Although it’s sort of an oxymoron, the blues makes me happy; and people of all types and stripes share that feeling.
Iconic bluesman Howlin’ Wolf said “I just play the blues for fun.” Revered trumpeter and musicologist Wynton Marsalis says that listening to the blues “feels like you’re having a great conversation with somebody,” and singer Chris Isaak offers up the thought that “the songs always make me feel more peaceful… the more hurtin’ the music, the better it makes me feel.”
Those truisms express some of the reasons that I always eagerly anticipate and heartily enjoy “Barbecue and Blues,” the annual fun-filled Darke County Center for the Arts fundraiser featuring food for the body and music for the soul that supports DCCA’s Arts In Education programming and helps underwrite their Family Theatre Series—providing another good reason for attending the event. AIE performances are presented annually to students in every grade of all local public schools at no charge to the students. Family Theatre programs present professional theatre companies performing at historic Henry St. Clair Memorial Hall, charming adults and delighting children with imaginative and thoughtful plays, many based on classic children’s literature. In order to maximize the ability of local families to partake of the wonder of theatre, DCCA strives to keep tickets as accessible as possible, and has maintained the incredibly low admission price of $5 for several seasons. Simply knowing that you will be supporting these and other programs provides sufficient motivation to get your tickets for DCCA’s “Barbecue and Blues.”
“Barbecue and Blues” takes place July 15 on the lovely and inviting grounds of Turtle Creek Golf Course; tickets cost $10. The Thirsty Turtle will provide a menu consisting of pulled pork or pulled chicken, Ronnie’s cole slaw, baked beans, and home fries for $12.50 from 6:30 until 8:30 p.m. Cheesecake with strawberry drizzle will be offered for dessert, and full bar service will be available.
The music will kick off at 6:30 p.m. with popular local musicians Erin Higgins and Jeff Madewell performing their signature blend of roots, blues, country, and classic rock. When asked to cite their major musical influences, Erin and Jeff list Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, AC/DC, Sheryl Crow, Pink Floyd, the Allman Brothers, and Johnny Cash, an eclectic mix that offers insight into the unique sound for which Higgins-Madewell is known. Erin’s powerful yet melodic vocals and Jeff’s amazing guitar skills have impressed and entertained audiences for the past 10 years, deservedly drawing a strong following across the region.
Blues guitar virtuoso and singer Jay Jesse Johnson has rightfully been dubbed “a powerhouse guitar rock force to be reckoned with.” The Indiana native tours with his band that includes vocalist Angela Combs, Reed Bogart on bass, Jeff “Smokey” Donaldson on drums, and Lee Evans on the Hammond B3. His latest CD, Set the Blues On Fire, has won rave reviews, earning Triple J acclaim from critics and fans alike as “a modern-day blues master.” Praised for his technique, tone and song-writing abilities, Jay Jesse Johnson is one of the most electrifying guitarists you will ever hear, performing smoking slow blues and fast-paced rocking boogie with masterful ease.
So take your lawn chair or blanket to Turtle Creek, get comfortable, and enjoy great food and great music in the great outdoors with other great people, all for a great cause. Of course, if the weather is less than great, “Barbecue and Blues” will move inside the cozy confines of The Thirsty Turtle. Although tickets will be available at the gate, DCCA strongly recommends purchasing them in advance. Tickets can be reserved by contacting DCCA at 937-547-0908 or firstname.lastname@example.org or ordered online at www.centerforarts.net. Tickets are also available at Greenville Public Library, Readmore’s Hallmark, and Darke County Welcome Center, as well as at Turtle Creek Golf Course, 6545 U.S. Route 36 East, Greenville.
Marilyn Delk is a director of the Darke County Center for the Arts and can be reached at email@example.com. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.