Hal & Mal’s welcomes return of Blue Monday

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Keith Johnson and Big Muddy Blues Band member George Mumford
Local R&B singer Malcolm Shepherd, Jr.
Dennis Fountain with the Vicksburg Blues Society served as the master of ceremony for the Blue Monday event.

Once again Hal & Mal’s Restaurant welcomes the return of Blue Monday for their first live in-person event since the pandemic began over a year ago. Peggy Brown and Malcolm Shepherd welcomed the crowd, expressing their gratitude and appreciation of the Blues fans for packing the house and coming out to kick off the revival of Blue Monday.

Blue Monday is the weekly open-mic-night event sponsored by the Central Mississippi Blues Society (CMBS) and the Mississippi Arts Commission where local Blues acts are given a platform to showcase their talent. Sometimes national acts drop in and grace the stage on Monday night, singing a few tunes that are burning up the Blues charts.

The open-mic Blues showcase begins on Mondays with a Front Porch set from 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. and the Blues showcase performances start at 8:30 p.m. and ends at 11:00 p.m. The July 12, 2021 Front Porch act featured Keith Johnson, the great nephew of Muddy Waters, and two of his Big Muddy Blues Band members – harmonica player Jock Webb and bass player, George Mumford.

The showcase featured a list of local Blues and R&B singers backed up by the Central Mississippi Blues Society Band comprised of Malcolm Shepherd (congas), Lonnie George (lead guitar), Dwight Ross (drums), Steve Lewis (keyboards), and Keith Collins (bass guitar).

Special guests of national acclaim stopped by to support the opening in-person lineup that included Jewel Bass, Cassandra Wilson, and Nellie Mack. Saxophonist extraordinaire Mr. Russell Thomas sat in with the house band, giving his special touch to several Blues standards. Vicksburg Blues Society member, Dennis Fountain did double duty as the master of ceremony and as the featured opening act and night closer.

Central Mississippi Blues Society president, Malcolm Shepherd, Sr. acknowledged Blues fans that had transitioned during the pandemic that included Melvin “Housecat” Hendrex, Daniel Dillon, Rev. Richard Middleton, Julie Reed, Ben Peyton, Pappa Rock, Kern Pratt, Terry Collins, Mario Rollins, Louis (Gearshift) Youngblood, Cordell Hughes, Bobby Thomas, and Jesse Moore.

The Central Mississippi Blues Society is a membership-based organization that promotes Blues music throughout central Mississippi. The Society also sponsors one local Blues act to compete with approximately 260 bands from around the world at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis. Yearly memberships are:

• Student membership – $15
• Individual, musicians, and singers – $25
• Family membership – $75 four per family group
• Small business and bands – $100 (4 members)
• Lifetime (individual) membership – $300
• Corporate Membership – $500 per year

For more info: visit www.centralmississippibluessociety.com; like them on Facebook at Central MS Blues Society, Inc.; and/or call CMSBS Board President Malcolm Shepherd at 601-291-2811. The Central Mississippi Blues Society Board of Directors holds their open meeting every 1st Tuesday of the month at Hal & Mal’s, 200 Commerce Street, Jackson.

Brinda Fuller Willis, Ph.D. is a contributing writer for the Jackson Advocate Newspaper since 2001 and an Independent Consultant/winner of the 2019 Mississippi Humanities Council’s Educator Award as a member of the Mississippi Humanities Council’s Speakers’ Bureau. (bfwillis1990@gmail.com/www.brindafullerwillis.com)