Photo Gallery/Festival Review: Riverfront Blues Festival, Wilmington, Delaware

Sometimes things don’t go as planned.

There are times when it takes so much just to take a breath.

This weekend was one of them, as we planned our annual visit to the Riverfront Blues Festival we learned of my brother, Emil’s early passing. All bets were off, and who knew what was in store, most likely it was not gonna be the best of times.

Well family, friends, everyone gathered and we did what we needed to do, be sad, and celebrate his life. It was great too see folks who were not family there to tell us how he touched their lives in a positive way and tome that was one of the high lights of that sad few days, but we decided to scoot down to Delaware for some of Saturday and all of Sunday’s shows.

We got there and was checking in when Gary Allegretto came walking out of the festival to cool down. Gary is an amazing cat, and seeing him and hearing his words of solace and a big ol’ hug, set me up for enjoying some music – didn’t know how long but we were in a good place. Zac Harmon was just finishing his set, his new release is “Music Is The Medicine” seemed so appropriate right now. He spoke of loss of family and of others losses too  and it seemed that we were all there at that spot for a reason. It was what I was looking for, some musical medicine.

I said hi to Chris Cain and Steve Evans (killer bassist) and they offered kind words and Chris promised to play something special. To me that is anything this cat plays. But thru the set he would look over and give me that toothy smile and I knew he felt the pain and did his best to offer some medicine of his own mixing. The band never ceases to amaze me, tight, solid, funky and all giving they are just incredible. I did not succumb to “Drinkin’ Straight Tequila” as his tender love song he wrote with a crayon suggests, just took it in aurally.

That was it for Saturday – we were pretty wasted and drained from the previous few days, so off we went to Leslie’s parents home for some comfort and relaxation, oh yeh and a Jimi-Do List ! ! ! !

Sunday was a new dawn and a new day – as the Blues411 buttons were passed out and stockpiled at the gates The Nighthawks took the stage. One solid set folks, these guys have been at it for more years than I can recall and they are always in stride and the vibe is pure party. The two Mark’s plus band whipped up the crowd and got them off their butts to dance.

The Royal Southern Brotherhood were next up. Now I have heard a lot of pub about these cats, all wearing their musical pedigrees and history like a badge or medal (Royalty?) so, as I am want to do, I was real curious about how they would be together. I must say it didn’t take me too long to fall right in line with everyone else – These guys are just flat out freakin’ good!

Featuring Devon Allman, Mike Zito, Cyril Neville, Charlie Wooten, and Yonrico Scott they tore the playhouse down – room by room, note by note! Devon is an amazing guitarist who also knows how to work the stage, pit, crowd and amps for the utmost in performance. Mike Zito seemed to have found his spot with these guys. He adds a swampy touch and his guitar work blends itself nicely with Devon and other cats in the band. Cyril Neville is a master percussionist and singer – when he hits it there ain’t no stopping the feelings. Combine his Afro-Latin mix to the drumming of Yonrico Scott and bass voyages of Charlie Wooten and what comes out of the RSB blender is a purely intoxicating mix of Blues, Rock, Jazz, Afro-Latin, New Orleans, St. Louis amalgam of unlimited possibilities.


Good friends are always welcomed, and the Brooks Family Dynasty are considered good friends. Featuring Ronnie & Wayne (as Father,  Lonnie could not fly) it was a slightly different set but a solid one all in all. Was nice to see Wayne being featured some more as his works contain just a little bit more soul R&B feel to them, and as always Ronnie is the Prince of the Blues – always fun and his guitar skills are to of the line.

We were dragging arse by halfway thru the set so we headed over to Harry’s Seafood to meet up with my nephew and his finance’ to relax and just have some quiet time with them. Next year we will have to try to get them to join us at the festival.

Thanks to everyone who offered condolences, prayers, thoughts and everything else to us during these times, thanks to the musicians for their music which truly is a medicine. It was a rough weekend and there are still things to deal with this week but I have to admit it’s getting better, little by little and since I found the Blues I’ve been in the pink.  Ok thanks to the Beatles, Junior Wells and Theresa James for these song titles.


Until next time,
Love, Peace & Chicken Grease
©  2012
Where the Blues Thrives
photos: Leslie K. Joseph, Blues411

Happy Birthday America, Entertainment Abounds From Sea To Shining Sea

Yesirre ! It is that time again, The Fourth of July, the middle of the summer holidays (Memorial Day early on, ending with Labor Day) and usually there is a heckuva lot going on to tempt and tease us music fans.
Well I have to admit that there are some great things going on at festivals, in the air waves and right her on the internet. So I’m just gonna run down the ones that got some serious import from this bird’s nest.

This weekend
The Mississippi Valley Blues Festival Davenport, IA:
Friday: Super Chikan, Liz Mandeville & Donna Herula, Kenny Neal.
Saturday: Preston Shannon, Guitar Shorty, Coco Montoya, Doug MacLeod, Moreland & Arbuckle, Kelley Hunt.
Sunday: Lady Bianca, Trampled Under Foot, Paul Geremia, Johnny Rawls, Brooks Family Dynasty, Bobby Rush plus workshops Saturday & Sunday check it out at:

The Safeway Waterfront Music Festival July 4-8th,  Portland, OR.  So many first rate bands here so here is a quick list:
Elvin Bishop, The California  Honeydrops, Cedric Burnside Project, James Cotton, James Hunter, The Mannish Boys, The 44’s, Otis Taylor Band, Marquise Knox, Lisa Mann and Her Really Good Band hell I could go on but y’all get the picture.

Briggs Farm Blues Festival Nescopek, PA July 6-7th
For those on the East side of town we got a killer line up in store for ya’s;  Alexis P. Suter, Eddy ‘The Chief’ Clearwater, Mikey Junior, Bernard Allison, Rory Block, Michael Packer, Paul Butterfield Blues Band.
That should take care of the outdoors portion of the long weekend back to back stuff, if not I am sure you can find more.

Next up are a few things happening on the air waves that might interest y’all and we will call it. . .

Spirit of the Radio:
SiriusXM Bluesville 
will broadcast their recent interview with Buddy Guy about his new autobiography “When I Left Home: My Story” on Saturday July 7 at 6:30PM, and rebroadcast it on Sunday July 8, at 9:30PM. Bill Wax will talk with Buddy and weave some musical selections through the talk.
The 2012 Blues Music Awards will be re-broadcast on July 1st in it’s entirety starting at 6PM East Side of town, featuring Tab Benoit, Johnny Sansone, Grady Champion, Eric Bibb and many many more outstanding performances and commentary from your favorite Bluesville DJ’s, Bill Wax, Tony Colter, and Big Llou Johnson (with special guests).

Music On The Couch ‘Musicians You Should Know’
July 2, 10:00PM East side of town, Vinny Marini always features two exciting bands who will be taking questions from the audience, this week The Strata-Tones & Sue Palmer.

This week marks the debut of myself and Blues411 as a monthly guest talking about the state of the blues/roots music scene and other interesting things. So tune in, call in and take a seat on the couch.
The direct link for the show is  check it out, I’m excited and only hope I don’t bring the show down with my presence.

Affiliates & Other Navigation
If ya notice those ‘tabs’ across the page  with different navigation spots, there is a wealth of linkage and friendly info there for you to call up and use as needed. From The Blues Foundation main site, to B.B. King’s Bluesville for show schedules (plus a separate tab for the Picks to Click) and further on to connection to The Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise and all they offer. Not to be overlooked are other affiliated friends such as Blues Festival Guide (good thing to have handy for the summer season)  D’Mar’s music blog and Cathy Lemons blog about life in the blues, and our good friend Vinny Marini & his “Music On The Couch” site.
All these fine folks and organizations provide superb services in one form or another and support the Blues in so many ways, so get familiar with them.
Yes one of those tabs is for the Tier One Supporters of Blues411. These folks (and others) have chosen to help keep Blues411 alive and kicking on the internet and they do so without any strings maintaining our independent and powerful voice in the arena. Please support them as much as you can.

Further On Down The Road:
Looking past the holiday week we see The NY State Blues Festival  coming up July 13- 15, The Bucks County Blues Society R&B Picnic  the week after rounding out the month of July on the East side. If we go way up North to Rockland, Maine on July 14 and 15th we can get a dose of John Mayall, Tab Benoit, Royal Southern Brotherhood and a tribute to Koko Taylor at the North Atlantic Blues Festival
One non-east side festival that you might want to check out is the Tall City Blues Festival, July 26-29, in Midland Texas  which is looking strong on talent and activities.  To round out July we have a big favorite the PA Blues Festival  July 27-29th camping under the stars and blues music to boot, it don’t get much better than this.

Into August we have The Riverfront Blues Festival in Wilmington, Delaware , followed by the 20th Anniversary Chenango Blues Festival in Norwich NY( Out in Colorado we have the 2nd Annual Blue Star Blues Fest sponsored by the Blue Star Connection Charity which is a great way to help out a great cause and see super bands
As I said earlier, there’s so much out there to enjoy and get to – support live music whenever you can and keep it alive and thriving. 

Extra Note of Joy:
Speaking of Buddy Guy, please stay tuned to Blues411 for some exciting news concerning him and his new book. I would expect the news to break after the 4th of July holiday. A super opportunity for one lucky fan, plus opportunities for others and guaranteed fun for all involved.

Until next time,
Love, Peace & Chicken Grease
© 2012
photos: Leslie K. Joseph, Blues411, courtesy of artists

2011 Riverfront Blues Festival – Smack Dab in the Middle of Everything !

Blues411 had the chance to catch up with Mr. Gene Fontana of the Diamond State Blues Society. We talked about what might be one of the most comfortable and friendly Blues festivals on the East Coast. This year the Riverfront Blues Festival will be held August 5th – 7th, at The Tubman-Garrett Riverfront Park in downtown Wilmington, Delaware.
We were there last year and had a blast, so if you are anywhere near Delaware next weekend, come on out !


B411: Gene, maybe a bit of history on the festival – how long has it been running?

GF: The Festival has been running for 15 years now. First as the Cool Brews & BBQ Fest for the first six years and for nine years as the Riverfront Blues Festival.

B411: It seems to work well with the state and city, is that difficult to accomplish? How did the Diamond State Blues Society get involved with it?
GF:The tie-ins with the City of Wilmington came about when the person booking the festival was not getting it together . The city did not know what was going on, and Tina Betz, working for the City of Wilmington was very knowledgeable about Jazz, but did not know enough about the Blues. The Diamond State Blues Society was somewhat involved by having after-parties, and Tina called me and said Gene I thought I would let you know that there will be no Blues Festival this year so I do not think you can have an after-party.
Stunned by what she was telling me after telling me the reason for canceling it four weeks before I said is there anything that we the blues society can do ? Would you like me to book it for you ? Tina asked how much did I want to get paid ? I said I wanted nothing, I just want this festival to keep going. So in two weeks I put together a stellar lineup with Lonnie Brooks , Chris Cain , Bluestime with J. Geils & Magic Dick , Little Charlie and many other fine acts. In the eight years since, the festival has grown to be one of the best on the East Coast if not in the Country. But all in all the City of Wilmington funds the festival while I do all the bookings for both stages and help out with volunteers. I do have the Boss on site at all times, Tina Betz from the Mayors Office of Cultural Affairs, who keeps me calm when it’s needed. Tina is a great leader and she does know how to iron out issues when they arise. Also we need to mention Bev Zimmerman who also plays a huge role in the festival, getting hotel, gate volunteers. and vendors together and Tanya Philips who is in charge of Hospitality, Vending & Tenting and Ground Transportation for the Artists.

B411: Now some of the acts you have had there in the past are quite amazing, I am just starting to get familiar with the fest, so who were some of the outstanding ones to you?
GF: Bernard Allison, Buddy Guy, Johnny Winter, Fabulous Thunderbirds, Charlie Musselwhite, Larry Garner, Marcia Ball, Lonnie Ronnie and Wayne Baker Brooks. Last year alone we had Pine Top Perkins, Bob Margolin, Mojo Buford, Hubert Sumlin, Mike Zito and John Lee Hooker Jr.

B411: Who is on tap for the current festival, I know Super Chikan and The Fighting Cocks, Tab Benoit, James Cotton who else ?
GF: Well, first is Vasti (vast -eye) Jackson from Mississippi. A great performer who goes way back to days of the juke joints. He is a blues guitarist with a sweet soulful sound.

B411: Oh yeh, I saw him last year, what a fun performer !
GF: Then you got that triple threat from New Orleans. Jumpin’ Johnny Sansone, what a harmonica player, Accordion & Guitarist, and his new CD “The Lord Is Waiting & The Devil Is Too” WOW ! It is produced by Anders Osborne. On the release it is Anders, Johnny & a drummer on this CD no bass player. It’s some deep Louisiana sound, something the likes I have never heard before.

B411: Yeh, the drummer is Stanton Moore of Galactic (Cyril Neville plays with them).
Joanne Shaw Taylor is opening the festival Friday right ?

GF: What an up and coming artist she is. Voted Female Blues Artist of The Year, once you see her performance you will agree. Two years ago at the Tampa Bay Blues Festival I had a chance to catch her performance. She got the only standing ovation all weekend. We all looked at one another and said she’s coming to Wilmington.

B411: I am quite excited about seeing the Lowrider Band, this will be great !
GF: Yes, it’s Howard Scott, Lee Oskar, BB Dickerson, Harold Brown along with baby brothers Lance Ellis on Sax , Keith Vinet on Keyboards and Chuck Barber on percussion bringing us the sound fusion from East LA that we all know and love. These are the original composers of the hits: Lowrider, Why Can’t We Be Friends, Spill the Wine, Cisco Kid, Slippin’ Into Darkness, The World is a Ghetto and more. So make their day by flashing the three fingers salute, smile and get your groove on.

B411: Gary Allegretto, native of Wilmington DE., will be there performing and with his ‘Harmonikids’.
GF:  Gary is very excited this year winning the “Keepin’ The Blues Alive Award ” for his Harmonikids Project which he takes around the world and thank Hohner for being a big part of his accomplishment.

B411: I even took part in his lesson last year, and I was able to play! He is playing on which of the two stages?
GF: Gary will be performing on what we call the Tweener Stage. Local & Regional Bands doing 30min sets in between the Main Stage Sets. Performing are Kenny Jones & Blues Streak, Randy Lippincott (Former Band Leader for the Late Great Johnny Clyde Copeland), April Mae & The June Bugs , Gary Allegretto, Mikey Junior & Stone Cold Blues (Diamond State Blues Society’s IBC Entry in 2011), Blue Cat Blues, Flamin’ Harry, Venom Blues and Zydeco A Go Go.
Oh don’t forget both Friday Aug 5th, and Saturday Aug 6th we will have after-party jams featuring Travis Haddix on Friday and Victor Wainwright & The WildRoots on Saturday night.

B411: Thanks for doing this talk, and for the festival. Anything else we need to know about the Diamond State Blues Society or their activities?
GF: The Diamond State Blues Society 501c3 is a non profit Organization dedicated to keepin the blues alive in the Tri State Area. Stay tuned to our website ( for the line up for September 24th 2011 – Battle Of The Bands: Goin’ To Memphis. and November 10th Blues Harvest 2011 @ J.B McGinnis Pub & Grille.
Some exciting news in mid to late 2012, a new blues club will be coming to Saint Georges Delaware attached to The Saint Georges Country Store this will be the new home for the Diamond State Blues Society. Anyone can become a member of the blues society by sending a check or money order to:
DSBS P.O. Box 863 Middletown , Delaware 19709 $15 single membership /$25 family /$50 Corp.
Let’s all help to keep the blues alive ! See ya the Festival.

Until next time, Love, Peace & Chicken Grease,
© 2011

photos: Leslie K. Joseph