Why are landlocked New Mexican musicians helping out the oil-soaked Gulf Coast? The reason is simple, says local blues musician Todd Tijerina—it’s all about roots.
“To be able to help out a state that has been so instrumental [to] each and every blues musician,” Tijerina says of Louisiana. “The Neville Brothers, Dr. John, Professor Longhair—they came out of a rich community.”
And that’s a sentiment blues players across the country share. Come this Sunday, Blues for the Gulf will have blues musicians wailing across America to raise money for the Gulf disaster. The plan was masterminded by Honey Sepeda, a promotions and entertainment coordinator in Boulder, Colo.
“We plan to do it annually,” Sepeda says. “People in the gulf will be needing our help for a long time.”
Shows are already scheduled in venues from California to Colorado, and the plan couldn’t be simpler. Blues venues throw a concert, take donations and then give it back to Blues for the Gulf. One hundred percent of the proceeds goes straight to a central account shared by Voice of the Wetlands, Global Green and For the Bayou—organizations dedicated to helping the Gulf recover in the aftermath of the BP oil spill.
Albuquerque’s Blue Jeans Lounge is one of those venues. Every Sunday the performance space hosts a blues jam with bands from around the city such as Felix y Los Gatos, Albuquerque Blues Connection and The Memphis P. Tails. After learning about Blues for the Gulf, Rudy Jaramillo, the organizer of the Sunday jam and founder of The Rudy Boy Experiment, says he knew right away he wanted to help.
“For playing the guitar, I have gotten free foods, free drinks, money, and I have gotten to see and do all kinds of stuff,” Jaramillo says. “I am a very blessed person because of that, so whenever I get the chance to give back, I do.”
“I am a local guy,” Jaramillo says. “I was born and raised here in New Mexico. The roots of the blues, though, are from [the Gulf Coast], so I feel like I have kinship to it musically.”
That’s the whole point—local groups banding together for a cause and, of course, the enjoyment of blues music. Jaramillo says fundraising and music go hand-in-hand.
“It’s a real cool thing, and everyone just ... kind of comes together to hang out,” he says. “Music is a great healer for the soul.”