Keeping the Blues Alive’ at Hal & Mal’s

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Keeping the Blues Alive

The Central Mississippi Blues Society hosts Blue Monday every Monday at Hal & Mal’s (200 Commerce St.) starting at 7pm

Nate Schumann/Jackson Free Press

(JACKSON, MS) – The blues genre will never die as long as enough people strive to preserve it as the years progress. Each year, The Blues Foundation, known as the International Blues Foundation, recognizes individuals, businesses, organizations, and festivals from across the globe that have invested years and effort into upholding the musical genre during its annual “Keeping the Blues Alive” Awards in Memphis. This year, Jackson’s Hal & Mal’s won one of only nine KBA awards when they were presented on Friday, Jan 31.

“This is one of the biggest blues win that an entity can receive,” Peggy Brown, a founding member of the Central Mississippi Blues Society, says, likening the award to a Grammy or Oscar but for the blues genre. “To be nominated is a big deal, but to win is just huge, because it covers the whole world. So to be honored with (a KBA award) is a big, big honor.”

To become a nominee, a past KBA recipient or a Blues Society member must nominate the candidate. From there, a selection committee from The Blues Foundation reviews the nominee’s work in blues until only a few winners are chosen. CMBS nominated Hal & Mal’s for the best blues bar category for its long-standing history of booking blues-music artists, as well as allowing CMBS to host Blue Monday at the venue for nearly 14 years now.

For more than 30 years, Hal & Mal’s has featured blues artists such as Albert King, B.B. King, Koco Taylor, Little Milton, Mose Allison, James Brown, Johnny Winter, R.L. Burnside, Bobby Rush and more.

Blue Monday begins with a “Front Porch” segment, where a solo or duo act performs at the end of the bar. Afterward, the Blue Monday band, which is a rotating roster of musicians who are also CMBS members, plays a set starting at 8:30 p.m. Visitors can fill out a sign-up sheet when they walk in to be allowed to join the stage and sing or play with the band, which many—both big names and talented locals—have done throughout the years since Blue Monday started.

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