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Visiting musician sings out to save Mississippi Valley Blues Festival

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On a frigid February day at Wilson Middle School in Moline, the sound of the blues is pretty hot inside the auditorium on Friday.

That's where you'll find Rev. Robert B. Jones.

The Detroit-based musician and minister is wrapping up a week in the Quad Cities.

In between school and community performances, he's lobbying hard to save the Mississippi Valley Blues Festival.

"People, when they come to the Quad Cities, they're really coming to a place that has so much history," he said.

Starting back in 1985, the Blues Fest became one of the best in the country.

But competition for the entertainment dollar forced it off stage in 2015.

"It's hard to get money for those types of major sponsors," said Steve Heston, president of the Mississippi Valley Blues Society.  "We always have our great fans, though, that back us."

The future of the Blues Fest remains up for grabs.

Organizers plan to make a decision in coming days.

That will allow them time to book acts, should the event continue.

Jones is a visiting artist with Blues in the Schools.

It's an important outreach for the Mississippi Valley Blues Society.

Blending music, history and humor, it's easy to see how he connects with kids.

"We get to know more about music and its history," said Kaeleen Smith, 12.  "And how music came to be what it is today."

"Blues is becoming like a dying art," added Dominic Alsop, 13.

Heston would like to return the Blues Fest to its Davenport roots on July 1 and 2nd.

The final decision, though, is yet to come.

"We love LeClaire Park," Heston said. "Davenport, right there on the Mississippi, is great."

For Jones, that makes saving the Blues Fest even more important.

"One of the great festivals, as far as I know in America, is the Mississippi Valley Blues Fest," he said.  "So, it's really important it continues."

With a better financial outlook, the Blues Fest could return in 2016.

"Hopefully, we'll swing it around," Heston concluded.  "Come back and be better and bigger than before."

A final decision should be on the way soon.

It could help to save the blues for generations to come.

For more information, check out http://www.mvbs.org.