|"Blues and bliss: 7th annual T-Bone Walker Festival is coming up" By Michelle Williams firstname.lastname@example.org|
"Blues lovers will have the opportunity to enjoy a weekend of musical bliss when the 7th annual T-Bone Walker Fest kicks off Friday, June 22, and runs through Saturday, June 23.
Festival namesake Walker was born in the Bear Creek community, near Linden, in 1910. After his mother moved the family to Dallas, he became immersed in the music scene. Walker was a quick study and a natural. Over the years, he learned from as well as performed with such luminaries as Blind Lemon Jefferson, Ma Rainey, Cab Calloway and Louis Armstrong.
A sought-after singer, songwriter and musician, by 1939, he helped lay the foundation for rock and roll becoming one of the first guitarists to record playing electric and subsequently earning the title, "Father of the Electric Blues."
Walker was also known as a consummate performer. His signature moves, playing guitar behind his head, with his teeth and while doing splits, has been copied by numerous players including rock icon Jimi Hendrix.
Generations later, Walker's style continues to inspire elder statesman of the genre as well as up and coming players.
Held at Music City Texas Theater, the local fest, yearly, draws blues players from around the globe for a two-day celebration of Walker's life and music.
This year's line-up will feature Keb' Mo', a three-time Grammy award winner for Best Contemporary Blues Album.
Also featured will be Michael Dyson, better known as "Blue Shoe Mike." Dyson is also a Grammy award winning artist and co-founder of the Blue Shoe Project. Via the BSP, Dyson teaches and performs blues in public schools throughout the nation.
Other notable performers include Jonathon "Boogie" Long, the 2011 winner of the Guitar Center King of the Blues guitar competition for the #1 Unsigned Blues Guitarist in America, and Emily Elbert, a young, JanisJoplin-esque singer who's making waves internationally with her soulful singing style.
The fest is family-friendly with special emphasis, each year, on exposing kids to blues music, said Charles Snowden, festival executive director.
"We've got some great, young players coming. Having them here is one way to show kids age is not a limiting factor when it comes to success," he said.
Fourteen year-old Matthew Davidson, of Shreveport, will make a return trip to the festival. He was the 2011 winner of the Robert Johnson Blues Foundation New Generation Award.
Matthew was also selected the guitarist for the 2011 "Kidd Kraddick in the Morning" Rock Camp Band. He was one of four young musicians selected from a group of over 300 applicants. During the camp, the band performed live on the air on "Kidd Kraddick in the Morning," a nationally syndicated radio show.
The Peterson Brothers Band, of Austin, will also return to the fest. The boys, Glenn, 14, and Alex, 11, "channel the blues with a maturity and technical prowess well beyond their years," writes a blues critic.
Both also play a variety of other instruments and write original songs. Snowden pointed out, the festival not only offers great music, but fun activities and lots of food.
Admission to the grounds and performances on the MidSouth outdoor stage is free of charge Friday.
First performance Friday starts at 5:30 p.m.
"Everyone is invited to come bring lawn chairs and blankets to sit on and enjoy the music on the outdoor stage free on Friday," Snowden said.
Admission to the grounds and performances on the outdoor stage is $5 for adults on Saturday.
Active and retired military personnel and their immediate families will be admitted free with military I.D.
Students are also admitted free.
Saturday's activities include a car show.
"We'll have a car show starting mid-day Saturday. If you come at 8 a.m. Saturday morning, you can get in for $5 and stay until midnight, when the last show ends. You'll be good to go all day," he said.
First stage performance Saturday will start at 5 p.m., but music will be played by selected performers throughout the day, Snowden said.
Ticket prices for Music City Texas indoor stage seats range from $20 to $100. About 130 seats are open for Friday performances.
Only 30 are available for Saturday acts, Snowden said.
"We've got lots of $20 seats left for Friday and some $100 seats which are right down front. We have very few $100 or $20 seats left for Saturday. So, anyone wanting those seats needs to go ahead and get their tickets," he said.
Live and silent auctions will be held featuring "some great items," Snowden said.
"We've got some guitars for auction with name-brand people on them, say, like native sons," he said, a hint of happy mischief in his voice and adding, "You wouldn't believe some of the items we have."
He noted other offerings on the block include golfing adventures and a special hand-made quilt.
Commemorative t-shirts will be for sale.
"The t-shirts are purple, this year. They're great looking and people are going to love the logo. It's an actual guitar pick that covers the back of the shirt," Snowden said.
Golf towels, earrings made from guitar strings and T-Bone Walker "private label" bottled water will also be available.
Snowden said the special water bottles are "one and only" and carry a unique T-Bone-themed label.
"I think everybody will have a very good time. There will be lots of food. The variety will be good. There'll be water and soda pop. So, bring your corny dog money and come on," he said.
For a complete listing of performers, dates and times, visit www.tbonewalker fest.com.
For ticket information or purchase, call 903-756-7774 or 903-756-9934 or go online to www.tix.com.