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Tinner Hill Blues Festival June 10 – 13 in Falls Church

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Tinner HIll Blues Festival
Tinner HIll Blues Festival

The annual Tinner Hill Blues festival kicks off on Thursday night with Chuck Brown and Bobby Parker playing together at the State Theater.  This is a special chance to hear the Godfather of Go-Go as a blues singer.   Chuck will be singing and playing guitar with the legendary bluesman Bobby Parker’s band.

Though he’s known for inventing the funky percussion-driven local genre known as go-go,  Chuck has always had a bluesy feel to his music and he’s included blues like Stormy Monday in his go-go shows for years.  He has actually recorded blues on his Second Chapter record and The Other Side with the late Eva Cassidy.  But that was Chuck in ballad singer mode, sort of a latter-day Billy Eckstine.   When he plays with Bobby Parker — it’s rough and raw Chuck as down-home blues singer.   Last year for this same show, the combination with Parker was phenomenal.   And this is still Chuck playing in the DMV, so expect to hear that driving D.C. go-go beat before the night is out.

The festival continues Saturday at Cherry Hill Park as a tribute to John Jackson.  Jackson was one of the greatest acoustic blues players (and country, folk, or whatever else he wanted to play) of the second half of the twentieth century who died in 2002.  His loss is still felt.

It’s a very good line-up this year including an interesting focus on Indian blues acts including Murray Porter and Pura Fe.  The MSG Acoustic Trio features the great voice of Resa Gibbs.  Bid Daddy Stallings and Clarence Turner are both soulful electric blues musicians who play around the region a lot.

The highlight of the festival will be the acoustic blues duo of Corey Harris and Phil Wiggins.  When partnering with John Cephas, Wiggins was part of the world’s  greatest Piedmont blues duo.  Cephas died in 2009 in another devastating loss to the acoustic blues world around D.C.   With him gone, there’s no one I’d rather see Phil Wiggins blow his harmonica with than Corey Harris.

Corey Harris started his career playing solo acoustic blues and has since branched out into fascinating explorations of music from the Caribbean and Africa.  He’s one of the world’s most inventive musicians playing in traditional music forms.   I particularly like to hear him play in different styles on the acoustic guitar.  Check out his take on Burning Spear’s reggae classic Columbus on his most recent album.   Hearing him play acoustic blues with another master like Phil Wiggins never disappoints.