Here's a great holiday gift for all you Southern music fans. The Music Maker Relief Foundation is a great North Carolina-based organization that provides a network and funds for aging blues musicians who have rarely had more than the music itself. (You can read Jacob Dagger's excellent feature about them in the latest issue of Southern Exposure.)

This holiday season, they've put together a the perfect gift: "The Music Maker Treasure Box," a collection of four hours of previously-unreleased blues music. For just $35 you get the 40+ songs plus "a limited-run poster, a guitar pick, a Music Maker bag, a subscription to the Music Maker Rag and a donation to the fund in the recipient's name."

Make it $50, and you can add Cool John Ferguson's "Cool Yule" CD, and for $135 you also become a member of their "Givin' It Back Record Club," which gets you all of the above plus four CD's a year (the December release is Adolphus Bell's "One Man Band").

And it's all for a great cause. They're looking after the musicians that have changed our lives, but which are often forgotten in their older years, like Etta Baker (in the hospital with a stomach tumor) and Carl Rutherford (also in the hospital). As Tim Duffy of the foundation writes:

We will be sending grants next week to all of our artists so they have money for the Holidays to secure payments of heating oil, fix a good dinner, and have some respite from the grind of living in poverty.

The response this year to our New Orleans Musicians Fund has helped us reach out to nearly 100 artists and be there for them in these dire times. Most are still in some sort of temporary housing, although brave folks are starting to move back in to rebuild their city. Thanks to your donations we are able to be there to help supply housing, clothing, transportation, instruments and more.