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Mayall is in la casa

The godfather of British blues at 32 Bleu

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There is nothing better than rockin' out for a good cause, especially when legendary blues guit-slinger John Mayall is in the house. On Friday, Aug. 8, the "godfather of British blues" will bring his scorching licks to the stage at 32 Bleu in a concert fund-raiser sponsored by the local chapter of CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates).

"Our organization strives to be very visible in the community," said Gayle Carley, CASA's director of fund development, "and this concert is a great way to help us raise funds and give something back at the same time."

The event couldn't have come at a more opportune time for the nonprofit organization. Established locally in 1989 as "a voice in court for children who are victims of abuse, neglect, or domestic conflict," the organization has spent the past three years attempting to raise $1.5 million for its ongoing capital campaign, and with 32 Bleu's donation of all ticket sales from the Mayall show, CASA may be on step closer to reaching its goal.

Especially since Mayall, considered to be one of rock's most influential six-stringers, can still pack a house and groove the best of 'em nearly four decades after he helped launch the careers of Eric Clapton, Mick Taylor and others.

Now on tour supporting his latest album, the 2002 release Stories, Mayall continues to break new ground in a genre that he helped to define back in the mid-'60s with his band, the Bluesbreakers.

For Scott Pursley, a CASA board member and blues aficionado who's been a devoted Mayall fan since his teens, this concert has been almost seven years in the making. After becoming friends with Buddy Whittington, a musician in Mayall's band, in 1996, he decided to organize a benefit show featuring Mayall and his band. Pursley immediately enlisted the help of fellow volunteer and 32 Bleu co-owner Martha Frohling, who lent the venue's support and subsequently helped book the show.

"The whole planning process was really a collaborative effort, and 32 Bleu has been very gracious and accommodating," added Pursley.

The concert, which will also feature local artist John Alex Mason, will help raise money to renovate and maintain the organization's new headquarters at 701 S. Cascade Ave., while simultaneously endowing the organization's community awareness programs related to the protection of children within the court system and their safe placement in permanent homes.

In addition to the Mayall concert, the group sponsors several events each year such as the Light of Hope Breakfast and the annual Casas for CASA event.

"This is different from anything we've done in the past," said Carley. And while rock music and child advocacy might not traditionally seem akin, she is confident that blues fans and the organization's supporters alike will enjoy the event. "We're hoping that it's a big success, because that will allow us to plan more things like this in the future."

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