An elderly blues musician who’s considered one of Iowa’s living legends was subject of a 14-band benefit concert over the weekend. In his 90th year, Jimmy “Midnight Cowboy” Pryor is still fronting the band Fat Tuesday and the Greasefire Horns. At Saturday’s ceremony, Pryor was given the key to Des Moines by the mayor, and a scratchy, 1943 recording was played — of Pryor playing with jazz great Louis Armstrong at Des Moines’ Val Air Ballroom.Proceeds from the weekend show will benefit Pryor’s medical bills and the Jimmy Pryor Music Scholarship Fund. Pryor says he feels great after so much support from the community. Pryor says “It’s so nice. Everything is working out so good for me, it’s got my head swimming.” Pryor became popular decades ago on the Center Street strip, a bustling black community in then-segregated Des Moines. He says he’s been fortunate to live such a long life, focused on the blues, jazz and big band music he loves. Pryor says “I think my days is just about over now. I’m 90 years old now, so, I can say I’ve had my fun at it and I had a good time at it and everything was good for me at it. Everybody loves me, nobody hates Jimmy, he was a good boy, a good old guy.” In 1999, Pryor was inducted into the Iowa Blues Hall of Fame.
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