The Pinetop Perkins Foundation is an organization of remarkable people making remarkable contributions to a remarkable community (it is a tax exempt, non-profit 501c3 org.).
The Foundation is named in honor of Pinetop Perkins, who was a former tractor driver on Hopson Plantation outside of Clarksdale in the early ’40’s. A blues piano player, he went on to become a National Heritage Fellow by the National Endowment of the Arts; he was elected into The Blues Hall of Fame; he received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, and he won two Grammy Awards as well.
The Foundation has two principal programs, a workshop for young musicians and assistance for elderly musicians.
The MasterClass Workshop Experience:
The Pinetop Workshop offers master classes in piano, guitar, harmonica and bass guitar. Classes are taught by professional career blues musicians for students who already have a basic knowledge of their instrument. It is an ideal, encouraging environment for any young musician who has been practicing their instrument, and has a real passion for it, to make significant progress in playing better. The Workshops have both an Intermediate and Advanced classes, and Blues music enthusiasts, and passion players, will find this mastery workshop the most rewarding experience imaginable.
— Two years experience is required for piano workshop participants.
— Class registration begins in December each year.
— Classes are held in Clarksdale at Hopson Plantation and The Shack Up Inn each June (some classes become full quickly).
— Cost is $450 ($100 deposit). Scholarships are available. Lunch each day is $7.00.
— Registration and Scholarship forms at bottom of page here. Foundation email address below.
The Pinetop Assistance League:
The Pinetop Assistance League (PAL) provides financial assistance to elderly and disabled musicians for medical and living expenses.
This is designed to help with:
— Temporary home care services.
— Transportation for doctor, health and/or social services such as dialysis, chemo therapy, radiation… etc.
— Transport to and from grocery/pharmacy stores etc.
doctor visits and procedures.
— Emergency services.
— Financial aid for utilities or other basic living expenses.
— Burial cost assistance.
— and more (email Foundation below)
— Preference is given to blues artists, and musicians in other genres are eligible depending on available funds.
— Artist played professionally on stage on a local, regional or national level, has played on professional albums/CDs, and income is less than $30,000 per year/
PAL application form at bottom of page here. Foundation email address below.
Some Foundation Students:
Here’s a focus on a couple of Pinetop Perkins Foundation students. See more here.
Grace Kuch is a teenage multi-instrumentalist from Colorado. She began with piano, played bluegrass mandolin by age 7, followed with the electric guitar. She has performed at the International Blues Challenge Youth Showcase in Memphis, received multiple music scholarships, including the Pinetop Perkins Foundation, the Blues Foundation Generation Blues Scholarship and the John-Alex Mason Memorial Scholarship. The Colorado Blues Society is also a keen advocate of her music journey as well.
Jesse Black is from Tennessee, and has already has performance and songwriting experience. He plays guitar, mandolin, banjo and bass, and got the blues from jamming with the Kentucky Blues Society seven years ago, and has become part of events with the Kentucky, Nashville, Smoky Mountain, Kansas City and Dayton Blues Societies. He is a graduate of the Pinetop Perkins Guitar Master Class in 2014 and performed at the 2014 Pinetop Homecoming. He also performed at B.B. Kings club in Memphis during the International Blues Awards with the Nashville Blues Society, and has helped with fundraisers for the Pinetop Perkins Foundation. He is now performing blues, bluegrass, folk, country and rock music regularly in over 150 venues across 20 or so states.
Some Foundation Instructors:
Here’s a focus on a couple of Pinetop Perkins Foundation music instructors. See more at bottom of page here.
Bob Margolin is the Foundation’s Music Director, and he played guitar, toured and recorded with Muddy Waters and his band from 1973 to 1980. This included playing with Pinetop Perkins when he was the piano player in Muddy’s band as well. Bob’s goals now are to pay it forward to help young musicians keep the blues alive well into the future.
Bob is part of Foundation piano, harmonica and guitar workshops, and in adddition to instrument mastery, he certainly is a pro at teaching students how to play with others. Students will hear lots of personal stories, from Muddy to Stevie Ray, and Bob always jams with the students too (the thrill… isn’t gone!) He is also available for private teaching and counsel, which is very much the real deal in learning the best road ahead for a young musician.
Fiona Boyes is a Foundation instructor who is from and lives in Australia. An expert in finger-picking the country-blues, she plays lead electric guitar, and is an accomplished songwriter too. Fiona first visited the U.S. in 2003, and won the International Blues Challenge in Memphis as a solo artist. This gave her career opportunity here in the United States, and led her to meet some of her true blues heroes; she met Pinetop, and she toured with legendary blues guitarist Hubert Sumlin, who was the guitar player for Howlin’ Wolf.
Fiona is now a touring musician in 16 different countries. She has 7 Blues Music Award nominations, and recently won a Blues Blast Music Award for her album ‘Professin’ the Blues’. She has also taught guitar and songwriting at Jorma Kaukonen’s (Hot Tuna, The Jefferson Airplane) Fur Peace Ranch.
About the Foundation Board:
The Pinetop Perkins Foundation has a 12-member board, made up of an impressive array of professional music and business leaders. Pat Morgan is the Board President. See Board here.