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Corpus Christi blues festival renamed in honor of musician, teacher Jak Payne

Posted at 5:36 PM, May 05, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-05 18:36:37-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — This year's Corpus Christi Blues Festival will have a new name, in honor of one of their own from the Coastal Bend.

To celebrate the life of John Tarver "Jak" Payne, a well-known musician in the local music scene, the festival will now be called Jak Payne's Corpus Christi Waterfront Blues Festival.

A well respected keyboardist, trumpet player and all around musician, Payne recently died of cancer.

His death was felt by other members of the blues music community and the Guitar Center of Corpus Christi — where he worked for 15 years.

"I'm a blues fanatic," Catfish Blues Band musician Frank Butler said. "I play differently when I'm sad. And I play differently with hard time, and of course right now that's what we're experiencing, the pain with Jak, (that is) what the blues is all about."

Guitar Center operations manager Bryan Garcia described Jak as knowledgeable, kind and someone who connected with everyone through his love of music.

"He really really cared about the customers that came in," Garcia said. "Many people he impacted met him while he was on the job."

While Payne's death impacted the people whose lives he touched, it also provided a deeper reason for his fellow musicians to continue their dedication to their craft - by singing the blues.

"His passing is another reminder that every time you get up on stage might be your last, so you want to pour it all out," Butler said. "You want to play like there's no tomorrow. And that's what Jak gave me."

To honor Jak and his love of music he left behind, five blues bands will join forces on Saturday, May 27 at the blues festival at Cole Park Amphitheater.

Attendees are encouraged to bring two non-perishable food items as a donation to Timon Ministries Food Bank and enjoy the performances.

Butler said it's a way to give to a good cause and celebrate the life and legacy of Jak Payne.

"I wanna do good things," he said. "I want to do the best things with the best guys I can find, and I found them because of Jak."

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