The Memphis-based Blues Foundation considers Short “a good friend and excellent performer.”
“His Blues in Schools work is very important,” says Joe Whitmer, deputy director of the foundation connected to blues awareness and preservation programs around the world. The Blues Foundation has no set school program, instead keeping tabs on individual efforts and helping blues educators share ideas through foundation resources.
“The only way young people will understand the history of this music is through school programs,” Whitmer says. “When you get down to it, all Western music comes from the blues, so this is very important work, and Jon has been very successful.”
However important the work might be, there’s no missing the simple joy transpiring during a 40-minute blues class at City View. Feet are tapping the floor and heads are bobbing all in time to the rhythm. Faces crack into smiles when a simple chord rings sweetly after a few sour strikes.
After class, students Deanna Anderson and Kiary Nieves talked about writing blues songs. “You have to write about stuff you go through,” Anderson says, with Nieves adding, “I wrote a song about breakfast.”