A short while back, I wrote about three new albums from the blues vaults of the very talented Phoenix harp wizard Bob Corritore. All excellent traditional blues albums. If you haven’t noticed them, please scroll farther down (but not until you’ve finished this part!).
Bob is a performer, and he also runs a musical venue in Phoenix called the the Rhythm Room, a landmark blues club, which immediately puts him into two endangered categories in the Time of COVID. He can’t perform, and he can’t host performances. (Here’s a great article from the Phoenix New Times on Bob’s history with the club.)
I found out the details recently whilst scanning the interwebs, and came across a story about Corritore and his club in the Arizona Republic (yes, Karen, newspapers still exist, and they are still reliable sources of reliable information).
Corritore is not exactly alone in his plight — musicians and their venues are suffering these hard times mightily during the shutdown era. But when you look at the scope of his activities in Phoenix, he seems like a one-man blues promotion and preservation society. In fact, among other things, he hosts the radio show “Those Lowdown Blues” is the founder of Southwest Musical Arts Foundation, is the editor and main writer of the Bob Corritore Blues Newsletter, a Keeping The Blues Alive award winner, and a Grammy-nominated harmonica player and producer. His album “Bob Corritore & Friends / Harmonica Blues” won a 2011 Blues Music Award, in 2012 Bob received a Living Blues Award in the Harmonica category and in 2019 won a Blues Blast Music Award for Best Traditional Blues Album for his release “Don’t Let The Devil Ride” (one of my favorites).
The Arizona Republic article talks about Bob’s GoFundMe effort to help keep his shuttered club alive, and it’s worth a read just to get a feel for how the current pandemic climate is affecting the music we love. And, in a fickle twist of fate, the article was written by an old newspaper colleague from my Pittsburgh days, the Republic’s pop music critic, Ed Masley, who also appears to be the man in charge of the band The Breakup Society. Having known Ed just a little, I’m sure the band is worth a listen.
And if you’ve never seen or heard Corritore’s music, here’s a taste of some of his fine down-home blues, with Bob and John Primer performing “I Feel So Good.” Even if you have heard him, this is still worth the viewing.
I mentioned above that Corritore’s club is not alone in its plight. I know there are a lot of similar worthwhile stories out there. And not just for blues clubs and performers. This is not meant to ignore anyone, but to highlight just one situation.
And by the way, the winter solstice arrived today. Just 89 days until spring.