The Blues Under the Bridge Festival turns 10 this year, continuing its tradition of bringing together legendary performers alongside up-and-coming artists from Colorado and around the country. This year's powerhouse lineup, which ranges from the legendary Booker T. Jones to local heroes Jesse Cotton Stone and Grant Sabin, once again blurs the boundaries between funk, rock, soul and, of course, the blues.
Booker T. Jones: Master of the Hammond B-3, leader of Booker T. and the MGs, producer of Willie Nelson's Stardust and a principal architect of the famed Memphis "Stax Sound," Booker T. Jones possesses a rare combination of musical genius and indomitable spirit. A half-century after his band's breakthrough instrumental "Green Onions," the revered Memphis soulman continues to tour the world and release solo albums with guest artists like The Roots' Questlove, The National's Matt Berninger and My Morning Jacket's Jim James. (8:30 p.m.)
Shemekia Copeland: The daughter of Texas bluesman Johnny Copeland is clearly living up to her family legacy. Born and raised in Harlem, the soulful singer is the perfect complement to this year's headliner: She's performed alongside Booker T. Jones (and Mick Jagger) at the White House, and worked with MGs guitarist Steve Cropper on her own Grammy-nominated sophomore album. Copeland has also opened for the Rolling Stones and was officially crowned "The New Queen of the Blues" at the Chicago Music Festival. (6:45 p.m.)
Southern Avenue: Booker T. isn't this year's only Blues Under the Bridge artist who hails from Soul City USA. According to hometown alt-weekly the Memphis Flyer, "Southern Avenue is simply the best band in Memphis right now," which would be high praise for any act, let alone one that only released their first EP this past February. Recorded live in the studio, the group's self-titled debut includes guitar contributions by the North Mississippi Allstars frontman Luther Dickinson. (5 p.m.)
Boa & The Constrictors: After backing artists like Lazy Lester and Bob Margolin, Boulder-based guitarist Eric Boa decided to step up to the mic and front his own trio. With its high-energy mix of Delta blues, swing and boogie-woogie, the band was named winner of the Colorado Blues Society's 2010 International Blues Challenge and has recently recorded their first live CD. (3:15 p.m.)
Jesse Cotton Stone and Grant Sabin: Local prodigies Stone and Sabin share a mutual love for Robert Johnson, Jimi Hendrix and Howlin' Wolf that comes out in the intensity of their own music. Both have built loyal followings here in the Springs, both as bandleaders and solo artists, and their combined talents should get this year's festival rolling in the right direction. (2 p.m.)