||Now that this board looks like a stones/beatles board lets post this
Published Tuesday, Aug. 7, 2001, in the San Jose Mercury News
S.F. blues fest blends the old and the new
BY STEPHEN A. CROCKETT JR.
Most people consider the Mississippi Delta, Chicago, Memphis and New Orleans to have been the hotbeds of the early blues scene. San Francisco Blues Festival founder Tom Mazzolini says folks should add the Bay Area to that list.
In announcing the lineup for the 29th annual festival Sept. 21-23, Mazzolini noted that ``during the late '40s, a lot of people migrated here to work in the shipyards in Vallejo. A lot of these guys were musicians who would work during the day and play music at night.''
What evolved was a mix of Texas blues and West Coast jazz known as Bay Area blues. ``It was a distinctive sound that people liked, and a scene developed,'' Mazzolini says.
He says that his is now the oldest continuing blues festival in the world, having started in 1973, when he put together a lineup that included big names that reflected both the past and the then-present. This year, he says, ``the festival will continue its tradition of merging the old and the new to form a complete representation of the blues.''
The festival kicks off with a free concert Sept. 21 from noon to 1:30 p.m. at Justin Herman Plaza featuring Jerry McCain, Arthur Williams and Little Jimmy Reed.
Saturday headliners include Ike Turner and his band, the Kings of Rhythm. Turner, a member of the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame, recently released his first album in 20 years, titled ``Here and Now.''
``He is more than just Tina Turner's ex-husband,'' Mazzolini says. ``He grew up in the Mississippi Delta in the '50s and was integral to blues music. He was the man that Elvis saw perform.''
Saturday also will feature keyboard veteran Billy Preston, who played behind Mahalia Jackson when he was 10 years old and went on to back two generations of rockers, from Sam Cooke to the Beatles and the Rolling Stones.
Others on the Saturday program include Louisiana's Hoodoo Kings (pianist Eddie Bo, harpist Raful Neal and guitarist Rockin Tabby Thomas), Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady of Hot Tuna, and the Calvanes, a vintage West Coast doo-wop act. A New Orleans Mardi Gras procession will be led by accordionist Big Chief Takawakaw and the Gumbo Band and Posse.
Sunday's headliners are Los Lobos, ``the wolves of East L.A.,'' whose sound draws not only on blues but also rock, R&B, country, folk, Tex-Mex and traditional Spanish and Mexican music.
Robben Ford and the Ford Blues Band will pay homage to Paul Butterfield, the late ``genius of the harmonica,'' as Mazzolini calls him. Singer-guitarist Little Milton will team up with ``Divine Diva'' Trudy Lynn to offer a taste of down-home Southern soul-blues. One of the all-time blues organ greats, Jimmy Smith, also will perform Sunday afternoon, with his band.
A new addition to this year's lineup is gospel music, to be sung Sunday by the Omega Airs. A number of locally and regionally prominent bands will round out the two-day event.
Contact Stephen A. Crockett Jr. at email@example.com or (408) 920-2773.
San Francisco Blues Festival
Where: Great Meadow, Fort Mason Center, San Francisco
When: Sept. 22, 23
Tickets: $25 advance, $40 for both days; $30 each day at the gate
Also: Free concert Sept. 21, Justin Herman Plaza, San Francisco