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May 23, 2013

A Hall of Fame kind of show

Blues inductees to jam this weekend in Rentiesville

Songwriter, guitarist and vocalist Scott Ellison of Tulsa calls blues “the real true art form of American music.”

Ellison along with June McKinney, Robbie Mack McLerran, Broadway Jimmy Thomas, Danny Timms and Slugger Trask are being inducted into the Oklahoma Blues Hall of Fame at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Down Home Blues Club in Rentiesville. The Oklahoma City Blue Devils will receive the D.C. Minner Lifetime Achievement Award, according to Selby Minner, co-founder of the Oklahoma Blues Hall of Fame. Several others will be honored for Keeping the Blues Alive through archiving, recording and media.

“This year is a milestone here in Rentiesville for the Oklahoma Blues Hall of Fame — our 10th year of inductions,” Minner said. “We’ll sprinkle the awards through the night.”

Several of the inductees will perform, including Ellison and Timms, during the gala that includes a barbecue dinner and awards ceremony. It is open to the public at a cost of $10. Past hall of fame winners like Baby Ray Mucker, Leon Rollerson and the Production, Jim Davis, and Minner and Blues on the Move with Okahoma Slim will play the blues until about midnight.

Minner and her husband, the late D.C. Minner, started the Oklahoma Blues Hall of Fame after he was inducted into the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame and Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame.

“He told me they’re going to miss a bunch of people. He said we’re not big and flashy but when you’ve worked your whole life, you want to be honored,” she said. “So we decided to do it.”

The D.C. Minner Lifetime Achievement Award is going to the Oklahoma City Blue Devils.

“Count Basie produced some of the most blues driven jazz ever created with these musicians from the Oklahoma City Blue Devils,” Minner said. “My favorite Basie quote goes; “If you want the best, get a Blue Devil.”

Inductees are selected by a committee of blues scholars who bring suggestions to a meeting of the Friends of Rentiesville Blues Inc., a non-profit organization. Ellison, McLerran and Thomas said they are “honored” to be inducted.

“It’s a dream come true,” Ellison said. “To be in that group with all those great musicians ... it’s a great accomplishment.”

He said he’ll be “jammin’ and playing” with Timms during the ceremony.

McLerran of Tulsa said he’s honored and surprised. He said he’s still being “Okiefied” since he wasn’t born in Oklahoma. He had a songwriting partner from Oklahoma and came here from Colorado. He has played the Dusk ’Til Dawn Blues Festival in Rentiesville since 1998 with his son, Little Joe McLerran. He and his son will be performing at a festival in Kansas on Saturday but will attend the jam session at the Down Home Blues Club at 6 p.m. Sunday.

Thomas of Los Angeles, Calif., also won’t be able to attend the ceremony but plans to pick up his award when he performs at the Dusk ’Til Dawn Blues Festival on Labor Day weekend.

“It’s a great honor to me,” Thomas said. “I wasn’t born in Oklahoma, but I grew up with it. I know a lot of musicians from Oklahoma. I’ve been doing the festival since 2001.”

He’s been playing the blues for more than 50 years.

“I’m still playing music at 72,” he said. “I play bass and saxophone.”

Ellison believes the best blues musicians have Oklahoma roots.

“Blues is so real,” he said. “Pop music and country music always changes. Blue remains true to its art form.”

He got his start when he saw The Rolling Stones on “The Ed Sullivan Show.”

“I got to do that,” he said he thought. “It electrified me.”

Ellison and his band along with a few other musicians just recorded several tracks for a new CD at Leon Russell’s church studio. “Hit It, Get It and Go” will be released in six to nine months. He’ll perform songs from his current CD, “Walkin’ Through the Fire,” at the ceremony Saturday.

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