New Horizon’s ‘Blues is the Roots’ Onstage at The Public’s Rauh Hall (Sun., 2/11/24)
BLUES IS THE ROOTS (jukebox musical) by Charles Dumas, directed by Herb Newsome. New Horizon Theater. Feb. 8 – 18.
A bass player, guitarist, and blues singer with more than 500 songs to his name, Willie Dixon can’t truly be labeled an unsung hero. But his name is rarely recalled in the pantheon of blues greats whose contributions to this truly American genre include those who made his songs famous: Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Bo Diddley, Buddy Guy, and Chuck Berry. A boxer in his early days (having moved to Chicago from his Mississippi roots), Dixon was a conscientious objector during World War II and served ten months in jail protesting racial injustice. After the war, he signed with Chess Records and from there climbed the charts with dozens of other Chicago blues icons. Blues is the Roots is a musical tribute to the man who earned immortality with his induction in the Blues Hall of Fame, as well as the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. But for all his hundreds of songs covered by The Rolling Stones, Cream, Led Zeppelin, and many other rock groups of the ‘60s, he earned just one Grammy. Charles Dumas, Penn State’s first Black professor emeritus of its School of Theatre, has written this tribute to a blues hero about whom (if never before) you will sing aloud. Blues is the Roots is staged by New Horizon Theater at the Helen Wayne Rauh Rehearsal Hall, at Pittsburgh Public Theater. 3 p.m. 621 Penn Ave., Cultural District. (C.P.O.)