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[whitespace] Gatemouth Brown The Gatemouth That Roared: Blues legend Gatemouth Brown has plenty to say about modern music--not much of it flattering.

Blues Fuse

The Fountain Blues Festival at SJSU takes off like a firecracker this weekend

By Jesse Ducker

WITH THE ABUNDANCE of dotcom/technology misery these days, San Jose is a great place to hold a blues festival. The Silicon Valley is rife with possibility as fertile ground for aspiring blues artists. Think about such potential smoke-filled club favorites as "Those Worthless Stock Option Blues" or "My Baby Left Me 'Cause I Got Downsized." It would be great. OK, maybe not.

Regardless, the 21st Annual Metro Fountain Blues Festival is coming to the San Carlos Plaza at San Jose State May 12, featuring a lineup of blues men and women, all free of charge. Except for the drinks, of course.

Headliner Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown is probably unimpressed by all the Silicon Valley hoopla. Then again, Brown is also unimpressed by the current music scene--in its entirety.

"I don't listen to none of it," he says emphatically. "It's not showing me anything new. People are just doing the same thing that other people did earlier. I don't like anything."

It's all right, Brown is allowed to be cynical about current music. The man's practically a national treasure. The Texas native has been recording and releasing music for more than 50 years. His song "The Okie Dokie Stomp" is a bona fide classic. He's a musical legend who's traveled the world, playing, among other things, a fiddle.

Known as the "King of Texas Swing," Brown's never allowed himself to be pigeonholed as just a blues artist. His last album, American Music, Texas Style, stands as a perfectly legitimate jazz album, with a five-piece horn section.

Brown says he's about to release a new album, Back to Bugaloo, later this year. He describes it as a Louisiana-style music album, and this time the music is provided by only Gatemouth and his rhythm section.

Despite his advanced age (he's rapidly approaching 80), Brown professes he still tours quite often. In fact, he's just completed a four-month rest before heading back on the road to help promote Back to Bugaloo. The Fountain Blues festival is near the beginning of the summer-long tour.

A consummate road-warrior, Brown still greatly enjoys performing. "If I can get out in front of the people, my tour is complete," he says. "It comes as I go. I don't worry about anything."

ALSO APPEARING at the Fountain Festival will be Northern California native Roy Rogers with his Delta Rhythm Kings. Rogers is known for playing a Delta-influenced style of blues. He has come a long way since performing in Bay Area bars during the '70s and has been recording and touring the world since the early '80s, produced many albums both inside and outside the blues genre.

His work behind the boards with frequent collaborator John Lee Hooker earned him a Grammy. He's also played alongside such luminaries as John Lee Hooker, Ramblin' Jack Elliott, Bonnie Raitt, Keith Richards, Van Morrison and Arlo Guthrie.

Anson Funderburgh and the Rockets with Sam Myers will take the stage as well. The Rockets' music delivers a solid mix of Texas- and Delta-style blues. Funderburgh's crew are no strangers to the road as well, sometimes spending up to 300 days out of the year touring the United States and Europe. Recently, Funderburgh added Myers to the group, and the results have been impressive. The presence of the towering, legally blind, booming-voiced badass in the form of the Mississippi-born Myers is truly a sight to behold. If the crew's album Change in My Pocket is any indication, audience members should be prepared for a set of solid, down-home, teeth-rattling blues.

The Imperial Crowns will supply the festival with a healthy dose of nasty, gutbucket blues. The group consists of Bruce Springsteen collaborator/harmonica player/vocalist Jimmie Wood, Bob Dylan collaborator/guitarist J.J. Holiday, and drummer Billy Sullivan (not a collaborator, but still to be reckoned with). On "Preachin' the Blues," Wood professes to "pimp the blues like a low-down ho!" He adds that when he preaches the blues, he can make the blind see, the dumb talk and dead rise. Now that's blues power. This collection of shady characters will bring some more, um, character to the event. Plus they do a mean version of slow-rollin' R&B legend Teddy Pendergrass' "Love TKO."

Also appearing on the roster are the Smokin' Joe Kubek Band and the Kaye Bohler Blues Band. There's bound to be something for both the hard-core blues fanatic and the neophyte who can't distinguish Albert King from King Albert.

The 21st Annual Metro Fountain Blues Festival takes place Saturday (May 12), 1-8pm, at San Carlos Plaza, midcampus at San Jose State University. Admission is free.

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From the May 10-16, 2001 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 2001 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

For more information about the San Jose/Silicon Valley area, visit sanjose.com.

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