The SLO Blues Society will launch a 35th season Saturday night at the San Luis Obispo Veteran’s Hall.
“In terms of continuous operation, the San Luis society is the third oldest in America. Interesting that Santa Barbara and Ventura are the next oldest,” said the organization’s president, Wayne Benham. “Our season goes from September through May with seven shows. We always invite a nationally touring artist to our first one. This year it is Chris Thomas King.”
King is a blues innovator with Louisiana roots. A multiple Grammy winner, he is an actor and musician with strong stylistic influences from Jimmy Henricks. His complete biography is at www.sloblues.org.
An aficionado of the Blues, Benham spins tunes Monday nights at 7:30pm on “Wayne’s Evening Blues” and Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 9am to Noon on Estero Bay’s 97.3 The Rock. “I’ve always enjoyed playing music. One song hits a listener during my show and I’ve done my job.”
Regarding his musical preference, he said, “Blues when done right is so simple coming straight from the heart and soul. It might start out ‘my baby left me and we’re oh so sad, but, hey, we’re getting over it.’ The blues can be very upbeat and I love to dance so the ‘gettin’ over it’ part often is the part when we get up and dance the blues away.”
According to Benham there is a rhythmic pattern that keeps the Blues to its simplest form. Many consider it the only pure American musical form. Chris Thomas King tends to experiment with traditional Blues. “King might be better recognized for his work in the films “O Brother Where Art Thou” (2000) or “Ray” (2004). Many prefer that he’s going back to his traditional roots. We like his dance-ability. Amazing how the band and audience feed off each other.”
“Back in the day of the British invasion — the Beatles, the Kinks, the Rolling Stones — they started with Blues-Rock,” continued Benham. “Our American Blues musicians are almost ignored unless their famous like B.B. King, but they’ll go to Europe and are treated like super heroes.”
Benham is now retired from Dr. Bloodgood’s Photo Emporium where his duties spanned operations, financial services and technology implementation. He moved to Morro Bay in 1999 and got involved in the SLO Blues Society. Since 2005 he’s been active member and ultimately on the board in leadership roles after attending concerts and volunteering to help. “We always need good volunteers. We’re a nonprofit that has produced over 250 shows.”
“Part of the mission of the SLO Blues Society is to give reviews,” he continued. “We always have local musicians involved in our season. It is nice to give them a chance to play and be discovered.”