Legendary Des Moines Bluesman Honored with Tribute and Show September 10

For immediate release August 17, 2005



Contact: Jeff Morgan, (515) 281-3858 or
Tom Gary, bluesman2001@hotmail.com

–Local blues musicians will pull together for a day honoring legendary Bluesman Jimmy “Midnite Cowboy” Pryor from 11 a.m.-4:30 p.m. on Sept. 10 at the State Historical Museum, 600 E. Locust, Des Moines.

The Jimmy “Midnite Cowboy” Pryor Tribute and Show will include at least 14 acts, food, and a silent and live auction with proceeds benefiting Pryor’s recent medical bills and the Jimmy Pryor Music Scholarship Fund.

“This is really a day to honor one of Des Moines’ most beloved entertainers,” said Tom Gary, organizer of the event. “He’s given so much to the blues community, it’s time we show him our support in return.”

Pryor landed in Des Moines in 1960, and quickly became popular on the Center Street strip, a bustling black community in then-segregated Des Moines. For years, he worked the local circuit and even played country music in local supper clubs in the 1970s, a time when Blues music was waning in popularity. In 1999, Pryor was inducted into the Iowa Blues Hall of Fame.

Today, Pryor is the frontman of Fat Tuesday and the Greasefire Horns and led his band to first place at the Iowa Blues Challenge in 2000. Although his health has suffered in recent months, he has now recovered enough to perform at the Tribute event and Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie will be presenting him with a Key to the City at 2 p.m.

Memorabilia from Pryor’s collection will be on display during the event, and visitors are encouraged to visit the State Historical Museum’s exhibit, Patten’s Neighborhood: Memories of the Center Street Community, featuring materials from Robert E. Patten, who operated a Des Moines printing business serving the African-American community from the 1920s through the 1960s. Patten printed many of the social club events posters that provide a glimpse into the Center Street nightlife.

“The Center Street community was integral to the development of Des Moines’ blues scene,” said State Historical Museum Curator Jack Lufkin. “The neighborhood would spring to life as residents flocked to nightspots that featured black entertainers such as Louis Armstrong. And on some nights, when the doors swung open, everyone around could hear Jimmy Pryor playing.”

The event is sponsored by the Central Iowa Blues Society and the State Historical Society of Iowa. For all events occurring at the State Historical Building, visit www.iowahistory.org.


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