For a couple of examples of how good things come in threes, look no further than the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame’s Jazz Depot on Wednesday. The event is described in its three-word title: Blues, Brews, & BBQ. And it’s in its third year.
            Double those threes, and you get sixes: Six hours of music from six acts, many of them very familiar names to blues aficionados.
            “We’ve got Tulsa favorite Leon Rollerson and our Jazz Hall of Fame inductee Rudy Scott, an alumnus of the Ernie Fields band and a good, old-fashioned blues piano man,” says Jazz Hall CEO Jason McIntosh. “Also, there’s Little Joe McLerran, an Oklahoma boy who’s traveled the world, representing the United States in the Music Abroad program.  Junior Markham is another one of our Hall of Famers, and a Tulsa legend; he and his band just worked several national dates opening for B.B. King.”
            Headlining act is a veteran vocalist dubbed “the state’s First Lady of the Blues” by the Oklahoma Gazette, Dorothy Ellis, better known as Miss Blues, is an internationally know blues legend who recently celebrated her 70th year of being paid to sing the blues. 
            “We were out on the Goss Farm around Direct, Texas,” she recalls. “It was like a plantation, with little cabins and all that stuff. Mr.Earl Shamblee had a juke joint there for the black people. Kids could go there, too. There never was any trouble: they weren’t doing anything but drinking what they called cat whiskey – white lightning.” She laughs. “They’d always put me up there to sing. That’s the first time I got money for my singing. They put their pennies and nickels and dimes together, and I got $2.50.”
            Ellis was inducted into the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame in 2011.
            Finally, making its appearance at the event for the first time is the Out Cold Band, led by vocalist and harmonica player Ron Hoffman – who, says McIntosh, “was CEO of a Fortune 500 company until he saw the light and started playing the blues.”
            Amazingly enough, that’s true. Years ago, Hoffman sold his company, Tulsa Winch, to the giant Dover Corporation, “One thing led to another,” he says, and he ended up in New York, running a $7 1/2 billion dollar corporation that employed 34,000 people.
            “My dad always had a harmonica in the living room,” says Hoffman. “He played guitar, and he played harmonica every once in a whole. I diddled around with it when I was a kid, but I wouldn’t say I played it.
            “Then, when I was in New York, thinking about retiring [from Dover], I was in a store and saw a harmonica and thought, ``I’m going to buy that and learn to play it.’ So I taught myself off the Internet. I’d just go to `harmonica lessons’ on the Internet, look for things, and play around. And I played such ugly notes for the first year I don’t know how my wife ever let me stay in the house.”
            His chops improved drastically, he said, after he relaxed and just started playing by feel. “I’m an engineer by trade,” he explains, “so I was trying to be too precise in how I learned things.”
            After he spent a week in a harmonica camp in Mississippi, learning even more, he and a friend began jamming, and soon they’d built a group. Together for about four years now, the Out Cold Band consists of guitarists Darryl Perkins and Craig Day, keyboardist Terry Watt, bassist Samuel Harris, and drummer Don Kinnison.
            “Probably four or all five of these guys played in bands when they were in high school and college,” Hoffman says. “Then, you know, life got in the way and they had to give it up. Now, later in life, they’ve found their instruments again, their desire to get out and play, and we just have a ball doing it.”
            Having a ball at Blues, Brews & BBQ is precisely the point, according to Jazz Hall CEO McIntosh. 
            “This is definitely one of the most enjoyed and anticipated events we produce all year,” he says. “We have great music and delicious food in a wonderfully air-conditioned environment. What better way is there to celebrate America’s independence than by enjoying some of America’s greatest music?”
            Blues, Brews & BBQ is set to begin at 6 p.m. Wednesday, July 3, at the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame, located in downtown Tulsa’s Jazz Depot, 111 E. First St.  Tickets, at $10 each, can be purchased at the depot or by calling Bettie Downing at 918-281-1008.
            The Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame is a 501(c)(3) non-profit cultural and educational organization, with a mission to inspire creativity and improve the quality of life for all Oklahomans through preservation, education, and performance of jazz, our uniquely American art form.

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