Pinetop Perkins takes the stage before a gaggle of new young Blues enthusiasts at the Meyerson Symphony Center.
Take the energy of a single 11-year-old and multiply it by 2,000. What could possibly entertain a crowd like that? On Friday morning, the antidote to 2,000 fidgets was two nonagenarian blues legends, 90-somethings playing music that grew out of slave spirituals and work songs and formed the basis for rock and hip-hop. They were brought to Dallas as part of The Blue Shoe Legends Program, an educational initiative on a mission to expose kids to the historical origins of today’s popular music.
David “Honeyboy” Edwards, 93, sat alone onstage playing his guitar and singing, interrupted only for a few questions from the event’s organizer and host, 23-year-old Mike Dyson. Despite his advanced age, Honeyboy attacks that guitar like a man half his age (if that man’s name was Eric Clapton).
Next came Joe Willie “Pinetop” Perkins, 95, backed by a band with a 17-year-old prodigy on lead guitar, Marquis Knox (also the show’s opening act). Pinetop plays the blues piano, and if my mojo wasn’t working before his set, it definitely is now. Dyson tried to get the kids to echo Pinetop with “got my mojo working” during the chorus of that famous Muddy Waters song. Local schools must be neglecting that word on spelling test days – the kids had no idea what they were supposed to say. This made me feel cooler than them.
The Blues Legends did not play together, but when they took their bows together every child in the house jumped to his or her feet to thank them. These kids got a Blues education with an A+ in mojo. I guess I’m not cooler than them anymore, but I’m grateful they let me crash their class.