Jesse Robinson's Birthday Bash Thursday | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Jesse Robinson's Birthday Bash Thursday

Mississippi music lovers of every ilk --- whether they're connoisseurs of classic Delta blues, jazz, rhythm and blues, soul, or fans of any music with get up and stomp energy will revel the night away at Jackson's own 930 Blues Café Thursday, May 26 at 7 p.m. This eclectic musical mixture is legendary guitarist Jesse Robinson's Birthday Bash and Musicians Ball. When the state's best guitarists, singers, and bands get together with its best harmonica players what emerges is pure magic, music that evokes the very soul of Mississippi.

Add to that mixture the number of these musicians who are internationally-known artists and headliners in their own right coming in to celebrate Robinson's 61st birthday, and you've got a one-of-a-kind, red-hot entertaining happening featuring a line up guaranteed to leave the audience glued to their seats or crowding the dance floor.

According to 930 Blues Café owner Isaac Byrd, not a single artist is out of place in this heady company. "Jesse is one of Mississippi's most revered electric guitarists and is probably at his creative peak," Byrd said.

"We expect the guest artists [many of whom are Mississippi legends in their own right] to show the crowd why Mississippi leads the world in producing the best guitarists, singers, bands, songwriters, and harmonica players."

By hosting the Birthday Bash and Musicians Ball in an intimate atmosphere reminiscent of the Delta, New Orleans, or Memphis and known for attracting blues fans from throughout the world, Byrd points out that the 930 Blues Café audience will have an opportunity next to impossible at the Coliseum or music festivals.

"Guests will be able to actually meet and mingle with the performers," he said. "That interaction sparks an almost indefinable infectious energy between the musicians on the stage and the audience."

"The Bash for Jesse will be loaded with talented local, regional, national and international acts," Byrd said. "The focus will be the music which is just how Jesse wants it. It's part of what makes the event as enjoyable for the musicians as it is for the listeners."

By all accounts, Robinson is on a roll. He and his 500 lbs. Blues Band will open for B.B. King in the annual B.B. King Homecoming "Celebrating 80 Years of the Blues" on June 10 in Indianola, MS. In January, he was appointed to the Mississippi Blues Commission and began performing solo as a representative of the Mississippi Economic Development Authority at trade fairs in Chicago, New York, Salt Lake City, Seattle, Dallas, and other cities.

He is widely known as one of the greatest blues/jazz guitarists in the state. He has been featured in "Living Blues" magazine and many other blues publications. Over the past few years, he has held seminars on the blues at Mississippi State University. In 2004, he co-wrote a song with jazz singer Cassandra Wilson "Show Me A Love," released his first-ever CD, "Blues Child" and his second "Downhome Christmas in Mississippi."

Earlier in his career, he toured with Little Milton and Bobby Rush, playing guitar on Rush's hit album "Sue." While living in Chicago, he sat in with blues greats Buddy Guy, Junior Wells, Freddie King and Magic Sam. He's also played with Elmore James, John Lee Hooker, Bobby "Blue" Bland, Dorothy Moore, and B.B. King, a long-time friend.

In addition to his fellow band members, the talented Mississippi guitarist Sherman Dillon and harmonica player Steve Bell of Chicago, featured acts range from the 930 Blues Café's own powerful-voiced and sultry Jackie Bell, whose fiery talents have her headed to Chicago to perform at the House of Blues in June, to another blues veteran Pat Brown.

Brown's album "Burning Hot and Heavy," released in 2000 won her a place on a list of the top 25 "Great Female and Soul Voices/Singers" by one reviewer with another saying that she's still "doing what she does best --- tearing down the house!" Her albums include "Woman's Thang" (1998), "New Tricks (2000), and her most recent album "For Your Information Only" released in 2004.

Brown collaborated on "The Blues is Alright" performed as a duet with Dennis Fountain, another featured guest at the Birthday Bash and Musicians Ball. According to one reviewer, Fountain's specialty is "silken-smooth covers of soul ballads but he's equally good on upbeat soul-blues numbers like the Little Milton hit "The Blues is Alright."

Still another guest artist is Indianola native David L. Durham who taught himself to play on a wire guitar after seeing Howlin' Wolf playing in Inverness, MS. Reviewers describe him as a talented guitarist who plays B.B. King style blues. Durham and The Ladies Choice Band will open for King at Club Ebony on June 10 and also perform at the ground breaking for the new B. B. King Museum in Indianola.

He and his band won the Mississippi Delta Regional Blues Competition sponsored by the Mississippi Delta Blues Society of Indianola and competed in the International Blues Competition in Memphis in February of this year, taking Beale Street by storm.

Another Mississippi native who'll add his talent to the mix is Scott Albert Johnson. Recent honors include an honorable mention for "Best Local Musician" in the 2005 "Best of Jackson Awards" hosted by the Jackson Free Press.

According to one reviewer, Johnson's "soulful, technically astonishing harmonica playing crosses every musical genre (rock, blues, jazz, funk, gospel, bluegrass, soul, even classical), while his singing and songwriting combine to touch the heart as well as the mind." He's been called "a harmonica virtuoso," "a mighty harmonica player," and "harmonica player extraordinaire." Johnson's made guest appearances at some of Europe's best jazz and blues venues.

Rounding out the guest artists who'll stage a criminally righteous harmonica blowout powerful enough to make you cry Howlin' Wolf is Mississippi State University's Richard L. Brown.

Another of Mississippi's finest musicians, Chris Gill, will also participate in the Birthday Bash and Musicians Ball. Gill, a guitarist, singer and songwriter, who's been lighting up stages in the mid-south for more than 12 years, is well-known as one of Jackson's most versatile and entertaining performers.

Armed with "sweet guitar rhythms, a soulful voice, and a clever, unique songwriter's perspective," Gill's music incorporates elements of blues, rock, reggae, folk, and dance music. He describes his style "as a mix of blues, island calypso and reggae, jazz, Mississippi slide, and funk."

The 930 Blues Café's own Ironing Board Sam, a keyboardist dubbed "The Human Jukebox" and former Bourbon Street performer will also participate in the Birthday Bash and Musicians Ball.

According to Byrd, Subway legend Abdul Rasheed, who is famous for his cover of the Bobby "Blue" Bland hit "Members Only" and has been featured in a "Living Blues" magazine about the Jackson blues scene, will perform a special commemorative ceremony "in honor of some of the late great musicians who made Mississippi the birthplace of the blues."

The cover charge for the event is $8 which will include free food. The 930 Blues Café is located at 930 North Congress Street in Jackson just off Fortification Street.

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Upcoming Schedule

Friday, May 27: Jesse Robinson and the 500 lb. Blues Band; Cover $10

Saturday, May 28: Jesse Robinson and the 500 lb. Blues Band; Cover $10

Monday, May 30: Ironing Board Sam; Free

Tuesday, May 31: Ironing Board Sam; Free

Wednesday, June 1: The Bourdeaux Blues Connection Band; Cover $8; FROM FRANCE, A MUST SEE !!!

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