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Life of Tucson bluesman George Howard to be celebrated at Hotel Congress concert

Life of Tucson bluesman George Howard to be celebrated at Hotel Congress concert

  • George Howard died on April 14.
    courtesy of MF AndrewsGeorge Howard died on April 14.

The life of musician and photographer George Howard will be celebrated in the form of a seven-hour concert at Hotel Congress, hosted by the Tucson Musicians Museum and the Southern Arizona Blues Heritage Foundation. Howard, a singer and bandleader who was a frequent presence on Tucson stages for decades, died on April 14 at age 72.

Howard was an accomplished musician who played alongside artists such as Willie Nelson, The Temptations and Bo Diddley, and worked the microphone for his bands the George Howard Band, Statesboro Blues Band, Roadhouse Hounds, Dr. Mojo and the Zydeco Cannibals and others, delighting crowds with blues and Cajun beats.. He was also a co-founder of the Tucson Musicians Museum, sharing his passion for music with the city.

The memorial concert will take place on the Hotel Congress Plaza on Sunday, May 21, from 2 p.m. until 9 p.m. It will be open to the public with a $10 suggested donation.

TMM secretary Liz Walter said many people in town — musicians and non-musicians alike — wanted to get together to commemorate Howard.

"These people, everyone who is making it happen, love George," Walter said.

The lineup for the event includes more than 12 bands playing genres such as blues, zydeco, bluegrass and rock. The list of performers include TuneSmith, Znora, Neon Prophet, and Walter said that about two hours will be dedicated to young musicians such as Jam Pak and the Tucson Junior Strings.

All of them are "donating their time," as donations will go to supporting the TMM and the Youth Music Mentorship Program, Walter said that one of Howard's passions was promoting music education in the form of donating musical instruments to classroom, providing access to mentorship opportunities and more.

"His imprint reaches far and wide," Walter said. "You could write a whole book about George."

Howard, born in New Jersey, grew up in Sierra Vista and later moved to Tucson, graduating from the University of Arizona in 1974 after studying photojournalism. While he was most often a singer and bandleader with his local groups, Howard also played keyboards and the drums.

Walter said he worked as a banker and that he played in the University of Arizona football team. He was an avid photographer, owning Right Eye Photography.

"He had the best sense of humor and could always make light of any situation," Walter said. "He was a very generous man. Generous of heart."

Walter said people can look forward to a slideshow created by Howard's nephew, stories from his family and loved ones, and "damn good music."

Howard was a member of the Arizona Blues Hall of Fame, Tucson Music Awards Hall of Fame and the Tucson Musicians Museum.

Bianca Morales is’s Cultural Expression and Community Values reporter, and a Report for America corps member supported by readers like you.

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