For better than four decades now, Jim O'Neal has been an integral part of the American blues scene. A rabid fan of blues music, O'Neal co-founded the essential Living Blues magazine back in 1970 with Amy van Singel and future Alligator Records' main man Bruce Iglauer. Living Blues was the first American magazine dedicated entirely to blues music, and after 40+ years the publication still does a great job in championing and documenting the artists that make the music.
If only for Living Blues, O'Neal's place in blues history would be solid, and he was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 2002. But O'Neal has worn many hats since 1970, including blues historian, music journalist, record producer, and label executive as the founder of the Rooster Blues and Stackhouse record labels. O'Neal's work through the years has been integral to the current state of the blues, from carefully and lovingly documenting the past to helping shape and influence the future of the blues.
Sadly, Jim O'Neal has been diagnosed with lymphatic cancer and is undergoing expensive but necessary treatment for the disease. Like many individuals in the blues world, O'Neal has no health insurance, so a series of benefit concerts has been scheduled to raise money to help pay O'Neal's growing medical bills. If you're in Hyattsville, Maryland on Thursday, October 20, 2011 you can drop by the Surf Club to watch a performance by Memphis Gold and other artists.
About a week later, on Friday, October 28 a benefit will be held at Knuckleheads in Kansas City, Kansas that will feature Kenny Neal, Memphis Gold, and other performers. The big benefit show is tentatively scheduled for November 19, 2011 in Chicago, however, to be held at Buddy Guy's Legends club. This star-packed show will feature Kenny Neal, Memphis Gold, Eddie Clearwater, Eddie Shaw, Billy Branch, and many more. Check with O'Neal's website for more details, etc on the benefit shows.
If you're unable to attend the benefit shows in any of these three cities, you can still make a donation to help O'Neal. You can contribute with your credit card through PayPal, sending your donation to the email address email@example.com. An account has also been set up at the Commerce Bank in Kansas City, and you can send your donation by check to the Jim O'Neal Blues Fund, P.O. Box 10334, Kansas City MO 64171.
Photo courtesy Living Blues magazine