GENEVA – Debbie Bond and her bandmates brought the blues to Geneva High School on Friday, performing for middle school students bussed in for the event while educating them about the music genre.
Bond and members of the Blues in Schools Project demonstrated classic blues instruments, told students about the history of the blues – including information about local blues legends – and even had students come up on stage to jam with them.
Friday’s performance is part of the Wiregrass Blues Fest, an event celebrating the blues’ connection to the Wiregrass. The event also includes a gumbo cook-off on Saturday. The cook-off will be held at the Blue Moon Café on South Foster Street in Downtown Dothan to benefit ALS research.
Jeneve Brooks, a Troy University professor who helps organize the festival, said getting blues musicians into schools is helpful in a time where steep budget cuts have impacted schools’ ability to provide arts education. Brooks said the Blues in Schools Project also helped teach local students about their cultural heritage.
“There’s really a rich history of the blues here,” she said.
Jonathan Blakney, 20, is a musician who became part of the Blues in Schools Project after attending afterschool programs sponsored by the Alabama Blues Project. Cook said programs like the Alabama Blues Project gives students the chance to discover hidden talents.
“It gives them the opportunity to learn music and play music,” he said. “A lot of kids here don’t have the opportunities we have in Tuscaloosa.”
Taylor Cook is a Geneva High School student who played with the band on Friday. Cook, a trumpet player, said that the program provided a valuable experience.
“It lets a lot of kids know how it feels to play,” he said.