Photos and Text by Ricky Richardson
Long Beach - Many of you may be saddened by the fact that Labor Day is the official end of summer. There are several events that contribute to your gloomy mood: the end of out door festival season, kids returning to school, shorter days and/or a return to work if you have been out on vacation like I have.
There is no cure for the blues better than going out to a blues club, concert or festival. I joined thousands of blues fans from all over the United States for KJAZZ 27th Annual Long Beach Blues Festival on the campus of Cal State Long Beach.
Sunday, September 3rd was the day I was in attendance to pick up my prescription of the blues. This was the last and final day of the blues festival that featured a smorgasbord of various hues of the blues.
The Campbell Brothers opened the festival with a spiritually, uplifting set of foot stomping, hand clapping, praiseworthy gospel music. For the un-initiated this is what you will experience at African American churches on any given Sunday. The grounds of the blues festival felt like a tent revival as the Campbell Brothers served the spiritual needs of the congregation (blues fans) with these songs - "Sign of The Judgement", "Fly Away", "I'll Take The Morning Train Home", "Bye and Bye", and "Don't Let The Devil Drive". The Choir (The Campbell Brothers) featured Phil Campbell - guitar/piano, Chuck Campbell - lap steel guitar, Derrick Campbell - lap steel guitar, Carl Campbell - drums, Malcolm Kirby - bass with Tiffany Goddatt and Denise Brown - vocals.
Kenny Neal - guitar, Billy Branch - harmonica and Carl Weathersby - guitar took the crowd to the delta with an acoustic set of blues with the song "Don't Get Me To Talking". Next, festival goers traveled north up the Mississippi River to the Bayous of Louisiana. Kenny Neal served swamp drenched blues on "Things That I Use To Do", "Since I Met You Baby", "Any Fool Will Do", and "Better Off With The Blues".
Vocalist Betty Lavette celebrated her 45th years in the entertainment business at the festival. She treated the audience to some of her hits from the past as well as some other gems: "He Made A Women Out Of Me", "Walking Out That Door", "Your Time To Cry", "My Joy", "Little Sparrow", "It Serves Him Right", "Souvenir", and closed her splendid set with "Don't Stop Falling In Love".
A cool summer breeze hovered over the festival grounds during the performance of Jerry "The Iceman" Butler. The band was augmented with a five piece horn section and a beautiful group of talented women in the string section. "The Iceman" delivered a top-notched performance of R&B, Soul, Blues, and Jazz classics. Mr. Butler's set list brought back many fond memories for the audience with hits such as "I Think About Cooling Out", "Moody Women", "Just Because of You", "Breaking Up Is Hard To Do", "Never Gonna Give You Up", "He Don't Love You Like I Love You", "Let It Be Me". He closed out his set by honoring the legacy of Jimmy Reed- ""Oh Baby; You Don't Have To Go", John Lee Hooker- "Boom, Boom, Boom" and Duke Ellington- "I'm Just A Lucky So and So", "Don't Mean A Thing; If It Don't Got That Swing", "Satin Doll", "Don't Get Around Much Anymore", and closed out his marvelous set with "Western Union", and "My Funny Valentine".
Vocalist Joe Cocker closed out the KJAZZ 27th Annual Long Beach Blues Festival with a set of soulful hits from the past "I'm Feeling Alright", "You Are So Beautiful", and "Up Where We Belong" were some of the highlights of his entertaining set.