Florida Travel: History of the Blues Lives on in Pensacola

Florida Travel: History of the Blues Lives on in Pensacola


[blues music] – We all are connected. That’s what really the blues is. It’s a feeling. ♪ I can tell something good ♪ We’ve had a rich history of blues here. Rich history of jazz as well. It was a regular stop
for a lotta great artists that came through here. And if I go back in
time just for one night, just to experience the culture that this town actually possesses. It’s just, it was a happening. ♪ I can’t help myself ♪ – Pensacola used to be part
of the “chitlin’ circuit”. Lotta big names. James Brown. Aretha Franklin. – The “chitlin’ circuit”
was at a defined territory where most of the, or all of
the blues artists traveled. It was a known, secure route
for a lotta performers to go to get entertainment. To have a place to live and enjoy life. Pensacola was a unique location, had probably one of the best features as being a “chitlin'” arena. You had the beaches here. They had military bases here which attracted military personnel so it had an inherent
built-in audience here, where they would guarantee
you a large crowd. An artist came to the town,
he brought his music with him. He can drop ’em off at this record club, and sell them here. – It was the only black record shop in the city of Pensacola at the time. You could see almost
anything on these corners. They used to call this “the blocks”. – Keepin’ live entertainment alive in the Belmont-DeVilliers area, comin’ here and listenin’
to the bands is a big thing. This area is like their last heartbeat. You still wanna have a soul, and that’s where the
music in blues come in at. – It’s music that everybody can enjoy. More and more people are becoming
aware of our blues scene. When I started playing the blues one of the first people
I met was Vivian Lamont. She started the Belmont Youth Group. – I’m up here with some of my students. And the young lady right there,
Isabelle with the guitar, she just graduated from
University of West Florida. I wanted to gather kids
in the neighborhood, to give them something constructive to do. To keep the music and the
blues going here in this area. – [Derek] People are trying to make sure this is not forgotten. Now I understand the gravity of what went on back in those days. It’s a part of history. – [Vivian] We had people
coming in here from Mobile and Mississippi and everywhere. When we’re performing it’s jam packed, and that makes me feel good because I’m being myself. [blues music]

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