Norfolk blues singer Jackie Scott was surprised with an affectionate tribute at the Hampton Taphouse on Wednesday night.
Organized by Newport News resident Denise Mallonee, the event attracted many of Scott's fans, friends and fellow musicians in what was designed to be a Hollywood-style roast of the singer and band leader.
About 60 people hunkered down in the upstairs portion of the Taphouse to catch Scott off guard. "She was just unbelievable," Mallonee said. "She had no idea. She thought she was coming there to eat soft-shelled crabs ... I thought the turnout was really good."
Scott has helped to draw national attention to the Hampton Roads music scene. She forged a connection between Chicago sax player Eddie Shaw and local blues musicians. The result was “Still Riding High,” a CD credited to Eddie Shaw & The 757 Allstars which was released this year. Peninsula residents Bill Kelly, Tom Dikon, Ron Fetner, Mark Hopkins and William Ledbetter joined Scott in contributing to that disc.
Members of Scott's own band The Housewreckers were part of the Taphouse tribute as were many of the 757 Allstars band. Also, Jeff Maisey, editor of Veer magazine, and blues singer Bobby "BlackHat" Walters were spotted in the crowd.
Mallonee said she wanted to honor Scott for her relentless work promoting blues music. "Also, the way that she reaches kids. She's so deep in working with children, it's a wonderful part of her."
Mallonee's boyfriend, Chuck Williams, plays sax in Scott's band The Housewreckers.
Many of her bandmates got on the microphone to tease Scott in the "roasting" part of Wednesday's event, Mallonee said. In all about eight people took good-natured pot shots at the singer.
Mostly, though, love was in the air.
"Jackie is such a soft-hearted person," Mallonee said. "She doesn't like to let everybody know that, but she did last night."
Scott said she loved the tribute.
"Ledbetter said something that touched me," Scott said. "He said he felt like he was part of a family. That made me feel good. It's a testament to other musicians in the blues community ... It's like reaching back to go forward."