Category Archives for "arts"

REMEMBERING THE HAYWARD/RUSSELL CITY BLUES FESTIVAL

We truly understand the importance of looking back. To continue that from last month’s post, today we’ll be looking back at the Hayward/Russell City Blues Festival. With the tagline of “The Tradition Continues” this event truly aimed to embody the need to persist and support the Blues culture.

It was held in the Hayward City Hall Plaza. A two-day event, it sought to bring together a historic bunch of individuals.

Performers

Lenny Williams
Rod Piazza & the Mighty Flyers
Johnny Rawls
Taildragger
Russell City Memorial Blues Band
Ernie Johnson
The Queens of Chicago Blues: Deitra Farr and Demetris Taylor
Caravan of Allstars
Lester Chambers
Artwork Jamal
Blues Harp Explosion ft. Darrell Mansfield
Sean McGroarty
Martin Lane, Finnie Flores & Junior Boogie
Mike Hammer & the Nails
Delta Wires
Alabama Mike
Stars of Glory
Leonard Lothien Gospel
Bobby Joe Neeley
…and so many, many more stellar performers.

This event was part of Blues Week (July 5th to 10th). The aim was to provide a solid support resource for all blues enthusiasts. So there were lectures, performances, and art displays that all celebrated the Blues, its roots, and its movers and shakers.

A closer look at some Artists

Deitra Farr

Deitra Kimberly Farr was born on August 1st, 1957. To this day, she is a much celebrated American blues and gospel singer/songwriter. She was only eighteen years old when she recorded her first lead vocal feature. This song went on to Top 100 R&B list.

It was in 1997 that she launched her first solo album entitled “The Search is over”. It took over eight years before she released another album: “Let it Go”. What makes this woman so amazing is that she helped blaze the trail for other women in the Blues scene. It was an accomplishment like no other and it was something so many were thankful for.

As such, in October 2015, she was inducted into the Chicago Blues Hall of Fame. She earned the title of “Legendary Blues Artist”.

Lester Chambers

Born in April 13th, 1940, he is the lead singer of the group The Chambers Brothers. This talented individual has led a rather challenging life. He has suffered through the injustice of not receiving royalty payments for his hit “Time Has Come Today”. His home was burgled and the physical records of his songs and albums were all stolen. His health was poor as he and his family could not afford medical treatments.

He had ended up homeless and in dire straits. Still this not in any way diminish his contributions to the world of Blues and Soul.

Notes

If there was anything any true Blues lover needed to remember, it was that adversity lent more power to the formation of any Blues performance. Blues was birthed by the collective hard experiences of the African-American community. This is why it is important to honor and remember those that laid down the path for more Blues artists to practice their craft.

Blues is a proud tradition that must be carried on to the future.

THROWBACK TO ONE OF THE GREATS: THE BLACK DIAMOND BLUES FESTIVAL 2007

When you believe that looking back is a great way to celebrate what has been accomplished, you tend to do so every now and again. Today, we look back on the Black Diamond Blues Festival of 2007. With the tagline of “Keepin’ the Blues Alive in Pittsburg, CA”, they do so with grace and pizzazz.

Established in 1997, this festival which was held on June 2nd and 3rd of 2007 was a grand celebration of established and up and coming Blues talent.

Headliners

Sista Monica

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This amazing woman was born in Gary, Indiana as Monica C. Parker on April 27, 1956. She is an important American electric blues and soul singer, songwriter, and record producer. What most people don’t know about her is that she joined the United States Marine Corps.

It was her neighbor, MC Hammer, who truly inspired and encouraged her to pursue her singing career. She landed a regular singing stint at Emi’s Bar and Grille in Santa Cruz, California. It was in 1995 that she launched her debut album entitled “Get Out of My Way”. What made this move so revolutionary was that she did so using on her own independent record label: Mo Muscle Records. The success of her first album birthed a follow up album the following year entitled “Sista Monica”.

The world lost a musical great on October 9th, 2014. Sista Monica died from lung cancer. The following year, she was posthumously won a Blues Music Award.

Knowing all this about her makes it even more humbling and inspiring that she was a headliner for the Black Diamond Blues Festival.

Johnny Rawls

This ever talented man was born in Hattiesburg, Mississippi on September 10th, 1951. He is a well-known American soul Blues singer, guitarist, record producer, and so many more. A twelve-time nominee for a Blues Music Award, you just know that this man has blues seeping from his pores.

It was in 1996 that he launched his solo album “Here We Go”. This album showcased much of his soulful vocals and earned him much praise. He goes on to launch other songs which all added to his soulful legacy. He is quite the prolific songwriter. He is an artist that has produced over 100 of his own songs.

His presence in the Black Diamond Blues Festival made it all the more special.

Saturday Schedule

The first day of the festival focused more on the sassy women of Blues. With headliner Sista Monica, she led the powerhouse listing of other stellar female blues artists. Café R&B, Zakiya Hooker, Pure Honey, and Tia Carroll were all in attendance to provide their wit, glamour, and class to the Saturday night of Pittsburgh.

Sunday Schedule

The last day of the festival showcased the men. Led by Johnny Rawls, audiences were treated with the masterful Blues performances of Sonny Rhodes, Caravan of Allstars, Bobby Webb & Smooth Blues, Bernard Anderson, Eldridge “Big Cat” Tolefree, Layce Baker, and Louis Jones & the Cavaliers.

With food and craft vendors in attendance, it was truly a weekend to remember.

LARGE MUSIC FESTIVALS IN THE BAY AREA

The East Bay Area is rife with large celebrations that focus on the promotion and continuance of the many music genres in the area; none more so than the majesty of the Blues. The bay area has a deep relationship with music. It has seen the birth and success of many musical greats. So there’s very little wonder that the bay area develops a lot of music festivals.

Eastlake Music Festival

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If you always thought that music festivals had a fee, EMF exists to prove you wrong. A wholly volunteer based event, this festival if comprised of local businesses, local musicians, local artists, and many other locals. They pride themselves on being 100% crowd funded. They also emphasize the fact that this event is a not for profit event.

This is a good leg to stand on when you want the people to be truly involved with the perpetuation of the culture greats that this area has produced. The promoters of EMF all aim to establish ways in which the community can fully enjoy the culture that they hail from.

This festival is often held at the Lake Merritt Boulevard Amphitheater. For any questions, if you would like to make donations, or if you’d like to volunteer, you can get in touch with them here.

Bay Area Blues Festival

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An annual festival that’s completely free. Yup, you’ve heard that right. There is no admission charge. This is the music festival that’s wholly dedicated to showcasing the Blues. With bands like Evan Thomas Blues Revue, Big Blu Soul Revue, Larry Vann and the House Band, and many others.

This event will be held on September 23 and 24 of this year. Join them as they celebrate the roots of the bay area to the rich history of rhythm and blues.

Oakland Music Festival

This festival first started in 2013. Since then, they’ve gotten only larger. They aim to be a platform for the city’s cultural heritage. They also aim to promote a sustainable local economy that will be bolstered with a thriving cultural scene.

Last year, this festival saw over 3000 guests. What sets this festival apart is it usually takes a week for all the events and showcase moments to end. For this year’s festival, occurring on September 29th up to October 7th will be focusing on the theme of “Charge”.

Other than the music, this festival makes it their mission to open up clear dialogue in the community. They understand that it takes the community to keep the traditions and support on Blues alive. If there was anyone who was going to truly keep Blues alive and well, it would have to be the people.

One of the best things about the bay area is that there is a lot of raw talent available. There is much needed promotion for our homegrown talent. It is inspiring to see that we aren’t the only ones who think so. Kudos to the bay area for continuing the good fight! We all need to band together and keep our musical culture alive.

TOP THREE BEST BLUES GUITAR PERFORMANCES

There is just something about an extraordinary blues guitar performance that speaks to your soul. We scrounge up what we believe are the top three blues guitar performances ever. Arguably, one of the best things that blues is known for are the incredible guitar players that show off their prowess during live performances. In light of that, we banded together and tried to determine our picks for the top three best blues guitar performances.

Remember, this is just our humble opinion. You’re more than welcome to create your own top three list and send it our way. Without further ado, let’s go on to our list:

Number 3: “Crossroads” by Eric Clapton

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This song is no doubt one of his best known songs. However, did you know that it is this song that is regaled as his best guitar performance as well?

If you aren’t at all familiar with whom this guitar legend is, Eric Clapton is a blues guitarist. He is, by far, the only person who has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame more than twice in his career.

When he performed Crossroads, he made use of his 1964 Gibson SG Standard. Clapton delivered a truly powerful performance which fired off a spark in the hearts and minds of many. To this day, the riff from this song is the go-to must learn riff for the new generation of budding blues guitar players.

Number 2:  “All Along the Watchtower” by Jimi Hendrix

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If you’re a fan of the modern Battlestar Galactica series, you are sure to know this world famous song and performance. While not a Hendrix original, his rendition is now the better known one. Even the original creator, Bob Dylan, has preferred to use this version when he used to perform it at his shows.

What was so intrinsically seductive about this blues guitar performance was the way that he stretched the notes and brought an unearthly wane to the chords. The changing tempo of the chords all the while sustaining the overall beat was a great showcase of his talents as a guitarist. It also didn’t hurt that he delivers a great vocal rendition to the song.

Number 1: “The Thrill is Gone” by B.B. King

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Was there ever any doubt as to what our number one pick would be? If you were ever going to find a sample of the true soul and feel of blues guitar, this is where you need to go. The way that King strums his guitar touches the gentle nuance that is indicative of the blues genre.

His simple sounding notes but exceptional deliver provided viewers and listeners an uncomplicated serving of the depth of emotion that can be conveyed by blues. When he sings “All I can do is wish you well”, our hearts break along with him. King’s performance here is one of the greatest evidences we have that Blues is well and alive and will continue to endure.

May Blues live on forever!