The idea of a Blues Society in Charlotte originated from two sources-three blues musicians, Beth Pollhammer, James Linton and Bill Buck and Nick Karres, owner of the Double Door Inn. Nick had been frustrated that numerous Blues artists were not known locally and had very little following, and a Blues society would help boost interest in the music. Beth, James and Bill were relieved to find a "home" for the Charlotte Blue Society.
"Promoting the Blues-Musically, of Course" was the title of Steve Snow's article in The Charlotte Observer on Sunday April 4, 1993. This article, along with handouts at Springfest, fliers posted around town, and one-on-one conversations with Blues fans at the Double Door Inn, helped generate the audience for the first Charlotte Blues Society meeting known then as Blue Monday.
That night, 52 charter members signed up. To top off the evening, there was a surprise visit by international recoding artist Lil'Ed of Lil' Ed and the Blues Imperials, who joined in the Open Mic Blues Jam.
Nick has often said that the creation of the Charlotte Blues Society is one of his most memborable events in the music business; it has helped bring new and unknown Blues artists to the area as well as create a camaraderie among blues fans who might never have met.
During its first year, the Charlotte Blues Society met its first challenge by sponsoring a "Red,White, aand Blues" stage during a community Fourth of July celebration. Based on the Society's nomination in 1994, the "Keepin' the Blues Alive" award for Best Blues Club was awarded to The Double Door Inn by The Blues Foundation. In the years that followed, the Society has collaborated with the Charlotte Folk Society on music events at various venues, involved members in Blues music camps and participated in local music events to educate the public of the importance of Blues in America's musical history.
In 1997 the Society sponsored its first Blues in the Schools program at Hidden Valley Elementary. Additional programs have taken place at Marie Davis Middle School, Smith Middle School, Northeast School of the Arts, North Rowan High School, Salisbury High School and Livingstone College. The most recent programs were at Garinger High School featuring multi-Grammy award winner, Keb'Mo', and at Northwest School of the Arts featuring the amazing Joe Bonamassa.
We continued to call the "World Famous" Double Door Inn home with gatherings being held on Sunday nights until January 1, 2017. Within weeks after that last show, a wrecking ball took the building down and meetings have since moved to The Rabbit Hole in the eclectic Plaza Midwood section of Charlotte. Music venues are within walking distance to this vibrant neighborhood. Numerous artists came to Charlotte to perform for Charlotte Blues Society events. Benny Turner, Eddie Turner, Geoff Achison, Bex Marshall, Tullie Brae, Drink Small, Lightin' Wells, Big Jack Johnson, Steve James, Guitar Gabriel, Johnny Whitlock, Paul Rishell ,Joseph Michael Mahfoud, The King Bees, Heather Gillis, Tommy Z, Lipbone Redding, George Higgs, Roots & Dore, Diane Durrett and Suga, Albert Castiglia, and many more. For many, it was their first performance ever in Charlotte and our Blues community welcomed them with open arms.
Most of our monthly events are free general admission to members with one or two exceptions per year. There is a nominal (usually $5) fee for non-members. We feature local, regional, or national talent. Some artists will have advanced reserved ticket sales, which will allow those who wish to have a seated area the upgrade option. Open Mic Blues Jams are held on select dates throughout the year.
Our Blues E-letter is published monthly and includes information on Society activities and a variety of blues-related items of interest. Our website now has the Blues Calendar, covering Blues events in the area.
Members receive discounts on co-sponsored events as well as discounts at local participating businesses.
We hold an annual Blues Band and Solo/Duo challenge . Winners are sent to represent us in Memphis at the Blues Foundation's International Blues Challenge. Our 2002 winners, Delta Moon, went on to claim the "IBC" title for 2003, and our 2003 winners , the late Robin Rogers & Her Hot Band placed in the international finals (and later signed with Blind Pig Records) Robin Rogers "Crazy Cryin' Blues" took first place as "Best Self Produced CD" at the IBC in 2006.
The Charlotte Blues Society is totally self-supported through general membership dues, donations, in-kind donations, advertising, and fund-raising projects. Funds raised through these channels help to support worthy causes such as Blues in the Schools and other educational initiatives performances at our events and local events, and in general, just "Keepin' the Blues Alive" in Charlotte and surrounding areas.
We love the Blues and we hope that reading this historical perspective has provided you with a little background as to who we are and what we so strongly believe in.
~Beth Pollhammer, Co-Founder
(2003 Updates by Jeri Thompson)
(2018 Updates by Mary London)
The CHARLOTTE BLUES SOCIETY (CBS)
is dedicated to the promotion and preservation of the American Blues tradition through the presentation of concerts, forums, educational programs and support of local musicians in Charlotte and the surrounding areas.
CBS is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization governed by a Board of Directors and operated by an all-volunteer staff. CBS is an affiliated member of The Blues Foundation, the umbrella organization for a worldwide network of 165 affiliated Blues societies and has individual memberships around the globe.
Albert Cummings became the first signature on our 2020 Raffle guitar on December 5th!
That was quickly followed by Tab Benoit's & Eric Johanson's signatures on December 11 after their shows at McGlohon Theater, Davy Knowles on February 7th at Neighborhood Theatre, Chris O'Leary February 9th at The Rabbit Hole.
We thank Bill Arnold, former CBS member who donated this guitar to us prior to relocating in late 2019.
Our major effort to collect signatures in 2020 were derailed with Covid 19, but we will resume as soon as possible.
You can purchase your raffle ticket for a $10 donation on our online store here on our website.
A year ago we lost our dear friend, longtime member of CBS, and member of the CBS Board Nick Polyzos.
In 2017, Nick won the amazing white Fender Squier that was donated by Sonny & Scotty Jackson in memory of their son Matthew.
Scotty & Sonny were both dedicated board members, and our group got to know Matt as he celebrated many CBS Blues Sundays with us. Throughout the year, we gathered signatures, starting with Joe Bonamassa. The raffle helped raised money for our coffers, and Nick bought tickets at every opportunity in hopes of winning that very special guitar.
Earlier this summer, Nick's family contacted us and donated that autographed guitar back to our organization.They told us "Nick loved this group, and this is a way to remember him, honor him and honor Charlotte Blues Society"
We will be raffling off that guitar, with details coming soon!
Thank you Nick and thank you Sonny & Scotty!
As a 501(c)3 organization, we have been raising funds through Guitar Raffles. We drew the winning entry live on Facebook at the December Blues 2019 Christmas Event at the Rabbit Hole!
The beautiful Candy Apple Red Fender Squier Strat was from the personal collection of guitar enthusiast and CBS Board of Directors member Ray Otstott. Ray offered us the guitar in 2018 and we gladly accepted it as a prize guitar in our fundraising efforts. Little did we know that Ray would not be with us as we collected signatures throughout the year, although there are many photos showing him taking the guitar to shows to collect signatures. Ray's love of the guitar was well known, and we were privileged to have one of his guitars to raffle off.
To Ray, his family and all the artists who have signed our raffle guitars, "Thank you". We appreciate you more than you will ever know, and know every signature made that guitar more valuable.
All proceeds are donations and benefit Charlotte Blues Society. Those dollars help us in our mission of Keeping the Blues Alive.
Statement from Charlotte Blues Society amid the nationwide and worldwide protests following the death of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis Police Department.
The Blues are based on the pain and the anguish of Black America. They provided us then, and now with music that showed our worst, and our best. It is the genesis of all our music in this country, and we are compelled to honor those that have given us this gift, and stand with them.
We join with other music organizations to reflect, and to remind all that racial injustice and inequality has no place in this country.
We ask all Blues Society group members and Blues lovers to stop and hear the silence, as well as the shouting. Listen for the cries and anguish, and act with compassion and love. Above all, we must rely on love to get us through. We are one in music, in heart, in mind. Take the time to pay attention. Division and hate is not acceptable.
We cannot remain sheltered from the pain experienced by our brothers and sisters.
We cannot hide behind the walls of discomfort and refuse to speak out against that which we know is wrong.
We cannot shrink back from our responsibility, for yes, it is our responsibility to hold true to the ideals of unity.
Music is the great unifier – one of the major ways in which we come together as members of the human family.
Now is the time to make a stand and declare our solidarity with ALL of the members of our beloved Blues Community.
To that end, we denounce racism, discrimination, and the history of systemic oppression that would dare to say that the lives of George Floyd and countless others do not matter. We therefore join together today with those fighting for love, peace, justice, and dignity for all.
We echo the words shown below, in the eloquent statement posted by The Blues Foundation, of which CBS is an affiliate.
“This moment of grief can also be a moment of purpose."
- Brittany Packnett Cunningham
The Blues is an African American art form, originally created as an artistic expression and response to the oppression, dehumanization, and hatred this population had to endure. The Blues Foundation stands with the musicians and members of our community past and present who speak truth through music. In sadness and outrage, The Blues Foundation pays homage to the memories of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and all others whose lives were abruptly, unjustly, and hatefully ended. Each of these human beings was taken because of the individual and systemic racism that has pervaded the psyche of America for 400 years. We grieve with the families, and we will join the greater conversation for the eradication of racism in deference to the legacy of the Blues.
“The moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”
- Martin Luther King Jr.
The Board of Directors of The Blues Foundation
We are dedicated to the promotion and preservation of the American Blues tradition through the presentation of concerts, forums, educational programs and support of local musicians in Charlotte and the surrounding areas.
CBS is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization governed by a Board of Directors and operated by an all-volunteer staff.
CBS is an affiliated member of The Blues Foundation, the umbrella organization for a worldwide network of 165 affiliated Blues societies and has individual memberships around the globe.
You can join CBS and support Blues in the Charlotte area simply by clicking on the button below