schmitz said heard a lot of positive feedback from previous year attendees of the festival.

"The music we will hear, and enjoy, the musicians are known across the nation," Schmitz said. "The sad thing is they are not known in Dothan. But, that is changing with the help of everyone in the Wiregrass Blues Society. The blues are about joy, love and celebration. It is great music and there is nothing better than enjoying great music. I encourage everyone to attend this year's Wiregrass Blues Festival."