Doheny Blues Festival 5/19-20/01
Blues on the Beach
by Don Brown Sr.
The Blues Internet
Las Vegas Jazz n' Blues
Boulder Blues Site
Doheny State Beach in Dana Point, California. Twenty-two bands burnin' on the beach. Constant blues for two days. Nice. Who could ask for more? It would be difficult to talk about all the bands. They ran from fine to unbelievable. So I'll focus on the ones that really surprized me.
On Saturday the first band to knock me out was, well, Knockout Greg and Blue Weather from Sweden. Their all out fourteen song set was full of gems like "Bad Mouthing", "Now Get Tough", and a jazzy tune from jazz man Tiny Grimes they called "Tiny's Temple".
The hightlight of the day, and maybe the weekend, was 22 year old Shemekia Copeland. Daughter of the late Johnny Copeland, Shemekia is fast becoming a force in the world of blues. Her ten song set was full of powerful blues and gospel vocals you just don't hear much anymore. Singing songs such as "Wild Wild Women", "The Other Woman", and "It's 2 A.M.", Shemekia put on a show not to be forgoten for a long time. It's no wonder that this gal walked away with three Handy Awards - Contemporary Female Artist of the Year, Blues Album of the Year, and Song of the Year for "It's 2 A.M." off of her new CD "Wicked".
Come Sunday, John Mayall and The Bluesbreakers put on a seven song set that had the crowd on its feet. For over 35 years this British bluesman has been doing this with different Bluesbreakers along the way. "Grits and Groceries", "Testify", and "So Many Roads" gave the audience an excellent show to start the day.
The Blind Boys of Alabama put on a gospel/blues performance highlighted by a terrific version of "Amazing Grace" with the music of "House of the Rising Son". Their fifty minute set left all wanting more.
Artist of the day for me was Keb' Mo', who was playing to a lot of friends and family from Los Angeles. Keb's 13 song set featured a handful of songs from his latest disc, "The Door". He kicked off the set with the Elmore James classic "It Hurts Me Too", and also played "Gimmie What You Got" and "Change" from the new CD. Keb too garnered a W.C. Handy Award - one for Acoustic Artist of the Year.
As the weekend came to a close, I realized that Keb' Mo' and Shemekia Copeland are two performers one could watch forever. And that Doheny's blues on the beach is a festival not to be missed.
Photography by Carol Michaud, jazzScan™ by R J Bianchino copyright © 2001 Brown Ink
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