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Blues 101 - Keeping the blues alive in Saskatoon

Published: Feb 13, 2013

Blues in Schools program teaches music and much more to local students

This year marks the Saskatoon Blues Society’s (SBS) 11th annual Saskatoon Blues Festival, a testament to the hard work of a lot of dedicated Toon Town blues lovers. 2013 also marks the 11th anniversary of the Blues In The Schools (BITS) program, and along with acting as a vehicle to keep local youth excited about music and the arts, it’s also an extremely effective way to provide students with valuable education regarding racism, class conflict and music history, in an accessible and interesting format.

Blues in the Schools, founded in Chicago in 1978, is an international youth outreach program dedicated to teaching school-age kids about blues and blues history. BITS takes that history and uses it to discuss larger social issues. When the local program began, the SBS brought blues artists to Saskatoon to conduct workshops (called ‘Blues 101’). Blues 101 mixes performance and lecture together to create a presentation that touches on difficult concepts most notably racism.

“It’s really easy for people to understand the discrimination that blacks have suffered. Kids really get that,” Gord MacAulay, coordinator of 2013 BITS says. “So we can take that, and then say, ‘okay, so how does that apply to First Nations people in Canada? How does that apply to the way people treat Muslims?’ We’ve had a very positive response from teachers who’ve told us that after Blues 101, their classes have had really lively discussions about tolerance and respect.

We want to say, ‘listen to all sorts of music then decide what you like,’” MacAulay says. “Don’t listen to an artist just because your friends or the media decided that the artist was cool. We want to show kids all sorts of different directions, to help instill some confidence so that they can make their own choices, instead of just following the crowd.”

The SBS is pleased to announce the SaskTel Blues in the Schools program for the 2013 Saskatoon Blues Festival celebrations will feature winner of three 2013 Maple Blues Awards, Canadian artist Steve Strongman and long-time educator Steve James from Austin, Texas along with help from local bluesman B.C. Read. Both are also performing as main stage artists at this year’s Blues Festival. We consider ourselves very fortunate to have them visiting over 3000 students in our local schools.

SaskTel Blues in the Schools Week is Monday February 25th - Friday March 1st.

More information on our primary presenters can be found by following the links to their respective websites Steve Strongman and Steve James.

The SaskTel Blues in the Schools program is grateful for the continuing support of Vaughn Wyant Auto Group for local ground transportation and Long & McQuade Music for equipment needs.

Media Contact – Saskatoon Blues Festival – Janette Schwandt                         
Janette@saskatoonbluessociety.ca Ph: 343-6527

101-202 Fourth Avenue North, Saskatoon, SK S7K 0K1
Phone: (306) 242-1206 | Fax: (306) 242-1955 | 1-800-567-2444