Rhythm and blues legend Bobby "Blue" Bland, Atlanta guitar-slinger Tinsley Ellis, a rare local set featuring Houma guitar hero Tab Benoit with Baton Rouge blues legend Tabby Thomas as a special guest, Marva Wright and Walter "Wolfman" Washington are some of the attractions of the second-annual Crescent City Blues Festival, to be presented by the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation on Friday, Oct. 19, and Saturday, Oct. 20 at New Orleans' Lafayette Square Park.
This free community festival is a salute to our men and women in blue - the brave police officers of New Orleans and the surrounding region. The event is being produced in partnership with the New Orleans Police and Justice Foundation, a nonprofit agency that raises money to support the New Orleans Police Department. The Police and Justice Foundation will present Walk The Beat, a five-kilometer run/walk fundraising event the morning of Oct. 20; see http://www.nopjf.org for details.
"New Orleans is where the blues was born - or at least that's what it says in 'Mardi Gras Mambo,'" said Don Marshall, the Jazz & Heritage Foundation's executive director. "We think it's about time that we had a major festival that pays tribute to this important part of our culture."
The first Crescent City Blues Festival was held last November and attracted some 5,000 people with a roster of all local talent. This year, the Foundation is augmenting the lineup of hometown favorites by including national headliners.
Bobby "Blue" Bland, a longtime New Orleans favorite, began his recording career in 1951 in Memphis. He scored his first national hit in 1957 with "Farther On Up the Road," and cemented his reputation as a sophisticated crooner with soulful R&B ballads in the '60s, including "That's the Way Love Is" and "Share Your Love With Me." Ever the road warrior, he has remained active as a concert attraction and shows little sign of slowing down.
Atlanta-based Tinsley Ellis Tinsley Ellis is among the nation's most exciting blues-rock guitarists. His latest Alligator Records release, "Moment of Truth," debuted on the Billboard Blues Sales Chart at No. 5 and has remained in the Top 15 for 10 weeks and counting. The record debuted at No. 1 on the Roots Music Blues Radio Chart. Atlanta football fans in town for a Falcons game against the Saints at the Superdome on Oct. 21 will want to cheer on their hometown favorite at the Crescent City Blues Fest.
Houma-based, Grammy-nominated guitarist Tab Benoit is one of the hottest touring acts on the blues circuit today. He will be joined onstage by legendary Baton Rouge bluesman Tabby Thomas in a very special performance.
Among the other notables performing on the main stage will be Baton Rouge piano maestro Henry Gray, who in 2006 was awarded a National Heritage Fellowship for a lifetime of contributions to American culture by the National Endowment for the Arts.
The festival will also feature a "Juke Joint Stage" that will showcase rarely-heard artists in a more intimate setting. An onstage interviewer will provide some give-and-take with these interesting personalities.
One highlight on the Juke Joint Stage will be Robert Belfour, a Tennessee-based guitarist and singer who records for the renowned Fat Possum label. Known mostly to blues aficionados, Belfour will be making one of his first-ever appearances in New Orleans. His solo performance of foot-stompin' boogie is sure to make a lasting impression.
Also on the Juke Joint Stage will be a rare pairing of Rockie Charles with Rodney "Guitar Slim, Jr." Armstrong. As a child, Armstrong learned to play guitar from Charles. This performance in a stripped-down setting will be a sentimental treat.
The festival begins with an evening concert on Friday, Oct. 19, featuring funky favorite Walter "Wolfman" Washington. Also appearing will be Bryan Lee, the blind guitar hero who held court for many years at the Old Absinthe House on Bourbon Street, a gig that was a must-see for visiting rock stars from Eric Clapton to members of Led Zeppelin.
The complete schedule of performances is as follows:
Friday, October 19:
4:00 - 5:30pm Bryan Lee & the Blues Power Band
6:00 - 7:30pm Walter "Wolfman" Washington with special guests James Winfield
Saturday, October 20:
12:10 - 12:50pm Rockin' Jake Blues Band
1:05 - 1:45pm Papa Grows Funk
2:00 - 2:35pm Little Freddie King
2:50 - 3:30pm Henry Gray
3:45 - 4:30pm Tab Benoit w/ Special Guest Tabby Thomas
4:45 - 5:30pm Marva Wright
5:45 - 6:30pm Tinsley Ellis
6:45 - 7:30pm Bobby "Blue" Bland
Juke Joint Stage
11:30am - 12:10pm Washboard Chaz Blues Trio
12:50 - 1:05pm Washboard Chaz Blues Trio
1:45 - 2:00pm Rockie Charles & Guitar Slim, Jr.
2:35 - 2:50pm Rockie Charles & Guitar Slim, Jr.
3:30 - 3:45pm Rockie Charles & Guitar Slim, Jr.
4:30 - 4:45pm Robert Belfour
5:30 - 5:45pm Robert Belfour
6:30 - 6:45pm Robert Belfour