Board of Directors
My name is George Klein and I’ve been a member of the Atlanta Blues Society and the Blues Foundation for the past 15 years. I was also a proud supporter of the “Raise the Roof” campaign which built The Blues Hall of Fame in Memphis, TN. I have served on the ABS Board of Directors for the past four years in the capacity of Co-President. During that time frame your Board of Directors has totally revamped the web site, created and procured an ever growing catalog of merchandise, grown the membership from 177 to over 400, increased the number of sponsors from 7 to 28 and most importantly increased the number of musician sponsors to 48. We have held four very successful and well attended Challenges and sent some great ambassadors to Memphis to represent us. We have held two “Blues Stotts” events, both of which not only paid the performers but generated significant contributions to Cystic Fibrosis. We also organized and held a very successful festival, which finished in the black. With this strong infrastructure in place and our “blues family” continuing to grow, the Atlanta Blues Society is poised to do even greater things. I would appreciate your vote so I can continue to help your Board of Directors move forward and add to the progress we have made in the past four years “Keeping the Blues Alive” in Georgia.
Carlin “C-Note” Smith – Prior to moving to Atlanta in 1994, I was Vice President of the Kansas City Blues Society. In 1996, I was the principle founder of the Atlanta Blues Society. I served for 5 consecutive years as president. During that time ABS had 2 highly successful Blues festivals at the Tabernacle, with the help of many local musicians and members we implemented a respected Blues in the Schools programs in several Atlanta grade schools, received recognition from the Atlanta City Council with a proclamation proclaiming Atlanta Blues Society Day on July 5, 2000, many membership appreciation events, and even a blues oriented public television show for a short period of time. These accomplishments could not have been achieved if not for the support of the local musicians, ABS sponsors, citizens of Atlanta, and most of all the tireless dedication of its members of which this organizations principle values and beliefs were used to create this society. For the past 2 years I have had the honor of serving on the Board of Directors and held the position of Vice President. This organization is making outstanding progress with the support of its members and the never tiring commitment of the Board of Directors in accomplishing its mission and I would like to continue being a part of Keeping the Blues Alive in the Southeast.
Sara George – Although I am not a musician, music has always been an important part of my life. My Mother was the choir director at our church, my sister and my niece both sang in bands for a time and my Dad loved to strum the guitar while singing a country or gospel tune. Unfortunately, the musical gift bypassed me but the appreciation of music certainly did not. The journey that led me to the Atlanta Blues Society started 10 years ago when my friend invited me to go to Darwin’s with her. Albert Castiglia was playing that night. Immediately I was a fan and started going to out of town venues to see him perform. In 2010 at Bradfordville Blues in Tallahassee, there was another couple from Atlanta in attendance. I didn’t think too much about it until I saw them again in Huntsville, AL. That couple was George and Betty Klein. We talked that night and, as always, they were excellent ambassadors for the Atlanta Blues Society. After attending some ABS meetings and events, I decided to join. Since then, I have gotten to know many of the wonderful folks that make the Atlanta Blues Society possible and I have learned much more about their mission of Keeping the Blues Alive. I would consider it a privilege to be able to serve as a board member and do whatever is asked of me to further the efforts of the Atlanta Blues Society.
Barb Hilke – Hello, my name is Barb Hilke and I am a blues and live music lover. I have been on the board of The Atlanta Blues Society for 10 years now and served as secretary for the first 4 years, then I was President for 4 years, and am currently secretary again. My love of the blues has only gotten deeper and in attending the Memphis International Blues Challenge for the past several years I have come to know what a real blues society is all about and I have learned and put into practice steps that have made Atlanta’s society become a better, truly supportive blues society. I work part time now, being semi-retired from the Information Technology industry, and I devote a lot of my time to the day to day maintenance tasks of the Atlanta Blues Society and attending live shows in the Atlanta area and festivals around the area. I would love to serve another term on the board of the Atlanta Blues Society and feel I still have much to contribute. Atlanta should be a major mecca for the blues and we should have a major Blues Festival here that would attract other blues lovers to our city from around the nation. I hope that we can count on the help and support of all of our members to achieve that goal. Please vote for me if you want to see continued progress and growth to the Atlanta Blues Society.
Deb Pruett – As a four term officer of the Atlanta Blues Society, and Membership Chair, I’ve come to understand welland truly appreciate the work required. I believe in the vison and mission of the ABS – and am ready to continue devoting the energy and time required to serve you, the members of the Atlanta Blues Society. A lover of the blues – and of those who love the blues — I believe I am an asset to the Board of the Atlanta Blues Society. Hope you do, too!
Hello, my name is Wes Gifford and I love the blues. I would like to be part of the leadership of ABS for a number of reasons. My primary reason is that I would like the organization to flourish and grow, and in that regard I believe that I can help. Another reason is that I want the blues, whether it is the old standards of the masters or today’s touring musicians and songs to be heard by more people. Also, I would like make sure that people, especially younger people, realize that most forms of music owe their heritage to the blues. I primarily play in a jazz band called All In Red. By day I am a financial advisor. Prior to that I have had careers in book and magazine publishing. In the 1990s I was involved in sales and marketing of high tech design tools to physicists and electronic engineers. In that role I had success in scores of countries and won Small Business Exporter of the Year for 1994. In addition to the role that I have enjoyed with the Atlanta Blues Society for over a year, I am involved in other non-profit and community-service opportunities. I recently rolled off of the board of the International Women’s House, recognized as one of the best run women’s shelters in that state of Georgia.
Dustin Peterson – After serving on the board of directors of the Atlanta Blues Society and seeing the success of the ABS over the last two years, I would like to continue to serve on the BOD for another term. I believe my strengths and contributions to the organization lie in logistical management as well as my desire to continue the advancement of the blues and blues musicians in the Atlanta area. I believe having members on the board who are active musicians also gives a unique insight to the organization on how it can assist aspiring performers and venues maximize their relationships.
In 1992, the blues came to me as a musical epiphany. Since then, I have devoted my musical education to studying blues music and the legends behind the musicians. I have spent the last 25 years doing my best to play them live and as honestly as possible. I am the father of a 7 year old music lover who is especially fond of Junior Wells and Elmore James. I believe keeping the blues alive begins with teaching those willing to learn the importance of the rich musical heritage of the blues. I currently perform as the guitarist and vocalist in Funky Bluester, an ABS member band.
David Black – My interest in the blues began during the first wave of the British Invasion when a few bands like the Rolling Stones and the Animals covered some American blues, generally as B-sides or album cuts. The second wave brought us Jimi Hendrix and Ten Years After, and fully-dedicated bluesmen like John Mayall, Alexis Korner and John Baldry. A couple of years later I was thoroughly enjoying B. B. King, Elvin Bishop, Taj Mahal, Johnny Winter and Buddy Guy and Junior Wells, followed by the Allman Brothers and other southern rock bands that uniquely interpreted the blues. Fast forward to the early ’80s when popular music was in fast decline. I desperately needed a music style that had meaning for me. Recalling how I had always enjoyed the blues I made a conscious decision to focus primarily on that genre. Since then I have attended many blues concerts and festivals around the country and have met many fine blues fanatics. Prior to joining the Atlanta Blues Society I was a member of the (Washington) D.C. Blues Society. Professionally, I worked in supply management with Hilton Worldwide for 25 years.
Richard L’Hommedeau – I am currently the publisher of the web magazine “Making a Scene” – a music business guide for the independent musician. In addition I own and operate “Midnight Circus Productions” which is a full service recording studio, record company and production company. I am also the DJ of “LIVE from the Midnight Circus” which is broadcast on BluesFM.org, Caldonias Crossroads Radio, Rock Radio UK, Our Generation Radio, Remember then Radio, Etc., and was voted by Blues Matters Magazine as one of the top online Blues radio shows in the world in 2014. The show is dedicated to playing only “Touring” blues artists. My past experience runs from being the founder and founding Chairman of the Long Island Music Hall of Fame, a 501c3 museum and educational institution, to promoting and presenting music festivals. I have been a featured speaker at the Intercollegiate Broadcasting System (IBS) convention for 7 years as well as being the Blues Music Director for WUSB 90.1FM in NY. I also owned and published an entertainment newspaper “Long Island Entertainment” which promoted the local entertainment industry. I also have expertise in both live sound and video production.
Lisa Kitchens – As a native of the blues rich city of St. Louis, Missouri I grew up in a household where music was greatly appreciated and encouraged. After moving to Atlanta 27 years ago I actively sought out the live blues scene and have been an active supporter of Atlanta blues and musicians ever since, as a frequent patron of local clubs, blues events and bands. I bring a vast array of experience and knowledge to the board which spans from my corporate work experience as a Commercial Director for Travelport where I’ve worked for over 30 years, to my exposure and interaction with other musicians and clubs as a member of the rockin’ blues band The Rockaholics. As a previous ABS Board member serving from March 2010 (joined mid-term) thru Feb 2015, I am familiar with the amount of work and dedication required. I am intimately familiar with the many successes and challenges of ABS and know that it definitely requires commitment and enthusiasm – both of which I will again bring to the Board. I appreciate the opportunity to again contribute to the great work accomplished by the current board, previous boards and the soon to be elected board.
Jon Harmon – I’m an avid music lover since childhood; I grew up around musicians, and I developed an insatiable appetite as I was drawn to the sounds of various instruments, yet never played myself. Music captured a large part of my life as I attended countless shows and festivals in my dual effort to support the musicians and feed my own ears. As my musical tastes refined over the years, I found myself running into some of the same people at blues shows in Atlanta. I soon realized I was in the midst of Atlanta Blues Society events and meetings, and I felt right at home, sharing with others the same hearty appetite to Keep the Blues Alive. I joined the Society in 2015 to support celebrating this historic American art form. The Blues is, after all, American born and bred. By trade, I am an operations and logistics professional working for a life safety & property protection company as the VP of Operations. I’ve served in technical operations management for over 35 years and tackle challenges that will help the organization reach its goals and serve its mission. The vision of the Atlanta Blues Society coupled with my passion for the music and growth in this community drives me to serve on the ABS Board.
Non-board Consultant: Musicians Health Advisor
H. Lewis McTush
As Chief Executive Officer of LewMar Millennium Entertainment LLC. Lewis McTush, has been in the corporate and professional halls of the music, entertainment and records promotions industry, as a promoter and marketing professional for over 50 years. Founder of “Entertainers Speaking Out” for Smoke Free Rights For All, Inc. a Georgia Non Profit organization on the front lines of the Smoke Free Atlanta and Georgia State wide advocacy for the elimination of indoor smoking of tobacco products in public spaces, and tobacco cessation treatment programs for our musicians, hospitality workers, and our community patrons of the arts! “We Deserve A Smoke Free Workplace Too”. We should not have to sacrifice our lives and health for a paycheck! Supported by, The Americans For Non-Smokers Rights Organization since 2013.