Well, it’s that time of year again. Another two weeks of great music, food, and fun.
Alligator Records is set to celebrate with a special show at Muddy Water’s on April 25. The lineup includes Lonnie Brooks, Kenny Neal and Tinsley Ellis. Neal is currently touring the West Coast before returning to play at Jazz Fest earlier in the day on the 25th. His father, Raful Neal, is also scheduled to play the Festival—maybe we’ll see a family jam. In May, Neal will head over to Africa for a string of tour dates, his first time to tour that continent. Tinsley Ellis will be taking off for a month-long tour of Norway, the Netherlands, Belgium and the U.K. right after his performance in New Orleans.
Another big event will be the Black Top Blues-A-Rama, scheduled for April 28 at Jimmy’s. This year’s extravaganza will feature Earl King (look for his new release, Hard River to Cross, soon), Maria Muldaur, Robert Ward, Bobby Parker (check him out in Guitar World and Guitar Player this month), Carol Fran and Clarence Hollimon, zydeco wizard Lynn August & Hot August Knights, and the Kamikaze Horns (led by Kaz Kazanoff), with the Antone’s House Band backing everybody. Be sure to look for Snooks Eaglin at the Fair Grounds on April 29, Earl King on April 30, and Lynn August on May 1.
Playing the Festival for the first time will be Anson Funderburgh and the Rockets featuring Sam Myers on April 23. You can also catch Snooks at the Howlin’ Wolf on April 26 and Maria Muldaur on April 30.
For a quick rundown of other blues highlights, let’s start with Friday, April 23: Marcia Ball (one of the hottest singers and piano players you’ll ever see), John Mooney & Bluesiana and Guitar Slim, Jr.
Saturday, April 24: Need to see John Campbell (enjoying success with his second Elektra release, Howlin’ Mercy) and Tyrone Davis.
Sunday, April 25: Look for Tabby Thomas (from Baton Rouge), Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown and Chris Smither (one of the best acoustic guitar players around, Chris wrote “Love You Like A Man”).
Thursday, April 29: Troy Turner (“Teenage Blues From Baton Rouge”), Jon King Cleary and Paula & the Pontiacs (I really enjoyed their set at the Rock ‘N’ Bowl one year).
Friday, April 30: Dr. John, of course, Delbert McClinton and Chuck Carbo.
Saturday, May 1: Looking forward to hearing new material from Buddy Guy off his Feels Like Rain release (wonder if he’ll bring Travis Tritt and Paul Rodgers with him?), Willie Lockett and the Blues Krewe, Walter “Wolfman” Washington and Eddie Bo.
Sunday, May 2: It’s the last day to feast on the smorgasbord of great music. Highlights include Irma Thomas (one of the best) and Dalton Reed, among many others.
For those of you planning to head north for the Chicago Blues Festival this year, Delmark Records will celebrate its 40th anniversary with a special show opening the festival on May 27. Officially named “Delmark Night,” the list of performers includes Junior Wells, Robert Lockwood Jr., Jimmy Dawkins, Mighty Joe Young, Jimmy Johnson, Willie Kent, Big Time Sarah, Dave Speeter, Jesse Fortune and Golden Wheeler.
Delmark also plans to celebrate this anniversary year with a jazz and blues collection this spring, as well as a reunion of the Dixie Stompers, who began recording in April.
And finally, word is that the proposed House of Blues in New Orleans will open in November. The Cambridge, Massachusetts House of Blues opened late last year, and held a benefit on January 18 to pay tribute to the late Albert King. Appearing at this event was Ronnie Earl, Mighty Sam McClain, Luther “Guitar Jr.” Johnson, and ex-J. Geils Band singer Peter Wolf. Hopefully the New Orleans franchise will host similar events when it gets rolling.
Blues enthusiast Kat Stratton owns Blue Cat Productions, an Atlanta-based PR firm.