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Michael “Hawkeye” Herman Recounts Music Advocacy Efforts in Grafton, WI

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by Michael “Hawkeye” Herman Dec. 5, 2020

As an internationally recognized/touring blues musician/composer/educator/historian I can assure you that blues historians, blues aficionados, and blues music fans around the world are aware of the great importance that Paramount Records and Grafton, WI holds in the history of blues music recording and the influence on US music and world cultures.

Sadly, that information was lost to the people of Wisconsin, and especially in the immediate Grafton area for over 75 years, until Grafton resident musician/educator Angie Reilly started digging into the Paramount history in hopes of elevating the awareness of Grafton and Wisconsin area residents. 

Angie Reilly and I initially connected via an online blues related forum back about 16/17 years ago. She informed me of her very proactive efforts in raising awareness in Grafton and WI, in general, of the importance of Paramount Records. The history, influence and ONGOING impact and legacy of Paramount Records was lost to the people of the Grafton area.

Ms. Reilly is very much responsible for the raising of the awareness of the people of the Grafton area regarding the world renown influence and legacy of Paramount Records, as well as her initiating and influencing the Village of Grafton administration/city council in the creation of the Paramount Walk of Fame that is the now centerpiece of downtown Grafton.

In her efforts to raise awareness of the ‘city fathers’ and the citizens, young and old, regarding Paramount’s worldwide fame amongst blues music fans she arranged to bring me to Grafton to meet with the city council and inform them, as an ‘outsider’, of the important culturally legacy and esteem that Grafton’s Paramount Records is held by the international blues community.

At that time, Ms. Reilly also arranged for me to present blues music and Grafton/Paramount history presentations/programs to in the schools to ALL of the public school students in Grafton. I was happy to oblige her request to come to Grafton and help her with her most worthwhile efforts in honoring Paramount Records, Grafton, and the many iconic blues musicians who recorded in Grafton.

Michael “Hawkeye” Herman doing his famous “Blues in the Schools” program in Grafton, WI

The positive and enduring results of her/our efforts are quite obvious: Grafton honors its Paramount blues music legacy with a permanent Paramount Walk of Fame as the featured aspect of the Grafton City Center, and an annual blues music, The Paramount Blues Festival, festival grew out of the ‘rediscovered’ legacy of Paramount Records in Grafton, WI.

You will find my personal article documenting our efforts to raise the citizens of the Grafton area’s awareness about the important and eternal legacy of Paramount Records in Grafton … as well as a link to my article documenting our mutual work in bringing the Paramount Walk of Fame into reality:

“Embracing The Legacy Of The Blues / From the South To The North – Part 2. Grafton, WI and Paramount Records”By Michael “Hawkeye” Herman
http://www.hawkeyeherman.com/pdf/14_EmbracingTheLegacy_Pt.2.pdf to raise the citizens of the Grafton area’s awareness about the important and eternal legacy of Paramount Records in Grafton.

Photo Slide Show Images Provided by Michael “Hawkeye” Herman’s Large Collection of Photos

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Blues Research music history

We Both Built This Nation

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by Angie Mack Reilly 5.27.20

What is the antonym for dishonor?

Honor.

Murder a life?

Value a life.

Your cultural contributions matter.

By that, I am saying that YOU matter.

You built this nation as did I.

Ignoring, dismissing and burying

your pioneering work

is evil.

Ignoring, dismissing and burying

anyone’s pioneering work

is piracy and theft.

We both built this nation.

That is our common bond.

It is time for the authors to receive

their due respect.

Rock and roll began with the blues.

You are just as much American

as am I.

I see the injustice of your history

being denied.

Please forgive me.

But they never taught me

about your writers and inventors.

Huge chunks of history were ignored.

Perhaps we need to back up.

Begin educating our children

about the diverse contributions

and experiences and songs.

As an educator, I am committed

to telling your story.

As a believer, I am committed

to honoring your life.

As your sister, I am committed

to stand with you against injustice.

I will continue to be an advocate

because it is the right thing to do.

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Blues Research Paramount Records

Angie Assists Russian Author in Writing The Coming of Blues

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To my knowledge,the book The Coming of Blues by Valery Pisigin is only available in Russian.  I assisted Valery during the writing of his book.  He and an interpreter met with me several years ago.  He graciously sent me copies.  However, because the books are in Russian, I haven’t been able to read them.   Luba Rohrback was able to read the book and translate some of it to me this week.  Here is a recording of the partial translation used with her permission.

https://ozaukeetalent.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/Russian_Book_about_Grafton.wav?_=1

 

Valery also recorded me playing the piano on my early 1900s upright.

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public speaker

2009: Television Appearance on Fox 6 about Wisconsin Music History

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