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Real Music - April 2015 - Blues in Bloom


Real Music - April 2015
Blues in Bloom

by Robert Feuer

Though apple blossoms are getting harder to find, I’m as happy as a bee that they’re still celebrated at Sebastopol’s annual Apple Blossom Festival. On Sunday, April 19, in Ives Park, thanks to blues impresario Bill Bowker, the 2015 event brings a superior lineup of blues/R&B performers to our humble county. Any blues fan not in attendance will need to send me an excuse note from his/her mother.

Headliner Curtis Salgado, a vocalist/harmonica player, had his musical fate sealed at age 13 by his attendance at a Count Basie performance, where he found his calling. He went on to win the top-drawer 2010 Blues Music Award for Best Soul Blues Artist, as well as perform at the Chicago and San Francisco Blues Festivals, the latter backing up classic artist Albert Collins.

A chance meeting with comedian John Belushi in the ‘70s led Salgado to teach Belushi, a metal and hard rock fan at the time, about blues and R&B, shortly prior to Belushi’s leading role in the film, “The Blues Brothers.”

Salgado spent much of the ‘80s with such major ensembles as the Robert Cray Band and Roomful of Blues. Add to that, a summer tour with Santana, and an appearance on “Late Night with Conan O’Brien.” In 2006, he survived a liver transplant and lung cancer.

Vocalist/ keyboardist, Lady Bianca, born in Kansas City, will make the trip from her current home in Oakland  for this event. Voted into the West Coast Blues Hall of Fame in 2008, her ladyship, as a 19-year-old, played Billie Holiday in a San Francisco stage production, and four years later joined Sly and the Family Stone. 

She also recorded and toured with Van Morrison for a decade. A complete list of world-class musicians she’s worked with would take me off this page, so I’ll just mention an appearance at the 1987 San Francisco Blues Festival, a 2009 show with Morrison at the Royal Albert Hall, and a featured role in last year’s International Boogie Woogie Festival in Switzerland.

Somehow, in between, she’s managed to co-write over 300 songs and produce, arrange, and record eight albums.

If you want to hitch your wagon to a rising star, don’t miss HowellDevine’s set. If you need references, check their website for glowing tributes from Charlie Musselwhite, Bonnie Raitt, and Elvin Bishop. 

Joshua Howell, on vocals, guitar, and harmonica, emerged as an underage performer at such historic venues as Eli’s Mile High club in Oakland, though he didn’t fully bloom musically until a three year stretch performing in the mountains of Thailand. In 2012, he connected with Pete Devine, a drummer from Maine who arrived in the Bay Area in 1989. Devine became one of the founding members of Lavay Smith and Her Red Hot Skillet Lickers. Among his 32 recording credits is a Grammy-nominated Maria Muldaur release. Bassist Joe Kyle Jr. has been with The Waybacks since 2001. Performances begin at 12:30. Come kiss your blues away in this idyllic setting.

Real Music - Robert Feuer