The best year ever in my opinion.
The two day festival started on Friday, Aug 8th, with a cigar box guitar workshop at Navasota Blues Alley in downtown Navasota, led by the wizard of such music, Justin Johnson.
Then Justin opened the festival out at the Grimes County Expo Center...
Afterwards Brad Absher took the stage with a full blown band and lit up the room. He has TWO saxophone players and an ivory tickler who brings his own (quite heavy!) piano. Very solid band called SWAMP ROYALE.
Brad Absher at far right up front with his sax men
Tony Vega finished off the first night with tight energy for a three piece band. They set the expectation for the weekend... which delivered GREAT BANG FOR THE BUCK!
Saturday, Aug 9
The Saturday events kicked off with a fun acoustic set done by Back Porch in E Flat, (or something like that!) who graciously replaced Dr. Michael Birnbaum who was unable to attend. These guys each played multiple instruments. The bass player was blowing on a harmonica and tapping a top hat. A small crowd of hard core blues fans sat in chairs up close to the stage to get a better look, and time stood still... and flew by!.
Back Porch E Flat
Then, FINALLY, one of my favorite musicians ever, Doug Macleod brought his resonator mastery to the Blues Fest. I told him this must be heaven, because I was sure this is what it will feel like, getting to enjoy such fabulous music and sharing it with your friends. Doug is a National Treasure. He writes his own songs.. and they have a very useful message in this day and time. His slide guitar prowess shares few peers.
BAD BRAD and the FAT CATS came on and instantly connected with the crowd, quickly gaining the attention of this seasoned blues crowd and getting smiles. Brad is bad, but I mean that in a good way. This guy will go far as long as people want real blues.
Bad Brad and the Fat Cats
Then everything got crazy. Texas Johnny Boy and his all-star band blew out the cob webs with his typical high energy blues assault. This man is a blues animal. You can tell he lives to play and plays to live.
Texas Johnny Boy
Annika Chambers came on like gangbusters as they say and showed why is she has left a wake of devoted fans all over the Houston area and beyond. She is a passionate performer, singing and frolicking on stage with a rare combination of power and abandon.
And then there was the incomparable Ezra Charles and his fabulous band. In my mind the best act we have ever seen. Charles has found his dream team and nurtured them into a rollicking brass section that sings and struts and mixes it up with the crowd. By the time he got through playing, everyone was EXHAUSTED!
It will be hard to top this year's sterling stream of shows. Some old traditions were broken to create the best line-up they have ever had. I'm one who thinks the sacrifice and the change was worth it, and hope they stick to their new plan... and that is offering up the best blues fest in the country! SEE YOU NEXT YEAR!