Preserving the Past - Promoting the Future!
LONG BEACH BLUES SOCIETY
June 14, 2017 – On Wednesday June 14th, the Long Beach Blues Society presented a “Blues in Schools” program at Long Beach Polytechnic High School to the freshmen jazz class, taught by Chris Stevens.
The 90 minute presentation began with an overview of the blues by Bernie Pearl, who discussed the history of the unique American art form, and demonstrated various playing styles on standard and National Steel guitars. Pearl spoke about blues legends Charley Patton and Blind Lemon Jefferson, and went on to demonstrate his mentor’s style of playing with Texas bluesmen Lightnin’ Hopkins and Mance Lipscomb.
Celebrated and award-winning blues vocalist Janiva Magness then came forward with legendary Long Beach guitarist Brophy Dale to share some Chicago style blues. Magness, who was recently nominated for a Grammy, is from the old school of singers who could blow doors off their hinges without the aid of amplification. In addition to singing, she connected with students through sharing stories about her childhood, and insights into songwriting.
Henry “South Side Slim” Harris then came up to demonstrate and explain his unique guitar techniques, and shared the stage with talented local singer Shy But Flyy. Flyy, who was closest in age to the students in attendance, easily blended blues, jazz and spoken word into her captivating vocal style.
With a little encouragement from New Blues Revolution front-man Bill Grisolia, the students warmed to playing with the professionals on stage. Each held their own, raising the bar of creativity in the room, as they took turns playing trumpets, saxes and trombones.
More students came up, sang a blues-inspired verse, and soloed on their various intruments, accompanied by a full horn section, Henry Harris on guitar, and Bill Grisolia on keys. Grisolia ended the jam with his song “Blueline,” calling out a key and a tempo to the class.
This is our second “Blues in Schools” program. Our first was at Renaissance High School for The Arts. By any measure, it was very successful. Mr. Stevens and the class had a tremendous time. We are looking forward to returning back to both high schools and expanding to middle and elementary schools throughout the seven cities of the Long Beach/Los Angeles Harbor area.
Teacher Chris Stevens was understandably moved by our wonderful artists contributions and the kids reaction to them.
LONG BEACH POLYTECHNIC
Janiva Magnes, Brophy Dale, Bernie Pearl Southside Slim & Shy But Flyy Joined us for a truly special event.