It’s been over 10 years since the death of blues mandolin great (and Indy resident) James “Yank” Rachell. But his music and legacy still loom over the mandolin and blues scene, especially in Indianapolis.
A Sunday concert at the Indiana History Center will not only stand alone as a celebration of Yank’s music, but is also a CD release party for A Tribute to James “Yank” Rachell (Yanksville). The concert is also a benefit to help cover medical costs for musician Sheena Rachell, Yank’s granddaughter.
Musician Mike Butler, the executive producer for Tribute, said he originally just wanted to spread Rachell’s music to the masses, but ended up devoting proceeds to Sheena Rachell.
“Sheena is sick and the mother of seven children,” Butler said. “I’m really eager to see this album and hopefully it will make the world of difference for her.”
Those scheduled to perform include Andra Faye (Saffire —The Uppity Blues Women), Rich DelGrosso, Gordon Bonham & Jim Richter, Karen & The Beast, The Yank Rachell Tribute Band and the Mandolin Workshop Band.
“Between this event and the Midwest Mandolin Festival, hopefully Indianapolis will know that this instrument is alive and strong,” Butler said. “A number of the people that are on the album will be performing.”
The album, to be officially released in July, features 21 songs written, performed and inspired by Rachell, best known for “She Caught The Katy,” featured in the film The Blues Brothers.
Mandolinist DelGrosso said Rachell’s work changed his whole perspective on music. He and Rachell gigged together in Michigan in the mid-’80s.
“I had the opportunity to spend some time with him,” DelGrosso said. “He was so innovative. He didn’t play it like everyone else. I have a different perspective on music now. It allowed me the freedom to play.”