Blues Scene Mourns Loss of Keyboardist Marie English

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The Houston blues community is mourning longtime local musician Marie English, who friends say passed away earlier this week after complications from knee surgery.

English, a keyboardist and singer, was 49 and had been a member of Tommy Dardar's band. She had been in the local blues scene since the mid-'80s, and also played with familiar names such as the late Jerry Lightfoot and Dr. Rockit.

She passed away early the morning of April 2, according to a post by Dardar on Facebook. English had not been feeling well and "just didn't make it after" going in for the surgery, said Dardar's drummer, Jimmy Rose.

"Marie was a well-respected musician in this town," he added. "And just the sweetest girl I ever met."

Among the members of the Houston blues community adding their condolences to Dardar's announcement were Sonny Boy Terry, Guy Schwarz, Rich DelGrosso, former Houston Blues Society president Boyd Bluestein, and the Zydeco Dots' Mike Vowell, who called English the "queen of the keys."

Rick Lee of Houston's Rick Lee & the Night Owls posted this comment to in the Houston Blues Society's Facebook group: "Marie was an exceptional piano player and musician, and she could really play the blues, along with any other kind of music."

Black, brother of Katy-born country star Clint Black, also echoed Lee's sentiments on Facebook.

"I cannot begin to explain our loss not only as a great artist but a wonderful lady," he posted. "She always said 'It's all about the groove' and most musicians know that's the case. I thought I knew all about the groove until I played with Marie English. Marie was a master of the groove on keys and piano."

According to the Web site archive.constantcontact.com, funeral services for English are planned for this afternoon at Gospel Truth Church, 1624 W. 34th St. in Houston. Visitation with her family is scheduled for 3 p.m., with the funeral to follow at 4.

Contributions to help English's family with burial expenses can be submitted via Paypal to bluesmarie.english@yahoo.com

Rose said he had been playing with English for two and a half years in Dardar's band, and had known her for ten years. Dardar's regularly scheduled gig Saturday at the Big Easy will proceed as planned, and English's piano will be placed on the bandstand in her honor, he added.

According to Rose, further benefits for English's family are planned for a week from this Sunday, also at the Big Easy; as well as dates TBD at Dan Electro's Guitar Bar and Katie's in Bacliff, where English was also popular.

"She had a lot of fans down there," the drummer said. "People would come just to see her."

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