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Long Beach Blues Festival 2009

30th Anniversary Event Features Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Bobby Womack


Soulman Bobby Womack

Soulman Bobby Womack

Photo by Michael Loccisano, courtesy Getty Images

The schedule for the 30th annual Long Beach Blues Festival has been set, the performers have signed on the dotted line, and the line-up for this year's event promises to be a real humdinger. The 2009 Long Beach Blues Festival will be held on Saturday, September 5th and Sunday, September 6th at Rainbow Lagoon Park in Long Beach, California. Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee Bobby Womack, blues-rock guitarist Kenny Wayne Shepherd, and gospel music great Mavis Staples will be headlining the festival.

The 30th Annual Long Beach Blues Festival

Over the past three decades, the Long Beach Blues Festival has not only proven itself to be one of the country's pre-eminent blues festivals, but also one of the longest-lived. Aside from entertaining thousands of blues music fans, the festival also serves as a major fund-raiser for publically-supported radio station KKJZ, located at California State University in Long Beach and known as "America's Jazz and Blues Station."

Saturday's headliners include blues-rock guitarists Johnny Winter and Kenny Wayne Shepherd, as well as New Orleans' favorite songs, the Funky Meters. Blues music's youngest group, the Homemade Jamz Blues Band, will also be performing on Saturday.

On Sunday, soulman Bobby Womack will headline, while the Queen of Gospel Mavis Staples and the Blind Boys of Alabama will open. Blues-rock guitarist Sonny Landreth will also be performing. Other acts confirmed for the festival include:

  • Hill Country Revue
  • Bettye Lavette
  • Diunna Greenleaf
  • Andy Walo Trio

Headline Performers

Guitarist Kenny Wayne Shepherd is a self-taught musician and six-string prodigy who began performing onstage at the tender age of thirteen, and released his major label debut - the acclaimed Ledbetter Heights - when he was just eighteen years old. Influenced by artists like Stevie Ray Vaughan, Albert King, and Duane Allman, Shepherd has since been able to perform alongside several of his guitar heroes.

It's been forty years since Texas blues guitarist Johnny Winter burst on the scene with his houserockin' self-titled debut album, and the talented guitarslinger has slowed down very little since. Winter tours extensively, and has recently overseen the release of the Live Bootleg Series of archival albums. It's been a while since Winter released a new studio album - 2004's Grammy-nominated I'm A Bluesman - but he's been flying around the globe bringing fans his unique vision of the blues.

No less an authority than the legendary Eric Clapton has called slide guitarist Sonny Landreth "the most underestimated musician on the planet, and also probably one of the most advanced." During a career that has spanned four decades, Landreth has earned a well-deserved reputation as a gifted slide guitarist, whose work plumbs the depth of roots-rock and swamp-blues.

Rock & Roll Hall of Famer Bobby Womack

Recent Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee Bobby Womack is well-known in blues, soul, and R&B circles as a talented singer, songwriter, and guitarist. Womack got his start as part of the family gospel group the Womack Brothers as a child in the early-1950s, touring with R&B great Sam Cooke. The group changed its name to the Valentinos as they moved into secular music, but it was Womack's 1960s and '70s work in a soul, pop, and funk vein that bolstered his reputation. Along the way, Womack influenced and befriended rockers like the Rolling Stones, Janis Joplin, and Sly Stone.

The Long Beach Blues Festival will feature music on two stages, and vendors will have regional food and beverages available. Kids under 12 get in for free, and you can bring your own food and have a picnic if you so desire. Check with the festival website for ticket details and availability and an updated performer list.

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