Recently my path crossed with a Foundation down in North Carolina called the Music Maker Foundation. We ended up doing a fundraiser on their behalf. Music Maker came about through the initial efforts of Tim Duffy. He had been studying folklore in North Carolina and discovered a whole vein of untapped and forgotten talent and started to document and promote the artist he re-discovered and discovered.
The music industry is rife with stories about the screwed up priorities and underhanded manipulations of the king pins of corporate america. They are an unkind suitor who gets it wrong more often than right. We all know local and regional talent that was homogenized and laden down with strings to make their sound commercial, destroying uniqueness, auto-tuning voices, lip syncing live performances, and serving up the same old sounds in the name of mass marketing and the biggest bang for their investment buck.
What happened to art, and fun, and music as life? Well along the way it got botox, a lip job, and boob implants making the search for authenticity damned near impossible over the commercial airwaves.
That’s why it takes almost a researchers drive, dedication, and interest to find any music worth listening to, let alone purchasing or seeing live. The commercial music world is largely devoid of originality and soul but by the power of repetition, marketing and cross marketing profitable for a few.
Music Maker comes about by love. Love of music, love of the people and a sense of justice. Long forgotten players who may have had a glimpse of fame, a hit, or a television appearance or two back in the 50’s live in forgotten squalor. Their guitars in hock, their homes often just a trailer without heat or running water living on the bare minimum on a forgotten lane, down a country road or stuck in a ghetto.
Music Maker as a non-profit foundation helps to get the musicians they discover back up on their feet, touring and producing CD’s. The talent they have uncovered is miraculous, authentic, salt of the earth, genuine, fun, real, historic and although left for dead by the industry, full of life.
Its a wonder that corporate america can be so dense as to not cultivate niche markets and corner them all. Instead they create one market and flood it out in every direction through radio, television, magazine, and the news outlets they control. Leaving the rest of us to tune out.
Even satellite radio is depressingly familiar with generic content. That being said run don’t walk over to the Music Maker Foundations website and be blown away by their story, videos, and overflowing catalog of under represented and forgotten American Treasures.
I recently bought five discs from artist know as Precious Bryant, Cool John Ferguson, John Dee Holeman and Eddie Tinger.
Precious Bryant: This disc has 26 cuts of standards and originals. It reminds me of the best songs Bonnie Raitt did on her first album when she was featuring Robert Johnson and Sippie Wallace. From Talbot County Georgia she still lives on the old farm she was raised on. I absolutely love this CD!
Cool John Ferguson: Scorching blues guitarist that Taj Mahal calls one of the best he’s ever heard. John is one of those guys who can play what he’s thinking in real time. It doesn’t seem like there is a nano-second between the thought and the execution. He defines playing from the heart. I have two discs of his. One is a surprising jazz effort that is just sweet, vigorous and flat out perfect for this genre of guitar jazz. The other is a righteous blues work out. They both will leave you wondering how the heck this guy isn’t on the cover of Rolling Stone. He tours look him up, check him out – your jaw will hit the floor.
Eddie Tinger: Eddie’s a real tour veteran and performed with Elmore James – whoa – Elmore James – if that isn’t street cred I don’t know what is. He’s a keyboard player and his disc is chock full of standards that you’ll listen to at the office, in the car and at dinner. Its a wonderful CD widely accessible to all with a lot of spirit and humor. He does a version of Goin Down Slow and Stormy Monday as well as Route 66. This is a great piano album that will make you smile.
John Dee Holeman: Out of Durham North Carolina his fingers pop on that old national steel. Country blues pickin that rocks he has several albums out on the Music Maker label. The music is soaked with wisdom and backed by a rockin band that never gets in his way. Great, great authentic playing by a man that has lived the blues, played the blues and loved the blues his whole life.
Here’s more of the Music Maker Story in their own words all I can say is that I’m blown away. I am championing their worthy cause the best I can and it just goes to show you; When you do the right thing, for the right reason, right things happen!
Music Maker Relief Foundation keeps our culture vital by directly supporting senior (over 55) American roots musicians in need. We provide for basic life essentials while expanding their professional careers so that our rich musical heritage can be shared with the world and preserved for future generations.
Since the organization’s founding in 1994, Music Maker has assisted hundreds of musicians who represent the traditions of Blues, Gospel, Old-Time String Band, Jazz and more.
Music Maker’s programs ensure the talents of these cultural treasures are accessible through hundreds of US and international live performances, multi-media documentation and outreach initiatives.
Music Maker Relief Foundation, Inc. is a tax exempt, public charity under IRS code 501(c)3.
* Musician Sustenance – grants to meet basic life needs and emergency relief.
* Musical Development – grants and services for recipient artist professional development and career advancement.
* Cultural Access – supports the preservation and proliferation of American musical traditions.