Steven A. Salter.....President, Whitehall, MI
Aaron Pritchard......Vice President, St. Louis, MO
Leslie M. Salter......Secretary, Whitehall, MI
Keith Petersen............Board Member, Americus, GA
Hank Mowery..........Board Member, Grand Rapids, MI
2019 Year End Update
I am happy to report that 2019 was our second best year for total headstones placed with a total of 17 headstones in six different states. Once again Illinois tops the list with 10, then Mississippi following up with 3; Louisiana, Georgia, Missouri and Indiana, each getting one stone.
We were unable to hold our annual White Lake Blues Festival in Whitehall, MI this year as the venue was undergoing major renovations and we lost our biggest opportunity to raise funds for our cause.
Speaking of losses, we lost our good friend and board member Dave Wright on May 26. Dave was a tireless supporter of our mission and will be greatly missed. Dave’s position on the Board was taken over by Keith Petersen a meticulous researcher and hard working member of our team who has been contributing to our success for the last couple of years. Keith is also a phenomenal woodworker who has won many state championships for his amazing woodworking skills.
The story of every stone we place is unique. For example the headstone for William “Pa” Rainey took the better part of a year of negotiations by our Board Member Keith Petersen to get permission to place the marker. In contrast Theodore “Blind Teddy” Roosevelt Darby who, after many years of searching for his burial location, we obtained his death certificate and within hours located his grave site and purchased a headstone for him.
Other highlights this year were the placement headstones for Alex “Easy Baby” Randle, Foree “Superstar” Montgomery, Robert Kimbrough lll and Mississippi John Hurt. Each with family involvement. It always makes it so much more rewarding when there are family members involved who can share in our joy at seeing to it that another blues artist has not been forgotten.
In September I went to London for a vacation and spent a day with Paul Swinton of Frog Records, a fantastic person who’s focus is the music and artists of the 78 rpm record era. Later, in the same month Aaron Pritchard, our Vice
President, Keith Petersen, Board Member and I drove to Mississippi for the Highway 61 Blues Festival in Leland. While there we dedicated a headstone for Willie Nix which was placed in Bogue Cemetery outside of Leland with the help of Billy Johnson and Randy McGee of the Highway 61 Blues Museum . The next day it was off to Avalon for the Mississippi John Hurt Coming Home Festival where, at the request of John’s granddaughter, we placed a new marker for John. Our last stop was the Kimbrough Cemetery in Hudsonville, MS where we dedicated a headstone for David Kimbrough lll with the help of his brother and fellow blues man Robert Kimbrough.
It’s been a great year and we are very proud to have honored 17 blues artists this year with a lasting marker recognizing their contribution to the mother of all music… The Blues.
Please go to our website www.killerblues.net and check our list of artists whom we still need help finding out where they are buried. Also, check our list of artists still in need of a headstone. We welcome any donation to our cause however large or small. Every little bit helps us.
A huge thank you to our team of Board Members and others who have helped us along the way including Dave Sorenson, Matt Lenington, Ilana Katz, and Darsha Primich.
Looking forward to another great year in 2020!