Dominican University presents fourth biannual blues symposium

Dominican University, in partnership with Living Blues magazine, will present the 4th Biannual Blues and the Spirit Symposium on Friday and Saturday, May 30 and 31 with a focus on “Blues Impurities: The Legacy of African American Music and the Evolving Blues Aesthetic.”  The symposium will include the first-ever retrospective exhibit of photographs of iconic blues musicians by the late Susan Greenberg and  tributes to Bob Koester, owner of Delmark Records and the Jazz Record Mart; and the Scott family, whose legacy in the blues, soul and R&B genres spans five decades.

The Blues & the Spirit Symposium was inaugurated in 2008 to explore the shared roots of blues and gospel music and their enduring impact on contemporary music and society. The symposium features distinguished scholars of African American music and culture as well as nationally known and locally revered blues and gospel performers.

The symposium will include two nights of entertainment with some of the most highly regarded blues musicians in Chicago. On Friday evening, Walter Scott and the World Band will perform at Dominican University and on Saturday night, participants will enjoy an after-party at Rosa’s Lounge in Chicago with intergenerational blues musicians, including Jamiah “On Fire” & the Red Machine, Sharon Lewis, Theo Huff, Claudette Miller, HoneyDew and Cicero Blake.

Other highlights of the symposium will include a panel discussion on blues writing featuring Mark Camarigg, managing editor of Living Blues magazine; Lincoln Beauchamp, author and editor of the Original Chicago Blues Annual (University of Illinois Press); Sterling Plumpp, poet, essayist and professor emeritus at the University of Illinois Chicago; Paul Garon, writer, editor  and co-founder of Living Blues magazine; Jim O’Neal, writer, record producer and co-founder of Living Blues magazine; Steve Cushing, radio host of the nationally syndicated program “Blues Before Sunrise” and author of Pioneers of the Blues Revival; blues historian and rare ’78 record collector Gayle Dean Wardlow; and Sandra Poynter Jones, blues journalist and interviewer for the Chicago Blues Legends, a permanent collection of Harold Washington Library.

An Authors’ Center will showcase the work of several symposium presenters, including Chicago Tribune music critic Greg Kot, who will have available copies of his recent book, I’ll Take You There: Mavis Staples, the Staples Singers, and the March Up Freedom’s Highway; and Rosalind Cummings-Yeates with her new book, Exploring Chicago Blues: Inside the Scene Past and Present. Also available will be books by David Whiteis (Chicago Blues: Portraits and Stories) and by Gayle Dean Wardlow (Chasin’ That Devil’s Music, Searching for the Blues).

The program will include a keynote address by Dr. Tricia Rose, director of the Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America and professor of Africana Studies at Brown University as well as Lund-Gill Chair at Dominican University. Panels on topics such as “The Blues Aesthetic and Contemporary Black Music,” “Soul-Blues,” “Contemporary Blues and the Media,” and “The Blues and Gospel Aesthetic” will be held throughout the day on Saturday.

A workshop on artist empowerment, co-sponsored by the Koko Taylor Celebrity Aid Foundation, will be held on Saturday afternoon. A closing multimedia presentation titled “Blues Didn’t Start at the Bandstand” will be presented by Dr. Lance Williams, writer, scholar and director of Blacks on Blues, late Saturday afternoon and will be followed by the exhibit of blues photography by Susan Greenberg and a reception accompanied by an acoustic set with singer/guitarist Jimmy Burns.

An optional blues legacy bus tour, conducted by Barry Dolins, retired director of the Chicago Blues Festival and adjunct lecturer at Dominican University, will be available on Friday afternoon.

Registration is required for this special event. Lodging is available. For more information on registration fees and programming, please visit the website at www.dom.edu/blues or contact bluesandthespirit@dom.edu.


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