For the sixth year in a row, we’re proud to welcome back Benny Turner and the Real Blues with Sam Joyner to the 12th Annual DGA Family and Friends Crawfish Boil.
|Benny in action|
Benny Turner is a veteran of the New Orleans, Chicago, and Texas blues scenes. His connections to the history of the blues in America run deep. His brother was legendary blues artist and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, Freddie King. Born in Gilmer, Texas, Benny and Freddie learned guitar from their mother and uncles. Freddie gravitated towards the guitar and performing while Benny enjoyed music and spending time with the brother he admired. The family moved to Chicago in the early 1950s and as Freddie’s fame and prowess with the guitar grew, his brother soon joined his band as a bass player. By the late 1950s, Benny had toured across the United States with R&B singer Dee Clark at venues like the Apollo Theater in New York City, the Uptown Theater in Philadelphia, the Howard Theater in Washington D.C., and the Regal Theater in Chicago. Benny also enjoyed a stint in the Soul Stirrers, a touring gospel music band, and introduced the bass to gospel music, laying the groundwork for modern gospel music which is heavily reliant on the bass.
By the late 1960s, Benny returned to Chicago, playing in local bands and recording songs for the Leaner Brothers’ One-Derful and M-Pac! labels. He soon rejoined his brother, Freddie King, on the touring circuit. Alongside his brother, Benny performed with artists like Dionne Warwick, Memphis Slim, BB King, Solomon Burke, Eric Clapton, and Grand Funk Railroad. In December 1976, Freddie King passed away at the age of 42. Having lost his best friend, brother, and band mate all at the same time left Benny unable to perform. After two years away from music, famed Chicago blues artist Mighty Joe Young convinced Benny to join him on stage. Over the next few years, the two men travelled and performed together as Benny rejoined the blues scene.
By the 1980s, Mighty Joe Young had retired from touring and Benny took another big step: moving to New Orleans and becoming the bass player and band leader for blues singer Marva Wright. Wright, known locally as the “Blues Queen of New Orleans,” toured all over the world and was a staple of the French Quarter music scene. After Wright died, Benny struck out on his own. In 2011, he released, “A Tribute to my Brother Freddie King” a collection of some of his brother’s most famous songs. In 2014, he released “Journey” playing homage to his history with the blues. His latest album, “When She’s Gone” mixes some of Benny’s original songs with old blues classics. He dedicated the album to his mother, Ella, the woman responsible for his and Freddie’s love of music.
So come see this great blues artist perform next Saturday at Maison Lafitte, Mandeville, Louisiana. In the meantime, go to Benny’s website, read about his life, listen to some of his music, and buy an album or two in support of this legendary blues artist.
The Storyville Stompers
The Storyville Stompers
In 1981, a group of friends who loved traditional, New Orleans brass band music joined together to create the Storyville Stompers. Since their founding, the Stompers have toured across the world while maintaining their roots in New Orleans, performing at weddings, parades, second lines (Yes, there will be one next Saturday), festivals—including Jazz Fest—and even funerals.
The Stompers are named after the famed Storyville neighborhood of New Orleans. From 1897-1917, Storyville was the city’s red-light district. It was created by New Orleans city council to isolate and regulate the city’s drug and prostitution industries. Councilman Sydney Story, who wrote the ordinance creating the neighborhood, unintentionally loaned his name to the community.
Shortly after its creation and thanks to the train station located in the neighborhood, Storyville became a cultural hotspot. The area’s numerous brothels hosted up and coming jazz artists, introducing the fledging music to visitors. It soon became the city’s most profitable neighborhood.
Storyville didn’t last, however, at least physically. With the U.S. entry into World War 1, the Federal government pressured the city to close the district, lest visiting sailors and soldiers find themselves driven to sin and vice. As a result, the city recriminalized prostitution and shut down Storyville. By 1940, much of the former neighborhood had been transformed into the Iberville housing projects.
Despite its brief history, Storyville wove itself into the fabric of New Orleans history. Bands like the Storyville Stompers honor the neighborhood’s legacy as a hotbed of music and New Orleans culture. Come see them for yourself next Saturday!