W.C. Handy is often referred to as the Father of Blues.
He created songs such as St. Louis Blues, Memphis Blues and Yellow Dog Blues.
Nanaimo musician Andrew Homzy was introduced to his music in his youth.
When attending high school in Cleveland, Homzy and his friend decided to take a trip to visit music publishers to expand their creativity.
“We decided the music we were playing in the high school band somehow missed something,” said Homzy. “They were lacking authenticity.”
The first place the friends visited was the Handy Brothers Music Company.
“It was like going into this magical musical wonderland. The walls were filled with racks of sheet music,” said Homzy.
There was a huge desk in the middle of the room and behind it sat an elderly African-American man.
“He called us gentlemen,” said Homzy.
The man was the son of W.C. Handy who took over from his father when he died.
“He told us he was the last music publisher left in New York. All the others were bought out by mega companies,” said Homzy.
The gentleman gave Homzy and his friend several sheets of music and when they asked what it cost, Homzy said the man told him it was a gift.
“It was such a heartwarming experience,” said Homzy.
Over the years, Homzy has researched Handy’s life and formed Andrew Homzy’s NOLA NightHawks. The 10-piece band, with three vocalists, is presenting a musical revue dedicated to the music of W.C. Handy.
The band performs Friday and Saturday (Dec. 16-17) at 7:30 p.m. at the Best Western Dorchester Hotel, located at 70 Church St.
Homzy said the group is a jazz band that harkens back to the early blues period. Blues singers like Bessie Smith and Etta Jones would seek out jazz musicians to perform with, said Homzy.
Tickets are $25 or $15 for students in advance at Fascinating Rhythm, or by calling 250-754-8550 or visiting www.porttheatre.com. Tickets are $30 at the door.
For more information, please go to www.homzy.ca.