After a two-year hiatus due to the COVID pandemic, the Jus Blues Music Foundation, Inc. presented its 22nd Annual Music Awards Week and Conference in-person at the Horseshoe Casino in Tunica, Mississippi during the week of August 2-6, 2022.
The 22nd Annual Music Awards Week and Conference was headlined by Blues legends and industry professionals undergirded by the Blues-Got-A-Soul education program. Charles Mitchell, president of the Jus Blues Music Foundation, opened the conference registration August 2, 2022, in the Jackson Room at the Horseshoe Tunica Casino. The opening reception was held on Wednesday evening, August 3, in the Founders Room and allowed attendees an opportunity to meet and greet each other in person. The reception served as an intimate Blues family reunion of old friends and new acquaintances. Old School Blues legends introducing up-and-coming Blues artists to their childhood icons such Bennie Latimore, Theodis Ealey, and Bobby Rush.
According to Mitchell, “The legendary Bluesmen and Blueswomen of African American heritage are the primary focus of the Jus Blues (Music) Foundation’s work that draws attention to and celebrates their contributions in an industry that has historically usurped our culture for their profits while leaving the creators and purveyors of the music lacking in economic prosperity. Blues-Got-A-Soul is the Jus’ Blues student education program in which we nurture the soul of young people with music.
“We educate them about the rich history of the Blues, which is America’s purely original music art form brought to the ears of the world by Black musicians. Blues-Got-A-Soul boasts having the assistance of many young artists as well as veteran artists like Theodis Ealey, Eugene ‘Hideaway’ Bridges, Toni Green, Gaye Adegabalola, and Chuck D of Public Enemy. Jus’ Blues is currently planning a Blues Master Class Series National Tour. Professional mentors Allen Johnson of the Music Specialist and entertainment attorney Johnathan Mason are looking for inspired music industry volunteers to assist us in making sure the students who attend the Blues Master Class have a memorable experience.”
The Jus Blues Dinner and Awards Ceremony was held in the Bluesville Room on August 4. “Night of the Living Legends” was hosted by Big Lou Johnson, the Golden Voice of B.B. King’s Bluesville-SiriusXM, and Tony “TC” Coleman, the longtime drummer of B.B. King’s Road Band, served as the musical director for the evening. The Living Legends honorees and performers included:
• Alabama Mike (Jus’ Blues “The Muddy” Lifetime Achievement Blues Award)
• Bobby Patterson (Willie Dixon Lifetime Achievement Writers Award)
• Eric Gales (Albert King Lifetime Award “The Lucy Award”)
• Gregg A. Smith (Bobby Blue Bland Lifetime Achievement Blues Award)
• James Boogaloo Bolden (Bobby Byrd “Know You Got Soul” Lifetime Achievement Award)
• Mel Harden (Jus’ Blues & Soul Lifetime Achievement Legend Award)
• R.L. Griffin (Jus’ Blues Juke Joint Award)
• Lee King (Benny Latimore “Let’s Straighten It Out” Award)
• Rojene Bailey (Ruben Hughes Lifetime Achievement Blues Radio Personality Award)
• Tucka (Jus’ Blues Tyrone Davis Soul Award)
• Shirley Jones (Millie Jackson “Classy & Sassy” Award)
• Terry “Harmonica” Bean (Bobby Rush Lifetime Achievement Blues Entertainers Award)
• Tia Carroll (Denise LaSalle Lifetime Achievement Award”)
• Jesse Thompson (Bennie Latimore “Let’s Straighten It Out” Award)
• Demetria Taylor (KoKo Taylor “Queen of the Blues” Award)
• D.K. Harrell (“King of the Blues” Award “Tribute to B.B. King”)
• Barbara Morrison (Willie Mitchell Lifetime Achievement Artist Award)
A special tribute was presented in honor of Bobby Rush and the Legacy of the Rabbit Foot Minstrels. He received the Keeping the “Folk-Funk” Flame Alive Award which honors and highlights the influence of the early Black (Pat Chappelle) Minstrel Shows of the 1930s that supplied Bobby with the creation and brand that the entertainment world has come to know as The Bobby Rush Show & Revue. With Blues as a vital component of Bobby’s repertoire – along with dancing girls, classical ragtime, sprinkled-in pop music, and the underlying funky Blues that could only be perfected by him – Rush presented with intra-cultural wisdom and storytelling humor that others attempt to imitate but fall short of duplicating in the industry.
In Bobby’s autobiographical memoir “I Ain’t Studdin Ya: My American Blues Story,” he states, “The Black entertainer is at the core literally in the DNA of American entertainment culture. Just like we invented Jazz, and just like we invented Rock ‘n’ Roll, we also invented – through the minstrel shows – the modern-day entertainment structure. The greatest of the great entertainers honed their craft with the minstrel shows. These talents are at the very heart of American entertainment culture. And I’m a product of that tradition.”
A Blues Workshop Luncheon, “Keeper of the Blues Series,” was held Friday, August 5th in the Founders Room with a lecture by Attorney Jonathan Mason. He presented “State of the Blues Today” and Eugene “Hideaway” Bridges performed.
The Friday Night Juke Joint Fish Fry (All White Linen Party) was held in the Bluesville Room of the Horseshoe Casino with Mr. Sipp, aka “The Mississippi Blues Child,” as the headliner, performing hit after hit. The audience was treated to several singalongs and a Sam Cooke tribute of “A Change Gonna Come” brought everyone to their feet with a standing ovation and a dance party on a crowded dance floor that closed out the night.
Saturday night was the wrap party and concert billed as “A Tribute To The Blues.” It consisted of a star-studded lineup with Jo’Nathan Ellison Blues Band, Gregg Wright, and Zac Harmon. Trudy Lynn closed out with another dance party and extended singalongs of old time covers that excited the crowd because of her showmanship and familiarity.
Charles Mitchell gave closing remarks, thanking everyone for their continued support of the 22nd Annual Jus Blues event and asked everyone to come back next year. Visit www.jusblues.org for additional information regarding the Jus Blues Music Foundation, Inc. and/or call 678-403-1993.