Vocalist and bandleader Marion James can remember when the blues was a vital part of the popular black music agenda. She's seen, heard and worked with numerous giants in the genre, and even helped nurture and develop a fledgling guitarist by the name of Jimi Hendrix.
But in addition to honing the skills that have earned her the title of Nashville's "Queen of the Blues," James has seen musicians felled by the dire combination of illness, hardships and fiscal difficulty. She organized the first Musicians Reunion concert in 1982 to generate funds for those in need, and raise public awareness regarding the problems many musicians faced, particularly those operating outside the pop music limelight.
Now, three decades later, Musicians Reunion is established and highly respected as an important event in the blues community. But James & Co. are truly going all out with the 30th annual Musicians Reunion, which will be held Oct. 7 at Bourbon Street Blues and Boogie Bar. Longtime Music City blues enthusiast and activist David Flynn lauds the 2012 event as something special in the Reunion's lengthy existence.
"This will be one of the greatest shows we've ever done," says Flynn, noting that there will be 25 acts on the program. "We've got a lot of great names in blues music from this area, but we're also bringing in some top acts from across the South. It's going to be back at Bourbon Street, one of the real homes for blues in this market. You won't find a better show anywhere, and there will also be a silent auction, sales of prints featuring blues musicians, autographed items and many other great things." Proceeds from the event will go to benefit musicians in need, with a portion also going to the American Cancer Society.
The impressive list of luminaries scheduled to appear includes Louisiana blues star Larry Garner, Gary Nicholson, Jonell Mosser, Bart Walker, Jackie Wilson, James "Nick" Nixon, Delicious Blues Stew, Clarence Dobbins, Deford Bailey Jr., Les Kerr, Karen Leipziger and several others. James and her nine-piece band, horn section included, will serve as the house ensemble, although some performers will also have their own bands.
"We don't know for sure just how long the music will last, but it's going to go until at least midnight," Flynn continues. "I know that Marion and everyone has gone to great lengths to get as many wonderful acts as possible to perform, and there won't be a better show in town that day."
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