Local blues musicians for years have traveled to bigger cities to perform in their chosen genre. The inception last April of The Danville Blues Society is working to bring a little more blues flavor to the local Central Kentucky music scene.
The Danville Blues Society “is an organization dedicated to the preservation of blues music. Our stated mission is to assist in the preservation of the blues as a part of our cultural heritage and tradition through public awareness, performance and education,” according to Jim Duff, and a singer and songwriter who founded The Danville Blues Society. The group is an affiliate of The Blues Foundation, located in Memphis, Tenn., and is a tax-exempt charitable organizations.
Duff said the blues are the source of all the most popular American music genres.
“They all tie into the blues,” said Duff, who performs with Jim Duff and the Necessities.
He said Danville is a perfect location for the blues and jazz to flourish.
“I think people around this town appreciate (blues and jazz),” Duff explained. “That’s proven by the festivals they have. It’s one of the reasons we moved here.”
Duff said he wanted to organize the blues society because blues is what he performs, primarily.
“Blues is the essence of all American pop music. ... And blues is what I know,” he explained.
The first recorded blues piece was made by a performer out of Louisville named Sylvester Weaver, Duff noted. Other important blues pioneers include Huddie “Lead Belly” Ledbetter and Eddie James “Son” House Jr. Robert Cray is an important contemporary blues musician, and his own group, Jim Duff and the Necessities, are blues musicians.
True blues, Duff added, is “an expression of early African-Americans and their struggles.”
“It was really the only form of communication they had in the late 19th and early 20th century. ... It’s the way they communicated to the world,” Duff explained.
“African-Americans were sharing their pain and sorrow through the blues. It became their music.”
Duff added he wanted this sort of historical information to be included in schools’ curricula. “Blues can relate to anybody now,” he noted.
The local blues society has about 30 members currently as well as two corporate sponsors. Beginning in August, it will sponsor an open blues jam every third Friday at 303W restaurant on Main Street, which is one of its corporate sponsors.
WPBK radio in Stanford offers a weekly blues show, for which The Danville Blues Society is the primary sponsor.