Rhythm Room's Raise the Roof Benefit Earns $5,000 for the Blues Hall of Fame

Local blues lovers are sure to be raving about next month's Blues Blast if the daylong festival is nearly as successful as last weekend's Raise the Roof benefit at the Rhythm Room.

The fundraiser, which took place on Valentine's Day night at the popular CenPho music venue, earned somewhere in the neighborhood of $5,000 for the construction of the Blues Hall of Fame in Memphis.

An all-star lineup of national and local blues artists pitched in to make it one helluva show. The lineup included locals like Leon J's Juke Joint, Mike Eldred and John Baz, The Sugar Thieves, and The Rocket 88s, as well as such special guests as Janiva Magness, country/western superstar Jessi Colter, and Nashville's Andy T., Norm Nixon, and Anson Funderburgh.

Renowned blues harmonica player Bob Corritore, who also hosts KJZZ's popular Sunday night radio show Those Lowdown Blues and owns the Rhythm Room, hosted and performed with fellow musician Dave Riley.

"The Blues Hall of Fame is an important documentation and representation of this music form," Corritore says. "It will be closely located to the Blues Foundation."

Janice Johnson and Kathy Bolmer, a pair of board members for the Memphis-based Blues Foundation (which is overseeing the Hall of Fame) asked Corritore to host the fundraiser. Then, they went a step further by helping recruit some of the nationally known musicians to donate their services to the event.

Although supporters of the Blues Hall of Fame have raised about $2 million over the past few years to fund the cause, another $1 million is needed before it can open its doors. According to its website, the hall's organizers already have purchased land in Memphis and preparing break ground on the structure.

"The museum will honor the history of the blues," Corritore says. "The performances were a celebration of the blues from start to finish. Everybody was great, and it was a beautiful evening. This was a great way to show love on Valentine's Day."

In the coming weeks, the local blues scene will turn its attention toward the annual Blues Blast on Saturday, March 8, at Margaret T. Hance Park, which will offer more than two dozen Arizona-based and touring acts, including Hans Olson, Leon J and Juke Joint, Paul CruiZe Blues Crew, Mike Eldred Trio, and Samantha Fish.

Corritore says it will be a wonderful day of blues music.

"Every year, the Phoenix Blues Society puts together a great presentation of the blues," he says.

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Stan Bindell