Stannard: They say it's your birthday

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On June 16th I will have successfully completed sixty-eight rotations around the sun. Should this goal be achieved I will have outlived my father by 11 years. Eleven years ago I did some heavy reflecting. When he passed at the age of only 57 he seemed like an old man to me. Today, looking back, it feels like he was just a kid. Time is a funny thing; and not necessarily a humorous kind of funny.

Those of you who know me know history has shown that I use my milestone birthdays to help others. When I hit fifty I pulled a band together and we played at the Perfect Wife. To be honest I don't recall who the beneficiary was for that show other than the patrons. It was a long time ago. Yes, I'm old. I'm lucky I can still remember the venue!

Sixty seemed like a big deal (it also feels like it was about a week ago). I used that monumental day to perform a benefit show at the Vermont Arts Exchange when it was in North Bennington. The late, David Maxwell, joined us for that show.

David was a Grammy/Blues Music Award winning Blues piano player. He was a prot g of the great Otis Spann and recognized worldwide as one of the greatest Blues piano players of all-time. That was one of the finest shows southern Vermont has ever seen.

The house was packed and VAC raised a fair amount of money for their great program.

When 65 rolled around I brought Big LLou Johnson; the melodious voice of BB King's Bluesville Radio on Sirius XM Radio, in from California to join me and my band, "Those Dangerous Bluesmen" along with some of Vermont's finest musicians to do a benefit show for the Southern Vermont Arts Center and Heartworks. Big LLou killed it. The house was packed and I doubt anyone left that show disappointed. Big LLou is very entertaining as were all of those who shared the stage that evening.

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Now along comes birthday number 68 and it got me thinking. Sure it's not a milestone year, but just how many more years can I do this? I keep threatening to retire from playing music, but I have such a great band it seems like a good idea to keep on keepin' on with these great players verses depriving folks. Plus, it is very rewarding to help out nonprofits.

So, for number 68 I thought it was about time to introduce one of the greatest Blues duos touring the world today; Paul Rishell and Annie Raines, to all my friends in Manchester. You can learn more about them by going to their website: They're based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and both teach at the acclaimed Berklee College of Music in Boston.

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Paul Rishell is one of the finest Country Blues guitarist and singers you'll ever hear. Annie Raines, who studied under Muddy Water's last harmonica player, Jerry Portnoy, is other worldly. Annie's style is very hard to peg. She can play anything and do it very, very well. She can hoot like Sonny Terry and jam like Paul Butterfield.

Together they are a musical phenomenon who have been thrilling audiences around the world for many years. It's time they came to play for you.

They have agreed to come to Vermont and join me for what's become known as "Bob's Birthday Benefit Blues Bash." The event will be held at the Manchester Community Library in Manchester, Vermont, on Saturday, June 15 at 7 p.m. Doors will open at 6 p.m. and light snacks and drinks will be available. Might even be a birthday cake floating around. Here's their website where you can get tickets:

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I will be opening the show with the guitarist in my band, Johnny Falk. If you've never seen Johnny play then you're in for a treat. He's one of Vermont's best kept secrets. In case you're wondering whether or not our duo is intimidated at the idea of opening for Paul and Annie let me help you out; darn right we are. But hey there's nothing like fear to motivate you to bring your "A-Game," right?

The seating is limited so you should get your tickets right away. I've done a few productions for the library over the past couple of years bringing Biscuit Miller and the Mix to Manchester not once, but twice. The goal is to get friends and neighbors together; have a lot of fun for a few hours and help out our fabulous community library.

Sounds like a good idea to me, but remember it only works if you show up. Entertaining people is what it's all about, so tell your friends; better yet bring your friends. And if you're thinking of a gift, that would be very thoughtful, but the best gift for me is playing for you. Instead, how about you simply make a contribution to the Manchester Community Library. That would be the best gift ever!

Looking forward to seeing you on June 15 at 7 p.m. This will be fun.

Bob Stannard writes a regular column for the Journal.


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