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OBHOF logo red bag       Copy of _DSC0127HOW  DC on the State Map 2016         Bluea are Alive and Well Jerron Scott  MAP of OK ROOT OF West Coast Blues

 

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OK FILM + MUSIC Press Release OBHOF Inductions May 2016

OBHOF
Requirements for induction include

 

We prefer to induct artists who are alive if possible.

 

A person must be a performing artist in the Blues genre.

 

They must be from or have lived in Olkahoma.

 

The exception to this is the ‘Friend of the Rentiesville Dusk til Dawn Blues Festival Award’ which is for nationally known artists who have consistently over a period of years helped the Festival by coming in at a significantly reduced rate.

 

They must be 60 years of age unless they are seriously ill.

 

They have to be a ‘good guy’ – treat people with respect and carry the music with dignity.

 

They must have a track record in the sense that they are not just playing area bars where they live. Either they work(ed) with people of note or have traveled and toured.

 

PROCESS

 

Artists can be nominated by any non profit blues related organization or, in fact, by any blues lover.

 

Noinations need to supply documentation including their track record, any touring, other contributions to the genre such as teaching etc.  We also need a photo which will print well in either black and white or color – 300 dpi minimum, and a sample of the music played by the nominee.

 

This should be sent in by March of any given year.

 


OBHOF sign best web r cropped
2107 INDUCTEES to be announced

2016 INDUCTEES James Peterson, Jim Donovan, Johnny Rawls, Norman Stauffer, Freddy Lee Rice, John Seymour, Earnest ‘Harmonica Slim’ Carr

2015 INDUCTEES: Harry and Debbie Blackwell, Wolfman Black, Jimmy ‘Chank’ Nolan, Roger ‘Hurricane’ Wilson, Layce Baker, Cecil Gray and David Berntson.

2014 INDUCTEES : Dr Harold Aldridge, Joe Settlemires, Guitar Shorty, Big Mike Griffin and Mike McKinney

dorothy ellis greatMiss Blues has made a great recovery

003_3 OBHOF SIGN great not too brite  Cody@hallofFamewallSpp    CD we need Money cover web ready etterdfeb 11
You’ve got to have heroes in this life. Our children have to have heroes… We need tales of people who have overcome, people who have endured, people who have given of themselves in many ways despite the hardships of their own lives. Their survival is a testament worthy of celebration. These people were and are road warriors who overcame indignities of every sort… Musicians as men and women of great courage? You better believe it!

  live from the inductions!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_0_mFq7eg1I

 

VISION STATEMENT 2015
Down Home Blues Club, OK Blues Hall Of Fame, Rentiesville OK

 

 

8

 

 

 

May 23, 2013    in  the MUSKOGEE DAILY PHOENIX
A HALL OF FAME KIND OF SHOW
Blues inductees to jam this weekend in Rentiesville
By Leilani Roberts Ott Phoenix Correspondent
Songwriter, guitarist and vocalist Scott Ellison of Tulsa calls blues “the real true art form of American music.”

Ellison along with June McKinney, Robbie Mack McLerran, Broadway Jimmy Thomas, Danny Timms and Slugger Trask are being inducted into the Oklahoma Blues Hall of Fame at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Down Home Blues Club in Rentiesville. The Oklahoma City Blue Devils will receive the D.C. Minner Lifetime Achievement Award, according to Selby Minner, co-founder of the Oklahoma Blues Hall of Fame. Several others will be honored for Keeping the Blues Alive through archiving, recording and media.

“This year is a milestone here in Rentiesville for the Oklahoma Blues Hall of Fame — our 10th year of inductions,” Minner said. “We’ll sprinkle the awards through the night.”

Several of the inductees will perform, including Ellison and Timms, during the gala that includes a barbecue dinner and awards ceremony. It is open to the public at a cost of $10. Past hall of fame winners like Baby Ray Mucker, Leon Rollerson and the Production, Jim Davis, and Minner and Blues on the Move with Okahoma Slim will play the blues until about midnight.

Minner and her husband, the late D.C. Minner, started the Oklahoma Blues Hall of Fame after he was inducted into the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame and Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame.

“He told me they’re going to miss a bunch of people. He said we’re not big and flashy but when you’ve worked your whole life, you want to be honored,” she said. “So we decided to do it.”

The D.C. Minner Lifetime Achievement Award is going to the Oklahoma City Blue Devils.

“Count Basie produced some of the most blues driven jazz ever created with these musicians from the Oklahoma City Blue Devils,” Minner said. “My favorite Basie quote goes; “If you want the best, get a Blue Devil.”

Inductees are selected by a committee of blues scholars who bring suggestions to a meeting of the Friends of Rentiesville Blues Inc., a non-profit organization. Ellison, McLerran and Thomas said they are “honored” to be inducted.

“It’s a dream come true,” Ellison said. “To be in that group with all those great musicians … it’s a great accomplishment.”

He said he’ll be “jammin’ and playing” with Timms during the ceremony.

McLerran of Tulsa said he’s honored and surprised. He said he’s still being “Okiefied” since he wasn’t born in Oklahoma. He had a songwriting partner from Oklahoma and came here from Colorado. He has played the Dusk ’Til Dawn Blues Festival in Rentiesville since 1998 with his son, Little Joe McLerran. He and his son will be performing at a festival in Kansas on Saturday but will attend the jam session at the Down Home Blues Club at 6 p.m. Sunday.

Thomas of Los Angeles, Calif., also won’t be able to attend the ceremony but plans to pick up his award when he performs at the Dusk ’Til Dawn Blues Festival on Labor Day weekend.

“It’s a great honor to me,” Thomas said. “I wasn’t born in Oklahoma, but I grew up with it. I know a lot of musicians from Oklahoma. I’ve been doing the festival since 2001.”

He’s been playing the blues for more than 50 years.

“I’m still playing music at 72,” he said. “I play bass and saxophone.”

Ellison believes the best blues musicians have Oklahoma roots.

“Blues is so real,” he said. “Pop music and country music always changes. Blue remains true to its art form.”

He got his start when he saw The Rolling Stones on “The Ed Sullivan Show.”

“I got to do that,” he said he thought. “It electrified me.”

Ellison and his band along with a few other musicians just recorded several tracks for a new CD at Leon Russell’s church studio. “Hit It, Get It and Go” will be released in six to nine months. He’ll perform songs from his current CD, “Walkin’ Through the Fire,” at the ceremony Saturday.
2013 Oklahoma Blues Hall of Fame inductee bios
• D.C. Minner Lifetime Achievement Award: Oklahoma City Blue Devils — The early jazz tradition in Oklahoma was more closely associated with the blues tradition than in many other places, Selby Minner said. The Territorial Bands played both jazz and blues traveling to Texas, Kansas, Arkansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. One group was renowned for being the best of these many musicians. This was the Oklahoma City Blue Devils. They would continually win when the bands got together to compete with each other. Count Basie – Bill Moten – followed them and played with them. The story goes, one night when they were back East and did not get paid after a gig and he took over the leadership position.

• Scott Ellison toured in the bands of: Jessica James, who is Conway Twitty’s daughter. Veteran bluesman Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown plucked the energetic guitarist as rhythm player for his own band, she said. A move to Los Angeles during the mid-1980s found Ellison playing and touring with groups like The Box Tops, The Shirelles, The Coasters, and Peaches and Herb. By the 1990s, he formed his own blues band and opened up shows for such legends as Joe Cocker , Roy Orbison, The Fabulous T-birds and Buddy Guy. As a songwriter, he composed enough material to record and release his first two solo efforts, “Chains of Love” on Quicksilver Records and “Live at Joey’s” on Red Hot Records. Returning back to his home in Tulsa, Ellison teamed with longtime friend Terry Lupton to write 10 more tunes for his next release, “Steamin’” on Fishhead Records, which garnered critical acclaim, Minner said. Ellison then co-wrote and recorded “One Step from the Blues” on JSE, a Tulsa sound rhythm and blues record featuring well-known Tulsa musicians. As a songwriter, Ellison has had his songs featured on TV shows “Sister Sister,” “Eye on L.A.,” “Santa Barbara” and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” Burnside Records is proud to release Bad Case Of The Blues available at all fine record stores, by mail-order through Burnside Records or online at www.burnsiderecords.com. Scott is currently touring across the U.S., Canada and Europe with accompanying radio and retail in-store performances.

• June McKinney — Famed pianist for jazz greats including Count Basie and the Thad Jones Trio, she is also the mother of Michael McKinney, road bassist for Michael Jackson on his world tour, recommended by Nate Watts. Michael went around the world three times playing bass. Credited on the Jacksons album “Triumph” (Epic, 1980), and is the bassist heard on “Jacksons: Live” (Epic, 1981). McKinney was a famed Oklahoma City music educator as well.

• Robbie Mack McLerran — He was inducted into the Colorado Music Hall of Fame in 2012 along with the other members of the Astronauts, the surf band from Boulder, Colo., who became popular in the 1960s releasing albums on the RCA label. The Astronauts moved their base of operations to California in 1967 where the band realigned with Capitol Records, changing the band’s name to Hardwater and moving in a psychedelic rock direction. In 1970 McLerran teamed with Oklahoma native John Herron forming a songwriting partnership and country rockish band, Boondoggle & Balderdash, releasing two LP records for the MCA record group. In the mid-1970s he returned to Colorado in order to focus on his family. His musical interest moved to the early blues and jazz styles. The family moved to Tulsa in 1998. His son, Little Joe McLerran, following in his father’s footsteps, became a musician and in 2009 won the International Blues Challenge (IBC) representing the Blues Society of Tulsa. McLerran has performed and toured internationally with his son ever since.

• Broadway Jimmy Thomas — He played in 1968 for Taj Mahal and on his album “Taj Mahal” with Jesse Ed Davis. He worked with Johnny Otis in 1967 and spent one year in Hawaii with a band. He also worked with Joe Houston and Jay McNeely and the West Coast Horn Section. He was in the band for Screamin’ Jay Hawkins of “I Put a Spell on You” fame. He played with Phillip Walker, Smokey Wilson and Sonny Rhodes — West Coast blues players. He worked with Phillip Walker for years. Jimmy half way grew up in Wichita, Kan., and he played with Oklahoma Ollie Gaines, Eddie Taylor and Larry Johnson through a booking agent called Aunt Cat and Uncle Bob which booked teenage bands to dances across the Wichita, Kan., and Western Oklahoma area. He was born in Salina, Texas, 50 miles from the Red River. His mother had family in Oklahoma so he spent childhood summers and holidays living and visiting.

• Danny Timms — When he wasn’t writing and touring with Kris Kristofferson, playing keyboards for The Fabulous Thunderbirds or making his acting debut as a hippie band member in a “Married With Children” TV episode, Timms joined a project they called “Little Whisper and the Rumors.” Billed as “the greatest little band you never heard,” they were hired by Bonnie Raitt to join her touring band in the early 1990s. One song he co-wrote, “A Moment of Forever,” became the title track of a Willie Nelson album and was also recorded by several others.

• Slugger Trask — The band received the Best Self Produced Album of the Year for the album “Slugger Trask: Groove Injected” at the 2007 International Blues Challenge. The band also won first in the Bands of the World Tour in 2007. The tour played shows in 12 U.S. cities. Slugger was half Cherokee and hails from the Miami area.
Check the blog on the right Keepping the Blues Alive by Michael Cross KOSU:  INduction POSTER 2008 Induction AD the Pulse  Watermelon Slim PRESS Memphismike peace gets awardmOKBlHofFamelogoBIG     Rentiesville Revival

 

CELEBRATING 14 YEARS of OBHOF INDUCTEES!


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2016 INDUCTEES
James Peterson,
Jim Donovan,
Johnny Rawls,
Norman Stauffer,
Freddy Lee Rice,
John Seymour,
Earnest ‘Harmonica Slim’ Carr

2015 INDUCTEES:
Harry and Debbie Blackwell,
Wolfman Black,
Jimmy ‘Chank’ Nolan,
Roger ‘Hurricane’ Wilson,
Layce Baker Jr.,
Cecil Gray and
David Berntson.

2014 INDUCTEES :
Dr Harold Aldridge,
Joe Settlemires,
Guitar Shorty,
Big Mike Griffin and
Mike McKinney

 

2014 INDUCTEES
Dr Harold Aldridge: Education
Joe Settlemires
Guitar Shorty : Friend of the Rentiesville Blues Festival
Big Mike Griffin
Mike McKinney

2013 INDUCTEES
June McKinney
Scott Ellison
Slugger Trask
Robbie McLaren
Danny Timms
Broadway Jimmy
D.C. Minner Lifetime Achievement Award:
Oklahoma City Blue Devils Band
KBA for Scholarship: Kerry Kudlacek
KBA in Recording: Mike Peace
Media: John Wooley Kyle Peterson
Leilani Roberts Ott Alonzo Stack Wooten

2012 INDUCTEES
Leon Blue
Clyde “Chico” Lamar
Baby Ray Mucker
Malyne ‘Poochie Love’ Lyons
Aaron Harvey King
Harold Jefferson
KBA in Education: Jahruba Lambeth
D.C. Minner Lifetime Achievement Award:
Miss Lura Pearson Drennan
Keeping the Blues Alive KBA’s:
Booker Lowery Robert Williams
Media: LaNelda Hughes Charles ‘Dr. Live Jive’ Gaye

2011 INDUCTEES
Chuck Blackwell,
Roland Bowling,
Jesse Ed Davis,
The KBA in Education Inductee will be
Jim Davis,
Jimmy ‘Cry Cry’ Hawkins,
Sonny Hill,
Leon Rollerson,
Leon Russell.
Sponsorship awards will go to
Budweiser and Yaffe and
Love Bottling.
Media to the Current
2010 INDUCTEES
Tiny Davis
D.C. Minner
Curly ‘No Shoes’ Jr.
Joe Liggins
Bucky Young
Rudy Scott
Roy Milton
Ray Tubbs KBA Volunteer of the Year Award
2009 INDUCTEES
Bill Davis
Wes Reynolds
Earnest ‘E.T.’ Tanter
Chester Thompson
Walter Watson and Pure Silk
Mike Kern – Education
Media Award Jammin John Peters
2009 Volunteers of the Year:
Donna & Lee Mayo

2008 INDUCTEES
Miss Avalon Reece
Wayne Bennett
Tank Jernigan
Little Eddie Taylor
Vernon Powers
Paul Lewis
Rocky Frisco
Jimmy ‘the preacher’ Ellis
Media : Hardluck Jim Johnson & his KGOU Radio Blues Show

2007 INDUCTEES
Watermelon Slim
Wanda Watson
Hart Wand
Wayne Bennett
Claude Fiddler Williams
Jay McShann
Rockin’ John Henry
D.C. Minner Lifetime Achievement Award : Tony Mathews
KBA Media Awards:
Jack Fowler, McIntosh County Democrat Muskogee Daily Phoenix

2006 INDUCTEES
Elvin Bishop
James Jr. Markham
Selby Minner
Steve Pryor
Frank Swain
James Walker
D.C. Minner Lifetime Achievement Award:
D.C. Minner
INDUCTEES FOR 2005
Lowell Fulson
Mary “Little Miss Peggy” Wallace Johnson
Sam Franklin
Ace Moreland
Herbie Welch
Claude Williams
Harry Williams
Dr French E. ‘Doc Blue’ Hickman – Keeping the Blues Alive (KBA) Award

2004 INDUCTEES first year
Flash Terry
Lem Sheppard
James Michael Antle
Tony Mathews
Berry Harris
Larry Johnson
Dorothy ‘Miss Blues’ Ellis
Big Dave ‘Bigfoot’ Carr
Hiram Harvelle

 OBHOF AD Pulse Mag (1)

Nationally-Recognized Ensembles

with Oklahoma Musicians

Count Basie
(Boar, Byas, Donnelly, Gray, Lewis,    
                   Earl Hines (Crumbley and Gray)
Royal, Rushing, W. Thomas, and Williams                    Dizzie Gillespie (Byas and Pettiford)
Duke Ellington (Byas, Jones, Pettiford, Royal,                    Coleman Hawkins (Byas and McGhee)
    Simmons and Singer)                    Teddy Wilson (Bell and James)
Benny Goodman (Gray, Lamond, Rushing,                    Jimmy Lunceford (Crumbley)
   Simmons, Smith, and W. Thomas)                    Fletcher Henderson (Jones)
Lucky Millinder (Bell, Bolar, James, Johnson,                    Nat “King” Cole (Simmons)
   and Singer)                    Glenn Miller (Smith)
Woody Herman (Lamond, Mathews, Moore,                    Tommy Dorsey (Smith)
   and Pettiford)                    John Coltrane (Murray)
Charlie Parker (Gray, Lamond, McGhee,                    Quincy Jones (Lamond)
   and Kessel)                    Gerry Mulligan (Baker)
Louis Armstrong (James, Johnson, and Simmons)                    Fats Waller (Johnson)
Cab Callaway (Crumbley, Jones and W. Thomas)                    Stan Getz (Lamond)
Lionel Hampton (Bostic, Byas, and Royal)                    Lester Young (Bell)
Miles Davis (McBee, Rivers and Wilson)                    Hot Lips Page (Bolar)
Thelonious Monk (Simmons)                    Ornette Coleman (Cherry)
 Tad Dameron (Gray)

 

 

 

 

Oklahoma-Born Jazz Artists                        (Alphabetized)

Name

Birthplace

DOB

Specialty

Anderson, Buddy Oklahoma City

1919

Trumpet/Piano
Baker, Chel Yale

1927

Trumpet
Bell, Aaron Muskogee

1922

Piano/Trumpet/Bass
Bolar, Abe Oklahoma City

1909

Bass
Bostic, Earl Tulsa

1913

Alto Sax/Arranger
Brackeen, Charles Unknown

1940

Saxophone
Breeden, Harold Guthrie

1921

Clarinet/Saxophone
Bridges, Henry Oklahoma City

c. 1908

Tenor Sax
Byas, Don Muskogee

1912

Tenor Sax
Caliman, Hadley Idabel

1932

Sax/Clarinet/Flute
Cherry, Don Oklahoma City

1936

Trumpet/Bandleader
Crumbley, Elmer Kingfisher

1908

Trombone/Vocals
Donnally, Ted Oklahoma City

1912

Trombone
Gray, Wardell Oklahoma City

1921

Tenor Sax
James, George Beggs

1906

Saxophone/Clarinet
Johnson, Lem C. Oklahoma City

1909

Sax/Clarinet/Vocals
Jones, Claude Boley

1901

Trombone/Vocals
Kellner, Jim Tulsa

1942

Drums
Kessel, Barney Muskogee

1923

Guitar
Lamond, Don Oklahoma City

1920

Drums
Lewis, Ed Eagle City

1909

Trumpet
Liggins, Joe Guthrie

1915

Piano/Composer
Love, Clarence Muskogee

1908

Alto Sax/Bandleader
Matthews, Lea McAlester

1925

Vocals
McBee, Cecil Tulsa

1935

Bass
McGhee, Howard Tulsa

1918

Trumpet/Composer
McShann, Jay Muskogee

1916

Piano/Vocals/Bandleader
Milton, Roy Wynnewood

1907

Vocals/Drums/Bandleader
Moran, Pat Enid

1934

Piano
Moore, Marilyn Oklahoma City

1931

Vocals
Murray, Sunny Valiant

1937

Drums
Pettiford, Oscar Okmulgee

1922

Bass/Cello/Bandleader
Rivers, Sam El Reno

1930

Saxophone
Royal, Marshall Sapulpa

1912

Alto Sax/Clarinet
Rucker, Laura Unknown

1908

Piano/Vocals
Rushing, Jimmy Oklahoma City

1903

Piano/Vocals
Schneider, Moe Bessie

1919

Trombone
Simmons, John Haskel

1918

Bass
Singer, Hal Tulsa

1919

Tenor Sax
Smith, Howard Ardmore

1910

Piano/Arranger
Starr, Kay Dougherty

1922

Vocals
Thomas, Joe Muskogee

1908

Tenor Sax
Thomas, Walter Muskogee

1907

Tenor Sax/Clarinet
Wiley, Lee Fort Gibson

1915

Vocals
Williams, Claude Muskogee

1908

Violin/Guitar
Wilson, Joe Lee Bristow

1935

Vocals/Composer
Wright, Dempsey Calumet

1929

Guitar
Wrightsman, Stan Oklahoma City

1910

Piano

 

 

Oklahoma-Based Jazz Bands (1920′s / 1930′s)

Oklahoma City:

Tulsa:

Andrew Rushing Band Al Denny
Glover’s “5″ Jazz Orchestra Southern Serenaders
Blue Devils Ernie Fields
Jolly Harmony Boys – (Edward Christian) Clarence Love
Ideal Jazz Orchestra  
Happy Black Acres  
Commanders  
Pails of Rhythm

Other:

Turk Thomas’ 10 Gobblers of Rhythm Bill Lewis’ Dixie Ramblers (Muskogee)
Leslie Sheffield and the Rhythmaires Ted Armstrong Band (Clinton)
Charlie Christian’s Combo Pettiford Family Band (Okmulgee)

Published in The Chronicle OHS

Jazz Artists Born In Oklahoma

Dr. George Carney ~ OSU – Stillwater

 

 

 

  

 

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 PRESS for Us AND Berry Harris!

Thought you might like to read the article going to our Old Town Gazette.  Attached is the pic likely to run with it.  Thanks for all the info.  JBou

Blues Hall of Fame Established in Oklahoma

Wichita Bluesman Berry Harris Among First 9 to be Inducted

Berry Harris, one of Wichita’s reigning blues legends, is being honored this Labor Day weekend in the state where he began his rise as a musician and comic before bringing his blues to Kansas. Berry Harris’ East Texas style blues flavored with roadhouse R&B, and salty repartee have been applauded on the Kansas and Oklahoma music scene for over five decades. In a ceremony during the Sept.3-5th Dusk til Dawn Blues Festival in Rentiesville, OK, Harris and eight other Oklahoma blues men and women will become the first inductees to the Oklahoma Blues Hall of Fame.

DC Minner, a life-long blues artist and host of the 14th Annual Dusk til Dawn Blues Fest, is at the heart of the nonprofit Friends of Rentiesville Blues effort to establish the Hall of Fame. Together, they chose Harris and eight others — Flash Terry, Lemuel Sheppard, Mike Antle, Tony Mathews, Berry Harris, Larry Johnson, Dorothy “Miss Blues” Ellis, Big Dave “Bigfoot” Carr and Hiram Harvelle — for their lifetime of achievement in the blues. The Oklahoma Blues Hall of Fame also has the support of The Blues Society of Tulsa and the Oklahoma City Blues Society.

Born in Chockie, OK November 27, 1929, Berry T. Harris also claims Atoka, Boggy Bend and Stringtown as boyhood homes in the southeastern part of the state, still known as “Little Dixie.” Growing up in the grip of The Depression, money was scarce, conveniences few, and the only singing Berry recalls was in church. When his grandfather got the first radio in their black community, every Saturday night brought the family together to listen to the Grand Ol’ Opry.

Harris credits his uncle U.L. Washington with his early upbringing and introduction to the guitar. “I first learned to play in ‘E natural’ . . . “Sail On Black Girl,” “Mr. Crump” and “Take Me Back,” he remembers. After a hitch in Korea as an MP from 1948-52, Berry came back to Oklahoma with the jokes he’d honed in the Army and started performing more “blue comedy” than music at Leo’s Club (ala Redd Foxx and other black comedians still limited to underground recordings and nightclub acts.) It was Leo Thompson who bought a guitar and amp and encouraged Harris to stick with it. Berry teamed with Charles “Bo Bo” Rushing and high school music teacher Tollie Moore, Jr. to learn new licks, expecting little to come of it. But Thompson wrangled an audition for Berry with Bennie Johnson who liked what he heard — the two songs Berry had just learned: Peewee Creighton’s “Blues After Hours” and “Honky Tonk” by Bill Doggett — and Harris was on his way to Muskogee as a member of Johnson’s 12-piece orchestra at night and driving a cab during the day. In 1957, Levy Langover and Jerry Burns (uncle of WSU alum and musical theater star Carla Burns) came through Tulsa looking for musicians. Harris was hired to join the house band at Wichita’s Rhythm City Club, earning $75 a week and living rent-free. He also met and married Loretta in 1958 and during nearly 50 years, two daughters and six grandchildren together, Harris’ life has always included music, but he bypassed life on the road. With a family to support, Berry worked for each of Wichita’s aircraft companies at one time or another before retiring from Boeing.

“Most of the musicians in town have played with me,” said Harris in a 1998 interview. “But none of them ever took me anywhere . . . they may come by to borrow my guitar, but they never took me anywhere! I’ve seen ‘em come and go, and they were all gonna be big stars . . . and you see who’s still here.” Harris does, however, boast song writing credit for his tune, “I’ve Got a Problem,” recorded at least three times, once by his Chicago-bound contemporary and fellow local blues legend, Jesse “Sonny Boy” Anderson, and most notably by the internationally acclaimed, Buddy Guy.

Berry Harris says he’s played in “every dump and dive” in Wichita; places like Flagler’s Garden, The Tick Tock Lounge, The Bomber Club, The Rock Castle (once the Coyote Club, now Roadhouse Blues), The Esquire Club, El Morraco, and The Sportsman (forerunner of the 9th St. Elks Club. His 9th Street Blues Band was the second band to play in Old Town at Rick’s Rib Rack (now John Barleycorn’s.)

“I remember the 50′s and 60′s . . . Jerry Hahn, Jerry Wood, Rock Green, Renee Aaron . . all them fellows.” And he has fond memories of his friend and blues icon, Freddie King. “We both liked scotch . . . we’d sit and drink together and watch my tv right on this couch!” he’ll gesture in his northeast Wichita home where pictures dot the walls, each with a unique story to tell.

As for the popular influences of younger musicians: “Most of the young people playin’ . . . need to go back and learn who did what . . . If you’re gonna play (the blues), know the history,” admonishes Harris. Music is wrote and played a certain way, play it that way! Good musicians play the way stuff’s ‘sposed to be played. Ain’t nobody in the world plays “Stormy Monday” like T-Bone Walker . . . he plays it with five or six different chords, not just three changes. He recorded it with jazz players, so it’s more mellow. But 95% of everything in blues has only got three changes, so you got to make it sweet.”

Berry Harris espouses the blues as a direct descendant of the old spirituals sung by African slaves brought here to work the fields and build the fortunes of white land owners. He says blues is the voice of freedom from oppression, the voice of hope, and the only truly original American music. “Ray, rock ‘n roll, jazz, soul music, even some country, all came from the blues . . . and old black men wrote all of it!” Harris has frequently taken part in Blues in the Schools efforts and always enjoys the chance to talk to kids about the music he has lived. His stories are both colorful and first-hand. “You have to live a culture to be able to teach it, ” he contends.

Harris also shakes his head at present day musicians who “. . . don’t respect each other . . . they’re always talkin’ about who’s the best . . . lots of bad attitudes and big heads! Don’t never tell nobody how good you are, let them tell you how good you are, and then, don’t get to believin’ it ‘cause some people will say anything! I can look at a crowd and tell if people like what I’m playing. Today’s bands don’t play for the people, they play for themselves! You’ve to play a little bit of everything to satisfy people today. You got to remember where you are who you are and what you’re doing.”

If not the money or fame, what has kept Berry Harris playing the blues? “I like to play,” he says simply. He recalls Loretta saying that if he couldn’t get his hands on a guitar everyday he’d probably die, and blues in Wichita would be the worse without him. Berry continues to gig with his 9th Street cronies and is a frequent guest of other blues players in Wichita and Oklahoma, though he notes that pay for musicians is comparatively worse than the days when $25 a night went a lot farther. He looks forward to gigs in No. Carolina where he’ll travel with Matt Walsh in mid-September, and of course, takes immeasurable pride in being honored in his home state as an inaugural member of the Oklahoma Blues Hall of Fame.

Berry Harris is an American original — like the blues he plays. he says. He is proud of where he’s come from, proud of where his music has taken him. Though Harris is showing a little wear with the passing years, he’s still dapper and quick with a quip on stage, and vows to keep singin’ the blues — his way.

For more information about the 14th Annual Dusk til Dawn Blues Festival in Rentiesville, OK on Labor Day Weekend, Sept. 3-5th, 2004 go to www.dcminnerblues.com or call Selby Minner at 918-473-2411. ~

EXTRA!!! . . .  In mid-August, Berry Harris was also selected by The Friends of Rentiesville Blues to compete for the title “Best Unsigned Blues Band” at IBC2005next February, the crowning event of the annual BluesFirst Weekend in Memphis, TN hosted by The Blues Foundation.

Jacqueline Boudreau – Old Town Gazette (Wichita), Aug. 2004

 

More articles by: Lissa Ann Wohltmann

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PRESS for Miss Blues!

A Trooper Ain’t Always a Man
by Carl from BlindDog Smokin’

My band is tougher than a tangle of barbed wire in a bull’s tail. We sleep on the basement floors of strangers using our shoes for pillows. We pee on the side of the road in blizzards that hurl the stream and fan it into whiteouts twenty feet away. We eat hard-boiled eggs and tuna fish out of the can while cramped in a van full of instruments, luggage, and trash. We drive all night taking turns at the wheel with the others curled into snoring lumps. We awaken with Orangutan hair-do’s and we smell like tennis shoe sweat. We did this two hundred times a year for a dozen years.

It’s no place for a woman—and we are a clean living band. Many bands add booze, dope, cigarettes, and the infamous hide-a-slut to the mix inside the vehicle, which then has to stop for periodic puking, dry heaves, and angry gun-toting husbands in pursuit. June Cleaver would cross herself at first glimpse, even if she wasn’t Catholic.

That’s why it’s amazing the toughest member of our touring entourage is a woman. A couple of times a year we take Dorothy Ellis, known for the past sixty-six years as Miss Blues, on long grueling tours, winter and summer, day and night. Not only has she never complained, never asked to go to the bathroom, never asked for special privileges—but she is the life of the party.

Miss Blues weighs 260 pounds and once knocked a man out with her size twelve shoe. He bares the scar on his head to this day. She was born in Texas on a cotton plantation where she worked in the hot sun at the age of four.

She started singing at the plantation barrelhouse that same year billed as “Little Miss Blues”. She made more money singing than she did all week picking cotton. Over the years she labored to help raise her siblings from an absentee father, who left behind a young and inadequate stepmother. She later left to join an old vaudeville-type circuit, had a baby of her own she toted along, and traveled the country in bad times with even badder companions.

I remember a trip where we drove in one long day, 780 miles on ice-packed roads and howling wind back to Oklahoma where she lives. She slept sitting up, kept a supply of fried chicken from gas station warming ovens, and entertained us with her bawdy stories, foghorn laughter, and positive attitude. She performed that night for four hours and then fed us afterwards at her house: slabs of beef ribs, and cake-like cornbread, sending us to bed with the morning sun and homemade sweet potato pie.

When I complimented Miss Blues on her road endurance and behavior, she replied simply, “I’m a trooper.” In her seventies, Miss Blues still belts out songs from the gut in the raw primal style that reflects a life in the briar patch where she snarled louder than the others to get her share—where passion and compassion are survival tools and not something we vicariously understand from television and movies.

I recall a festival where a relatively famous songstress sat backstage in her elaborate motorhome tending her dogs and being pampered by her husband. She put on an anemic show and went her way complaining about having to use a port-a-potty. Miss Blues arrived having ridden two days on a Greyhound bus with fried chicken stashed in her purse and a supply of Jack Daniels incognito in a squeeze bottle. During her blistering performance, the people in the front row looked like weather channel reporters during hurricane Katrina. She signed autographs, garnered a new supply of chicken, took a belt of vodka from a fan, and got back on a Greyhound and went home. She was paid exactly one-fifth of what the promoted gal got. A shame. She was five times the entertainment value.

But isn’t that the irony of the music world and our American marketing system? Who wants the real item when you can pay five times more for a synthetic model with a hand-shaking promoter and an ad-campaign. It’s the same way we buy margarine, movies, and motor cars. I guess it’s un-American to say this nowadays, but I’ll take Miss Blues and her old beat up body over a teenybopper with her belly button showing, either for traveling or performance. She’s a trooper.

 

 

Published – Thursday, May 20, 

This was in Edmond Life & Leisure newspaper and NOT the Sun.
(www.EdmondPaper.com) Specifically, you can read the article and photos at:
http://www.edmondpaper.com/archive.taf?id=063388&path=fn%3Dsearch%26x%3D1%26article%3Dmiss%2Bblues

Lissa Ann Wohltmann
Lissa@EdmondPaper.com

She sings her heart, soul out


By Lissa Ann Wohltmann
Edmond Life & Leisure
(the photos below do not open up)


Lissa Ann Wholtmann

Lissa Ann Wohltmann

 

 


Photo Credit: Lissa Ann Wohltmann

 

 

 

The blues isn’t simply a depressing state of mind. It is music that some consider the poor man’s opera. It tells a story, but in a simple, reflective, soul-stirring manner.

Opera’s clientele, in this country at least, has usually been more high-brow and some say ostentatious. Blues’ audiences are considered earthier. Jeffrey Vlaming once said, “Music continues to nourish us in a variety of forms as different as the colors of the spectrum.”

Dorothy Ellis is one down-to-earth blues singer who nourishes us in her rough and ready demeanor and sound. She personifies the stereotypical blues singer and truly got her start in a poor southern town. While picking cotton in the hot summer sun, she sang simply to stave off boredom. She sang both popular songs of the day, as well as home-grown tunes in the little town of Direct, Texas.

Ellis had plenty of material to sing about while gathering the crop of the day. One might say that her life was right out of a soap opera.

Her mom died before Ellis became a teenager. She then went to live with her abusive grandmother.

“Let me tell you, that woman was mean,” Ellis said about her grandmother. “I still have scars.”

After breaking free from the vicious and brutal young life she led, Ellis embarked on a life minus the physical, but not emotional, pain. She made it as far as Oklahoma City with the few dollars she had in her pocket.

“I was starvin’ to death,” she said about her reason for staying. Back then, Oklahoma City was simply a place where she ran out of money.

The Edmond community has the chance to hear Ellis, also known as Miss Blues, at the 16th annual Edmond Jazz & Blues Festival. She will perform at 4 p.m. May 29 in Stephenson Park, next to the University of Central Oklahoma Jazz Lab.

Many of Ellis’ songs center on tragedy, although she doesn’t see it that way. “I write happy blues,” she insisted. “It’s just a story about life (and) life is not depressing.”

Her first CD, “Sittin’ In” was created with the band Blinddog Smokin’. In it she sings about a man’s failing health due to drinking, partying and the like. Yet she counterbalances the man’s troubles with the fact that this person has led a good life. Ellis considers it her theme song.

“I’ve had my fun. If I don’t get well no mo – you know I’m goin’ down real slow,” she sings with her cigarette smoking raspy voice, reminiscent of musicians in a cloudy old New Orleans pub. “Tell Mama pray for me. Forgive me for all my sins.”

In another tune, “Trapped,” she unashamedly sings about herself.

“‘Trapped’ is about me,” she said straightforwardly.

“I’m trapped in a bad situation,” she croons. “My love has turned to hay.”

She continues with how others treated her in the past.

“You know the man won’t talk to me. He sits with his face in a frown,” she sings with a heavy blues beat. “He says I’m getting” fat. I’m movin’ a little too slow.”

The final line seems to sum up her life.

“Where the hell did 40 go?” she sang about the past years.

When speaking with Ellis, don’t expect anything politically correct to reach your ears. She has a refreshingly different approach to life. She speaks her mind and heart in Miss Blues

fashion.

She won’t purposefully offend others; but if you are overly sensitive, then this woman’s deportment is not for you. Her inspirational, energetic and simple style is her trademark. Ellis’ street-smart charm will make you laugh and cry simultaneously. Yet, she can still empathize with the lives of the troubled.

“Women can identify with this,” she said on her CD, before singing about her man leaving her for another. She understands how a woman’s anger can turn into rage in 3.2 seconds.

“I’m cryin’ tears of rage,” she sang. “My man is gone with another woman, how do you expect me to behave?”

In this tune, she agonizes about the humiliation, the treachery and the pain she feels from the enormous deceit in this broken relationship.

“I got the blues so bad. Lord, I can’t even eat,” she sings broken-heartedly. “All I can do, people, is wring my hands and weep.”

Ellis isn’t only an emotional being, but she’s also a practical woman.

“Never quit the day job,” she warned. She’s always had a regular paycheck to enable her to keep a roof over her head and to keep singing her songs.

She’s been a director at Group Life for Job Corps, an assistant dean of students at Tusculum College in Greenville, Tenn., and finally retired as a nursing home administrator.

While working full-time, though, she went back to school to get a master’s degree in counseling psychology at the University of Central Oklahoma. Some semesters, she didn’t quite have enough money to pay, yet the president of the college at the time gave her a break.

“I’ve got no money to go to school,” she told him more than once. Instead of being denied admittance, this man let her pay the tuition in installments. “He was real nice to me,” she

remembered.

Getting this degree wasn’t something she needed to get ahead in life. In fact, she’s not exactly sure why she did it; it was just something she had to complete in life. Perhaps it was more fodder for her blues.

(Lissa Ann Wohltmann can be reached via e-mail at lissa@edmondpaper.com.)

 

 

 

press release before 2004

Friends of Rentiesville Blues, in conjunction with the Blues Society of Tulsa and the Oklahoma Blues Society announce the 
OKLAHOMA BLUES HALL OF FAME   
                                   

http://www.dcminnerblues.com/images/hallof2.gif
Founders: D.C. and Selby Minner

PROCLAMATION:
Due to the fact that on average it is only possible for about two blues people a year to be inducted on the OK Music and OK Jazz Halls of Fame and due to the fact that the musicians are getting older and need to be recognized while they are alive, we will induct 8 or ten a year into the OKLAHOMA BLUES HALL OF FAME at the Down Home Blues Club in Rentiesville OK

We are starting the OKLAHOMA BLUES HALL OF FAME here because:

   

We cannot think of a better qualified person to start this OKLAHOMA BLUES Hall of Fame in Rentiesville than this OK Bluesman who is a three time hall of fame inductee himself (Payne County on-line Hall of Fame, OK Jazz Hall of Fame and OK Music Hall of Fame)– plus a KBA (Handy) Award winner in education

Being that DC has traveled the nation playing this music over 50 years and knows the Oklahoma Music scene, people in it, their level of expertiseand their level of commitment from many perspectives…musician, bandleader, employer thru the Dusk til Dawn Blues Festival, educator…,he is listed on the Oklahoma Sate Arts Council rosters as a Touring Artist and Artist in Residence since 1990, having received commendations of excellence from the Town of Rentiesville, Langston University, OK State Governor and many more..       

 Also since Blues music as an idiom sprang from the African-American culture, we cannot imagine a better site for a Hall of Fame than the Down Home Blues Club in the historic Oklahoma African-American town ship of Rentiesville (one of the state’s 50 original and 13 remaining Black Townships). OK blues legend DC Minner’s family settled in Rentiesville in 1915 and opened a family juke joint starting in 1930. This has evolved into the Minner’s Down Home Blues Club.

We believe the location of the new Rentiesville OK BLUES HALL OF FAME at the crossroads of 69 Highway and I-40, within an hour of the OK Music Hall of Fame in Muskogee, Tulsa’s Jazz Hall of Fame and Tulsa’s historic Cain’s Ballroom will be a valid and timely addition to the state’s tourism assets.  An “OK Music Trail”!

Tremendous tradition is already in this Rentiesville Blues Club – Therefore we proclaim that we will honor this tradition, moving it into the future by creating the Oklahoma Blues Hall of Fame here with D.C. Minner as it’s founder. OBHOF sign best croppedOBHOF sign best web r cropped

  

D.C.’s Vision: Long Range Goals

To put a large building over the Blues Club to extend into the back yard. It would be about 15 feet larger than the club on the north and east sides – exhibit and office space. On the east side there would be a ‘brass and glass’ gift shop as an entrance to the club. The second floor would include an elevator and a concert hall. Also over the ‘house’ part of the building – the west end – would be a roof deck. This would preserve the wooden building. They are “bulldozing down these juke joints every day. None of them are the birthplace and creation of a blues man with my credentials – 6 halls of fame, born and raised on the spot, a family farm turned venue by my grandmother since 1935” said D.C. He was right! We also plan to put the life size version of the statue on the corner with the ‘rising rock guitar’ over and around it to create a ‘tourism destination’ similar to the things on Route 66.

 

Selby’s Vision

Current Projects and Long Range Goals

 

Currently preparing to move the Exhibit (created in 2010 with help from the OHC and a dissertation from Hugh Foley ‘From Black Town…To Blues Festivals’) from the Oklahoma Black Museum and Performing Arts Center on Lincoln in OKC into the back of the Blues Club/Hall of Fame. It is currently in a ten foot by ten foot space, which we can replicate here. The Exhibit has been renamed “D.C. Minner: The story of how one man went from the ‘house of shame’ to six halls of fame with his songs and his guitar.” Need to remove the dead air conditioner. Also currently creating a flexible space in the rear of the club itself to become a gift shop and convenience store. The new door is in, donated by Tiki and Janie, and the walls are being prepared. Will do signage and special postcards and coffee cups and hats to go with the CDs and T shirts etc. Will have coffee and one-of-everything type country grocery store. Need a pop box or glass front refrigerator and freezer.

We are working to gain exposure to, and support from, the OMA and the OHC among others, by opening the museum every Sunday from 1 – 5 p.m. thru our season (May – September). We are doing this to start the creation of the museum itself, also to get attention and support for the care of the considerable in-house archive and more respect and support for the Blues Festival. Currently in it’s 25th year, we need to either eventually down size the festival or increase the sponsorships. We lost our greatest funder with the passing of co-founder D.C. Minner in 2007. Ms Minner is on a greatly reduced income and has taken up the slack working hard to increase funding from the private sector. This has grown from $2000 to $15,000 annually.

 

Another new exhibit is in the planning stages. A time line of the Texas Road which runs by the club (aka D.C. Minner Street.) The working title is “From the Osage Trace to US 69, a Road of Many Names.” This will go from at least 1820 to the present; the TX Trail went from Dallas to Kansas City. There will be a traveling version of the time line going out to libraries and ed centers up and down the highway and an in-house 16 foot installation. Stories covered will be the Natives, the cattle trail aspect, the Black Towns focusing on Rentiesville, the Civil War Battle of Honey Springs, the Gypsies, the families of Rentiesville including the Minner family, the music and festivals, and the truck route today.

 

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Volunteering is the ultimate exercise in democracy. You vote in elections once a year, but when you volunteer, you vote every day about the kind of community you want to live in.
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Marjorie Moore