|The "Russell City Country Club' 1961
Big Mama Thornton on drums, Billy Dunn on keyboard, and Jimmy Mamou on guitar.
This little town of African-American's who migrated here from the deep south was one of the
proving grounds for many blues musicians. Russell City, an unincorporated area of Hayward,
California is about 12 minutes from the City of Oakland. This community of modest houses and
small farms along the bay is now gone. During it's heyday, Russell City was a down home
community, known for it's clubs with dirt floors, bootleg electricity and a steady stream of
musicians playing a unique style of Delta Blues.
During the early part of their careers, artists such as Big Joe Turner and Big Mama Thorton played
Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana style blues in Russell City. West Coast Blues music eventually
influenced the traditional sound when horns replaced the harmonica and West Coast Blues was
born. Russell City is a landmark on the map of American's contributions to world culture giving
Hayward a unique musical legacy reflecting the African-American experience. We are pleased to
bring those sounds back through the Hayward-Russell City Blues Festival.
The Hayward-Russell City Blues Festival celebrates the rich history, musical and cultural art form
found in Russell City and Hayward during the post war years from the 1940's thru the 1960's.