OAKLAND (KCBS) – A piece of Oakland history that many either forgot about or may never have even known about will soon come alive again with a new movement to honor the city’s musical past.

The city, along with the Bay Area Blues Society is creating a Blues Walk of Fame. Much like the stars on Hollywood Boulevard, the sidewalk would mark spots of significance for Oakland’s musical legends.

These days, 7th St. tends to be drowned out by constant traffic. But that wasn’t always the case. There were clubs there, hosting the biggest names in blues music.

“This was the black Harlem of the West Coast,” declared guitarist Ronnie Stewart, president of the Bay Area Blues Society.

The clubs were humming ’round the clock during the ’40s and ’50s.

“I was the shoe shine boy that shined all the stars’ shoes and tap danced for a quarter,” reminisced “Terrible Tom” Bowden.

He also performed “hambone,” the percussive sounds of slapping body and mouth, on 7th St., making it the perfect place to commemorate Oakland’s musical history with a Blues Walk of Fame.

KCBS’ Mike Sugerman Reports:

Stewart described the mission of the Blues Walk of Fame as identifying Oakland’s musical past because, “Without a past, there’s no future.”

Bowden envisions something that reminds people of a past and glorious era of Oakland.

“Nobody went hungry on 7th St.,” he recalled.

Bowden will be among the blues men and women receiving a star – with the first installation set for January 2012. A concert of players from Oakland’s past is slated for Dec. 7 at Freight & Salvage in Berkeley.

(© 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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