A beloved local musician passed away on Oct. 7, Monday morning. LOZELLE JENNINGS was known to many musicians and music-lovers as the founding father of The PentaCoastal Blues Jam, which met faithfully every Sunday in Newport for over 8 years. The musicians who wandered in and out over the years, ranged from local lawyers ~ at least three of them ~ to a local high school music teacher to beginners to professional musicians.
Of course, it wasn’t only the music that drew people. There was a comradery and fellowship between the musicians and the music lovers, nurtured by the kindly presence of the “Ringmaster,” who knew how to work it with style and grace. Lozelle was also the leader of the local blues band, The Purple Cats, who played many gigs in Lincoln County and beyond. Before The Purple Cats, Lozelle was a member or the leader of other bands in California and elsewhere.
Lozelle played accordion, harmonica, and brought a strong vocal presentation to the mix. Snooky Pryor, the great blues harpman, once said he just didn’t see how Jennings could play bass with the left hand, rhythm with the right, plus play the lead through a racked harmonica. “I don’t know,” Jennings said, “I guess it’s a little like juggling cats—if you don’t feel the flow, all you get is scratches, bites, and a lot of yowling.
Lozelle Jennings found his place in Seal Rock in 2003. He says, “Having pulled up stakes over sixty times, I’m pretty good at relocating and getting along with folks. But I feel a special family bond to Oregon.” Although he was referring to familial bonds, bond with us he did. Lozelle, we will miss you so much. You will always be in our hearts.
Lozelle was very supportive of other musicians and did what he could to help out with his experience and expertise. He ran a tight ship, one that sailed us to islands of Blues Paradise. A memorial Celebration of Life is being planned that will likely draw several hundred musicians and fans from near and far.
Join the FaceBook page, Newport Rocks, to stay tuned in. You can listen to Lozelle’s music here: