By Ben Solove
Bill Blue is a Key West musical icon. The blues master moved to the island from Richmond, Virginia in the early ’80s and began his journey to becoming the modern-day godfather of the Key West music scene. Over the decades, Blue has entertained thousands of locals and tourists. One of the world’s best slide guitarists, he has dazzled crowds from The Green Parrot to the Key West Theater while playing every venue along the way. His memorable performances as part of The Sunday Ramble, as well as his full band concert performances at The Key West Theater are legendary. Blue’s lasting influence on Key West’s continuing musical story takes a backseat to no one.
In 2019, Blue began to have trouble with his vocals. He was losing his voice for some reason, but continued to perform and showcase his brilliant songwriting and guitar work. Doctors were puzzled as to the cause of his vocal struggles, until they discovered a tumor in his throat. Surgery was required and, as a tragic result, the surgeons had to remove Blue’s voice box.
Over the past 30 years, Bill Blue has brought thousands of hours of joy to his fans in Key West and has long served the community he loves at benefit concerts and other special events. It is now time for our One Human Family to do what we do best: Help one of our own.
Blue’s record label, Conch Town Music, will host a benefit concert — The Bill Blue Most Exceptional Benefit Concert — on Saturday, April 17 from 5 to 9 p.m. at The Key West Amphitheater to help and honor the legendary bluesman. Doors open at 4 p.m. Tickets are $20 for the lawn and $30 for general admission seats. The show will feature a star-studded lineup of local musicians eager to pay tribute to one of their heroes.
“We all know Bill as an elder, an icon of the Key West music community,” said fellow Conch Town Records recording artist Ericson Holt, who will headline the show with an all-star band. “He was an established headliner with an international following when I started in the business, and I’m grateful that my path eventually led me to Key West and playing on the great recordings that he’s made here in the last few years.”
Blue’s two most recent albums “Mojolation” (2013) and “The King of Crazy Town” (2020) are exceptional blues albums. Both were produced by Conch Town Music’s Ian Shaw, who will direct the benefit concert and its four hours of great live performances.
Performers include Ericson Holt, CW Colt, Juliana McDowell, The Happy Dog, The Shanty Hounds, Tony Baltimore, Tony Roberts, Claire Finley, Ray West, Kim Jade and others. This is a show you do not want to miss. Tickets are on sale now through keywestconcertseries.com. Proceeds will go to help Blue ease some of his financial struggles.
“I think everyone knows that even with good insurance, a serious illness like Bill has been going through can become a huge financial burden,” Holt said. “Please tell all of your friends to come join us on April 17 for a beautiful night of music at the Coffee Butler Amphitheater and help raise some serious funds for a great guy.”
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