Blues Hall of Fame in Oakland inducting new members

April 11, 2013 5:50:14 PM PDT
The history of the blues in the East Bay runs deep and this weekend, they'll be celebrating that legacy as the West Coast Blues Hall of Fame inducts its new members in Oakland Saturday night.

"You're still a young man," Rick Stevens sang Thursday. He still has the pipes. Formerly of "Tower of Power," he's among a group of artists recognized as an integral part of Oakland's rich blues and jazz history. "All them juke joints, the places Quincy talked about, I grew up in that era and just evolved from the blues to the rhythm and blues," he said.

On Saturday, Stevens will be one of 13 musicians inducted into the West Coast Blues Hall of Fame. Two others, Booker T. Jones and Steve Cropper, were part of a performance for President Obama and the first lady at the White House.

Seventh Street in West Oakland was home to West Coast Blues and the place many got their start. Workers from the shipyard's Army and Navy bases crowded the spaces.

"I'm just a musician," Elvin Bishop told ABC7 News Thursday. He'll be honored too. The guitar legend's videos on YouTube have more than 100,000 hits. He's now 70-years-old and plays like he did at the start. He remembers the first time he heard blues music in the 1950's. It was pre-civil rights and the height of segregation. Blacks and whites did not mix, except for in one place.

"The only thing they couldn't segregate was the radio. I heard some blues on the radio one day and pow, that was it," he recalled.

Today, the places that housed a movement are gone. Urban renewal brought change, demolition of houses, a post office, and BART. It never recovered. That's why the artists being honored this weekend hope people will remember and appreciate the legacy they helped to build. "Most people, they just take what the media gives them. Blues people will dig in and find their own stuff," Bishop said.

Tickets for the event are still available. The proceeds will go towards raising awareness of blues and jazz history.

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