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Barrelhouse Bonni: News

West Side is the Best Side - September 29, 2013

From the summer of 2013 West Side morale-boosting tour:  Bonni leads Joe B's band in learning her song, "West Side is the Best Side," a tribute to the historical heroes of West Side blues, in a July 27, 2013 concert at the BBF social agency.  Joe B guitar; J.R. "Bootsie" Lee bass; Curtis LaBon drums; guest guitarist Jon McDonald. 

West Side Morale Boosting - September 2, 2013

During the summer of 2013, Chicago's West Side has had a rough time, marked by fatal shootings, unemployment, foreclosures, school closings and general misery.  Nonprofit community organizations are trying to address the pileup of urban problems in this part of town which gave birth to many fine musicians.  To help the community groups spark up their summer events Barrelhouse Bonni presented blues acts featuring Larry Taylor, Mike Wheeler, Willie D, Jon McDonald among others who learned their trade on the West Side.  They played at the West Side Historical Society Juneteenth weekend; at Priscy's Production violence prevention day; at Terence McGee Back to School Throwdown, and at the Better Boys Foundation.   JMcDLarryJMayesJnejiBonCloseup.jpg 








More in Rosalind Cummings-Yates column in the August 2013 Illinois Entertainer:

Barrelhouse Ladies Roll into Evanston - January 26, 2013

Darnel Johnson, owner of Chicago's Home of Chicken and Waffles, welcomes the Barrelhouse Ladies to the new restaurant at Evanston, IL, north of Chicago, which opened in late January 2013. Bonni and Gloria performed Friday night Jan. 25.   Already the food is living up to the Chicken n Waffles reputation!


Kids Love to Write their own Blues - December 1, 2012

With the help of Chicago's bluesmen and women including Abb Locke, West Side Wes, Killer Ray Allison, Lamont HArris, and Larry Taylor, Bonni and movement instructor Miss Taj led  people of all ages in writing their own blues verses during 2011-12 at Spencer Tech Elementary, Westcott Elementary, and at a CPS Black History  banquet.




Barrelhousing in the news! - November 15, 2012

The Barrelhouse Ladies (Gloria Shannon and Barrelhouse Bonni) performing at Ellie's Cafe, as portrayed in the Southtown Star, distributed by the Chicago Sun-Times:


Trumpeter Bob Redd, Bonni, wow WV Seniors - June 10, 2012

Barrelhouse Bonni and schooled Beckley trumpeter Bob Redd (also a teacher and running coach) helped the statewide WV Senior Conference have a blast!  May 2012 at Cedar Lakes, near Ripley WV.SeniorConfWVBobReddBonni512.jpg

Video: the Great Huntington Harp Jam - October 2, 2011

Aug. 2011: In a post- Diamond Teeth Mary Festival jam at Gino's pizza, Barrelhouse Bonni backed two national harmonica pros, Phil Wiggins from Maryland and Adam Gussow from New York.  It turned into a harp duel, which the Huntington, WV Harmonica Club enjoyed!  Thanks to the club for making Bonni welcome!


Stepson of Blues Library Tour 2011 - April 18, 2011

Video from Oak Park Library samples songs and story by Bonni with Larry Hill Taylor from Black History Month library tour for Taylor's autobiography Stepson of the Blues: A Chicago Song of Survival.

Stepson books available at 57th Street - June 23, 2010

For those (like me) who love independent bookstores, Stepson of the Blues is now being sold in Hyde Park (home of the Obamas) at 57th Street Books, 1301 E. 57th St.  Stop in and pick up your copy:

(Those who like to order stuff on the web can also find the book on the "Shop" page of this website.)

Profiled by New York artist group Fractured Atlas! - June 14, 2010

The New York based artist support group Fractured Atlas has profiled Bonni's co-authored book Stepson of the Blues, the autobiography of Chicago bluesman Larry Taylor.  In an interview with Fractured Atlas, Bonni talks about her fund raising efforts as an independent publisher on Peaceful Patriot Press.  Find out how you can support her project, tax deductible!  Fractured Atlas also helps artists with insurance and other business matters.

Birth of Bonni's Stepson: Larry Taylor autobiography - June 13, 2010

Stepson of the Blues, Larry Hill Taylor's autobiography which Bonni co-authored, has been published in June 2010 by Peaceful Patriot Press.  The book and its authors contributed to dialogs about African American musicians and the blues at the Blues and Spirit Symposium and the Chicago Blues Festival.

Chicago School of Blues WV Tour March 2010 - March 14, 2010

Bonni brought the Chicago School of Blues to Sweet Home WVa the first weekend of March 2010.
For this trip, West Virginia horn standouts Bob Redd, trumpet, and Dugan Carter, sax, joined CSB's Killer Ray Allison, CC Copeland, West Side Wes and Bonni. Larry Taylor came as a guest singer for their concert at West Virginia State College. Dugan's jazz band Full Flavor opened the concert, arranged by Lady D (Doris Fields) and the Charleston Blues Society to honor local African American musicians. Lady D herself sat in, singing "Stormy Monday" and "Rock Me."
The band also gave a workshop for an afterschool program sponsored by WV State at Emmanuel Baptist Church on the West Side of Charleston.
On Friday March 5, CSB joined Anthony Kinzer and Rabbit Jones for a local music history program March 5 at Simpson United Methodist Church, sponsored by the WV Center for African American Art & Culture, with support from Charleston Blues Society and WV Commission on the Arts.
On Saturday March 6 the Chicago School of Blues band wrapped up the weekend with a rousing show at Sam's Uptown Cafe, where manager Chris Bukant joined the crowd boogeying on the floor til 2 a.m. Larry, Ray, Wes and CC were delighted with the active, diverse crowd which included State Del. Meesha Poore, who sang a few songs with Ray. Mechanical Renegade spun some records for some solid dancing during break.
Special thanks to photographers Susan McAndrews and Julius Jackson, and to Rose, Mel, and the UUs for their steady welcoming and support through the years of his visits to Charleston.

Etiquette and Blues at Donoghue School - December 20, 2009

I love the blues. And I’m not the only one. This 20th century form of African American music has spread around the world, because it is a universal cry for understanding of the joys and sorrows people go through every day. Relationships, mean bosses, poverty, injustice, but also love and fun: that’s what makes blues songs. The late Willie Dixon, Chicago bass player and songwriter, said it best: “Blues is the facts of life.” Telling the facts of your life, you find people other people in the same boat, and that togetherness makes everyone feel better. Like the rhymes and rhythms of hiphop and the praises of gospel, blues music is best done with a group to reinforce the lead poet or singer.

Not only the words, but the sound of blues is healing. Black people in America pieced this music together, a simple quilt with brilliant colors, from African rhythms, Native American chants, and European instruments. Like a quilt, the blues tells a story. As the tale is told, the music builds up tension and, at the end, releases it. Wrap up your problem in three lines and make fun of it; somehow life does not seem as bad. A grownup blues audience will groove to the music, toes tapping, fingers popping, eyes half closed, maybe a few people dancing near the bandstand. Some of the kids in our afterschool blues classes picked up the same groove when we first played for them. Right away they noticed that the blues is “relaxing” music. Relaxed, but still aware of life.

What does blues have to do with etiquette? At Donoghue Elementary, a South Side school, afterschool students were offered our Chicago School of Blues class, sponsored by Rock for Kids . At the same time, etiquette an etiquette class was going on, sponsored by the Etiquette Foundation of Illinois. Teachers at Donoghue train their students in “Mutual Respect.” This concept was practiced equally well in the quiet, sitdown tea party that concluded the etiquette class, and also in the final exuberant day of our blues class on Dec. 18. When the youth got rowdy and talked out of turn or someone tried to bully someone, the teachers quickly reminded them to practice “Mutual Respect.” Music is a way to express your feelings in a disciplined, masterful, joyful way. There is a time for the call and a time for the response. You play and sing in the pattern of the rhythm.

At our Donoghue classes, our Chicago School of Blues band, composed of 30-year professional West and South Side musicians, aimed to practice “Mutual Respect.” Kids took turns putting their hands on the piano or on CC Copeland’s bass, West Side Wes’s drums, and Killer Ray Allison’s guitar. Abb Locke, who once played for Howlin’ Wolf, flashed his golden horn. We played a Temptations riff as the kids tried rapping their own rhymes. Clean rhymes, including one about Donoghue School! The youngsters danced as the band got funky with the songs of James Brown. Then we showed the kids how to sing a blues tune in the form of earlier generations. Before long they picked up the pattern and began to sing. Let the good times roll! We tell kids in our classes that blues is part of their heritage and one of America’s greatest gifts to the world. When you learn your history, you can respect yourself and where you come from. When you share the feeling with others, it’s Mutual Respect. When it comes right down to it, mutual respect is the foundation of courtesy and etiquette. Going by the same rules. Treating others as you would like to be treated.

Noon Concert in Winchester VA - November 21, 2009

Hampshire County WV friends and musicians rejoined Frederick County VA (the Revolutionary War era mother of both counties) on Nov. 20 2009 for a Barrelhouse Bonni concert at the Handley Library. Francis and KC Chilcoat, Steve and Terry Bailes, and Michael Hasty (who sat in on harmonica for the Jimmy Reed tune "Bright Lights Big City") trooped across the state line for Bonni's appearance in the Little Noon Music series. Gene Babb and Glenene of the library staff organize the wintertime concerts featuring acoustic music in the intimate Handley Library auditorium. Some Sacred Heart elementary students came as well as faithful senior fans. Bonni led sing-alongs on such old chestnuts as "Home on the Range" and the Louis Jordan jump blues "Let the Good Times Roll." History was the theme, as Becky Ebert, head of the Handley Library Archives, joined Bonni's audience on the eve of the of the archives' 30 year anniversary celebration. The audience waltzed out to the closing song, Ledbelly's "Good Night Irene."

Chalmers Kids love School of Blues - October 16, 2009

Rock for Kids, the charity that offers music instruction for underprivileged children, opened up a door on the West Side of Chicago and the School of Blues walked--or danced--right in! Students and staff at Chalmers Elementary School at Roosevelt & California heard the Great Migration tales of Abb Locke's arrival, broke and hungry, in Chicago, before he hooked up with Howlin' Wolf to play sax. They sang along with Ray Allison on "Mustang Sally" and "Just my imagination' and got down with CC Copeland's bass-ic Kanye West and James Brown songs. The folks run a great little school in a tough hood. We hope to see you all again soon and maybe you can learn some music with us!

Chicago School of Blues teachers Rock for Kids at Buddy Guy's - August 21, 2009

On Friday Aug. 14, the Chicago School of Blues, a band of veteran South and West Siders organized by Bonni for summer blues programs sponsored by Rock for Kids, gave a show for 115 children from South Side homeless shelters at Buddy Guys Legends. Rock for Kids worked with the summer tutoring program Chicago Hopes to bus the kids, ages 1 through 15, and their mothers downtown for the program. Bonni gave a little blues history and urged the group to "Let the Good Times Roll." Guitarist Ray Allison led the band and kept up the pace to match the audience's youthful energy. Bass player CC Copeland took the kids on a historical music tour and told how the blues is the root of music from Elvis to Kanye West. Saxophonist Abb Locke, who played with Howlin' Wolf during the 50s, brought a bit of the laid back honk and roll, while Wes Sanders, drummer, invited the kids to a Wang Dang Doodle and got them singing "All night long, all night long." The guys were touched when kids stood in line after the show and asked for autographs. Our thanks to ROCK FOR KIDS for sponsoring the show, which was mentioned in the Chicago Sun-Times on Aug. 21.

UU Church Swings on Feb. 29 with Heritage Revue - February 10, 2008

Charleston WV's vibrant black music history--and the current talented musicians--will be enjoyed by all at a Charleston Blues Society concert Feb. 29 at the Unitarian Universalist Church.
Our blues society has begun collecting this history, which goes back to the Appalachian blues players up the hollers outside of town, but also to the sophisticated 1930s-40s swing bands that played in our city clubs and arenas. WVU Jazz professor Dr. Christopher Wilkinson highlighted the colorful history of these touring bands in a Humanities lecture sponsored by the Charleston Blues Society and the NAACP at WV State U. in April 2007. Bass player Peter "Rabbit" Jones has collected clippings, programs and recordings on musicians for the last 50 years, artist Newman Jackson is collecting more history (church music will be included), and Doris Fields (Lady D) is planning an event to honor the musicians. But first, our Feb. 29 concert features Lady D and the talented swing musicians of the Paris Project Band: Dugan Carter & Marshall Petty on sax, David Lloyd keyboard, Stony Burks on trumpet & flugelhorn, Warren Pope Jr. drums and Darrell Edgerton on bass.
Thanks to the UUs and NAACP for making this happen!

Marshall Petty: it's the Truth, Ruth! - June 28, 2007

The controversy over where the blues originated, do your homework. It came from the bowels of slaves and former slaves and their descendents. Call it what you want,race card or whatever, Bonni has the right to say what she believes as well as you or anyone else. However she is mostly right in the fact that like most everything else that African-Americans have contributed to this society it has never been fully recognized nor appreciated and others have been the opportunist. Ask the foreigners who play the blues or a derivation of it. They credit the creators of the music ,Black folks ,not whites or Native Americans or any other ethnic group.

The blues has been exploited like oil or any other commodity that generates wealth. The blues or any other art form that is successful in this nation has been marketed to a certain audience to generate a profit. Like it or not that market is primarily white. When we had " race music" it was rejected by white audiences until we had Elvis. Blacks love the blues, r&b, jazz, classical c&w, hip hop, rap, and so on. But, the industry controls the behavior of pseudo blues societies. Yes it is a Black thing for most real blues artist and enthusiast.

True it is to be played, enjoyed by anyone but the credit in terms as to who should be getting the recognition in the form of money and prestige put it where it is supposed to be and don't anyone take these statements as racist. It is the truth Ruth. Bonni forward this to as many as possible. --Marshall Petty, Charleston WV jazz/blues saxophone player and band leader, June 28 2007

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