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Singing the blues at the Library

Couple puts on blues show at Three Rivers Library

Janice Lozada set up her husband Samuel's harmonica set, each with a different key, before she checked the microphones and grabbed her instruments. Janice and her husband Samuel Lozada took to a staged area and began their variety show full of remade tunes in musical genres of soul, blues, jazz, country and swing.

“I love jazz,” Minooka resident Char Blackwell said. “This is the best entertainment I will get all month. This was absolutely outstanding and I would have paid money to see it.”

On Aug. 29, the Lozadas brought their Mo’ Beat Blues Show to the Three Rivers Public Library in Minooka, which was the first performance for the duo at the venue.

Sarah Robertson, library adult services manager said the act contacted the library and because an end of summer event was in the works. She said this seemed like the perfect fit.

“This musical can get people up on their feet and dance around. It sounded like a lot of fun, not just one genre, but all kinds of music and comedy as well which appeals to a lot of people,” Robertson said.

Robertson said the library has evolved to not only be a place for patrons to read, check out a book, or use the computer, but to socially interact with other residents. This event was offered free of charge.

“The library is a place for free services and this gives us the opportunity to do events free, where other places charge. This was free to come, no restrictions based on payment, we are here for the public,” Robertson said.

Samuel began to play music at the age of 15. He plays the guitar, bass guitar, drums, harmonica and piano. At the concert at the library, he sang and played the harmonica with his wife as back up and tambourine.

Each song he played was familiar. He took songs he enjoyed and recreated them to make them more his style. The crowd tapped their toes and some sang along once they recognized the tune. When the song “Let the Good Times Roll” came on, Samuel told the crowd to sing the chorus after he repeated it once. The entire room echoed, “Let the good times roll” over and over as they clapped and sang.

The couple began their show in 2004 after Samuel worked with some other bands who did not allow him to play his harmonica. On open microphone nights, he said, he was always the last one to play.

“A friend invited me to do a show with him and we got the music together. We sang in an Alzheimer’s ward and played ‘Soul Man.’ I looked around and saw others get up and dance and that got me,” Samuel said.

Now, he and Janice take their act on the road anywhere within a 90 minute radius from their Portage, Indiana, home and do 250 or more shows per year. Janice said they could do up to four shows in a day but try to be home together each night. They mostly perform in nursing homes, libraries, assisted living facilities and senior centers, but are open to any venue.

During the show, Samuel took out two stuffed animals he had placed in front of his microphone. He told heartwarming stories of how they were given to him by fans who have since passed on. He said he has a collection of gifts from fans as the couple tends to frequent the same venues each year.

The last song of the night, before one more for the encore, was “Sweet Home Chicago” and the crowd either sang aloud or clapped their hands and tapped their feet to the beat. After, there was a short meet and greet with the Lozadas.