Blues legend teams with local fourth graders

Blues legend Ironing Board Sam brings the house down on Friday nights in Hillsborough.
February 21, 2013 12:37:31 PM PST
A legendary Blues musician is working on a new collaboration with a group of local fourth graders.

Thanks to a North Carolina music foundation, the man who once played for Jimi Hendrix and the Jackson 5 is making a comeback.

Blues legend Ironing Board Sam brings the house down on Friday nights in Hillsborough.

He said he got his first gig when he was 16 and taught himself to play.

"After school we'd have an old pump organ in the house.  And I would pump up that organ. That was before electronics, and I would pump it up and play the boogey woogey," Sam said.

Sam played throughout New Orleans, and all the way to the R&B show "Night Train."

Sam fell on hard times, then two years ago the Music Maker Relief Foundation found him, brought him to Chapel Hill to play music again.

Soon after, he had his first-ever collaboration with fourth grade ukulele players. And for the children it was their first collaboration with someone like Sam.

"I'm playing music before they was even born. So when I see them shaking their head and playing that's just very inspiring because it's a very good thing," Sam said.

All the while, Sam was inspiring the children.

"I've heard that he was really nice and he started playing when he was little," fourth grader Ben Anspach said.

"It's instilling in them the knowledge that music is real, music is not just canned music that gets piped into places, music is not a mystery, it's not a secret, it's not magic," Orange County Charter School music teacher William Dawson said.

Now that they know what Sam does, maybe those students could play like he does.

"He played really well.  I was really impressed.  Of course he was really famous and all but I had never heard music that good," fourth grader Christina McKiernan said.

The Music Maker Relief Foundation works to support Southern roots by helping pioneers of the musical heritage, such as artists like Sam.

Since teaming up with the organization in 2010, Sam has released two new albums and is traveling the world performing.

Ironing Board Sam and the fourth grade ukulele players have a performance May 1.

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