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Richmond musicians plan to start blues music education nonprofit

Group wants to reach kids and teens

RICHMOND – The rich sounds of a historic musical genre will soon be taught in Richmond.

A group of musicians and blues lovers plan to start a nonprofit music education program in Richmond and will host a benefit Nov. 13 for their cause. Glenn Davis, William “Woody” Schilke, Albert Witt, Pat Heuer, Willy Cozart and Carly Caris are in the process of starting the program to provide education about the genre as well as hands-on instruction.

“The blues, it’s not just one thing,” Davis said. “It’s a multi-decade form of music that goes all the way back to the 1800s into what we have today. Very few musicians have a large perspective on all of that.”

The State Line Blues Preservation and Educational Foundation operates out of Red’s Steak and BBQ in Richmond, which Heuer owns. The group has turned the side room of the restaurant into a music venue and hosts live blues jams at 2 p.m. Sundays. Classes eventually will be offered at the location through the organization.

The program will be open to all experience levels, which is something in which Davis, a former Old Town School of Folk Music instructor, said he is well-versed. The classes will include musical instruction but also discuss the historical context of the genre. A wide variety of skills also are learned when playing music with a group, such as dynamics, team-work and navigating nuances, he said.

A big part of the group’s goal is to reach kids and teens, Albert Witt said.

“Slashes in the federal and state budget have wreaked havoc on our schools, especially to the music and arts,” Witt said. “We feel like what we are trying to develop here will fill an important niche.

“We’ve got a great opportunity to establish some education, history and love of music.”

The group plans to reach out to local school districts to bring the program to the classroom after it becomes more established and has obtained its nonprofit status. The fundraiser will include raffles, a live auction, local vendors, a buffet lunch and live blues music from the group members.

Music students have performed at Red’s before playing with a musician during the “Jazz with Jeff” event. Heuer said it was a hit.

“It was absolutely awesome,” he said. “We had so many proud parents sitting here, and to have those kids get an opportunity to get up and play in front of a live audience, I think it really changes their attitude in pursuing a musical career.”

If you go ...

WHAT: Stateline Blues Preservation and Educational Foundation benefit fundraiser

WHERE: Red’s Steak and BBQ, 1101 U.S. Route 12, Richmond

WHEN: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 13. Buffet offered from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Music from 2 to 6 p.m.

INFO: Call 262-716-1270 or email Raffle item donations are still accepted.

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