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Bluebird Blues Festival September 26th at Prince George's Community College

Warner Williams and Jay Summerour
Warner Williams and Jay Summerour are among the performers at the Bluebird Blues Festival

The Bluebird Blues Festival has become one of the best one-day blues festivals in the country. The festival always combines dynamic performers on the main stage with an indoor acoustic stage featuring traditional musicians. This is the 18th year that Prince George’s Community College has put on the show for free.  It’s a great community event that includes activities for children and a classic car show to go along with the music.  There’s always a great headliner, who’s usually on the soul side of the blues spectrum. This year it’s Clarence Carter.

Nap Turner stage performers:

M.S.G. Acoustic Band Trio – A piedmont bues trio featuring the guitar of Miles Spicer, harmonica of Jackie Merritt, and vocals of Resa Gibbs who brings to mind Nina Simone in an acoustic blues setting.

Barry Lee Pearson – The University of Maryland professor leads this workshop to explore different aspects of traditional blues with the performers on hand to illustrate his points.

Phil Wiggins and Rick Franklin – Phil Wiggins is simply one of the world’s greatest harmonica players.  He made his reputation playing piedmont blues as a duo with the late John Cephas, creating warm and soulful acoustic music around the world.  His work with guitarist Rick Franklin should continue that tradition.

Warner Williams & Jay Summerour – Another excellent guitar and harmonica duo that’s been playing around the D.C. area for decades. Warner Williams is a classic songster comfortable playing blues, country, and pop songs all in his own laid-back and fun style.

Main Stage performers:

Diunna Greenleaf & Blue Mercy – Greenleaf and her band had never played a show in D.C. until a month ago. Then she was the star of the D.C. Blues Festival, putting on a fantastic performance where she worked the crowd with humor and a great voice that reminds me of Koko Taylor.  Expect another great set at Bluebird.

Tom Larsen Band – An electric blues band that plays all original music.

Charles “Big Daddy” Stallings – Big Daddy Stallings has been playing around the Baltimore and D.C. area for years, but has band seems to have reached a new level with the recent release of the CD Blues Party. The band sounds great with a nice horn section with trumpet, saxophone, and harmonica.  Big Daddy’s guitar and vocals are sharp and their sets offer a good mix of original tunes and well-chosen covers.

Clarence Carter
Clarence Carter

Clarence Carter – He’s a legend just for Strokin’. But Clarence Carter has created an incredible amount of great soul and blues music over his career including hits like Slip Away and Patches. His finely honed stage show is alternately funny and touching, taking you on a tour of Carter’s musical history going back to the early 60s. This festival is a family event, so don’t expect Strokin’ to get too dirty. But I think it should be just dirty enough.