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Fernando Jones: Founder of Blues Camp, Blues Kids of America

When Fernando Jones was a budding musician, he always wished he had other children his age with whom he could play blues music.   That desire, which transcended well into adulthood, was the catalyst behind Jones starting Blues Kids of America, Blues Kids Foundation and the Blues Camp, which is in its second year.  Running July 11-15, this fun-filled experience gives national and international musicians, ages 12-18, an opportunity to learn and play America’s root music in Chicago.  Students must audition and receive professional instruction in a hands-on environment, so you can imagine competition is keen. Jones’ camp also will run this summer in Memphis, Tenn., Corona, Calif., and Austin, Texas. –tony binns

What was the impetus for you to develop Blues Camp?
As a kid playing the blues and playing the blues throughout my life, I always wanted and wished, as a kid, that there were other little kids I could play with.   From that, I wanted to give kids an opportunity who wanted to play the blues, so that is why I created the Blues Camp … so kids who really want to play the blues could play together.

Why is the camp and the blues important?
Not to sound cliché, but the blues is an American roots music, and it is the seed of the popular music we listen to.  It is from those roots that hip-hop has come. Jazz, gospel, funk and every little variation that comes out of jazz, out of R&B, out of rock and roll comes out of that seed.

Do you think the blues, as an art form, is being lost on us African Americans and is being taken over by other ethnic groups?
I think blacks still support the blues.  I think the blues has always been communal.  For Europeans and European Americans, the blues is a new experience because it is not a part of their upbringing.

Jones is the blues ensemble director at Columbia College Chicago. For more information please visit or email [email protected]