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[whitespace] Blues Clues

By Barbara McKenna

FOR A 10th wedding anniversary, couples get aluminum; 10 years on the job gets you a pin; but in its 10th year, the Santa Cruz Blues Festival is delivering blues, funk, R&B, rock & roll, and beer. Marriage and work are clearly overrated. Anyway, this year's SCBF lineup is one of the most diverse to date. Blues is the bottom line, natch, but these artists have their own distinctive flair--New Orleans boogie, down-and-dirty funk, traditional Chicago-brewed blues, and even a little edgy hard-rock blues. Here's a whirlwind tour of the lineup:


Dr. John: The funky doctor learned his chops growing up in the thick of the New Orleans music scene. His lightning-fast, on-the-money piano work has made him Crescent City's undisputed king of the keyboard, a role he inherited from his mentor, Professor Longhair.

Shemekia Copeland: The daughter of Texas blues guitarist Johnny Clyde Copeland, the 21-year-old Shemekia is swiftly earning her place among such powerhouse blues divas as Koko Taylor, Etta James and Ruth Brown (who sang on Copeland's latest album).

Sonny Landreth: Louisiana slide-guitar master Landreth is known as a musician's musician, the go-to guy other artists seek out for their recordings. He's no slouch live, either, performing his Cajun-style blues with virtuoso fretwork.

Indigenous: These three siblings and a cousin emerged from their home on the Sioux reservation in South Dakota and knocked the blues world flat on its ass. In the early days, the band practiced in the family garage, circled around a record player--now their music is hitting the Billboard charts.

The Boneshakers: The festival starts out with an enormous bang with the fiery funk force of the Boneshakers. Featuring Detroit-born guitarist Randy Jacobs and Austin's Malford Milligan, the band is fresh, original and eminently danceable.


Delbert McClinton: A 40-year veteran of the blues scene, Grammy Award winner McClinton made his mark with his raspy Texas-twang vocals and his solid blues guitar style.

Otis Rush: One of the last of the great generation of Chicago bluesmen, Rush is also considered the father of the British blues invasion because of his influence on the likes of Eric Clapton, John Mayall and Jeff Beck, as well as Carlos Santana. Watch for his distinctive left-handed upside-down fretwork.

Tommy Castro: Homeboy Castro is so busy these days he doesn't do the local gigs as much as he used to. He's made an exception for the Blues Festival, where he's been a favorite for several years.

Sue Foley: Canadian-born Foley developed her skills in the trenches of Austin, where she was a part of the city's unbeatable music scene for nearly a decade. She moved back home a few years back, but after recent album number six and her consistent touring here, we're almost ready to cut the flapheads some slack for all the hockey hubbabaloo and that bitch Anne Murray too.

Eric Sardinas: Love those leather-clad bad boys! Whether you go for the lock-up-your-daughters persona or the wicked hard-rock blues guitar, go early--latecomers will be crying into their overpriced beers when they hear about the set they missed.

The Santa Cruz Blues Festival runs from 11am to 7pm (gates open at 10am) on Saturday, May 25, and Sunday, May 26, at Aptos Village Park. For tickets and more information, call 479.9814 or 479.1854 or visit www.santacruzbluesfestival.com.

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From the May 23-29, 2002 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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