Wednesday, September 17, 2008

New site for Festival Preview

Hello festival-goers,

Festival Preview has recently gone through a major site upgrade and will now be posting festival news for all genres on the new beta version of The R&B section of the new site can be found here. Come sign up at the new site and join in on the fun!

Jessica Bailiff
Publishing Associate
Festival Preview

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Jus' Blues Music Awards

In association with the Beale Street Merchants' Association, the Beale Street Development Corporation and the Memphis Convention & Visitors' Bureau, the Jus' Blues Music Foundation will host the Jus' Blues Music Awards Week in downtown Memphis.

The event runs from August 6th through August 9th, and features the Beale Street Blues Crawl and the Big Chitlin' Cook-Off and Blues Fest. Other parts of the Awards Week include the Awards Ceremony itself, which will recognize the work of great artists in the blues and soul genres and a technology conference focusing on how new technology can be used to promote, market and affect sales.

More information on the Awards Week can be found on the Jus' Blues Music Foundation's official site.

Renegade Reggae Festival

The Renegade Reggae Festival takes place at the Truckee Ampitheater on July 26th, with doors at 4:00 and music starting at 4:30. Featuring such artists as Prezident Brown, Mystic Roots, Pato Banton, Salvador Santana and Del Castillo, the festival should be quite a feast of enjoyable vibes.

Tickets for the festival are $25 in advance, simple as that. Fore more info and to buy tickets, go to the festival promoter, Renegade Presents's, official webpage for the festival here.

California Worldfest Not Affected by Wildfires

Contrary to what most of you are probably thinking with regards to the 1000+ wildfires that have been ravaging the forests and inland region of California, the California Worldfest, which takes place in the Sierra Foothills is still on.

Festival organizers confirmed that the festival will go on as planned on July 17th through the 20th at the Grass Valley Fairgrounds, and attributed the festival's viability to the work of local firefighters, suggesting that there may have been a serious chance of cancellation at one point. To find out more about Worldfest tickets and such, go here.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Mohawk Valley Blues Festival

The gates will open for the Mohawk Valley Blues Festival at noon on August 22 at the Herkimer County Fairgrounds in Utica, IN. A longtime fundraiser for various causes including aid for Hurricane Katrina victims and the Humane Society, the festival this year will donate some of its proceeds to Operation Sunshine, a coalition of various local branches of organizations such as the Salvation Army, the Girl Scouts and the Boy Scouts. The coalition brainstorms community service projects to be implemented throughout the Utica Area

The headline act for this year's festial is Magic Slim and the Teardrops, with supporters Darrell Nulisch, Sharrie Williams & the Wiseguys and Clarence Spady.

Tickets for the festival are $20 in advance and $25 at the gate, with children 16 and under getting in free.

To find out more about the festival, go to the event's official website.

Northwest Reggae Fest set for August 8-10

The Northwest World Reggae Festival will go down on the 8th, 9th and 10th of August in Marcola, OR, returning to Bob Russell's Ranch. The festival, whose organizers cannot stress the "no dogs" rule enough, features headliners Midnite, NOMO and Macka B, with supports Queen Omega, Warrior King and Fareed Haque.

Besides the mainstage live performances, there will be Dancehall Dome in operation throughout the night, wit Mt. Lion Hifi spinning tracks, and selectors on the festival's mainstage will include Trinity Soundz, Small Axe, Short Change and Kal-El.

Three-day passes including camping are $100, while tickets for just Saturday and Sunday with camping are $90 and tickets for Sunday without camping are $40. Three day and Saturday/
Sunday tickets are available on the 'net, at ticket outlets and at the gate, and Sunday-only tickets are available just online and at the gate.

For more info, go to

Reggae Summer Fest lineup announced

The Budweiser Reggae Summer Fest will start at 1 pm on September 7 in Washington D.C.'s RFK Stadium and will run through 10 pm. Headliners include Beres Hammond & the Harmony House Singers, Kymani Marley, I-Wayne, Turbulance and many more.

In between live sets, tunes will be spun by selektors Half Krazy, Amplex with Glamour G and DJ Chick and Rasta Punch/Teacha from local radio station WPFW.

Advance tickets for the festival are $35 or $65 fo VIP passes, while the gate price is $40 for regular access and $80 for VIP access.

For more info on the festival, call (202) 340-6399 or go to the festival's website

Friday, July 4, 2008

15th annual Tremblant International Blues Festival starts on (U.S.) Independence Day

The Tremblant Internaitonal Blues Festival, held at the Mont-Tremblant Resort in Quebec, is off and running today. The festival really gets going tommorrow, with Johnny Winter headlining, and then just takes off from there.

On Monday, the festival will hold an acoustic mini-festival of sorts, the Acoustic Summit, which will feature Ryan Leblanc, Steve Marriner, Hot Toddy, Dawn Tyler & Paul Deslauriers, Trever Finlay and Steve Strongman.

Tuesday consists of a tribute to the late Jeff Healey with his blues band performing, while Wednesday will see Los Lobos with opener Ana Popovic.

Friday is another mini-festival celebrating women in blues-- it's titled "Grandes Dames du Blues"-- featuring Dawn Tyler Watson, Shakura S'Aida, Angel Forrest and Nanette Workman.

Saturday sees Bill Walsh, and Willie "Big Eyes" Smith will close out the festival with Pinetop Perkins, who will be celebrating his 95th birthday.

A final plus is the green initiatives the festival has taken, using recycled paper whenever possible, urging volunteers, artists and visitors to do the same, and avoiding products that are non-recyclable or hard to recycle.

To get more info on the festival go to the resort's website.

19th annual BBQ & Blues in Auburn, CA

The 19th annual BBQ & Blues is set to kick off at 1:00 p.m. on July 12 at the Gold Country Fairgrounds in Auburn, CA. Headliners of the festival are Koko Taylor and her Blues Machine, as well as Coco Montoya and Cole Fonseca and the Rattlers. Besides the awesome lineup, the festival has another thing going for it-- it helps fund the Placer County SPCA, which in turn helps homeless companion animals throughout the County.

At the 1:00 gate time, festivalgoers will get access to hot local talent as well as more than 35 vendors selling food, arts and crafts, jewelery, and, in spirit with the festival's cause, pet-related items.

Tickets cost $25 if bought in advance and are $35 at the gate. Tickets can be obtained through the Placer SPCA either online or by calling either of two numbers, (916) 782-7722 ext. 102 or (530) 885-7387 ext. 102.

MVBF quickly switches venues to Davenport

The Mississippi Valley Blues Society has decided to move the Mississippi Valley Blues Festival from its former LeClaire Park location to downtown Davenport, IA. Because of its being right on the banks of the Mississippi River, the Park has been deemed too dangerous a venue to hold the festival in the midst of the massive flooding that has gripped Iowa in recent weeks.

The festival, which brings an economic benefit of $2.5 million to the Quad Cities area, will utilize the streets of downtown Davenport as well as the city's Adler Theater for its activities. While considering LeClaire Park the festival's "home location," festival spokesperson Karen McFarland sees the event as potentially serving a major purpose this summer no matter where it is held, stating, "By the holiday, people will be needing a break from cleanup efforts, or looking for a festival to attend because of their hometown festival cancellations. We Welcome everyone to come to the Quad Cities and enjoy three great days of world-class music, great food and lots of fun with family and friends."

Some of the cancelled local events McFarland referred to included Burlington's Steamboat Days, Cedar Rapids' Freedom Festival, and Cedar Falls' Sturgis Falls events.

Featured performers at this year's Blues Festival include Koko Taylor, Elvin Bishop, Denise LaSalle, Otis Taylor and the Black Banjo Project, Billy Boy Arnold with Jody Williams and The Homes Brothers.

Advance three-day passes for the festival are $40 while one-day passes are $15 at the gate. Children 14 and under get in for free. To find out more go to the Mississippi Valley Blues Society's website.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Martha's Vineyard Festival expands in second year

By Dan Ruby

Continuing its busy summer of producing new, expanded and reprogrammed festivals, Festival Network announced plans for a more ambitious but still single-day Martha's Vineyard Festival on August 10.

Unlike last year when the program was a Boston Pops concert with special guests, this year supplements a Pops program featuring Gladys Knight with individual performances by The Neville Brothers, Steel Pulse, piano sensation Minami Morita, and three Vineyard-based performers, Willy Mason, Kate Taylor, and Entrain with Phil DaRosa.

Besides more music, the festival introduces an arts component with an exhibit of "Tribal Art on the Vineyard," showing August 2-3 at the Union Chapel in Oak Bluffs. The festival is also featuring a new film, Zeb - Schooner Life, which will screen all summer at several island locations.

The festival is in Ocean Park in Oak Bluffs MA. Gates open at 1:30 and the music program begins at 3 pm. General admission is $75. A portion of the fee goes to benefit local community organizations. For ticket information and details, visit the festival website.

Festival Network is smart to be growing this festival year over year, integrating it with local activities and choosing an eclectic musical format ranging from classical to folk to R&B. In future years, this could be a full-blown multiday event that would be embraced by the island's year-round and summer residents as a homegrown cultural institution.

By contrast, Festival Network jumped right into two-day festivals with its two new festivals in Jackson Hole WY (August 16-17) and Whistler BC (July 19-20). All three events share a common theme in their siting in resort destinations and eclectic musical lineups.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Pitchfork fest to host discussion about seminal Public Enemy record

Announcement by Future of Music Coaltion

On Thursday, July 17, an important piece of hip-hop history gets its due. Future of Music Coalition is teaming up with the Pitchfork Music Festival to host a discussion about Public Enemy's seminal album, It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back. The free event – which features members of PE's production team and music media experts – will take place at 3 PM at the Chicago Cultural Center's Claudia Cassidy Theater.

When Public Enemy released It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back in 1988, it sounded like nothing else at the time. The album's sirens, squeals and squawks were met by fluid beats and frontman Chuck D's unflinchingly observant rhymes. Twenty years later, the record is still considered one of hip hop's finest achievements. It Takes a Nation fused politics and music in unprecedented ways, creating a dense sound collage of rhythm, noise and the voices of 20th century black leaders.

The in-depth discussion taking place in Chicago will explore the making of It Takes A Nation, as well as the cultural events that helped shape its message. The event takes place one day before Public Enemy reunites to play the album in its entirety at the Pitchfork Music Festival.

Hank and Keith Shocklee — one half of Public Enemy's production unit, the Bomb Squad — will reveal how they fashioned their powerful world of sound. Harry Allen, journalist, activist and onetime PE "Media Assassin" will join the members of the Bomb Squad in a lively conversation led by documentary filmmaker Kembrew McLeod (Copyright Criminals).

The discussion will take place at the Chicago Cultural Center's Claudia Cassidy Theatre, beginning at 3 PM. Admission to the event is free, but those interested in attending must reserve spots by emailing

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Monterey Bay Reggaefest 2008 (artists not announced yet)

Photo Credit: Monterey Bay Reggaefest

Though the lineup is TBA, the Monterey Bay Reggaefest's 13th annual edition is shaping up to be as excellent as all that came before. Peripheral enjoyments include a 3-on-3 basketball tournament, beer garden and an entire Rastafarian Arts & Culture Museum onsite. 

The festival's also ideal for bringing the kids, as there will be an "fun zone" including face painting, jump houses and other activities. Though camping space is only reserved for RV's, the Monterey County Fairgrounds venue, located about a mile from downtown Monterey, should make the event pretty accessible for campers and non-campers alike. The festival is set for Friday, August 29th, Saturday, August 30th, and Sunday, August 31st.

To find out more about Reggaefest, click here.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Bear Creek Bluesfest in two weeks

The Bear Creek Blues Festival will run through its 5th edition in Slater, Missouri on June 28th, according to the festival's official website. Lil' Ed and the Blues Imperials are the main headliners, with other outfits including Lew Jetton & 61 South, Doghouse Daddies, Mr. Fletcher & Scott McCullough.

One relative bonus of Bear Creek over most blues festivals is that free camping will be offered on a first come, first serve basis on the night of the festival, though a one-night festival such as Bear Creek also wouldn't necessitate camping as much as, say, Ottawa Bluesfest or Bonnaroo.

For more info about the 5th edition of the Bear Creek Blues Festival, go here

Program Announced for Sandy Beaches Cruise #15

Ringmaster Delbert McClinton will once again assemble some of the best in reggae, zydeco, blues, southern rock and Americana for his 15th Sandy Beaches Cruise, set to push off from San Diego on January 17, 2009. Clinton's boat of choice, Holland America's luxurious ms Oosterdam, will take fans on an eight-day journey, stopping at the scenic and (indeed) very sandy beaches of Zihuatanejo and Manzanillo on Mexico's Pacific Coast along the way, returning to the original Southern California port on the 24th.

Of note this particular year are five new additions to Sandy Beaches' already robust traditional artist roster: Geoff Achison, Tab Benoit, Tom Hambridge & the Rattlesnkes, Cyrill Neville & Tribe 13 and Seth Walker.

There are various price levels for accommodation on the cruise, though all must put down a $500 deposit to make a reservation (for individuals or multiple travelers), with a refund of $150 until the 91 days before cruise kick-off. For more info on Sandy Beaches #15, go here.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Main Announcements for Long Beach Bayou Festival 2008

The 22nd annual Long Beach Bayou Festival has been set to run from June 21st to 22nd at Rainbow Lagoon Park in Long Beach, CA. Festival programming puts a heavy emphasis on zydeco this year, including a couple Grammy nominees within that element's ranks, while maintaining a sizeable helping of blues performances to complement the zydeco sets during the two days.

One of the Grammy nom's, accordion maestro Terrence Simien, will be teaching kids the ABC's of Creole music and culture as part of one of the festival's non-musical attractions, the festival
's Lagoon Stage's Cultural, Educational Music Workshops. Other non-aural delights include multiple crawfish eating contests throughout the day, rock climbing, free dance lessons and free arts and crafts for kids.

With major performers including Chubby Carrier & The Bayou Swamp Band and Simien & The Zydeco Experience, the festival's Cajun and blues performers total a lineup of 21 performers, all of whom can be seen for an advance sale price of $30 or $35 when bought at the gate. For those who want reserved seating as well as backstage access to two of the festival's stages, a VIP option will do the trick for $60. Kids aged 12 and under can come to the festival for free. For more info on the festival, go to its official website.

Monday, June 2, 2008

NW World Reggae Festival 2008 announced

The dates and lineup for the Northwest Reggae Festival's 2008 edition have been released by the festival's organizers. Headliners include The Mighty Diamonds, Macka B and Sister Carol. Other notables include Midnite, Katchafire and Queen Omega.

Organizers have also announced that the festival has moved to a new site, located 20 miles north of Eugene, Oregon and providing camping adjacent to the music area. A three-day pass (Friday, Saturday and Sunday) w/ camping (for Fri. and Sat.) is $110, a two-day pass w/camping for one night (Sat.) is $90 and a Sunday day-only pass is $40.00.  More info on the festival can be found here

Midwest Reggaefest set for August 8-10

The Midwest Reggaefest has announced its line-up and dates for its 17th year. The festival is to be held at Nelson Ledges Quarry Park in Garrettsville, Ohio from August 8 through the 10th. 2008 will be the second year at the Nelson Ledges venue Billed as "3 days of roots reggae, camping, swimming, nature and more," the event will be headlined by Beres Hammond, Midnite and Culture, with Yellowman, Shinehead and Marty Dread as main supports.

$75 buys fans a three-day pass (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday) that includes camping for both Friday and Saturday nights, $65 gets a two-day pass (Saturday and Sunday) with camping for Saturday night only, and $25 gets a music-only pass for Sunday. For more info on the festival, click here.

Summer Jam 2008 Videos

The New York hip-hop radio station Hot 97 has just compiled a remarkable list of videos by main stage performers, amateur MCs battling it out and a montage of the most beautiful people seen at Summer Jam 2008. Numbering 9 in total, the official videos can be seen here.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Lineup Announced for 13th Annual Russian River Blues Festival

The initial list of performers for this year's Russian River Blues Festival, set to take place on Johnson's Beach in Guerneville, CA on June 13th and 14th, has been announced. As always, there are some deviations from what the "blues" part of the title may lead one to expect as far as the festival's programming goes, but it only leads to some nice surprises. Case in point: Los Lonely Boys and Dan Hicks & the Hot Licks. 

Once thing to note about the venue: it's literally right on the Russian River. So if you want to watch the festivities from the comfort of an inner-tube, then this is your party. There will also be 3 wine-tasting sessions, featuring various selections from the famous Northern California wine country. Two-day passes for the festival will be $80, with $45 for a one-day ticket in advance. Single-days can be purchased at the gate for $50. For more info, go to the festival's website

Friday, May 16, 2008

22nd Annual UCLA JazzReggaeFest Lineup Announced

Those upstarts down at UCLA have managed to pull together the likes of The Roots, the Doors' John Densmore, Stephen Marley, and Capleton, among others, for their 22nd edition of the JazzReggaeFest. The student-run festival will use biodiesel to power its mainstage, among other aspects of a general green initiative that will pervade the festival this year, which may unfortunately explain the fact that not even all students attending the college can get in for free.

Advance tickets are $25, with the first 2000 UCLA students getting in for free. To find out more, Click here.

Antigua and Barbuda Romantic Rhythms Music Festival

                                                         Photo Credit: Manchester Evening News
The first annual Antigua and Barbuda Romantic Rhythms Festival is set to get off to a pretty darn good start, what with the kinds of people they have on the lineup the first year. A diverse lineup includes Lionel Riche, Kenny Rodgers and Shaggy, among others, and the event will be held in a $60 million stadium that formerly hosted the 2007 Cricket World Cup. The thing goes down Saturday and Sunday, June 13th and 14th respectively. Find out more here.

Lineup for Rhythm, Blues & All That Jazz Weekend Announced

                                                           Photo Credit: Guy Peters Reviews
Ok. This festival is indeed held at Carnegie Hall (except for one performance, a free street dance which takes place at another venue called The Terrace), but the Carnegie Hall in Lewisburg VA. Running from June 26th to June 28th, the lineup as announced features its share of heavyweights, such as Herbert Sumlin and Bill Frisell. Tickets for the festival's bulk of performances, which are on Saturday, cost $30 a pop, and do not grant admission for the individual performance by the Bill Frisell Trio on Friday, the 27th. To claim your tickets or read more about the festival, click here.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Doheny Blues Festival Announces Lineup

The folks at Omega Events have just announced the complete lineup for the 11th annual Doheny Blues Festival, set to take place on May 17th and 18th at Doheny State Park in Dana Point, California. Saturday, the 17th will be headlined by former guitar prodigy, current funk virtuoso Johnny Lang and the venerable Bonnie Raitt will headline the 18th. Other notables include the Robert Cray Band and Eric Burdon & the Animals on the 17th and Little Feat and Ivan Neville's Dumpstaphunk on the 18th, with a grand total of 26 performances.

While special VIP and Gold edition tickets have been sold out, a weekend pass goes for $45. Click here to get tickets.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Summer Jam Lineup and Tickets Released

                                  Photo Credit: Urban Music (Word Press)

The country's foremost mainstream hip-hop festival has announced its lineup and put tickets on sale. SummerJam, which has packed 60,000 people into Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. every year since 2003 and is put on by New York radio station Hot 97, has in store what seems to me to be two can't-miss sets. The first is fairly obvious-- the headliner Kanye West, who's three albums have each set new standards in production and witty lyricism.

The second set that deserves a lot of focus is what seems to be the first one of the day-- Lil' Wayne featuring Gym Class Heroes, the only billed instrumental outfit at the festival. Wayne has produced most of his beats with the "usual" drum machines, loops, and synthesizers, so it'll be very interesting to see how he can gel with a guitar, bass and drums behind him, as well as how Heroes frontman Travis McCoy will fit himself into Wayne's lyrics. Also, how will the material be divvied up?

Against the history of SummerJam, this year's edition might only seem decent (where are T.I., Jay-Z and Ludacris?), but perhaps Kanye and Wayne will break from a tranquil relationship and help carry on a "proud" tradition of Summer Jam-- beefs, including Jay-Z v. Nas and 50 Cent v. Ja Rule, blowing out of proportion. You can witness a major moment in hip-hop history, for better or for worse, on June 1st for only $40. More information on the opportunity here.

-- Ross Moody

Friday, April 25, 2008

Buddy Guy tribute tops celebration of Illinois music and culture

Chicago's jam-packed festival summer got a new contender with the program announcement for the Great Performers of Illinois festival, July 18–20 in the city's Millennium Park. The celebration of Illinois culture and history has music on multiple stages, including a great opening night featuring Latin country music originating in Durango, Mexico, and thriving in cities like Aurora and Joliet.

But the big festival highlight is a special tribute concert to Chicago blues great Buddy Guy, free to the public, 8 p.m. July 20 on the Great Lawn at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion. Grammy-winning guitarist Jimmie Vaughan will headline with his Tilt A Whirl Band, along with vocalist Lou Ann Barton and other special guests to be announced. Guy will be presented with the first Great Performer of Illinois award.

"[Guy] is a blues giant who has had a world-wide impact on music and culture and brought international attention to Chicago as the home of the blues,” said Lois Weisberg, Commissioner, Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs, which is hosting the festival.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Bookings open for Caribbean Holidaze in Decemeber

Umphrey's McGee and The Disco Biscuits will return as the Brain Damaged Eggmen, performing the music of the Beatles, Pink Floyd and Bob Marley, at the second Caribbean Holidaze December 11-15 at the Hedonism III and Breezes resorts in Runaway Bay, Jamaica. The first collaboration between the bands was the highlight of Cloud 9 Adventures' first Holidaze event last December.

The festival opens bookings for the 2008 event next week. Also on the lineup: Toots and the Maytals, Toubab Krewe, OTT, and Mad Professor with Ariwa Posse. All accommodations are at the two "super-inclusive" resorts, in which all entertainment, lodging and meals are included in a single price. Oceanfront concerts will take place all four days with attendees free to explore all the amenities each resort has to offer. Per-person rates range from about $900 to $1900, depending on room choice.

For complete information: Caribbean Holidaze

Monday, March 24, 2008

Super Chikan

Photo Credit: Resource Entertainment Group

Super Chikan

The nephew of Big Jack Johnson, James "Super Chikan" Johnson has an ability on the electric guitar that more than makes up for his stage name. On his most recent album, Sum Mo Chikan, he uses a very spare band (drums, bass, and piano) and nothing else throughout, and this instrumentation comes in handy when Johnson takes a solo, because his fretwork always turns out to be note-perfect, fun and compelling. The kind of sound that Johnson focuses on isn't one that you've never heard before, but it does have an excellent consistency that you're not likely to hear from many other blues guitarists.

Personnel (w/Fighting Cocks): James "Super Chikan" Johnson (vocals, guitar), Laura Craig (keyboards), Harvell Thomas (bass), Dion Thomas (drums)

Upcoming: Springing The Blues April 4-6, Juke Joint Festival April 19

Chikan Playing "Hookin' Up"

Video by charleyb1968.

Springing The Blues

Photo Credit: Springing The Blues

Springing The Blues

Springing The Blues is the first of a deluge of blues festivals that feature big lineups filled with performers on the cusp of national renown. Consider that this year the festival's theme is a tribute to the 35-year strong blues powerhouse label, Alligator Records. The festival not only has recruited several members of the label, such as Eric Lindell, Tinsley Ellis, Lil' Ed and the Blues Imperials and Smoking Joe Kubek featuring B'nois King, but also lesser known talent like child prodigy Eric Steckel and local funk outfit, the Legendary J.C.'s. A nice balance between the established and new is struck, whether intended or not.

Headliners: Michael Burks, Lil' Ed & The Blues Imperials, Tinsley Ellis, Smokin' Joe Kubek Band, Eric Lindell, Super Chikan and the Fighting Cocks, Paul Rishell & Annie Raines

No video available

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Reggae Rising Makes Second Batch of Major Announcements

                                                            Photo Credit: Calabash Music

So far seven performers, including returners Tanya Stephens and Sly & Robbie, are set to blaze Piercy, CA for the 2nd annual Reggae Rising Festival. With a runnning slogan including the phrase "accept no substitutes," organizers People Productions may still be coming off as a bit cocky, considering the fight they had to go through to start the first one. Then again, these announcements seem drive the nail even further into the coffin for rival organization the Mateel Community Center, in regards to who will hold a reggae festival, whether it's billed as "Reggae on the River" (under Mateel's direction) or "Reggae Rising" (under that of People Productions).

Early bird camping and three-day general admission tickets are now available, at $160 and $40 a pop, respectively. Find out more about the announcements here.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The State of The 2008 Chicago Bluesfest (As of February)

                                             Photo Credit: how stuff works
With the fourth night of the Chicago Blues Festival announced, with none other than B.B. King set to cap this year's proceedings, the folks running the Chicago Blues Festival have given us a pretty decent amount of the festival's lineup (though it will eventually get up to 90 performances, according to the organizers). With a fairly diverse lineup so far-- from the acoustic subtelty of David "Honeyboy" Edwards to the vocal pyromania of Koko Taylor, it would be interesting to see how this range stacks up with that of past lineups.

As it turns out, the Chicago Bluesfest has been dealing in musicians from throughout the blues stylistic spectrum (as opposed to focusing solely on the host city's bread-and-butter electric style) since the first 1984 run; indeed, during those first three days, some of the same performers playing this year, such as Pinetop Perkins and Buckwheat Zydeco, could be found on stage.

During the late '80s, with themed stages first being introduced in 1986, the festival's ranks were filled with decidedly un-blues performers, such as Zydeco, Solomon Burke, and Keith Richards (local r&b crooner Cicero Blake, who performs this year, could also be included on this list). The trend is also reflected this year in the addition of soul divas Jackie Ross and Ruby Andrews to the lineup.

Sadly for those who are going this year and have never gone before, they will miss out on a fair amount of legends that frequented the festival in the past that won't be present in 2008. Buddy Guy, the most glaring example, has already played the festival five times but will not be in Grant Park this year. To be fair, the aformentioned Edwards and Taylor came back this year, and Guy can always be confirmed later this spring.

One thing that festivalgoers won't have to worry about this year is a lack of guitar fireworks. With players like Johnny Winter, Bobby Parker and Lurrie Bell already set, the festival's working out to be quite rigorous in terms of fretboard shredding and mean string bends.

While it's not confirmed to continue this year, the festival has demonstrated a trend of branching out lately, not in terms of artists so much as the very nature and type of its attractions. In 2002, one of the stages, the Route 66 Stage, began hosting everything from panel discussions to a Langston Hughes 100th year retrospective, and the stage has shown signs of this type of programmatic experimentation every year since, up to 2007. However, exactly what sorts of presentations on that stage that are in store for blues fans this year are still up in the air.

So what we have so far is a decent helping each of guitar heroes, soulful vocalists and blues megastars, though the latter category may not be as voluminous as some might hope. Keep those fingers crossed, though-- there may be plenty upstart performers about to tear King, Winter and Cotton a new one in June.

-- By Ross Moody

Saturday, February 16, 2008

4th Lineup Announcement for the Chicago Blues Fest

                                             Photo Credit: Sydney Morning Herald
For all of the talk by the promoters of this year's Chicago Blues Festival getting the royal treatment, they finally have a lineup to back up this assertion. This is because the "King of the Blues," B.B. King, has been scheduled to perform at the festival on Sunday, June 8th. The announcement of King's addition to the Chicago lineup came with additions of five other performers-- Little Willie Littlefield, Bobby Parker, Karen Carroll, Charlie Love, and Lurrie Bell:

Chicago's in for a royal treat this summer at the 25th Annual Chicago Blues Festival, June 5-8, 2008. With the announcement for Sunday night's line-up, adding the crowning touch, Blues legend B.B. King, the festival goes for the gold!

The festival's final night will be majestic with Sunday night headliners that include Little Willie Littlefield, Bobby Parker and Karen Carroll with Charlie Love and special guest Lurrie Bell, and of course, B.B. King.

B.B. King, known as the King of the Blues, has graced the stages worldwide, and at age 82, he continues to tour as often as he did in his youth. King last played at the Chicago Blues Festival in 1988, so this festival will be a welcome return! Born Riley B. King, B.B. King has recorded more than fifty albums, many of them classics. With his left-hand vibrato and vocal-like string bends, he has developed one of the most identifiable styles in the music business, and become one of the most renowned blues musicians.

King has influenced a myriad of talented musicians, including Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, and George Harrison; has won numerous awards including a NARAS Lifetime Achievement Grammy Award, honorary doctorates, and in 1984, was inducted into the Blues Foundation Hall of Fame. B.B. King performs Sunday, June 8th at approximately 8 p.m. at the Petrillo Music Shell in Grant Park.

Little Willie Littlefield began his career at age 16, recording his first hit "Little Willie's Boogie" in Texas. His talent on the keyboard has influenced many performers that include Fats Domino, and he has played in various clubs and venues both in America and Europe. Littlefield last played at the Chicago Blues Festival in 1988.

Delmark Records vocalist Karen Carroll recorded with Lurrie Bell's father, Carey Bell in 1984. Festival-goers will enjoy her gospel/jazz influenced sound, paired with the talents of Charlie Love and special guest Lurrie Bell.

Blues Rock guitarist Bobby Parker, played with Bo Diddley, Paul Williams, Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly and Little Richard. His most famous hit Watch Your Step, has been covered by Dr. Feel Good and Santana. Parker spends most of his time performing in the D.C. area, where he resides.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Tickets For Essence Fest On Sale

                                              Photo Credit: All About Me Band Blog (Blogger)
With the newest additions to the 2008 lineup including Grammy-winner Jill Scott, Chris Brown and Ne-Yo, it's not likely that Essence will lose any of its mojo for this year. Tickets for the New Orleans-based festival range from $56 to $110 floor seats and can be obtained through Ticketmaster. More developments on the soul and r&b blowout later.

3rd Chicago Bluesfest Lineup Announcement

They sure are rolling out the lineup for the 25th Chicago Blues Fest fairly slowly. However, we should probably be grateful, considering the fact that the Grant Park-based blues party isn't for another four months. Here's the latest from Chicago's Mayor's Office of Special Events:

No need to wear a costume to the 25th Annual Chicago Blues Festival, but Saturday night's lineup on June 7 will be hot, spicy and festive. Blues fans will get the royal treatment with more headliners fit for a King but available to everyone.

Chicago Blues Festival's third night will be majestic with Saturday night headliners Buckwheat Zydeco and Lil' Ed and the Blues Imperials.

The King of Zydeco, Buckwheat Zydeco, (born Stanley Dural Jr.) is a master accordionist and zydeco performer, who pioneered the music form into mainstream success. Several of his songs have been nominated for Grammy® Awards, and at age 60, he continues to record, with his latest album titled Jackpot! It's his first studio recording in more than 11 years.

Energetic local band, Lil' Ed and the Imperials, know how to entertain and have fun. An authentic West Side bluesman, Lil' Ed (Williams) is a gifted guitarist, soulful vocalist, and master entertainer. Lil' Ed and the Imperials, under Alligator Records, received three nominations for the 2007 Blues Music Awards, and won Band of the Year. Expect to see Lil' Ed perform some flying leaps, toe-walking and slides across the stage on his knees!

Buckwheat Zydeco and Lil' Ed and the Imperials join a list of headliners that includes already released names Koko Taylor, Eddy "the Chief" Clearwater, James Cotton and Johnny Winter.

The Chicago Blues Festival has grown tremendously in its twenty-five years and now features more than ninety performances on six stages and extended hours of 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Chicago Blues Festival is known world-wide as one of the biggest and best Blues events on the planet, drawing hundreds of thousands of people from around the world to Grant Park, year after year.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Film history of Chicago blues to debut at Sundance

This blog is all about music festivals, but when a film festival puts the focus on music, that's interesting, too. At the Sundance Film Festival, running currently in Park City UT, the blues documentary film Electrified-The Story of the Maxwell Street Urban Blues will premiere January 25 at a screening and live music performance at Harry O's in Park City.

Electrified tells the familiar story of the Chicago blues from the perspective of the city neighborhood, Maxwell Street, that provided the cultural medium in which the music grew. The film is narrated by actor Joe Mantegna and features interviews with bluesmen Buddy Guy, Junior Wells, Charlie Musselwhite, Jimmie Lee Robinson and Bo Diddley.

Acclaimed blues guitarist Kenny Wayne Shepherd and blues legend Hubert Sumlin will perform, while actor Chevy Chase emcees, at the Sundance premiere. The film's executive producer will present a limited-edition Fender guitar for a charity auction.

A dozen video clips from Electrified and a companion movie Cheat You Fair, about the last days of the Maxwell Street Market, are available for viewing at YouTube.

Johnny Mae Dunson Performing on Maxwell Street

Video by maxwellstreetdoc

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Second Night of Chicago Blues Festival Announced

As if veterans James Cotton and Johnny Winter won't provide enough fireworks on the first night of the Chicago Blues Festival, the second is filled with more dependable blockbuster acts. Koko Taylor and Eddy Clearwater, who have collectively won over 30 W.C. Handy Awards, are leading the group, along with Ruby Andrews, Cicero Blake and Jackie Ross all participating in a set of past highlights of the festival (now in its 25th year). It's estimated that over 750,000 people attend the festival every year, and some of this might be due to the fact that the festival's four days are free, surely making it one of the top 10 blues fest deals in the country.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Johnny Winter and James Cotton to return for 25th Chicago Blues fest

This announcement just in from the City of Chicago's Office of Special Events:

Chicago is setting the stage for the 25th Annual Chicago Blues Festival, a lakefront tradition in beautiful Grant Park, June 5-8, 2008, with opening night headliners that honor the city’s first blues festival.

Just as in 1984, opening night pays tribute to Muddy Waters featuring headliners Johnny Winter and James Cotton, performing Thursday, June 5 at the Petrillo Music Shell.

Winter hasn’t performed at the event since the very first Chicago Blues Festival, creating a much anticipated and exciting show! For more than 30 years, the native Texan has been one of the most respected singers and guitar players in the rock and blues scene. His trademark sound shifts between simple country blues, to all-out electric slide guitar blues-rock. Winter has been nominated for several Grammy® awards, and most recently earned a W.C. Handy award.

Mississippi-born harmonica player James Cotton is a Chicago Blues Festival veteran. In 1954, Muddy Waters was in need of a harp player, introduced himself to Cotton and hired him for his band. Breakin’It Up, Breakin’ It Down is a recently released album featuring James Cotton, Muddy Waters and Johnny Winter during a brief tour. This evening’s set will reprise the one performed at the inaugural blues festival.

In 1984, the very first Chicago Blues Festival took place in Grant Park, paying tribute to Muddy Waters, who passed away the year prior. The three-night festival included performers such as Winter, Cotton, Bobby Rush, Buckwheat Zydeco, Billy Branch, Willie Dixon, Magic Slim, Sunnyland Slim, John Lee Hooker, and more.

Pinetop Perkins, Honeyboy Edwards and other blues luminaries in the Muddy Waters vein are scheduled for this year’s Chicago Blues Festival, while up-and-coming blues performers such as Fernando Jones and the Columbia College Blues Ensemble pave the way for the future of Chicago blues.

The festival has grown tremendously, and now features more than ninety performances on six stages and extended hours of 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Chicago Blues Festival is known world-wide
as one of the biggest and best Blues events on the planet, drawing hundreds of thousands of people from around the world to Grant Park, year after year.

Celebrating twenty-five years will be a memorable experience for people of all ages, with many exciting acts and programs featured, including larger seating areas, a children’s program, folk art from Mississippi, and more! Stay tuned for more headliners to be announced in the next few weeks!

Chicago Blues Festival is sponsored by 93XRT, Chicago Tribune, CLTV-Chicagoland’s Television, Dominick’s, Hinckley Springs, U.S. Cellular, WGN-Television and more generous sponsors to be announced. For more information, visit or call 312/744-3315. For hotel information, visit

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Roundhouse Blues & BBQ

November 9-10, Savannah GA

Roundhouse Railroad Museum

Roundhouse has been around since the mid70's, though the food wasn't BBQ and the music wasn't blues but Kate Smith and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. In fact, the festival formerly known as the Night In Old Savannah didn't really start being a blues festival until 1996, but since then it's featured some of the best in the blues festival circuit, including Chubby Carrier and Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown. This year, Johnny Winter leads the pack. Tickets are $12 for one night and $20 for two nights.

Headliners: Johnny Winter, Magic Slim, Wanda Johnson, Shrimp City Slim, Sapphire Bullets of Pure Love

No video available

Friday, November 16, 2007

Buddy Guy audio tour includes stop at Chicago Blues Festival

A multimedia podcast about Chicago blues location narrated by Buddy Guy has been downloaded nearly 100,000 times, but somehow just came to my attention. The tie-in here is that one of those locations is the Chicago Blues Festival, the subject of one of the series' 22 chapters.

The whole project is first class, one of the best multimedia presentations I've ever seen. The idea is that you would put it on your photo-enabled MP3 player and listen to it while visiting the sites, but it works almost as well from the comfort of an easy chair. The tour is available for viewing at a website or for download as a podcast. Highly recommended.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Video: FP reports from Telluride Blues & Brews

Festival Preview was on hand in Telluride CO September 14-16 for Telluride Blues & Brews 2007. Our video report includes an interview with festival director Steve Gumbel and performance clips by Grace Potter, Joe Bonamassa, Ana Popovic and more.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Video: Joe Bonamassa rockin' Telluride

Video blogger kellymon61is posting some of his footage from Telluride Blues & Brews, including this incendiary solo by Joe Bonamassa, which he describes thusly: "Joe jamming at one of the evening Juke Joints at the 2007 Telluride Blues & Brews Festival. He ended the show with Los Endos (Genesis song) which blew my cool!!!"

Monday, October 15, 2007

Henry Gray

Appraised by the National Endowment for the Arts as one of the great contributors to American culture, Henry Gray has an uncanny ability to distill old-time instrumental r&b right down to its essence. It's only natural, then, that he's been asked to perform at more than New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival editions every year since its inception, and his talents have been utilized in the studio and on the stage by everyone from Muddy Waters to Guitar Slim. And those rock'n'rollers recognize his contributions as well, after 60 years of his fingers hitting the keys-- he was flown into Paris to play at Mick Jagger's 55th birthday party.

Personnel: Henry Gray [piano, vocals (solo)]

Upcoming: Blues Masters at the Crossroads October 19-20, Crescent City Blues Festival October 19-20

A 1984 Clip of Gray Performing "Boogie Woogie"

Video by BobHardy1

Crescent City Blues Festival

October 19-20, New Orleans LA
Lafayette Square Park

Although they're highly regarded for their namesake and signature festival, the people at The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival & Foundation, Inc. responsible for many more celebrations than just that one monster. The Crescent City Blues Festival is a case in point-- over two days, some of the city's finest as well as outsiders are gathered to bring home that hot stuff in N.O.'s downtown. The best part about this particular event, though, is that it's free.

Headliners: Bobby "Blue" Bland, Tinsley Ellis, Robert Belfour, Marva Wright, Tab Benoit, Henry Gray, Rockie Charles & Guitar Slim Jr.

No video available

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

And the winner is…..Whooooaaaa!

By Donald Frazier

In our effort to document the sights and sounds of this year’s Blues and Brews Festival, one remarkable feature eluded us: the frequent raising of glasses and chanting that took place throughout the tasting of beers from more than 50 breweries that was a centerpiece of Saturday’s action.

Well, it wasn’t strictly a chant. Rather, it was more like a few people declaiming a long and drawn-out “Whooooaaaa!”: softly at first, but gradually rising to a crashing crescendo as more and more happy beer tasters join in. By the end it was somewhere between a frat party just before the cops arrive and The Gathering of the Clans.

But what is it? What kicks it off? And why can’t we get it on videotape?

Austin Colby Nelson solved the mystery. As publisher of ‘Draft’ magazine and the sponsor of this year’s competition, he sees this ritual all the time. “It’s a regular feature of beer tastings.” We can’t catch it on videotape, he helpfully explains, because it’s totally random: a sort of spontaneous upwelling of exuberance that expresses the tasters’ studied appreciation of the beers they are assessing at the time.

(Oh yeah, and maybe the fact that they’ve carefully assessed more than a few as the afternoon wears on.)

This year’s winner was the Sweetwater Brewing Company, Atlanta, in a reprise of their victory of two years ago. Nelson says four to five thousand festival-goers took part in the balloting. Which specific beer were they voting for? The process has not yet become sophisticated enough to figure that out. But between the chuggings and the ‘Whooooaaaa’ings, not too many of the tasters were complaining.

TBB slideshow by Kelly Butler

Working out of the press tent at music festivals, it is interesting to see what other publications sent bloggers and photographers. At Telluride, some mainstream press was on hand along with most of the festival blogging corps--people from JamBase, MelodyTrip, and others joined Festival Preview in the photo pit for the first several songs of each act.

One of the more interesting press people I met was Kelly Butler, a professional audio engineer who was covering the festival for an environmental web site. (TBB's green initiatives made it an interesting story for that audience.) Now here is a great slideshow of Kelly's still photos of the event, set to the music of one of the festival's big acts, The Radiators.

Turns out that besides having a great eye for photos, Kelly has an ear for the music and is a self-confessed Fishhead (Radiators fan). Nice slideshow.

Showing the Colors

By Donald Frazier

One glance around the festival grounds confirms our observation that something very much like a festival-going lifestyle has emerged. And it’s not just youthful party animals either (although the ‘Brews’ part of this year’s event has certainly attracted a good number of them as well!). It’s people in their forties and fifties who come out in force as well.

To judge by their teeshirts, these festivarians are a broad-minded lot. Sure, we saw the logos for a number of blues-themed events. But they also attend festivals for jazz, indie rock, mainstream rock, country, bluegrass, folk, and even classical music. They attend these events all over the country and beyond, from Georgia and Rhode Island to British Columbia and even Spain. They travel great distances, such as the Festival Preview neighbor who rode out on his Harley from Scranton, Pennsylvania.

And they come well-prepared to party. From their lovingly-prepared campsites, taking in the festivals is not something they do casually. Rather, it’s something they take quite seriously, packing in and setting up with the supplies and the well-practiced order of a military campaign. All the better for those of us who need to borrow a working stove but hey, the spirit of sharing is where it’s been at ever since Woodstock.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Soggy finish doesn't dampen great Telluride weekend

By Dan Ruby

Not even a steady rainfall could dampen fans' enthusiasm during The Black Crowe's closing set Sunday night at the Telluride Blues & Brews festival. Some dramatic flashes of thunder and lightning accompanied the band's flashy performance.

Maybe it's that the Colorado locals are used to it, but most in the audience pulled on their rain shells and panchos and continued to boogie. After a near-perfect festival weekend, fans wanted to savor the closing act. Very few of them headed for the exits.

On stage, Crowes lead singer Chris Robinson commended the audience, remarking that "you mountain people can show flatlanders how to play in the rain."

It was a satisfying close to a weekend full of highlights. Some of the top musical stories for me were:

• The incendiary playing of a host of New Orleans musicians, capped off with a great penultimate Sunday set by The Radiators with Bonerama. The spirit of New Orleans was captured in a mini Mardi Gras celebration while Chubby Carrier played a medley of "Hey Pocky Way" and "Iko Iko."

• The hardest working person at the festival had to be Henry Butler, the great New Orleans piano player, who played main stage and late night sets with both Rhythm Council and John Mooney's Bluesiana. During the outstanding set by steel guitarist Robert Randolph, I watched Butler as he grooved along to the music.

• Each of the headliners--The Black Crowes, Keb' Mo' and Los Lonely Boys--lived up to expectations, but the true revelation was the number of lesser known artists who impressed. I'll acknowledge there are plenty of gaps in my knowledge of contemporary blues players. This weekend, I was introduced to musicians like Joe Bonamassa, John Mooney, Eric Lindell, Marc Ford and more that blew me away with their playing chops and musical taste.

• The women's division of hot young players was well represented by Grace Potter in a well received return engagement from last year and Ana Popovic in a eye-popping review. Both performers trade on their sex appeal but in both cases the easy-on-the-eyes performance poses did not substitute for real talent and ability to entertain. The blues ain't just for men anymore.

• David 'Honeyboy' Edwards was a revelation. You probably thought that the early blues pioneers were all history, but Edwards has been picking acoustic blues guitar since the 1930s, when he is said to have known the legendary Robert Johnson. In a festival dominated by the sounds of New Orleans, Edwards' performance was a nod to other centers of blues history, Chicago and the Mississippi Delta

The festival introduced several innovations in its 14th year. Getting on board the green festival movement, Telluride Blues & Brews was announced to be 100 percent carbon neutral, accomplished through a partnership with Green Mountain Energy and Sustainable Waves. Attendees had an opportunity to offset their own energy impacts by purchasing a green ticket upgrade.

Also new was a Thursday night opening party, the Bal de Maison, at the Sheridan Opera House, featuring The Rhythm Council. This joins two nights of multiple juke joint options and a celebratory closing event, the Fais Do Do, also at the Sheridan, in the festival's extensive late-night program.

According to festival director Steve Gumbel, the event was a near sellout, with a capacity crowd on Saturday and strong numbers on Friday and Sunday. Sales of the late night events was also strong, with several of the juke joint concerts turning away ticket holders, who spilled over into the other late-night venues.

Overall it was an exceptionally well run and artistically satisfying festivals. The program pulled in a great many eclectic musical styles, all held together by a love and respect for the 12-bar blues.

Chubby Carrier finds the funk in zydeco

By Donald Frazier

He may hail from way out in Cajun country, but Chubby Carrier and the Bayou Swamp Band delivered a rousing and festive set of zydeco-based party music last night just as proficient and sophisticated as any of the citified New Orleans performers we’ve heard here over the last few days.

From its first moments, this set was intended as a party, with an intro medley of Mardi Gras classics and costumed performers tossing beads to the audience in a well-practiced, crowd-pleasing bit of showmanship.

As for the music, this is strictly zydeco lite. No earthy, bluesy shouts or growls; none of the raw edges of a Beau Jacques or a Keith Frank. Every phase, every melodic line was as sharp and vibrant as last week’s pop hit.

And Carrier’s selection of material presented a retrospective of zydeco, showing how it evolved from backwoods juke joints such as El Sido’s to become one more element of the eclectic New Orleans mainstream.

Consider the progression between two songs. An old Boozo Chavis favorite, "Don’t You Mess with My Choo-Choo," hammered down a simple, emphatic two-step with the catchy staggered fourth beat that makes zydeco so danceable. A few songs later we were in Funk Nation, with the jagged basslines of the War classic, "The Cisco Kid." Half a century of music in 15 minutes.

But his infectious, good-natured performance made sure everybody had a good time in ‘the Chubby party.” At times he almost hectored the audience where their energy flagged: “git up and dance, y’all!” The got up, they complied, and they boogied.

On the ground in Telluride

By Donald Frazier

No broken glass. Not a single shard of it, and that’s at a beer-themed event burgeoning with glasses and bottles slung about with increasing abandon by a suds-befogged crowd.

That’s just one index of how well-run the Telluride Blues and Brews Festival is. Everything about it is clean, even the omnipresent Bob’s Johns. One part is an exceptionally mellow crowd. Lots of high-energy music, alcoholic beverage, and mass excitation, yet scarcely an tense word in the air, let alone some of the confrontation that has sadly become a feature wherever drink and raging hormones collide.

Credit is due also to the management of this year’s event. Lines begin early – some arrive at 6 a.m. for an 11 a.m.
opening – but are well-run, with no jostling and thronging. Seating areas are clearly marked, with diagonal access routes maximizing good sightlines for all, even at the back. VIP areas are spacious, but do not seem to prevent the rest of us from getting as close as we want to the music.

The rest of the amenities are also among the better in this year’s festival circuit. Food stalls are plentiful and varied, and not unduly expensive. A swarm of local volunteers mans every checkpoint, always with civility if not always with information. One pleasure compared with other festivals: almost no police presence. Nothing like being patted down for possible explosives to set a peaceful crowd on edge.

Parking is a big hassle, but accommodations are not an issue: the few actual hotels here are so expensive that camping is de rigeur. The town runs an extensive campground abutting the Festival area, with many spaces of various sizes from pup tent to RV. No campfires allowed, but a hot shower for two bucks, a place to wash dishes and, of course, lots more sparkling Bob’s Johns.

A few observations:

The Grey Panthers. The crowd here skews older than any festival in memory, as The Woodstock Generation hits
retirement age. Not just the holdout hippies with their tie-dyed shirts and bald-guy pony tails, but normal
civilians as well. Plenty of young people too, but a great relief to not be the oldest person here by two decades.

Hey, Dude. One new feature: actual, true-to-life groupies. Festival Preview was asked to provide an introduction to one bassist on stage, who seemed boyish to us but, to an tipsy yet determined 45-year old from Crested Butte, seemed ‘cute.’

Running the class lines. Telluride is one of the most expensive resort markets in the country, where hedge-fund managers from the Coasts snap up second and third homes for millions. Yet it’s full of energetic entrepreneurs offering all of the services needed to keep Masters of the Universe in style – and just scraping by. The result is a disconcerting vibe on the streets, with a clear line between the servers and the servees. Must have been like this in the Court of the Sun King.

The (Festival) Lifestyle. One new angle: many of the attendees here are practiced festival-goers, sporting tee shirts
from Lolapalooza to Merlefest to prove it. They are not just party animals, but discerning music fans with the experience to compare this event to others this year. As the crowd grows more knowledgeable and thus more demanding, we can expect the festival scene to become increasingly professional.

Guess the guitarist

The lineup at Telluride Blues & Brews was filled with hot blues guitarists. Guess who's who from these closeup photos. Send your picks to The first three correct entries win a Festival Preview t-shirt.

Update: The contest is now closed. Congratulations to winners Shannon Pineda, Michele Choate and Matt Robinson.

Day 2 photos from Telluride Blues & Brews

Ana Popovich kicks off the afternoon

More Ana

Marc Ford

John Mooney's Bluesiana

A mini Mardi Gras breaks out

Festival director Steve Gumbel gets into the spirit

Chubby Carrier

Keb' Mo' closes the day

More Keb'

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Piano 'professor' leads class at Telluride

By Donald Frazier

Morning at the Blues and Brews Festival, and the venerable New Orleans tradition of the virtuoso keyboard ‘professor’ is alive and well in the hands of Henry Butler with the opening act, R&B supergroup Rhythm Council.

Warhorse familiars like Tipitina and Down in New Orleans, just like they’re supposed to, took on a new stridency and oomf, thanks to vocals from Papa Mali and an unexpected delight, funk sousaphone master Kirk Joseph, a founding member of the Dirty Dozen Brass Band (which, for anyone with a long enough memory, was once something of a house band for that New Orleans seedbed of great brass bands, The Maple Leaf).

But this set’s guiding spirit, in keeping with the New Orleans theme of the festival, was definitely Professor Longhair (Henry Byrd). A critical mass of musicians and the confluence of musical styles ranging from blues and jazz to funk, country, classical and even West Indian made New Orleans and Lousiana into the finishing school for American indigenous music, spawning a rich variety of traditional, schools, and teachers – all hotly competitive.

In this demanding environment, a piano ‘Professor’ was a player who mastered all of the styles expected of him, and Professor Longhair was the acknowledged kingpin. Here in Telluride, we’re going to hear a lot of Louisiana styles in artists such as Chubby Carrier (zydeco), Robert Randolph (soul/gospel), Beth Popovic (blues), Johnny Sketch and the Dirty Notes (jazz/rock) and The Radiators (everything at once),

You can hear the excitement of discovery in Rhythm Council’s play: each of the members was accomplished in his own right before coming together in an impromptu recording session. Each song has a raw energy and these players, each with a lot to say and a zeal in saying it, finding a way to combine it into something new.

Challenging logistics at TBB

So many things are perfect about this festival that I was surprised to find the press facilities far less than perfect. The biggest issue is no Internet, which explains the delay in getting these blog items up.

I'm writing now Friday afternoon after the Grace Potter set. It was another star-power performance by Potter, but we got a further disappointment afterward when we learned she would not be making herself available to media. It puts a crimp in my plans for a video featuring Potter. Maybe not fatal. We got some footage and stills of her main stage set, and will be on hand tonight at the Sheridan Opera House for her late night set. I can follow up with a phone interview that would go with the images we have have.

(Now it is the next morning and I'm ensconced at Baked in Telluride, a top hangout for locals and festival-goers--partly for the great baked goods and coffee but also for the free wifi. Anyway, we didn't get into the Sheridan Opera House last night to see Potter's late night act, so the video is getting shakier. We'll move on to some other targets. Maybe The Radiators.)

Friday photos from Telluride Blues & Brews

Henry Butler and Kirk Joseph of Rhythm Council

Papa Mali of Rhythm Council

The view from the grounds

Joe Bonamassa

Juke Joint stage set

Grace Potter

Grace Potter hits a high note

Grace Potter trades riffs with Scott Tournet

Robert Randolph

Henry Garza of Los Lonely Boys

Henry and Jojo Garza

Friday, September 7, 2007

Wrapping up Bumbershoot

By Karen Martin

Good morning after to all of you die hard Bumbershoot fans. Yesterday was kissed goodbye by Wu Tang Clan at the main stage and Steve Earle at the Starbuck’s Stage. Many went to see the Greyboys Allstars and Solive at the Esurance Stage, but the majority were split between the other two stages. Attendance was good, and there were still people pouring in the gate at 9:30 last night for all three stages. The Starbucks Stage turned out to be a nice new innovation, as not everybody feels the need to drink beer while they are watching live concerts.
The Rain Goddess was especially generous as she waited until after the crowds had been pouring out the gate for at least 30 minutes before she decided to wash the Bumbershoot Grounds clean. Yes folks the majority of the kids go back to school on Wednesday and that means as the rain continues to pour this morning that winter is here.
I hope all that attended were happy. I know that we made new friends and that they will return next year. For all that attended thank-you for making Bumbershoot 37 a memorable one and here is to all the hard working individuals who worked late into the night all of you had gone home--volunteers and paid staff as well. For another year, goodbye and see ya next year at the 38th.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Preview playlist for Telluride Blues & Brews

From modern uptempo boogie to mellow deep-in-the-pocket acoustic noodling, here are two cuts from all the major players at the upcoming Telluride Blues & Brews Festival. This iMix will satisfy fans from all ends of the blues spectrum and serve as the perfect appetizer for the main event.