YOU ARE HERE: IVPress HomeCollections

Robert Cray and others to play day-long San Diego Blues Festival


June 08, 2001

SAN DIEGO — Five-time Grammy Award-winner Robert Cray will headline the fourth annual Volkswagen San Diego Blues Festival on Saturday at the downtown waterfront-area here.

The Robert Cray Band tops a lineup of 11 bands in this day-long festival that includes John Mooney & Bluesiana, Joe Louis Walker, Kenny Neal and Janiva Magness. Some of San Diego's finest musicians, including Billy Thompson, Earl Thomas & The Jezebelles, The Boogiemen, Shelltown Horns, Robert Henkel and Richard Blitz also will perform.

Staged by Hoodoo Productions, the festival runs from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., is open to all ages and features a variety of ethnic foods, refreshments and music-related vendors at the Embarcadero Marina Park South.

Since the 1980s, festival headliner Cray has been a leader in the revival of blues music around the world. Recognized as much for his songwriting and smooth vocals as his guitar playing, Cray has worked with people such as John Lee Hooker, B.B. King, Eric Clapton, Chuck Berry, Keith Richards, Buddy Guy, Dr. John and Bonnie Raitt.


Throughout his career Cray has garnered critical as well as commercial success. Every album of new material issued in the 1990s was honored with a Grammy nomination. His latest album, "Shoulda Been Home," was released this spring on Rykodisc Records.

Baton Rouge, La., native Neal brings his multi-instrumental talents to the festival, stepping onstage as an accomplished harmonica, guitar and bass player, singer, songwriter and arranger.

A former touring bass player for Guy, Neal stepped out on his own to put together a string of successful solo albums. He has also collaborated with Hooker, Raitt and Steve Miller. In 1991 he won the lead role in the Broadway blues musical "Mule Bone," for which he won a Theater World Award for "outstanding new talent on and off Broadway."

Blues guitar ace and New Orleans resident Mooney will perform Saturday, displaying the guitar playing first cultivated by legendary bluesman Son House.

Taking a tip from fellow New Orleans piano player Professor Longhair, who melded blues, mambo, funk, jazz and other hometown styles, Mooney has created a sound described as a combination of Mississippi Delta blues and New Orleans street rhythms.

Blues chanteuse Magness brings her subtle and seductive voice to the festival in support of her Blues Leaf Records recording "Blues Ain't Pretty," due out this month.

Magness, a Detroit native now residing in Los Angeles, is still riding off the buzz created by her previous solo efforts, "My Bad Luck Soul" and "It Takes One to Know One."

Tickets for the Volkswagen San Diego Blues Festival are $20 in advance or $25 at the gate. Attendees may bring beach chairs and blankets.

A portion of the proceeds from the fest will benefit the San Diego Center for Children and Blues Lovers United of San Diego.

Said Hoodoo Productions head Michael Kinsman: "In an age of school shootings, it has become much more apparent that we need to deal with kids who are alienated or don't know how to handle their feelings. … The San Diego Center for Children is a leader in doing that. In addition, the blues is a healing music and BLUSD's Blues in the School program combines a history, sociology and musical lesson all in one. We are proud to be associated with these two organizations."

Imperial Valley Press Online Articles