Saturday, July 7, 2007

Hayward/Russell City Blues Festival - Saturday

Nick Charles, Billy Branch, Me & Carl Weathersby

Aside from my trip to Chicago, this festival is going to be hard to beat in 2007. Each year, the festival opens up with some really nice gospel music. This year was no exception.

There was way too much good stuff too list, but I will try.

Craig Horton kicked off the blues segment of the show. He lead an excellent band featuring Steve Gannon (guitar) and Henry Oden (bass). He performed some classic tunes and several of his own songs.

Tail Dragger was up next. He tore the cover off the ball. He's a really good singer with some excellent material and incredible stage presence. For the last third of his set, he left the stage and performed in the audience. He was backed by Billy Branch and the Sons of Blues featuring Carl Weathersby (guitar), Lurrie Bell (guitar), Nick Charles (bass), Mose Rutues (drums) and Ariyo (piano).

Big Time Sarah followed Tail Dragger and delivered a fantastic performance. She toned things down and deliver a G-rated show which was a bit different than the previous evening's performance at The Bistro. During one song, she had a little girl join her onstage. She was backed by the Sons of Blues, who would go on to pull a Blues Marathon.

John Primer put on a great show. He was backed by Henry Oden, Funky Rob Gordon and Willie "Big Eyes" Smith. Mid-way through the set, Ronnie Stewart joined him on stage. This was a really nice set featuring nothing but old fashioned down home Blues.

Next up was Willie "Big Eyes" Smith and Pinetop Perkins backed by the Sons of Blues. Carl Weathersby opened up this set displaying some fantastic vocals before introducing Pinetop Perkins to the state. Pinetop was celebrating his 94th birthday. He was in fine form and sounded good.

After their set, the City of Hayward, the State of California and the Bay Area Blues Society had a really nice ceremony commemorating his birth and contribution to American music. It was very moving.

The final set of the evening was an extended two hour set by Billy Branch and the Sons of Blues. Billy kicked it off with a very high energy version of Juke. He sang a few tunes before turning the vocal microphone over to Lurrie Bell. In addition to being an excellent guitarist, Lurrie Bell is also a fabulous vocal talent. He performed a few songs before turning the microphone over to Nick Charles.

Billy began calling up guests from the backstage area. He asked Kenny Neal and Joe Louis Walker on stage. They each sang a couple of tunes before Billy asked Big Time Sarah and Tail Dragger to return to the stage for one final number. It was a very cool show.

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