Those who attend will have the chance to observe master classes and even participate in break out sessions led by blues music experts. Tom Wolfe, professor of jazz studies at UA, said the weekend is a great way to brush up on the music that roots itself in Southern culture.
“This is the first opportunity for the School of Music and the Alabama Blues Project to collaborate together,” Wolfe said. “The blues is indigenous to the south, and along with jazz, is an American art form. It is a great opportunity for both groups to gather, teach, perform together, and celebrate the music that is truly world-wide in its reach and influence.”
The weekend will feature two guest speakers, Shannon McCue and Libby Oellerich. McCue is a classically trained violinist and is the program manager for the Alabama Blues Project. Oellerich is the marketing manager for the Nashville Songwriters Association International.
More than a dozen musical experts will also attend the Blues Weekend, leanding their expertise in guitar, drums, vocals, trombone, saxophone, bass, and more. The weekend will be a chance to celebrate the beginnings of music in America, said Mark Lanter, an instructor of jazz studies at UA.
“In my opinion, the blues is the foundation for American music,” Lanter said. “Whether you are talking country, rock ‘n’ roll, or jazz, they all evolved from the blues.”
After opening with an Intro to the Blues and going into breakout sessions, Dinner and Blues will follow at the Bryant Conference Center to wrap up day one of the weekend festivities for the public.
The weekend features different schedules for the public, parents, and students and will end with the Rollin' with the Blues Concert at the UA Moody Music Building Concert Hall. Kevin Lake, a communications specialist with the University, said partnering with the Alabama Blues Project taught him about how deep the music genre reaches.
“The blues is a big part of history of the state of Alabama as a whole,” Lake said. “I learned how the blues was so in depth and it’s part of the beginning of country, rock ‘n’ roll and even jazz.”
All proceeds from the event will benefit the Alabama Blues Project. The non-profit organization aims to preserve blues music through interactive programs, after-school camps, clubs, and advanced ensembles. It reaches more than 400 students every year, from six to 18 years old.
Advance registration for the Alabama Blues Weekend costs $10 per person. The ticket includes admission to the Rollin with the Blues Concert, to Introduction to the Blues and to the break out sessions.
“It is important for generations to come to understand that the blues came from all over the south,” said Paula Demonbreun, executive director of the Alabama Blues Project. “We have a lot of great blues musicians from Alabama.”