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Josh Coen

Josh Coen
Photo by Paul Neevel.

A native of Huntington Beach, Calif., Josh Coen recalls the evening his dad was elected mayor. “We had a babysitter and heard it on the radio,” he says. “The neighbors TP-ed the house.” Coen studied advertising at Cal State Fullerton, interned at an ad agency, then was hired on as a copywriter. After three years, he took leave for a trip to the Amazon with his two brothers. On his return in 1991 he decided to go it alone as a copywriter. “I’ve been freelancing ever since,” says Coen, who was also getting into blues music in those years. “I went to blues festivals with friends who played guitar.” When he moved north with his wife and daughter in 2004, Coen found that the blues were alive in Eugene. He joined the Rainy Day Blues Society in 2007 and played a major role in developing a curriculum and coordinating the Society’s Blues in the Schools Program. “In the first full year, 2008-09, we visited 750 kids in 10 schools,” he says. “Kids and teachers loved it.” Free of charge to schools, the program expanded to reach 4,500 kids in 2011-12, thanks to 32 volunteer musicians and teachers. “Every year, we visit the Serbu Youth Campus,” he says. “Those kids understand the blues.” Check out Coen’s effort to export Blues in the Schools to other communities at bluescomix.com and watch EW music listings for his daughter Savanna, aka Eugene’s teen queen of the blues.