This weekend, the Mercury Café is staging a benefit for pianist Ralph DaFermo. Allow the Mercury's Marilyn Megenity to tell you a little bit about him:
"In 1977, I walked into my nightclub restaurant for the night shift, and a piano player I hadn’t seen before was playing. His name was George 'Boogie Woogie' Daniels. George Daniels grew up playing in whore houses and at fish fries in all-black communities in the South. His music was like having Count Basie or Pinetop Perkins or Fats Waller in your living room. I could go on and on about him, but one thing that needs to be said is that he lived across the street from the Rossonian in Five Points in the late 1940s and 50s and was hired to play in the pick-up bands for every great jazz legend that came through town. I realized then, (and still do) that I am the luckiest women in the world. He played three nights a week at the Mercury until he died in 1984.
"George Daniels left a protégé: Ralph DaFermo.
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"He mentored Ralph daily from 1976 until he died. When Ralph met George, he was already accomplished as a rock-and-roll piano player. Ralph’s grasp and devotion of this music runs as deep and wide as the Mississippi River. He has opened for such greats as Asleep at the Wheel, Commander Cody, Papa John Creech and John Hammond. He is now the greatest living barrelhouse 'boogie-woogie' piano man in the world, a true American treasure.
"Five years ago Ralph DaFermo began to loose his sight. He is now blind. Some of his fellows in jazz, blues and swing will be doing a benefit for him on Sunday September 28 at 1:30 p.m. Suggested donation is $20 and no one will be turned away."
Ralph is also back playing regularly at the Mercury Café, 2199 California Street, Friday nights at 10 p.m. in the Rose Room. There's no cover charge. To learn more, visit www.mercurycafe.com or call 303-294-9258. -- Susan Froyd