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Ashland Blues Society seeks members

By Laurie Heuston

For the Tidings

Maybe it doesn’t take a solid background in music theory to play the blues, but 12-bar chord progressions can be some of the most difficult to play, says David Pinsky, a longtime blues aficionado.

“Muddy Waters was just as much of a genius as Mozart,” Pinsky says. “To be a great player is to be dedicated, to have a propensity for the music. You put in your time and, hopefully, you get a positive result. For a player the result is the joy of being able to do it.”

Pinsky says he has seen blues players come and go around music venues in Ashland. Pinsky co-owned the Brooklyn from 1980 to 1985, a club noted for shows featuring Gatemouth Brown, Robert Cray, Albert Collins, Canned Heat and others. Pinsky heads up his own jump blues band, The Rhythm Kings, and is a regular with the Royal Blues Band.

“There are a lot of relationships between players — and players and fans — that should be fostered,” Pinsky says. “So I got the idea that we need a forum where blues players and enthusiasts can get together to share their love of the genre.”

So the Ashland Blues Society met this week to discuss what it needed to do to get organized, to establish itself as a nonprofit and get other activities started that will help make the whole thing work.

“We had about 20 enthusiastic people show up,” Pinsky says. “We’ll get together next month to hold elections and see who is in charge. We’ll see what happens.”

Each Ashland Blues Society meeting will be followed by a member join ’n' jam session. All that is required to become a member is an e-mail address.

“We haven’t established any dues,” Pinsky says.

There are blues societies all over the globe. The Blues Foundation, headquartered in Memphis, Tenn., is a big hub of the blues world, with more than 150 affiliated blues societies and events that include the Blues Music Awards, the Blues Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, the International Blues Challenge and Keeping the Blues awards.

Pinsky and his Rhythm Kings visited Helena, Ark., in February 2008 to compete at the Arkansas Blues and Heritage Festival — formerly the King Biscuit Blues Festival — sponsored by the Sonny Boy Blues Society. Winners of such blues societies’ contests make the trip to Memphis to compete at the International Blues Challenge.

“I feel we need our own organization in Ashland,” Pinsky says. “Something on a wide scale. Ashland has a history of being a stopover for bands. With all of our resources, we should be able to put on some viable shows and bring blues masters in for shows and workshops.”

The Ashland Blues Society’s mission will be similar to the Blues Foundation’s, to celebrate blues excellence and support blues education. The Ashland forum will allow all levels of players to meet, play and mentor.

“If we could get a couple of hundred blues lovers together, it sure would be a lot of fun,” Pinsky says.

See ashlandblues.homestead.com or call 840-9314.