Last night’s evening event at the Jus Blues Music Awards in Memphis was a performance by Calvin Richardson and his band Fifth Element. In an era where there are a lot of R & B singers but few who can actually sing, I was amazed by how soulful Calvin Richardson is, and how amazingly funky his band is as well. Richardson has an impressive body of originals, and he sounds equally at home with Bobby Womack and Frankie Beverly covers. He is definitely an example of where R & B music needs to be heading.
During the afternoon, many of the Jus Blues Music Awards attendees headed down to Beale Street for lunch, shopping, and a Calvin Richardson instore at Memphis Music. There were also a lot of people up from the National Bike Rally in Tunica, so it was a very busy day on Beale Street.
After the morning conference session, I ran into the band Fifth Element from Birmingham, who are the touring band for the soul singer Calvin Richardson. Richardson was doing an instore at Memphis Music on Beale Street, and was the featured headliner for the second evening of the Jus Blues Music Awards.
In addition to an awards show, parties, dinners and fun, the Jus Blues Music Awards also sponsors a Tech Conference which provides blues and southern soul artists with strategies to promote, market and distribute their products, especially in a music business that is rapidly changing due to the advent of digital downloads and streaming media.
Thursday night, August 1, 2013, the Southeast Ballroom of the Memphis Hilton was the scene for the Jus Blues Music Awards, an annual event sponsored by the Atlanta-based Jus Blues Music Foundation. Although Memphis has a number of blues-related events during the year,this is the only one that is uniquely geared to the blues-related subgenre known as “southern soul”. As might be expected, this year’s awards brought out a number of blues and soul stars, including Theodis Ealey, Latimore, Millie Jackson, Preston Shannon, Drink Small, Karen Wolfe, Bobby Rush, Denise LaSalle any many others, as well as representatives of the Blues Foundation. Between awards, Drink Small performed “Rooster Blues”, and after Latimore was presented a lifetime achievement award, he performed his biggest hit “Let’s Straighten It Out” with the band on stage, and was unexpectedly joined by Millie Jackson who came up from the auidence to sing the second verse. It was truly the high point of the evening.
Although the Jus Blues Music Awards was supposed to kick off with an opening reception last night at the East Memphis Hilton, I never could find it, so I stopped by Muddy’s Bake Shop for a chocolate peanut-butter cupcake, and then headed down to Beale Street, where they were having Bike Night because it was Wednesday. There was a band on stage in Handy Park which I had not seen there before, and I noticed that the little bar on the corner of Beale and Rufus Thomas (Hernando) has been renamed Club Handy.