Bruce County Blues is a Proud Provider of the "Blues in the Schools" Programme to Area Schools, Helping to "Keep the Blues Alive!"
"Keeping the Blues Alive" is more than just a catchy marketing phrase to the Bruce County Blues Society. Right from its first year of operations, the BCB designated part of its revenues to developing a program that would bring professional blues musicians to area schools. The purpose of such a program was to teach the students a little of the history of black people, about slavery and the roots music that it spawned and the impact this musical tradition has had on all other music of today. This is a brief history of our Blues in the Schools programs since we first organized in March 2006.
Blues in the Schools Programming
As a not for profit blues society it was important to us that we find ways to give back to the community that was coming out and supporting our shows. For this reason, every show has a designated community group or charity that would receive funds generated by that particular event. Our Mandate clearly states:
- Create an exciting social setting for blues lovers to meet and in doing so raise money for deserving local charities of all causes and other charities which actively assist deserving blues artists who are in need.
But in organizing our blues society in March 2006, we also adopted two important additional goals that led us to creating our own Blues in the Schools program:
- Expand the overall awareness of the blues, its history, its present and its future in the general population.
- Expose our youth, and those who educate our youth, to the blues art form through Blues In Schools programs and similar educational opportunities in our schools.
With the input from experienced teachers in the BCB we have sought out professional blues musicians who are not only talented artists but also capable of sharing that talent and bringing their stories to an audience much younger than they'd normally encounter. Its an understatement to point out that performing in a school gym or classroom with an audience of children is much different than being in an hall or club of adults. It has been a priority in our bookings that we bring artists who not only will give the students experience with an entertaining live performance but also provide an educational experience, teaching them something about music, the blues in particular. Without exception, every one of our selected artists have met this expectation and we continue to plan for more opportunities each year.
Chris Murphy Blues Band with Denise Pelley, March 2007
We marked our first anniversary by bringing our first BITS program to the students of Huron Heights, KTTPS and St. Anthony Catholic School. Our featured artists, the Chris Murphy Blues Band with Denise Pelley, brought years of professional experience to the school gyms as well as a tight, informative learning experience explaining the structure and history of blues music. BCB was helped financially with the costs of these shows with the generous donations from Frank Pearce Skate Sharpening, Mary Rose and Danny Graham, Mary Rose Graham Day Spa, Diva Graphics, Lorenzo Casey, Baxter’s Row Fashions, Jerome Flowers and Gifts, Bruce Bar and Grill, and Amanda Alexander of the The Hair Connection.
The Reverend Robert Jones, March 2008
The Reverend Robert Jones is a Baptist minister from Detroit Michigan and anaward winning blues musician and educator. He shaped his “Blues For Schools”program into “American Roots Music In Education” (ARMIE), a program that could encompass a wider variety of music including spirituals, gospel and folk songs. Rev. Jones also presented his American Roots Music In Education program at various venues in the United States, Canada, England and Germany. In 2007 Robert was recognized by The Blues Foundation with its prestigious “Keeping The Blues Alive”award in Memphis, TN., as “Educator of the Year”. The following March BCB was proud to bring Rev. Jones to the students of Huron Heights, KTTPS and St. Anthony Catholic School. Once again we received financial assistance from Amanda Alexander of the Hair Connection.
Ray Charles: Genius + Soul Revue, November 2008
In the fall of 2008 BCB was invited by the Victoria Jubilee Hall, Walkerton to participate in an opportunity to bring Lance Anderson's Ray Charles: Genius + Soul Revue to that beautifully restored performance hall. The cast included Maple Blues award winning performers John Mays, Al Lerman, Shakura S'Aida, Michael Sloski and Jesse O'Brien who, while performing in the evening, also provided an afternoon performance for the students of Mother Theresa Catholic School, Brant Central Public School, Walkerton Public Schools and the music students from both Sacred Heart Secondary and Walkerton District Secondary Schools. This exciting learning experience was made possible by the generousity of the Board of Directors, Victoria Jubilee Hall.
Rick Fines and Suzie Vinnick, March 2009
For 2009 BCB sought to extend its BITS program to schools it hadn't reached before. With a donation from Lakeside Recreation, Port Elgin we were able to bring nationally touring blues artists Rick Fines and Suzie Vinnick to the elementary students of St. Joseph Catholic School, Saugeen-Central Public School and Northport Public School. On the following day Rick and Suzie performed at Huron Heights, St. Anthony`s and KTTPS (all in Kincardine). As well as entertaining and teaching 1500 students over these two days, Rick and Suzie also performed at the Kincardine Centre for the Arts in the evening of April 17 which was a fundraiser for the Kincardine Theatre Guild.
Rick Fines, November 2009
In the fall BCB brought Rick Fines back to Kincardine for a unique BITS program, a "teacher in residency" at KDSS and Sacred Heart Secondary, Walkerton. Rick spent four mornings that week in the guitar class of Mr. Mike Mullen, KDSSand then the afternoons with the music students of Mrs. Joy King, Sacred Heart. Rick Fines is quite simply one of Canada's leading acoustic and slide guitar players as well as a gifted songwriter. With this special BITS presentation, we realized we wouldn't be reaching as many students as we usually do when we pack a school gym but this opportunity to bring such a talented musician into a regular classroom over four days was too good to pass up! Funding for this program was provided by the Power Workers Union of Bruce Power.
Coming March 4 and 5, 2010 Diana Braithwaite and Chris Whiteley!
Our 2009-2010 "Blues in the School" Programme has been generously supported by the The Power Workers Union of Bruce Power.