My life revolves around blues music — I wake up in the morning to Son House and rest my head at night while Warren Haynes sings soul. I spend from “kin to kint” on the phone, editing articles, making blues t-shirts, developing music websites, and promoting blues. Blues is how I make ends meet, is almost all I talk about, and the only thing I ever bothered to learn how to play on the guitar. I spend a small fortune every year traveling to blues events, I donate to The Blues Foundation, and I always take the time to visit the Foundation’s headquarters on Main St. in Memphis when I’m in town.
Also, I’m not a member of The Blues Foundation. Or at least I wasn’t until yesterday.
My indefensible non-excuse is one of the oldest in the book: I forgot. I even called Cindi, the illustrious mover-and-shaker at the Foundation, two months ago to get the renewal papers (which are, apparently, readily available online). I still forgot.
It’s almost inexcusable, though, that I didn’t renew my membership(s) knowing that there is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization out there working non-stop to enhance, expand, and care for the musical art-form that I’ve chosen to revolve my life around, and that my membership, (which itself has a great deal of perks,) can contribute in a small way to helping. Being part of the Blues Foundation is a big deal.
For those that don’t know The Blues Foundation, it is arguably the single most important organization for our beloved musical genre. For a blues music fan, business, or musician, not only is membership a natural fit with it’s many benefits and the good feeling of supporting a cherished cause, but a fundamental part of being involved in carrying on the music.
The Blues Foundation’s goals are simple: The organization is 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. How they accomplish this is nothing short of gigantic, with their many events and programs.
- The International Blues Challenge, which gives blues talent from all over the globe the chance to shine, and essentially allows the winning solo/duo & band acts to have a professional career playing blues.
- The HART Fund, which freely gives money and support to blues artists and their families in need, particularly after health issues or in passing.
- The Blues in the Schools program; a loose curriculum to bring blues education to schools nationwide, which is successfully being spearheaded by blues societies across the country.
- The Blues Hall of Fame — which inducts worthy blues artists, and is currently on the drive to create a physical presence in the Blues Foundation’s building, a goal which the staff is tirelessly working to make a reality.
- Yearly Keeping the Blues Alive Awards, which celebrates individuals and organizations that have made significant contributions to the Blues world.
- The Blues Music Awards, a highly prestigious, yearly event that celebrates the best in the blues. The event brings together the greatest Blues performers, industry representatives and fans.
- Generation Blues, a scholarship program that allows the ever-growing pool of young blues talent to broaden their musical craft and hone their talents.
The list above isn’t nearly complete, though it does paint a picture of the kinds of far-reaching programs and goals the Blues Foundation is able to accomplish — with our support.
What the staff has managed to do for the blues has had a snowball-like impact on the genre that is growing and thriving today, and part of how they fund this is through their loyal members. With memberships for individuals starting at $25 (free if you’re 20 or under!), and corporate memberships a mere $100, there’s no reason not to sign up. Especially when the membership dues are entirely tax-deductible.
While we listen to Muddy or Ana Popovic at work or on the commute, and while we’re eating our breakfast, lunch and dinner, Jay, Cindi, Joe, and Glenda are hard at work down in Memphis, day in and day out, to enrich and enhance the great American art form that is blues.
So how could I forget to renew my membership? I have no excuse. Hopefully, the shame of publicly admitting it will have a little karmic restitution, and keep me from ever doing it again. Don’t do what I did. There are mountains of ample reasons to become and stay a member, not the least of which is supporting a powerful, proven blues music cause.
Become a member… and always remember to renew your membership.
Become a Member of The Blues Foundation — Find out How at Blues.org, and tell them American Blue Scene sent you!
Bonus: If you’re a member and/or support the Blues Foundation, we have a great blues timeline cover photo for Facebook!