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president’s message

2023: it’s been a very good year!
 Thanks to all of you, the Smoky Mountain Blues Society had an exceptional year in 2023, and we’d like to review some of the good things that happened.

By the numbers 19 live shows—the most we’ve ever done! 1500 tickets sold248 members of the Blues Society, 80 of whom are new!
Super events
We brought musicians from near and far, many of whom were playing in the Knoxville area for the first time.

Simply sensational Sara Jordan Birthday Bash. Thanks especially go to Michael James for organizing 22 musicians. Hard to say whether the musicians or the audience were having the best time—It sure was a night to remember. Thanks to you we were able to donate $1000 to the Blues Foundation Hart Fund, which helps musicians in need.

Our regional International Blues Challenge brought in stiff competition, and we are thrilled to be sending acts in all three categories: Ray Beltran & BlueMax (band), Kelle Jolly (solo/duo) and Danny Garwood & Company (youth band). Thanks to ticket sales and donations (shout out especially to Jack Tracy and Pat Healey for their generosity) we were able to provide each musician with $500 to defray their travel expenses when they go to Memphis next month to represent us in the truly International IBC!

Programs/Monthly performances for the Senator Ben Atchley Tennessee State Veterans’ Home are something SMBS has been doing for years and both the veterans and the musicians find it a moving experience. Blues-In-The-Schools (BITS) program is back up and running thanks to Doug Harris and Robert Higginbotham.

We continue to support and be supported by Johnny Mack’s Blues Attack on WDVX. Thanks Johnny!
We’d also like to thank our other sponsors: The Basowski Family, Bluetick Tavern, Robert Higginbotham, Tom Hurwitz, Masskus Productions, New Orleans Jazz Parades 2nd Line Band, Richard F. Qulia Polygraph Company, and the Tennessee Riverboat Company
We couldn’t do our shows without the super sound guy Ross Shapton. Ross makes it all look easy and sure makes the bands sound good! Thanks Ross!
Lee Zimmerman wrote some terrific profiles for our shows, and we know because people told us that they came because of his articles. Thanks Lee!
Sharon Kniffin is a long-time asset for SMBS, managing our emails and working on membership. Thanks Sharon!
Our show volunteers help out immensely. Special thanks go to our stalwart Nancy Meyer! We also want to thank Susan, Ruth, and Mary.
Doug Finley did all the posters that you see at Bluetick. He also does a lot of the heavy lifting before and after the show. Thanks Doug!
We can’t really thank ourselves, but all the work is done by our Board of just five people: Herman Long, Tom Hurwitz, Marilyn Finley, Gary Dreyer, and Alisa Cherry. And all of YOU. Thanks to your enthusiastic support we are keeping blues alive in East Tennessee.

A peek at what’s coming up in 2024
We’re finalizing our slate of shows, including our series of Blues Cruises that will run April-October. Here are the first three shows, all at Bluetick Tavern in Maryville:
January 14 Stefan Hillesheim Band
February 18 Kat Riggins & her Blues Revival
March 17 Rocky Athas Band
Have merry, happy holidays and we’ll see you next year!

Smoky Mountain Blues Society Board of Directors

—Herman Long, President, Smoky Mountain Blues Society

“The blues are the roots and the other musics are the fruits. It’s better keeping the roots alive, because it means better fruits from now on. The blues are the roots of all American music. As long as American music survives, so will the blues.” — Willie Dixon