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Old and New, and Somethin' Blue

Big name and bike run add rumble and flash to Silver City's Blues Fest, May 25-27.


World-renowned bluesman John Hammond will add big-stage excitement to Silver City's 12th Annual Blues Festival this year. The Mimbres Region Arts Council's outdoor music-food-summer celebration will be May 25-27.

MRAC director Faye McCalmont is all a-twitter over bringing Hammond to the Gough Park stage. "I have tried to bring him for years," she says, calling Hammond "a highly respected artist known throughout the world for his authentic styling and vocals."

A Grammy-winning solo acoustic blues artist, the New York-born Hammond is a 40-plus-year veteran of the music business. He's the son of Columbia A&R executive John Henry Hammond, who brought the likes of Bessie Smith, Billie Holiday, Big Joe Turner and eventually Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen to America's attention. But the younger Hammond didn't coast on his daddy's coattails, forging his career apart from his father's famous name. At 19, he hitchhiked across the US, got a day-job at a gas station in Los Angeles and played coffeehouses and clubs at night. It didn't take Hammond long to hit it big; by 1962, he'd landed a recording contract with Vanguard Records, one of the most important labels of the day.

Following in the footsteps of singing poets like Woody Guthrie, Lightnin' Hopkins and Sonny Boy Williamson, Hammond sings stories of life and love, mightily charged with his hot guitar licks and smoking harmonica. Hammond is acknowledged as one of the premier blues artists of our time, tours globally, and has recorded dozens of albums. He'll perform in the final Sunday night slot at the blues festival.

The rest of the festival's musical slate includes the usual wide range of blues sounds—from traditional Chicago and Delta blues to "fusion" styles—with talent from national to regional to homegrown locals, like the ever-popular Mudcats and a "pick-up band," if you will, the Low Bid Blues Quartet. Composed of three musicians, actually, the "quartet" perhaps is counting Scott van Linge twice, since he'll play both guitar and harmonica.

Another well-known local, Brandon Perrault, will perform with his band at Friday's Yankie Street Dance, featuring up-and-coming young vocalist and musician Maggie Garcia. As usual, the festival will also feature a kick-off dance and post-fest Jam Session at the Buffalo Dance Hall, a downtown art gallery self-guided tour, food and crafts vendors galore, a beer garden, prize raffles and a Harvest for the Hungry food donation collection.

But there will be a new rumble on the horizon this year as the local chapter of the Vietnam Veterans of America holds its first "Blues Fest and Vets Bike Run," tentatively planned as a two-day event. Local biker José Ray, one of the organizers, says, "We're inviting clubs from El Paso and Tucson, and they're spreading the word, they're putting us on their Web sites, so even though this is just our first year getting this off the ground, I think it could be big, and will bring in a lot of people." The club, with about 60 members, raises money to assist local veterans with transportation to the VA hospital and with medical bills. It will split the proceeds of the Blues Fest Bike Run with the MRAC. "It probably won't be a lot of money," Ray says, "but every little bit helps groups like ours, and it's great for us to show our support for the arts council this way."

The motorcycle event will include a variety of games, including a poker run in which bikers stop at a variety of locations along a set route, and draw cards at each stop. Highest and lowest hands win prizes. Ray says other games and a possible mini bike rodeo are envisioned. Entry fee will be $12 a rider or $15 per couple.

He encourages people to "get past their stereotyped ideas of Harley guys. People shouldn't be scared off by the way we dress," he adds with a laugh. "We're really about charity, and bikers do a lot of good works." For information, contact Ray at 313-5116 or Bill Gassert, 590-1769.

Whether rumbling into Gough Park on your "Fat Boy" or cruising on over in the family SUV, contact the arts council for parking and shuttle information and more about the Blues Fest—538-2505 or (888) 758-7289, www.mimbresarts.org.


Schedule of Events

Friday, May 25

7-9 p.m. Yankie Street Dance, Brandon Perrault Band with Maggie Garcia. Free.

9 p.m.-1 a.m. Hoodoos, Buffalo Dance Hall. $10.

Saturday, May 26

At Gough Park: 1:15-2:30 p.m. Pat "Guitar Slim" Chase; 3-4:15 p.m. The Mudcats; 4:45-6 p.m. Todd Tijerina; 6:30-8 p.m. Kelley Hunt; 8:30-10 p.m. Lucky Peterson. All free.

10 p.m.-1 a.m. Jam Session, Buffalo Dance Hall. $10.

Sunday, May 27

10 a.m.-1 p.m. Downtown Gallery Studio Tours. Free.

At Gough Park: 12:30-1:30 p.m. Low Bid Blues Quartet; 1:45-2:45 p.m. Pat Dutton & Jen Exten; 3-4:15 p.m. Alice Stuart; 4:30-5:45 p.m. Joe Price; 6-7:15 p.m. John Hammond. All free.


Tickets for Friday Night Kick-Off Concert and the Post-Fest Jam Session at the Buffalo Dance Hall can be purchased at the door or by credit card through the MRAC. No dogs or wheeled strollers are allowed in Gough Park. No alcohol allowed in the park. Beer available for purchase and consumption in the Beer Garden.