Blues Masters at the Crossroads held in Salina, Ks, is set for Oct. 26-27. The lineup has not yet been released but it's not too early to plan your road trip. Blues News will publish that lineup when we get word.
The past 3 years have seen Blue Heaven Studios partner with the restored Stiefel Theater for one night of assigned-seating heaven, and I anticipate it will do so again for the 21st year of Blues Masters. If you aren't familiar with Blue Heaven Studios or Chad Kassem's dream, you can find a great 2016 accounting of it here.
Chad is devoted to his Louisiana musical roots and he uses the Blues Masters to educate us Midwesterners. Along with Blues folks that Chad wants to record for history, Chad brings artists known only to Louisianans or liner-note-reading music lovers.
Lil Buck Sinegal--ever heard of him? He has headed the house band for Chad a number of times. Lil Buck has played guitar on more than 300 recordings in each decade since the 1950s. Those recordings include Chenier’s heralded “Bogalusa Boogie” album, a Grammy Hall of Fame entry, and Paul Simon’s “Graceland,” the 1987 Album of the Year and a 16-million seller.
That's just one example.
Each show has its magical moments. I recall when Carl Weathersby performed several years after having as stroke, he used the ethereal acoustics of Blues Heaven to play softly, each note shimmering like a crystal in the air. "I didn't think I'd ever be standin' here, playin' the Blues for you," he sang. I think I saw tears in his eyes and they were certainly in mine. Here is an archived rundown of that weekend.
Another magical moment was that same weekend, which was a couple of months before Son Seals died. Obviously ill but dressed to the nines, Son was helped up the steps inside the church. While he didn't have the lung power of his former years, he could still holler out "Sadie!" while tipping his head in time to the beat. It was bittersweet to witness.
Blue Heaven concerts are held in the sanctuary of the former church. Downstairs you will find artists signing autographs and chatting with fans where there is more seating and a big screen to watch the performances going on upstairs. The merchandise and snack bar areas are downstairs also. Liquor is not sold, only canned soft drinks and water, popcorn, and candy bars. The Blue Heaven Studios websites lists recommended restaurants and accommodations for your stay.
About 40 minutes away is the Kansas Motorcycle Museum in Marquette, Ks, open on weekends. Other area attractions are the Eisenhower Museum and Brookville Hotel with its family-style chicken dinner (both in Abilene, about 20 min. away), the Rolling Hills Zoo, the Birger Sandzén Gallery in Lindsborg (30 min. away), and more. Chad offers tours of the studio and pressing plant but may or may not offer them during the Blues Masters weekend.
To book a tour or studio time, call Marc Sheforgen at 785-825-8609 on weekdays and 785-825-8486 on nights and weekends, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Submitted by LaDonna Sanders
Related: How Salina, Kansas, Became A Center Of The Vinyl Record Universe
and Chad Kassem Brings the Blues To Salina