Jim Powell, a Historic DeSoto Theatre Foundation board member, said Ma Rainey is considered “the Mother of the Blues.”
Born Gertrude Pridgett, Ma Rainey is a Columbus native who made over 100 recordings including “Bo-weevil Blues,” “Moonshine Blues,” “See See Rider,” “Black Bottom” and “Soon This Morning.” She was known for her powerful vocal abilities, energetic disposition, majestic phrasing and ‘moaning’ style of singing.
“We named it after her to celebrate her life and musical contributions,” Powell said. “Also, she has a connection to Rome.”
In 1935, Rainey returned to her hometown in Columbus where she ran two theaters until her death from a heart attack in 1939 in Rome.
The festival will pay tribute to Rainey and to the blues and begins Nov. 2 with a Pub/Blues Crawl featuring performances by Lon Eldredge, The Booze Mountaineers, The Rick Fowler Band and other local bands/artists including Stephen Smith. Guests will be able to purchase a Pub Crawl arm band at the DeSoto Theatre or any of the performance venues to gain entrance. Those venues include The Brewhouse Music and Grill, 333 on Broad, The Moon Roof Bar, Schroeder’s New Deli and Gallery 318.
The $10 price will allow patrons to enjoy blues festival music at all participating locations.
On Nov. 3 the festivities continue at a concert featuring Mac Arnold and the Plate Full ‘O Blues band starting at 8 p.m. at the DeSoto Theatre. Lon Eldredge will also be opening. Tickets for the concert will be $15. Beer and wine will be available for purchase. Proceeds will benefit the Historic DeSoto Theatre Foundation and its preservation of the Theatre.
“We feel that the more scheduling of programs we do, the more people see our efforts,” Powell said. “And then they can help with our funds to restore the building.”
Tickets are now available for purchase. For additional information and tickets, visit online at www.desototickets.com, visit the DeSoto box office, Gallery 318, or call 706-295-7171.
Jonathon Dennis is a student at Pepperell High School and is an intern with the Rome News-Tribune.