December 2020

Dear People,

In times like these, we need blues music more than ever to bring us together even when we’re apart. Coronavirus shutdowns have canceled the gigs of musicians everywhere.  It’s a time to ponder the meaning of life and even write songs.  (Find my original “NonEssential Bizness” and “Let’s Exercise” on the Barrelhouse Bonni web page, .)   I'm writing to ask your help in continuing this life work.

Larry Taylor  and I have been compiling info, photos and videos of his performances and history of West Side Blues, the music of his neighborhood.  We’d like to stay in touch with others documenting this under-reported Black history.   

Producer Darryl Pitts is still finishing our TV feature based on the Taylor family history, The Rhythm and the Blues,”  starring actor Leon and musician-actor Guy Davis.

My do-at-home corona project is a novel. I started writing Chicago Blues Plantation 15 years ago, and three chapters won a prize in a 2006 West Virginia Writers contest.  My hat is off to Chicago Writers Circle and Front Porch Arts for tireless critiques which are helping me improve it.

The novel’s main character, Marcus Manning Jr., grows up in 1960s Chicago. Early in life, Junior loses parents and mentors. They visit from the Spirit World to help him struggle with not only personal demons, but cruel racist monsters of the System, from Delta cotton fields to roachy apartments, gang-run streets, Maxwell Street blues corners, factory workrooms, lively neighborhood lounges, and dank prison cells.  Want a peek at the first two chapters? Please check the “blog” section of my

For 2021, we plan to use the first $2500 of your donations for professional editors to hone the Chicago Blues Plantation story. This includes scrutiny by Black cultural readers to ensure a constructive and fair dialog amid our society's ongoing racial revelations.

The next $2500 will pay for e-book formatting and limited-edition printing to get the novel out into the world. Any donations over our $5000 will support Larry’s ongoing efforts to issue a music album and construct a West Side blues historical documentary.  Larry was named by the Chicago Dept. of Culture and Special Events as one of 13 “Esteemed Artists” for 2020-21. We’re competing for arts grants for all these goals, but nothing is guaranteed, and your donation helps keep us going right now.

The rough truth is, to focus on our work, artists must first SURVIVE. Pay the rent and bills. THANK YOU to you who helped us out last year and early this year.  Living on very limited incomes in corona time, we absolutely could not have survived without you.  

Bonni’s “Boogie for Survival” fundraising campaign is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization.   Contributions for the charitable purposes of “Boogie for Survival” must be made payable to “Fractured Atlas” only and are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.

To make a tax deductible donation click here

Tax Note for 2020:  A provision in the CARES facilitates helps donors. If you take the standard deduction, you may  deduct up to $300 for donations to 501(c)(3)s or fiscally-sponsored projects including our sponsor Fractured Atlas. If you itemize, it encourages donations by removing AGI limits.

If your donation need not be tax deductible, you can click the tip jar on my website:

Or email me for the address if you wish to mail a check:  bonni(at)

Thank you so very much!

I would say “stay safe” except today’s world is not exactly safe. So-- Stay Brave. Take your Vitamin D, have a mask handy. Boogie to the greatest prudent extent! And keep on keeping on.

Yours in truth, love and solidarity,

Bonni McKeown



Share | Barrelhouse Bonni