Updated: Jan 18
Russian River Blues Festival in Guerneville, a picturesque day along the river. Complete with awesome music, local wine, beer, vendors and plenty of fun.
Con Brio...kicking off the day 'with gusto' as their name suggests! A seven piece band, lead by a James Brown/Sly Stone 'esque, 23 year old Ziek McCarter. Con Brio has been hitting a lot of the festival circuits for the past couple of years around the US and the Montreal Jazz festival last year. They impressed me enough in May at BottleRock Napa, to make a point to see them again when I heard they'd be appearing this year in Guerneville. They gave a great performance and Zieks' dance moves were impressive as before. The Con Brio sound is tight, with an excellent brass section, dance moves and vocals to round it all off. Check them out here.
Later that day on the main stage was Beth Hart, Kenny Wayne Shepherd and headlining that day was Tower of Power. The small stage in the wine garden had a cool band called Southern Avenue. I'd like to see them again sometime. I liked the fact that they had a female drummer.
The whole day was good, Beth Hart was lovely, and Tower of Power were, ummm err, Tower of Power, tight and seasoned pros. But I want to mention the highlight of the day for me, (aside from watching much of the music, standing in the river)....was Kenny Wayne Shepherd....WOW! Through the last decade, many people have suggested I check this guy out. Someone I know has seen him in just about every venue he plays on the west coast...I now know why...wow what a master of the guitar! Total shredder....excellent, and for the ladies out there that appreciate a great guitarist with a plus....he's not too bad to look at either! ;) I'm going to make it my business to see him again, playing a full set (non festival hour) next time he comes by the Bay Area.
Aside from the music, if you haven't made it out to this festival, I want to stress that you should. Doesn't matter too much about what bands are playing. They've now split this festival into Jazz on Saturday, Blues on Sunday. It's all about the event and the location. It happens every September in Guerneville along the Russian River. A gorgeous spot with or without the music. This festival is the only music festival I have ever attended that you can watch from a boat, inner tube, paddle board, canoe or simply standing in the river, or if you prefer, from a blanket or chair on land. Simply a stunning place to be, and the music makes the day even better! So next September, grab someone special and bring them to the Russian River for the Jazz and Blues Festival...no matter what bands are playing, I promise, it'll be a memorable day for sure!