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The official web site of Dar (Hosta) James, artist, author, illustrator & educator.

Richard King Is Writing A Book About The Blue Note

The Blue Note Book

An upcoming book about Richard King's Blue Note in Columbia, Missouri.

Richard King Is Writing A Book About The Blue Note

Dar James

I was in the fourth grade when my family moved to Columbia, Missouri. It was 1977, just two years after Richard King arrived there to visit his friend, Kevin Walsh, on his way to California to try to figure out what to do with his life. He, of course, never made it to the west coast. And, by the time I was an undergrad at Mizzou, the Blue Note was a landmark in my hometown and a powerful force in my own cultural and social life.

But, if you're here reading this, you already know the influence this music club had on the lives of people who lived, worked and played in and around Columbia. It was the stuff of our legendary youths, wasn't it? During the years I stayed in Columbia, I was fortunate enough to be in some of the same circles as Richard and have always considered him a friend, someone I enjoy running into whenever I am back home. Of course, Facebook keeps us all connected and that is how this story begins...

After nearly four decades in the music club business, Richard sold the Blue Note last year and, since then, lots of people have said,

"Hey, Richard, you should really write a book."

Photograph by LG Patterson

Photograph by LG Patterson

Facebook friends sounded off a couple months ago on one of his "retirement" posts and, to the mix, I added a comment, "If you ever want help putting a book together, I'd love to help you with a project like that." A few days later, he private messaged me and said he had often thought about doing a book but that he had no idea where to begin. I told him books begin just like this. With an idea, a conversation and a little imagination. 

So, we've had a flurry of back and forth emails and a good phone conversation about what something like this could become. The first people to hear about this, including Patty, Richard's wife, have expressed a lot of excitement and support for the idea of a book that would include stories, interviews, photographs, old poster art and more... all about the Blue Note... the place, the people, the music.

I've made a career out of making books and helping other people make books. I also do writing workshops for children and adults and I know that there are few things scarier than a blank, white page and the feeling that you don't have anything to say. With that kind of a feeling, who would actually want to write a book?

So, when Richard told me he hadn't really written anything since the days he wrote letters to his mother and voiced his concerns about what, exactly, he would write about, I told him I had a few ideas about how to make this easy and fun. And, because I've been present for some of Richard's storytelling, I knew that this was a real-life case of the one, super true secret about being a writer: Writing is just talking on paper.

I told Richard, "All you have to do is tell the stories that people want to hear. And there are lots of them. Every person who has told you that you should write a book thinks this is true."


You're going to give Richard the questions, the prompts and the memories that will nudge out the stories of the Blue Note. 


And, rather than overwhelm anyone's Facebook page, I've created this space here where you can use the comment section to post questions, memories, anecdotes or anything else that you think would coax out the things you'd like to hear Richard tell us all about. Things like...

What was the most challenging band to book?

Talk about your parents and how you think they contributed to what you did with your professional life.

Which musician(s) touched your life in the most meaningful ways?

How did the Dance Party come to be?

You can leave your name or submit anonymously. You may also email your questions and stories to

do you have photographs?

If you'd like to submit photographs or promotional artwork that you have from the Blue Note for consideration, please send a hi-resolution (300 dpi) jpg, psd or tiff file to: (Please include as much as you can about the photograph, when it was taken and the people in it, as well as photo credits if they are known.)

I'll post here regularly to update anyone who is interested in how this project progresses, publish sneak peeks of interviews and photographs and to keep this ball rolling. You can subscribe by clicking the RSS feed button below or by emailing and putting "Subscribe" in the subject line.

the blue note created columbia's music scene

A book full of the Blue Note's stories is a really good idea.

Let's make it a reality. Together.