Blues musicians lend a hand to Hopi High journalism students
Sir Harrison and other blues bands to perform Sunday in Phoenix to raise money for Hopi High students hoping to attend journalism conference in San Francisco
Sir Harrison, a Navajo blues musician, spent eight years working as a journalist. So when he heard students in the Hopi High School journalism and radio program were raising money to attend the National Journalism Education Association Conference in San Francisco in April, he offered to donate an upcoming performance to the program.
"As a former journalist, I think this is a good thing and it promotes higher education," he said.
Now, Sir Harrison is one of eight blues bands or performers donating their time for the Hopi High media cause. The blues festival will take place Sunday at the Rhythm Room in Phoenix.
Sir Harrison is known throughout the state. His band plays the blues most Thursday nights at the Dirty Dawg in Scottsdale, but he has played at other Scottsdale venues and at the Spirit Room in Jerome, the Monte Vista in Flagstaff, Coyote Joe's and Lyzzard's Lounge in Prescott and Sound Bites Grill in Sedona.
Members of Sir Harrison's band have impressive credentials. Jimmy Mack, the bass player, has performed with Ritchie Havens, Stanley Jordan and Sly and the Family Stone. Drummer Eddie Baratinni is a producer and engineer who plays blues, jazz and funk. Richard Nivelle plays bass when Mack isn't available. He has played for Poco as well as with Vince Gill, Tanya Tucker and Dave Mason. Janet Daniel is one of the few female drummers on the Phoenix blues scene.
Sir Harrison started playing the guitar when he was 13. He was turned onto the blues when he was 17. Someone gave him a 90-minute CD of the blues that included Muddy Waters, BB King and Stevie Ray Vaughn -blues musicians from the 1940s to the 1990s. Sir Harrison started his first blues band, Color Blind, in the late 1990s in Tulsa, Okla. He played with several experienced blues bands in the Tulsa area from 1998-2002.
In 1994, Sir Harrison became a television journalist in Tulsa, working for CBS and PBS over the next eight years. He won two Edward R. Murrow awards. One was for a photo essay on the Navajo Nation and the other was for a story on the Nez Pearce Tribe. While in Tulsa, he also won awards for acting.
But in 2002, he returned to the Phoenix valley and was invited to some blues jams. His band has been going strong since that time.
"The old blues cats told me to just keep doing what I'm doing," he recalled.
More information is available from Sir Harrison at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also performing at the Feb. 24 fundraiser are Gypsy, Wild at Harp, Bobcat Jack, Phoenix Sojourn, Tommy Dukes, Bluesman Mike and the Blues Review Band and Rev. Ray's Back Porch BBQ. Gypsy from Wild at Harp coordinated the blues bash and Bob Corritore donated his club for the performance. Doors open at 5 p.m., performances begin at 6 p.m. and run until 12:30 a.m. Admission is $10.
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