After the Blues Music Awards, we made our way to the Stomp the Blues out of Homelessness festival, a non-for-profit organization that has created a promising, entertaining blues festival wholly designed to raise money for area homeless. It is this degree of selflessness that continues to define the blues as a genre and an industry, always willing to donate time, energy, and money for amazing causes, whether it’s a Blues Hall of Fame at the Blues Foundation, aiding musicians in need through the HART Fund, spending a couple of dollars for a Kickstarter project to help an artist record an album, or creating a festival to help those who have found themselves in dire circumstances, the blues community as a whole has continued to support a culture of giving that has become a defining milestone.
The festival’s administrators, Jim and Paige Payne donate a considerable amount of time volunteering to feed and aid the homeless in their hometown of Springfield, Missouri. To further the cause, they decided to fuse their respective passions and create the Stomp the Blues festival, now in it’s second year and already capturing strength and solvency. This year brought blues-steeped soul-stirrers The Mojo Roots, local sensations Steve Smith and the Sneakers, Earl and Them, blues shredder Corey Stevens, and a very special appearance by Cassie Taylor & The Soul Cavalry. Cassie, the daughter of trance-blues legend Otis Taylor, was touched by the selfless caring for the area’s homeless, and crafted a song to commemorate the moment by paying tribute to those in need. The song, and her set, were a highlight of the festival. Cassie’s aggressive, rocking form is a live music gem.
Stomp the Blues hasn’t been without it’s trials: The first day of it’s inaugural year, with Cee Cee James headlining, was rained out, as a torrential downpour and huge bursts of wind threatened to dampen the entire weekend. Indeed, only a couple of miles down the road that weekend, a severe tornado ravaged the small town of Joplin, Missouri. While the rain dispersed and the weather was beautiful that Saturday last year, the previous night’s storm kept many festival-goers away. Staying committed to a greater cause, the Paynes marched on, planning their second year.
Despite chances of rain and the threat of yet another wet festival, the weather stayed largely clear. “What a three day ride!” said Payne. “From set up until break down… hard work, sweat, cold beer, great BBQ, outstanding music, and funding for 1500-2000 meals to feed the homeless! We have successfully pulled off the 2nd Annual Stomp The Blues Out of Homelessness Blues Festival.”
The music was electric as fans jumped and enjoyed themselves. Jordan Thomas, lead singer of the Mojo Roots, unplugged his harmonica and jumped into the crowd, singing and playing unamplified to powerful effect. The Soul Calvary, with Cassie Taylor at the helm, soundly owned a rendition of “Hey Joe” to fill out their set. Corey Stevens, a wizard on the guitar, finished out the evening with tasty, overdriven guitar licks. The festival is a shining example of the kind, giving hearts and attitudes of blues at large.
Funds raised through Stomp the Blues have helped supply equipment, including mounted speakers, a CD player, receiver, and more to a music room in a youth drop-in center and youth homeless shelter, as well as providing well over 1,000 meals for area homeless.