photography by Elizabeth Lavin
The bluesmen were dying, and with each death not only did their music pass on but so, too, their stories. Two white guys in Colleyville wanted to do something. So in 2004, Jeffry Dyson and his son Michael, both of them lovers of that muggy Delta sound, threw a concert at the Majestic Theatre in Dallas. It featured four old bluesmen: Pinetop Perkins, best known for playing with Muddy Waters; David “Honeyboy” Edwards, now 92, a close associate of the iconic blues figure Robert Johnson; and Robert Lockwood Jr. and Henry James Townsend, each of them legends. That concert evolved into a series of concerts and, now, full-time work for the Dysons.

The Blue Shoe Project, their nonprofit, aims to educate grade-school kids about the blues. The Dysons and their bluesmen have appeared at many local schools, not only singing songs but swapping tales. The storytelling is just as appealing as the singing and what Jeffry first loved about the blues: listening to Pinetop Perkins’ Portrait of a Bluesman, reveling in the stories Perkins told between songs. The Blue Shoe model is catching on, too. Thanks to some national publicity, last month “Honeyboy” Edwards and the Dysons performed their first program outside the Dallas area, in Bethesda, Maryland. Future programs at elementary schools are scheduled for Abilene, Lubbock, and Austin.