For everyone who thinks the wheels of government only turn three speeds — slow, slower and slowest — we respectfully submit the case of one R. Eric Davis. One year ago, Davis was an average Houstonian who, like many others before him, was appalled that the only public memorial to the city's greatest bluesman — Sam "Lightnin'" Hopkins, the Centerville native who influenced everyone from the Beatles to his sometime bandmates Townes Van Zandt and ZZ Top — was Hopkins's small gravestone in Forest Park Cemetery. Today, Davis is the man responsible for the official Texas State Historical Marker in Hopkins's honor, which will be dedicated Saturday morning on the grounds of Project Row Houses, near "Lightnin's Corner" in Third Ward. Davis filled out the considerable paperwork to get the process started, bird-dogged it through the county and state levels and, with assistance from the Houston Blues Society, Live Nation/House of Blues, and a host of private donors, raised the money to pay for both the marker and Saturday's dedication ceremony. Performing after the speechifying and unveiling are three of the still-strong Houston blues community's leading artists: Lightnin's cousin Milton Hopkins, the ex-B.B. King guitarist whose style is smooth and urbane as his cousin's was rawboned and country; powerhouse vocalist Diunna Greenleaf and her band Blue Mercy; and ambassador of cool Texas Johnny Brown. Following the ceremony, Dallas-based author and blues scholar Alan Govenar will sign copies of his book Lightnin' Hopkins: His Life and Blues — the first-ever full-length biography of Hopkins, published this past May – at Sig's Lagoon, 3622-E Main.
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