POLACCA, Ariz.- Bobcat Jack introduced Hopi High School students to the blues last month, and they loved it.
Bobcat is ahead of the rest of the state and most of the country in reintroducing the blues to high school students. A recent Phoenix Blues Society newsletter ran an article from the Chicago Tribune explaining David "Honeyboy" Edwards' goal to reintroduce the Blues to students.
The newsletter also stated that the Phoenix Blues Society wants to resurrect a Blues in the Schools program.
Bobcat played an array of blues tunes from the classic "Stormy Monday" to one of his originals, "The Bobcat Blues." Bobcat's said the blues comes from the heart and his heart is with the two bobcats that he owns.
He also showed the students a guitar synthesizer. On this musical dream piece, he plays the guitar but it sounds like a piano or a violin or any other instrument one can think of. Bobcat explained to the students the blues is America's original music, created on the plantations before making its way to Chicago and beyond.
Sometimes he wailed on his guitar; other times he was a bit more mellow, but either way after he spoke a little about the history of the blues, Bobcat let the music do the talking.
Randi Lomayestewa, editor of the Hopi High Bruin Times newspaper, never heard the blues previously, but she was amazed.
"I've never seen a blues player in real life, only on TV, so I was happy to witness the performance," she said.
Lomayestewa liked Bobcat Jack's old blues quote "the blues had a baby and they called it rock and roll."
Bobcat touched Lomayestewa's heart when he dedicated a song to her.
"I thought it was cool. I don't learn much about instruments and seeing that made me want to learn more," she said about the synthesizer.
Canicia Weston, sports editor for the Bruins Times, called the blues concert amazing.
"I really never listened to the blues carefully, but I did (at the concert) and it sounds pretty good," she said. "I liked his guitar solos and how he sang his songs."
Otivia "Big O" Puhuhefvaya, a broadcast radio student, said the blues performance was interesting and cool because Bobcat wailed on the guitar.
"I learned that the blues can rock," she said. "I liked when he did his solo guitar playing."
Christina Rucker, another broadcast radio student, said she liked it because "Bobcat can really play." She added that she learned that the blues is not made up of only sad songs.
"I like the blues a lot now," she said. "The performance would have been better if he played longer."
Rucker was amazed by the guitar synthesizer.
"That was so awesome because you can play different instruments and when he played the piano it sounded nice," she said.
Janaya Leslie, another broadcast radio student, like many of the others didn't like the blues previously, but said she likes it now.
Bobcat also hit it off with Xavier Sakeva, an award winning guitar student at Hopi High. Between his two performances, Bobcat let Sakeva play a song on his guitar. Sakeva, trained in classical songs, played The Russian Waltz. The two reached an agreement. Bobcat hopes to return in January or February. He told Sakeva that if he'll learn a blues song then Bobcat will learn a classical song and they could play the two tunes for the audience.
Bobcat has been playing the blues since the 1970s. He has played with blues greats Willie Dixon, Mighty Joe Young, Luther Allison, Son Seals and said he has a special friendship with blues legend Hound Dog Taylor.
Bobcat also developed a career as a singer/songwriter acoustic guitarist. He played with Leo Kotke, Michael Johnson and John Hartford.
In the 1980s, Bobcat moved to Europe to work on his jazz skills and rekindled his relationship with Luther Allison. He returned to the states in the 1990s. In 1994, he released his CD, "In the Moment."
Bobcat Jack, who also goes by the name J.W. Everitt, performs throughout Arizona with stops in Prescott, Cottonwood, the Phoenix area and Yuma. More information is available at www.bobcatjack.com.
More like this story
- Xavier Sakeva wins Most Outstanding Performer and Solo Spot at Many Farms Music Festival
- Tracy Lee Nelson, former chairman of Lajolla Tribe and blues legend, releases new album
- Hopi High ends fall semester with concert, prepares to kick off spring semester
- Hopi High music students perform to enthusiastic crowd during spring concert
- Blues musicians lend a hand to Hopi High journalism students