When Neil Sexton moved from Chicago to Trinidad, a cattle and railroad town tamed in the 1800s by the likes of Bat Masterson, population 9,078, he lamented the "dearth of blues around these parts."
Having been a blues fan for years, Sexton convinced local radio station KCRT 92.5 FM to let him spin on the air, and that endeavor turned into the Trinidaddio Blues Hour.
"Then, with my big mouth, I started talking about being able to put on a pretty good blues festival," said Sexton. "The Trinidad Arts Council heard about it, and gave us our first $2,000. Then I had to put their money where my mouth was."
With that first two grand, Sexton put on an event with A-level artists, including Jimmy Burns, Tad "Teabags" Robinson and Alex Schultz. This year, with the festival located in Trinidad's Central Park, will be no different.
Topping the bill is three time Handy Awardwinner and Grammy nominee Billy Branch & the Sons of Blues, from Chicago. Branch has twice won "Best Harp Player of the Year" by the Living Blues Awards.
Also performing is gospel and soul diva Zora Young, a daughter of Chicago's South Side who has provided vocals for some of the greatest bluesmen in the world.
Andrew "Jr. Boy" Jones learned from Freddie King, Katie Webster and Charlie Musselwhite, while Blinddog Smokin's innovative blues sound, which incorporates everything from blue-eyed soul to bluegrass, has made them the darlings of the Southern California blues scene.
In addition to these performers, several popular regional acts are scheduled -- Mexican Jerry & the Albuquerque Blues Connection, Maynard Mills Blues Band, Jaquie Gipson, Tempa & the Tantrums, Cobalt, and Ge-no and the Blues Band.
Trinidaddio keeps getting better and better, but Sexton still isn't sure where it's headed.
"I wrestle with that, because it's a fund-raiser. It's not like other festivals where I'm some rich guy trying to make a ton of money. The first three years, it's benefited the Main Street Group (a historic preservation organization in Trinidad), and this year the money goes to the Noah's Ark Animal Shelter. So we want to be successful, and I think that this year we'll probably have about 2,500 people.
"We only have so many beds in Trinidad. I don't want it to turn into Telluride, where people have to be bussed in from who knows where because there's no room. We just to want to have a great time, have world-class musicians come in, and show off our little gem of a city, so I think we cap it at around 5,000 to 6,000 people."
In the meantime, Sexton just wants to keep things cool.
"This, my friend, is a decidedly 'daddio' event -- as long as everybody respects the right of the person next to them to have a good time, everything's going to work out. That's the kind of the headspace we try to get into each year."
-- Kristen Sherwood
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