(Memphis) Armed with sledgehammers and wearing blue hard hats, Blues Hall of Fame Inductees Bobby Rush and Eddie Shaw flex some musical muscle.
They were showing long-awaited plans for the new Blues Hall of Fame in downtown Memphis are officially underway.
“I’m the happiest man in the world. I have hundreds of records and finally in Memphis, Tennessee, there’s a Blues Hall of Fame and museum going up and we knocked the hole in the wall today,” Rush said.
Members of the Memphis based Blues Foundation and others are celebrating the ceremonial groundbreaking of the three million dollar project on South Main Street.
Jay Sieleman is the Blues Foundation executive director, “We’re going to move out in a couple of weeks and crews are going to come in and repurpose and renovate this. In a year from now, the Blues Hall of Fame will be here.”
The 12,000 square foot museum will include blues artifacts, films, original art and rare recordings of musicians inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame since 1980.
“I’m most proud that we’re finally doing this for the Blues Hall of Famers and give them the validation that they deserve,” Sieleman said.
The hall of fame also expands Memphis’ reach in music related sites and tourism attractions.
Kevin Kane heads the Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau, “When you look at all the amenities that we have in our community for music lovers, all different forms and fashions from all over the world, and now this will help round out and help complete that story.”
It is a story some estimate will attract 100,000 visitors to the city, such as blues fans like Bob Sekingeer of Baltimore.
“There are so many we’ve lost, so many first generation, second generation of blues masters and it’s fantastic to see today that people like Eddie Shaw and Bobby Rush can be involved with this and enshrined in the hall of fame,” Sekingeer said.
It’s a hall of fame that reaffirms to those around the world that Memphis is the true home of the blues.
“So Memphis, my hat is off to you because many other places around the country haven’t done what Memphis has done,” Rush said.
If all goes as planned the Blues Hall of Fame will be open this time next year when Memphis hosts the annual Blues Music Awards show.