Yes, Acoustic Blues Is Still Alive and Well, as Proven by Phoenix Blues Society Concert

Local blues musicians and their acoustic guitars will get the spotlight Aug. 11 at the Musical Instrument Museum (MIM). Nina Curri, Jimmy Pines and Washboard Jere, and Mikel Lander and Meridith Moore from the Sugar Thieves will provide the entertainment, presented by the Phoenix Blues Society.

Curri plays roots blues, Jimmy Pines and Washboard Jere perform country blues, and the Sugar Thieves are known for their dancing blues music, but Lander and Moore (billed and Mikel & Meredith) often perform as a duo.

This is the second year of the event that was sold out last year. The 2013 edition had six groups performing, but this year organizers have broken it into two shows, with the second show coming Aug. 31. Leon and Juke Joint, Scott Spenner and Dirt Music Express and Paris James will bust out the acoustic guitars for the shows.

Jim Crawford, president of the Phoenix Blues Society, said this event will give the acoustic guitar players a chance to shine.

"MIM has the nicest acoustics in the area. It's perfect for families, and there are no bad seats. MIM is comfortable, laid back and the staff is courteous. It's not a bar. It's nice noisy. It's family oriented," he said.

Curri, who also performed last year, said the theater jitters are gone.

"It was our first time playing in a beautiful theater," she said. "They have a nice backstage dressing room that makes you feel like a star. This is a big deal."

Curri said the acoustic blues are underrated.

"We're a different breed. Shows like this are few and far between," she said. "There was nothing like this when I was growing up in Phoenix. MIM is a top notch venue."

Curri has been performing the acoustic blues in the valley since the 1990s, when she saw Francine Reed at the now-defunct Timothy's and listened to Bob Corritore's blues radio show on KJZZ. Now, she performs monthly at Rare Earth Pizza in Scottsdale and Pier 54 in Tempe. Dan Rutland and Andy Gonzales will join Curri on the MIM stage. Rutland, who also plays acoustic guitar, is known for playing with Big Pete Pearson. Gonzales, who plays acoustic bass, has played with Barrio Latino and Francine Reed.

The trio will play some of Curri's favorite acoustic blues favorites, such as tunes from Elizabeth Cotton. Curri's original songs are about love and loss, traveling, missing the Arizona desert and the longevity of her blues music.

She tries to keep it light while performing. Legendary blues drummer Chico Chism told her that as long as the musician is having a good time on stage, the crowd will have a good time as well.

Curri said having a big show with three groups performing helps all of the groups to share a fan base.

"This ain't no everyday gig," she said.

Correction: This blog originally misspelled Nina Curri's last name.

MIM and the Phoenix Blues Society Present Arizona Acoustic Blues on Monday, August 11.

Find any show in Metro Phoenix via our extensive online concert calendar.

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Stan Bindell