Blues news: Blues band visits JIS, shares history

Published 12:41 pm Friday, February 9, 2018


“Why is the Blues important?” singer, songwriter and guitar player Debbie Bond of The Blues Debbie Bond band asked the student-packed lunchroom auditorium on Feb. 8.

“It’s the roots!” 580 young voices shouted the reply, having learned the Blues’ impact on southern American culture and music.

The Alabama State Council on the Arts awarded Jemison Intermediate School an educational concert visit from The Blues Debbie Bond band.

The Blues band visit was part of its Rural School Tour this month celebrating African American history with unique historical Blues demonstrations for students across the state.

Principal D.J. Nix said the school was excited to honor Black History Month with the special event.

Bond, along with musicians Earl “Guitar” Williams, Marcus Jukeman Lee and Rick Asherson, performed a JIS concert of a lifetime.

The midday performance enthralled and engaged the audience, demonstrating various styles of Blues as the musicians traced Blues history with songs and instruments specific to the Blues progression.

Homemade instruments, such as the washboard, washtub bass, handmade guitar and even harmonica, filled the room with friendly, upbeat sounds familiar to the earliest, rural age of Blues.

The children loved it.

From about 1 to 2:15 p.m., children were clapping, singing, and even dancing as they learned about Blues and the African American people who introduced it to American culture.

Sixth-grade band students added to the performance with drumbeats and trumpet toots.

Children from the audience who exemplified the most enthusiasm and rhythm were selected to bring their talent to the stage, several dancing in traditional Blues style and others playing hand instruments, such as the tambourine and shakers. A single microphone recruited several student backup singers.

“Music has magic,” Bond told the fourth through sixth graders.

Bond encouraged her listeners to pursue their musical dreams diligently.

“Often it comes in your heart early, early on,” she said, describing her personal journey to a musical career as long and difficult, but worth it.

For the final number, which launched a full-on, lunchroom-wide jam session, students and faculty alike were dancing and singing “The Blues’ Alright” as they closed the special event that is sure to be a memorable one for JIS.

For more information about the Alabama State Council on the Arts, visit

More photos from the event can be found at