Fruteland Jackson
@ The Whole Music Club, University of MN, Feb. 6, 1997

This series was created out of a partnership between the University of Minnesota MSU Program Council and the Bayfront Blues Festival to produce an educational series featuring a history of blues music. The series includes two - five week sessions starting February 6, 1997 with performances on Thursday evening from 8 to 10. The series will feature blues in a range of styles from the Mississippi Delta to Chicago Blues and provide a forum for informal discussion with the musicians about the history of blues. This series is a terrific opportunity to see some of the best Delta and Chicago style blues players perform in an intimate, smoke free environment open to all ages.

The first performer in the Blues series was Fruteland Jackson. Born in Mississippi and raised in Chicago. Fruteland plays traditional delta style acoustic blues but with a twist. He describes his music as baby boomer blues - it is music based on the country blues tradition but updated to reflect his experiences and this time period (he calls himself a third generation blues man). He is a relative newcomer as a blues performer. Even though he has only been performing the blues for the past 5 years it has always been a part of him. His parents played the blues around the house when he was growing up and his uncle, who first taught him to play the guitar, was a blues performer. The seeds had been planted he says, so it was no surprise that this is what he is doing now.

Fruteland has a full, rich sounding voice and an easy, relaxed stage presence that made for an enjoyable evening of traditional style blues. His guitar playing is a combination of finger picking, strums and slide with some interesting bass string thumping. He was having trouble with one of his guitars during the sound check but was able to borrow one from Ed, one of the Whole personnel, who just happened to have a spare guitar up stairs. Fruteland had a little difficulty getting used to the borrowed guitar at first but this only added to the relaxed authentic feel of this country blues show. Towards the end of the show however, he and guitar were starting to feel pretty familiar. He also played some nice slide on his national guitar.

Fruteland conducts a lecture/performance series on the history of the blues for colleges and secondary schools around the country. He is also very active in the Blues In The Schools program which is exposing the rich blues heritage to a younger generation. During his lecture he uses blues music to help tell the story. He said Disney did the something similar. They had classical music playing in the background while the cartoons were entertaining us, thus exposing a whole generation of kids to some great music. He joked that when he heard a particular classical piece on the radio he said, hey there's that Disney song. Now he is doing the same with blues music as he talks to kids about the blues. During the show he had his guitar bass strings thumping in the background as he talked about how Robert Johnson bridged the gap between country and urban blues. Then he launched right into one of Robert Johnson's songs Crossroads. He said that subliminal background guitar playing while he is telling his story is exposing his audience to blues music.

In addition to playing several songs from his debut CD, "Fruteland Jackson...Is All I Crave," he also had a good mix of traditional country delta blues and a few popular songs played in the traditional style. This was a fun evening of blues and a nice start to the series.

Fruteland Jackson Home Page

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