Cinco da Blues
The Mill — Saturday, May 5 at 7 p.m.
One listen to Gloria Hardiman’s voluminous voice is really all the impetus you need to head out to the Mill on Saturday, May 5 for the first Cinco da Blues fundraiser for radio station KCCK (tickets $20). But the Chicago blues great isn’t just performing for Cinco da Blues — she was also a driving force behind its creation.
“It’ll be a showcase format, with various combinations of players featuring different featured player/singers,” the evening’s talent coordinator and emcee Ed English said in an email. “Miss Gloria has reserved the right to sing at anytime she wants to — it was her idea, along with KCCK Development Director, and longtime friend, Lisa Baum.”
Baum, also via email, added that Hardiman is a fan of the station. “I have to say, most of the blues people that she has invited to be part of this are also members of the station,” she said. “She has asked them to participate to show support for the Friday and Saturday night blues programming.”
KCCK 88.3 FM is a listener-supported station primarily focused on jazz. It’s run out of the Kirkwood Community College’s Cedar Rapids Campus. The station began at Kirkwood in 1972 as a project in an electronics class.
Blues programming at the station includes a Friday night show with John Heim and a Saturday night show with Iowa Blues Hall of Famer Bobby DeForest, who’s been with the station for 25 years, Baum said. KCCK also includes blues in its education programming that reaches Iowa City, Cedar Rapids and surrounding area schools.
“We feel strongly that America’s music should be explored,” Baum said. “We begin with basic rhythms and then move to call and response as well as African origins in our Blues in the Schools and our School House Jazz offerings.”
Saturday night’s program includes some of the best known names in eastern Iowa blues. Matt Bernemann, Ed and Tanya English, Craig Erickson, Saul Lubraroff and Alicia Strong are just a few on the extensive list. The night isn’t about the names, though, English said. It’s about celebration.
“We seldom get a chance to gather together since we’re all gigging. Cinco da Blues is meant to be such a gathering, celebrating the greater blues community,” English said. “The actual list isn’t really that important, to me, as the talent coordinator. It’s more about sharing the legacy of KCCK and helping to guarantee their future.”
The event also celebrates the legacy of Gordon Paulsen, a career DJ at KCCK who passed away this spring. Baum said of Paulsen that he “loved live music and curated a number of recorded live performances for KCCK. He hosted a show daily called Funk at Five. It really was uplifting for the drive home from work or if you just needed a groove to clean your house!”
Baum said that funds raised at Cinco da Blues will go towards expanding KCCK’s blues library.
“Whether it’s classic Muddy Waters, Koko Taylor or Little Ed and the Imperials or you are seeking the newer blues offerings like Derick Trucks, these funds will help us round out our picks,” Baum said.