(Story and photograph by Sharon Armstrong.)
There seems to be an unwritten law that here in New Orleans, when you have to interview a musician outside, the skies will open, and the rain will fall. Last Wednesday was no exception, as I interviewed Les Getrex just before his gig at the Gazebo Café in the French Market while an afternoon storm raged around us.
Mr. Getrex, along with a galaxy of other New Orleans musicians, will be playing at Tipitina's on Saturday, August 22, as part of a 'Benefit Jam' for New Orleans' own Queen of the Blues, Ms. Marva Wright.
Ms. Wright is recovering in the hospital from two debilitating strokes that she suffered during the last few months, and the benefit show, which starts at 9 PM until late, will raise money to help cover the star’s medical expenses.
Getrex remembers working with Marva in her early days on the New Orleans music scene. “Marva is our Queen of the Blues,” he said. “I love her. When she first came around, I helped her get herself started. She used to come around on my set at a place called Washington's Lounge. That's not there no more. Marva is just a nice lady. She is a warm, honest, decent human being. I visited her a couple of weeks ago, and she is coming along good, but she isn't working. This benefit is for her medical bills. All of the proceeds go to Marva's medical treatment. The people who are playing were around when she was working, and now are coming out to help support this cause. We needed Marva, and now we need people to support her."
"Marva's been sick, but she is an international star," said Getrex. "She plays New Orleans, but people miss her everywhere. A lot of New Orleans' music comes from jazz, but she brought the blues part. That's what she does, she does the blues, and she does good blues. But to me, I can feel the Gospel as well. I hear that angel sound in the background. She is filled with Holy Spirit, and her music gives joy to people all over the world.”
The line-up for the event also includes Rebirth Brass Band, Kermit Ruffins, James Andrews, Bo Dollis & the Wild Magnolias, Walter "Wolfman" Washington, Rockin' Dopsie Jr., Joe "Cool" Davis, Shannon Powell, Betty Shirley, Kirk Joseph and many more.
Further information is available at (504) 891-8477.