Blues and world music legend Taj Mahal and Booker T. Jones will co-headline the Sunday, August 31 show of the Long Beach Blues Festival. In addition, Stax soul veteran Eddie Floyd has been added to the Sunday roster. The festival will be held Saturday and Sunday, August 30-31 in its breezy new oceanfront home, the Rainbow Lagoon at Linden Ave. and Shoreline Dr. adjacent to the Long Beach Marina. Previously booked Sly & the Family Stone cancelled their appearance at the festival, according to the festival’s co-producers Bill Silva Presents and Rum & Humble.
One of the most prominent figures in late 20th century blues, singer/multi-instrumentalist Taj Mahal played an enormous role in revitalizing and preserving traditional acoustic blues. Not content to stay within that realm, Mahal soon broadened his approach, taking a musicologist’s interest in a multitude of folk and roots music from around the world — reggae and other Caribbean folk, jazz, gospel, R&B, zydeco, various West African styles, Latin, even Hawaiian. The African-derived heritage of most of those forms allowed Mahal to explore his own ethnicity from a global perspective and to present the blues as part of a wider musical context. Yet while he dabbled in many different genres, he never strayed too far from his laid-back country blues foundation.
Booker T. Jones is a legendary performer, producer and songwriter perhaps best known for the million-selling instrumental “Green Onions,” recorded by Booker T and the MGs. His career highlights, however, also include recording with everyone from Otis Redding, Ray Charles and Wilson Pickett to Bob Dylan, Boz Scaggs, Barbra Streisand and indie-rocker Jolie Holland. Among many other accomplishments, he produced Willie Nelson’s multi-platinum Stardust album and Bill Withers’ “Ain’t No Sunshine,” and co-wrote the classic Albert King hit "Born Under a Bad Sign." He has also performed live with Neil Young, Eric Clapton and George Harrison, to name but a few. Look for a new album from Jones on Anti- Records in 2009.
Soul man Eddie Floyd just completed first new album in six years, titled Eddie Loves You So, which marks his return to the Stax Records logo. The singer who scored a monster soul classic with “Knock on Wood” in 1967 has returned to his Southern roots for the new CD. Included are 10 original songs written for fellow soul artists in the ‘50s and ‘60s. Some date back to Floyd’s years with the seminal proto-soul group The Falcons; others are some previously unheard gems. The new CD hits the streets on July 29, 2008 on the re-activated Stax Records through the Concord Music Group.
In addition to the great Chuck Berry, who will headline the Saturday show, and Taj Mahal and Booker T. Jones, who will co-headline on Sunday, a line-up of venerable artists from the blues pantheon has been announced. Saturday’s performers also include Eric Clapton associate John Mayall, New Orleans’ riotous Dirty Dozen Brass Band, blues piano patriarch Pinetop Perkins, Northern Californian slide slinger Roy Rogers, and Jamaican soul vocalist Roy Young, in his West Coast debut. Sunday’s performers also include Crescent City artist/producer/arranger Allen Toussaint, harmonica blower Charlie Musselwhite, straight-up bluesman Joe Louis Walker and rising guitar phenomenon Ana Popovic.
In its nearly three decades of existence, the Long Beach Blues Festival has become one of the nation’s pre-eminent blues celebrations. As a major fundraiser for publicly supported radio station KKJZ-FM, the Festival serves not only as an annual weekend devoted to a classic American music form, but also to help sustain both jazz and the blues on the air all year long.
KKJZ-FM (previously known as KLON-FM) has been broadcasting jazz and blues since 1981. In December 2004, the station increased transmitting power, going from 6,500 to 30,000 watts as well as an HD Radio digital signal at 88.1 FM.
Over its 29-year history, the Long Beach Blues Festival has featured a who’s who of influential blues and soul artists including Buddy Guy, Taj Mahal, Dr. John, Little Richard, Jerry Butler, Bobby Bland, Otis Rush, Etta James, Mavis Staples, Charles Wright & the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band, Robert Cray, Bo Diddley, Little Milton, Otis Rush, Albert Collins, Jimmy Smith, Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson, Joe Liggins & the Honeydrippers, Big Joe Turner, Lowell Fulson, Lonnie Mack, The Blasters, Johnny Winter, Son Seals, Bobby Womack, Joe Cocker, the Allman Brothers Band, the Black Crowes, Irma Thomas and Betty LaVette, among hundreds of others.
Advance tickets are available at the cost of $45 (plus applicable service charges) for a single day or $75 (plus applicable service charges) for a weekend pass via Ticketmaster. Day of show prices are $50 for one day and $85 for the weekend. In addition, the Festival offers several VIP package rates, all of which include a donation to benefit KJAZZ: The Buddy Pack (two weekend passes plus parking and beverages) for $300; the Platinum Pass (two VIP weekend passes plus VIP parking, food and beverages) for $800. Also offered are the Backstage Pass (two backstage weekend passes plus VIP parking, food and beverages) at $1,650 and the Ultimate Backstage Pass (two backstage weekend passes and a reserved seating area plus VIP parking, food, beverages and hotel or transportation) at $5,000.
VIP ticket packages are available directly from KJAZZ, by calling (310) 478-5061 or online at http://www.jazzandblues.org