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Blues Day Scheduled for Beverly Arts Center Saturday

 Fernando Jones will host Blues Day on Saturday at the Beverly Arts Center. The blues performer and educator is on a mission to teach children about the music once synonymous with Chicago.
Blues Day at the Beverly Arts Center
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MORGAN PARK — Fernando Jones is convinced that even 10-year-old children can get the blues.

The Chicago blues musician and educator is on a mission to reinvigorate the music once synonymous with his hometown. Jones, a Pullman resident, is doing so by introducing children to the genre.

Jones will host Blues Day for those ages 10-18 from 1-5 p.m. on Saturday at the Beverly Arts Center. Registration is $25 and closes Thursday.

"It's for kids who want to play the blues but have no place to do so," said Jones, who works as the Blues Ensemble director at Columbia College Chicago. He also authored the book, "I Was There When The Blues Was Red Hot" in 1990.

Jones knows firsthand what it feels like to have a heart for the blues but no outlet. He picked up a guitar shortly after his fourth birthday. His parents brought blues music with them when they migrated to Chicago's Washington Park neighborhood from Mississippi.

At that time, the blues was being supplanted in many homes by the sounds coming from Motown and funk groups. That didn't dissuade Jones from pursuing the blues, and he's dedicated to encouraging other children to do the same.

This drive to introduce young musicians to the blues is what inspired Jones to launch Blues Kids of America in 1990, which evolved into Blues Camp in 2010 at Columbia College.

The free camp immerses kids in the blues, some already well-versed in the genre and others still learning. The weeklong camp culminates in a concert, often in at a venue known for the blues such as Buddy Guy's Legends in the South Loop or House of Blues in River North.

Blues Day at the Beverly Arts Center will conclude with a concert at 7 p.m. on the main stage at 2407 W 111th St.

As for children, Jones said their experiences still lend themselves to the blues, even though their struggles and obstacles might not resemble those of an adult.

"Does a kid have moments that are comparable to a trying situation? Of course they do," said Jones, who plays guitar, bass, percussion, keyboards and harmonica.

He said he believes his push to preserve the blues is paying off, and he points to the Internet for proof. He often finds former students and others jamming to the likes of Koko Taylor and Bo Diddley on YouTube.

"There are thousands of kids playing the blues," Jones said. "We just have to continue to create content."

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