Although it’s been the inspiration for some of the world’s biggest bands, there’s no denying that the blues has often received the short shrift from the music industry. The recent Grammy awards illustrate this point all too vividly. While many pop musicians got prime time coverage, blues honorees received their trophies in relative obscurity.
Fame might be elusive, but fortune and health coverage is even harder to come by. Beyonce and Jay Z have the bucks to reserve an entire wing for their baby’s arrival but blues musicians often must wing it with limited insurance at best. Benefit performances might be a perk for blues lovers but it’s a downright shame that these local treasures have to rely on their friends, family and fellow musicians when they fall ill.
Such is the case with legendary local blues musician Eddie C. Campbell who suffered a heart attack and a stroke while touring Germany in January. His wife and manager, Barbara Mayson Campbell recently posted that he is out of intensive care and stabilized but paralyzed on his right side. And while “time is of the essence,” Eddie C’s medical coverage is not valid overseas.
Like so many blues musicians, the 72-year old Campbell has long been popular with European audiences. He even lived in the Netherlands and Germany for an extended period of time. But now he needs to come home to the United States to receive much needed medical attention including neurological and physical therapy. And the only way to get Eddie C back from overseas is to fly commercially with a medical escort or via air ambulance, which would be the best-case scenario.
Obviously, medical escorts, air ambulances or extended therapy don’t come cheap. That’s why many of Eddie C’s friends and extended blues family members—including Godson Lurrie Bell— are pulling together to stage a benefit in his honor on Sunday, February 17 at Rosa’s Lounge in the Logan Square neighborhood.
Entitled “Bring Eddie Home,” this benefit features a star-studded lineup that includes Eddie “The Chief” Clearwater, Sugar Blue, Eddie Shaw, Bell, Billy Boy Arnold, Jimmy Johnson, Sharon Lewis, Matthew Skoller, Deitra Farr, Bob Stroger, Zora Young, Rico McFarland, and Scott Dirks. The cost for the benefit is $25 with all proceeds going to the Eddie C. Campbell assistance fund.
Dr. Janice Monti of Dominican University in River Forest is one of the event's organizers. Monti, along with Ilaria Lantieri and Deitra Farr heard the news about Campbell's condition on Facebook and wondered what they could do to help out. After meeting with Barbara Campbell, the trio sprung into action and set up a PayPal account on Eddie C's behalf.
They also needed a home base for the benefit so they contacted Tony Mangiollo at Rosa’s Lounge to secure a venue and nail down a date for the event. As one of the leading ladies on the Chicago blues scene, Farr was instrumental in getting the cast of musicians together in record time. And, as Sugar Blue's wife and bass player, Lantieri has her own musical pedigree and connections in the industry. So everything "just came together" in very short order.
Monti noted that there has been a phenomenal response to what promises to be an incredible night of blues music that includes Sugar Blue's group serving as the house band for the evening. Rico McFarland, Lantieri and other blues luminaries will play alongside the famed harpist player in their musical efforts to "Bring Eddie Home."
Like so many blues artists, Campbell came up from his home in Mississippi to Chicago when he was a young boy. He served his blues apprenticeship with the likes of Muddy Waters. He has jammed with Otis Rush and Magic Sam and served as a sideman for Howlin’ Wolf, Jimmy Reed and Little Walter. But instead of resting on his blues laurels, Campbell has continued to tour and turn out fine records like his latest “Spider Eating Preacher,” which was released last year on the Delmark Records label.
It’s hoped that the “Spider Eating Preacher’s ” prayers will be answered and Eddie C. Campbell will be winging it back to the United States soon. Tickets are still available for Sunday’s event on the Rosa’s Lounge website. The doors open at 5 pm and the show is scheduled to run from 6pm until 11pm. You can also donate to the Eddie C. Campbell Assistance fund by clicking on the the gigity.tv link below.
Rosa's Lounge is located at 3420 W. Armitage. The phone number is 773-342-0452.