Big Poppa E Tribute to Raise $10,000 for a Scholarship in Honor of Late Miami Bluesman
Big Poppa E at Casa Panza on SW Eighth Street in 2009.
Photo by Jacob Katel
Big Poppa E went down to Biscayne Bay and rowed his way to the land of dead legends. R.I.P., dude.
But his fellow musicians in Miami have banded together to raise $10,000 for a student award in his name -- the Big Poppa E Music Scholarship Endowment Fund -- so that the kids of today can have an opportunity tomorrow.
DJ Le Spam, Nil Lara, Afrobeta, Iko Iko, Electric Piquete, Juke, Jay Blues Band, Omine, Suenalo, Nicole Yarling, Saana Vaarna, and Evolution are all lined up to play The Stage, in the Design District, starting at 4p.m. this Sunday. It's gonna be one awesome celebration.
We here at Crossfade caught up with six of the musicians to talk about memories of Poppa E.
Sanna Vaarna (Wife, bandmate)
"Hmm the best memory? When he and I went to NYC and we performed at in New Jersey at Roxy And Duke's. Oh my god we did so much together. I played over 250 shows with him in the past 8 months. About 8 months. I met him at the Blue Piano, he was performing. I'm from Finland. I've been here 12 years. I was walking home and I passed by Blue Piano and I got stuck at the front door, he mezmerized me. He grabbed my heart with his performance and that was it. I walked in and he said "Bartender, anything this woman wants, it's on me." I sat down and ordered a glass of wine and the band took break and we went outside and talked music. He said, "I don't care what you do, but I want you to be part of my music," and I joined the band a week later.
Eric Garcia (Juke)
"I've know him for a while and sat in with him several times...and all I got to say is:
I was always glad to see him. He was always glad to see me. He never drank or let his musicians drink on the job. He smelled like cologne...and he's the only man
on the planet other than my father that would give me a kiss when we said hello and it was in no way weird."
Mike Mut (Electric Piquete)
"I think what he did to enhance and further the blues scene in this town is what I'm gonna remember him by."
Chris Core (Electric Piquete)
"He always called me Brother Chris, and every time I saw him I got a big hug and a big kiss. Last time I saw him he invited me to sit in with him and that was great. He was always sweet and always loving and I'm gonna miss him.Big Poppa E was the perfect name for him. He always treated me like my dad or an uncle and gave me advice and stuff."
Graham Wood Drout (Iko Iko)
"He was wonderful, man. He called everybody brother. He was a poet, a visionary, and a musician. His daughter gave him the name E 'cause it's the top letter on the eye chart, and he was tall. We played together a few times and it was very sad day when he passed."
Jay Blue (Jay Blues Band)
"He was a great guy. A really soft-hearted, really kind guy. I ended up meeting him at a show somewhere. Tobacco Road, I think it was. This guy was like an old Bob Dylan who could play the guitar and the harmonica at the same time. He was one of the hardest working cats, constantly grinding from the South to the West to the East. Dude was all over the place, man.
"On set breaks, he'd crack some freaking one-liners and you'd just crack up. He'd say it with a half-smiling, half-straight face. And if you didn't know, you'd think he was serious. I was like, "You are hilarious." He was a trip. But he could freaking play, he could play."
Big Poppa E Tribute Concert. The Stage, 170 NE 38th St. Miami. The tribute begins at 4 p.m. and there's no cover. Donations accepted for the Big Poppa E Music Scholarship Endowment Fund. All ages. Call 305-576-9577 or visit thestagemiami.com.
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