I have the honor of knowing Doris A. Fields, aka “Lady D” a writer, vocalist and entertainer of the first water.
For years, Lady D has produced an annual, summertime jazz-and blues-music festival in southern West Virginia, USA. Starting in the community of Sandstone, the weekend-long festival has since relocated in recent years to the Word Park venue in downtown Beckley and other nearby venues. If this were a post about an annual event, it would not take long to provide the reader with enough detail to become quite familiar with the festival.
Such is not the case. Lady D has ensured that top-notch jazz and blues music is there, for the taking in all seasons. Driven in part with her ‘every-Sunday-evening’ (in her sixth year of broadcast) radio show on Groovy 94.1, WAXS – FM (with a ‘listen live’ internet feed), she also champions The Raleigh Jazz & Blues Concert Series, including its “On the Road!” offerings as well as the festival. *
An exceptional playwright, Lady D has written and performed a one-woman show (episodically over the last ten years or so) to honor the artistic contributions of the ‘Empress of the Blues’, Bessie Smith. This year, she has already performed the show in Bluefield, West Virginia in early March and is scheduled soon to perform her show at the historic theater in Fayetteville, West Virginia. A friend and I caught her stellar performance last year at The Raleigh Playhouse and Theatre. This go around, Lady D will be joined by Ilene Evans, who does a tribute to Ethel Waters.
Speaking of ‘The Raleigh’ I would be remiss if did not mention the appearance of such notables as Miss Freddye’s Blues Band, Johnny Rawls with Chris Sutton, Dugan Carter with Tim Courts, and The King Bees!
A quick listing of the talent presented at the annual festival last year includes: Miss Jane L. Powell, Dennis McClung Blues Band, Jenny Wilson Trio, Bob Thompson Unit, John Yurick Quartet, Jane Powell Trio, Melissa McKinney, The Carpenter Ants, Hybrid Soul Project, Mojomatic, Stephen Koch, Lady D, Austin “Walkin’ Cane”, Bridgett Kelly Band, Priscilla Price, Zac Harmon, Bare Bones, Gospel Reunion and the Martin Luther King Jr. Male Chorus.
As I mentioned above, in the year-round offerings, several area venues are used. The latest ‘on the road’ location was the Beckley Art Center. On March 19, noted guitarist Vince Lewis [with Bob Brown on bass] and acclaimed vocalist Sharon Clark wowed an intimate audience of enthusiasts for two hours.
I could have loaded this post listing various links to the events and artists mentioned, but that would likely take days to fully explore. Rather than do that, I will drop only the main festival link and the link to Lady D’s exceptional radio show. ‘Tune’ her in every Sunday evening from 7:00-9:00 PM Eastern to hear some great jazz and blues music, and promotion of the festival and related events.
Simply Jazz and Blues: http://simplyjazzandblues.com/
Groovy 94.1 FM web link: http://www.groovy94.com/
* By her gracious invitation, Lady D permitted me to appear, live, on one of her regular broadcast shows, to detail my international promotion of music, of all genres.