RAMBLING ROSE: Memorial Day Salute: Remembering with Love

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By Rosa Pryor

Hello everyone, I know when you look at these photos you may think that “Rambling Rose” has changed into an obituary column, no fear, I promise that is not happening. It is Memorial Day Weekend, and since it is impossible for me to name all our friends and your friends and family members we have lost in the recent months and days, I thought I will stick with the entertainment side. Entertainment is really my profession, so I want to acknowledge some of the artist, who I know you may be familiar with whom has recently passed away.

Kevin Barnes, member of Jimmy Briscoe & The Little Beavers passed away May 14. Kevin sang baritone for the famous recording group. The group members were Jimmy Briscoe, Stanford Stansberry, Kevin Barnes, Maurice Pulley and Robert Markins were the original Jimmy Briscoe & The Little Beavers. Bobby Finch replaced Markins in 1977.

To all my readers and followers who have lost someone since this coronavirus pandemic started, please know that you and your family are in my prayers. Hopefully we can get past this terrible situation and begin to smile. Just remember your loved ones in a positive way, remember the good times, something that will put a smile on your face.

Even though some parts of our country have re-opened, COVID-19 has still caused the cancellations of our jazz and music festivals that we will normally attend this time of the year.

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Robert “Bootsie” Barnes, Philadelphia jazz saxophonist and Baltimore’s adopted musician son, died of COVID-19 on April 22. “Bootsie”, he was affectionately called, was a tenor saxophonist who left an indelible mark on the Philadelphia and wider jazz communities including Baltimore and Washington, D.C. He played tenor sax in the U.S. Virgin Islands and played for Bill Cosby, a former classmate and friend, as the comedian’s star rose. He would also accompany jazz greats when they played in Philadelphia. Rest in peace my dear friend. You will be truly missed.

It’s disappointing news for the state of Rhode Island. The Newport Folk and Jazz Festival that was set to have taken place at Fort Adams this summer has been canceled. All ticket holders for this festival have the option of a full refund if desired. The Newport Jazz and Folk Festivals were created by George Wein (now 94 years old) in 1994 and 1959 respectively. These Festivals are two of the largest running music festivals in history.

Betty Wright, a soul and R&B singer best known for her 1970’s hit “Clean Up Woman” passed away May 10 from cancer, she was only 66 years old. Born Bessie Regina Norris, adopted her stage name when she was just a kid. She began singing in a gospel group, called the “Echoes of Joy” at age two and released an album in 1956 when she was three. She switched from gospel to R&B at 11 years old, the rest is history.

The 2020 Hampton Jazz Festival known for bringing the best of jazz, blues, soul and R&B to Hampton Roads has announced that it is canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, and has been postponed until June 2021. Refunds will be issued automatically for those purchased online through Ticketmaster. Refunds for tickets purchased at the box office can be obtained by returning the purchased tickets once the office opens up to the public.

Music Executive Andre Harrell, who discovered Sean “Puffy” Combs died May 9 at age 59. Andre Harrell, founder of Uptown Records was influential in the hip-hop and R&B musical scene. He discovered Combs, later known as “Diddy”, who was an intern at the record label. Other artists Harrell signed included Heavy D & the Boyz, Mary J. Bilge and the Notorious B.I.G. Condolences to his family and friends. Rest in peace Andre.

The 28th Annual Capital Jazz Fest, originally scheduled for June 5-7 at the Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, Md. has been postponed. This is one of my favorite festivals. Each year in early June, tens of thousands of music lovers from throughout the country flock to the suburbs of Washington, D.C. to attend “the jazz festival with soul.” The Capital Jazz Fest started in 1993, this multi-stage outdoor music festival, which attracts music lovers nationwide, is more than just a concert, it’s an event! It’s a place to people-watch, eat, drink, shop, mingle, relax, soak in the rays, make new friends and of course hear some of the coolest jazz and soul music on the planet. In-between musical sets, enjoy fine art and crafts at the Festival Marketplace, culinary treats at the food court and meet the artists. Hopefully next year we all can be there.

Rock ‘N’ Roll pioneer “Little Richard” died at age 87. He passed away May 9. Pianist-singer behind “Tutti Frutti”, Good Golly Miss Molly” and one of my favorites “Long Tall Sally”. A flamboyant singer and instrumentalist, whose high-voltage, keyboard shattering R&B singles supplied the lift-off for the 1950’s. His birth name was Richard Wayne Penniman; Mannnnnnn, I am glad he changed his name. He may have gone to Rock ‘N’ Roll Heaven, but his music will always be here for generations.

The 2020 French Quarter Festival and Satchmo Summerfest have also been officially canceled. Satchmo Summerfest, a celebration of the legacy of New Orleans native Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong, is generally the first week of August at the Old U.S. Mint. The free French Quarter Festival, which draws hundreds of thousands of attendees every year with a selection  consisting almost entirely of south Louisiana musicians. We try not to ever miss the New Orleans festivals, my “Boo Boo” and I go every year for these festivals to cover the exciting events for my columns, “Rambling Rose”. We love this city, it is always full of life, fun and happy people. Now, the new 2021 dates for the festivals are April 8-11 for French Quarter Festival and July 30-Aug. 1 for Satchmo SummerFest. The French Quarter Festival followed the same path as the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, the Essence Festival of Culture and the Buku Music + Art Project.

Oh well, I know I should be trying to put a smile on your face and talking about something positive, but these were the cards I was dealt. So in the meantime, stay strong, safe and healthy. And remember, if you need me, call me at 410-833-9474 or email me at rosapryor@aol.com. Until the next time, I am musically yours!