The Archie Edwards Blues Heritage Foundation is keeping East coast acoustic folk blues alive. Through weekly Saturday jams, performances, workshops, exhibits, and lectures, AEBHF carries on the educational tradition of celebrated Piedmont blues artist Archie Edwards.
Blues man, teacher, barber, and storyteller Archie Edwards (1918-1998) opened the Alpha Tonsorial Palace in Northeast Washington in 1959. Over the years it became a Saturday afternoon gathering place for aspiring musicians, young and old, African American and white. The barbershop became renowned as a place where musicians of every level of expertise were welcome to perform for each other. Until his death at the age of 79, Archie continued spreading the message of the Piedmont blues in his barbershop, on recordings, and on tours all over the world.
To keep the barbershop and Archie’s spirit alive, friends and fellow musicians joined together to form the Archie Edwards Blues Heritage Foundation. For nearly a decade, Archie’s Barbershop was the foundation’s home and served as a museum and educational center, a place for social interaction and community outreach, and as a memorial and tribute to Archie and the blues musicians and traditions of the region. When the building was sold to new owners in January 2008, the weekly jams moved temporarily to HR-57 - Center for the Preservation of Jazz and Blues. In March 2009, the Saturday jams and occasional workshops and concerts moved to the Barbershop's new home at 4701 Queensbury Rd. in Riverdale, MD 20737.
In 2005, AEBHF received the prestigious Keeping the Blues Alive Award from the Blues Foundation for its ongoing educational efforts. The U.S. Senate recognized AEBHF’s community services by passing Senate .Resolution. 367, designating November 29, 2002, as Blues Friday and the beginning of Blues Heritage Appreciation Fortnight. An important site to Washington’s rich cultural history, Archie’s Barbershop is on the African-American Heritage Trail of Cultural Tourism DC.
AEBHF is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization in the District of Columbia. Mike Baytop, long-time musical friend of Archie and the Barbershop, is President Emeritus of the Foundation’s Board of Directors. You can see our Current Annual Report here.