2019 Iowa Blues Hall of Fame


Video Playlist of Iowa Blues Hall of Fame
Inductions and Performances by Jay Gillam


Photos by Jen Taylor and Robyn Anderson


5:00PM Doors Open
5:30PM Dinner & Music by Sumpin’ Doo
6:15PM Ceremony Begins

Five individuals have been selected for induction into the Iowa Blues Hall of Fame in the Class of 2019: Jeff Banks, Kevin Burt, Janey Hooper, Frank Strong and Greg Sutherland.

The induction ceremony for the Class of 2019 will take place on Sunday, April 7, 2019 at the River Center Eventorium, 330 SW 3rdSt in Des Moines. The event will begin with dinner provided by Flying Mango, dessert by Steve Vasquez, and a performance by Sumpin’ Doo, featuring IBHOF members, brothers George and Gil Davis. After the award presentation and individual performances by the current inductees, the night will end with a jam session for any attending IBHOF members and friends.

ADVANCE TICKETS ($25) HERE. Last year’s event was sold out in advance so don’t delay. There are a limited number of V.I.P. tickets available at $50 each. V.I.P. perks include early event entry and premium reserved seating. Please contact Bryan Church to purchase V.I.P. tickets (515) 577-7749, bcturtleriver@gmail.com

The Iowa Blues Hall of Fame is sponsored by: Frame Works, Flying Mango, Fat Tuesday Productions, River Center Eventorium, Marriott, VividPix & Design, Hawkeye Elks Lodge 160 & Rose Temple 33 and proudly supported by the six Iowa blues societies: Mississippi Valley Blues Society in Davenport, Linn County Blues Society in Cedar Rapids, South Skunk Blues Society in Newton, Southeast Iowa Blues Society in Fairfield, Lizard Creek Blues Society in Fort Dodge and Central Iowa Blues Society in Des Moines.


Jeff Banks – Des Moines guitarist Jeff Banks has been playing the Blues for more than 40 years.  As a constantly working musician, Jeff figures he has been a member of more than 60 musical acts in the rock & blues genres over the years by constantly juggling multiple projects.  Five times, Jeff has been an Iowa Blues Challenge champion and represented the state at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis: 1998 – Fat Package, 2012 – Pain Killers, 2013 – Rock Island Rollers, 2015 – Mother Ship Blues Band, 2016 – Jeff Banks Band.  In 2002 Jeff moved to Austin, Texas, where as a member of the George Devore Four, he performed at the Annual Nelson Family Christmas Party for 5 years and was nominated as best guitarist in the Austin Chronicle’s Best of voting, before eventually returning to Iowa.  He currently keeps busy leading the Jeff Banks Band as well as performing with the Shannon Curfman Band.


Kevin Burt – Coralville resident and Waterloo native Kevin B.F. Burt needed a job to finance his intended graduate degree at UI, but after receiving 5 job offers chose work over school. After his boss invited him to a dinner that in fact turned out to be an audition for the blues band her son was forming, Kevin ended up getting the gig and that group, the Blues Instigators, later went on to win the 1995 Iowa Blues Challenge and provide Kevin his first opportunity to perform in Memphis.  22 years later Kevin returned to Memphis as the 2017 Iowa Blues Challenge Solo/Duo champion, where he took Beale Street by storm, winning the Solo/Duo category at the International Blues Challenge, as well as being the recipient of the Cigar Box Guitar award and Lee Oskar Harmonica award.  As a dedicated family man, Kevin has focused on being a prolific blues educator, including currently serving as master clinician for Central Iowa Blues Society’s Blues in the Schools program.


Janey Hooper – Singer and keyboardist Janey Hooper was one of Central Iowa’s most versatile musicians, performing not only in the blues genre, but also rock, gospel, R&B, funk & jazz.  Whatever the genre, her blues influences were always evident.  She first gained prominence with the Cavaliers, with whom she played at various times during the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s.  Over the years she fronted several primarily blues-oriented groups, including the Janey Hooper Trio, Janey Hooper & the Drive and Janey Hooper & the Soul Shakers.  She was the “Keys” in Fat Tuesday & the Greasefire Keys.  During her later years, Janey enjoyed hosting the Fat Tuesday Jam at Carl’s Place, as well as her association with the non-profit Merry Makers, performing at senior living centers.  Janey was a three-time inductee into the Iowa Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and a 2015 inductee into the Iowa Jazz Hall of Fame.  Jane Ann (Hooper) Hernandez lost her battle with pancreatic cancer on October 15, 2016.


Frank Strong – “Freight Train” Frank Strong was born in Council Bluffs, which was the eastern terminus of the Union Pacific Railroad.  Frank began to play the guitar and harmonica at age 18, and for his entire career his music has been influenced by the trains.  As a VSA Arts of Iowa artist, Frank has developed a residence and performance program around the historical, economic and cultural impacts of the building and operation of the railroads, including the development of “railroad songs”.  Frank and his wife, Jeanette, operate Southside Music Studio where he teaches harmonica.  He has also served as a clinician for CIBS’ Blues in the Schools program.  Since 2007, Frank has produced the Botanical Blues series at the Greater Des Moines Botanical Gardens, which has expanded to a 13 week run for 2019.


Greg Sutherland – Ellston resident Greg Sutherland began singing and playing guitar and keyboards in his hometown, Detroit, in 1964.  During high school he sang and played keyboards for Kross of the Moon, during which time he had the opportunity to play a gig with Motown vocal group the Sweet Inspirations, which included Cissy Houston (mother of Whitney). Graduation brought Greg to southern Iowa, where he attended Graceland College.  There he began playing bass and spent 8 years with the successful band, Zini. In 1981, Greg joined his former Zini bandmate, Jono Smith, in the Des Moines-based Alien Corn.  Greg participated in the first Iowa Blues Challenge in 1994 with the Heaters, and in 1999 he joined Fat Tuesday & the Greasefire Horns, which won the 2000 IABC.  Since that time he has continued to perform with Fat Tuesday, as well as provide sound engineering for Fat Tuesday Productions.  He has gained a reputation as an extraordinary jam master, hosting the Fat Tuesday Jam at Carl’s Place since 2014.


About the Iowa Blues Hall of Fame: The IBHOF was established in 1999 by Des Moines blues singer, keyboardist and historian Tom Gary.  Tom’s Masters dissertation was focused on Des Moines’ Center Street blues scene in the 1960’s and he was inspired to gain recognition for the musicians of that time.  After inducting the first two classes, Ton handed the administration of the IBHOF over to the Central Iowa Blues Society.  Tom continued to serve as IBHOF co-chair for several years, along with Don “T-Bone” Erickson.  In 2016 Don was succeeded by current IBHOF chair Bryan Church.  With the induction of this year’s 20thanniversary class, 74 individuals have been honored with induction.  Photos and biographies of all IBHOF members can be viewed by clicking the IBHOF logo at www.cibs.org.

At the Class of 2000 induction ceremony, the permanent Iowa Blues Hall of Fame exhibit (colloquially referred to as “The Wall”) was unveiled at Blues on Grand, where it continued to reside until BOG closed in 2010.  After a few years in storage while CIBS attempted to secure a suitable new location, in 2014 the Wall was unveiled at its new home at the Hawkeye Elks Lodge 160 & Rose Temple 33 at 1401 Walker St in Des Moines.  (The Lodge is open to the public and they welcome your visit!)  In 2016, CIBS commissioned a portable companion exhibit which has since been displayed at several blues festivals and other events across the state, greatly expanding the exposure of the IBHOF to the public.

Nominations of potential inductees to the IBHOF are accepted at any time from the general public.  The more detailed a nomination is in terms of groups performed with, recordings performed on, tours participated in, awards and recognition received, etc., the more likely a nomination will result in induction.  A blues society endorsement of a nomination carries a lot of weight.  Induction classes are selected by the members of the Iowa Blues Hall of Fame standing committee of the Central Iowa Blues Society. More detailed information on submitting a nomination can be obtained by contacting IBHOF Chair Bryan Church.


For more information, please contact:

  • Bryan Church, Iowa Blues Hall of Fame Chair – (515) 577-7749, bcturtleriver@gmail.com
  • Scott Allen, Central Iowa Blues Society President – (515) 480-4437, prez@cibs.org