I think the blues will always be around. People need it.

- Johnny Winter

Spencer BohrenThanks to a major grant provided by the Riverboat Development Authority, the MVBS 2014/2015 Blues In The Schools Artists-in-Residence series will begin with New Orleans-based blues musician and educator Spencer Bohren. He will conduct workshops at schools and free open-to-the-public performances throughout the Quad-Cities during the week of September 8-12.

Spencer is scheduled for two free public performances:

Tuesday September 9, 7:00 p.m.—River Music Experience, 2nd & Main Streets, Davenport IA

Wednesday September 10, 7:00 p.m. - Co-op Records, 3727 Avenue of the Cities, Moline IL

Spencer Bohren was born and raised in Wyoming, where he sang in a family choir that performed in churches, schools, and nursing homes. He acquired his first guitar at the age of 14, and began his personal study of the blues by listening intently to all the music he could get his hands on and integrating it into his guitar playing. In 1968 this study became even more focused when he played in a duo called Eagle Ridin' Papa, named after a Big Bill Broonzy song and featuring the music of the Mississippi Sheiks, Bo Carter, Robert Johnson, Skip James, Snooks Eaglin, and dozens of other legendary blues musicians. Soon thereafter, Spencer moved to Denver, where he played with and learned from such blues legends as Bukka White and the Reverend Gary Davis.

Spencer moved to New Orleans in 1975, where he began performing regularly in popular clubs such as Tipitina's and the Absinthe Bar. Often he was paired with legends Professor Longhair, Earl King, Clifton Chenier, or James Booker. In 1983 Spencer began a seven-year tour all over the U.S. with his family in an Airstream trailer towed by his 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air. He later toured extensively in Europe and Japan. In 1997 Spencer returned to New Orleans, which he considers his spiritual home. His first recording came out in 1984, and since then he's released numerous albums.


StormcellarThis Thursday, September 11, The Mississippi Valley Blues Society presents Australian band Stormcellar at The Muddy Waters, 1708 State Street, Bettendorf, IA. The show starts at 7:00 p.m. Admission is $5 per person.

Stormcellar, from Sydney, is one of the top alternative music acts in Australia. This six-piece band, described as a mix of Urban Roots, Electric Blues, Modern Folk and Alt Country, is coming through Bettendorf in the middle of their second US tour.

Built on the bones of a straightforward lineup of bass, slide, guitar, drums and harp, Stormcellar should fit neatly into a typical band category. Add a mandolin, a singer with the range and power to travel from Gospel to Southern Rock, throw in the occasional fiddle, a bit of Folk, complex arrangements and lyrics that do more than just rhyme, and you have a very interesting beast: an original band indeed.

Americana bible No Depression magazine says "Stormcellar - The Rolling Stones fronted by James Taylor - a powerhouse songwriting act with a formidable live show. Straight up." They have been on the Australian Blues & Roots Charts for 22 months and have two #1 albums, along with positioning themselves in the top 50 on US National Blues Charts.

This event is being presented by The Mississippi Valley Blues Society. The objective of the Society is to educate the general public about the native art form of blues-related music through performance, interpretation and preservation, thus enhancing appreciation and understanding.


Keeping the Blues AliveJust in time for its 30th anniversary in 2014, the Mississippi Valley Blues Festival has been honored with a Keeping the Blues Alive Award from The Blues Foundation of Memphis, TN, the world-renown organization dedicated to preserving our blues music history, celebrating recording and performance excellence, supporting blues education and ensuring the future of this uniquely American art form. The coveted award, in the U.S. Festival category, is the equivalent of lifetime achievement recognition.

The Blues Foundation notes that the Mississippi Valley Blues Festival has become "one of the longest running, most prestigious blues festivals in the world. Held on the shores of the Mississippi River in Davenport, Iowa, this event features music on two outdoor stages and educational presentations. Four different times, the festival has moved due to river flooding, but each time, festival organizers have been up to the task.

Beginning in 1995 with Honeyboy Edwards, the festival inaugurated its RiverRoad Award to honor the true legends of the blues. Thus far, 36 men and women have been so honored." The Festival is also the only major blues festival in the nation to be produced by a non-profit, all-volunteer organization — the Mississippi Valley Blues Society.

Each year, The Blues Foundation presents the Keeping the Blues Alive (KBA) Awards to individuals and organizations that have made significant contributions to the Blues world. Unlike the Blues Music Awards, which recognize the past year's best in recordings and performance voted on by thousands of The Blues Foundation's members, the KBAs are awarded to non-performers strictly on the basis of merit by a select panel of blues professionals. Affiliated organizations, past KBA recipients and members of The Blues Foundation's Board of Directors are eligible to submit nominations.

The Mississippi Valley Blues Festival was nominated for the KBA award by musician Michael "Hawkeye" Herman, himself a KBA recipient for Education in 1998 and a former member of the board of directors of the Blues Foundation. In his nomination, Hawkeye noted that "The 2014 KBA Award would be a most auspicious way of honoring this event's 30 years of hard work and dedication to 'Keeping the Blues Alive' in both spirit and action."


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