Blues enthusiasts in the Springfield area will be busy the next two weekends. Tonight it's a concert by Anthony Gomes. Next Saturday May 18 is the 9th annual "Stomp The Blues Out of Homelessness" music festival, from 1:00 to 10:00pm at the Community Blood Center of the Ozarks Thomson Center, 222 West Plainview Road (aka Farm Road 182), at Campbell Avenue. Four musical acts will perform, and proceeds this year benefit five local charities, according to longtime event organizer Jim Payne: Laura's Home and Darr House, both operated by Good Samaritan Boys Ranch; Women in Need of the Ozarks, which Payne describes as "probably our biggest benefactor;" Play It Forward SWMO, which supplies musical instruments to kids who could otherwise not afford them; and Rare Breed Youth Services, operated by The Kitchen, Inc.
Jim Payne came up with the idea of "Stomp The Blues" in 2011. "It started because my wife and I were involved with a homeless drop-in center, doing the lunch program. And a local DJ (who's no longer on radio) called--my wife and I have a title company [Choice Escrow & Land Title]--and had some title insurance questions. I went down and met with him, and in the back of my mind the whole time I was thinking about, 'We need to do an event. I want to raise money to move forward with what we do--not just provide a sandwich or a bottle of water, but maybe something that does more." Something more long-term, more substantial, more meaningful.
The first festival in 2011 had its rough edges. In fact, says Jim Payne, "It was a total wash! It was the year of the Joplin tornado, the Sunday after our event , and it was a really dramatic weather event all weekend. We lost a little money, but my wife and I thought that the people that found out about homelessness, and the people that we wanted to help, it became more of an awareness campaign. And it just built from there."
This year's outdoor concert event brings in three national bands, along with local act Nathan Bryce and Loaded Dice. Amanda Fish from the Kansas City area is one of the featured acts; her sister Samantha played the festival last year. Amanda has just had what may be her first big career break: she and her band won the "Best Emerging Artist Album" award Thursday at the Blues Foundation's annual Blues Music Awards ceremony in Memphis, for their CD "Free." Says Jim Payne, "We've been real fortunate to have, just by the luck of the draw, some of the artists in previous years who have been award winners. That just tells you the quality of the artists that we've got coming in. I'm really happy for her. She's a true blues person. She works hard, she tries to do the right thing, ."
Also coming this year is Memphis-based soul, blues and jam band Southern Avenue. Payne considers them "probably the most exciting band on the festival circuit right now. They've got a new album, that comes out today (Friday May 10). They are really energetic and fun, and I think that's going to be the band that really pumps people up. It seems like the 5:30pm band is always the band that gets the crowd moving."
This year's headliner is Will Hoge, who plays at 7:3opm on the 18th. "He's been a Nashville singer-songwriter for a number of years," says Payne. "He's what I term 'heavy electric Americana.' Rolling Stone called him 'the contemporary Bob Dylan,' so that tells you about his songwriting abilities. He is not afraid to speak his mind, he's an outstanding musician, singer and songwriter."
In addition to the musical acts there will be food trucks on-site and ice cream among other things.
Admission to "Stomp The Blues" is $25 in advance, or $28 at the gate on Saturday May 18. Tickets are available online at http://www.stompthebluesoutofhomelessness.com or, if you want a printed ticket, they're available at Jim Payne's office, Choice Escrow & Land Title, 1440 E. Primrose; also at the Macadoodles on Independence, just east of Fremont Avenue. Jim Payne also mentioned that anyone who gives blood at the Community Blood Center of the Ozarks next week, Mon-Fri May 13-17, will be able to receive a $5 discount on advance Stomp The Blues tickets and pay only $20. Kids 12 and under will be admitted free.
And if you visit the Stomp The Blues Out of Homelessness website, you'll find a long list of sponsors for this year's event. Says Jim Payne, "We couldn't do it without them. Actually, we WOULDN'T do it without them."