We rented a booth and sold our book Home Work, and I went on Sunday (yesterday). The festival has been going on for 30+ years, hosted by Tom Mazzolini and it’s in a wonderful grassy park looking down on the bay and the Golden Gate Bridge. The day started foggy and then cleared, and the music was fabulous. Other than Ruth Brown and Little Richard, I’d never heard of any of these musicians before. Conclusion: there is a lot of good blues out there! I got a press pass so I got to shoot from “the pit.” Here are some pictures hot off the Canon:
Ruth Brown, at 80+, was fabulous. She’s royalty. Her voice is vibrant and alive, and she’s still kicking. “Just cause I’m old, don’t mean I’m cold.” At one point I was right in front of her with my camera and she winked at me just before going into “Mama, he treats your daughter mean.” It was a thrill.
And of course, The MAN himself, Little Richard. A 20-foot long limo, an elegant and superb bunch of backup musicians, but I’m sorry to say, it was the least good of all the day’s music. An act for Vegas. The voice ain’t there. (Come to think of it, how could it be?) He came in pretty unsteadily with crutches and said he’d hurt his back. He’s still great looking, with those high cheekbones and exotic eyes.
He did his great songs, but they sounded like “golden oldies.” He repeatedly said “shut up” to the audience; people told me it’s part of his regular schtick, but it grated. It was a staged act, but hey, people liked it, the music is still great, it’s dance music. People sang along. Womp-bomp-a-loom-op-a-womp-bam-boom! I mean, we owe the guy so much from 40 years ago: that energy and joy, that ’50s boogie-woogie rhythm and blues, and that amazing voice. Right now I’m listening to the old Bama Lama, Bama Loo, it’s not well known like Tutti Frutti*, but it’s a killer.
I asked my baby for a kiss she shook her head like this whooooo!
A great Little Richard CD is Little Richard — 18 Greatest Hits/Rhino Records.
The S.F. Blues Festival is a wonderful event. Relaxed. Great music. Great food. https://www.sfblues.com/
*I just read on Wikipedia that the original title was Tutti frutti/Good booty and was changed to Tutti frutti/All rooty AND that tutti frutti is slang for a gay male.