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They'll sing blues, but they'll be happy

Blind Buddy Moody was perched on the edge of his living room chair. His fingers flew up and down the strings of his guitar. He blew on his harmonica. He wailed out song after song.

"If you've had the blues, baby, you know just how I feel.''

As he sang, his wife, Diane, clapped in time nearby. The scene was at Moody's St. Petersburg home Wednesday. On Monday, he'll perform at the Largo Cultural Center.

If the 58-year-old flat-pickin' country bluesman had the chance to start life over, he wouldn't change too much — not even the chance to see, he said.

"I've had a good life with so many people giving me a hand along the way," he said. "I can't say I'd want it different. But I hope I return the kindnesses.''

His Monday gig, the kickoff for the Lions Club Spotlight Series, is a chance for him to pay it forward. The Florida native, the winner of several state championships in vocals, harmonica, Dobro and flat-picked guitar, will be one of three acts during the show, dubbed simply Barbershop, Country and Blues.

It is the first of four installments of the series that will be held through April 5.

There is a common thread in Monday's show: Each act features visually challenged individuals.

Although the Largo chapter of the Lions Club has held its fundraiser for 13 years, this is the first time the organization invited visually impaired musicians to perform, said Kim Feaster, event organizer.

"It's exciting because it features some great musicians who have overcome their own visual challenges," she said. "And they are contributing in such a great way to help others.''

Proceeds from the series will be used for several of the Lions Club projects. Among the organization's efforts, the group funds training for guide dogs, financial aid for eye surgery and the collection and redistribution of used eyeglasses.

"I have a memory of when it really hit me what the Lions Club does,'' Feaster said. "I was with a group of children who were receiving eye tests. I watched as a little girl put on eyeglasses for the first time.

"I'll never forget when I heard her say, 'I can see now.' It meant so much to me, just to hear those little girl's words.''

Moody, who attended the Florida School for the Blind in St. Augustine in the 1960s and 1970s, is familiar with the Lions Club.

"I know there's some good people through the Lions Club,'' he said. "Several years ago, I had a Seeing Eye dog that came to me through them, and I really appreciated their work.''

Bluesman Blind Willie James, who received the prestigious Florida Folk Heritage Award in 1999, is the headliner for the show. When James reflects on his life, he considers himself a success. "The only thing missing in my life has been my eyesight,'' he said. "But you know, life is a job, and there's going to always be challenges no matter what.

"It's good to hear Buddy Moody will be there," James said. "I know him, and I do think he and I should get together. That will be a really good time.''

The G Men, a Palm Harbor barbershop quartet, will open the show. Bass singer Joe Roan and his brother, lead singer Tom Roan, are both legally blind. "Hey, we're not just the entertainment, we're clients,'' joked Joe Roan. "But seriously, you know, when it comes to our challenges, it could be worse. At least with blindness, it is easy to describe whereas others might have challenges that are not so clear.''

Reach Piper Castillo at pcastillo@sptimes.com or (727) 445-4163.

If you go

Lions Club benefit

What: The kickoff of the Largo Lions Club Spotlight Series: Barbershop, Country and Blues.

When: 2 and 7 p.m. Monday.

Where: Largo Cultural Center, 105 Central Park Drive.

Cost: $20 individuals; $17 groups of 10 or more; $64 for series.

For tickets: Call the box office at (727) 587-6793.

What's next

Future shows in the Spotlight Series include:

Feb. 8: Dan McMillion Jazz Orchestra: Tribute to the Big Band Era.

March 15: Then and Now: Tribute to the Artistry of Barbra Streisand with Carla DelVillaggio.

April 5: Keith Coleman and Ruby Tuesday's Las Vegas Revue Show.

They'll sing blues, but they'll be happy 01/09/10 [Last modified: Friday, January 8, 2010 6:55pm]
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