August 29, 2022
August 29, 2022
Melendy Spirit Award Recipient Posthumously, 2022
In 1884 Eddie Bowles was born in New Orleans where he resided until moving to Cedar Falls in 1914. While in New Orleans he learned to play guitar from Louis Armstrong and Kid Ory. He joined two different bands that made circuits around the town as a young man. However, when
he married Sarah Blanche in 1911, he chose to leave music for a more stable career.
When the couple moved to Cedar Falls in 1914 Eddie worked to build the first paved roads in Cedar Falls. He was also employed by local railroads, as a foundrymen for John Deere, and as a tree trimmer by the city of Cedar Falls during this time. Music never traveled far from Eddie’s life as he was always playing music for the neighborhood children in impromptu concerts outside his house after work. During the Blues Revival in the 1960’s Eddie taught young guitarists how to perform his unique picking style. He was also a regular performer at the annual Cedar Falls Folk Convention and continued to play well into his 90’s.
Eddie’s generosity did not just include sharing his musical talents. He also made contributions to the community by buying a new pair of shoes for children he knew who were in need. His home was also a safe space for children who had tense home lives. Eddie passed away at the age of 100 in 1984. However, he continues to be recognized time and time again still today. The Hearst Center for the Arts created an exhibit recognizing all he had done in March of 2022. The release of the Best of Eddie Bowles Album was also released the same year along with a walking tour to learn more about this man’s life. The Cedar Falls Community Foundation is honored to bring even more recognition to Eddie Bowles and present him with one of the 2022 Melendy Spirit Awards.