Former Shows & Episodes

Building a Better Business

Charisse Witherspoon

Building a Better Business – Musician Thrives with Nation’s First Blues Camp for Kids

Award-winning, self-taught blues artist Fernando Jones realizes that sometimes kids with exceptional musical talent are “misfits,” as he says he was as a child when blues was his best friend. To impact similar youngsters, both musically and socially, Jones has established the nation’s first Blues Camp for kids. Amidst his own success as a touring performer, Jones tells Charisse Witherspoon that the free camp is a way to also give back to 12- to 18-year-olds, their parents, and of course, the blues.
Jones has been mentored by blues stars including the late Koko Taylor and Willie Dixon. The Windy City native also is a frequent performer booked for the Chicago Blues Festival, including opening day in 2012. That event is the world’s largest free event of its kind. And now, Jones says Chicago area camp participation includes nearly 100 kids, including kids will from throughout the US, Canada, and Europe. And he continues to establish new camps around the country, including cities in Texas and California.
Beyond being the “cute kid playing with the adults,” Jones notes that the camp gives kids an opportunity to assess how good they really are, as they learn and play with their peers.
While blues receives less support than jazz as an art form, Jones believes the blues will continue because it is “in the molecular structure of American music.” And, following the lead of American sports, Jones is doing his part to keep the art form going by developing youngsters as he says “I am ensuring that there is a farm team for blues.”