Winter Park Blues from the Top promotes big names and fresh talent
The Grand County Blues Societys Sixth Annual Blues From the Top next weekend (June 28 and 29) not only features a huge lineup of some of the biggest names in the blues world but also several young talents already on their way to becoming musical sensations.The two-day festival, one of the biggest fundraisers for the Grand County Blues Society each year, is said to be one of the best and most diverse Colorado concert events scheduled in 2008. This years theme is about legends and legends-to-be, said John Catt, avid blues fan and local who is a founding member of the GCBS.The festival kicks off Saturday with musicians Johnny Winter, Jimmy Thackery, Steady Rollin Bob Margolin, the Delta Sonics, Eden Brent, John-Alex Mason, and Dan Treanor. Sundays lineup highlights Joe Bonamassa, Jimmy Hall and Tommy Shannon and George Rains; Ronnie Frug, Deanna Bogart, Larry Garner, Jason Ricci and Zac Harmon. Evening Pre-Fest parties are also planned to showcase the big talents in town Saturday and Sunday throughout several Fraser Valley businesses.Catt is also excited to showcase several up-and-coming youth musicians as part of the festival. No one opens the doors up to the kids like we do, he said. The list includes several Blue Star Connection musicians, local Blues in the Schools band The Runaways, harmonica prodigy Jay Gaunt, and 12-year-old guitar virtuoso Michaela Rae will perform for her second year with the festival.Treanor, who is taking the place of band Soulmate, who couldnt make it up from India, is hosting several harmonica workshops and the first ones there get a free harmonica. Catt says Treanor will also be laying down the law on stage with some of the GCBS friends from their Blue Star Connection, along with about 20 fifth-graders from Fraser Valley Elementary who make up the Harmonicats.The final list of big-name talents set to play on Sunday include:Deanna BogartVocalist and multi-instrumentalist Deanna Bogart won the 2008 Blues Music Award for her horn playing and is said to play dazzling piano and soulful saxophone. She and her band add the energy of 1930s-style boogie-woogie, contemporary blues, country, modern jazz and rock to create a fusion of musical styles she calls bluesion.Her vocals and songwriting are also said to be as full of vitality as her playing. She will be joined by the Deanna Bogart band, with Mike Aubin on drums and Dan Leonard on guitar. Scott Ambush of Spyro Gyra will play bass with the band as a special guest. Bogart said theyve been looking forward to (the festival) for months as a matter of fact and that it might be tough getting me back on the plane.Larry GarnerBaton Rouge bluesman Larry Garner has been playing guitar since age 11, moving through various musical styles before settling on the blues as his specialty. He writes original material that reflects his upbringing and surroundings. Influences he credits from the Baton Rouge blues scene include Lonesome Sundown, Silas Hogan, Henry Gray, and Guitar Kelly. These days Garner is said to be touring all the time. Those who get the chance are encouraged to go to see him, because the man is definitely worth seeing live.Jason RicciJason Ricci, a national act with his signature blues sound and harmonica wizardry, has played with such blues greats as Junior Kimbrough, R. L. Burnside and Nick Curran. After more than a year playing with Big Al and the Heavyweights, he started his own band (Jason Ricci & New Blood in 2002).Of all the harmonica players I have seen over the years, Jason is in his own world, Catt said. His blues, his rock, is impossible to copy. When you see him its impossible to not feel the same way about his prowess on this instrument.New Blood members include Shawn Starsky (vocals, guitars and songwriting), Todd Edmunds (bass, tuba, upright bass, four-string Fender tuba, Sousaphone, Uke, bass Uke piano, vocals, and song writing), Ron Sutton (Drums), and Ricci (on harmonicas and vocals). The bands repertoire includes standard-length songs, epic improvisational jams, original lyrics and melodic instrumental pieces. Zac Harmon and bandStraight-ahead blues artist and powerful guitar player Harmon and the Mid South Blues Revue won The Blues Foundations 2004 International Blues Challenge as best unsigned blues band.Since then theres been no looking back with the release of The Blues According to Zacariah, appearances at festivals throughout the U.S., signing to a booking agent and international tours. He is coming up from Texas and plays a great gospel style of the blues with his band. Cost per person is $28 for advanced tickets, and $32 per day the day of the festival. An advanced two-day pass is $46 (day of show is $55. Tickets are available at Radio Shack in Fraser, Rudis Deli, The Paper Clip, Winter Park / Fraser Valley Chamber of Commerce, and on the Web sites of the GCBS (www.grandblues.org) and Tickets West (www.ticketswest.com). Interested sponsors may contact a GCBS board member on the GCBS Web site, http://www.grandblues.org.
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