The Digital Journalist

Pinetop Perkins
"State of the Blues"


Not much happened between 1989 and 1993 when I heard about a new club opening close to my studio called The House of Blues. I received an invitation to go to one of the opening nights, which I did. I realized everything was falling into place. I made contact with Nigel Shanley, of the HOB, and made arrangements to show him my personal portrait work. Nigel looked at it and gave me the green light. Not only the green light, but a room to set up my "studio" and access to any performer that was booked into the HOB. After showing the early portraits to HOB founder Isaac Tigrett, we determined to make this a book. It was decided that the HOB would exhibit the work on a "Wall of Fame." This wall of fame required nearly three years to complete and over 40 different setups to accomplish.

The first portrait was Joe Cocker. It almost didn't happen. Nigel and I realized that to go through management and / or public relations channels for each portrait would be impossible and involve too many personalities so we adopted our "instant photography" method. I would bring the equipment over and set everything up, and Nigel would show the artist my work and ask if they would be agreeable to giving me a few minutes to make their portrait. Literally a few minutes because in most every case, these portraits were made moments before going on stage both at the HOB and the blues festivals. When we first asked Joe, he said no. His people said no, too. Disheartened, I broke down all the equipment and put away the backdrop. I went down to the club level and heard a magnificent concert. After the show, Joe's representative crossed is in the hallway. He asked us, "Is it really important for the House of Blues to take the picture?" whereupon Marc Princi from the HOB answered in the affirmative. "Ok, but you only got two minutes with Joe." I ran back to the office and in three minutes had my set up ready to go at the end of the corridor. A minute later, Joe, refreshed from a change of clothes, came down to me and said, "Let's do it." I shot six frames before his representative came and dragged him away. (continued)

State of the Blues: The Living Legacy of the Delta
is available at

Visit Jeff Dunas' website

Send us your Comments
Join our Mailing List
© The Digital Journalist