As part of the debut of the upcoming documentary Up Among the Hills, The Story of Fayetteville, the Rodney Block Quartet of Little Rock will perform a tribute to Buddy Hayes at a special concert this month in Fayetteville.
Hayes was a beloved figure in Fayetteville in the 20th century, playing a unique style of jump blues for white and black audiences from the 1930s through the 1960s. A shoe shine man at the U of A Barber Shop by day, and a jazz musician by night, Hayes was lovingly known as the “Mayor of Dickson Street.” A Fayetteville park is named in his honor.
According to Buddy’s sister, Betty Davis, Hayes was offered the chance to join legendary musician Louis Armstrong out of high school, but he turned down the offer to move back to Fayetteville “to make a difference” in his hometown.
Rodney Block and his group will play the “Buddy Hayes sound” that local college and high school students danced to for decades, when they perform at the free event to be held at 6 p.m. March 24 at Legacy Blues. The event will be filmed as part of the documentary production Up Among the Hills and area residents are encouraged to attend.
The 60-minute film on the history of Fayetteville was written and produced by Emmy-winning documentary filmmaker Larry Foley and is to be narrated by Bill Clinton. Up Among The Hills will premier at the Fayetteville Public Library at a black tie gala event on Friday, Oct. 19.
Foley said his team is still searching for photographs or film of Buddy and his group performing. Hayes and his musicians performed at hundreds of events including dances at the U of A, Fayetteville High School and the Fayetteville Country Club.